William W. Wick
The son of Presbyterian Minister the Rev. William Wick, and his wife Elizabeth (née McFarland) the daughter of an officer in the Continental Army; the younger Mr. Wick (or simply "W" as he was known during his career; was born in Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where his father was then a student at what is now Washington & Jefferson College. In 1800 Wick moved with his family to the Western Reserve following his father's acceptance of missionary work in the region.
He completed preparatory studies. After his father's' death in 1815, He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and amongst other endeavors taught school and dabbled in the study of medicine. Deciding upon a career in the law he undertook study in a law office (as was customary for the time) and was admitted to the bar at Franklin, Indiana, in 1819. He served as Clerk of the State House of Representatives in 1820 and the State Senate in 1821. Appointed to a state judgeship, he served as President Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit from 1822–1825, 1834–1837 and 1850-1853 notably presiding over the trial resulting from the Fall Creek Massacre, which resulted in the first recorded case of a white man being sentenced to death for crimes against Native Americans. In between judicial assignments he served as Indiana's Secretary of State (1825–1829) and as the Prosecuting Attorney for the same circuit from 1829-1831.
In 1838, Wick was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-sixth Congress (March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1841). Failing in his bid for re-election he returned to private practice in Indianapolis. In 1844, Wick was re-elected to congress serving until the expiration of the Thirtieth Congress in 1849, not having been a candidate for renomination. While in congress, Wick offered an amendment to the Wilmont Proviso that would have extended the Missouri Compromise line to the pacific coast. Viewed from the perspective of our time, Wick was openly racist - He feared free blacks flooding the urban northeast. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Colonization Society the body that helped set up Liberia as a homeland for free blacks.
Wick did not take himself too seriously, as he noted (speaking of himself in the third person) in the following excerpt of a letter to a friend:
In 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed him Postmaster of Indianapolis, Indiana in which capacity he served until 1857. Later he served as Adjutant General in the State Militia. He sat as a judge of the Circuit Court for a fourth time for less than two months in the Autumn of 1859.
He moved to Franklin, Indiana, in 1857, where he continued the practice of law, and died there May 19, 1868. He was interred in Greenlawn Cemetery.
|“||I do not want any mixed races in our Union, nor men of any color except white, unless they be slaves. Certainly not as voters or legislators.||”|
- History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, pp. 379 H.Z. Williams & Bros. 1882
- Funk, p. 38
- "America's population A blended people". The Economist. November 8, 2007.
- Haney-López, Ian (2003). Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01629-7. p. 59
- Hietala, Thomas R. (2003). Manifest Design: American Exceptionalism and Empire.p. 167.
- Funk, Arville L. (©1969, revised 1983). A Sketchbook of Indiana History. Rochester, Indiana: Christian Book Press.
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.