Benjamin Wade portrait

It is likely that the U.S. Senate acquitted President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial because some members of the Senate did not want Benjamin Wade to become president. [Wikimedia Commons]

Benjamin Franklin Wade - Facts

October 27, 1800 - March 2, 1878

Key facts about Benjamin Wade, a U.S. Senator from Ohio, a founder of the Republican Party, and a harsh critic of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson during and after the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Benjamin Franklin Wade

Birth Date:

  • October 27, 1800

Birth Location:

  • Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

Parents:

  • James and Mary (Upham) Wade

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S Senator

Spouse:

  • Caroline M. Rosekrans (1841)

Nickname(s):

  • Bluff Ben

Place of Death:

  • Jefferson, Ohio

Date of Death:

  • March 2, 1878

Place of Burial:

  • Oakdale Cemetery, Jefferson, Ohio

Significance:

  • Benjamin Wade was the youngest of ten children of James Wade and Mary (Upham) Wade.
  • In 1821 Benjamin Wade’s family moved to Andover, Ohio, in the Western Reserve.
  • As a young man, Benjamin Wade worked as a schoolteacher and as a laborer on the Erie Canal while he studied medicine in Albany, New York.
  • In 1825, Benjamin Wade returned to Ohio where he taught school as he studied law under the tutelage of Elisha Whittlesey.
  • Benjamin Wade was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1828, and he opened a law practice in Jefferson, Ohio.
  • From 1831 to 1837 Benjamin Wade was in partnership with Joshua Giddings, another of Elisha Whittlesey’s law students and a future member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • In 1835, Benjamin Wade was elected prosecuting attorney of Ashtabula County.
  • In 1836, Benjamin Wade was elected to the Ohio State Senate.
  • As a member of the Ohio Senate, Benjamin Wade strongly advocated for the repeal of all laws “making distinctions among the people of Ohio on account of color.”
  • In 1841, Benjamin Wade was elected to a second term in the Ohio Senate.
  • On May 19, 1841, Benjamin Wade married Caroline M. Rosekrans.
  • In 1847, the General Assembly elected Benjamin Wade as presiding judge of the third judicial district of the State of Ohio.
  • In March 1851, the General Assembly elected Benjamin Wade to represent Ohio in the United States Senate.
  • Benjamin Wade took his seat in the U.S. Senate on March 15, 1851, as a member of the Whig Party.
  • Benjamin Wade was a staunch abolitionist and one of the Senate’s most outspoken opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.
  • When the Whig Party split, Benjamin Wade became one of the founders of the Republican Party.
  • In March 1861, Benjamin Wade was selected as chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories.
  • Following the embarrassing Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), Benjamin Wade was appointed chairman of the newly created Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
  • Throughout the war, Benjamin Wade was highly critical of President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership.
  • In 1864, Benjamin Wade and Representative Henry Winter Davis of Maryland sponsored the Wade-Davis exacting much harsher terms on the South than those favored by President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill after it was passed by both houses of Congress on July 2, 1864.
  • Incensed by President Abraham Lincoln’s pocket veto of the Wade-Davis Bill, Benjamin Wade co-authored the infamous Wade-Davis Manifesto, castigating Lincoln and challenging his integrity in the New York Tribune on August 5, 1864.
  • Benjamin Wade was highly critical of President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policies.
  • On March 2, 1867, Benjamin Wade was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, making him next in line for the presidency in the event of Johnson’s resignation, incapacity, or death, because Johnson had no vice-president.
  • Benjamin Wade missed becoming President of the United States by one vote in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
  • It is likely that the U.S. Senate acquitted President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial because some members of the Senate did not want Benjamin Wade to become president.
  • Republican candidate Ulysses S. Grant resisted efforts to have him choose Wade as his vice-presidential running mate for the presidential election of 1868.
  • Democrats gained control of the General Assembly after the election of 1868 and elected Allen G. Thurman to replace Benjamin Wade in the U.S. Senate.
  • 1871, at the request of President Grant, Benjamin Wade served as president of the “Commission of Inquiry to Santo Domingo,”
  • In 1876, Benjamin Wade performed his last official public duty, serving as an elector for Rutherford B. Hayes.
  • Benjamin Wade died at Jefferson, Ohio, on March 2, 1878, after a week-long illness.
  • Benjamin Wade, the man who missed becoming President of the United States by one vote, was interred at Oakdale Cemetery, Jefferson, Ohio.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Benjamin Franklin Wade - Facts
  • Coverage October 27, 1800 - March 2, 1878
  • Author
  • Keywords benjamin wade
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 1, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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