William Henson Wallace

William Henson Wallace (1811 – 1879)

Born on a farm near Troy, Ohio, on July 19, 1811. His father, Andrew Wallace, was a close personal friend of President William Henry Harrison. His mother was a relative of John Paul Jones of Revolutionary War fame. Of further note is his brother David who was governor of Indiana, and his nephew Lew was the Civil War General and author of Ben Hur.

Wallace attended the common schools of Indiana, then studied law, was admitted to the bar, and moved to the Iowa District of the Wisconsin Territory in 1837. He was elected to the Iowa Territorial Legislature, appointed colonel of state troops and receiver of public money at Fairfield. Wallace ran for office unsuccessfully for the national congress.

Sometime in the 1850’s Wallace became a friend of Abraham Lincoln. At one time, while Lincoln was relatively unknown, he arranged for the future president to speak at a public meeting. The two stayed good friends until Lincoln’s passing.

Wallace moved to the Washington Territory (which included Idaho) in 1853, and served in the government. Wallace went east upon Lincoln’s election, and the visit paid off in that Lincoln appointed him governor of the Washington Territory. He returned, but before he could take office, Washington Republicans nominated his as a candidate for delegate to Congress from the territory. While in Washington in his new position, he got congress to establish Idaho as a separate territory. In return, Lincoln appointed Wallace the governor. In turn, he again became a congressman from the territory. Wallace remained in congress for two terms from 1862 – 1865.

Wallace perhaps could have secured a position in government had Lincoln lived. Wallace and his wife were two of 14 persons Lincoln asked to go to the theater with him the night he was shot. Wallace and his wife excused themselves, citing weariness.

Wallace, along with the Governor of the Washington Territory, got on the Lincoln funeral train at Philadelphia. Wallace returned to Washington Territory where he served as a probate judge in Pierce County until his death in 1879. Wallace is buried in Fort Steilacoom Cemetery

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