Wade, Benjamin Franklin

Wade, Benjamin Franklin, 1800–1878, U.S. senator from Ohio (1851–69), b. near Springfield, Mass. He moved (1821) to Ohio and studied law. He was successively prosecuting attorney of Ashtabula co., state senator, and presiding judge of the third judicial district in Ohio before becoming a Whig senator. He was reelected as a Republican. An uncompromising abolitionist, he denounced the fugitive slave laws, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and other proslavery measures. During the Civil War, Wade and his radical Republican colleagues set up the meddlesome committee on the conduct of the war, of which he was chairman. The Wade-Davis Bill, drawn up with Representative Henry W. Davis, was approved (July, 1864) by Congress as the committee's plan of Reconstruction. Lincoln, who had already begun a more lenient program, killed it with a pocket veto, for which he was vindictively attacked in the Wade-Davis Manifesto (Aug. 5, 1864). Later the congressional plan prevailed over the opposition of President Andrew Johnson. As president protempore of the Senate, Wade was next in line for the presidency, and he eagerly awaited Johnson's conviction on impeachment charges. Not long after Johnson's acquittal Wade was denied reelection to the Senate and returned to law practice.

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