Manuscript Group 372, William Wright (1790-1866), U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Mayor of NewarkPapers, 1853-1865


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 372, William Wright (1790-1866), U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Mayor of Newark

Papers, 1853-1865 (Bulk dates: 1853), 0.2 linear feet / 14 items

Call Number: MG 372 + folder number



Primarily letters signed by Wright and other Democrats recommending various persons for positions in the Customs House at New York and in the U.S. Department of the Navy. Wright was  Mayor of Newark, 1840-43; U.S. Representative, 1843-47; and U.S. Senator, 1853-59, 1863-66. He was first a Whig and then a Democrat.

Gift (in part) of the NJHS Women’s Branch, 1957.

Biographical Note:

William Wright (d.1866) was a prominent businessman, Mayor of Newark, Congressional Representative, and Senator. The son of Dr. William Wright, he was born in Rockland County, New York around 1790. Having apprenticed as a saddler, Wright moved to Newark in 1821 to start a saddle and harness business. Smith and Wright, founded in 1823 and located at the corner of Broad and Fair Street, prospered and was responsible for building Wright’s fortune. He remained directly involved in the company’s operations until 1854.

Wright served three terms as Mayor of Newark from 1840-1843. While acting as Mayor he began the first of two terms as a Whig Representative to Congress; first in 1842 and upon reelection in 1844. Wright was an original member of the Founding Committee for the Newark Public Library, which opened in 1845. In 1848 he donated land on High Street in Newark to African American Episcopalians seeking to form their own church, the future St. Philip’s. Following an unsuccessful bid for Governor in 1847, Wright re-identified himself as a Democrat in 1850. In 1853 he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served one term before being ousted during the Republican take over of the New Jersey State Legislature. Wright won reelection to the Senate in 1863, and died while in office in 1866.


Biographical and Genealogical History of the City of Newark and Essex County, NJ. New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1898

Cunningham, John T., Newark, revised and expanded edition, NJ: New Jersey Historical Society, 1988

Provenance Note:

Gift (in part) of the New Jersey Historical Society Women’s Branch, 1957.

Scope and Content Note:

The William Wright Papers date from 1853-1865, with bulk dates in 1853.  Documents are arranged chronologically according to date of creation.  Thirteen of the letters concern Wright’s efforts as a U.S. Senator to secure employment for a number of acquaintances, friends, and former employees.  Most of the references are cosigned by several other Democratic Congressmen, including John R. Thomson and Charles Skelton.  Ten letters are addressed to Greene C. Bronson, Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, and recommend individuals to positions as collectors, clerks, inspectors, weighers, measurers, porters, and appraisers.

Two letters of recommendation, signed by Wright and other prominent Democrats, are addressed to Isaac Toucey, Secretary of the Navy.  The remaining items include an undated correspondence to L. J. Cist of St. Louis, Missouri, and an autograph of William Wright, dated May 1, 1865.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 32, Walter Dormitzer Autograph Collection

Manuscript Group 92, William W. Morris, Biographical Sketches of Newark Mayors – 1836-1905

Manuscript Group 367, John R. Thomson (1800-1862) Papers

Folder List:

Folder Description Dates
1 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Bernard Connelly
2, 1853
2 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Moses Morris
11, 1853
3 To
Greene C. Branson concerning John Lynch
13, 1853
4 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Oliver R. Smith
15, 1853
5 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Peter Lamb
21, 1853
6 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Joseph McManus
30, 1853
7 To
Greene C. Branson concerning James Hewsman
4, 1853
8 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Arthur Lilly
22, 1853
9 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Joseph Thams
6, 1853
10 To
Greene C. Branson concerning Hugh Holmes
11 To
Isaac Toucey concerning Wheeler W. Bassett
12, 1857
12 To
Isaac Toucey concerning Samuel Hanna
22, 1858
13 To
L. J. Cist concerning R. F. Stockton and Commodore Kearney
12, 1863
14 Autograph May
1, 1865

Processed by Jeffrey V. Moy, Rutgers University Intern, May 2000


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