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William W. Wick

William Watson Wick (February 23, 1796 – May 19, 1868) was a U.S. Representative from Indiana.

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.[1]

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.[2] 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:

Wick has committed much folly in his time—the principal of which has been holding offices, writing rhymes, playing cards for money, and paying other people's debts—all which he abandoned about the time he became a Democrat.

At this present writing W. is fifty-two years of age ; fair, a little fat, having increased since 1833 from 146 to 214 pounds— six feet and one inch high, good complexion, portly—has been called the best looking man about town—but that was ten years ago—not to be sneezed at now—a little gray—has had chills and fever, bilious attacks, and dyspepsia enough to kill a dozen common men, and has passed through misfortunes sufficient to humble a score of ordinary specimens of human nature. His svstem being sluggish, he takes a Sarsaparilla Bitter, or some No. 6, in the morning, and takes a glass or two of wine (if good) at dinner when he can get it. He has acquired a good deal of miscellaneous knowledge, loves fun, looks serious, rises early, works much, and has a decided penchant for light diet, humor, reading, business, the drama, music, a fine horse, his gun, and the woods. W. owes nothing, and were he to die today his estate would inventory eight or nine hundred dollars. lie saves nothing of his per diem and mileage, and yet has no vices to run away with money. He 'takes no thought for tomorrow.' but relies upon the same good Providence to which he is debtor for all.

W. would advise young men to fear and trust God, to cheat rogues, and deceive intriguers by being perfectly honest (this mode misleads such cattle effectually), to touch the glass lightly, to eschew security and debt, tobacco, betting, hypocrisv and federalism, to rather believe, or fall in with new philosophical and moral humbugs, and to love woman too well to injure her. They will thus be happy now, and will secure serenity at fifty-two years of age. and thence onward.

Woollen, William Wesley, Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early Indiana pp. 254

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.


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— William Wick, in opposing the annexing of Mexican territory, [3][4][5]


  1. History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, pp. 379 H.Z. Williams & Bros. 1882
  2. Funk, p. 38
  3. "America's population A blended people". The Economist. November 8, 2007. 
  4. Haney-López, Ian (2003). Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01629-7.  p. 59
  5. 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.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

12px This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Herod
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
David Wallace
Preceded by
William J. Brown
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
William J. Brown

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