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Fernando Wood

Fernando Wood
Fernando Wood, c. 1860s
75th Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1860 – December 31, 1862
Preceded by Daniel F. Tiemann
Succeeded by George Opdyke
73rd Mayor of New York City
In office
January 1, 1855 – December 31, 1858
Preceded by Jacob Aaron Westervelt
Succeeded by Daniel F. Tiemann
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1875 – February 14, 1881
Preceded by Richard Schell
Succeeded by John Hardy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Preceded by Clarkson Nott Potter
Succeeded by Abram S. Hewitt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1873
Preceded by William A. Darling
Succeeded by David B. Mellish
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865
Preceded by William Wall
Succeeded by Nelson Taylor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1843
Preceded by Multiple
Succeeded by Jonas P. Phoenix
Personal details
Born (1812-06-14)June 14, 1812
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 14, 1881(1881-02-14) (aged 68)
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democratic

Fernando Wood (June 14, 1812 – February 14, 1881) was an American politician of the Democratic Party and the 73rd and 75th mayor of New York City; he also served as a United States Representative (1841–1843, 1863–1865, and 1867–1881) and as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means in both the 45th and 46th Congress (1877–1881).

A successful shipping merchant who became Grand Sachem of the political machine known as Tammany Hall, Wood first served in Congress in 1841. In 1854 he was elected Mayor of New York City. Reelected in 1860 after an electoral loss in 1857 by a narrow majority of 3,000 votes, Wood evinced support for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, suggesting to the New York City Council that New York City secede from the Union and declare itself a free city in order to continue its profitable cotton trade with the Confederacy. Wood's Democratic machine was concerned with maintaining the revenues (which depended on Southern cotton) that fed the system of patronage.

Following his service as mayor, Wood returned to the United States Congress.

Contents

  • Early life and career 1
  • Mayor of New York City 2
  • Civil War, support for the Confederacy 3
  • Subsequent career in Congress 4
  • Legacy 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and career

Wood, the son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Lehman) Wood, and brother of United States Congressman Tammany Society, which he used as a vehicle for his political rise. As a member of the Democratic party, he was elected to Congress in 1840 and served until 1843.

Mayor of New York City

In late 1854 Wood was elected mayor of New York City. The state legislature created the New York Municipal Police in 1845,[1] and Wood continued the efforts of his predecessor Mayor Jacob A. Westervelt to fight the massive corruption of the force, during his first term as mayor (1855–1857). He was re-elected to a two-year term in 1856, but denied a third successive term in 1858 by a narrow majority of 3,000 votes, even though the New York gang the Dead Rabbits combed the city's cemeteries for names to add to the voter rolls.

In the 1856-57 session, Republicans in control of the George Washington Matsell, 15 captains and 800 patrolmen of the Municipal Police backed Mayor Wood.

Captain George W. Walling pledged his loyalty to the new Metropolitan Police and was ordered to arrest Mayor Wood. Wood refused to submit and when Captain Walling attempted force, New York City Hall was occupied by 300 Municipal policemen, who promptly tossed Captain Walling into the street. Fifty Metropolitans in frock coats and plug hats then marched on City Hall with night sticks in hand. The Municipals swarmed out and routed the Metropolitans. Fifty-two policemen were injured in the New York City Police Riot.

The Metropolitan Police Board called out the National Guard, and the Seventh Regiment surrounded City Hall. A platoon of infantry with fixed bayonets marched into City Hall and surrounded Mayor Wood who then submitted to arrest. Mayor Wood was charged with inciting to riot, released on nominal bail and returned to his office.

The feud continued on through the summer of 1857, with constant confrontations between the rival police forces. When a Municipal arrested a criminal, a Metropolitan would come along and release him. At the police station, an arresting officer would find an alderman and a magistrate from the opposing side waiting. A hearing would be held on the spot and the prisoner released on his own recognizance.

The gangs of New York had a field day. Pedestrians were mugged in broad daylight on Broadway while rival policemen clubbed each other to determine who had the right to interfere. Soon the gangs were looting and plundering without interference, but turned on one another in turf wars, which culminated in the Fourth of July gang battle. The Dead Rabbits and several other Five Points gangs marched into the Bowery to do battle with the Bowery Boys and to loot stores. They attacked a Bowery Boys headquarters with pistols, knives, clubs, iron bars and huge paving blocks, routing the defenders. The Bowery Boys and their allies, the Atlantic Guards, poured into Bayard Street to engage in the most desperate and largest free-for-all in the city's history. The Metropolitans attempted to stop the fighting but were severely beaten and retreated. The Municipals said the battle looked like a Metropolitan problem and was none of their business.

Civil War, support for the Confederacy

Fernando Wood served a second mayoral term in 1860–1862. Wood was one of many New York Democrats sympathetic to the Confederacy,[2] called 'Copperheads' by the staunch Unionists. In 1860, at a meeting to choose New York's delegates to the Democratic convention in Charleston, S.C., Wood outlined his case against the abolitionist cause and the "Black Republicans" who supported it. He was of the opinion that "until we have provided and cared for the oppressed laboring man in our own midst, we should not extend our sympathy to the laboring men of other States." [3] During his second mayoral term in January 1861, Wood suggested to the New York City Council that New York secede and declare itself a free city, to continue its profitable cotton trade with the Confederacy.

Wood's Democratic machine was concerned to maintain the revenues (which depended on Southern cotton) that maintained the patronage. Wood's suggestion was greeted with derision by the Common Council. Tammany Hall was highly factionalized until after the Civil War. Wood headed his own organization named Mozart Hall, not Tammany Hall. New York City commercial interests wanted to retain their relations with the South, but within the framework of the Constitution.

Wood's brother Benjamin Wood purchased the New York Daily News (not to be confused with the current New York Daily News, which was founded in 1919), supporting Stephen A. Douglas, and was elected to Congress, where he made a name as an opponent of pursuing the American Civil War.

Wood was one of the main opponents of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished slavery and was critical in blocking the measure in the House when it first came up for a vote in June 1864. He argued that the amendment "strikes at property" and took the power of regulating slavery away from the states, where it rightfully belonged.[4]

Subsequent career in Congress

Subsequent to serving his second mayoral term, Wood served again in the House of Representatives from 1863 to 1865, then again from 1867 until his death in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

On January 15, 1868, Wood was censured for the use of unparliamentary language. During debate on the floor the House of Representatives, Wood called a piece of legislation "A monstrosity, a measure the most infamous of the many infamous acts of this infamous Congress." An uproar immediately followed this utterance, and Wood was not permitted to continue. This was followed by a motion by Henry L. Dawes to censure Wood, which passed by a vote of 114-39.

Notwithstanding his censure, Wood still managed to defeat Dr. Francis Thomas, the Republican candidate, by a narrow margin in the election of that year.

Wood served as chairman for the Committee on Ways and Means in both the 45th and 46th Congress (1877–1881).

Legacy

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln portrays Wood, played by Lee Pace, as a leading opponent of the President and of the Thirteenth Amendment.

References

  1. ^ American Police Systems (1920) by Raymond B. Fosdick (Raymond Blaine), page 66, ISBN 978-0-87585-053-5, ISBN 0-87585-053-7
  2. ^ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/first-south-carolina-then-new-york/
  3. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1860/02/08/news/syracuse-convention-election-delegates-large-charleston-convention-speech-mayor.html?pagewanted=all
  4. ^ Oakes, James. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (1861-1865) W.W. Norton & Company, 2013, p. 448, 452
  • Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York, 1927
  • Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1867–1868, pp. 193-196
  • Oakes, James. Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (1861-1865). W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

External links

  • Mr. Lincoln and New York: Fernando Wood
  • http://reference.allrefer.com/encyclopedia/E/E-Wood-Fer.html
  • http://www.spartacus-educational.com/USACWwood.htm
  • Gregory Christiano surveys Fernando Wood, the rival police forces, gang wars and the Panic of 1857: 'Introduction to a turbulent period in New York City history."
  • Fernando Wood's recommendation to the city council, January 6, 1861.
  • Fernando Wood's Biographical Entry at the Biographical Directory of The United States Congress
Party political offices
Preceded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall
1850–1856
Succeeded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Preceded by
Isaac V. Fowler
Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall
1858
Succeeded by
William Tweed and Isaac V. Fowler
Political offices
Preceded by
Jacob Aaron Westervelt
Mayor of New York City
1855–1858
Succeeded by
Daniel F. Tiemann
Preceded by
Daniel F. Tiemann
Mayor of New York City
1860–1862
Succeeded by
George Opdyke
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Moses H. Grinnell
Edward Curtis
James Monroe
Ogden Hoffman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 3rd congressional district

1841–1843
with Charles G. Ferris, James I. Roosevelt, and John McKeon
Succeeded by
Jonas P. Phoenix
Preceded by
William Wall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th congressional district

1863–1865
Succeeded by
Nelson Taylor
Preceded by
William A. Darling
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

1867–1873
Succeeded by
David B. Mellish
Preceded by
Clarkson N. Potter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

1873–1875
Succeeded by
Abram S. Hewitt
Preceded by
Richard Schell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

1875–1881
Succeeded by
John Hardy
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