John Sergeant Wise
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Virginia's At-large district
March 4, 1883 - March 3, 1885
(Virginia's House delegation when district re-established in 1933)
|United States Attorney for the|
Eastern District of Virginia
May 1882 - March 1883
|Lunsford L. Lewis|
|Edmund Waddill, Jr.|
|Born||December 27, 1846|
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Died||May 12, 1913 (aged 66)|
Princess Anne, Maryland
|Resting place||Richmond, Virginia|
|Political party||Readjuster Party|
|Alma mater||Virginia Military Institute|
University of Virginia
|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||1864-1865|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
Battle of New Market
John was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1846, while his father was U.S. Minister to Brazil. He lived as a youth with his father and others at Rolleston, their plantation on the Elizabeth River outside Norfolk, Virginia. His father served as a US Congressman before being elected as Governor of Virginia in 1856. After being privately tutored as a youth, Wise attended Virginia Military Institute.
Still a student when the American Civil War began, Wise served with the VMI Corps of Cadets at the Battle of New Market. He was posted in charge guard of the Cadets' baggage train. Defying orders to stay there, he took part in the Cadets' famous charge. After the battle, he was commissioned in the Confederate States Army.
Wise practiced law in Richmond, Virginia for many years. In 1880, he was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Representative. In May 1882, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving until March 1883.
Later in 1882, Wise was elected U.S. Representative for Virginia's at-large seat as a "Readjuster" - a label used by a coalition of Republicans and dissident Virginia Democrats. He served in the 48th United States Congress, from 1883 to 1885.
Before the 1884 elections, Virginia's districts were redrawn, abolishing the at-large seat. Wise did not seek re-election from a district. Instead, in 1885 he ran for Governor of Virginia as a Republican, but lost to Democrat Fitzhugh Lee.
John Wise wrote several books, most notably a memoir entitled The End of an Era (1899), which has been reprinted in numerous editions since its first publication. A full text edition is available online at the University of North Carolina's website, Documenting the American South. It describes his boyhood in the last days before the Civil War, while he was living on his father's plantation "Rolleston" in Virginia, with a childhood slave companion and friend. He also discusses the war years, his father's role in the war, and his family.
On November 3, 1869, he married Evelyn Byrd Beverly Douglas, daughter of Hugh Douglas and Nancy Hamilton. John and Evelyn had nine children, seven sons and two daughters:
New York State Senator Henry A. Wise (1906-1982) was his grandson.
United States Congress. "WISE, John Sergeant (id: W000651)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.