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David Wilson (New York politician)

David Wilson (September 17, 1818 – June 9, 1870) was an American lawyer, writer and politician from New York.


He was born on September 17, 1818, in West Hebron, Washington County, New York.[1] He graduated from Union College in 1840. Then he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1843, and practiced law in Whitehall. After some time he abandoned the practice of law, and engaged in literary pursuits, writing books on historical subjects.[2][3]

Wilson suffered from poor health for a good part of his life, and because of that he largely gave up his law career. He turned to authoring books on historical subjects. We wrote:

  • Life in Whitehall: A Tale of the Ship Fever Times (1849), a collection of newspaper articles on Whitehall during a typhus outbreak.
  • The Life of Jane McCrea: With an Account of Burgoyne’s Expedition in 1777 (1853), a biography of Jane McCrea.
  • Henrietta Robinson (1855) about Mrs. Henrietta Robinson, known as the veiled murderess, who was sentenced to be hung on August 3, 1855, at Troy, New York, for a murder.[4]

Wilson is best known for publishing in 1853, Twelve Years a Slave as told to him by Solomon Northup.[5]

He was a Whig member of the New York State Assembly in 1852.[6] In 1857, he was appointed as Deputy New York State Treasurer, and moved permanently to Albany[2]. He was Clerk of the New York State Assembly from January 26, 1858, to January 4, 1859, officiating in the 81st New York State Legislature. At this time he was a member of the American Party.[7] He was Deputy Clerk of the New York Court of Appeals from 1860[8] to 1862.[9]

He died on June 9, 1870,[10] in Albany, and was buried at the New Hebron Cemetery in Hebron.


  1. ^ Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography (1914; pg. 724)
  2. ^ a b Harper's Encyclopœdia of United States History from 458 A.D. to 1905 (1905; pg. 394)
  3. ^ David, Fiske. David Wilson | American lawyer and author. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  4. ^ Robinson, Henrietta (1855). The Life and confessions of Mrs. Henrietta Robinson, the veiled murderess : who was sentenced to be hung August 3d, 1855, at Troy, New York, for the murder of Timothy Lanagan, and who is still under indictment for the murder of Miss Jane Lubin [sic] ... Dr. H.B. Skinner. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  5. ^ Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup (first edition, 1853, editor's preface on pg. 15f)
  6. ^ The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (pg. 244, 317 and 436; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)
  7. ^ OFFICERS OF THE ASSEMBLY in Biographical Sketches of the State Officers and Members of the Legislature of the State of New York in 1858 by William D. Murphy (p. 246)
  8. ^ Manual for the Use of the Legislature (1860; pg. 313)
  9. ^ Manual for the Use of the Legislature (1862; pg. 319)
  10. ^ Appleton's Cyclopedia gives June 9, 1887, as death date, and this was copied by other biographical dictionaries like Herringshaw's and Harper's. The gravestone apparently shows 1870, and his entry in Encyclopædia Britannica also states 1870.

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New York Assembly
Preceded by
James Farr
New York State Assembly
Washington County, 2nd District

Succeeded by
Samuel S. Beman
Government offices
Preceded by
William Richardson
Clerk of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
William Richardson