A new biography is shedding light on an overshadowed North Country political figure, the Nineteenth Vice President of the United States. In William Almon Wheeler: Political Star of the North Country (2013, SUNY Press), author Herbert C. Hallas leaves no doubt that Wheeler was a more significant political figure than the existing literature may lead one to believe.
The book is the first and only complete biography of Wheeler, a man referred to as “the New York Lincoln,” who helped to found the Republican Party and build it into a formidable political force during the Gilded Age. Wheeler’s life is an American success story about how a poor boy from Malone achieved fame and fortune as a lawyer, banker, railroad president, state legislator, five-time congressman, and vice president of the United States.
Hallas, a retired high school teacher and lawyer, delivers an intimate narrative about Wheeler, in a way that feels as if he is discussing an old friend. His investment in debunking long-held myths about Wheeler and restoring his place as an influential force on the state and national political stage makes for an interesting portrait of a figure whose life and achievements will appeal to a wide audience including scholars, students, and history buffs.
Thomas Price, Curator of the James K. Polk Ancestral Home praised the book by saying that “Hallas weaves Wheeler’s life with national political events thereby illustrating the importance of the North Country and its people to the country as a whole. He has effectively re-introduced a powerful political figure who has been overshadowed by other larger-than-life figures of the nineteenth century.”
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