The shoemaker who entered politics and fought against slavery
Henry Wilson, a shoemaker, was visiting the District of Columbia in the 1830s. He decided to take a walk to a section of the city where several slave pens were located (today’s National Mall). Viewing Williams’ Slave Pen (where the kidnapped Solomon Northup was held about five years later), he was filled with disgust by the conditions the slaves were kept in.
After returning to Massachusetts, he gradually became involved in politics, and he was especially interested in eradicating slavery in the United States. Eventually, he became a United States Senator, and sponsored the bill which abolished slavery in the nation’s capital in 1862.
After serving as a Senator, he became Vice President of the United States under U. S. Grant, and died while holding that office.
For more on Henry Wilson, see this page: