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John Sergeant Wise Papers

Identifier: SC 01640

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

Collection of 15 letters addressed to John S. Wise, in New York, City, New York. Most are written from the American lawyer and author, Robert Green Ingersoll. Other letters are from other notable actors, authors, and playwrights such as James Morrison Steele MacKay, Albert Marsham Palmer, and John Martin Tracy. Most letters are more personal in nature and detail regrets for not attending functions or for not writing sooner. Some request advice regarding ideas, lay out plans for travel, and send regards to Wise's other family members. Though formal in presentation, the letters offer a personal glimpse into the social life of this lawyer, author, and politician. Included with this collection are two letters addressed to Hugh W. Wise, John Wise's son, from Thomas Nelson Page. and one letter to Henry Alexander Wise, John Wise's father, from William Swan Plumer.


  • Creation: 1858-1894

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

John Sergeant Wise was the son of Henry Alexander Wise and grandson of John Sergeant. Siblings include Richard Alsop Wise, Professor at William & Mary. He was born December 27, 1846 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and attended the Virginia Military Institute and studied law at the University of Virginia. He practiced law in and around Richmond and had several unsuccessful bids for election to Congress and for Virginia Governor and represented Virginia's At-Large district in Congress 1883-1885. Wise lived in New York City for a time and practiced law there until his retirement. Wise also wrote many books, most notably a memoir titled, The End of and Era. Wise died on May 12, 1913. Sources consulted,,


0.15 Linear Feet



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John F. McGuigan, Jr., 2019.

Related Materials

John S. Wise Papers, 1869-1873: Mss. 39.2 W75

Guide to the John Sergeant Wise papers
Christina R. Luers, CA
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository