Ledger (1846-1847) of accounts of individuals and organizations doing business with a leading Natick, MA, shoe manufacturer Henry Wilson. Wilson was also a newspaper publisher, Whig – Free Soil – Republican Party politician who served as Massachusetts State Representative, 1840- 1842; Massachusetts State Senator, 1843-1845, 1850; United States Senator, 1855-1872; and Vice President of the United States, 1872-1875, under President U. S. Grant. Ledger only relates to business dealings and personal accounts, not to political dealings.
Born 1812, Henry Wilson spent the majority of his life in politics, serving positions from 1840 until his death in 1875. A strong supporter of the abolitionist movement, Wilson's political career saw him shift from several parties. In 1840 he became Massachusetts State Representative under the Whig party, the first of his major political offices held. He was one of the founding members of the Free-Soil Party, and central in developing its anti-slavery positions. Throughout the 1840s-1850s, Wilson was a vocal advocate for abolition. As a US Senator (1855-1872), Wilson maintained his anti-slavery platform, urging for the emancipation of slaves. During the Civil War, Wilson not only organized and recruited a militia regime from Massachusetts, but also served as chairman for the Committee on Military Affairs. Following the end of the war, Wilson was an advocate of creating a racially equal South, putting him at odds with President Johnson. In the 1872 presidential election, Wilson was nominated to serve as Vice-President under Grant; Wilson would remain vice-president until his death three years later.
This ledger relates to Wilson's work as a shoe manufacturer in Natick, MA. Wilson is reported to have quickly learned the craft and was able to expand his business beginning in the 1830s. Placed inside his political career, this ledger finds itself during Wilson's time as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate.
This collection contains one business ledger marked as previously belonging to Henry Wilson of Massachusetts; it is noted several times throughout the ledger that "the article to which this is attached was formerly the property of Henry Wilson." The dates contained within the ledger range from January, 1846 until May, 1847. It is associated with Wilson's general dealings and his shoe manufacturer business, there are no connections made with his political work in this item.
The third page of the ledger contains a list of all 101 individuals and organizations that he did business with during this period. The names appear in order from this list throughout the ledger. Each mention in the ledger is separated with the date, nature of business, and monetary amount each article was for. Most individuals and organizations are denoted on separate pages, but a few of the smaller transactions are noted on the same page. Transactions range from the costs of goods and services to the lending and borrowing of money for different business ventures.
The ledger does provide a view at the style of bookkeeping during the period. Wilson uses a variety of abbreviations and shorthand symbols to keep his records, which may make understanding the nature of some transactions difficult to understand at first glance. It is of note that the majority of transactions inside the ledger relate to buying and selling of fabrics. As such, this ledger is primarily focused with Wilson's shoe manufacturing business, more so than personal accounts; there are records of wages he paid to his employees, which may be of interest in examining the handling of employment and pay during the period.
Gift of Ralph Lee Scott
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Processing completed June 2, 2016, by Robert Hines
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