Charles Van Wyck, U.S. Senator

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Charles Henry Van Wyck

Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY, United States
Death: October 24, 1895 (71)
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Theodorus C. Van Wyck and Elizabeth Van Wyck
Husband of Kate Van Wyck
Father of Happy Theodora Benner; Meta Van Wyck; Lilly Van Wyck and Marie Louise Van Wyck
Brother of George Peter Van Wyck

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About Charles Van Wyck, U.S. Senator

Charles Henry Van Wyck (May 10, 1824 – October 24, 1895) was a Representative from New York, a Senator from Nebraska, and a Union Army Brigadier general in the American Civil War.

Early life and political career

Van Wyck was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. He completed preparatory studies and graduated from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1843. Van Wyck studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1847 and commenced the practice of law. He then moved to Bloomingburg, New York, where he was a district attorney 1850-1856.

Van Wyck was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from New York to the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1859 – March 4, 1863). He served as chairman, Committee on Mileage (Thirty-sixth Congress) and on the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions (Thirty-seventh Congress).

Assassination attempt

Van Wyck delivered a harsh anti-slavery speech on the House floor on March 7, 1860, which denounced the Southern states for the "crime against the laws of God and nature." The speech was widely reported. On February 22, 1861, Van Wyck was assaulted near the Capital building by three men in an assassination attempt, an attack which was reported as related to the prior year's speech. Van Wyck fought off the attack, surviving only because of a book and congressional records which he had kept in the breast pocket of his coat had blocked the blade of a Bowie knife. The three men fled and were never identified. This was also the same night as an alleged attempt was made to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore, Maryland.

Civil War

Van Wyck entered the Union Army as colonel of the 56th Regiment, New York Volunteers, and commanded it during the American Civil War. He was brevetted brigadier general for services during the war.

Postbellum career

Van Wyck was elected to the Fortieth Congress (March 4, 1867-March 4, 1869); successfully contested the election of George Woodward Greene to the Forty-first Congress and served from February 17, 1870, to March 4, 1871.

He moved to Nebraska in 1874, where he settled on a farm in Otoe County, and engaged in agricultural pursuits. Van Wyck was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1875. He was elected to the State senate 1877, 1879, 1881. That year, he was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate from Nebraska and served from March 4, 1881, to March 4, 1887. He served as chairman, Committee on the Mississippi River and Its Tributaries (Forty-seventh Congress) and on the Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and Tributaries (Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Congresses). Van Wyck was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection. In 1892, he was an unsuccessful Populist candidate for Governor of Nebraska. Van Wyck then retired from political life and active business pursuits. He died in Washington, D.C., and was interred in Milford Cemetery, Milford, Pennsylvania.

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Charles Van Wyck, U.S. Senator's Timeline

May 10, 1824
Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY, United States
October 24, 1895
Age 71
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States