Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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WOOD, Fernando, mayor of New York city, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 June, 1812 ; died in Washington, D. C., 14 February, 1881. He was of Quaker descent, and went to New York city in 1820, where he early entered business and became a shipping-merchant. From the time that he attained his majority he was active in public matters, and attracted notice by his writing and speaking. In 1839 he was chairman of the chief young men's political organization in New York city, and a year later he was elected as a Democrat to congress, serving from 31 May, 1841, till 3 March, 1843. On the expiration of his term he returned to his business, which occupied his attention until his retirement in 1850. He was then nominated by the Democratic party for the mayoralty of New York city, but was defeated by a combination of the Whig and Know-Nothing parties. He was a successful candidate in 1854, at a time when the city government was in a state of demoralization, and he at once devised a municipal system to secure good government. Various reforms were introduced and were received with such satisfaction that he was re-elected by the better element of both parties in 1856. During the winter of 1856-'7 a bill was passed by the state legislature depriving the mayor of all control of the police, and abolishing the municipal force. Acting by advice of the counsel of the corporation and of Charles O'Conor, he refused to recognize the change, and endeavored to maintain the municipal police, for which the authority had been in existence for 200 years. The metropolitan police was organized, and a collision between the two forces occurred, resulting in a serious riot. (See MATSELL, GEORGE.) Ultimately the municipal police went out of existence, and at the ensuing election Mr. Wood was defeated. He was again elected in 1859, and in January, 1861, when the question of secession was foremost, recommended that New York secede and become a free city. Mr. Wood then returned to congress and served from 7 December, 1863, till 3 March, 1865. After a year in Europe he was re-elected to congress and served from 4 March, 1867, till 3 March, 1877.--His brother, Benjamin, journalist, born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, 13 October, 1820, received a common-school education, and early became self-supporting. In the capacity of a supercargo, he went to the West Indies and Central America. Subsequently he engaged in business in New York city, and in 1860 he purchased the "Daily News" and became its editor. He supported Stephen A. Douglas in his canvass for the presidency in 1860, becoming chairman of the committee of editors that met in the Astor house. Mr. Wood was elect ed to congress in the same year and served, with re-election, from 4 July, 1861, till 3 March, 1865. Throughout his career in Washington he persistently opposed the continuation of the civil war, and his conduct in that respect led to the preferring of charges against him in the house, with the result that the matter was referred to a committee for consideration; but no action was taken in the matter. Ills paper was suppressed for eighteen months during the first years of the war. On 29 April, 1867, he began its publication as an evening journal, at the price of one cent a copy. It was the first daily to be issued at that price after the war, and it attained the largest circulation of any journal in the United States, and the third largest of any daily paper in the world. In March, 1876, he founded the "New Yorker Tages-Nachrichten," a German evening paper, which is still continued, and previously he established the "New York Sunday News." Mr. Wood is the author of "Fort Lafayette, or Love and Secession" (New York, 1862).
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