David Wilmot

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Wilmot, David,

1814–68, American legislator, b. Bethany, Pa. As a Democratic Congressman (1845–51) he became widely known as the author of the famous Wilmot ProvisoWilmot Proviso,
1846, amendment to a bill put before the U.S. House of Representatives during the Mexican War; it provided an appropriation of $2 million to enable President Polk to negotiate a territorial settlement with Mexico.
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, which helped build up sectional animosity before the Civil War. Ardently opposed to slavery, Wilmot became a leader of the Free-Soil party. He helped to found the Republican party and was (1861–63) a Republican Senator, filling out the unexpired term of Simon Cameron. He then became (1863) judge of the U.S. Court of Claims.


See biography by C. B. Going (1924, repr. 1966).

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Wilmot, David

(1814–68) U.S. representative/senator; born in Bethany, Pa. Son of a prosperous merchant, he was a lawyer and became a congressman (Dem., Pa.; 1845–51). For an 1846 bill to appropriate money for settling the war with Mexico, he drew up an amendment that would prohibit slavery in any territory acquired by federal funds. Known as the Wilmot Proviso, this amendment was continually defeated over the years and led to his losing the 1850 election. He served as a judge (1851–61) and helped to found the Republican Party in 1854. Appointed a senator (1861–63), he lost in the 1862 election—although that was the year the Wilmot Proviso finally passed—and Lincoln appointed him to the court of claims.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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With: Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Burning, Amanda Hale, Charlene MeKenna, Lucy Cohu, Jonathan Barnwell, David Wilmot, David Dawson, Clive Russell.