This Place In History: Silas Wright

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WEYBRIDGE, Vt.

At This Place In History, Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins tells us about Silas Wright, who was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Weybridge, Vt. Wright’s family moved to Weybridge when he was just one years old. He then attended Middlebury College, graduating in 1811.

If you have never heard of Silas Wright, you are probably not alone. Perkins explained, “It’s one of those places in Vermont where people put up a sign to remember someone who was really famous in their time, but now is somewhat forgotten.” 

Upon graduation, Wright went to New York where he garnered quite the lengthy resume. 

“He became a lawyer and a Congressman. He fought in the War of 1812. He became a Brigadier General and then a Senator. He was very well-respected, friends with Andrew Jackson and President Martin Van Buren,” said Perkins.

Wright was also very involved in the US National Bank and promoting Manifest Destiny, the expansion into the western United States. Perkins points out that Wright was an “interesting Northern Democrat” because he was against slavery and worked against expanding it into the western U.S. There are a number of counties in the Midwest that are named after Wright.

When Wright lost his election for Governor of the state of New York, he retired to his farm in St. Lawrence County and died one year later. 

“The people of Weybridge wanted to remember their son and commissioned a large marble monument. They put this up in 1850. Martin Van Buren came and he spoke, a former President of the United States, at the dedication,” said Perkins.

On the monument, you’ll find a couple of marble busts of Silas Wright. Perkins said, “These were created by a well-known American sculptor, Erastus Dow Palmer. It’s a beautiful piece of American art work. Palmer did a couple of sculptures found in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.”

The most famous part of the monument is that it’s the namesake for Monument Farms Dairy. “A lot of people love their chocolate milk and you can buy it all throughout the Champlain Valley,” said Perkins.

Explore more of Vermont’s history! Click here for a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers.

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