Samuel Metcalf Wheeler

Hon. Samuel Metcalf Wheeler was born in Newport, N. H., May 11, 1823. He was the only son—having one sister—of Albira and Melinda (Metcalf) Wheeler, who came of families of remarkably vigorous constitution and decided longevity; and from his ancestry, doubtless, Mr. Wheeler inherits the intellectual and physical ability which has made him so careful in breadth of study, and so successful as a legal adviser at the bar and in legislative debate and action.

Mr. Wheeler's early education was obtained in the seminary at Claremont, N. H., the military academy at Windsor, Vt., at Newbury Seminary, Vt., and in private instruction in the languages.

In 1844 he entered upon the study of law in the office of Walker & Slade, at Royalton, Vt.; seven months later he entered that of Tracy & Converse at Woodstock, Vt., where he remained two years and a half; and for some months afterwards he read law with Hon. Ralph Metcalf, an ex-governor of New Hampshire, from whose office he was admitted to the bar in 1847. He commenced practice in Newport, where he remained about a year. The next four or five years he practiced in Fisherville, and in 1853 he removed to Dover, where he at once entered upon a large and successful practice, and where he still remains. At first he was in business connection with John H. Wiggin. Esq., which lasted for two years. Subsequently, in 1858, he associated with himself Hon. Joshua G. Hall, then commencing practice, and the law firm of "Wheeler & Hall" continued for eight years. Since that time. Mr. Wheeler, while having the assistance made necessary by his practice, has remained without a partner.

As a lawyer, Mr. Wheeler has long been recognized as a leader. His natural abilities, strengthened and brightened by patient study, which has made him familiar with the law and precedents, and his learning, supplemented by the power to see all the features of a case and a conscientious devotion to the interest of his client, make him a safe adviser. His particular success, however, has undoubtedly been in the trial of jury causes, where his extensive study, quickness of perception, tact, and forensic ability, and a habit of thought which grasps particulars into a whole, tending to one strong impression upon listeners, have been the elements which have made him very strong.

Mr. Wheeler was from the first one of the pillars of Republican strength in Strafford county; and when the party in Dover has needed some one to represent it with conspicuous ability it has very often called upon him. He represented that city in the legislature in 1864, 1865, 1868, 1869, and 1870, and in 1876 was a member of the constitutional convention of New Hampshire. In the house, he was on the judiciary committee in 1864, and its chairman in 1865, also chairman of the finance committee in 1868; and in the constitutional convention was chairman of one of the four only leading committees, vis., that on the bill of rights.

In 1869 he was chosen speaker of the house, receiving nearly all the votes of his party in caucus, and much beyond his party vote in the house. He was rechosen in 1870, again receiving more than the vote of his party. As a member of the house, he was always recognized as a leader whose counsel it was safe to follow and whose opposition was generally fatal; and, as speaker, he was distinguished for his dignity, courtesy, and knowledge of parliamentary law. He was several times the leading Republican candidate for congress in the first district, and the peculiar methods by which other men were put into the place which the people demanded he should fill have disgraced and weakened the party in that section ever since.

In the year 1866, Mr. Wheeler received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Dartmouth College. He was president of the Dover National Bank from 1858 to 1874.

Mr. Wheeler married, December 31, 1848, Priscilla E., daughter of Joseph W. and Phebe (Wheeler) Clement, of Franklin, N. H. They have but one child,—Helen Maud,—born March 27, 1858. Mr. Wheeler is still in the prime of successful practice in Dover.