Wade Benjamin Franklin, an American statesman, born in Springfield, Mass., Oct. 27, 1800. He worked as a farmer or laborer in summer and school teacher in winter till 1826, when he began to study law in Ohio, and in 1828 was admitted to the bar in Ashtabula co., where he has ever since resided. In 1835 he was elected prosecuting attorney of that county, and in 1837 to the state senate, to which he was twice reelected. In 1847 he was chosen president judge of the third judicial district of the state. In 1851 he was elected United States senator, and reelected in 1857 and 1863. In the senate Mr. Wade was a steady opponent of all measures favoring slavery. In 1852 he voted, with only five other senators, to repeal the fugitive slave law; he also spoke and voted against the bill to abrogate the Missouri compromise, against the Lecompton constitution for Kansas in 1858, against appropriating $30,000,000 for the acquisition of Cuba, and against all the compromises between the north and south proposed after Mr. Lincoln's election in 1860. The homestead bill he advocated for years, and it was in his charge when it was finally passed by the senate in 1862. From the outbreak of the civil war in 1861 Mr. Wade labored incessantly for a more vigorous policy, was chairman of the joint committee on the conduct of the war, and urged the enactment of a law to confiscate all the property of leading secessionists and emancipate their slaves.
As chairman of the territorial committee, he reported a bill in 1862 abolishing slavery in all the territories of the government, and prohibiting it in any that might afterward be acquired. After the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865 he became president pro tempore of the senate, and acting vice president of the United States; and in March, 1867, he was elected president of the senate. In 1871 he was one of the commission sent to Santo Domingo to report upon its proposed annexation to the United States, a scheme of which he approved.