Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

William Ross Wallace

(1819-1881)
Kentucky

frontispiece

William Ross Wallace, Meditations in America, and Other Poems
(New York: Charles Scribener, 1851)

Lewis Collins, 1 History of Kentucky 579 (Covington, Kentucky: Collins & Co., 1878)(rev. & enlarged, Richard H. Collins):

[William Ross Wallace] Son of Rev. Matthew G. Wallace, a Presbyterian preacher, was a native of Kentucky, born at Lexington in 1819; well educated; read law, and began its practice with good prospects; but was persuaded, by literary friends, to abandon it, and settle in New York city, in the profession of authorship. He published three volumes of poems in 1848, 1851, 1856, and was preparing a fourth in 1860. Wm. Cullen Bryant, the poet-editor, awarded him high praise when he said "his poems are marked by a splendor of imagination and an affluence of poetic diction which show him the born poet." Mr. Wallace has been a regular contributor to some of the leading New York magazines and literary newspapers.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography 375 (New York: James T. White & Company, 1924)(vol. 8):

[Wallace] was educated at Bloomington and South Hanover colleges, Ind., and subsequently studied law at Lexington, Ky. In 1841 he removed to New York where he practiced his profession and engaged in literary pursuits. His talent for poetry was already manifest in his boyhood. A poem, written at the age of seventeen and entitled "The Battle of Tippecanoe," was decla[i]med by him with with such effect before a large political gathering in Indiana that he was urged to become a candidate for the state legislature. Political life, however, had no attractions for him. Mr. Wallace was very prolific in the field of verse, poems of a patriotic nature meeting with particular favor. Especially during the civil war did his melodious verses enjoy an extraordinary popularity. They were sung by many a regiment which marched out from the city of New York, for they were not only rhythmical and adaptable to musical setting, but were filled with a sentiment of patriotism which, especially at that day, had a tremendous popular appeal. Among these songs was the well known "Keep Step to the Music of the Union." His "God of the Free" was intended to be a national anthem, but did not meet with ready acceptance. Wallace also attempted fiction, but his one story "Albin, the Pirate," did not meet with success, and has long been out of print. He was a popular lecturer and possessed oratorical gifts of a high order. For nearly twenty years he was a regular contributor to the "New York Ledger," "Godey's Lady's Book," "Harpers' Magazine" and "Harpers' Weekly," the "Celtic Monthly," and other publications.

W.H. Venable notes that "one can understand, when reading his vigorous and well-wrought verses, why his contemporaries praised him, and we wonder, as in many other similar cases, why compositions so much above mediocrity should be forgotten so soon." [W. H. Venable, Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley: Historical and Biographical Sketches 280 (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1891)] [online text] [William Henry Venable]

William Ross Wallace

William Ross Wallace
The Vault at Pfaff's
An Archive of Art and Literature by New York City's
Nineteenth-Century Bohemians
(Lehigh University Digital Library)

William Ross Wallace
(1851)

Marginalia
Edgar Allen Poe (1849)


International Magazine of Literature, Art, and Science
Vol. 4 (4)(1951)(New York: Stringer & Townsend Publication)(p. 444)

Poems

A Mother's Hymn in Time of War

[The Sword of Bunker Hill] [Choral Harp] [A Poem]

Poetry

William Ross Wallace, The Battle of Tippecanoe, Triumphs of Science, and Other Poems (Cincinnati: P. McFarlin, 1837) [online text]

_________________, The Triumphs of Science, A Poem, Delivered before the Whig Society of Hanover (Indiana) College, at their Anniversary, Wednesday Evening, Sept. 28, 1836 (Louisville, Kentucky: Western Presbyterian Herald, 1837)

_________________, Wordsworth, a Poem (New York: Huntington and Savage, 1846)

_________________, Alban the Pirate, a Romaunt of the Metropolis (New York: Berford & Co., 1848)

_________________, Meditations in America, and Other Poems (New York: C. Scribner, 1851) [online text] [review]

_________________, Prattsville an American Poem (New York: J.F. Birch, 1852) [online text]

_________________, Progress of the United States: Henry Clay, an Ode "Of thine own country sing" (New York: D.J. Field, 1856)

_________________, The Liberty Bell (New York: J.G. Gregory, 1862)

Writings

William Ross Wallace, Alban the Pirate, A Romaunt of the Metropolis (New York: Berford, 4th ed., 1848)

________________ (ed.), The Loved and the Lost (New York: [s.n.], Richards & Jones, printers, 1856)(New York: W.G. Cordray, 4th ed., 1860)

_________________, (ed.), Patriotic and Heroic Eloquence: A Book for the Patriot, Statesman and Student (New York: J. G. Gregory, 1861) [online text]

Research Resources

William Ross Wallace Papers
Clifton Waller Barrett Library
Albert H. Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Poetry of the 1850's Focusing on the American Revolution