Wiley, Andrew P. (ca. 1821–1869)

By: R. Matt Abigail and Aragorn Storm Miller

Type: Biography

Published: October 22, 2014

Updated: April 21, 2021

Andrew P. Wiley, lawyer and state representative, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, about 1821. He was raised in Georgia and graduated from Franklin College (the founding college of the University of Georgia) in 1843. He then studied law under Judge Garnett Andrews of Wilkes County, Georgia, before immigrating to Texas in 1845. He settled in Huntsville, Walker County, where he established himself as a lawyer and married Mary E. Keenan on April 29, 1847. The couple had two sons and one daughter.

Wiley was an active member of the Walker County community. In 1853 he was named as a trustee for Andrew Female College in Huntsville, and from 1853 to 1854, he served as representative for Walker County in the House of the Fifth Texas Legislature. In 1857 he attempted to gain the Democratic nomination to represent the Western District of Texas in Congress but was defeated by Guy M. Bryan.

Throughout the 1850s Wiley was an ardent champion of Southern prerogatives. He supported William Walker’s filibustering forays into Central America and called for a resumption of the importation of slaves during the State Democratic Convention in May 1859. Wiley also advocated the exclusion of German immigrants who opposed the resumption of the slave trade and was known to publically debate Governor Samuel Houston on the merits of secession. In 1861 Wiley represented Walker County at the Texas Secession Convention and enthusiastically signed the Ordinance of Secession on February 1, 1861. He also served on the committee to author the “Declaration of Causes” that accompanied the ordinance. Despite his prominent role in the secession movement, however, he was handily defeated by Peter W. Gray in the ensuing race to represent Texas in the Confederate Congress.

During the Civil War Wiley became disillusioned with the Confederate cause, and he began to advocate for the restoration of the Union. He would later state that this decision arose chiefly from his disgust with Confederate leadership and his sympathy for the impoverished White Southerners who were “compelled by conscription to fight the selfish battles of a cruel and heartless oligarchy.” Because of this, Wiley was arrested, charged with sedition, and imprisoned in late 1863.

During Reconstruction, Wiley became a prominent member of the Republican Party in Texas. In 1865 he relocated his law offices to Galveston and was appointed a district attorney in the Seventh Judicial District. Immediately after the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, he traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of a moderate Republican faction led by Andrew Jackson Hamilton. Their goal was to prevent a delay in the approval of the new state constitution that might allow the radical Republican faction of Edmund J. Davis to consolidate their power in Texas. However, Wiley fell ill shortly after reaching Washington and died there, at Ebbitt House, on May 2, 1869.

D'Anne McAdams Crews, ed., Huntsville and Walker County, Texas: A Bicentennial History (Huntsville, Texas: Sam Houston State University, 1976). Flake’s Bulletin, May 2, 1869; October 15, 1867. Earl W. Fornell, “Agitation in Texas for Reopening the Slave Trade,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (October 1956). Ordinance of Secession of Texas (http://www.csawardept.com/documents/secession/TX/index.html), accessed July 15, 2014. Waco Southerner, May 9, 1857. Ralph A. Wooster, “An Analysis of the Membership of the Texas Secession Convention,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 62 (January 1959).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Fifth Legislature (1853-1854)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

R. Matt Abigail and Aragorn Storm Miller, “Wiley, Andrew P.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wiley-andrew-p.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 22, 2014
April 21, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: