Edward Daniels (1828–1916) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but moved west to Wisconsin at the age of 21 to pursue a career as a geologist and academic. He was made the first state geologist of Wisconsin in 1853 and taught at Ripon College and Carroll College.
He was a fervent abolitionist and became involved in the escape of fugitive slave Joshua Glover in 1854 as well as the plot to free abolitionist activist Sherman Booth from federal prison in 1860. He was a part of the ill-fated "Free-Stater" expedition led by Jim Lane into Kansas in 1856, part of the Bleeding Kansas events.
Edward Daniels was quick to respond to the opening of hostilities between the States, organizing the 1st Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in 1861. He served as the commanding officer of this unit from 1861-1863. The 1st Wisconsin was initially stationed in Missouri, but Col. Daniels took the initiative to lead successful raids into Arkansas. However, his actions were unauthorized and called into question by his commanders, leading to Daniels' resignation in 1863.
In 1868 Edward Daniels and his wife Ione Gove Daniels purchased the Gunston Hall estate in Virginia from descendants of George Mason. Daniels used the land to attempt a number of utopian and scientific farming schemes, including a school for freedmen. During the 1880's he and his wife were involved in Albert Kimsey Owen's utopian socialist "Topolobampo" colony in Sinaloa, Mexico, though it is unclear whether they actually attempted to settle there.
During his time in Virginia, Daniels was actively involved in the politics of the Reconstruction South. He edited a Republican Richmond journal and ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives against former Confederate officer Eppa Hunton.
Edward Daniels died in Virginia in May 1916.
Sources[edit | edit source]
- 1st Wisconsin Cavalry Civil War Re-enactors Website 
- Edward Daniels Papers 1834-1900, (microfilm), Wisconsin Historical Society Library
- Robinson, Bertha Louisa, "Pilgrimages to American Landmarks - Gunston Hall", Journal of American History, 1910
- Obituary of Edward Daniels, The Daily Northwestern (Newspaper), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, May 12, 1916.