- Lawrence B. Goodheart
Wright, Elizur (12 February 1804–21 November 1885), abolitionist and life insurance reformer, was born in South Canaan, Connecticut, the son of Elizur Wright, Sr., and Clarissa Richards, farmers. In 1810 the family moved to the Western Reserve of Ohio to obtain cheaper farm land and also to spread the Congregational faith. Wright was the first son of his father’s second marriage, and his parents’ high expectations and exhortation to act on moral principles undergirded his long reform career. Circumstances and youthful ambivalence conspired to bar him from his intended career as a minister. After graduation in 1826 from Yale College (his father’s alma mater), he taught school in Groton, Massachusetts, from 1826 to 1828, where he met his future wife, Susan Clark, whom he married in 1829. They eventually had eighteen children. In lieu of the ministry, the pious young man served four months between 1828 and 1829 as an agent for the American Tract Society in western Pennsylvania before accepting a professorship of mathematics and natural philosophy at Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio....