EMANUEL WILLIS WILSON was born in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). After studying law, he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1870 and to the West Virginia State Senate two years later. After moving to Charleston, he was elected to the House of Delegates once again, this time for two terms, during which he served as Speaker. Among the measures he offered were protections for laborers and miners. He was elected governor in 1884. As governor, Wilson continued his opposition to monopolies and fought political corruption. Although Wilson did not run for reelection in 1888, the validity of that election was disputed, and he remained in office until an investigation of the dispute had been completed. This made him the only governor to ever serve a five-year term. He went on to practice law in Charleston.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.
West Virginia Archives and History