Bigelow, John, 1817-1911

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John Bigelow, diplomat, journalist, and author, was born on November 25, 1817, at Malden, New York. He was trained as a lawyer and admitted to the New York Bar in 1838. His law practice grew slowly, prompting Bigelow to begin writing for literary magazines and newspapers. This work introduced him to influential politicians and helped him receive an appointment as inspector of Sing Sing Prison, New York. Bigelow's life was punctuated with political appointments. He was Consul-General to Paris during the Civil War and was Minister to France in 1865. He is known for helping Josiah Gregg write his book on pioneer life, The Commerce of the Prairies. He died in New York City in 1911.

From the description of Letter, 1887 Dec. 10. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 47137824

John Bigelow, diplomat, journalist, and author, was born on November 25, 1817, at Malden, New York. He was trained as a lawyer and admitted to the New York Bar in 1838. His law practice grew slowly, prompting Bigelow to begin writing for literary magazines and newspapers. This work introduced him to influential politicians and helped him receive an appointment as inspector of Sing Sing Prison, New York. Bigelow's life was punctuated with political appointments. He was Consul-General to Paris during the Civil War and was Minister to France in 1865. Throughout his life he traveled extensively in Europe and wrote numerous books on political figures in the United States and American history. He is known for helping Josiah Gregg write his book on pioneer life, The Commerce of the Prairies. He died in New York City in 1911.

From the guide to the John Bigelow Letter, December 10, 1887, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

John Bigelow (1817-1911) was an American author, editor and diplomat.

From the description of John Bigelow papers, 1839-1912. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122534127

From the guide to the John Bigelow letters, 1847-1899, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

Lawyer; author; editor, New York Evening Post, 1848-1861; consul-general, Paris, 1861-1865; U.S. minister to France, 1865-1866; New York secretary of state, 1875.

From the description of Letter : Paris, [France], to Monsieur Delestre, 1865 May 5. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 27159095

John Bigelow was an editor and diplomat.

From the description of Correspondence, 1888-1906. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122632874

John Bigelow was an author, editor, and statesman; born in Malden, New York, and educated at Trinity College, he was accepted to the New York bar and practiced law. He shared editorship of the New York Evening Post with William Cullen Bryant, and became known for his anti-slavery and free trade editorials. He served as United States minister to France during the Civil War, and was praised for preventing French recognition of the Confederacy; he later served as New York's Secretary of State. Bigelow was also an author, and was responsible for publishing Benjamin Franklin's autobiography and a complete collection of his works. He was instrumental in the development of the New York Public Library.

From the description of John Bigelow letter to My dear sir, 1862 Nov. 22. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 74150120

Author.

From the description of John Bigelow correspondence, 1865-1910. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79450660

John Bigelow was a newspaper editor, Civil War-era diplomat, and author. He was born in Bristol (now Malden), New York, and, when not in Europe, lived in New York City near Gramercy Park, or at his home, "The Squirrels," at Buttermilk Falls (now Highland Falls), New York. After a period of studying law, teaching, and writing for the newspapers, Bigelow was appointed an inspector at Sing Sing State Prison in 1845 with the help of then New York State Assemblyman Samuel J. Tilden. Bigelow, influenced by Tilden, had joined the Free-Soil Democrats in 1844.

Leaving Sing Sing in 1848, Bigelow became co-owner and co-editor, with William Cullen Bryant, of the New York Evening Post. During his years at the Post, Bigelow married Jane Poultney (1850); traveled to Jamaica (1850), Haiti (1853), and Europe (1858-1860); began reading works of Emanuel Swedenborg in 1854; and campaigned for John C. Frémont, the Republican Party's first presidential candidate, in his 1856 race.

From 1861-1864 Bigelow served as President Lincoln's consul to Paris where his efforts were aimed at influencing the French in favor of the Union cause. While in Paris Bigelow managed to stop the sale of ships being constructed in French shipyards to the Confederacy. In 1865 he was made chargé d'affaires to France, thus remaining there until 1867.

After a two month period as editor of the New York Times in 1869, Bigelow returned to Europe, living in Germany from 1879 to 1873. In 1875, back in the United States, he was appointed by Tilden, now governor of New York, to be chairman of the Erie Canal Investigating Commission. The Commission was formed to investigate the activities of the "Canal Ring," a group of state officials and contractors who were diverting money meant for the maintenance of the Erie Canal. That same year, 1875, Bigelow, now a member of the Democratic Party, was elected New York Secretary of State.

After the 1870s Bigelow spend most of his time writing and editing. His remaining public responsibilities included his role as an executor of the Tilden Trust and in the founding of The New York Public Library; traveling to Panama in 1886 to prepare a report of the progress of the Panama Canal as a guest of the Panama Canal Company and a representative of the New York Chamber of Commerce; in 1888 he was commissioner of the United States section of the Brussels International Exhibition; and in 1893 he was a delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention.

Bigelow was the author of numerous books and articles. These included biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Samuel J. Tilden, William Cullen Bryant, and others; a campaign biography of John C. Frémont; an autobiography; books and articles about French and American history and foreign relations, Swedenborgianism, Haiti and Jamaica, and a variety of other topics.

From the guide to the John Bigelow papers, 1839-1912, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

John Bigelow (1817-1911) was a diplomat, editor and author. Appointed American consul-general at Paris in 1861, he became U.S. minister to France in April 1865. Bigelow had a special interest in French history and biography. His Life of Benjamin Franklin (1874) reproduced the founding father’s famous Autobiography from a manuscript he discovered and first printed in 1868. His editorial triumph was an edition of the Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin (10 vols., 1887-88). He also edited the Writings and Speeches of Samuel J. Tilden (1885, 1908). Bigelow was born on November 25, 1817, the son of Asa Bigelow and Lucy Isham. He attended Washington (now Trinity) College in Hartford, CT, but left in his junior year for Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., where he graduated in 1835. Three years later in 1838 he was admitted to the bar, and obtained public office as an inspector of Sing Sing prison. In 1844 Bigelow joined the Free-Soil Democrats, largely due to the influence of Samuel J. Tilden. In 1848 he was invited by William Cullen Bryant to become part owner and editor of the New York Evening Post . In this position, which he held until 1861, Bigelow was uncompromising in his advocacy of abolition and free trade.

On a visit to Europe in 1858, Bigelow befriended Richard Cobden, John Bright, William M. Thackeray and Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, who paved the way for his success as an American diplomat. He won an appointment as consul-general in Paris in 1861, and at the end of the Civil War he became the American minister to France, a position he held until September of 1866. While in Europe Bigelow established close personal ties to the press in France, Austria and Germany. He provided a corrective lens to the European outlook, that was dependent upon Great Britain for American news. In this way he overcame British propaganda favoring the Confederacy, and exposed and defeated a scheme to gain French support for the American South. He also warned Louis Napoleon against supporting the European imperial adventure in Mexico, while urging a slow response by Washington.

Bigelow returned to the United States in 1867, but held no political office until 1875, when Governor Samuel J. Tilden appointed him to the commission that broke up the New York canal ring. The same year he was elected New York secretary of state, an office he held for only one term. Afterwards, with the exception of appointments as U.S. commissioner to the Brussels Exposition of 1888 and as a delegate to the New York constitutional convention in 1893, Bigelow devoted himself to writing and editing. He died on December 19, 1911.

From the guide to the John Bigelow correspondence, 1888-1906, 1888-1906, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Worthington Chauncey Ford papers, 1858-1938, 1880-1925 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Harvard University. Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits. ca.1852-ca.2004. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter : Highland Falls on Hudson, to Mr. Morgan, 1907 Jan. 1. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Ḥāfiẓ, 14th cent. [Dīvān]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn David B. Hill papers, 1886-1910 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Flick, Alexander Clarence, 1869-1942. Alexander Clarence Flick papers, ca. 1830-1938, bulk (1928-1938). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Correspondence, 1888-1906. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Botta, Anne C. Lynch (Anne Charlotte Lynch), 1815-1891. Papers, 1835-1894. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn United States. Legation (France). Passport issued to Montgomery Fletcher, 1866 Mar. 10. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Bowles, Samuel, 1826-1878. Samuel Bowles papers, 1852-1893 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter : Paris, [France], to Monsieur Delestre, 1865 May 5. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Tilden, Samuel J. (Samuel Jones), 1814-1886. Samuel J. Tilden papers, 1794-1886, bulk (1835-1876) New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Childs, George William, 1829-1894. George William Childs papers [manuscript], 1882-1892. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913. John Shaw Billings Papers at New York Public Library, 1854-1913 [microform]. National Library of Medicine
creatorOf Fisher, Warren, d. 1896. Papers, 1850-1875. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letters, 1880-1906. United States Military Academy, USMA Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letters, 1866. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Avery, Trueman G. Papers, 1868. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn John Shaw Billings papers, 1862-1913 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Bickford" to "Brassey". Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn David B. Hill Papers, 1885-1910 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Autograph signature to document, 1836 Jul. 7. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Note, [ca. 1886]. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Billings, John S. (John Shaw), 1838-1913. John Shaw Billings papers, 1862-1913. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Tilden Trust. Tilden Trust records, 1886-1930, bulk (1890-1915). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Autograph collection of American writers, 1808-1970. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn Bigelow, Poultney, b. 1855. Poultney Bigelow papers, 1855-1954. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir), 1829-1914. Correspondence, 1851-1928. College of Physicians of Philadelphia
referencedIn Ulysses S. Grant letters and documents, 1867-1915 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. John Bigelow letter to Samuel P. Avery, 1896. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn White, Richard Grant, 1821-1885. Papers of Richard Grant White, 1842-1884. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter, 1902, January 12, Gramercy Park [N.Y.], to Paul Dana. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Paul Leicester Ford papers, 1869-1902, 1885-1895 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Morse, Freeman Harlow, 1807-1891. Papers, 1861-1888. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
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referencedIn King, Preston, 1806-1865. Letters, 1850-1938, 1850-1865 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter, 1887 Dec. 10. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf John Bigelow Letter, December 10, 1887 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Correspondence with Henry Charles Lea, 1882-1904. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Charlotte Cushman Papers, 1823-1941, (bulk 1861-1875) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Coan, T. M. (Titus Munson), 1836-1921. Papers, [ca. 1839-1921]. Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1854-1936. John Bigelow papers, 1492-1936 (bulk 1866-1936). Library of Congress
referencedIn Butler, Charles, 1802-1897. Charles Butler papers, 1819-1929 (bulk 1825-1894). Library of Congress
creatorOf Randolph, L. V. F. (Lewis Van Syckel Fitz), 1838-1920. L.V.F. Randolph papers, 1895-1919. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Francis James Child papers, 1842-1925. Houghton Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. John Bigelow correspondence, 1865-1910. Library of Congress
referencedIn William Sydney Thayer Papers, 1835-1901, (bulk 1835-1895) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Vignaud, Henry, 1830-1922. Henry Vignaud papers, 1842-1912. University of Michigan
referencedIn Autograph File, B, ca.1500-1976. Houghton Library
creatorOf Draper, Henry, 1837-1882. Henry and Mary Anna Palmer Draper papers, 1859-1914, bulk (1869-1914). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf John Bigelow papers, 1839-1912 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIg, 1887-1891 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf John Bigelow correspondence, 1888-1906, 1888-1906 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Gregg, Josiah, 1806-1850. ALS to John Bigelow, Pittsburgh. Newberry Library
referencedIn Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894. Nathaniel Prentiss Banks papers, 1829-1911 (bulk 1860-1880). Library of Congress
referencedIn Blair, Frank P. (Frank Preston), 1821-1875. Francis Preston Blair letter, 1866 July 15. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Philippe Bunau-Varilla Papers, 1877-1955, (bulk 1900-1907) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Bigelow family papers, ca. 1843-1950, 1870-1920 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Cushman, Charlotte, 1816-1876. Charlotte Cushman papers, 1823-1941 (bulk 1861-1875). Library of Congress
referencedIn John Shaw Billings Papers at New York Public Library [microform], 1854-1913 History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine
creatorOf Guenoux, Charles. Notice of the life and works of Charles Frederic of Savigny. Union College, Schaffer Library
referencedIn Evarts family papers, 1753-1960 (inclusive), 1798-1901 (bulk) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Alexander Clarence Flick papers, ca. 1830-1938, 1928-1938 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf John Bigelow letters, 1847-1899 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Tilden Estate and Trust records, 1886-1930, 1890-1915 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Bunau-Varilla, Philippe, 1859-1940. Philippe Bunau-Varilla papers, 1877-1955 (bulk 1900-1907). Library of Congress
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. John Bigelow letter to My dear sir, 1862 Nov. 22. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn John G. Nicolay Papers, 1811-1943, (bulk 1860-1901) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn L.V.F. Randolph papers, 1895-1919 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Oswald Garrison Villard papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1761-1904. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Parkman family, Edward Twisleton, and Sarah Wyman Whitman additional papers, 1763-1917 (inclusive) 1850-1907 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Hill, David B. (David Bennett), 1843-1910. David B. Hill papers, 1886-1910. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter to Norman B. Judd. Paris, France. 1865 June 17. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Nathaniel Prentiss Banks Papers, 1829-1911, (bulk 1860-1880) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter, 1867. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn United States. Legation (France). Passport issued to Montgomery Fletcher, 1866 Mar. 10. University of Chicago Library
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creatorOf Hillard, George Stillman, 1808-1879. George S. Hillard letters [manuscript] 1842-1876. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Bigelow, John, 1817-1911. Letter [1888] Jul. 26, Reigate, England, to Henry Vignaud [n.p.] University of Michigan
referencedIn Thayer, William Sydney, 1830-1864. William Sydney Thayer papers, 1835-1901 (bulk 1835-1895). Library of Congress
referencedIn Poultney Bigelow papers, 1855-1954 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Gregg, Josiah, 1806-1850. Letters, 1844-1848. Indiana University
referencedIn Nicolay, John G. (John George), 1832-1901. John G. Nicolay papers, 1811-1943 (bulk 1860-1901). Library of Congress
referencedIn Charles Butler Papers, 1819-1929, (bulk 1825-1894) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Bigelow family. Bigelow family papers, ca. 1843-1950, bulk (1870-1920). New York Public Library System, NYPL
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referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879. Brantz Mayer letters to Charles Mayer and John Bigelow, 1862, undated. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1939. Papers, ca.1800-1941. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Henry and Mary Anna Palmer Draper papers, 1859-1914, 1869-1914 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Samuel J. Tilden papers, 1794-1886, 1835-1876 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Papers, 1775-1782. Houghton Library
creatorOf Ford, Worthington Chauncey, 1858-1941. Worthington Chauncey Ford papers, 1858-1938, bulk (1880-1925). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Vignaud, Henry, 1830-1922. Papers, 1842-1912. University of Michigan
referencedIn Oliver Wendell Holmes letters from various correspondents, 1820-1894 Houghton Library
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United States
Confederate States of America
France
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New York (N.Y.)
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Panama Canal (Panama)
France
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Occupation
Authors
Diplomats
Journalists
Function

Person

Birth 1817-11-25

Death 1911-12-19

Americans

English

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