The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Putnam, George Haven

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The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
Putnam, George Haven

PUTNAM, George Haven, soldier, author, publisher, b. in London, England, 2 April, 1844, second son of George Palmer and Victorine (Haven) Putnam. His father was a son of Henry (1778-1822) and Katherine Hunt (Palmer) Putnam (1791-1869) and a descendant of John Putnam, who settled in Salem, Mass., in 1640, with his wife, Priscilla (Goulds) Putnam. George Palmer Putnam (1814-72) was a celebrated bookseller and publisher of New York City and London, England (q.v). He traces his descent from Gen. Joseph Palmer (1742-1904), who was chairman of the Committee of Safety, 1774, and leader of the “Indians,” who threw the tea overboard in Boston Harbor after assembling at Chairman Palmer's house and arranging for boarding the British tea ships, continued to serve the patriot cause in the Continental army throughout the Revolution and, at its close, held the rank of brigadier-general. When George Haven Putnam was four years of age his parents packed up their household belongings, took ship for New York on the “Margaret Evans,” a sailing packet of the Black Star Line. On reaching New York the father selected as the first American home for his family, a pleasantly located house at Stapleton, Staten Island, overlooking the New York Bay. George Haven Putnam was instructed at home by his mother and nurse. The elder Putnam, as was the custom of that day, entertained as his guests at his home, the authors of the works he published, and as a boy, Haven remembered Miss Bremer, the Swedish authoress; Susan Warner, the author of “The Wide, Wide World”; Wendell Phillips, the lecturer and publicist, and Mr. Fabans, the traveler, who made, possibly, the first suggestion in regard to a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama. Haven was prepared for college, previously, by the Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, who had a class of boys at St. George's Church, of which Dr. Tyng was rector and his son, Stephen H. Tyng, Jr., instructor of a company of cadets. He next entered Starr's Military Academy, Yonkers, N. Y. In 1857 he attended Prof. John MacMullen's school in upper New York and the Columbia Grammar School conducted by Dr. Anthon after 1859. In 1861 he matriculated at Columbia College, but the condition of his eyes led his father to send him abroad to consult oculists in Paris and Berlin. He sailed from New York, as the only passenger on board the bark “Louisa Hatch” bound for Bristol, England, and from London he went to Paris and thence to Berlin, where he placed himself under the skill of Baron von Graefe, then the leading oculist of Europe. Ats his sight improved, he attended courses of lectures at the Sorbonne, Paris, devoted to French literature and the literature and history of Rome. At the advice of Baron von Graefe, he discontinued lectures after reaching Berlin and sought open-air environments as necessary to complete his treatment. He visited Bayard Taylor at Gotha and en route visited the galleries at Dresden, tramped through Saxon, Switzerland, studied Bohemian life at Prague, passed through the Black Forest region, saw the toymakers of Nuremberg, continued the tramp through the pleasant region of the Thüringer-wald and finally reached Göttingen, where he took up his studies at the university. Here he attended lectures by Ewald, the distinguished Hebrew scholar. He also took a course in German history and botany. At the close of the lectures in the beginning of July, 1862, he was one of a group of students that took a vacation trip through the mountains of the Hartz and this closed his university course at Göttingen, although he did not realize that he was bidding a final farewell to the old university. He was going home to help put down the rebellion, but at its close to return within the coming year, complete his work, and secure his doctorate. In August, 1862, he boarded the steamer “Hansa” at Bremen and returned to offer his services to the Union army. The Young Men's Christian Association was recruiting a regiment that was mustered into service as the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth Regiment, New York Volunteers. In this regiment he served as quartermaster-sergeant. The regiment was assigned to the General Banks' expedition ordered to New Orleans, La., to take possession of the city recently captured by Admiral Farragut. They embarked on the chartered whaler “Alice Corence” and in crowded quarters, with almost continuous storms for forty days, reached New Orleans and after taking military possession of the city the regiment encamped at Brasier City. They were nine months' men and on the expiration of their term of service they were duly mustered out at Bonnet Carrie and almost to a man they re-enlisted for three years' service or until the close of the war. Quartermaster-Sergeant Putnam was commissioned second-lieutenant and a few months later, first-lieutenant. He served as quartermaster of the regiment for about six months and was then made adjutant. He served in the Red River campaign in Louisiana. The One Hundred and Seventy-sixth New York was assigned to Grover's Division of the Nineteenth Army Corps and reached Alexandria on 25 March, 1864, and constituted a part of the rear guard when the army marched to Shreveport. His regiment was next in the Nineteenth Army Corps with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, Va. Major Putnam was a prisoner of war at Libby Prison and subsequently at Danville, but upon being exchanged he served under General Emery in the final campaign that led to the surrender of the Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to General Sherman in North Carolina. His term of service in the Union army as non-commissioned officer, commanding officer, in hospital recovering from swamp fever, and as prisoner of war in loathsome prisons as Libby and Danville, made up exactly three years from the time he enlisted as “a small student just from Germany,” to his landing an honorably discharged soldier in the Civil War, at the Whitehall wharf in New York City. On 5 Oct., 1865, he registered his name for his first legal vote, after having so fairly earned his citizenship. He was deputy U. S. collector of internal revenue under his father who was appointed by President Lincoln collector of the Eighth District of New York in 1862, and he served under his father, 1865-66. His father resumed the book-publishing business in 1866 and made his son his partner under the firm name G. P. Putnam and Son. His father died in 1872, and his sons, George Haven, John Bishop, and Irving Putnam continued the business as G. P. Putnam's Sons, which business was subsequently incorporated as G. P. Putnam's Sons, publishers, with George Haven Putnam as president. They also established, in 1875, a printing and binding plant above the Harlem River equipped with the latest machinery for manufacturing books, known as the Knickerbocker Press; and, on its incorporation, George Haven Putnam was made a member of its board of directors. He was active in reorganizing the American Copyright League in 1887, originally organized in 1851 by his father. He was secretary of the league during the contest for international copyright, resulting in the bill of March, 1891. This service was recognized in France the same year, when he was decorated with the cross of the Legion of Honor. He received the honorary degree of A.M. from Bowdoin College in 1895 and that of Litt. D. from the Western University of Pennsylvania in 1897. He became a member of the Commonwealth Club of New York, the Century Association, and the Authors' Club and the Aldine Clubs of New York. He was one of the founders of the City Club and of the Reform Club of New York City; the National, Liberal, and Cobden Clubs of London made him an honorary member, and the Swiss Club of London elected him to membership. He was a founder of the Society for Political Education and a member of the executive committee of the Civil Service Reform Association. The Free Trade Club of New York, the National Free Trade League, and the Honest Money League of 1876-78 elected him to membership. He is the author of: “Authors and Publishers” (1883) (seventh edition rewritten with additional material, 1916); “Questions Of Copyright” (1891) (second edition brought down to March, 1896); “Authors and Their Publications in Ancient Times” (1893) (second edition revised); “The Artificial Mother, A Fantasy (1894); “Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages,” (2 vols., 1896); “The Little Gingerbread Man”; “The Censorship of the Church of Rome” (2 vols., 1907); “Abraham Lincoln — The People's Leader in the Struggle for National Existence” (1909); “A Prisoner of War in Virginia, 1864-65” (19—); “A Memoir of George Palmer Putnam” (19—). He married, first, on 7 July, 1869, Rebecca Kettell Shepard, of Boston, Mass. She died in July, 1895, and he married, second, on 27 April, 1899, Emily James, daughter of Judge James C. and Emily Ward (Adams) Smith, of Canandaigua, N. Y. She was born 15 April, 1865; graduated at Bryn Mawr College, 1889; studied at Girton College University of Cambridge, England, 1889-90; taught Greek at Parker Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y., 1891-93; Fellow in Greek, University of Chicago, 1893-94; dean of Barnard College, New York, 1894-1900, and trustee, 1901-05; vice-president and manager Women's University Club, New York, 1907-08; president of the League for Political Education, 1901-04. She is the author of “Selections from Luccan” (1891).