Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Weed, Thurlow

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WEED, Thurlow, journalist, b. in Cairo, Greene co., N. Y., 15 Nov., 1797; d. in New York city, 22 Nov., 1882. At twelve years of age he entered a printing-office in Catskill, N. Y. Soon afterward he removed with his father's family to the frontier village of Cincinnatus, Cortland co., N. Y., and aided in clearing the settlement and in farming, but in 1811 returned to the printing business, and was successively employed in several newspaper offices. At the beginning of the second war with Great Britain he enlisted as a private in a New York regiment, and served on the northern frontier. In 1815 he removed to New York city, where he was employed in the printing establishment of Van Winckle and Wiley. They were the publishers at that time of William Cobbett's “Weekly Register,” and Weed became acquainted with the eccentric author by carrying proof-sheets to him. He went to Norwich, Chenango co., N. Y., in 1819, established the “Agriculturist,” and two years afterward removed to Manlius, N. Y., where he founded the “Onondaga County Republican.” In 1824 he became owner and editor of the “Rochester Telegraph,” the second daily paper that was published west of Albany. While Mr. Weed was editing that journal Lafayette visited the United States, and Weed accompanied him in a part of his tour throughout the country. Difficulties arising out of the anti-Mason excitement caused Mr. Weed's retirement from the “Telegraph” in 1826, and in the same year he founded the “Anti-Mason Enquirer.” He was a member of the legislature in 1825. In 1830 he established the Albany “Evening Journal,” which took a conspicuous part in the formation of the Whig and the Republican parties, being equally opposed to the Jackson administration and to nullification. During the thirty-five years of his control of that organ it held an influential place in party journalism, and brought Mr. Weed into intimate relations with politicians of all parties. His political career began in 1824 in the presidential conflict that resulted in the election of John Quincy Adams. He succeeded in uniting the Adams and Clay factions, and was acknowledged by the leaders of his party to have contributed more than any other to their success in that canvass. He was active in the nomination of William Henry Harrison in 1836 and 1840, of Henry Clay in 1844, of Gen. Winfield Scott in 1852, and of John C. Frémont in 1856. In 1860 he earnestly advocated the nomination of William H. Seward for the presidency, but he afterward cordially supported Abraham Lincoln, whose re-election he promoted in 1864. He subsequently aided the regular nominations of the Republican party, and did good service in the canvass of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant for the presidency. Especially in his own state he influenced the elections, and in the constitutional crisis that arose from the presidential election in 1876 he guided in a powerful degree the decisions of his party. He had visited Europe several times before the civil war, and in 1861 with Archbishop Hughes and Bishop McIlvaine he was sent abroad to prevail on foreign governments to refrain from intervention in behalf of the Confederacy. In this service he stoutly defended the national interests, and, through his influence with English and French statesmen, brought about a result that permanently affected the feeling of Europe toward the United States. His “Letters” from abroad were collected and published (New York, 1866). He became editor of the New York “Commercial Advertiser” in 1867, but was compelled to resign that office the next year, owing to failing health, and did not again engage in regular work. Mr. Weed was tall, with a large head, overhanging brows, and massive person. He had great natural strength of character, good sense, judgment, and cheerfulness. From his youth he possessed a geniality and tact that drew all to him, and it is said that he never forgot a fact or a face. He was a journalist for fifty-seven years, and, although exercising great influence in legislation and the distribution of executive appointments, he refused to accept any public office. He was one of the earliest advocates of the abolition of imprisonment for debt, was a warm opponent of slavery, supported the policy of constructing and enlarging the state canals, and aided various railway enterprises and the establishment of the state banking system. He took an active part in the promotion of several New York city enterprises — the introduction of the Croton water, the establishment of the Metropolitan police, the Central park, the harbor commission, and the Castle Garden depot and commission for the protection of immigrants. He gave valuable aid to many charitable institutions, and devoted a large part of his income to private charity. He published some interesting “Reminiscences” in the “Atlantic Monthly” (1876), and after his death his “Autobiography,” edited by his daughter, appeared (Boston, 1882), the story of his life being completed in a second volume by his grandson, Thurlow Weed Barnes (1884).