Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Kinney, William Burnet

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KINNEY, William Burnet, journalist, b. in Speedwell, Morris co., N. J., 4 Sept., 1799; d. in New York city, 21 Oct., 1880. His grandfather, Sir Thomas Kinney, came to this country before the Revolution to explore the mineral resources of New Jersey. William Burnet received a good education, and subsequently studied law under Joseph C. Hornblower. In 1820 he began the life of an editor in Newark, N. J., which, with one or two interruptions, he continued to lead until his appointment, in 1851, as U. S. minister to Sardinia. Prior to this event he had been conspicuous in various public capacities, and among them as a delegate, in 1844, to the Baltimore Whig convention, where he was largely instrumental in securing the nomination of his friend, Theodore Frelinghuysen, for the vice-presidency, with Henry Clay. While minister at Turin he discussed with Count Cavour and other eminent men of the kingdom of Sardinia the movement for the unification of Italy. He rendered also, at the same time, important services to Great Britain, for which he received an acknowledgment in a special despatch from Lord Palmerston. When the U. S. government offered to transport Kossuth to the United States in a national ship, detached from the Mediterranean squadron. Mr. Kinney made himself acquainted with the aims and purposes of the Hungarian exile, and gave prompt instructions to the commander, and information to his own government, of the objects of the fugitive. Daniel Webster, who was at that time secretary of state, thwarted Kossuth's philanthropic but impracticable efforts to enlist the United States in a foreign complication. On the expiration of his term of office he removed from Turin to Florence, where he devoted much of his time to making additions to the new information, which his post had enabled him to acquire, relative to the Medici family, with a view to producing a historical work, which promised to be of great importance, but he did not live to accomplish it. — His wife, Elizabeth Clementine, poet, b. in New York city, 18 Dec., 1810; d. in Summit, N. J., 19 Nov., 1889. She was the daughter of David L. Dodge, and her first husband was Edmund B. Stedman, a merchant of Hartford, Conn. She contributed to periodical literature, and published “Felicita, a Metrical Romance” (New York, 1855); “Poems” (1867); and “Bianca Capello,” a tragedy founded on Italian history, and written during her residence abroad (1873).