Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Stone, William Leete

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STONE, William Leete, author, b. in New Paltz, N.Y., 20 April, 1792; d. in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 15 Aug., 1844. His father, William, was a soldier of the Revolution and afterward a Presbyterian clergyman, who was a descendant of Gov. William Leete. The son removed to Sodus, N.Y., in 1808, where he assisted his father in the care of a farm. The country was at that time a wilderness, and the adventures of young Stone during his early pioneer life formed material that he afterward wrought into border tales. At the age of seventeen he became a printer in the office of the Cooperstown “Federalist,” and in 1813 he was editor of the Herkimer “American,” with Thurlow Weed as his journeyman. Subsequently he edited the “Northern Whig” at Hudson, N.Y., and in 1817 the Albany “Daily Advertiser.” In 1818 he succeeded Theodore Dwight in the editorship of the Hartford “Mirror.” While at Hartford, Jonathan M. Wainwright (afterward bishop), Samuel G. Goodrich (Peter Parley), Isaac Toucey, and himself alternated in editing a literary magazine called “The Knights of the Round Table.” He also edited while at Hudson “The Lounger,” a literary periodical which was noted for its pleasantry and wit. In 1821 he succeeded Zachariah Lewis in the editorship of the New York “Commercial Advertiser,” becoming at the same time one of its proprietors, which place he held until his death. Brown university gave him the degree of A. M. in 1825. Mr. Stone always advocated in its columns the abolition of slavery by congressional action, and at the great anti-slavery convention at Baltimore in 1825 he originated and drew up the plan for slave emancipation which was recommended at that time to congress for adoption. In 1824 his sympathies were strongly enlisted in behalf of the Greeks in their struggles for independence, and, with Edward Everett and Dr. Samuel G. Howe, was among the first to draw the attention of the country to that people and awaken sympathy in their behalf. In 1825, with Thurlow Weed, he accompanied Lafayette on his tour through part of the United States. He was appointed by President Harrison minister to the Hague, but was recalled by Tyler. Soon after the Morgan tragedy (see Morgan, William) Mr. Stone, who was a Freemason, addressed a series of letters on “Masonry and Anti-Masonry” to John Quincy Adams, who in his retirement at Quincy had taken interest in the anti-Masonic movement. In these letters, which were afterward collected and published (New York, 1832), the author maintained that Masonry should be abandoned, chiefly because it had lost its usefulness. The writer also cleared away the mists of slander that had gathered around the name of De Witt Clinton, and by preserving strict impartiality he secured that credence which no ex-parte argument could obtain, however ingenious. In 1838 he originated and introduced a resolution in the New York historical society directing a memorial to be addressed to the New York legislature praying for the appointment of an historical mission to the governments of England and Holland for the recovery of such papers and documents as were essential to a correct understanding of the colonial history of the state. This was the origin of the collection known as the “New York Colonial Documents” made by John Romeyn Brodhead, who was sent abroad for that purpose by Gov. William H. Seward in the spring of 1841. He was the first superintendent of public schools in New York city, and while holding the office, in 1844, had a discussion with Archbishop Hughes in relation to the use of the Bible in the public schools. Although the influence of Col. Stone (as he was familiarly called, from having held that rank on Gov. Clinton's staff) extended throughout the country, it was felt more particularly in New York city. He was active in religious enterprises and benevolent associations. His works are “History of the Great Albany Constitutional Convention of 1821” (Albany, 1822); “Narrative of the Grand Erie Canal Celebration,” prepared at the request of the New York common council (New York, 1825); “Tales and Sketches,” founded on aboriginal and Revolutionary traditions (2 vols., 1834); “Matthias and His Impostures” (1833); “Maria Monk and the Nunnery of the Hotel Dieu,” which put an end to an extraordinary mania (see Monk, Maria) (1836); “Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman,” a satire on the fashionable follies of the day (1836); “Border Wars of the American Revolution” (1837); “Life of Joseph Brant” (1838); “Letters on Animal Magnetism” (1838); “Life of Red Jacket” (1840; new ed., with memoir of the author by his son, William L. Stone, 1866); “Poetry and History of Wyoming,” including Thomas Campbell's “Gertrude of Wyoming” (1841; with index, Albany, 1864); and “Uncas and Miantonomoh” (1842). — His only son, William Leete, author, b. in New York city, 4 April, 1835, entered Brown, but left college in 1856 and spent several months in Germany in acquiring a knowledge of the German language with a view of translating into English several military works bearing upon our Revolutionary history. On his return in 1858 he was graduated at Brown, and in 1859 took the degree of LL. B. at Albany law-school. He practised law at Saratoga Springs during 1860-'3, and in 1864-'7 was city editor of the New York “Journal of Commerce.” In 1870-'4 he was editor and proprietor of the “College Review,” a paper published in the interests of American colleges. He has been secretary of the Saratoga monument association since its incorporation by the legislature of the state of New York in 1871, and is also one of its original trustees and incorporators. At the laying of the corner-stone of the monument on 17 Oct., 1877, the centennial of Burgoyne's surrender, he delivered the historical address, and he is the author of “The Life and Times of Sir William Johnson, Bart.” (2 vols., Albany, 1865); “Life and Writings of Col. William L. Stone” (1866); “Guide-Book to Saratoga Springs and Vicinity” (1866); “Letters and Journals of Mrs. General Riedesel” (1867); “Life and Military Journals of Major-General Riedesel” (1868); “History of New York City” (1872); “Reminiscences of Saratoga and Ballston” (1875); “Campaign of General Burgoyne and St. Leger's Expedition” (1877); “Third Supplement to Dowling's History of Romanism” (1881); “The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson” (1882); “The Journal of Captain Pausch, Chief of the Hanau Artillery during the Burgoyne Campaign” (1886); “Genealogy of the Stone Family” (1887); and “Ballads of the Burgoyne Campaign” (1893).