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John Bigelow
Born November 25, 1817(1817-11-25)
Malden-on-Hudson, New York, U.S.
Died December 19, 1911 (aged 94)
New York City

John Bigelow (November 25, 1817 – December 19, 1911) was an American lawyer and statesman.



Born in Malden-on-Hudson, New York, John Bigelow, Sr.graduated from Union College in 1835 where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Society and the Philomathean Society, and was admitted to the bar in 1838. From 1849 to 1861, he was one of the editors and co-owners of the New York Evening Post. On June 11, 1850, Bigelow married Jane Tunis Poultney and they had nine children.

  • Poultney Bigelow was a lawyer and a noted journalist and editor.
  • John Bigelow, Jr. (May 12, 1854 to February 29, 1936) graduated from the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, New York in 1877. He served in the United States Army in Texas with the Buffalo Soldiers, taught at West Point, served again in the West then fought and was seriously wounded in Cuba. He retired in October 1904. From 1905-1910 he was a professor at M.I.T. During World War I he was recalled to active duty and served in Washington. He traveled and wrote until his death in 1936.[1]

Political career

Abraham Lincoln appointed him Consul at Paris in 1861, progressing to Chargé d'Affaires, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Napoleon III. In 1865, he became Minister to France and helped block the Confederacy's efforts to acquire ships in Europe. He published an edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin in 1868, and "The Life of Samuel J. Tilden" in 1895, and assisted Tilden in exposing the graft of the Tweed administration in New York. After living in Germany for three years, he returned to New York, where he was elected Secretary of State. He was instrumental as one of Tilden's Estate Trust Executors. He carried out Tilden's wishes, over several years, to develop the New York Public Library. He was a staunch proponent of the development of the Panama Canal. He was a friend of Philippe Bunau Varilla, who brought Panama's declaration of Independence to Bigelow's home. Panama's first proposed flag, made there by Mrs. Bunau Varilla, was rejected by the Panamanians, who made their own.


On August 8, 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani signed a bill adding the name "John Bigelow Plaza" to the intersection of 41st Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, directly in front of the famous main branch of the New York Public Library.


  • "The Life Of Samuel J. Tilden", Written by John Bigelow, 1895 Revised and edited by; Nikki Oldaker 2009: ISBN 978-0-9786698-1-2Samuel
  • Mr. Lincoln and Friends: John Bigelow
  • Retrospections of an Active Lile. 3 volumes. New York: Baker & Taylor Co., 1909.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.(1971) The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1563281554. OCLC 42970390.
  • [1] at Bigelow Genealogy
  • [2] Bigelow and Union College, in NYT on May 18, 1913
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William L. Dayton
U.S. Minister to France
1865 - 1866
Succeeded by
John Adams Dix
Political offices
Preceded by
Diedrich Willers, Jr.
Secretary of State of New York
1876 - 1877
Succeeded by
Allen C. Beach

See also


  1. ^ Kinevan, Marcos E., Brigadier General, USAF, retired (1998). Frontier Cavalryman, Lieutenant John Bigelow with the Buffalo Soldiers in Texas. Texas Western Press, The University of Texas at El Paso. ISBN 0-87404-243-7.  

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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