A member of the Class of 1855, he became a missionary in the West and in Alaska, acquiring the nickname the “Bishop of All Beyond.” He also founded a town in Alaska and a college that bears this name. Who was he?
This nineteenth-century alumnus was the inspector of Sing Sing prison; consul general to France; discoverer and publisher of Benjamin Franklin's
Autobiography; an important diplomat during the Civil War; and an author, editor, and man about town in old New York. Who was he?
Suggested by Christopher O'Connor '76
The nineteenth-century writer and diplomat we were looking for was John Bigelow of the Class of 1835.
What our answer lacked in quantity they made up for in quality. Here's what two of you told us about Mr.
To the Puzzler:
While in France, Bigelow located the original manuscript of Franklin's Autobiography, publishing his edition in 1868. Strictly speaking, Bigelow did not “discover” Franklin's autobiography since there were extant flawed copies and translations.
Before Bigelow's 1868 edition there had been English translations of a French translation of the original manuscript or imperfect version going back to Temple Franklin's edition published in 1816. Bigelow corrected approximately 1,200 errors in the Temple Franklin text of the autobiography. Bigelow's copy text (Franklin's holograph draft) is now in the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., and is used as the authoritative basis for modern reprintings of the work.
Frederick S. Frank '57
To the Puzzler:
The Civil War might have been lost by the Union forces and Franklin's original manuscript, only one of which existed, might have been lost but for the decision of John Bigelow to transfer, in his junior year, from Trinity College in Connecticut to Union College….
(1) His earlier journalism experience writing editorials as part owner and editor of the New York Evening Post in firm favor of anti-slavery and free trade was put to good advantage in France as consul and minister by awakening the French ideology to the cause of abolition and the French businessmen to the advantages to be found in trade with the industrial North …. He scuttled the Confederate navy on that side of the Atlantic, so that the Union blockade of Southern ports held. In American diplomacy during the Civil War, his work ranks second in importance only to that of Charles Francis Adams in London.
(2) Benjamin Franklin had started his memoirs in August 1771 on a visit to England. After the war, as minister to France, he continued it in a long letter to his son, William. The year before his death, in 1790, Franklin sent two copies of the parts completed to a friend each, in England and in France, for opinions on publishing and suggestions. The original manuscript, with Franklin's own handwritten additions and corrections, was lost for seventy-three years until Bigelow, ending his term as American minister to France in 1865-66, had begun a search for it. In 1868,
ninety-seven years after Franklin began it, Bigelow published the first edition of the work to be based directly on the original manuscript.
Richard Mitchell '50
Others who answered correctly were:
William Fisher '47, Washington, D.C. David Hall '67, Pownal, Vt.
Wally Meyer '57, Westport, Conn. Larry Pellettier '40, Ellicott City, Md. Frank Taormina '50, Schenectady