Weed, Thurlow

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Weed, Thurlow

Thurlow Weed (thûr´lō), 1797–1882, American journalist and political leader, b. Cairo, N.Y. After working on various newspapers in W New York, Weed joined the Rochester Telegraph and was influential as a supporter of John Quincy Adams. For a short time he published the Anti-Masonic Enquirer and as a leader of the Anti-Masonic party opposed Martin Van Buren. He wielded much political influence as editor of the Albany Evening Journal after 1830 and was a staunch opponent of the Albany Regency. Becoming a Whig, Weed in 1840 helped secure the election of William H. Harrison as President. In 1844 he helped bring about the presidential nomination of Henry Clay, and in 1848 he backed Zachary Taylor. Though paying lip service to various reforms, notably the abolition of slavery, Weed was more at home with the problems of patronage and lobbying and came to be regarded as the silent boss of the Whig party. After the Whig party disintegrated over the slavery issue, Weed joined (1855) the new Republican party and worked in close cooperation with William H. Seward. Seward was his close personal friend as well as political ally, and Weed carefully shepherded Seward's career as state legislator, governor of New York, and U.S. senator. He failed, however, to secure for Seward the Republican presidential nomination in 1860. Both Weed and Seward nevertheless came to be President Lincoln's staunch supporters. During the Civil War, Weed went on a special diplomatic mission to France and England. His political power in the Republican party was destroyed by his support of the Reconstruction policies of Andrew Johnson in 1866, and he was never again able to exert great political influence. His travels were turned to account in his Letters From Europe and the West Indies (1866).

See The Life of Thurlow Weed (2 vol., 1883–84, including his autobiography and a memoir by his grandson); biography by G. G. Van Deusen (1947, repr. 1969).

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