A Biography of Elihu Benjamin Washburne
A Biography of Elihu Benjamin Washburne
Volume Five: American Minister to France During Paris Commune of 1871
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“About all I know of Grant I have got from you,” wrote Abraham Lincoln to Congressman Elihu Washburne in 1864. “I have never seen him. Who else besides you knows anything about Grant?” Elihu Benjamin Washburne was not only the link between President Abraham Lincoln and Union General Ulysses S. Grant, but Washburne himself played a major role in both their lives as they rose to power and throughout their presidencies. An Illinois Whig from Galena, Washburne was active in the anti-slavery movement and became a Republican as soon as that party was organized. In fact, some sources even credit his brother, then Congressman Israel Washburn, with coining the name Republican for the new Northern anti-slavery party. Washburne was an early supporter of Lincoln who advised the future President during the Lincoln-Douglas Senatorial Debates in 1858 and was given the honor of writing Lincoln’s campaign biography for the 1860 Presidential race. Elihu Washburne served eight successive terms (1853 to 1869) and was elected to a ninth in the House of Representatives, where he earned the titles “Father of the House” and “Watchdog of the Treasury.” During the Civil War, Washburne was an eyewitness to several battles including the First Battle of Bull Run, Vicksburg, the Wilderness Campaign, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. During the Second Battle of Bull Run, Congressman Washburne was with President Lincoln on the roof of the White House, where they could hear the action. Washburne was the only northern civilian to witness Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. Shortly thereafter he served as a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral. After the Civil War, Washburne was a member of the joint Committee on Reconstruction and chairman of the Committee of the Whole in the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868. In 1869, President Grant honored his old friend by nominating him Secretary of State and then Minister to France. Washburne presented his letters of credence to Napoleon III in May 1869, and was present the next year for the Franco-German War. During that war, Minister Washburne was the only foreign diplomat to remain in Paris during the German siege of that city and later the Paris Commune. At the start of that war, Washburne took under his protection some 30,000 German residents in Paris who were citizens from the North German Confederation, Saxony, Darmstadt, and Hesse Grand Duchy after the German Ambassadors were expelled from France. “He was practically the German Minister in France for eleven months, and was in constant official correspondence with the Prince de Bismarck.” Following the war with the Germans, the people of Paris rose up in revolt and proclaimed a leftist Commune in 1871. The poor response of the French government to feed the people of Paris after the peace treaty contributed to the political turmoil. Despite having just gone through a harrowing experience of war and siege with the Germans, Minister Washburne was faced with a new war, a civil war, and a new siege, this time imposed from within. In 1880, Washburne was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President receiving over forty delegate votes in a losing cause to General James Garfield who later became President. At that same Republican convention, Washburne came in second place in the balloting for Vice President. In the contest for the number two spot, Elihu Washburne lost to Chester Arthur, who replaced Garfield as President after that Chief Executive was assassinated in 1881. In his Civil War generation, Elihu Benjamin Washburne was the Kilroy in Kilroy Was Here. It would be hard to find another person who lived in the middle of the nineteenth century who was at more important events or knew more important people than the Illinois Congressman, Secretary of State, and Envoy Extraordinary. This work explores the life and times of Elihu B. Washburne with special focus on
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Mark Joseph Washburne was born in Evergreen Park, Illinois on March 14, 1956. He was the youngest of five children born to Anne LaVerne O’Toole and John Thomas Washburne, Sr. Most of Washburne’s early years were spent in Deerfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In 1969, the family moved to Chatham, New Jersey, where Washburne’s father headed up the construction of the new AT&T Headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. In 1974, Mark Washburne graduated from Bayley-Ellard High School in nearby Madison. Washburne next attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and in 1979 with Master's Degree in the same subject. In 1986, Washburne also completed an M. B. A. in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison. In 1979, after completing his first Master's Degree, Mark Washburne moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to work for a construction company involved with building a new international airport in that city. From Saudi Arabia, Washburne returned to the United States and held various positions in Marketing and as a Stock Broker for the next decade. In 1992, Washburne was hired to teach World Geography at Berkeley College of Business in Woodbridge, New Jersey as an adjunct professor. From that part time position at Berkeley, he was able to secure other teaching positions at other colleges. For the next few years, Washburne taught as part of the adjunct faculty at five different colleges teaching no fewer than thirty courses (not credits) a year. One semester (the fall of 1999), Washburne taught a record fourteen courses in various business, economics, history, and political science subjects. In 2001, Washburne was promoted to a full-time position at County College of Morris in New Jersey as an Associate Professor of History and Political Science. Mark Washburne is very active in the running community in New Jersey, around the country, and around the world. He is the founder of the Do Run Running Club in Randolph, New Jersey and has completed twenty-five marathons, including the last nine consecutive Boston Marathons 2005-2013. Washburne was also the Race Director for the Run for the Roses 10K Race in Denville, New Jersey from 1991 to 2002. The race was a fundraiser for the Dope Open which was established by Mary Mulholland in 1968 to fight drug and alcohol abuse in northern New Jersey. Mark Washburne also has a running streak. He has run every day, without missing a day, at least three miles a day, since December 31, 1989. In 2011, he was chosen to be the President of the United States Running Streak Association (USRSA), an organization that keeps track of other streak runners in the USA. In 2012, he used his new position at USRSA to form Streak Runners International (SRI), an association that keeps tracks of streak runners around the world. Please visit SRI/USRSA’s website at www.runeveryday.com. Mark Washburne currently resides in Mendham, New Jersey. He is a distant cousin of Congressman, Secretary of State, and Envoy Extraordinary Elihu Benjamin Washburne, the subject of his multivolume biography. Washburne is also a distant cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President George Herbert Bush, President George Walker Bush, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry.

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