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Guide to the Thurlow Weed Papers
1818-1882
  AHMC Weed

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Teresa Mora

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

November 15,1797 Born in Cairo, NY
April 26, 1818 Marriage to Catherine Ostrander
1824-1826 Owner and editor of Rochester Telegraph
1826 Published Anti-Masonic Enquirer
1829-1831 New York State Assemblyman
1832 Established Albany Evening Journal
1861 Envoy to Europe
1863 Moved to New York City
1867-1868 Editor of Commercial Advertiser
November 22, 1884 Died in New York City

Thurlow Weed was born in Cairo, New York on November 15,1797 to Joel and Mary Weed. His childhood consisted of a number of moves as his father, a farmer, searched for work. By the age of eight, Weed had started working and soon obtained a printer's apprenticeship. Continuing along this path, he became foreman on the Albany Register in 1817 where he began to make contributions as a writer. It was in this regard that his political motivations were first apparent, as Weed used his joumalistic platform to support DeWitt Clinton and his canal policy. After his marriage to Catherine Ostrander in 1818, Weed moved first from Norwich and then from Manlius, eventually securing a job at the Rochester Telegraph in 1824, which he purchased in 1825. It was in Rochester that his political intentions came to fruition as his involvement in regional politics grew, culminating in his election to the New York State Assembly in 1829.

Weed's political life soon took the forefront as he gave up the Telegraph to publish the Anti-Masonic Enquirer and he involved himself in the promotion of various candidates sympathetic to the Antimasonic platform. Despite his ties to the Antimasonic party Weed recognized the narrowness of its scope and often supported National Republican candidates at the state level. In 1831, Weed moved to Albany in order to edit the newly established Albany Evening Journal, "the official organ of the anti-masonic movement." There he continued his association with the Antimasonic party until 1832, when he became involved with the Whigs. It was through this association that he played an instrumental role in the elections of William H. Seward (a politician often supported by Weed) as governor of New York in 1838 and William Henry Harrison as president in 1840. His influence within the party grew as he continued to campaign successfully on behalf of the party candidates. However, with the refusal of Seward to run for re-election in 1842, Weed began to retreat from political life. In the following years he would continue to lend support to various campaigns, but to a lesser extent, taking time out to travel abroad.

By 1856 Weed had again realigned himself, this time with the newly established Republican party. He continued to campaign for Seward, in hopes of an 1860 presidential win, but became a staunch supporter of (and advisor to) Abraham Lincoln upon the former's defeat in the Republican primary. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed Weed, along with Archbishop John Joseph Hughes and Bishop Charles Pettit Mc Ilvaine, as envoys to secure European support for the Union.

As of 1863 Weed had left the Evening Journal, taking up residence in the city of New York. In 1867 he once again turned to journalism as the editor of the Commercial Advertiser, which he soon left due to his failing health. Weed continued to voice his political opinions as a frequent contributor to the press and as an advisor to many politicians.

Thurlow Weed died on November 22, 1884. He was survived by three daughters, one of whom, Harriet A. Weed had his autobiography, The Life of Thurlow Weed (CT.W3945A3), published posthumously in 1884.