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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Cornelius Conway Felton

FELTON, Cornelius Conway, scholar, born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, 6 November. 1807; died in Chester, Pennsylvania, 26 February 1862. He was graduated at Harvard in 1827, having partially supported himself through his course by teaching in Concord and Boston and at the Round Hill school in Northampton, Massachusetts. In his senior year he was one of the conductors of the "Harvard Register," a students' periodical. After teaching for two years in Geneseo, New York, he was appointed Latin tutor at Harvard in 1829, became Greek tutor in 1830, College professor of Greek in 1832, and in 1834 was given the Eliot professorship of Greek literature. He was also for many years regent of the College.

In 1853'4 he visited Europe, studying the various collections of art and antiquities, and spent five months in Greece, where he devoted himself not only to the topography of the country and the remains of ancient art there, but to its present language and literature, to which he attached great importance.His was an enthusiastic defender of the modern Greeks, by whom he was known, during his stay among them, as the " American" professor. He visit ed Europa a second time in 1858, and in 1860 was elected president of Harvard College, which office he held until his death.

President Felton was a member of the Massachusetts board of education, and one of the regents of the Smithsonian institution, His literary labors were extended, and he wits one of the most profound and enthusiastic classical scholars in the country. Besides making large contributions to current literature, he published a translation of Menzel's "German Literature" (3 vols., 1840, in George Ripley's " Specimens of Foreign Literature "); "Classical Studies," original and translated selections, in connection with Professor Sears and Edwards (1843); a translation of Professor Arnold Guyot's lectures on "The Earth and Man" (1849); a selection from the writings of Professor Popkin, with a memoir (1852); " Life of William Eaton," in Sparks's "Ainerican Biographies" (New York, 1853); a revised edition of Smith's " History of Greece," with a continuation from the Roman conquest to the present time (1855); and "Selections from Modern Greek Writers" (1856).

After his death appeared "Familiar Letters from Europe," giving an account of his last trip (Boston, 1864), and "Greece, Ancient and Modern," his most important work, composed chiefly of his lectures before the Lowell institute (2 vols., Boston, 1867). He was also the author of several Greek Textbooks, including an edition of Homer, with Flaxman's illustrations (1833), which passed through many editions.

His brother, Samuel Norse Felton, civil engineer, born in West Newbury, Massachusetts, 17 July 1809, was graduated at Harvard in 1834, studied civil engineering, became superintendent and engineer of the Fitchburg railroad in 1843, and left it in 1851 to become the president of the Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore road, where he remained until 1865. Mr. Felton planned and directed the secret passage of Mr. Lincoln from Harrisburg to Washington previous to his inauguration as president in 1861. He received information that a deep laid plot existed to seize the capital with its archives and records, and then declare the southern conspirators to be the government defacto of the United States. At the same time, all communication between Washington and other places was to be cut off, except a controlled line to the south; and the transportation of troops to defend the capital was to be prevented. He was also informed that, in case his road attempted to carry troops to the defense of Washington, the bridges were to be burned and the trains attacked by parties disguised as Negroes. In case Mr. Lincoln was found, he was to be put out of the way.

Mr. Felton organized and armed a force of trained men, who, while apparently whitewashing the bridges, were in reality a guard that could be summoned instantly. He also established a secret police force." Mr. Felton avoided a special train from Philadelphia to Washington by delaying a regular train for the nominal purpose of forwarding an "important package." When Mr. Lincoln was safely on the train the telegraph wires in all directions between Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Washington were cut, and not united again until eight o'clock on the following morning. After they were joined the first message announced the safe arrival of the "important package." The package was merely a bundle of ohl reports, carefully sealed and directed, and sent by special messenger, but its arrival meant the arrival of Mr. Lincoln at the capital.

Mr. Felton also planned and organized the transportation of troops to Annapolis when communication by way of Baltimore was cut off in April 1861. He was a commissioner of the Hoosac tunnel in 1862, was chosen president of the Pennsylvania steel company in 1865, which office he still holds, and a government commissioner of the Union and Central Pacific railroads in 1869. He was a member of the Centennial board of finance in 1876, and director of the Northern Pacific railroad in 1870'3, and of the Pennsylvania railroad in 1873'83. He published " Philadelphia. Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad Investigation into the Alleged Misconduct of the Superintendent" (Philadelphia, 1854'5).

Another brother, John Brooks Felton, lawyer, born in Saugus, Massachusetts, in 1827" died in Oakland, California, 3 May 1877, was graduated at Harvard in 1847, and remained there for two years as a tutor in Greek. Afterward he spent some time in European travel, and was graduated from the Harvard Law School in 185'3. During the same year he settled in San Francisco. Ills knowledge of French and Spanish led to eminence at the bar, of which he remained a member till his death, he was successful both as an advocate and before the higher courts. The large fees that he received were notable even in California. His fee in one case was said in the newspapers of the time to amount to more than a million dollars, he served several times as presidential elector, and was mayor of Oakland, where he lived. He was for many years a regent of the University of California, of which he was one of the founders. Mr. Felton possessed attractive social qualities and brilliant wit. In the City of San Francisco the news of his death was received with public demonstrations of sorrow, the places of amusement were closed, and the flags displayed at half-mast on the day of his funeral.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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