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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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James Kirke Paulding

PAULDING, James Kirke, author, born in Nine Partners, Dutchess County, New York, 22 August, 1779; died at Hyde Park, in the same county, 6 April, 1860. He was the youngest son of William Paulding, a member of the New York committee of safety and commissary-general of the state troops, and his wife, Catherine Ogden, of the New Jersey family of that name. Soon after peace was declared the Paul-dings returned to their former abode in Westchester county. Of his early years Mr. Paulding said" "There was little sunshine in my youth. For some time after the war there were very few schools in our part of the country, and the nearest school-house was upward of two miles from our residence. At this country school, which was a log-hut, I received my education. which first and last cost about fifteen dollars--certainly quite as much as it was worth." At the age of nineteen he went to New York and lived with his brother William, who had secured a place for him in a public office. Through his brother-in-law, William Irving, a man of wit and genius, whose house was the familiar resort of many young men of literary taste and aspirations, Paulding became acquainted with Washington Irving. A strong friendship immediately sprang up between them, which continued unbroken to the last. They had each written some trifling articles for the "Morning Chronicle" and for other journals of the day--Paulding a few hits at the follies of society, and Irving his "Oliver Old Style" essays--when, meeting one evening at William Irving's, they formed the project of publishing a periodical to amuse themselves and the town. In January, 1807, the first number of "Salmagundi " was issued. It was their joint production, with the exception of the poetical epistles and several prose articles, which were written by William Irving. It satirized the follies of the day with great prodigality of wit and no less exuberance of good nature. Nothing of the kind had appeared before from an American pen or press, and its great success was perhaps the determining cause of the subsequent devotion to literature of its chief authors. At the expiration of a year, twenty numbers having been issued, "Salmagundi" was suddenly discontinued, owing to the refusal of the publisher to remunerate its authors. In 1812, having in the meanwhile written occasionally for various periodicals, Mr. Paulding published his second work, "The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan," in the style of Arbuthnot, which passed through many editions, and may be considered as among the most successful of Paulding's productions. It was followed during the next year by a parody on Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel," entitled "The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle," which appeared anonymously, like most of Paulding's earlier writings. An edition of this national satire was, with the addition of a complimentary preface, published in London, and enjoyed what might be called the distinction of a severe castigation from the "Quarterly Review." Our author's next work was a pamphlet in prose, "The United States and England (1814)," called forth by the strictures of the same periodical on "Inchiquin's Letters" by Charles J. Ingersoll. This clever brochure attracted the attention of President Madison, and paved the way for the subsequent political career of its author. After snaking a tour in Virginia in the year 1816, Paulding published "Letters from the South by a Northern Man," in which he gives glowing descriptions of the scenery and society of the" Old Dominion." Soon after the appearance of this work he was made secretary, to the first board of navy commissioners, consisting of Commodores Hull, Porter, and Rodgers. In 1818 Paulding issued "The Backwoodsman," his most elaborate poetical production, written in the heroic measure and describing the fortunes of an emigrant and his family in removing from the banks of the Hudson to the western wilderness. Of this production, which was translated and published in Paris, Halleck wrote: "The muse has damned him--let him damn the muse." It may be said in passing that Paulding during his long literary life devoted much time and strength to unpopular verse and to writing anonymous articles and editorials on various subjects for the "Evening Post" and other journals and magazines, and "To party gave up what was meant for mankind" by entering the field of political controversy In 1819 a second series appeared of "Salmagundi," which was entirely the product of Paul-ding's pen. It failed to receive the cordial reception that greeted its predecessor. The "town" interest had diminished, the author was residing in Washington, engaged in official duties, and the work was deficient in that buoyant spirit of vivacity which was one of the chief characteristics of the first series. The scene of Paulding's first novel, "Koningsmarke, the Long Finne," which appeared in 1823, is laid among the early Swedish settlers on the Delaware. This was followed one year later by "John Bull in America, or the New Munchausen," purporting to be the tour of an English traveller in the United States, and in 1826 appeared "The Merry Tales of the Three Wise Men of Gotham," a satire on the social system of Robert Owen, on the science of phrenology, and on the legal maxim caveat emptor. "The New Mirror for Travellers" was published in 1828, and was followed by "Tales of the Good Woman" (1829) and "Chronicle of the City of Gotham" (1830), in which Mr. Paulding gives what purports to be a translation of curious old Dutch legends of New Amsterdam, but emanating exclusively from the author's for the imagination. In 1831 "The Dutchman's Fireside" was issued, a story, as the author informed the writer of this notice, founded on Mrs. Grant's descriptions of the manners of the early Dutch settlers in her "Memoirs of an American Lady." This novel is in Paulding's happiest vein, and is his most successful production. It passed through six editions in twice that number of months, was republished in London, and translated into the Dutch and French languages. In the following year appeared "Westward Ho !" the scene of which is principally laid in Kentucky. For the copyright of this work, and also for that of "The Dutchman's Fireside," the author received in each instance, on the delivery of the manuscript, fifteen hundred dollars--a handsome sum for those days. In 1835 was published Paulding's admirable "Life of George Washington," addressed to the youth of his country, and constituting one of the most attractive personal sketches of General Washington ever written. His next work, which appeared in 1836, when the Texas question was agitating the country, was on "Slavery in the United States." It is an unhesitating defence of slavery against every kind of religious, moral, and economical attack After having filled the office of navy agent at the port of New York for twelve years, embracing three administrations, Paulding resigned the position to enter Van Buren's cabinet in 1837. In his determination to reform abuses in the naval affairs of the country, and to be master of his department, he naturally met with opposition in many quarters, and had occasion to make use of his practised pen. While in the navy department he viewed with alarm the introduction of steamships and engineers and the persistency with which the advanced naval officers advocated them. He wrote that he "never would consent to see our grand old ships supplanted by these new and ugly sea-monsters," and elsewhere he exclaims, "I am steamed to death!" Soon after his retirement from the navy department, over which he presided with ability and fidelity, Mr. Paulding purchased in 1841 a pleasant home on the banks of the Hudson near Hyde Park, represented in the accompanying illustration, which he named "Placentia." The lines of our author had fallen in pleasant places. No poet could have pictured a lovelier retreat, and there, surrounded by his children and grand-chihlren and some of the finest scenery of the Hudson, he devoted himself to the congenial pursuits of agriculture and authorship. Some of his magazine articles written during the years 1842 to 1846 are equal to any of the compositions of his best days. A novel entitled "The Old Continental. or the Price of Liberty," a Revolutionary story, distinguished by all of Paul-ding's peculiarities of manner and spirit, appeared in 18:i6. The next year there was published a volume of "American "Comedies," by James K. Paulding, and his second son, William Irving, only the first of which, called "The Bucktails, or the Americans in England," was written by the father. In 1849 was issued "The Puritan and his Daughter," the scene of which is partly laid in England and partly in this country. It was the last of his novels, and not perhaps equal to Paulding's earlier ones, nor did it meet with the same measure of success. To a party of gentlemen, including William Gilmore Simms, who. while on a visit to William Wilson, the poet-publisher of Poughkeepsie, during the summer of 1854, drove to "Placentia" with their host to dine with Mr. Paulding, he gave the following description of his way of life: "I smoke a little, read a little, write a little, ruminate a little, grumble a little, and sleep a great deal. I was once great at pulling up weeds, to which I have a mortal antipathy, especially bull's eyes, wild carrots, and toad-flax, alias butter and eggs. But my working days are almost over. I find that carrying seventy-five years on my shoulders is pretty nearly equal to the same number of pounds; and, instead of laboring myself, I sit in the shade watching the labors of others, which I find quite sufficient exercise." In August, 1858, he said to the author of this article: " I have been to New York but once in ten years, and rarely go farther from home than Poughkeepsie to visit your father ... The world has not done the justice as an author. I shall leave my works to posterity and to my son William, who can do what he thinks best with them." He pointed out the original, by Joseph Wood, of the portrait that appears on a previous page, and in answer to the question if that or any other picture had been engraved, he said: "I would never consent to have any portrait engraved for the periodicals. While I was secretary of the navy the publisher of the ' Democratic Review' wanted to put in one of his damned scurvy lamp-black portraits of me."

The echoes of the eloquent eulogies pronounced by Bryant and Everett on the name of Washington Irving at the New York academy of music on 3 April, 1860, had scarcely reached the home of Paulding when he too was called away, and it requires no stretch of fancy to imagine that he only lingered to gather and carry to his friend the grateful homage of their common country. The hand of Spring was laid on the elder, whom Winter had spared. Paulding passed away peacefully early in the evening of 6 April, having, by reason of strength, attained to more than fourscore years, and died, like Irving, in his own happy home, surrounded by those who were most near and dear to him. A few days later his remains were interred in Greenwood cemetery, near New York. Under the title of "Literary Life of James K. Paulding," his literary executor gave to the world in 1867 a record and pleasant picture, not only of his father, but of many of his associates--Gouverneur Kemble, Henry Brevoort, Ebenezer, William, and Washington Irving, Harry Ogden, and others, who some fourscore years ago had charming frolics at "Cockloft Hall," on the banks of the Passaic, near Newark, New Jersey This volume was followed by four others containing such of Paulding's writings as his son deemed most worthy of preservation, including a posthumous volume entitled "A Book of Vagaries." Thus, by the aid of extracts from his autobiography, correspondence, essays, and other works, the career of Mr. Paulding is seen both as an author and a public man, and it is clearly shown that he is entitled to the son's memorial by his constant love of nature, his hearty patriotism, and his characteristic originality. His principal works are "The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan " (New York, 1812); " The Lay of the Scotch Fiddle " (1813) ; "The Backwoodsman " (1818), his longest and best poem ; "Salmagundi" (1819'-20), a second series wholly by himself; "A Sketch of Old England by a New England Man" (1822); " Koningsmarke, the Long Finne" (1823) ; "John Bull in America, or the New Munehausen" (1825) ; "The Merry Tales of the Three Wise Men of Gotham" (1826); "The New Mirror for Travellers" (1828); "Tales of the Good Woman, by a Doubtful Gentleman" (1829) ; "Chronicles of the City of Gotham, from the Papers of a Retired Common Councilman" (1830) ; "The Dutchman's Fireside" (1831); "Westward Ho !" (1832); a "Life of George Washington" (1835) ; " View of Slavery in the United States" (1836); "The Book of St. Nicholas" (1837); "A Gift from Fairy Land" (1838), illustrated by John G. Chapman;" The Old Continental, or the Price of Liberty" (1846) ; "The Puritan and his Daughter" (1849); also, edited by his son, "Select Works" (4 vols., New York, 1867-'8).

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