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James Silk Buckingham

BUCKINGHAM, James Silk, English traveler, born in Flushing, near Fahnouth, England, in 1786; died in London, 30 June, 1855. He was intended for the church, but preferred a career of adventure. Before he reached his thirtieth year he had been sailor, bookseller's clerk, law student, printer, and captain of a West-Indiaman, and had three times lost all his property. In 1813 he was engaged by the pacha of Egypt to determine the best site for a canal across the isthmus of Suez. After being stripped by robbers, he reached Suez, but the pacha gave up his design and sent Buckingham to India, where he took command of a ship belonging to the sultan of Muscat. He was expelled from India because he had no license from the East India company; but, after returning to Egypt and traveling through the east disguised as a Mameluke, he was given leave to reside at Calcutta, and established there, in 1816, the "Calcutta Journal." Offending the government by his strictures, he was again expelled, and his press seized. He thus lost his property a fourth time. He then returned to London and established the "Oriental Herald" and the "Athenaeum." Between 1822 and 1830 he published his "'gravels in Palestine," "Travels in Arabia," "Travels in Mesopotamia," and "Travels in Assyria and Media," and subsequently two volumes on Belgium, the Rhine, and Switzerland, and two on France, Piedmont, and Switzerland. He lectured throughout the United Kingdom in support of various reforms, and from 1832 till 1837 was member of parliament for Sheffield. After this he traveled extensively in America, lecturing on temperance and anti-slavery. He published his travels in ten octavo volumes, three being devoted to the northern United States, three to the slave states, three to the eastern and western states, and one to Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (London, 1841-'3). In 1849 he published a volume on " National Evils and Practical Remedies," in 1851 became president of the London temperance league, and published the first two volumes of his autobiography (1855), but died before the work was finished.

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