Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BROWNE, John Ross, traveller and author, born in Ireland in 1817 ; died in Oakland, California, 9 December, 1875. While he was a child his father immigrated to the United States and settled in Kentucky. In his eighteenth year the son descended the Ohio and Mississippi, from Louisville to New Orleans. He was employed for two or three years as a shorthand reporter in the senate. His passion for travel then impelled him to embark on a whaler, and on his return, after visiting a great part of the world, he published " Etchings of a Whaling-Cruise, with Notes of a Sojourn on the Island of Zanzibar" (New York, 1846). He next became private secretary to Robert J. Walker, secretary of the treasury, and in 1849 went to California as a government commissioner, and was employed in reporting the proceedings of the convention for framing the state constitution. In 1851 he went to Europe as a newspaper correspondent. A tour in Sicily and the Holy Land he described in " Yusef, or the Journey of the Fragi: a Crusade in the East " (New York, 1853). After his return to the United States he became an inspector of customs on the northern frontier and the Pacific coast. He wrote numerous magazine articles, one series of which was published in a volume entitled " Adventures in the Apache Country " (1869). In 1861 he went to Europe again, and, leaving his children in Frankfort to be educated, traveled through Algeria, Iceland, Russia, Poland, and other countries. Some of his excursions were described in the volumes entitled "The Land of Thor" (1866), and "Adventures of an American Family in Germany" (1867). His books of travel are illustrated with comical drawings from his own pencil. After his return home he was commissioned by the government to investigate the mineral resources of the region west of the Rocky Mountains. His report, descriptive of the mines, climate, agriculture, and commerce of that part of the country, was published under the title Resources of the Pacific Slope (1869). He published, also, "Crusoe's Island, with Sketches of Adventures in California and Washoe" (1864). On 11 March, 1868, he was appointed United States minister to China, but was recalled on 5 July, 1869. After his return he resided in Oakland.
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