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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FOSTER, John Watson, diplomatist, born in Pike County, Indiana, 2 March 1836. He was graduated at the Indiana state University in 1855, and, after one year at Harvard Law School, was admitted to the bar and began practice in Evansville. He entered the National service in 1861 as major of the 25th Indiana infantry. After the capture of Fort Donelson he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and subsequently was made colonel of the 65th Indiana mounted infantry. Later he was appointed colonel of the 136th Indiana regiment. During his entire service he was connected with the western armies of Grant and Sherman. He was commander of the advance brigade of cavalry in Burnside's expedition to East Tennessee, and was the first to occupy Knoxville in 1863.
After the war he became editor of the Evansville "Daily Journal," and in 1869 was appointed postmaster of that City. He was sent as U. S. minister to Mexico by President Grant in 1873, and reappointed by President Hayes in 1880. In March of that year he was transferred to Russia, and held that mission until November 1881, when he resigned to attend to private business. On his return to this country, Colonel Foster established himself in practice in international eases in Washington, D. C., acting as counsel for foreign legations before courts of commissions, in arbitrations, etc. President Arthur appointed him minister to Spain, and he served from February 1883, till March 1885, when he resigned and returned to the United States, having negotiated an important commercial treaty with the Spanish government. This treaty elicited general discussion and was strongly opposed in the senate. That body failed to confirm it, and President Cleveland afterward withdrew it for reconsideration. Some weeks later General Foster was instructed to return to Spain to reopen negotiations for a modified treaty. This mission, however, was unsuccessful, and Mr. Foster remained abroad but a few months.
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