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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BLISS, Porter Cornelius, journalist, born in Erie County, New York, 28 December 1838; died in New York City, 2 February 1885. He was a son of the Rev. Asher Bliss, for many years missionary to the Indians on the reservations in western New York. He studied at Hamilton and Yale, and in 1860 traveled through Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to investigate the condition of the remnants of Indian tribes, and in 1861 became private secretary to James Watson Webb, appointed minister to Brazil. In 1862 Mr. Bliss was commissioned by the Argentine government to explore the Gran Chaco, where he spent eight months in learning the Indian dialects and investigating the antiquities. The results were published by the govermnent. He edited for a short time, at Buenos Ayres, the " River Plate Magazine," and then went to Paraguay, where he became private secretary of the United States minister, Charles A. Washburn, in 1866. President Lopez commissioned him to write a history of Paraguay; but while he was engaged in this work the war between that country and Brazil began, he fell under suspicion, and was thrown into prison, where he was tortured to compel him to confess that he had been a Brazilian spy. At the end of three months (December 1868) he was released on the demand of the United States government, supported by the presence of an American squadron. He went to Washington, was a translator in the war department, edited .the "Chronicle" for a year and a half, and was then (July 1870) appointed secretary of legation in 3lexieo, which office he held for four years. During that time he made archaeological explorations, and wrote much on the condition of Mexico and its opportunities for American enterprise. By his sole personal exertions he saved from execution three American officers in the army of Diaz, who had been captured and condemned by a court-martial. In the summer of 18'74 Mr. Bliss came to New York, and for the next three years he was at work on "Johnson's Cyclopaedia." After that he edited a weekly called "The Library Table." wrote a history of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, and in 1879 went to South America as a correspondent of the New York "Herald." He was for two years president of the philological society, and was an enthusiastic student of oriental antiquities.
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