Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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TRESCOT, William Henry, diplomatist, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 10 November, 1822. He was graduated at the College of Charleston in 1840, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1843. He also engaged in planting on one of the sea islands near Beaufort. Mr. Trescott became United States secretary of legation at London in December, 1852, and assistant secretary of state in June, 1860, but he resigned that office upon the secession of his state. He was elected to the legislature in 1862, 1864, and 1866, and during that period was on the staff of General Roswell S. Ripley and afterward a member of the executive council. He was selected by James L. Petigru to assist him in preparing the code of law for the state. At the close of the civil war he was sent to Washington to represent the state on certain questions under the reconstruction acts. In June, 1877, he was appointed counsel for the United States on the fishery commission at Halifax, Nova Scotia He was one of the plenipotentiaries to China to revise the treaties in April, 1880, and was appointed by Sec. Evarts to continue and conclude the negotiations with the Columbian minister, and the protocol in reference to the rights of the United States on the Isthmus of Panama, in February, 1881. He was appointed special envoy to the belligerents in South America (Peru, Chili, and Bolivia) in November, 1881, and plenipotentiary with General Grant to negotiate a commercial treaty with Mexico in August, 1882. At present he is practising law in Washington, D. C., and is agent for the state of South Carolina for the settlement of direct tax questions. He is the author of "Thoughts on the Foreign Policy of the United States" (privately printed, Charleston, 1849); "Diplomacy of the Revolution" (New York, 1852); "Letter to Andrew P. Butler on the Diplomatic System of the United States" (1853); "An American View of the Eastern Question" (Charleston, 1854); "Diplomatic History of the Administrations of Washington and Adams" (Boston, 1857); a memoir of General Johnson Pettigrew (1870); and various addresses, including one on General Stephen Elliott, delivered before the South Carolina legislature.
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