Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HUNTER, William, statesman, born in Newport, Rhode Island, 26 November, 1774; died there. 3 December, 1849. His father, Dr. William Hunter, a physician of Scottish birth, gave in Newport in 1754-'6 the first lectures on anatomy that were delivered in New England, and probably in the United States. The son studied medicine with his kinsman, John Hunter, in England, but, abandoning it for law, read in the Temple, and on his return to the United States in 1795 was admitted to the bar in Newport, Rhode Island From 1799 till 1811 he was a member of the legislature, and in the latter year was elected United States senator to fill out the term of Christopher G. Champlin. He was re-elected, and served till 1821 with success as a statesman and orator, his speeches on the acquisition of Florida and the Missouri compromise giving him a wide reputation. Resuming his profession at Newport, he practised till 1834, when he was commissioned charge d'affaires in Brazil, becoming minister plenipotentiary in 1841, and serving till 1843. Returning to Newport at the conclusion of his service, he resided there till his death.--His son, William, diplomatist, born in Newport, Rhode Island, 8 November, 1805; died in Washington, D. C., 22 July, 1886, entered the United States military academy, but left it in two years on account of trouble with his eyes. He then studied law, and practised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Providence, Rhode Island, till 1829.when he accepted a clerkship in the state department at Washington. He remained in the government service till his death, when he held the office of second assistant secretary of state, to which he had been appointed in 1866 by special act of congress. His thorough familiarity with all branches of our foreign relations rendered him one of the most efficient servants of the government either at home or abroad. His memory was prodigious, and he was always able to set forth clearly the thread of a protracted by-gone negotiation or the history of a half-forgotten claim.--Another son, Charles, naval officer, born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1813; died at sea, 22 November, 1873, entered the United States navy in 1831, was commissioned 1st lieutenant in 1841, and retired at his own request in 1855. When the civil war began he volunteered in the United States navy, was commissioned commander, and assigned to the steamer "Montgomery" of the Gulf squadron. In 1862, while in command of this ship, he chased a British blockade runner into Cuban waters, and fired on her. This breach of neutrality was investigated, and Commander Hunter was placed on the retired list. In 1866, by an act of congress, he was made captain on the retired list, and he afterward resided at Newport, Rhode Island.
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