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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Leggett

LEGGETT, William, author, born in New York city in 1802; died in New Rochelle, New York, 29 May, 1839. His father, Major Abraham Leggett, was a soldier of the Revolution. The son was educated at Georgetown college, D. C., and in 1819 removed with his father to Illinois. He entered the navy as a midshipman in 182., but resigned in 1826, and became editor of the "Critic," a weekly literary journal which wits soon united with the "New York Mirror." In 1829 he became an editor of the "New York Evening Post," and was attached to that journal till 1836. At the outset he stipulated with William Cullen Bryant, the senior editor, that he should not be required to write political articles, as he had neither taste nor fixed opinions regarding politics; but before the year had passed he appeared to have found his true vocation in discussing" them, and wrote vigorous editorial articles in favor of free trade and against the United States bank. In 1835 the meetings of the Abolitionists in New York were dispersed by mobs. Leggett denounced these proceedings, and defended the right to free discussion in regard to slavery as well as all other subjects. Retiring from the "Post," he began the publication of "The Plain Dealer" in 1836, which attained a large circulation, but was discontinued in less than a year through the failure of its publisher. After this, his h eMth being greatly enfeebled, Mr. Leggett left literary work and retired to New Rochelle, New York He was appointed in 1839 by President Van Buren diplomatic agent to Guatemala, but died before the day of sailing. Mr. Leggett was remarkable among the journalists of his day as an unflinching advocate of freedom of opinion for his political opponents as well as for his own party. Mr. Bryant wrote the poem to his memory beginning "The earth may ring from shore to shore." he describes Leggett as fond of study, delighting to trace principles to their remotest consequences, and as having no fear of public opinion regarding the expression of his own convictions. It was the fiery Leggett that urged on Bryant to attack William L. Stone, a brother editor, in Broadway. Soon afterward he fought a duel at Weehawken with Blake, the treasurer of the old Park theatre. To the surprise of all New York, Leggett selected James Lawson, a peacefully disposed Scottish-American poet, who was slightly lame, as his second; and when asked after the bloodless duel for his reasons, he answered: " Blake's second, Berkeley, was lame, and I did not propose that the d--d Englishman should beat me in anything." His writings include "Leisure Hours at Sea" (1825); "Tales of a Country School Master" (1835); "Naval Stories" (1835); and "Political Writings," edited, with a preface, by Theodore Sedgwick (1840). See "Bryant and His Friends," by James Grant Wilson (New York, 1886).--His nephew, William Henry, botanist, born in New York city, 24 February, 1816; died there in April, 1882, was the son of Abraham Alsop Leggett. He was graduated at Columbia in 1837, and after travelling through Europe followed the profession of a teacher till his death. He was one of the earliest members of the Greek club, an association of college graduates that was formed for the study of that language, and was devoted from early life to the science of botany, in which he became an authority. He founded the "Torrey Botanical Bulletin" and was its sole editor and publisher front 1870 till 1880. Mr. Leggett was a member of the New York academy of sciences and of the Philadelphia academy of natural sciences.

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