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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 41

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This is the grave of Thurlow Weed.

2016-06-04 16.55.21 HDR

Thurlow Weed was a political kingmaker of the Whig Party. Born in 1797 in New York, Weed became involved in politics at a young age, first supporting DeWitt Clinton and then John Quincy Adams. He was elected to the New York state assembly in 1824, becoming a leader of the Anti-Masonic Party. He took over a series of newspapers and effectively became the boss of the New York Whigs during the 1830s. He was a major player in a series of Whig presidential nominees–Henry Clay in 1832, William Henry Harrison in 1840, Zachary Taylor in 1848, and Winfield Scott in 1852. He was originally close to Millard Fillmore so had hopes when Taylor died that Fillmore would see his policies through, but the new president proved quite susceptible to southern influence and Weed grew distant from him. With the Whigs’ collapse, Weed moved into the new Republican Party and worked to elect John C. Fremont in 1856. Typically for Weed’s ambitions, this ultimately failed. Weed was very close with William Seward and hoped to get him the 1860 Republican nomination. When Abraham Lincoln won it instead, both Seward and Weed were disappointed but supported the nominee. After the Civil War, like Seward, Weed turned far to the right, becoming an important supporter of Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policies, which effectively made him politically irrelevant by 1868. Weed lived until 1882, but had little political pull after this.

Thurlow Weed is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York.

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  • rwelty

    when you were in the Albany area, by any chance did you also visit Oakwood Cemetery in Troy? there are a couple of grave sites there that probably rate your attention.

    • I have not been to that cemetery. There is hope for the future, so long as I don’t end up in one.

      • tofubo

        but alas, one of these days, we’ll all be pushing up daisies, six feet under and feeling no pain

  • There are a couple of interesting graveyards near where I live… Union Cemetery in Redwood City has a number of graves for Union soldiers in the Civil war. Ata Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto has a fair number of famous people in it.

  • The Lorax

    Wow. I didn’t know he went rightward. Disappointing.

  • Nobdy

    This may be a highly immature thought for a blog of such deep thought and gravity, but I bet literally thousands and possibly tens of thousands of Albany area teenagers have gone to that grave site at one time or another to get high.

  • West

    There are some names you could just never make up. Thurlow Weed. If you were a writer and named a character that, everyone would point and laugh, unless you were clearly employing a particular type of humor, or were writing within a particular sub-genre. For instance, some alt-history steam punk sci-fi novels will have names like Thurlow Weed, and it works. But in any sort of mainstream fiction or movie or TV show? No way you could name a character that.

    And yet this was an actual name. I love this about history.

    • I look forward to Eric someday finding the grave of Cartha Dekle DeLoach.

    • prufrock

      Terry Pratchett, who had a gift for character names, was on more than one occasion accused of taking it to far (Moist von Lipwig anyone?). He always made a point on those occasions of showing his detractors the London telephone directory. Anything he thought of was tame in comparison.

    • skate

      Or Mangle Minthorne Quackenbos.

      • John Revolta

        Groucho’s character in “Day at the Races” was going to be called Dr. Quackenbush until they got a letter from a real Dr. Quackenbush, telling them to cease and desist.

  • CrunchyFrog

    For many people the name “DeWitt Clinton” has little meaning as a historical figure – the Erie Canal being his main achievement , which was significant but now not prominent in most people’s minds – but the locomotive bearing his name is disproportionately famous among train fans. It was the first locomotive in the state of New York, starting in 1831. Like most locomotives of the time it was essentially experimental in nature and had all kinds of problems. It was quickly surpassed by newer innovations, and in fact it was scrapped after only 2 years. However, because one of the first passengers was an author and an artist who provided a detailed write-up and sketches it did live on in the history books. Because of the sketches it was chosen as the model to build a replica of for the 1983 Columbian Exposition – and that in turn made it an obvious choice of early toy train builders when representing the earliest examples of trains in America. Even today you can buy starter train sets of the DeWitt Clinton.

    • Nobdy

      There’s a typo in this (interesting) paragraph. The Columbian Exposition was a Chicago world’s fair in 1893 not 1983. I’m saying this not to be pedantic but because I actually found the timing very confusing until I looked it up, so I thought it would be helpful to note it.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Thanks for the correction – didn’t catch that when I re-read it. Funny how hard it is to detect typos in year numbers when you are the person to make the error.

  • Aardvark Cheeselog

    the Anti-Masonic Party

    Trying to imagine this being a thing.

  • Bruce Vail

    Thurlow Weed. Talk about obscure…

    How come you never visit the graves any women, African-Americans or American Indians?

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