George Washington Greene

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George Washington Greene
Born (1811-04-08)8 April 1811
East Greenwich,
Rhode Island
Died February 2, 1883(1883-02-02) (aged 71)
East Greenwich,
Rhode Island
Nationality American
Occupation Historian

George Washington Greene (April 8, 1811 – February 2, 1883) was an American historian. He was also the grandson of Major-General Nathanael Greene, who served during the American Revolutionary War.


Greene was born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He entered Bowdoin College in 1824, but left in his junior year on account of ill-health. Greene traveled to Europe in the hopes of improving his health. In 1828, while in Italy, he befriended Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and served as the aspiring poet's traveling companion; their friendship lasted 54 years.[1] Greene was in Europe during the majority of the next twenty years, except in 1833–1834, when he was principal of Kent Academy at East Greenwich.[2] He served as the United States consul at Rome from 1837 to 1845.

He was instructor in modern languages in Brown University from 1848 to 1852. In 1853 he edited Joseph Addison's works, with copious notes (6 vols., New York). He took up his residence at East Greenwich in 1865, and soon afterward was chosen to represent the town in the legislature. He made speeches in 1867 and 1869 on the ratification of the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution of the United States. In 1871-1875 he was a non-resident lecturer in American history in the Department of History at Cornell University.

When he returned to East Greenwich, his good friend Longfellow purchased a home for him, which is still standing at 144 Division Street. Shortly after, a windmill was attached to the house.[3]

Greene died at East Greenwich, Rhode Island, on February 2, 1883. He was canoeing down a river with a friend and drowned. His grave stands next to his father's.

Selected list of works[edit]

  • French and Italian text-books
  • Historical Studies (1850)
  • Biographical Studies (1860)
  • Historical View of the American Revolution (1865)
  • Life of Nathanael Greene (3 vols, 1867–1871)
  • The German Element in the War of American Independence (1876)
  • Short History of Rhode Island (1877).


  1. ^ Calhoun, Charles. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004: 55–56. ISBN 978-0-8070-7039-0
  2. ^ Chisholm, Hugh (1910). The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences ..., Volume 12. Encyclopedia Britannica Company. p. 538. 
  3. ^ Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 67. ISBN 0-19-503186-5

Further reading[edit]