John Appleton

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For other people named John Appleton, see John Appleton (disambiguation).
John Appleton
John Appleton before 1864.jpg
John Appleton, before 1864
21st United States Ambassador to Russia
In office
September 9, 1860 – June 8, 1861
Preceded by Francis Wilkinson Pickens
Succeeded by Cassius Marcellus Clay
4th United States Assistant Secretary of State
In office
April 4, 1857 – June 10, 1860
Preceded by John Addison Thomas
Succeeded by William H. Trescot
Member of US House of Representatives from Maine's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1853
Preceded by Nathaniel Littlefield
Succeeded by Samuel Mayall
1st United States Ambassador to Bolivia
In office
January 3, 1849 – May 4, 1849
Preceded by Incumbent
Succeeded by Alexander Keith McClung
18th Chief Clerk of the United States Department of State
In office
January 26, 1848 – April 15, 1848
Preceded by William S. Derrick
Succeeded by William S. Derrick
Personal details
Born (1815-02-11)February 11, 1815
Beverly, Massachusetts
Died August 22, 1864(1864-08-22) (aged 49)
Portland, Maine
Resting place Evergreen Cemetery
43°40′54″N 70°18′4″W / 43.68167°N 70.30111°W / 43.68167; -70.30111
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Appleton
Children Eben D. Appleton
Parents John W. Appleton
Sophia Appleton
Alma mater Bowdoin College (1834)
Occupation Politician, lawyer
Religion Christian
Signature Signature of John Appleton

John Appleton (February 11, 1815 – August 22, 1864) was an American lawyer and politician, who served multiple positions domestic and abroad. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Appleton was a graduate of Bowdoin College (1834) and attended Harvard Law School (1835–36). After graduating, Appleton became a lawyer for various firms, including his own, and became the lead editor of the Eastern Argus in 1838. His first official political job was in 1840 when he became the registrar of probates for Cumberland County, Maine. In 1845, Appleton was appointed by George Bancroft to become the Chief Clerk of the United States Department of the Navy. He took this post until 1848 when he took the post of Chief Clerk of the United States Department of State.

In 1849, Appleton was appointed the first chargé d'affaires of Bolivia. At the end of his post (1849), he returned to Portland, Maine, and became elected to Maine's 2nd congressional district in 1851 by a small margin of approximately 40 votes. Appleton did not go for reelection in 1852, and became a diplomatic envoy to London, England, in 1855 to help negotiations with the Crimean War. Appleton was appointed United States Assistant Secretary of State in 1857 which he served until 1860. In that year, he served as an envoy to Russia until his retirement from politics in 1861. Appleton died in Portland on August 22, 1864, and buried at Evergreen Cemetery

Early life: 1815–44[edit]

John Appleton was born on February 11, 1815 in Beverly, Massachusetts.[1] His father, John White Appleton (1780–1862), was a well known citizen of Portland, Maine; his mother, Sohpia Appleton (nee Williams) (1786–1860), was from a Connecticut family. Appleton spent most of his childhood in Portland, Maine.[2] He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1834 where he received an LL.D.[3] Appleton enrolled into Harvard Law School for the summers of 1835–36. In the 1930s, Appleton worked with various law firms, and was admitted into the Cumberland County, Maine, Bar on June 20, 1837. In 1838, he was appointed to the head editor of the Eastern Argus, a now-defunct newspaper serving the Portland, Maine, area.[4] In 1840 and 1842–44, he became the registrar of probates for Cumberland County.[5] Appleton had a law office in Portland, however, it closed shortly to pursue a career in politics.[6] In 1840, Appleton married Susan Lovering Dodge.[1]

Political career: 1845–64[edit]

Chief Clerks[edit]

In 1845, John Appleton was invited by United States Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft to become the Chief Clerk of the United States Navy.[7] He took upon this position until he was appointed Chief Clerk on January 26, 1848.[8] The Chief Clerk was the second-ranking officer of the Department of State and was responsible for supervision of Department personnel, distribution of correspondence, and day-to-day operations.[9]

Chargé d'affaires to Bolivia[edit]

Appleton was appointed the first chargé d'affaires of the South American country of Bolivia on March 30, 1848 by James Buchanan. He was officially recognized as the chargé d'affaires on January 3, 1849.[8] During his trip to Bolivia, his ship crashed and Appleton nearly died. It was also difficult to travel because of the Andes Mountain made most of the country unmapped.[7] Buchanan instructed Appleton to construct a commercial treaty with Bolivia to encourage Peru to give the city of Arica to Bolivia. Also, Buchanan wanted the United States to be a mentor to Bolivia and wanted to have American policies in place in South America.[10] During his term, Appleton used most of his time to study the history and condition of Bolivia, with plans to show the citizens.[7] Appleton left Bolivia on May 4, 1849, concluding his term as chargé d'affaires.[8]

House of Representatives and Envoy to London[edit]

On March 4, 1851, Appleton was elected to represent Maine's 2nd congressional district for the 32nd United States Congress. He beat William Ferguson by approximately 40 votes. He participated in congressional debates often and is noted by the finished style of his speeches, and the graceful and impressive manner of that delivery. In December 1852, he was elected to read an obituary address for the death of Daniel Webster.[11] Appleton decided to not run for reelection in 1852.[5]

In 1855, Appleton was appointed as a diplomatic envoy to London, England, to help negotiations to end the Crimean War (1853–56).[12] He served this position from February 19, 1855, until voluntarily left on November 16, 1855, for a total of 271 days.[5] Appleton was nominated for chargé d'affaires of London, however, he declined the title to help James Buchanan's presidency.[13]

Assistant Secretary of State, Envoy to Russia, death[edit]

After Buchanan's inauguration in 1857, Appleton was nominated for the head of the Washington Union, an administration paper. After a few months, Appleton resigned because of bad health.[14] Appleton was nominated as the fourth United States Assistant Secretary of State on April 4, 1857.[15] The job duties of this position were: whose duties would be as prescribed by the Secretary of State or as required by law. The Assistant Secretary of State superseded the Chief Clerk as the second-ranking officer of the Department. The Counselor replaced the Assistant Secretary as the second-ranking officer in 1913. Specific duties of the incumbents varied over the years and included such responsibilities as supervising the Diplomatic and Consular Bureaus, general supervision of correspondence, consular appointments, administration of the Department, and supervision of economic matters and various geographic divisions. Appleton left this post on June 10, 1860.[16]

On September 9, 1860, Appleton was appointed Envoy to Russia, where he was stationed at St. Petersburg. He remained in this position until June 8, 1861, due to tuberculosis.[14] Appleton dealt with the illness until he died in Portland, Maine, on August 22, 1864. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery.[17]


  1. ^ a b American Council of Learned Societies 1943, p. 329
  2. ^ Emery 1890, p. 337
  3. ^ United States Congress (2005). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005. Government Printing Office. p. 574. ISBN 9780160731761. 
  4. ^ Emery 1890, p. 339
  5. ^ a b c "Appleton, John". Maine An Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ Emery 1890, p. 338
  7. ^ a b c Emery 1891, p. 340
  8. ^ a b c "John Appleton (1815–1864)". United States Department of State. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Chief Clerk". United States Department of State. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  10. ^ Lehmen, Kenneth (1999). Bolivia and the United States: A Limited Partnership. University of Georgia Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780820321165. 
  11. ^ Emery 1891, p. 341
  12. ^ Croft, Laura; Albrecht, Ashleigh; Cluff, Emily; Resmer, Erica (2010). The Ambassadors: U.S.-To-Russia/Russia-To-U.S.. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9780557264698. 
  13. ^ Emery 1891, p. 342
  14. ^ a b American Council of Learned Societies 1943, p. 330
  15. ^ Emery 1891, pp. 342–343
  16. ^ "Assistant Secretary of State". United States Department of State. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Appleton, John, (1815–1864)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on September 13, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Nathaniel Littlefield
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855
Succeeded by
Samuel Mayall
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William S. Derrick
Chief Clerk of the United States State Department
January 26, 1848 – April 25, 1848
Succeeded by
William S. Derrick
Preceded by
United States Ambassador to Bolivia
March 30, 1848 – May 4, 1849
Succeeded by
Alexander Keith McClung
Preceded by
Francis Wilkinson Pickens
United States Ambassador to Russia
June 8, 1860 – June 8, 1861
Succeeded by
Cassius Marcellus Clay
Political offices
Preceded by
John Addison Thomas
United States Assistant Secretary of State
April 4, 1857 – June 10, 1860
Succeeded by
William Henry Trescot