John Nugent (journalist)

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John Nugent, Irish journalist and U.S. government agent, c.1821–March 29, 1880),

Nugent was born in County Galway but travelled with his parents to the USA at an early age. In the 1840s, he worked as a journalist with the New York Herald and in 1851 became owner-editor of the San Francisco Herald. An unpopular editorial decision caused the paper to collapse a few years later, an event from which his career never recovered although he continued in journalism and an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate.

In 1848, Nugent was leaked a copy of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty would end the Mexican-American War after it was amended and approved by the Senate. Nugent was questioned by senators but did not reveal his source.

The part of his career that is of most interest to historians began in 1858 when President James Buchanan appointed Nugent special agent to New Caledonia (British Columbia). Buchanan wanted to see how Americans and their interests were faring in the area in light of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Nugent quickly discovered that there was little tension and good relations between the Americans and the British.

Nugent appears to have created a rift through a dispute with Governor James Douglas over the treatment of American citizens in the courts. He further suggested that the Americans would intervene quickly if conflict arose. This came out of the feeling he had that New Caledonia and Vancouver Island should and would be annexed to the United States. The diplomatic difficulties were not great and the negativity fell on John Nugent personally.

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