Robert H. Pruyn
Political, military, and diplomatic service
The Pruyn family of Albany, New York was one of the oldest and most esteemed Dutch families in New York, and at the time of Robert's birth there, had resided in Albany for over two centuries. Pruyn earned an A.B. in 1833 and A.M. in 1836 from Rutgers Academy and began the practice of law in Albany. Active in the state militia, he was named Judge Advocate General in 1841, serving until 1846, and again in 1851.
A political ally and close friend to William Henry Seward, he was a Whig member of the New York State Assembly (Albany Co., 3rd D.) in 1848, 1849, 1850, 1851 1852 and 1854. On January 30, 1850, after Speaker Noble S. Elderkin left the Assembly to stay at home with his wife who was terminally ill, Pruyn was elected Speaker pro tempore. He was again Speaker in 1854. Governor Myron Clark appointed him Adjutant General of the New York National Guard, replacing John Watts de Peyster in 1855, who was allowed to hand pick his successor. He achieved the rank of Brigadier General of the militia.
At the personal request of Seward, who was then Secretary of State, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Minister to Japan in 1861, and he served in that capacity until 1865, when he returned to New York. Japan–United States relations had only recently been established with the visits by visits by Commodore Perry in 1852 to 1854.
Pruyn's crowning achievement was the successful negotiation following the Shimonoseki bombardment. He was considered highly successful in his dealings with the Shogun. He also signed an agreement to allow shipwrecked Japanese sailors to be repatriated.
He was awarded an LL. D. from Williams College in 1865 and served on the board of trustees. He went on to become President of the National Commercial Bank and Trust of Albany, and was one of the founders of Albany Law School.
|Governor candidate||Running Mate||Party||Popular Vote|
|Reuben E. Fenton||Stewart L. Woodford||Republican||366,315||(50.96%)|
|John Thompson Hoffman||Robert H. Pruyn||Conservative Union||352,526||(49.04%)|
- "A Guide to the Pruyn Family Papers, 1679-1978". Albany Institute of History & Art. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
- "Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs: Pruyn". Schenectady County Public Library. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- Allaben, p. 205
- Seward, p. 535
- Treat, p. 193
- Findling, p. 427
- Allaben, p. 304
- The New York Almanac and Yearly Record. Mason Brothers: New York, 1857.
- Hutchins, p. 400
- Jean S. Olton, "Robert Hewson Pruyn: Enjoy to Japan 1862-1865," Town of Colonie, New York (November 1990).
- Treat, p. 194
- "ARRIVAL OF HON. ROBERT H. PRUYN". New York Times. December 14, 1865.
- Shavit, p. 406
- Stern, p. 159
- Johnson & Howard, p. 424
- "The History of Albany Law School". Albany Law School. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- The Conservative Union state convention opens in NYT on September 11, 1866
- "The embossing company". toyhistory.com. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
- "THE HON. ROBERT H. PRUYN DEAD". New York Times. February 27, 1882.
- Political Graveyard, Pruyn, Robert Hewson (1815-1882) — also known as Robert H. Pruyn]
- Allaben, Frank. John Watts de Peyster. Frank Allaben Genealogical Company: New York, 1908. ISBN 1-4021-4454-7
- Findling, John. Dictionary of American Diplomatic History. Greenwood Press: Westport, 1989. ISBN 0-313-26024-9
- Hutchins, S.C. Civil List and Forms of Government of the Colony State of New York. Weed, Parsons & Co.: Albany, 1870.
- Johnson, Rossiter and Brown, John Howard. The twentieth century biographical dictionary of notable Americans. The Biographical Society: Boston. 1904.
- Shavit, David. The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary. Greenwood Press: Westport. 1990. ISBN 0-313-26788-X
- Seward, Frederick W. Autobiography of William H. Seward, from 1801 to 1834. D. Appleton: New York. 1877.
- Stern, Philip Van Doren. When the Guns Roared: World Aspects of the American Civil War. Doubleday: New York, 1965.
- Treat, Payson Jackson. The Early Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and Japan, 1853-1865. The John Hopkins Press: Baltimore, 1917. ISBN 0-548-59476-7
- American Council of Learned Societies. "Dictionary of American Biography". Charles Scribner's Sons: New York. 1959.
- Lee, Edwin B. "Robert H. Pruyn in Japan, 1862-1865". New York History 66 (1985) pp. 123-39.
- Robert H. Pruyn Papers, Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, N.Y.
- "Friend's of Pruyn House web site "
- Political Graveyard, Pruyn, Robert Hewson (1815-1882).
- Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States.
- Pruyn House, Diane Morgan Curator 207 Old Niskayuna Road P.O. Box 212 Newtonville, NY 12128.
Noble S. Elderkin
|Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Ferral C. Dininny
William H. Ludlow
|Speaker of the New York State Assembly
DeWitt Clinton Littlejohn
|U.S. Minister to Japan