James Grant Wilson

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James Grant Wilson
James Grant Wilson - Brady-Handy.jpg
James Grant Wilson
Born (1832-04-28)April 28, 1832
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died February 1, 1914(1914-02-01) (aged 81)
New York City, New York
Place of burial Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Union Army
Rank Brevet Brigadier General
Battles/wars American Civil War

James Grant Wilson (April 28, 1832 – February 1, 1914) was an American editor, author, bookseller and publisher, who founded the Chicago Record in 1857, the first literary paper in that region. During the American Civil War, he was commissioned as a major of the 15th Illinois Cavalry and became a brevet brigadier general in 1865. He settled in New York, where he edited biographies and histories, was a public speaker, and served as president of the Society of American Authors and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.


Wilson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of the poet William Wilson and his second wife, Miss Sibbald of Hawick. In infancy, he moved with his family to the United States, where they settled at Poughkeepsie, New York. He had two younger brothers. Wilson was educated in Poughkeepsie at College Hill, and continued his studies in the languages, music, and drawing, under private teachers. Eventually, he joined his father in business as a bookseller/publisher, later becoming his partner.[1][2]

In 1855, Wilson started on an extended journey, his tour of Europe and its capitals. Upon his return in 1857, he settled in the growing city of Chicago, Illinois, where he founded the Chicago Record, a journal of art and literature. It was the first literary paper published in that region.[1][2] He also became known as a speaker.

During the Civil War, Wilson sold his journal and entered the Union Army late in 1862. He was commissioned as a major of the 15th Illinois Cavalry, commanded the 4th U.S.C. Cavalry as colonel, and left the Army in 1865 as a brevet brigadier general. His middle brother was killed at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and his youngest brother also served.[1][2]

After the war, Wilson settled in New York City. He became known as a speaker, a frequent contributor to periodicals, president of the Society of American Authors, and, after 1885, of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. He edited Fitz-Greene Halleck's Poems (1868) and wrote his biography, published in 1869; and in 1876 his anthology Poets & Poetry of Scotland in four volumes . He edited A Memorial History of the City of New York (four volumes, 1892–93); Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography (six volumes, 1887–89, with John Fiske; volume vii, 1900); The Great Commanders Series (eighteen volumes, completed 1913); and Wikisource-logo.svg The Presidents of the United States, 1789-1914 (four volumes, 1914), the work of many distinguished writers..

Wilson died in New York City and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.[2]

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  1. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1889). "Wilson, James". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  2. ^ a b c d Eicher & Eicher 2001, pp. 573–574.



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