Joseph T. Buckingham

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Joseph Tinker Buckingham

Joseph Tinker Buckingham (December 21, 1779[1][2] – April 10, 1861[2]) was a journalist and politician in New England. He rose from humble beginnings to become an influential conservative intellectual in Boston.

Family and early life[edit]

Buckingham was born Joseph Buckingham Tinker[3] but christened Joseph Buckingham, with his mother's mother's surname, which he adopted legally in 1804.[4] He was the youngest of nine surviving children of Nehemiah Tinker, a tavern-keeper in Windham, Connecticut, descended from Thomas Tinker, one of the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower.[1] Nehemiah died in 1783, ruined by the devaluing of the Continental currency he received for supplying the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.[1] Tinker's widow, Mary née Huntington, soon became destitute, until friends offered the family a home in Worthington, Massachusetts.[1]

Joseph was indentured to a farmer named Welsh, where he was kindly treated and got a basic education.[1] After his term, he worked briefly as a printer's devil at the Farmer's Museum in Walpole, New Hampshire,[1][5] before become an apprentice compositor and copy-editor at the Gazette in Greenfield, Massachusetts.[1] In 1800 he moved to Boston as a journeyman at Thomas & Andrews.[3] In 1803 he played summer stock in Salem, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.[1] In 1805, he married Melinda Alvord; they had thirteen children.[3]


While setting up as a master printer in Boston, Buckingham started and edited several publications: The Polyanthos, an illustrated monthly magazine, which ran from 1806 till September 1807, and 1812 to 1814;[1][6] and The Ordeal, which ran weekly from January 1809 for six months.[1] These sided with the Federalist Party.[1] He joined the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association and became chairman in 1812;[6] he was vice-president in 1830 and president in 1832.[7] In 1815, he went bankrupt, both his publishing and printing businesses being hit by the War of 1812.[6][8] The New England Galaxy and Masonic Magazine, started in 1817, was popular among the growing number of Freemasons in Boston.[1][9] The reference to Freemasonry was dropped by 1820 after a backlash.[9] The magazine supported Josiah Quincy from 1821,[10] as part of the "Middling Interest" coalition after the Panic of 1819.[11] In 1822, Quincy presided over a libel suit brought against Buckingham by John Newland Maffitt.[12][13]

On 2 March 1824, Buckingham founded the Boston Courier,[1] a daily newspaper which supported protectionism.[1] He sold his interest in the Galaxy in 1828,[1] and edited the Courier till selling out in 1848.[1] It supported the National Republicans, and later the Whig Party.[14] In 1831, he started the monthly The New-England Magazine with his son Edwin.[1] Now considered "one of antebellum America's few worthwhile literary journals",[15] its contributors included Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edward Everett, and Samuel Gridley Howe,[7] and Oliver Wendell Holmes.[16] Edwin Buckingham died in 1833, aged 23, on a voyage to Smyrna to relieve his tuberculosis.[1][15] Joseph sold the Magazine in 1834 to Howe and John O. Sargent.[1] He had to mortgage his property in 1836 when business turned bad.[17]


Buckingham served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for Boston and Cambridge[2] in 1828, 1831–3, 1836, and 1838–9,[1] as a National Republican,[7] and later a Whig. He introduced a report in 1833 in favor of the suppression of lotteries.[1][18] He denounced the Tariff of 1833, switching his allegiance from Henry Clay to Daniel Webster.[19]

He represented Middlesex County[2] in the Massachusetts Senate in 1847–8 and 1850–1.[1] He leaned towards the Conscience Whigs but was not an outright abolitionist, though he did oppose the Fugitive Slave Law in the Compromise of 1850.[20]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from politics and journalism, Buckingham published two two-volume sets of memoirs,[1] and edited the annals of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association.





  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Cyclopaedia of American literature
  2. ^ a b c d Historical Magazine
  3. ^ a b c Kornblith, p.124
  4. ^ Personal Memoirs, pp.4–5
  5. ^ Mott, p.224
  6. ^ a b c Kornblith, p.125
  7. ^ a b c Kornblith, p.128
  8. ^ Crocker, p.21
  9. ^ a b Kornblith, p.126
  10. ^ Crocker, p.43
  11. ^ Crocker, p.84
  12. ^ Crocker, pp.122–3
  13. ^ A correct statement and review of the trial of Joseph T. Buckingham: for an alleged libel on the Rev. John N. Maffit, before the Hon. Josiah Quincy, judge of the Municipal court, Dec. 16, 1822. W.S. Spear. 1822. 
  14. ^ Laurie, p.102
  15. ^ a b Cave, Alfred A. (1999). "New-England Magazine 1831-1835". In Ronald Lora, William Henry Longton. The conservative press in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century America. Historical guides to the world's periodicals and newspapers. Greenwood. p. 129. ISBN 0-313-31043-2. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Kornblith, p.133
  18. ^ Kornblith, p.131
  19. ^ Peterson, Merrill D. (1982). Olive Branch and Sword: The Compromise of 1833. Walter Lynwood Fleming Lectures. LSU Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-8071-2497-4. 
  20. ^ Morris, Thomas D. (2001). Free men all: the personal liberty laws of the North, 1780-1861. The Lawbook Exchange. p. 160. ISBN 1-58477-107-0. 

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