William Bradford Reed

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William Bradford Reed
William Bradford Reed.jpg
Harper's Weekly sketch
Pennsylvania Attorney General
In office
April 2, 1838 – January 15, 1839
GovernorJoseph Ritner
Preceded byJames Todd
Succeeded byOvid F. Johnson
2nd District Attorney of Philadelphia
In office
Preceded byHorn R. Kneass
Succeeded byWilliam B. Mann
Envoy to Qing Empire[1]
In office
April 18, 1857 – November 11, 1858
Preceded byPeter Parker
Succeeded byJohn Elliott Ward
Personal details
Born(1806-06-30)June 30, 1806
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedFebruary 18, 1876(1876-02-18) (aged 69)
New York City, New York
  • Louisa Whelan
  • Mary Love Ralston
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania

William Bradford Reed (June 30, 1806 – February 18, 1876) was an American attorney, diplomat, academic and journalist. He is best known for his biography of his grandfather, General Joseph Reed.

Biography and career[edit]

Reed was born the son of Joseph Reed and Maria Ellis Watmough. After graduating at the University of Pennsylvania in 1825 he went to Mexico as private secretary of Joel R. Poinsett, studied law, was appointed Pennsylvania Attorney-General (1838), and was made professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania (1850).

Between 1851 through 1856 Reed served as the District Attorney of Philadelphia.

In 1857, Reed became Minister to China, where he negotiated the Treaty of June, 1858, and on his return (1860) was active in Democratic Party politics and in New York journalism. For a time he was an American correspondent of The Times.

Reed published many controversial and historical pamphlets and contributed essays chiefly to the American Quarterly and the North American Review. He wrote the Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, his grandfather (1847), and Life of Esther de Berdt, afterward Esther Reed, his grandmother (1853).

His brother was educator Henry Hope Reed.


  1. ^ "U. S. Department of State, Office of the Historian".
Legal offices
Preceded by
James Todd
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Ovid F. Johnson