Dr. James Clarke Welling 1825-1894


Dr. James Clarke Welling 1825-1894


Subject: Dr. James Clarke Welling 1825-1894


Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography and Life and Writings of Dr. James Clarke Welling


James C. Welling (1825-1894)



Birth Date



Trenton, New Jersey

Death Date



Washington Academy tutor, New York Collegiate Institute principal, National Intelligencer editor, Princeton Professor of Belles Lettres, George Washington University president

Biographical Text

Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography

By James Grant Wilson, John Fiske
Published by D. Appleton and company, 1889

WELLING, James Clarke, educator, b. in Trenton, N. J., 14 July, 1825. He was graduated at Princeton in 1844, and, after studying law, renounced that profession in 1848 to become associate principal of the New York Collegiate School.

In 1850 he was secured by Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton as literary editor of the " National Intelligencer" at Washington, and he was afterward associated with them in the political conduct of that journal, becoming charged in 1856 with its chief management, for which post he was qualified by his accurate scholarship, his facility in writing, and his judicial temperament. His editorship continued through the crisis of the civil war.

Adhering to the old-line Whigs as against the Republican and the Democratic parties, he supported the Bell-Everett ticket for president and vice- president in 1860. Steadfastly resisting the disunion movement at the south in all its phases, he gave to the war for the Union his loyal support. He advocated Lincoln's proposition of emancipation with compensation to loyal owners, the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and its abolition throughout the Union by constitutional amendment; but he questioned the validity of the emancipation proclamation, and strenuously opposed the constitutionality of military commissions for the trial of citizens in loyal states, which practice was subsequently condemned by the supreme court.

The discussions of the " Intelligencer' during this period often took the form of elaborate papers on questions of constitutional or international law, and exercised an acknowledged influence on public opinion. Some of them have been republished, and are still cited in works of history and jurisprudence.

Dr. Welling withdrew from journalism in 1865, and spent the following year travelling in Europe for health and study. He had been previously appointed a clerk of the U. S. court of claims, and served in that office till 1867, when he was chosen president of St. John's College, Annapolis, Md. During his presidency the number of students advanced from 90 to 250. In 1868 he received the honorary degree of LL. D. from Columbian College (now George Washington University).

In 1870 he was appointed professor of belles-lettres in Princeton, but he resigned the post in the following year to accept the presidency of George Washington University. Under his administration that institution has been enlarged, has received a new charter from congress, erected a building in the heart of Washington, added new professional schools, and laid the foundation of a free endowment.

At the same time he has been connected with many literary, historical, and scientific societies. As president of the board of trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of art since 1877 he has devoted much time to its development, visiting in 1887 the studios of the chief artists of Europe in its interest.

In 1884 he was appointed a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and soon afterward he was elected chairman of its Executive Committee.

He was an active member of the Philosophical and Anthropological societies of Washington, was chosen in 1884 president of the former, and has contributed valuable memoirs to the published proceedings of both bodies.

He was president of the Copyright league of the District of Columbia. For many years he has been a contributor to periodicals.[i]

[i] (James Grant Wilson 1889) James G. Wilson was related to Dr. James Clarke Welling by marriage, Wilson had married Jane Cogswell, who was half-sister of Dr. Welling’s mother in-law, Elizabeth Lord Cogswell Dixon.


Dr. James Clarke Welling  (1825-1894) 
Biographic summary of his life events, leadership roles and publications

1825 Birth, Trenton, New Jersey 
1845 Graduate, Princeton University, AM 
1846 Tutor, Washington Academy, VA
1847 Marriage, Genevieve Garnett, dau. of Elizabeth Bankhead Stuart and Col. Garnett of Ingleside, VA
1847 Graduate, Princeton University, MA 
1849 New Jersey Member, Washington National Monument Society 
1849 Principal, Collegiate School, NYC
1850 Literary editor, National Intelligencer, Washington, D C 
1850 Birth of Daughter, Genevieve 
1851 Death of wife, Genevieve Garnett at Ingleside, VA
1856 National Intelligencer, History of the Monroe Doctrine
1857 Author, North American Review, History of Sacred Latin Poetry of the Middle Ages
1858 National Intelligencer, Monroe Doctrine: Missouri Compromise 
1860 Associate Editor, National Intelligencer, Washington, D C
1860 Assistant clerk, Court of Claims, Washington, D C
1861 Aided as Intermediary for Sec. Henry Seward, President Lincoln and G. Summers during evacuation of Fort Sumter, SC
1862 Received on July 25, Preliminary draft of Lincoln's emancipation proclamation
1862 August 22, Editor, National Intelligencer, published Lincoln-Greeley letter 
1864 Donated Jul 25, 1862 Emancipation Draft  Great Fair, Philadelphia Library Company
1865 Resigned as editor National Intelligencer, with William Seaton
1867 President, St. Johns College, Annapolis, MD 
1868 Graduate, George Washington University, LLD 
1870 Professor Princeton University, of belles lettres 
1871 President George Washington University, Fund. Elements of Intellectual Ed
1874 North American Review, The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence 
1877 President, Corcoran School of Art visited studios of Europe 
1878 Philosophical Society of Washington, Life of Joseph Henry 
1880 North American Review Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
1882 Corresponding Member, Connecticut Historical Society, 
1882 Marriage,Clementine L. Dixon, daughter of Senator Dixon, of Connecticut 
1884 President, Philosophical Society of Washington, 
Chairman of Executive Committee, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 
1885 Birth, Daughter, Elizabeth Dixon Welling, Washington, DC
1888 New York Historical Society, Land Politics of the United States 
American Anthropologist, The Law of Malthus 
American Philosophical Society, Anomalies of Sound Signals 
President, Historical Society of Washington, DC
Founder, National Geographic Society, Jan 27, 1888 
President, Cosmos Club, Trustee on Deed, 221 Madison Place, Washington, DC
President, The Literary Society of Washington
1889 Magazine of American History, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence 
1889 American Philosophical Society, Atomic Philosophy, Physical, Metaphysical 
1890 College Association of Middle States, Problems in Higher Education 
1880 New York Historical Society, Connecticut Federalism, 
1891 American Historical AssociationSlavery in the Territories 
1890 Anthropological Society of Washington, Law of Torture. 
American Historical Association States' Rights: Evolution in History 
1893 President, Address George Washington University in Relation to Washington 
1894 President Address, Anthropological Society, The Last Town Election in Pompeii. 
Colleges & Preparatory Schools Association, English in Colleges and Prep Schools 
George Washington University, The Behring Sea Arbitration; The Science of Universal History in its Relations to Physical Sciences 
President American Copyright League, Washington, D.C

1903 Privately Printed: Addresses, Lectures & other Papers, Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass. by Clementine Dixon Welling

Updated by Caroline Welling Van Deusen 2020



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Date Added
January 5, 2013
Item Type
James C. Welling (1825-1894), “Dr. James Clarke Welling 1825-1894,” E - A r c h i V e s , accessed January 31, 2023, https://citizenarchivist.omeka.net/items/show/617.