Saturday, November 15, 2008

Benjamin Parke Avery (1828-1875) - Newspaper Editor, Author, Diplomat

[Photo of Avery gravesite by Michael Colbruno; Click on photo for larger view]

Benjamin Parke Avery was born in New York, received no formal education and was trained as a bank-note engraver.

In 1849, he relocated to California in the 1849 Gold Rush. He was a gold miner and owner of a general store until 1856, when he established a weekly newspaper in North San Juan, the Hydraulic Press. The Hyraulic Press was notable for its staunch opposition to slavery.

In 1860 he became Assistant Editor of another paper, the Marysville Appeal, and in 1861 was appointed California's State Printer by Governor Leland Stanford. In the late 1860s Avery joined the San Francisco Bulletin, and in 1872 became Editor of the Overland Monthly.

Avery was one of the founders of the San Francisco Art Association and School of Design. He was also an author and graphic artist, and his works include "Californian Pictures in Prose and Verse" and "California as I Saw It." Californian pictures in prose and verse (1878) contains his "word-sketches," which are largely confined to California scenery, although some picture Native Americans and miners whom he knew when he prospected on the Trinity River in 1850 as well as the city of San Francisco. Most of the book is devoted to poems and essays dealing with mountains of the Coast Range, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Santa Cruz range and their passes and lakes; Yosemite, upper Sacramento Valley, Mount Shasta, and the geysers.

In 1874 he was appointed US Minister to China, and he was still serving at the time of his death. He played an important role in calming China and Japan, which were then on the verge of war. He died in Beijing.

Avery was married, but had no children.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Kenneth Lifshitx