Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com advises that these 19th Century
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RUSSELL, Benjamin, journalist, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 13 September, 1761 ; died there, 4 January, 1845. He was apprenticed to Isaiah Thomas, at Worcester, Massachusetts, but before completing his term enlisted in the Revolutionary army, and contributed war news to the "Spy," Thomas's paper. He began the publication of the "Columbian Centinel " about 1784, a semi-weekly journal, which had no equal in its control of public sentiment. He was aided by Stephen Higginson, John Lowell, Fisher Ames, Timothy Pickering, and George Cabot. In 1788 Russell attended the Massachusetts convention for ratifying the constitution of the United States, and made the first attempt at reporting for any Boston newspaper. His enterprise was conspicuous in collecting foreign intelligence, and, in order to obtain the latest news, he visited all the foreign vessels that came into Boston harbor. The " Centinel" kept regular files of the "Moniteur," which brought Louis Philippe and Talleyrand frequently to its office during their stay in Boston. An atlas, which was the gift of the former, was of constant service to Russell in preparing his summaries of military news from the continent. When congress was holding its first session, Russell wrote to the department of state, and offered to publish gratuitously all the laws and other official documents --the treasury then being almost bankrupt--which offer was accepted. At the end of several years he was called upon for his bill. It was made out, and receipted. On being informed of this fact. General Washington said: "This must not be. When Mr. Russell offered to publish the laws without pay, we were poor. It was a generous offer. We are now able to pay our debts. This is a debt of honor, and must be discharged." A few days afterward Mr. Russell received a cheek of $7,000, the full amount of his bill. In 1795-1830 he published a Federalist paper, called the "Gazette," which was a violent enemy of France, Jefferson, and the Republican newspapers, and held its influence under the same management until 1830. Russell retired from the "Centinel" in 1828. He originated the phrase the "era of good feeling" on the occasion of President Monroe's visit to Boston in 1817, when the chiefs of both parties, the Republicans and Federalists, united in the support of the executive. He represented Boston in the general court for twenty-four years, served several terms in the state senate, and was a member of the executive council and of the Constitutional convention of 1820.
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