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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Whitelaw Reid

WHITELAW REID was born in Xenia, Ohio, October 27, 1837; the son of Robert Chariton Reid and Marion Whitelaw Ronalds, a daughter of the ancient Clan Ronalds of Scotland. His ancestors, both paternal and maternal, were purely Scottish; his grandfather, a rigid Covenanter, came from the Lowlands of Scotland to Kentucky about the end of the eighteenth century. From there he crossed the Ohio River and bought several hundred acres of land on what is now the site of the city of Cincinnati. He obtained the franchise of a ferry across the river, which he was required to operate on Sunday as well as on the other days of the week; but rather than break the Sabbath, he resold the land and removed to Green County, and later became one of the founders of the town of Xenia. His grandson, White-law Reid, was raised in that town and educated in the Academy. In 1853, he entered Miami University and was graduated in 1856 with honours in science. The following fall he became Principal of a graded school at South Charleston, Ohio. In 1857 he purchased the Xenia News, and for three years was its editor. He supported Abraham Lincoln for the Presidential nomination, and was elected from Ohio as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. After Mr. Lincolnís election in 1860, he went to Columbus, Ohio, as a legislative correspondent. He wrote daily letters for the Cincinnati Gazette, Cincinnati Times and the Cleveland Herald. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he accompanied General George B. McClellan as war correspondent of the Gazette, and was made a volunteer aide-de-camp with the rank of captain. Then began his Agate, one of the most brilliant and authentic series of letters in the history of American military correspondence. In the spring of 1862, Mr. Reid went to Washington, to become a newspaper correspondent, and there he made many friends. For three years he was Librarian of the House of Representatives, and at the same time acted as clerk to the military committee of the House. Soon after the murder of President Lincoln, Mr. Reid made an extended journey in the South and became interested in cotton raising. He bought 2,000 acres and employed three hundred negroes. On his return North he wrote After the Waróa Southern Tour, also Ohio in the War. In the summer of 1868, Horace Greeley influenced him to become associate editor of the New York Tribune, and the next year he was made managing-editor. When Mr. Greeley was nominated for the Presidency, Mr. Reid became editor-in-chief of the Tribune, and soon after the death of Mr. Greeley Mr. Reid became printer, publisher and circulation manager all in one. In 1881, President Garfield asked Mr. Reid to represent the United States as Minister to Germanyóan appointment he declined, as he had done four years before, when President Hayes offered the same position to him in 1877. In 1889, President Harrison offered Mr. Reid the place of a Minister to France, which he accepted. During his service in France, he rendered valuable service to both countries, especially in removing the prohibition of American pork from the French market, which had been barred for eleven years. In 1892, Mr. Reid, after four years of useful service, resigned.

On his return to New York, he was called upon to be the Chairman of the New York State Republican Convention; and on June 10, at the Republican National Convention, which met at Minneapolis, he nominated Benjamin Harrison as President, and Mr. Reid was nominated Vice-President by acclamation. He took the leading part in the campaign. His speeches were aggressive and effective and he was graciously received everywhere with popular interest, but the Republican party was overwhelmingly defeated.

Mr. Reidís health was so impaired by the work of the campaign that he was obliged to take things easy. He made protracted visits to the Orient and the South, but later was able to resume his editorial work on the Tribune.

In 1896, Mr. Reid was appointed Special Ambassador of the United States at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. At the close of the war with Spain, President McKinley appointed him to be one of the five American commissioners to negotiate at Paris a treaty of peace, which was concluded December, 1898, satisfactorily to both countries. President Roosevelt appointed Mr. Reid, in 1902, as a special Ambassador at the coronation of King Edward VII.

At the beginning of Mr. Rooseveltís second term, he appointed Mr. Reid Ambassador to Great Britain, and in 1909 he was retained by President Taft. He did estimable service between Great Britain and the United States in the final fixing of the Maine and New Brunswick boundary line, and in the North Atlantic fishing dispute. While in Great Britain, he was constantly in demand to give public addresses, and nowhere was he more respected and loved than in Scotland. The death of Ambassador Reid at Dorchester House, London, December 15, 1912, at the age of seventy-five, after an illness of two weeks, was deeply felt in Great Britain, France and the United States. The King, the Queen, President Taft, diplomats, bankers, editors, educators, and public-spirited men in both countries spoke of him as a man who had set an example of industry and patriotic service which would be an inspiration for his countrymen. Though born of humble parents, he fought his way up to the top with remarkable grit.

Joseph H. Choate, former Ambassador to the Court of St. James and Mr. Reidís predecessor in that post, said: "The news of the untimely death in London of our distinguished Ambassador, Mr. Whitelaw Reid, will be received on both sides of the Atlantic with profound regret. Since the early days of the Civil War, when he won his spurs as a war correspondent, he had been a prominent and distinguished figure in our social and public life.

"As editor and proprietor of the Tribune, which he had made a most formidable and powerful factor in our political life; as Chancellor of the Board of Regents of the University of New York, as minister for four years to France; as one of the negotiators of peace with Spain after our Cuban war; as special ambassador on several occasions to Great Britain, as the Republican candidate for Vice-President with Harrison in 1892, and finally as an Ambassador to Great Britain for a longer term than any of his predecessors, except Richard Rush, he had become and was at the time of his death one of the best qualified and useful of our public servants.

"From the day that he arrived in London, in June, 1905, until his death he was among the foremost of the men in diplomatic life from whatever country. His skill and tact, his wide and varied experience in public and political questions, his high character and suavity of manner enabled him to meet and successfully to treat the successive important questions that arose between the two countries, so that we can hardly recall a single ripple of discord during his term.

"His unbounded hospitality while in office, extended alike to the men and women of both countries, was a subject of general interest and comment in both. But he lived abroad as he did at home, on the same scale and in the same style as his ample means warranted. But it has not in the least made it impossible or difficult for his successor, whoever he may be and of however moderate means, to fill the great office with distinction and dignity, as Frank-. lin did in France and Lowell and Bayard, men of very moderate fortunes, did before him.

"Mr. Reidís literary talents were of a high order, and his style finished and refined, enabling him to deliver admirable addresses in all parts of Great Britain which commanded approval and exercised good influences both there and at home.

"It had been evident to his friends for some time that his health had been steadily declining, but we had hoped that he would have lived to finish his term with that of the administration of President Taft, on which he reflected so much honour and credit abroad. To the very last his high ambition, his intense tenacity of purpose and unfailing sense of duty enabled him to discharge with fidelity the duties of his great office."

Memorial services were held in honour of Mr. Reid in Westminster Abbey and New York, and as a special mark of honour his body was brought to New York on board a British warship.

Mr. Reid was the author of several popular and scholarly publications. In 1878 he was elected for life a Regent of the University of New York State. He was a Christian and a member of the Presbyterian church, and of many social organizations in New York. Degrees were conferred upon him by the Universities of Miami, New York, Princeton, Cambridge, England, and St. Andrews, Scotland. Oxford gave him, in 1907, the degree of D. C. L., which he greatly appreciated.

Mr. Reid married, in 1881, Miss Elizabeth Mills, daughter of Darius Ogden Mills. They had two children: Ogden Mills Reid, a graduate of Yale, and of the law department, who later became Managing Editor of the Tribune and President of the corporation. The daughter, Miss Jean Reid, married, in 1908, the Hon. John Hubert Ward, a brother of the Earl of Dudley.

Mr. and Mrs. Reid maintained their residences in America: in New York, White Plains and in the Adirondacks.

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