Elihu B. Washburne

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Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State Elihu B. Washburne

Elihu Benjamin Washburne (September 23, 1816October 22/23, 1887) was one of seven brothers that played a prominent role early in the formation of the United States Republican Party and the Lincoln and Grant administrations. A member of Congress (as were three of his brothers), Elihu was known for his courage, and met President-elect Lincoln upon his arrival to Washington, DC on February 23, 1861. An assassination attempt was feared and other GOP leaders were afraid to take on this duty. Elihu had hidden the whereabouts of President-Elect Lincoln by personally cutting telegraph wires in key locations.

An early members of the Republican party, Washburne was a leader of the Radical Republicans and was among the original proponents of the legal equality of Negroes with Whites. After the Civil War, Washburne advocated the large plantations be divided up to provide compensatory property for freed slaves.

Washburne served as President Ulysses S. Grant's Secretary of State for 12 days in March 1869. He then became ambassador to France, where he was influential in negotiating the peace treaty for the Franco-Prussian War.

Three of Washburne's brothers also became politicians: Cadwallader C. Washburn, William D. Washburn, and Israel Washburn, Jr.

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Preceded by:
William H. Seward
United States Secretary of State
March 5, 1869March 16, 1869
Succeeded by:
Hamilton Fish

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