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Henry Dwight Sedgwick Jr.


Centurion, 1897–1957

Born 24 September 1861 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Died 5 January 1957 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Buried Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Proposed by Joseph H. Choate and James B. Ludlow

Elected 6 November 1897 at age thirty-six

Archivist’s Note: Son of Henry D. Sedgwick; brother of Alexander Sedgwick, Ellery Sedgwick, and Theodore Sedgwick; son-in-law of Robert B. Minturn; father of Francis Minturn Sedgwick; second cousin of Arthur G. Sedgwick and Robert Sedgwick; great-uncle of Alexander Sedgwick

Century Memorial

Henry Dwight Sedgwick prepared at Adams Academy in Quincy, and graduated from Harvard in 1882. Then he went to the Law School for a year. He practised law in New York from 1885 to 1898 in the law offices of Evarts, Choate and Beaman; but he was not really interested in it, and, after a few years, he forsook the law and took to writing—largely history and biography. He wrote some good books, for the most part about Italy and the people who lived in the thirteenth century. He travelled much in the realms of gold, and many goodly states and kingdoms saw; and he came to know Western Europe, its stage and its literature, like the palm of his hand. No campanile in Italy nor tower in France but he had climbed it.

What he was and his conduct of life were perhaps more important in the world than the writings he left. It is a misfortune that words are inadequate to carry over to those who did not know him the symbol of whatever was delightful in a companion and precious as a friend. He had sufficient financial security so that he could follow his bent, and his success in this regard is attested by his election to the Academy of Arts and Letters and his being a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was not only completely charming: he was a source of solace and restoration to his friends. Even in his old age he seemed possessed by the spirit of eternal youth that carried him into fields of speculation quite removed from the pessimism and frustrations of the rialto.

He belonged to the clan of Sedgwicks that is associated with Stockbridge, and he lived there, himself, in Sedgwick House. In his Fiftieth Class Report, he wrote:

“I have led a quiet, dilettante life, sunshine and shadow. I regard myself as a Grub Street hack, and if there is enough butter on my bread, I motor in France in the spring and pass my summers with my eldest son in Murray Bay. I go down the vale of years quietly, rather skeptical of human values, especially those of the active life.

“Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbrae.”

George W. Martin
1958 Century Association Yearbook