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Charles A. Bristed


Centurion, 1847–1874

Full Name Charles Astor Bristed

Born 6 October 1820 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 15 January 1874 in Washington, District of Columbia

Buried Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Proposed by Thomas P. Rossiter

Elected 1 May 1847 at age twenty-six

Archivist’s Note: Published under the pseudonym “Carl Benson.” Cousin of John Jacob Astor III.

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

Charles Bristed’s intellect was differently tempered, yet not on that account less fine or fair. With a mind clear, swift-dividing, and positive like a Greek’s, he became such a scholar, as to taste and finish, as there are not twenty of in one American generation. Too direct to be politic, too unbending to be popular, he suffered no pretense in himself or others, and found a pleasure, openly and whimsically expressed, in piercing through the superficial to the real, in customs, institutions, and men. He was so absolutely truthful as to be indifferent to seeming singular, and cared nothing at all for the impression made by his own life and ways, or for any claims of person or practice to a respect not deserved by facts. Those of us who had known him longest esteemed him most, for the lights and shades in his character were too mingled to be parted at a glance, and his worth was not of the self-recommending sort. He believed Polonius’s counsel wise:

“The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy heart with hooks of steel.”

Augustus R. Macdonough
1875 Century Association Reports