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Edward Eggleston


Centurion, 1883–1902

Born 10 December 1837 in Vevay, Indiana

Died 3 September 1902 in Lake George, New York

Buried Owl’s Nest Cemetery, Lake George, New York

Proposed by Not recorded

Elected 7 October 1883 at age forty-five

Supporter of:

Century Memorial

Edward Eggleston, preacher, novelist, historian, was, in a peculiar sense, an American man of letters. Born of a Virginian family in Indiana, when that State was still the thinly settled Far West, he entered the Methodist ministry at nineteen. He abandoned this calling, in which he had peculiar success, while still under forty, for literature, to which his then condition of health was more suited. After having written stories of unique value and interest, embodying the life of the rude and vigorous people among whom he was born, he began at the age of forty-three to study for a History of Life in the United States, of which two remarkable parts were published before his death,—The Beginnings of a Nation and The Transit of a Civilization. This study, which was carried on in the libraries of this country, especially at Washington, and abroad, and in his own extensive library on the shore of Lake George, was interrupted by his death, at sixty-five, when he was in full pursuit of a plan broad enough to have dismayed a man in the prime of life. But it was never easy to dismay Dr. Eggleston’s heroic energy and unflagging conscience. As he had patiently and minutely wrought his observation of actual life into his fiction, so he brought to bear on the fruits of careful research the vitalizing force of an active imagination, trained by wide knowledge of human nature and guided by a high standard of truthfulness. His most successful fiction was a series of studies in reality, mémoires pour server the larger aim. It was life, indeed, that engaged and interested him; the dead past might bury its dead, its living he compelled it to yield up to him. He sought with effort, patient at once and passionate, to know out of what life gone by the life of now had been born, and in the end he came near to making the one as real as the other. Without systematic schooling, by the force of a fertile brain, and an insatiable thirst for substantial accomplishment, he became one of the best informed and most informing American historians. When in New York Dr. Eggleston frequented The Century almost as a second home, and his membership here corresponded very nearly with the period of his historical work. The range of his talk was wide, his fund of interesting observation and reminiscence practically inexhaustible, his sympathies were wide and wholesome, and his manners genial.

Edward Cary
1903 Century Association Yearbook