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Byington family papers 3

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS408

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

This collection includes 8 letters to and from Aaron Homer Byington from 1844 to 1899. The majority of these are typed letters signed by John Addison Porter to Byington. The letters cover a broad range of topics including Washington Cabinet appointments, Connecticut Senatorial races, consular salaries, significant newspapers, the Republican Party, the Spanish-American War, and Byington's son, George. Also included in the collection is an autograph signed letter from Aaron Homer Byington to his grandmother. It details family travels, plans, and acquaintances in September of 1844. The Byington Family Papers: Part 3 supplement the Byington Family papers [Parts 1 and 2] already preserved by the Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division.


  • 1844-1899

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographial note

Aaron Homer Byington was born in Herminer, N.Y., July 23, 1826. His parents were Aaron Byington and Sarah Waterbury of Norwalk Connecticut. In his childhood, the family returned to Connecticut. Byington went to school at the Amos Smith Collegiate School for Boys in New Haven. When Byington was just nine his father died, and Byington went to work for the "Norwalk Gazette" as an office boy and then recorded proceedings of the General Assembly for the "New Haven Palladium". He became business manager of the newly formed "Journal" in New Haven before buying the "Norwalk Gazette" in 1848. Early in his career, Byington interviewed Daniel Webster, who was a favored acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln's during the Civil War.

Before the war, Horace Greeley hired Byington as the winter Congressional correspondent in Washington for the "New York Tribune". During the war, he became head of the paper's corps of army respondents and enlisted in a Washington guard unit. He was the first to deliver news of the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg, where he reconnected and received exclusive rights to wire services between General George Gordon Meade's headquarters and Washington. Because of Byington, the "Tribune" was also one of the first newspapers to report on the conspiracy and aftermath of Lincoln's death. Byington founded the "New York Sun" based on Republican ideals with Edmund C. Stedman and Charles A. Dana of the "Chicago Inter-Ocean". Byington eventually sold his interest in the newspaper due to a conflict between Dana and Ulysses S. Grant.

Byington represented Norwalk in the House of the General Assembly in 1858 and 1859. He represented the twelfth Senatorial District in the state senate and also played a crucial role in getting Joseph B. Hawley, who later became president of the Centennial Commission in 1876, appointed chairman of the Republican Convention in Chicago.

Byington received a Foreign Service commission from president McKinley in 1897 and was appointed as U.S consul to Naples. He suspended publication of the "Norwalk Gazette" and discovered that members of a Neopolitan secret society had conspired to kill President Theodore Roosevelt. These conspirators were arrested and returned to Italy based on his report.

Byington married Harriet Sophia Richardson on November 8,1849, whose death in Naples shortly preceded his retirement from the Foreign Service in 1907. Byington died on December 29, 1910 in Flushing, Long Island, New York, leaving behind his sons William Homer, George Richmond, and Stuart Woodford. His son Henry Sumpter died in 1887 of and his daughter Harriet Eloise died as an infant. Biographical sources for Aaron Homer Byington include obituaries (Folder 2:21) and the State Department for 1917.


Mercy Waterbury was born 1775 [approx.] and was the daughter of Daniel Waterbury and Ann Bouton. She was the grandmother of Aaron Homer Byington.

Biographical sources for Mercy Waterbury: Ancestry World Tree Project.


John Addison Porter was born in New Haven, CT, April 17, 1856, to Professor John Addison Porter and Josephine Earl Sheffield. He graduated from Yale in 1878 and was connected to the "New Haven Palladium", "The New York Observer", and the "New York Tribune". Porter was also editor and proprietor of "The Hartford Post" from 1887. He married Amy E. Betts in 1883 and then moved to Washington. He established a book publishing press and worked as a Senate committee clerk there. A longtime supporter of major McKinley with an interest in politics, Porter became a member of the lower house of the Connecticut Legislature for Pomfret in 1892. He ran for Governor three times, and rejected an officer to become lieutenant general. He was the first President of the McKinley Club of Hartford in 1823 and in 1897 was appointed Secretary to the President. Porter resigned due to poor health and died December 16, 1900.

Biographical sources for John Addison Porter: New York Times obituary.


0.42 Linear Feet (1 Hollinger Document Case)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

Gift of James G. Byington,1996.

Byington family papers 3
Meredith Manning, Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057