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George Templeton Strong (1820 – July 21, 1875) was an American lawyer and diarist. His 2,250 page diary, discovered in the 1930s, provides a striking personal account of life in the 19th century, especially during the events of the American Civil War. Historian Paula Baker described him as "perhaps the northern equivalent of South Carolina's Mary Chesnut: quotable, opinionated, and a careful follower of events."


George Templeton Strong was born in New Jersey in January, 1820, and lived to write intimately of the turbulent years leading up to and through the American Civil War, as well as the corrupt and turbulent years in New York following the war.

In 1838, he graduated from Columbia College with high honors. That same year he joined the law practice of his father that became Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, which today is the nation's oldest operating law firm. On May 15, 1848, Strong married Ellen Ruggles (daughter of Samuel B. Ruggles) in Grace Church, New York. In 1853, he was elected a trustee of Columbia College.

Strong served for many years as a vestryman at the prominent Episcopal Trinity Church, New York on Wall Street. Strong helped found the United States Sanitary Commission, which helped ameliorate the horrible sufferings of wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. He was also treasurer and member of its executive committee throughout the war. He also helped to start the Union League Club of New York, an organization which pledged to "cultivate a profound national devotion." The organization provided a means to reconciling the whites and blacks of the South into the Republican Party. Strong funded a Union regiment during the war, and his wife served on a hospital ship.

His 2,250 page diary, whose first entry was recorded on October 5, 1835, was discovered in the 1930s. Since age 15, Strong had written almost every day of his life for nearly 40 years. Excerpts from this diary are featured in Ken Burns's 1990 documentary The Civil War and in Ric Burns's New York: A Documentary Film.

His son, also named George Templeton Strong (1856-1948) was a noted composer and painter.

See also

  • Mary Chesnut
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