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George Washington Greene

George Washington Greene

(1811-1883) ~ Inducted 2004

 

Greene, George Washington, 1811-1883

George Washington Greene, prominent educator and author, was born in East Greenwich and was the grandson of Nathanael Greene, the great Revolutionary War general.

As a young man, Greene traveled extensively in Europe gaining proficiency in the Italian and French languages. His first wife was Italian and he served as U.S. Consul in Rome from 1837 to 1845.  Following a divorce from that childless marriage, he returned to the United States to embark upon careers in teaching, writing, and politics.

Greene wrote many articles on his European travels and prepared manuals for French and Italian while he served as instructor of these languages at Brown University from 1848 to 1852.  Greene’s great historical project was a fileopietistic three-volume biography of his grandfather which he published from 1867 to 1871.  This work led to his appointment as professor of history at Cornell University from 1873 to 1875.

His literary and historical efforts were sponsored by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow whom Greene met in 1828. Longfellow remained Greene’s lifelong patron. Not only did the famed poet subsidize Greene’s publications, he even purchased a house and furnishings for Greene and his second wife in East Greenwich.

Greene participated in local politics and served as a Republican state representative from 1866 until 1872 when he went to teach at Cornell. His varied career as language expert, historian, politician, and travel writer ended at his East Greenwich home, “Windmill Cottage,” in 1883. He was survived by his wife Catherine and four children.


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