Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 9, 1791 (or '92) & 1851:

Birthdays of John Howard Payne & Charles Joseph Bonaparte

Today is the birthday of two noteworthy US presidential appointees of dissimilar background: John Howard Payne and Charles Joseph Bonaparte.

Payne was a successful actor and dramatist in the early 19th century. Late in his life, after his acting career had seen something of a decline, in 1841 John Tyler appointed him American consul in Tunis, where he stayed until his death in 1852. In his day, he may have been a darling of the stage in London and Paris (and in the US too), a friend of Washington Irving, a renown poet and playwright, but all that has retreated to the shadows, as most fame does.

These days, Payne is remembered -- when he's remembered -- for writing the lines, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home," part of a song in a long-forgotten opera produced by Sir Henry Bishop, Clari, the Maid of Milan.

Also born on June 9, sixty years after Payne, was Charles Joseph Bonaparte, grandson of the youngest brother of Emperor Napoleon I, and a member of the now-extinct American Bonaparte family. He served Teddy Roosevelt first as the 37th Secretary of the Navy, and from 1906 to 1909 was 47th US Attorney General. He is remembered for his trust busting, especially in initiating action that eventually broke up the American Tobacco Co., but his must enduring legacy was in overseeing the creation of the Bureau of Investigation. Since 1935, that entity has been known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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