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John Godfrey Saxe

Date of Birth:



United States


John Godfrey Saxe was born June 2, 1816, in Highgate, Vermont. He was born on his family's farm, Saxe's Mills, to Peter Saxe, a grower and judge, and Elizabeth Jewett. In 1835, Saxe attended Wesleyan University. After only a year, he moved to Middlebury College, where he graduated in 1839. In 1841, he married Sophia Newell Sollace, whom Saxe met with a classmate. Together they had a son, John Theodore Saxe. In 1843, Saxe was admitted to the Vermont bar association. Saxe has continued to work in the legal field in Franklin County. In 1850, he became a state attorney for Springfield County. From 1850-1856, Saxe served as editor of the Sentinel in Burlington, Vermont, and in 1856 he acted as attorney general for Vermont. The legal profession has not caught the attention of Saxe at this time, however. He first published poetry in New York's literary magazine, The Knickerbocker. His poems received the attention of Boston publishing house, Ticknor and Fields, and his first volume of poetry fought for ten times. Saxe became the most sought-after speaker. He explored and wrote extensively in the 1850s. In 1859, Saxe worked for the governor of Vermont. He lost because of his democratic education, especially in matters of slavery and his support of "popular sovereignty." After his defeat, he left Vermont to Albany, New York, in 1860, where he continued to contribute articles for Harper's, The Atlantic, and The Knickerbocker. The death of his eldest brother in 1867 made Sax's already extremely unstable situation. His son took over family and business finances. Beginning in the 1870s, Saxe experiences a series of unfortunate events. In the first half of the decade, her young daughter died of tuberculosis. In 1875, he suffered a head injury that he could not fully recover. Over the next several years, her two oldest daughters, her eldest son and daughter-in-law died of tuberculosis. In 1879, his wife died of cerebral palsy. Saxe began to suffer from severe depression. Saxe died in 1887. New York State Council, sympathetic to the decline of the surname, said Saxe's resemblance should be placed in the "poetic corner" of the Great Western Staircase located in the New York State Capitol.

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