century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

George Templeton Strong

Lawyer/Civic Affairs/Diarist

Centurion, 1847–1875

Born 26 January 1820 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 21 July 1875 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Trinity Churchyard, Manhattan, New York

Proposed by Daniel Seymour

Elected 7 July 1847 at age twenty-seven

Archivist’s Note: Cousin of Charles E. Strong; son-in-law of Samuel B. Ruggles; brother-in-law of James F. Ruggles. His diaries, published in four volumes in 1952 and edited by Allan Nevins and Milton Halsey Thomas, contain many revealing references to the Century.

Century Memorials

The list of deceased members contains the names in the order of their loss, of Hays, Sherwood, Strong, Gaillard, Tillman, Stone, Kemble, Hegeman, Turney and Blodgett. The memorial notices, prepared and presented by your direction, express our appreciation of those we have lost with an earnestness of feeling and an appropriateness of phrase to which your Board can have nothing to add.

Augustus R. Macdonough
1876 Century Association Reports

Mr. George Templeton Strong was a native of the City of New York. In Columbia College, he was conspicuous for scholarlike attainments, according to the high standard of that learned institution, and he graduated with the honors of his Alma Mater. Entering upon the study of the law, he brought to it the same conscientious thoroughness which had distinguished his college days. He was equally laborious and exact in gaining a knowledge of the highest principles of legal ethics, and in mastering the details of daily practice. He was familiar with the traditions of the eminent advocates and judges of a former generation, with whom his father had been conversant. He inherited a lofty ideal of his vocation, and he always upheld its honor by his own example.

He was aided in his professional pursuits by a memory tenacious of its acquisitions. As years went on, he was ready in imparting them to others who were just entering upon the field which he had explored before them. His judgment was singularly firm and independent. Its balance was swayed neither to the one side nor to the other, by temporary impulse or excitement, or by undue deference to the opinions of other men. This quality of mind gave value to his counsel, not only in the legal profession, but in the public trusts which he was compelled to assume. When burdened with grave professional cares, he did not suffer the classical studies of his youth to fall into neglect or forgetfulness. To his reading of ancient authors he added that of ecclesiastical and mediæval antiquities, architecture and art. One of the chief enjoyments in which he sought relaxation from professional duties, was the collection, and still more the use of a library of classical old English and mediæval authors. Upon first editions and rare copies he spared neither labor nor expense, and he was conversant with them all. His library became (in its department) one of the foremost private collections in New York.

Mr. Strong’s extensive learning was no private or unfruitful luxury. He was deeply interested in all that pertained to the higher institutions of learning. Columbia College gladly availed itself of Mr. Strong’s labor and judgment as one of its trustees. He was one of the most active members of its council, and was greatly influential in raising the standard of under-graduate studies, and in enlarging the sphere of its utility by new schools of Science and Law.

Mr. Strong sought relief amid the burdens of professional life, while he facilitated Academical improvements, by gathering around him an assemblage of friends eminent in letters and in public life. His delicate and refined humor gave new attractions to a society rich in the converse of men of artistic skill, of practical experience and varied learning.

In the midst of his quiet labors, the War of the Union called suddenly for every talent which could he available in the public service. Mr. Strong recognized the claim of the country. He sought no emolument or notoriety in its service, but laying aside other pursuits, he devoted himself to the work of the Sanitary Commission. He was, from the first, one of its five Commissioners, and also its Treasurer, during the whole period of its existence. The place was one of labor and responsibility equal to that of a general in the field. The difficulties were many and unforeseen. Conflicting theories were to be harmonized or rejected, prejudices to be overcome, subordinates to be firmly controlled, while counsels, perhaps not always disinterested, were obtruded from without amid these now forgotten trials. Mr. Strong’s executive ability, his minute and conscientious care, his judgment, which would not be turned aside or overborne by unreasoning complaint or cavil, were soon appreciated, and added confidence to an institution over which he was known to have control. He sought no acknowledgments in the bulletins of the day. The regiments which profited most by his labors and by those of his associates, perhaps never knew the names of those to whom they were indebted for much of their own efficiency in the field. Nothing of this discouraged him. He persevered until his work was done. With the reestablishment of peace, the great work in which he had been a principal actor was recognized, both here and in Europe, as one of the most original and American, as well as one of the most thorough and effective, philanthropic enterprises of this century.

When this was accomplished, Mr. Strong returned to his professional pursuits. During many years he had been a lover of music, especially of ecclesiastical music, and had given much time to its scientific study. This now took a practical direction. He became a founder of the Church Music Association, which has lent valuable aid to the improvement of sacred art. After a few years, failing health admonished him to seek relief from professional burdens. He accepted, in 1872, the Comptrollership of Trinity Church, of which he had been during many years an efficient vestryman and warden. In this, as in all former occupations, he evinced the same conscientious attention to minute and daily cares. He persevered while strength remained, and thus, worn out by the labors of his callings, he closed a life of devotion to duty, whose quiet earnestness and freedom from dis play, were in just proportion to the value and the permanence of its results.

Henry C. Dorr, Henry R. Winthrop, and Augustus R. Macdonough
1875 Century Association Memorial Notices