James O. Putnam

James Osborne Putnam
James O. Putnam.jpg
4th Chancellor of the
University of Buffalo
In office
Preceded byE. Carleton Sprague
Succeeded byWilson S. Bissell
7th United States
Minister to Belgium
In office
PresidentRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byWilliam C. Goodloe
Succeeded byNicholas Fish II
United States consul at
Le Havre, France
In office
PresidentAbraham Lincoln
Member of the New York State Senate
from the 31st district
In office
Preceded byGeorge R. Babcock
Succeeded byJames Wadsworth
Personal details
BornJuly 4, 1818
Attica, New York
DiedApril 24, 1903(1903-04-24) (aged 84)
Buffalo, New York
Resting placeForest Lawn Cemetery
Political partyConservative Whig
  • Harriet Foster Palmer
    (m. 1842; died 1853)
  • Kate Frances Wright
    (m. 1855; died 1895)
Alma mater
RelativesBenjamin Simonds (great-grandfather)

James Osborne Putnam (July 4, 1818 – April 24, 1903) was an American lawyer and politician from New York.


Putnam was born July 4, 1818 in Attica, New York. He was the son of Congressman Harvey Putnam (1793–1855) and Myra Osborne (1795–1863). He was the great-grandson of Col. Benjamin Simonds on his maternal side. He was educated at Middlebury Academy in Wyoming, New York and attended Hamilton College through his Sophomore year. In 1837 entered the Junior class at Yale College where he graduated in 1839. Putnam then studied law under the direction of his father, and was admitted to the Bar in 1841. He commenced practice in Buffalo, New York. Putnam was appointed Secretary and Treasurer of the Attica & Buffalo Railroad Company in 1844 and of the Buffalo & Rochester Railroad Company in 1846. He also served as their attorney until they merged into the New York Central Railroad in 1853. President Millard Fillmore appointed Putnam as Postmaster of Buffalo.

In 1854–1855, Putnam was elected member of the 77th and 78th New York State Senate to represent the 31st District. He was a Conservative Whig, but opposed slavery in the United States territories and was the author of the Church Property Bill of 1855.

At the 1857 New York state election, he ran on the American party ticket for Secretary of State of New York, but was defeated by Democrat Gideon J. Tucker.

He was a presidential elector in 1860, voting for Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin.

In 1861, Putnam was appointed United States Consul at Havre, France by President Abraham Lincoln and held the position for the duration of the Civil War.

In 1865, Yale University gave Putnam a Master of Arts degree.

In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Putnam as U.S. Minister to Belgium and held this position until 1882.

He was Chancellor of the University of Buffalo from 1895 to 1902.

Putnam was a member of the Buffalo Historical Society, University Club, and Saturn Club of Buffalo.

On January 5, 1842, he married Harriet Foster Palmer (died 1853), and they had four children. On March 15, 1855, he married Kate Frances Wright (1835–1895), and they had three sons.

He died April 24, 1903 in Buffalo, New York and was buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery.

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