Cushing, Caleb, 1800–1879, American statesman, b. Salisbury, Mass. After practicing law he served in the Massachusetts state legislature and later in Congress (1835–43). A loyal Whig, he chose to stand by John Tyler , after the death of President William H. Harrison , rather than follow Henry Clay in his opposition program. As the first American commissioner to China, Cushing negotiated (1844) the opening of the ports of China to U.S. trade. He remained prominent in politics, engineered (1852) the nomination of Franklin Pierce at the Democratic convention of 1852, and served efficiently as Pierce's attorney general (1853–57). Secession convinced him that conciliation was impossible, and he supported Lincoln. He later acted (1871–72) as counsel for the United States at the arbitration of the Alabama claims and was (1874–77) minister to Spain.
See biography by C. M. Fuess (1923, repr. 1965).
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