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Benson J. Lossing
Date: 1813 - 1891
Biography: Lossing was born February 12, 1813 in Beekman, New York. His father was descended of old Dutch stock, originally surnamed Lassing or Lahsing, who had been among the earliest settlers of the Hudson Valley. In 1835, Lossing became part owner and editor of the Poughkeepsie Telegraph. Out of that publication grew a semi-monthly literary paper, the Poughkeepsie Casket, which Lossing helped illustrate with wood engravings. In 1838, Lossing moved to New York City seeking greater opportunity as a journalist and illustrator. He edited and illustrated J.S. Rothchild's weekly Family Magazine 1839-1841 and launched his literary career with the publication of his Outline of the History of Fine Arts. In 1846, he joined William Barritt in a wood engraving business that became one of the largest of such firms in New York. His illustrations appeared in the New York Mirror and several other periodicals. Around 1848, Lossing conceived the idea of writing a narrative sketchbook on the American Revolution. The first installment was published in Harper's in 1850; the completed Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution was published in 1853. As with his subsequent books, his pen and ink drawings served as the primary illustrations. The book won him critical acclaim and general reputation. During and after the Civil War, Lossing toured the United States and the once Confederacy. On the basis of that research, he published a three-volume pictorial field book/history of the war, which is also presumed to be Mathew Brady's first collaboration in the use of his Civil War photographs as book illustrations. In 1860-1861, the London Art Journal featured a series of Lossing's articles describing the history and scenery of the Hudson Valley; the illustrated articles were published in 1866 under the title The Hudson: From the Wilderness to the Sea. In 1868, Lossing moved to a manor in Dover Plains, New York called The Ridge, but by later custom it has come to be known as Lossing Manor. There Benson built a fireproof library to house his collection of over five thousand books and documents associated with the American Revolution and the framing of the Constitution.