Thomas Gold Appleton was born 31 March 1812 in Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts to Nathan Appleton (1779-1861) and Maria Theresa Gold (1786-1833) and died 17 April 1884 New York City, New York of unspecified causes.
He was the first-born son of the wealthy industrialist/Congressman Nathan Appleton and brother-in-law of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), whom his sister Frances married in 1843.
Though a Harvard-trained lawyer, he rarely practiced law and instead spent his life traveling, particularly throughout Europe, and alternated between poetry, play-writing, and painting. Among his published works are "Faded Leaves" (1872), "Fresh Leaves" (1874), "Nile Journal" (1876), "Syrian Sunshine" (1877), "Windfalls" (1878), and "Chequer-Work" (1879). Many of these works are conversational essays, often focused on his wide travels. Known as a "Boston wit," he also supported Boston's public library (he sat on the Board of Trustees in the 1850s) and the Museum of Fine Arts.
He was a major force in establishing public art throughout Boston, notably including the Leif Erickson statue on Commonwealth Avenue. One rumor credited Appleton as the first young man on Beacon Hill to grow a mustache, setting the fashion for the time. He also coined the term "New England conscience," which he thought to be an awareness of social or communal responsibility, a later development from the area's original Puritan background into the more positive outlook of Unitarianism. His most frequently quoted witticism is, "Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris" -- a quote which is occasionally incorrectly attributed to Oscar Wilde or Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
- Thomas Gold Appleton - Wikipedia