Bios of Those Associated with the 1st Amer. Chess Congress, Pt. I
These short biographies were published in the
Pt. I consists of some of those men who were associated with the First Congress but did not play in the main tournament.
Hyacinth Agnel served on the Congress Chess Code committee.
Prof. George Allen contributed a large part to the Book of the First American Chess Congress and served on the Congress Chess Code committee.
Denis Julien (along with Mr. S. Heilbuth) served as a Marshal for the Congress. Originally scheduled to play in the main tournament (his forst opponent would have been Louis Paulsen), Julien bowed out to allow Samuel Cathrop, a late arrival, the opportunity to play. The well-described dinner afterwards was held at the St. Denis Hotel, owned by Denis Julien who also provided the meal.
"Was born in the year 1806, in a small town called Les Beaumettes, in the department of Vaucluse, Southern France, and but two miles distant from the celebrated valley and fountain of Vaucluse, where Petrarch's " passion glances" vainly wooed his fair enchantress, Laura. Amid the rural hills and dales of that romantic district, our subject grew to man's estate, but the ambitious dreams of youth thirsted for a wider knowledge of the world than the narrow limits of the Beaumettes could afford him, and at about the age of twenty he shipped on board a man-of-war which had been ordered on an extended cruise. With her he visited Cadiz, Rio Janeiro, and the East Indies, and left the ship at the little island of Bourbon, where he remained three years. His restless inclination to travel next directed his attention to Africa as a most promising land of exciting adventures, and with that aim in view he took passage in a brig, which, to his dismay, he discovered when out at sea to be engaged in the slave trade. This proved an adventure that he had not calculated upon, and unwilling to risk the hazard of being surprised as a.particeps criminis in that nefarious traffic, he determined to abbreviate his expected voyage, and prevailed upon the captain to set him ashore on the first land that was sighted. Preferring to place his trust in savage clemency rather than to abide the prospect of meeting an ignominious end at the halter, he disembarked Mozambique and the Portuguese settlement of Killimoro, which lay several hundred miles apart in opposite directions. With a stout heart that brooked no trembling fear, yet beat not without serious apprehensions for the future, the solitary wanderer proceeded slowly to explore the interior of the dark Continent, until he encountered a native tnbe, by whose chief he was received with unexpected manifestations of friendship, and entertained with aboriginal hospitalities for several months. After various experiences and hardships he again turned towards the coast, and reached a settlement from which he was enabled to take passage on board a vessel bound for France, and after a long and an eventful absence he again sought the tranquil scenes of his early years. The siren song of the ocean's tumult, however, soon allured him from the placid vale, and he made two subsequent voyages to the East Indies, and finally terminated his travels in New York, where he ultimately became the proprietor of two large and flourishing hotels. A life so nomadic, and spurred by a will so persevering in the pursuit of its one predominant passion, had found little time or inclination for sedentary amusements, and it was not until he had become established as the genial host of the Julien Hotel, in Washington Place, in 1845, that he discovered in the game of chess a talisman that could hold his restless spirit in subjection. He acquired, by degrees, considerable force as a player, but his constitutional impetuosity disdained the trammels of the calm and calculating strategist, and he preferred to rush to a brilliant defeat rather than warily to pick his way to victory. Yet a natural aptitude, and the potent charm which the game exercised over him, compensated largely for his lack of analytical steadiness, and rendered necessary the presence of an adversary of more than ordinary strength to escape his subtle snares. He imbibed an ardent love for the fabrication of those poetic fancies of the chess-board, termed Problems, and was one of the earliest and most frequent contributors to America's matutinal chess columns; and achieved the distinction of winning the Albion prize in the first problem competition held in this country. In 1852 Mr. Julien opened the St. Denis Hotel, on Broadway and Eleventh Street, and attested his strong devotion to the game by appropriately fitting up and reserving an ample apartment for the accommodation and entertainment of his chess-loving friends. Here the New York Chess Club found a generous welcome during its houseless periods, and herg the most enjoyable event of the First American Chess Congress received its eclat through the painstaking and zealous efforts of Mr. Julien. With a tall, erect and active frame, upon which the adipose of idleness had not been permitted to accumulate, Mr. Julien combined a quiet, gentle and unobtrusive disposition, which seemed to have been infused with an excess of shyness; yet in his genial, generous heart there was a magnetic warmth that attached and endeared him to all he came in contact with. The rugged and restless course of his early life had prematurely marked him with the furrows of age, and, while yet in the prime of his years, the heavy burden of overstrained energies warned him to seek relaxation and rest from business cares, and in the Fall of 1858 he retired from the management of the St. Denis Hotel. For some time thereafter he occasionally visited the haunts of his old chess friends, and enjoyed the tumult of the fray with his accustomed zest; but these visits gradually became more rare, and in the Spring of 1868 he passed forever from the bustling world of toil and chess, to that peaceful repose which was here denied to him.
Mead was on the Committee of Management and was elected president of the subsequent American Chess Association.
CHARLES DILLINGHAM MEAD
One of the most illustrious of the early retinue of American chess-players, and one of the noblest defenders and benefactors of the game in his native city, was born in New York, in the year 1815. Graduating from Columbia College in 1835, he commenced the study of Law, and was in due course admitted to practice at the New York bar, where the promise of a brilliant career soon opened to him; but a mind strongly devoted to study and observation, and restless under a predilection for travel, impelled him, after a decade of successful professional service, to gratify his inclinations by a trip to Europe, where he remained several years, visiting nearly all the important cities and places of interest, and storing his capacious intellect with that rich experience of the world which became so visibly impressed in the calm dignity and quiet confidence of the accomplished scholar and polished gentleman. His passion for chess seems to have been aroused early in life, and we find him among the conspicuous lights of the old New York Club upon the opening of Bassford's rooms in Ann street, in 1835. Five years later he was associated with Mr. James Thompson in the celebrated match by correspondence with Norfolk, and was for many years recognized as one of the strongest and most reliable of our metropolitan players. During his travels in Europe he sought every opportunity to enlarge his knowledge of the game by practical play with the renowned masters, and while temporarily sojourning in Paris became a pupil of the great Livonian, Kieseritzky, whose services at the Cafe de la Regence were in constant requisition by the younger aspirants to fame. Under the training of that skillful master, Mr. Mead's excellent abilities were largely developed, and in the possession of the serene consciousness of well-attested strength, he sallied forth from the French capital in the pursuit of "foemen worthy of his steel." Rarely did he encounter his equal, and yet more rarely was he compelled to pay the homage due to superior arms; but at Florence a little episode occurred which in after years he often referred to in terms of the warmest tribute to the extraordinary skill of his strange opponent. While the honored guest of the President of the Florence Chess Club, he met and routed the leading players of the club so thoroughly that, while he carefully guarded against any outward demonstration of his feelings, he could not suppress an inward thrill of satisfaction over a victory so complete and unexpected. His noble host became profuse with congratulations, and regrets that his members could not offer a stouter resistance; but he promised to introduce him. to a stranger who would, he thought, prove a worthier opponent. The meeting came, and with it the utter discomfiture of Mr. Mead, who, with a shuddering chill, began to mistrust his senses and suspect that grim old Mephistopheles had been summoned in human guise to: avenge the defeat of the Florentine players. Favorite openings in which he had felt the pride of a familiar acquaintance, seemed to run counter to all established rules; his Gambits proved his own stumbling-blocks, and general havoc was created in his camp before his forces could be fairly marshalled for the fight In struggle after struggle did he bravely determine to retrieve the fortunes of the day, but invariably with the same disastrous result, and he was compelled to capitulate to the superior prowess of the unknown chief. The name of the stranger escaped him, but circumstances have since led to the conviction that the invincible antagonist could have been none other than the redoubtable von Heydebrand und der Lasa, one of the most accomplished and brilliant players that Europe has yet produced. Upon his return to New York, Colonel Mead found his old associates elegantly provided for in the Athenaeum building, 663 Broadway, where he was received with an enthusiastic welcome and tendered the homage due to a distinguished chieftain. Regarding the game solely in the light of an intellectual amusement that was capable of producing much positive benefit to mankind, and earnestly devoted to the advancement of its true destiny as a healthful, scientific recreation, where gentlemen can meet in social and friendly rivalry for mutual entertainment and improvement, Colonel Mead sought no prominence as a mere player, and never engaged in a serious personal match for either stakes or honor. He introduced several novelties in various openings—of which his proposed defence to the Evans Gambit attracted for a time a well-deserved attention—and to test the value of these discoveries he sometimes challenged his friends to a formal encounter; but in the emulatory struggles that are so often conducive to bitterness and wounded pride, his refined and noble instincts would not permit him to enter. Upon the final organization of the New York Chess Club, in 1856, he was chosen its presiding officer, and with the exception of an interregnum of one year, during which Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein filled the office, he retained that position until enfeebled health compelled him, in 1865, to withdraw from scenes where sympathy and love had won him a multitude of devoted followers and friends. Beneath a dignified and courtly exterior, Colonel Mead carried a soul that was animated with the purest instincts toward his fellow beings, and possessed a magnetic power of attraction that sprang from no mere personal accomplishments, but was the inborn attribute of his spiritual being. Unostentatious, courteous, affable, and free from the slightest tincture of jealousy or envy, he cared less to shine in the estimation of the world than in his own refined sense of true integrity and duty to mankind. His uniformly modest and quiet demeanor rarely permitted him to display the fine intellectual powers that reposed within his capacious and well- developed brain, but when occasion demanded it he would charm his audience, whether at the bar or the social banquet board, with speeches that were remarkable for breadth and vigor of thought, elegance of expression, and an affluence of language and interesting anecdote that was ever ready at his command. The possession of an ample fortune made him somewhat regardless of his legal profession, but for some years he diversified his chess amusement by occasional contests in the political arena, where he attained several positions of prominence and trust; and as a member of the Holland Lodge, F. and A. M., he combined with the freemasonry of chess a fraternal fellowship with the mystic brotherhood. His retirement from the presidency of the New York Club, which he had reared and fostered from its infancy, was induced by a slow but intractable impairment of his nervous system which baffled the best medical skill that was employed to oppose its progress, and terminated ultimately in complete prostration, from which he died on the 24th of September, 1876—and so considerate and vigilant is the chess world that the demise of one who had labored so faithfully and perseveringly for its welfare has not to this day been recorded in a solitary chess publication!