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Thurlow Weed's Mnemonic

The dictionary defines mnemonic as "assisting or designed to assist memory". Having a good memory can greatly aid any person in his or her daily life or career. Obsession with good memory is not a recent phenomena. A person who cultivated good memory within himself and used it to good effect was Thurlow Weed.

Thurlow Weed was a newspaper editor and political boss located in New York during the mid-1900s. He was the power behind William Seward (one of the great politicians of the era). One of the things he was known for was his ability to remember names, faces and conversations. Doris Kearns Goodwin relates how he did this in her book "Team of Rivals":

Concerned that he lacked a native facility for remembering names and appointments, and believing that "a politician who sees a man once should remember him forever," Weed consciously trained his memory. He spent fifteen minutes every night telling his wife, Catherine, everything that had happened to him that day, everyone he had met, the exact words spoken. The nightly mnemonics worked, for Weed soon became known as a man with a phenomenal recall.

In 1830 Thurlow Weed founded the Albany Evening Journal which became an influential newspaper. He was also instrumental in raising the phoenix of the Republican Party from the ashes of the Whig party. During the American Civil War he was sent overseas to intercede with foreign countries that might try to support the Confederacy. Besides his incredible memory, he was known for his advocacy of debtor's rights, his hatred of slavery and support of the construction of transportation infrastructure within the United States. He was born in 1797 and died in 1882.

One of the most influential men of his day, he loved politics, wrote about it in his newspapers, and was prominent in the back rooms of party power. Yet he never held office. He was a man of great character who gave much to charity and to his country.


W.J. Rayment

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