• 21st United States Ambassador to Russia
  • 4th Assistant Secretary of State
  • U.S. congressman

John Appleton was born 11 February 1815 in Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States to John White Appleton (1780-1862) and Sophia Williams (1786-1860) and died 23 August 1864 Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, United States of unspecified causes. He married Susan Lovering Dodge (1812-1879) 27 November 1840 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States.

John Appleton was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat who served as the United States' first chargé d'affaires to Bolivia, and later as special envoy to Great Britain and Russia. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts into the Appleton Family of Boston, he graduated from Bowdoin College in 1834 and attended Harvard Law School from 1835 to 1836. On leaving Harvard, he became a barrister and newspaper editor while maintaining a vigorous involvement in Democratic politics. In 1840 he was appointed as registrar of probates for Cumberland County, Maine, and in 1845 became Chief Clerk for the United States Department of the Navy.

In January 1848 Appleton was promoted to Chief Clerk of the State Department, but resigned in March when he was named as the United States' first chargé d'affaires to Bolivia. The posting was unsuccessful, and Appleton resigned after six months service and returned to the United States to pursue his personal political interests. In 1851 he was narrowly elected to Congress, representing Maine's 2nd congressional district. As a Congressman he became noted for his oratorical skills, and was selected to give the obituary address for former Senator and Secretary of State Daniel Webster in 1852.

In 1855 Appleton was sent as diplomatic envoy to London, England to promote United States interests in negotiations to end the Crimean War. He returned to the United States in 1857 and was appointed as the fourth Assistant Secretary of State, a post he held for the following three years. As Assistant Secretary he opened discussions with Russia regarding a prospective Alaska Purchase, leading to the United States acquiring that territory in 1867. Concurrently, he was editor of a pro-Democratic newspaper The Washington Union, but his career was marred by allegations that he misused this position for personal gain. He was the United States' envoy to Russia from 1860 until his retirement in 1861. Appleton died on August 22, 1864, and is buried in Portland's Evergreen Cemetery.


Offspring of John Appleton and Susan Lovering Dodge (1812-1879)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Eben Dodge Appleton (1843-1918)



Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
₪ Wedding
  • "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 July 2016), John Appleton and Susan L. Dodge, 27 Nov 1840; citing Marriage, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States, , town clerk offices, Massachusetts; FHL microfilm 761,210.