Joel Roberts Poinsett

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Joel Roberts Poinsett (Charleston, South Carolina, 1779 - Statesburg, South Carolina, 1851) was an American statesman, physician, and amateur botanist; member of the state house of representatives, 1830-1831; during President Martin Van Buren administration he was the Secretary of War (1837 to 1841). Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (United States Minister to Mexico 1825 - 1829). "He was a true Renaissance man; he was an expert in agriculture and horticulture, a diplomat, a legislator, a Congressman, a Secretary of War, an advisor to the Czar, the founder of the Smithsonian Institution, an active member of our Fraternity (Freemasons), and a lover of our American Union." [1]

At the request of Freemasons in Mexico he sent for charters for their lodges to the Grand lodge of New York, and he was consequently accused of introducing Masonry into the country.[2] They accused Poinsett of organizing a party to interfere in Mexican domestic politics. Of course he did. That was his object, wherever he went in the New World... against the forces of "aristocracy".[3]

He was against the Mexican war. In 1822, he published "Notes on Mexico" (Accompanied by an Historical Sketch of the Revolution, and Translations of Official Reports on the Present State of That Country).

In 1833, Poinsett married Mary Izard Pringle.

Poinsett maintained his own hothouses on his Greenville, South Carolina plantations, and while visiting the Taxco (Mexico) area in 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms he saw there. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began propagating the plants (poinsettia). [4]

Red Poinsettia.jpg

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  2. Joel Roberts Poinsett
  3. The First Civil War, 1830-1842
  4. The history of the poinsettia