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Zachariah Brunchaude

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Zachariah Brunchaude
Zachariah Brunchaud elder portrait.png
Official Portrait in 1858
1st United States Ambassador to Canada
President Martin Van Buren (1839-1841)
William Henry Harrison (1841)
John Tyler (1841-1845)
James K. Polk (1845-1849)
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
James Buchanan (1857-1858)
In office
28 September 1839 – 12 January 1858
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Ronald Williams
United States Special Envoy to Lower Canada
In office
9 July 1827 – 18 March 1837
Preceded by Daniel Beauregard
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born 21 July 1796
Flag of the United States.svg Corn Island, Kentucky, United States
Died 16 May 1864 (67 years, 9 months, 26 days)
Flag of the United States.svg Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Anna-Adèle Brunchaude
Children Louis-Daniel
Profession Diplomat
Religion Roman Catholic

Zachariah Richard Brunchaude (21 July 1796-16 May 1864) was an American diplomat and historian who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada from 1839 to 1858. Acting as the Special Envoy to British Lower Canada from 1827 until the outbreak of the War in 1837, Brunchaude's efforts to unite the Lower Canadian Parti républicain with the Upper Canadian Society for Rights were of paramount significance for the eventual victory of the Canadian rebels through the foundation of the Canadian Liberty Society in 1833. Brunchaude even secured secret American support for the Liberty Society during the Canadian War of Independence. He was appointed as the first Ambassador to Canada following his pivotal role as a mediator in the Treaty of Boston.

Brunchaude was born on Corn Island in Kentucky on 21 July 1796 to Daniel Brunchaude, the owner of the mill on the island. His father taught him to speak French, having immigrated to America from Valais, Switzerland. Zachariah Brunchaude met many travelling along the Ohio River, motivating him to leave his home despite his father's wishes for him to eventually run the family mill. In 1805, at the age of 19, Brunchaude began attending the University of Pennsylvania, where he learned ancient and modern history, and also where he acquired an interest in diplomacy. Proficient in French, Brunchaude was recruited into the American diplomatic service in 1809, an ardent supporter of Jeffersonian diplomatic republicanism and Democratic-Republican opposition to British imperialism. Assigned to a diplomatic protest of British attacks against American ships, Brunchaude distinguished himself as a charismatic and competent negotiator in the Quebec City visit of 1810. He joined the negotiations at the Treaty of Ghent alongside John Quincy Adams in 1815, where he was noted by the future President as a "charming farm-boy type hailing from the sweet banks of northern Kentucky."

Brunchaude was appointed as an attaché to the Special Envoy to Lower Canada in 1817 at the behest of Quincy Adams, who later appointed him as the Special Envoy a decade later in 1827. While in Lower Canada, Brunchaude became highly active in the Parti républicain, finding a sense of belonging in helping the Quebecois organize against increasingly harsh British rule. Brunchaude made many connections with PR leaders, including Édouard-Maurice Tournay, the blacksmith-turned-rebel leader who Brunchaude saw as an iconic hero of the working common people against an unjust aristocratic elite. While in Canada, Brunchaude also met and married his wife Anna-Adèle Beauchamps, a Quebecois woman who would later be recognized as a war hero for her surveillance efforts against the British Army. During the War of Independence, Brunchaude was recalled to the United States and fervently pushed then-President Martin Van Buren to support the Canadian rebels covertly. After months of pushing, Brunchaude's efforts succeeded, and the Canadian rebels received vital arms and supplies which helped end the Siege of Quebec City and initiate the March to the Gaspé, the final stage of the War.

Brunchaude served at the forefront of American mediation efforts during the Treaty of Boston in September 1839, playing a central role in acquiring favorable terms for Canadian independence from the British Empire. Brunchaude was then appointed as the first Ambassador to the newly independent Canada, with Van Buren remarking that Brunchaude would have "talked his way to the post anyways" had he not been appointed. Brunchaude then served as Ambassador under seven different administrations until 1858, one of the longest-serving diplomatic officers of his time. Upon retiring from his position, Brunchaude returned to Louisville, where he wrote several volumes on the history of the Canadian War of Independence during a five-year period as a professor of history at the University of Louisville. Brunchaude died on 16 May 1864 in Louisville, where he was honored with a city-sponsored funerary procession.

Brunchaude's legacy is celebrated in modern Canada as a transnational figure for the advancement of republicanism and democratic governance. In the United Commonwealth, he is remembered as an early hero of the common people who fought against foreign imperialism beyond mere national boundaries. Several organizations and buildings are named in his honor across the two countries, most notably, the Brunchaude Bridge across the Detroit River, the only motorway connecting the United Commonwealth to Canada, and the Zachariah Brunchaude Foundation, a Canadian NGO which sponsors international students from countries considered undemocratic to study at Canadian universities.