A nineteenth-century American author, he is best known for his 1854 novel, Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There, which demonizes alcohol. He also published numerous stories in the popular Godey's Lady's Book.
He worked as a wholesale merchandiser and later as an agent for an investment company. He began publishing his work in literary magazines in the early 1930s.
He is often associated with the Temperance movement.
He was the New York-born son of a miller. He later married and had three children.
He and Edgar Allan Poe belonged to the same literary circle.