American philologist; born at Paris May 29, 1851. He was graduated "bachelier ès lettres" from the University of Paris in 1868, and studied law, historical criticism, and philology at various institutions of higher learning in Paris, receiving the degrees of LL.B. in 1873, and "archiviste paléographe" (A.M.) in 1874. At the commencement of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, he enlisted and served in the French army throughout the struggle.
Cohn went to New York May 13, 1875, and from 1876 to 1884 was the American correspondent of "La République Française," edited by Gambetta, whom he had known in France, and whose political views he had adopted. In March, 1882, Cohn was appointed tutor in French at Columbia College, and soon afterward made an instructor. By a popular vote of the French residents of New York he was chosen to deliver the funeral oration on Gambetta in 1883 at Tammany Hall, and in 1885 was called from Cambridge, Mass., for a similar purpose, upon the death of Victor Hugo.
In 1884 Cohn was made instructor in French at Harvard University. From 1885 to 1891 he was assistant professor of French at the same institution, and during this time wrote much in French and English, especially for the "Atlantic Monthly." He became American correspondent of "Le Temps" in 1884, and continued to act as such until 1895. While at Harvard he was temporary head of the French department in Wellesley College, and in 1888 and 1889 conducted a summer school of languages at Oswego, N. Y.
In 1891 Cohn was appointed professor of the romance languages and literatures at Columbia University, which position he has since occupied. He was president of the New York committee of L'Alliance Française from 1888 to 1902, and is now its honorary president. In 1897 he was made a knight of the Crown of Italy, and in 1900 a knight of the Legion of Honor of France. He has edited many French classics for educational purposes.
- Who's Who in America, 1901-1902, p. 224.