Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

1777, was appointed a senator of the state of New York, and took his seat at the first session under the new constitution. He was, by subsequent appointments, continued in high public stations during the greater part of his life. During his long attendance in the councils of the general and state governments, he maintained a high and enviable rank. The frequent and constant proofs of popular favor, which he received for more than fifty years, afford the most flattering commentary upon his public character.

After having enjoyed, for eightyseven years, a life of almost uninterrupted health, he expired on the fourth of August, 1821.

In private life, he was fond of society, but always observed a measured decorum, which repressed familiarity, and chilled every approach of intimacy. He was highly respected in the society in which he lived, and has left to his descendants a name of which they will long be proud.*


Robert Fulton, eminent as the inventor of steam-boats, was born in the town of Little Britain, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, 1765. His parents, who were Irish, were respectable, and gave him a common English education at Lancaster. He early exhibited a superior talent for mechanism and painting, and in his eighteenth year established himself in the latter employment in Philadelphia, and obtained much credit and emolument by his portraits and landscapes. On entering his 22d year he went to England, for the purpose of improving his knowledge of that art, and was received into the family of Mr West, with whom he spent several years, and cultivated a warm friendship. After leaving that family, he employed two years in Devonshire as a painter, and there became acquainted with the duke of Bridgewater, and lord Stanhope, the former famous for his canals, and the latter for his love of the mechanic arts. He soon turned his attention to mechanics, particularly to the improvement of inland

* Sanderson.

navigation by canals, and the use of steam for the propelling of boats; and in 1794 obtained patents for a double inclined plane, to be used for transportation, and an instrument to be employed in excavating canals. He at this time professed himself a civil engineer, and published a treatise on canal navigation. He soon after went to France, and obtained a patent from the government for the improvements he had invented. He spent the succeeding seven years in Paris, in the family of Mr Joel Barlow, during which period he made himself acquainted with the French, Italian, and German languages, and soon acquired a knowledge of the high mathematics, physics, chymistry, and perspective. He soon turned his atteniton to submarine navigation and explosion, and in 1801, under the patronage of the first consul, constructed a plunging boat, and torpedoes, (differing materially from Bushnel's invention, with which he was acquainted,) with which he performed many experiments in the harbor of Brest, demonstrating the practicability of employing subaquatic explosion and navigation for the destruction of vessels. These inventions attracted the attention of the British government, and overtures were made to him by the ministry which induced him to go to London, with the hope that they would avail themselves of his machines; but a demonstration of their efficacy which he gave the ministry, by blowing up a vessel in their presence, led them to wish to suppress the invention rather than encourage it; and accordingly they declined patronising him. During this period he also made many efforts to discover a method of successfully using the steam engine for the propelling of boats, and as early as 1793, made such experiments as inspired him with great confidence in its practicability. Robert R. Livingston, Esq. chancellor of New York, and minister of the United States to the French court, on his arrival in France, induced him to renew his attention to this subject, and embarked with him in making experiments for the purpose of satisfying themselves of the possibility of employing steam in navigation. Mr Fulton engaged with intense interest in the trial, and in 1803, constructed a boat on the river Seine, at their joint expense, by which he fully evinced the practicability of pro

pelling boats by that agent. He immediately resolved to enrich his country with this invaluable discovery, and on returning to New York in 1806, commenced, in conjunction with Mr Livingston, the construction of the first Fulton boat, which was launched in the spring of 1807 from the ship-yard of Charles Browne, New York, and completed in August. This boat, which was called the Clermont, demonstrated on the first experiment, to a host of, at first incredulous, but at length astonished spectators, the correctness of his expectations, and the value of his invention. Between this period and his death he superintended the erection of fourteen other steam vessels, and made great improvements in their construction. He obtained a patent for his inventions in navigation by steam in February, 1809, and another for some improvements in 1811. In the latter year he was appointed by the legisla ture of New York, one of the commissioners to explore a route for a canal from the great lakes to the Hudson, and engaged with zeal in the promotion of that great work. On the commencement of hostilities between the United States and Great Britain in 1812, he renewed his attention to submarine warfare, and contrived a method of discharging guns under water, for which he obtained a patent. In 1814 he contrived an armed steam ship for the defence of the harbor of New York, and also a submarine vessel, or plunging boat, of such dimensions as to carry 100 men, the plans of which being approved by government he was authorized to construct them at the public expense. But before completing either of those works, he died suddenly, February 24th, 1815. His person was tall, slender, and well formed, his manners graceful and dignified, and his disposition generous. His attainments and inventions bespeak the high superiority of his talents. He was an accomplished painter, was profoundly versed in mechanics, and possessed an invention of great fertility, and which was always directed by an eminent share of good sense. His style as a writer was perspicuous and energetic. To him is to be ascribed the honor of inventing a method of successfully employing the steam engine in navigation, an invention justly considered one of the most important which has been made in modern ages, and by which 1

rendered himself both a perpetual and one of the greatest benefactors of mankind. He was not indeed the first who conceived it to be possible; others had believed its practicability, and made many attempts to propel boats by steam, but having neither his genius, his knowledge, nor his perseverance, they were totally unsuccessful. Mr Fulton was familiarly acquainted with many of the most distinguished literary and political characters both of the United States and of Europe, was a director of the American academy of fine arts, and a member of several literary and philosophical societies.*


Gen. Alexander Hamilton was a native of the island of St. Croix, and was born in 1757. His father was the youngest son of an English family, and his mother was an American. At the age of sixteen, he accompanied his mother to New York, and entered a student of Columbia college, in which he continued about three years. While a member of this institution, the first buddings of his intellect gave presages of his future eminence.

The contest with Great Britain called forth the first talents on each side, and his juvenile pen asserted the claims of the colonies against very respectable writers. His papers exhibited such evidence of intellect and wisdom, that they were ascribed to Mr Jay, and when the truth was discovered, America saw with astonishment a lad of seventeen in the list of her able advocates.

At the age of eighteen, he entered the American army, as an officer of artillery. It was not long before he attracted the notice of Washington, who in 1777 selected him as an aid, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. His sound understanding, comprehensive views, application, and promptitude, soon gained him the entire confidence of his patron.

By intercourse with. Washington, by surveying his plans, observing his consummate prudence, and by a minute

* Lord.

inspection of the springs of national operations, he became fitted for command. Throughout the campaign, which terminated in the capture of Lord Cornwallis, Col. Hamilton commanded a battalion of light infantry, and signally distinguished himself at the siege of York.

Soon after the capture of Cornwallis, Hamilton, at the age of twentyfive, applied to the study of law. In this profession, he soon rose to distinction. A few years after, more important concerns demanded his talents. He was appointed, in 1787, a member of the federal convention for New York, and assisted in forming the constitution of our country. By his pen, in the papers signed Publius, and by his voice in the convention of New York, he contributed much to its adoption.

Upon the organization of the government in 1789, Washington placed him at the head of the treasury. In the new demands, which were now made upon his talents, the resources of his mind did not fail him. The integrity and ability, with which he conducted the department of finance, effectually relieved the national embarrassments.

When a provisional army was raised in 1798, in consequence of the injuries and demands of France, Washington suspended his acceptance of the command of it, on the condition that Hamilton should be his associate, and the second in command. This arrangement was accordingly made. After the adjustment of our dispute with the French republic, and the discharge of the army, he returned again to his profession in the city of New York, where he passed the remainder of his days.

In June, 1804, Col. Burr, vice president of the United States, addressed a letter to Gen. Hamilton, requiring his acknowledgment or denial of the use of any expression derogatory to the honor of the former. This demand was deemed inadmissible, and a duel was the consequence. The parties met at Hoboken, on the morning of Wednesday, July the 11th, and Hamilton fell on the same spot, where his son, a few years before, had fallen, in obedience to the same principle of honor.

He was carried into the city, where, after expressing his regret for this last act of his life, his penitence, and faith in the Saviour, he received the sacrament of

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »