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1800-1809 >>
Date Event Subjects
1790 Reverend Samuel Deane (1733-1814) published The New England Farmer; or Georgical Dictionary (Worcester), with the encouragement of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Deane had carried out agricultural experiments and also drew upon American and European background knowledge. [0001] Agriculture
1790 The first patent act was passed by Congress, acting under provisions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. The secretary of state, secretary of war, and the attorney general were made a board to decide on patents. Administration was placed in the state department and its secretary, Thomas Jefferson. A revision of the law in 1793 put the secretary of state in charge but it was essentially a registering and fee collecting function and did not involve decision-making regarding the acceptability of an invention. [0002] Government—Federal / Technology and Invention
(April 17)
Benjamin Franklin (b.1706) died at Philadelphia. [0003] General or Miscellaneous / Physics
1791 William Bartram (1739-1823) published Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida ... (Philadelphia). The work was an account of his botanical explorations but written in a luxurious style that became a source for European Romantic authors such as Chateaubriand, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. [0004] Botany
1792 Astronomer and natural philosopher David Rittenhouse (1732-1796) was appointed as the first director of the U.S. Mint. [0005] Government—Federal
1792 The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture was incorporated. It had its beginnings in 1785 in a special committee appointed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and its early members generally were not directly engaged in farming. [0006] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Agriculture
1792 The Chemical Society of Philadelphia was established under the leadership of James Woodhouse (1770-1809). It was likely the first organized chemical society in the world, although John Penington, a student of Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), is said to have established a chemical society in 1789. Among the Philadelphia society's accomplishments was the promotion of the new chemistry of Lavoisier. In 1811, it was succeeded by the Columbian Chemical Society. [0007] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Chemistry
1793 Chemist Thomas Cooper (1759-1839) came to the United States from England, accompanied by two sons of Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), who came the next year. [0008] General or Miscellaneous / Chemistry
1793 Eli Whitney (1765-1825) invented the cotton gin. [0009] Technology and Invention
1794 Samuel L. Mitchill (1764-1831) published Nomenclature of the New Chemistry (New York). Mitchill explained to his readers that the new ideas were prevalent to the degree that any chemically knowledgeable person should know them and promoted them as a new truth in chemistry. (In 1801, Mitchill also published Explanation of the Synopsis of Chemical Nomenclature and Arrangement [New York].) [0010] Chemistry
1794 The Springfield Armory was made a national facility by Congress. [0011] Government—Federal / Military and War
(June 4)
Chemist and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) moved from England to the United States, arriving in New York on this date. Soon thereafter, he settled at Northumberland, Pennsylvania. [0012] General or Miscellaneous / Chemistry
1795 David Rittenhouse (1732-1796) was elected a member of the Royal Society of London. [0013] General or Miscellaneous
1795 John Maclean (1771-1814) was appointed professor of chemistry and natural history at Princeton University (then College of New Jersey). This was the first such American professorship in chemistry not attached to a medical school. [0014] Organizations—Academic / Chemistry
1795 Oliver Evans (1755-1819) published The Young Mill-Wright & Miller's Guide (Philadelphia). Through its many editions, it became a favorite source for young mechanics. [0015] Technology and Invention
1796 Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) (1753-1814), gave $5,000 in stock to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to establish a biennial medal and premium for American work in heat and light. (At the same time, he also established a Rumford medal with the Royal Society of London.) Probably the earliest research endowment, in 1832 the Academy received legal permission to make use of the fund more flexible in its support of research. The first prize was not given until 1839. [0016] Funds and Funding
1797 John Maclean (1771-1814) published Two Lectures on Combustion (Philadelphia). It helped to promote the antiphlogiston views that Maclean had adopted before coming to the United States in 1795, and directly challenged Joseph Priestley's (1733-1804) refutation of the new theory of oxygen. A discussion of the phlogiston question followed its publication, among Maclean, Joseph Priestley, James Woodhouse (1770-1809), and Samuel L. Mitchill (1764-1831), in the Medical Repository. [0017] Chemistry
1797 The Medical Repository began publication in New York as the first such independent or commercial publication in the United States to be devoted to science (as well as medicine). The journal included developments in Europe as well as in the United States. Samuel Latham Mitchill (1764-1831) was a founder and served as editor until 1813. Issuance continued until 1824. [0018] Periodicals and Publishing / Medicine
1797 The earliest book on American insects was published. This was The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia (London), prepared by British naturalist James Edward Smith. It included the illustrations and notes of John Abbot (1751-1840/41), with descriptions of new species by Smith based on Abbot's drawings. [0019] Zoology / Entomology
1797-1800 Samuel L. Mitchill (1764-1831) published "A Sketch of the Mineralogical and Geological History of the State of New York ...," Medical Repository 1 (1797-1798): 293-314, 445-452 and 3 (1799-1800): 325-335. This work was based on a survey that Mitchill undertook on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts, and Manufactures. [0020] Geology / Mineralogy and Crystallography
1797-1807 The largest collection of American plants of the time was accumulated by the Philadelphia botanist Benjamin Smith Barton (1766-1815). [0021] Botany
1798 Benjamin Smith Barton (1766-1815) published New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations in America (Philadelphia). Though a work of only limited success, it reflected the point of view that such origins were to be found in linguistic studies and included tables of comparative words from various new and old world sources. This view of linguistic studies was shared by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who made the point in his Notes on the State of Virginia, written in 1782. [0022] Anthropology and Ethnology
1798 A brief-tenured American Mineralogical Society was founded in New York, the first American geological society. Samuel L. Mitchill (1764-1831) was a leading member of the Society. [0023] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Geology
1798 Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) (1753-1814) published "An Experimental Inquiry Concerning the Source of Heat Which Is Excited by Friction" in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Reporting on his experiments with boring cannons, he argued against the caloric theory of heat in favor of one based on motion. [0024] Physics
(July 16)
A law that provided for the deduction of a fee from the wages of merchant seaman for the support of their medical care was enacted by Congress. The U.S. Public Health Service found its origins in the act through the Hospitals that were established. [0025] Government—Federal / Public Health
1799 The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences was established as the first state academy. Its Memoirs began publication in 1810 and included papers on science. [0026] Organizations—Societies and Associations
1799 On 10 March 1797, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) presented a paper on the megalonyx to the American Philosophical Society. It was published as "A Memoir on the Discovery of Certain Bones of a Quadruped of the Clawed Kind in the Western Parts of Virginia," Transactions of American Philosophical Society 4:255-256. Caspar Wistar (1761-1818) also published an account of the megalonyx in the same volume. In 1822, it was named Megalonyx jeffersoni by a French naturalist. [0027] Paleontology / Zoology


Created and Maintained by Dr. Clark A. Elliott Waltham, MA
clark_elliott at verizon dot net / Content updated 16 June 2008
Technical presentation by Andrew J. Elliott.