Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Count Rumford

This post continues to look at the periodical that Dr. Frank published, from 1908 to 1918, with his friends and deals with Count Rumford and Charles Crozat Converse.

First, who is Charles? My question, exactly.

Well, in Vol. VII, No. 1 of the Massachusetts Magazine, Charles wrote an article titled "Thompson in Connecticut" which is about an American who became Count Rumford. There is a seat at Harvard by that name. More on that, below.

Back to Charles, first. Godey's Magazine, Vol. 134 (pg 80) had a nice article about Charles. He was a lawyer and a musician with several known hymns. Also, he is written up on Wikipedia. And, some of his ancestry is covered in J. J. Putnam's book on Joseph Convers of Bedford. Also, see C. B. Harvey's Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey (pg 459) for a brief bio. In his TMM article, Charles mentions his family's effort to place a statue of Count Rumford in Boston (it is now in Moburn).

As an aside, Godey published the The Lady's Book from 1830 to 1878. That is a long run. The article on Charles (see above) is quite good.

Benjamin Thompson.jpgNow, to Count Rumford. He was born Benjamin Thompson in 1753 in Woburn, MA. Being a Loyalist, he ended up in Europe and had quite good success. Benjamin was an early thermodynamics researcher: Rumford’s calorific and frigorific radiation. Also, he has wide influence. For the Rumford Medal that is given by the Royal Society, we see a whole lot of illustrious names. For instance, Michael Faraday received the award in 1846.

Benjamin, also, left funds to Harvard for the Rumford chair that was first held by Jacob Bigelow. When Jacob resigned, Benjamin Peirce (father of Charles Sanders Peirce - more on this later due to some interesting connections) got involved as a replacement was considered. Eventually, Benjamin Peirce got the Rumford chair rolled into the new ‘practical’ school (Science at Harvard University) related to science and engineering (that is, getting away from counting angels on a pin head). There is a lot to know about Benjamin Thompson (The Life and Legend of Count Rumford).

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Commercial site with links to information about Count Rumford.

Remarks: Modified: 08/03/2017

08/03/2017 -- Turns out that Benjamin's money gives us a chance to look at Harvard, its history, it roles, and its dreams (hopefully, more than exultation on endowment size). The platform? Quora: What is the coolest obscure history fact you know?

Another side of the story, Charles W. Eliot was supposed to get the Rumford chair in 1863. It went to Wolcott Gibbs.

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