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Thompson

rumford, count, american, bavaria, england and paris

THOMPSON, Benjamin, COUNT RUMFORD, American physicist: b. North Woburn, Mass., 26 March 1753; d. Auteuil, near Paris, 21 Aug. 1814. He entered a Salem counting-house in 1766, later was made major of New •Hamp shire militia by the English governor, Went worth, but, charged with being a Tory, fled to Boston, where he was associated with the British officers. He went to England in 1776 as bearer of certain dispatches, and as a reward for his services obtained a situation in the For eign Office under Lord George Germain. He became Under-Secretary for the Colonies in 1780, and was shortly afterward appointed lieu tenant-colonel of the King's American dra goons. Returning to England in 1783, he retired on half-pay. In 1784 he was knighted and went to the Continent. Through the rec ommendation of the Prince of Zweibriicken (afterward king of Bavaria) he entered into the service of the. reigning elector-palatine and Duke of Bavaria, where he effected many im portant and useful reforms in both the civil and military departments of the state, the latter of which he practically reorganized. As the re ward of his success he received from the sov ereign of Bavaria various orders of knight hood, was made a lieutenant-general and created count of the Holy Roman Empire, choosing the title Count Rumford from the name of his wife's native town (now Concord, N. H.). He left Bavaria in 1795, and returned to England, where lie employed himself in malcing experi ments on the nature and application of heat and on other subjects of economical and phil osophical research. He clearly recognized that heat is a mode of motion, and that by a given amount of mechanical work a definite amount of heat may be produced. Among the objects which engaged his attention was the search for a remedy for smoky chimneys, which at that time formed one of the greatest nuisances in the country; and he succeeded in discovering the principles upon which fireplaces and chim neys have since been constructed. He likewise

suggested the plan and assisted in the founda tion of the Royal Institution, which led to other establishments of a similar description. In 1804 he removed to Paris, where he took up his resi dence; and, his wife being dead, he married the widow of the celebrated Lavoisier; but the union proved unfortunate and a separation ere long took place. Count Rumford then retired to a country house at Auteuil, about four miles from Paris, and there devoted his time to the embellishment of his domain and to the cultiva tion of chemistry and experimental philosophy. His investigations respecting the strength of materials and the force of gunpowder led to considerable improvements in artillery, and he also made discoveries in connection with light and illumination. Count Rumford was by no means a man of extensive learning, but he was familiar with the discoveries and improvements of contemporary science, and the industry and perseverance with which he pursued his in quiries enabled him to make some considerable additions to the knowledge of chemistry and practical philosophy. He was the founder and first recipient of the Rumford medal of the Royal Society, and also founder of the Rum ford medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Rumford professor ship in .Harvard University. His complete works, with a memoir by George E. Ellis, were published by the Amertcan Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston 1870-75). Consult also Slosson, E. E., in 'Leading American Men of Science' (ed. by D. S. Jordan, New York 1910).