American Medical Biographies/Hare, Robert

Hare, Robert (1781–1858).

Robert Hare, an eminent American pioneer chemist and writer on scientific and moral subjects, was born in Philadelphia, January 17, 1781, the son of Robert Hare and Margaret Willing. After leaving school he went into his father's brewery, studied the composition of malt liquors and invented a barrel which would resist an extra strong pressure of carbonic acid gas, then at the age of twenty he entered the chemistry department of the University of Pennsylvania where, together with Benjamin Silliman, he studied under Woodhouse. Yale in 1806 and Harvard in 1816 bestowed on him the honorary degree of M. D.; in 1818 he was eleceted professor of natural history and chemistry in William and Mary College, holding the position until he was called to the chair of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania the same year, a chair he was to occupy for thirty years.

As early as 1801, at the age of twenty, Dr. Hare invented the hydrostatic or oxyhydrogen blowpipe and received the Rumford medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; in 1803 he read a paper before the American Philosophical Society, in which he described an apparatus by the means of which he fused for the first time in large quantities, lime, magnesium and platinum. He invented the calorimeter, a voltaic arrangement of large plates that produced heat; the deflagrator, a machine for producing heat on the plan of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe; he devised a plan to denarcotize laudanum. Dr. Hare was a life member of the Smithsonian Institution, and to it he left his chemical and physical apparatus when he resigned his chair in the University. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and an associate member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1824). He wrote and lectured in support of Spiritualism, in which he became a believer in the later years of his life. He contributed largely to scientific periodicals. Under the nom de plume of Eldred Grayson, he wrote moral essays published in the Portfolio.

Dr. Hare married Harriet Clark in 1811. He died in Philadelphia, May 15, 1858.

Hist. of the Med. Dept. of Univ. of Penn., Dr. J. Carson, Philadelphia, 1869.
Univers. and Their Sons, Boston, 1902.
Philadelphia Jour. of the Med. and Phys. Sciences, 1820, vol i.
Dictn'y of Amer. Biog., F. S. Drake, Boston, 1872. Bibliography.
Portrait in Library of Surg.-gen., Washington, D. C.