Page:Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography (1900, volume 5).djvu/105

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PORTER, Noah, clergyman, b. in Farmington, Conn., in December, 1781; d. there, 24 Sept., 1866. His ancestors, Robert and Thomas Porter, settled in Farmington in l640. He was graduated at Yale with the highest honor in 1803, and was ordained pastor of the Congregational church in his native town, which charge he held until his death. For many years he was a member of the corporation of Yale. Dartmouth gave him the degree of S. T. D. in 1828. He published occasional sermons in the “National Preacher,” a “Half-Century Discourse,” in the fiftieth year of his ministry, and contributed to the “Christian Spectator.” His “Memoir” was written by his son, Noah. His son, Samuel, educator of the deaf and dumb, b. in Farmington, Conn., 12 Jan., 1810, was graduated at Yale in 1829. He was instructor of the deaf and dumb in the Hartford institution from 1832 till 1836, and again from 1846 till 1860, also

Noah Porter, Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography.jpg

holding the same office in the New York institution in 1843-'6. From 1866 till 1884 he was professor of mental science and English philology in the National deaf-mute college in Washington, D. C., and is now (1898) professor emeritus. He has made a special study of phonetics, was editor of the “American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb” from 1854 till 1860, and has published “The Vowel Elements in Speech, a Phonological and Philological Essay” (New York, 1867), and numerous articles, including “Is Thought possible without Language,” in the “Princeton Review” (1881).— Another son, Noah, educator, b. in Farmington, Conn., 14 Dec., 1811: d. in New Haven, Conn., 4 March, 1892, was graduated at Yale in 1831, became master of Hopkins grammar-school in New Haven, and was tutor at Yule in 1833-'5, during which time he studied theology. He was pastor of Congregational churches in New Milford, Conn., from 1836 till 1843, and in Springfield, Mass., from 1843 till 1846. Mr. Porter was then appointed professor of moral philosophy and metaphysics at Yale, in which chair he continued. In 1871 he succeeded Theodore D. Woolsey as president of Yale, which post he held till his resignation in 1886. During President Porter's administration the progress of the college was marked. Some of its finest buildings were erected in this period, including the art-school, the Peabody museum, the new theological halls, the Sloane physical laboratory, the Battell chapel, and one of the largest dormitories. The curriculum was also considerably enlarged, especially by the introduction of new elective studies, although Dr. Porter was an earnest champion of a required course, as opposed to the elective system as it has been recently elaborated at Harvard. He had also ably maintained the claims of the classics to a chief place in a liberal course of education. As an instructor, and in his personal relations with the students, he was one of the most popular presidents of Yale. He was probably the last to hold the presidency and a professor's chair at the same time, as his successor, Timothy Dwight, expressly stipulated on accepting the office that the duties of a teacher should not attach to it. He received the degree of D. D. from the University of the city of New York in 1858, and that of LL. D. from Edinburgh in 1886, and also from Western Reserve college, Ohio, in 1870, and from Trinity in 1871. He is the author of an “Historical Discourse at Farmington, Nov. 4, 1840,” commemorating the 200th anniversary of its settlement (Hartford, 1841); “The Educational Systems of the Puritans and Jesuits Compared,” a prize essay (New York, 1851); “The Human Intellect,” which is used as a text-book of metaphysics at Yale and elsewhere (1868; many new editions); “Books and Reading” (1870); “American Colleges and the American Public” (New Haven, 1871); “Sciences of Nature versus the Science of Man,” a review of the philosophy of Herbert Spencer (1871); “Evangeline; the Place, the Story, and the Poem” (1882); “Science and Sentiment” (1882); “The Elements of Moral Science, Theoretical and Practical” (1885); “Life of Bishop Berkeley” (1885); and “Kant's Ethics, a Critical Exposition” (Chicago, 1886). Dr. Porter was one of the most scholarly metaphysicians in this country. He was the principal editor of the revised editions of Noah Webster's “Unabridged Dictionary” till 1890 (Springfield, Mass., 1864, 1880, and 1891).— The first Noah's daughter, Sarah, educator, b. in Farmington, Conn., 17 Aug., 1813, opened a small day-school for girls in Farmington, which is now (1898) a large seminary, and attracts students from all parts of the United States. In 1885 a fine building was erected and presented to Miss Porter by some of her former pupils for an art studio.

PORTER, Rufus, inventor, b. in West Boxford, Massachusetts, 1 May, 1792; d. in New Haven, Connecticut, 13 Aug., 1884. He early showed mechanical genius. In 1807 his parents apprenticed him to a shoemaker, but he soon gave up this trade, and occupied himself by playing the fife for military companies, and the violin for dancing parties. Three years later he was apprenticed to a house-painter. During the war of 1812 he was occupied in painting gun-boats, and as fifer to the Portland light infantry. In 1813 he painted sleighs at Denmark, Me., beat the drum for the soldiers, taught others to do the same, and wrote a book on the art of drumming, and he then enlisted in the militia for several months. Subsequently he was a teacher, but was unable to remain in one place, and so led a wandering life. In 1820 he made a camera-obscura with a lens and a mirror so arranged that with its aid he could draw a satisfactory portrait in fifteen minutes. With this apparatus he travelled through the country until he invented a revolving almanac, when he at once stopped his painting in order to introduce his latest device. His next project was a twin boat to be propelled by horse-power, but it proved unsuccessful, and he turned to portrait-painting again. In 1824 he began landscape-painting, but relinquished it to build a horse flat-boat. He invented a successful cord-making machine in 1825, and thereafter produced a clock, a steam carriage, a portable horse-power, corn-sheller, churn, a washing-machine, signal telegraph, fire-alarm, and numerous other articles. In 1840 he became editor of the “New York Mechanic,” which prospered, and in the following year he moved it to Boston, where he called it the “American Mechanic.” The new art of electrotyping there attracted his attention, and he gave up editorial work in order to occupy himself with the new invention. He devised at this period a revolving rifle, which he sold to Col. Samuel Colt for $100. In 1845 he returned to New York and engaged in electrotyping, and about this