James Renwick

Physicist, Author

1790 – 1863


Who was James Renwick?

James Renwick, was an English-American scientist and engineer.

He was born in Liverpool, England, on 30 May 1790. He graduated from Columbia College in 1807. In 1820 he was appointed professor of natural philosophy in that college, a position he held until 1854. In 1838 he was appointed by the U.S. government one of the commissioners to explore the line of the boundary, then settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, between Maine and New Brunswick. In addition to his collegiate duties he wrote the biographies of Robert Fulton, David Rittenhouse, and Count Rumford, in Sparks's American Biography; a Memoir of DeWitt Clinton; and a Treatise on the Steam-engine. His textbooks, Outlines of Natural Philosophy, Elements of Mechanics, and First Principles of Chemistry were among the first works of their kind published in the United States, the first and third of these, along with his other educational works, passing through multiple editions. Renwick died in 1863.

He married Margaret Brevoort, from a wealthy and socially prominent New York family. His eldest son, Henry Brevoort Renwick, was a mechanical engineer and inspector of steamboat engines.

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May 30, 1790
  • England
  • Columbia College of Columbia University in the City of New York

on July 23, 2013


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