At The National Portrait Gallery: Rittenhouse

 

The Self-Made Man

Rittenhouse by Peale

Rittenhouse by Peale

David Rittenhouse (1732-1796)  was a world renowned astronomer, scientist, mathematician, surveyor and inventor.

He was also entirely self-taught.

Rittenhouse grew up near Germantown, PA.  It is said that at age 13 he had mastered Newton's laws of motion and gravity.  He was one of the first Americans to build a telescope and used his to observe the transit of Venus across the sun in 1769.

Based on his observations, Rittenhouse stated that the distance between the earth and the sun was 93,000,000 miles.  He was, of course, correct.

Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus

He built his home in Philadelphia where he regularly held salons attended by Benjamin Franklin and others.  Thomas Jefferson said "he would rather attend one of those meetings than spend a week in Paris."

Rittenhouse proves that genius is where you find it.  Jefferson's encomium, from a man who had lived in France for years and was revered by European intellectuals, underscored that America could think, too.

Rittenhouses's portraitist, Charles Wilson Peale, studied under John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West.  He was around at the right time.  In Philadelphia in 1776 he painted portraits of Washington, Hancock, Franklin, Hamilton and Jefferson.

Peale fought in the American Revolution, gaining the rank of Captain in the Pennsylvania Militia.

Sources: SI.edu, Wiki, National Portrait Gallery

2 Comments

  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    It sounds very civilized — like the salons in France.  Someone else who was rather like this was Benjamin Banneker, whose bio. my Dad wrote. As you doubtless know, Eric, he surveyed the land this city stands on.  And considering he was a Black man in that day and time his accomplishments were doubly amazing.  

  • eric lamar says:

    Vic-

    Very interesting you should mention that, Rittenhouse also colloborated with Andrew Ellicott to complete the Mason-Dixon survey.

    Small world; thanks for sharing.

     

    E

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Comments
TheHonestTruth
TED2: Baggers
Maybe when the Democratic Party gets back to being the party of the working man and woman and stops taking on every other cause and affliction that grabs a headline, the firefighters of the IAFF will not wear yellow shirts in public and then "go red" in the voting booth. The height of hypocrisy. Feel…
2015-03-30 02:06:28
Bill Hand
Travel: Kissing Whales
Sounds like a great adventure Eric. That part of Mexico is much different than a Texas border town.
2015-03-28 05:05:29
Bill Hand
TED2: Baggers
Eric I am shocked that someone as intelligent as you would go for the simple race card. That is just way too easy my friend. I thought you could do better at finding some real issues with Ted other than labeling him as a racist right from the get go. I really don't like what…
2015-03-28 04:56:59
Joe Kameros
TED2: Baggers
Well there you go....... http://www.youngcons.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/aljazeera.jpg
2015-03-28 01:08:03
Joe Kameros
TED2: Baggers
The left's heads are exploding early.....all the snow this winter has caused a lot of pent up anxiety. Hopefully you don't subscribe to MSNBC's Jamilah Lemieux, who thinks that those who listen to country music are evil racists.....just because Rafael said he likes a little country music....SMH
2015-03-28 01:02:34
IAFFLogo
January 2014
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Feb »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

LATEST FIREFIGHTER NEWS

HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS

LATEST ON FIRE ENGINEERING

FEATURED DISCUSSIONS