Biography of Joseph Henry
Famous American Biographies

JOSEPH HENRY, one of America's greatest scientists, was born at Albany, New York, December 17, 1797. He was edncated in the common schools of the city and graduated from the Albany Academy, where he became a professor of mathematics in 1826. In 1827 he commenced a course of investigation, which he continued for a number of years, and the results pro duced had great effect on the scientific world, The first success was achieved by producing the electric magnet, and he next proved the possibility of exciting magnetic energy at a distance, and it was the invention of Professor Henry's intensity magnet that first made the invention of electric telegraph a possibility. He made a statement regarding the practicability of applying the intensity magnet to telegraphic uses, in his article to the "American Journal of Science" in 1831. During the same year he produced the first mechanical contrivance ever invented for maintaining continuous motion by means of electro magnetism, and he also contrived a machine by which signals could be made at a distance by the use of his electro magnet, the signals being produced by a lever striking on a bell, Some of his electro rnagnets were of great power, one carried over a ton and another not less than three thousand six hundred pounds. In 1832 he discovered that secondary currents could be produced long conductor by the induction of the primary current upon itself, and also in the same year he produced a spark by means of a purely magnetic induction. professor Henry was elected, in 1832, professor of natural philosophy in the College of New Jersey, and in his earliest lectures at Princeton, demonstrated the feasibility of t!he electric telegraph. He visited Europe in 1837, and while there he had an interview with Professor Wheatstone, the inventor of the needle magnetic telegraph. In 1846 he was elected secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, being the first in cumbent in that office, which he held until his death. Professor Henry was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1849, and of the National Academy of Sciences. He was made chairman of the lighthouse board of the United States in 1871 and held that position up to the time of his death. He received the honorary degree of doctor of laws from Union College in 1829, and from Harvard University in 1851, and his death occurred May 13, 1878. Among his numerous works may be mentioned the following: "Contributions to Electricity and Magnetism," "American Philosophic Trans," and many articles in the "American Journal of Science," the journal of the Franklin Institute; the proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in the annual reports of the Smithsonian Institution from its foundation.

A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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