Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Dod, Thaddeus

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DOD, Thaddeus, clergyman, b. near Newark, N. J., 7 March, 1740; d. in Cross Creek, Pa., 20 May, 1793. His early days were passed in Mendham, N. J. By alternate teaching and studying, he fitted himself for college, and was graduated at Princeton in 1773. He studied theology, was licensed to preach by the New York presbytery in 1775, and held pastoral charges in Virginia and Maryland. He crossed the mountains westward about 1773, when there had been for several years peace with the Indian tribes, but, in consequence of a fresh outbreak in 1774, his colony were driven back, and took refuge in an old fort near Monongahela river, where they found it necessary to build forts, and to live in them part of the time. He returned to New Jersey in 1777, and, with a view to preaching in the distant west, was ordained by the New York presbytery. After living at Patterson's Creek, in Virginia, for nearly two years, he removed across the mountains in September, 1779, organizing a church in 1781. Mr. Dod was the second minister that settled west of the Monongahela (Dr. McMillan only having preceded him), and he took a position farther westward on the frontier than any other, where, in 1783, the first administration of the Lord's supper in that region took place in a barn. The first house of worship was erected two years later, and the second not till 1792. Mr. Dod had an exquisite taste for music, was acquainted with it as a science, and caused special attention to be given to this part of the service, delivering sermons on the importance of sacred music. He introduced the custom of singing without reading the line. He taught in a classical and mathematical school in 1782, of which he was founder and builder, and it was the first school of its kind in the west and was in operation for about three years and a half. As the result of his enterprise, with the co-operation of McMillan, Power, and Smith, an academy was established at Washington, Pa., in 1787, which he conducted one year, opening it with about thirty students, and continuing his preaching at the same time. He was not only the first president, and one of the founders of Washington college, Pa., but founder of the first presbytery west of the Alleghany mountains. — His nephew, Daniel, mechanician, b. in Virginia, 28 Sept., 1788; d. in New York city, 9 May, 1823, was educated at Rutgers, and became distinguished for his mathematical acquirements. He was especially devoted to the construction of steam machinery, beginning when steam navigation was in its infancy, and soon became one of the most successful engine-builders in the country. In 1811 he declined an appointment in Rutgers college as professor of mathematics, in order to devote himself to this business. His mechanical constructions were different from former ones, and, having proved superior to all others, were generally adopted. In 1819 the “Savannah,” with an engine of his building, made the first steam-ship voyage across the Atlantic, and returned in safety after visiting England and Russia. Mr. Dod removed, in 1821, to New York city, where he was reputed the most successful engine-builder in the United States. In 1823, having altered the machinery of a steamboat, he went on board to witness the effect of his repair by a trial trip on the East river. The boiler exploded, and so severely injured Mr. Dod that he died a few days thereafter. — His second son, Albert Baldwin, educator, b. in Mendham, N. J., 24 March, 1805; d. in Princeton, 20 Nov., 1845, was like his father, not only in mathematical taste, but in the versatility of his genius. He was graduated at Princeton in 1822, and was at once offered a place in the navy by the secretary, who witnessed his graduation, but declined it. He taught four years in Fredericksburg, Va., and in 1826 entered the Theological seminary at Princeton as a student; at the same time was a tutor in the college till 1829, when he was licensed to preach by the New York presbytery. He became professor of mathematics at Princeton in 1830, which chair he held until the time of his death, declining the chaplaincy and professorship of moral philosophy at West Point. He possessed a taste for general literature and the fine arts, and a power of analysis, logical deduction, and lucid statement, to which was due the high degree of success he attained as a teacher. He frequently supplied pulpits in New York and Philadelphia, and was regarded as an eloquent preacher and a learned lecturer on political economy and architecture. The degree of D. D. was conferred upon him by the University of North Carolina in 1844, and by the University of New York in 1845. His articles, contributed mainly to the “Princeton Review,” have been published in book-form under the title of “Princeton Theological Essays” (New York, 1847). The one on “Capital Punishment” (1842) was adopted by a committee of the New York legislature as their report. His article on “Transcendentalism” was reprinted as a pamphlet.