Rittenhouse, David

, an American philosopher and mathematician, was born in Pennsylvania in 1732. By the dint of genius and application, he was enabled to mingle the pursuits of science with the active employments of a farmer and watch-maker. The latter of these occupations he filled with unrivalled eminence among his countrymen. In 17t9 he was with others invited by the American Philosophical Society to observe the transit of Venus, when he particularly distinguished himself by his observations and calculations. He afterwards constructed an observatory, where he made such valuable discoveries, as tended to the general diffusion of science. After the American war, as he was a strenuous advocate for independence, he successively filled the offices of treasurer of the state of Pennsylvania, and director of the national mint; in the first of which he manifested incorruptible integrity, and in the last, the rare talent of combining theories in such a way as to produce correct practical effects. He succeeded Dr. Franklin in the office of president of the American Philosophical Society; but towards the close of his days he withdrew from public life, and spent his time in retirement. After a very severe illness, but of no long continuance, he died July 10, 1796, about the age of 64. He had the degree of LL. D. conferred upon him. To the “Transactions” of the American Philosophical Society he contributed several excellent papers, chiefly on astronomical subjects. 2


Hutton’s Dictionary. —Dict. Hist. Supplement, Rees’s Cyclopedia.