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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Bernard Romans

ROMANS, Bernard, engineer, born in Holland about 1720; died probably at sea in 1784. He was educated in England, and sent to this country by the government as a civil engineer about 1755. He was also its botanist in Florida, receiving a pension of £50 a year for his services. He was early imbued with the Revolutionary spirit, and enjoyed the acquaintance of Washington, who suggested that the New York committee of safety engage him as their engineer. He entered that service in 1775 in the hope of obtaining a commission in the Continental army, and on 18 September submitted his plans and estimates of the expenses of erecting the proposed fortifications on the Highlands, opposite West Point, offering to complete the same for $5,000, the ordnance only excepted. The committee decided to employ him at a salary, and his application for a colonelcy was subsequently refused. He succeeded in entering the Pennsylvania artillery with the commission of captain in February, 1776, and with his regiment invaded Canada. In May of the same year he was tried for various alleged offences, but was acquitted, and remained in the Continental service till 1779, when he was captured by the British and taken to England. Although his exchange was refused, he pursued his profession there with great success. He set out to return to this country in 1784, but is supposed to have been murdered at sea for a large sum of money which he carried with him. In a diary of the principal part of his life, Romans claims to have been the first surveyor in Florida. He was a mathematician, an artist, and an author. In 1771 he became a member of the American philosophical society, to which he contributed various papers. His publications include " A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida," which, though it contains curious typographical errors, such as printing the pronoun I as a small letter, and is composed in a grandiloquent style, is full of minute and well-arranged information, illustrated with twelve cop-per-plates and two whole-sheet maps, and is rare and valuable (New York, 1775). His other works are " Map of the Seat of War" (1775);" Annals of the Troubles in the Netherlands" (English translation, 2 vols., Hartford, 1778); and " Compleat Pilot of the Gulf Passage" (1779).

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