Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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JARVIS, Charles, physician, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 26 October, 1748; died there, 15 November, 1807. He was graduated at Harvard in 1766, and, after completing his medical education in Europe, settled in Boston, where he became well known in his profession, he was a zealous patriot during the Revolution, was a delegate to the Constitutional convention of 1788, and a member of the legislature until 1798. He was a popular orator and leader of the Jefferson party, and was appointed by Jefferson to be surgeon of the marine hospital in Chelsea.--His only son, William, merchant, born in Boston, 4 February, 1770; died in Weathersfield, Vermont, 21 October, 1859, was educated at Bordentown academy, New Jersey When of age he entered into mercantile business in Boston, but failed, and went to sea as supercargo. In two voyages he had made enough to purchase a third of a ship, and although he had no nautical experience, except that of these voyages, the other owners intrusted him with her command. He navigated this vessel with success for five years, also engaging in trade on his own account, and, regaining his fortune, paid his debts and retired from the sea. In 1802 he was appointed by President Jefferson consul-general at Lisbon, and charge d'affaires at the court of Portugal. This was during the English wars with Napoleon, and the position of our representatives in Europe was difficult. American commerce was constantly assailed by the cruisers of the belligerents, and the impressment of our seamen by the British finally led to the war of 1812. Mr. Jarvis won a great reputation by the dexterous management of the negotiations which he was obliged to conduct from time to time, first with the Portuguese government, then with General Junot, the commander of the French forces, who took possession of Lisbon in 1807, and governed there until 1808, and afterward with the British authorities. Mr. Jefferson spoke of him as "pre-eminently among the faithful of the public servants." Mr. Jarvis continued to represent this country in Portugal until October, 1810. During this time the departure of the Braganzas to Brazil took place, and the overthrow of the Spanish royal family. The flocks of merino sheep, which up to that time had remained exclusively the property of the Spanish and Portuguese grandees, were offered for sale. Mr. Jarvis was satisfied that the raising of sheep and the growth of wool could be conducted successfully in New England, and he purchased and exported to the United States large numbers of merinos, many of them from the Paular flocks of Godov. Some of these he presented to public men, and they were distributed from Maine to Virginia. Our minister to Madrid, Colonel Humphreys, did the same, and from the flocks thus sent to this country by these two gentlemen the merino sheep throughout the Union are descended. On his return to this country Mr. Jarvis found the National treasury almost bankrupt, and he never asked, and never received, a dollar of his salary. About 1812 Mr. Jarvis purchased a large tract of land on the bank of Connecticut river, in the town of Weathersfield, Vermont, where he resided till his death. Mr. Jarvis continued to take pride in his pure-blooded merinos. He exhibited an active interest in public affairs, was an ardent friend and admirer of Henry Clay and active in the Whig party, although he never would consent to accept the offices that were frequently tendered him. Although a high-tariff man, he never advocated a duty on wool.
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