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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DOUGLASS, David Bates, civil engineer, born in Pompton, New Jersey, 21 March 1790; died in Geneva, New York, 19 October 1849. He was graduated at Yale in 1813, in the same year was appointed a 2d lieutenant in the corps of engineers, U. S. army, entered upon duty at West Point as commander of sappers and miners, and later was superintendent of the post. In the war with Great Britain he commanded his company in 1814 on the northern frontier, participated in the battle of Niagara, joined General Brown in that year, took part in the battle of Lundy's Lane, repaired Fort Erie under the guns of the enemy, and at its assault commanded a battery with such skill and gallantry that he was promoted 1st lieutenant and brevetted captain. On the extreme right of the American encampment, and near the lakeshore, a strong work had been erected, and two guns en barbette. It was called Douglass battery, in honor of Lieutenant David B. Douglass, of the engineer corps, under whose superintendence it was built. He was assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point in 1819'20, with the rank of captain. As astronomical surveyor he fulfilled several important commissions; later he became professor of mathematics, and in 1823 of civil and military engineering.
In 1831 he resigned his professorship and his commission in the army, and became chief engineer of the Morris canal. His introduction of inclined planes in place of locks for canal navigation proved a success on the completion of the canal in 1832. Subsequent to this he held the professorship of natural philosophy and civil architecture in the University of the City of New York, and designed its collegiate building. In 1833 he began his surveys for supplying New York with water, and, in his first report, showed how to obtain it from the Croton river. He became the chief engineer in this work in 1835, but was superseded, after which he planned and laid out in 1838 Greenwood cemetery, resigning its superintendence in 1841 to accept the presidency of Kenyon College, Ohio. There he remained four years, when he returned to New York and laid out the Catholic cemetery in Albany, and the Protestant cemetery in Quebec. He also designed the supporting wall for Brooklyn Heights, and the supplying of that City with water. In 1848 he became professor of mathematics in Hobart College, Geneva, New York, which office he retained during the remainder of his life, at intervals delivering lectures on various subjects in Colleges. He received the degree of LL.D. At the request of the board of Greenwood cemetery, his remains were removed there, and an imposing monument raised to his memory on one of the heights nearest the entrance to the cemetery.
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