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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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Edmund March Blunt

BLUNT, Edmund March author, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 20 June 1770; died in Sing Sing, New York, 2 January 1862. He was a bookseller, and published the Newburyport " Herald." In 1796 he published his first " American Coast Pilot," which is still in use and has been translated into most of the languages of Europe. About thirty editions of this work, which describes all the ports of the United States, with sailing directions, lists of lighthouses, and other knowledge important to seamen, have been issued. He also published "Stranger's Guide to New York City" (1817), and numerous nautical books and charts.*His son, Joseph, lawyer, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in February 1792; died in New York City, 16 June 1860, first came into notice by writing on the Missouri question in 1820. Soon afterward he wrote an article on the Laybach circular, published in the "North American Review," which attracted the attention of politicians. He was long a leading Whig and protectionist, was one of the first members of the republican party, and drew up the original resolutions of the republican state convention at Saratoga in 1854. Mr. Blunt declined the commissionership to China offered him by President Fillmore. He was appointed district attorney not long before his death. He edited the "American Annual Register" (1827-'35), and published "Historical Sketch of the Formation of the American Confederacy" (New York, 1825); "Speeches, Reviews, and Reports" (1843); "Merchants' and Shipmasters' Assistant" (1829 and 1848).*Another son, Edmund, hydrographer, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, 23 November 1799; died in Brooklyn, New York, 2 September 1866, manifested in early life taste for practical mathematics, and when scarcely seventeen made the first accurate survey of New York harbor. In 1819-'20 he made the first survey of the Bahama banks and the shoals of George and Nantucket, and in 1824 surveyed the entrance of New York harbor from Barnegat to Fire Island. In 1825-'6 he ran the line of levels from the River San Juan to the Pacific ocean for a canal on the Nicaragua route. In 1827-'30, as a private enterprise, he surveyed Long Island sound from New York to Montauk Point. On the organization of the United States coast survey in 1832 he was appointed first assistant, holding that place till the time of his death. In 1855-'6 he furnished the points to determine the exterior line of New York harbor. While he was on the coast survey his attention was directed to the inferiority of the lights in the American lighthouses, and he was the proposer and advocate of the introduction of Fresnel's system of signal-lights. He also invented the dividing-engine. He was a partner of his brother in the firm of E. & G. W. Blunt, nautical publishers, of New York.-Another son, George W., hydrographer, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, 11 March 1802; died in New York City, 19 April 1878, was a sailor from fourteen to nearly twenty-one years of age. From 1822 till 1866 he was a publisher of charts and nautical books in New York. From 1819 till 1826 he was engaged in marine surveys on the Bahama banks and New York harbor, neither of which had been recently surveyed. In 1834 he called the attention of the government to the superiority of the French light-houses, as his brother Edmund did in 1838, and the result was the establishment in 1856 of the present light-house board, and the adoption of the French system. In 1845 he was one of a committee to organize the present system of pilotage for New York. He was appointed a pilot commissioner in that year, and continued to be one, except during six months, to the time of his death. In 1857 he was made a harbor commissioner to protect the harbor of New York. He was for five years a trustee of the seaman's retreat, and in 1852-'4 a commissioner of emigration. He published " Atlantic Memoir," "Sheet Anchor," "Pilot Laws and Harbor and Quarantine Regulations of New York" (New York, 1869), and " Plan to Avoid the Centre of Violent Gales " (1867), and prepared several editions of the "American Coast Pilot."

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