Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BURGESS, Edward, naval architect, born in West Sandwich, Massachusetts, 30 June, 1848. After graduation at Harvard in 1871, he became secretary of the Boston society of natural history, edited its publications for several years, and published several memoirs on anatomical subjects. From 1879 till 1883 he was instructor in entomology in Harvard. He traveled in Europe, and, m an amateur way, studied the principles of naval architecture, bringing his knowledge and judgment to the practical test of designing and building vessels for his own use. His success in this line was so marked that when, in 1883, a reverse of fortune threw him upon his own resources for a livelihood, he naturally turned to the designing of sailing-yachts. Several of his boats won fame in eastern waters, and when, in 1884, it became necessary to build a large sloop-yacht to represent the United States in a series of international races, he was selected by a committee of Boston gentlemen to draw plans for a suitable vessel. The famous sloop "Puritan " was the result, and in the contest for the "America's" cup in 1885 she defeated all competitors, including the fine English cutter "Genesta," which had crossed the ocean to enter the contest. This was a remarkable triumph in view of the fact that it was the first attempt of an American designer to solve certain ship-building problems to which Englishmen had given their attention for a score of years. In the following season Mr. Burgess brought out the "Mayflower," a sloop slightly larger than the "Puritan," and the "Sachem," a large schooner-yacht that has shown remarkable sea-going qualities. During the season of 1886 the "Mayflower" easily defeated, not only all American vessels of her class, but distanced the English cutter "Galatea" which had come over in the hope of redeeming the "Genesta's" defeat of the preceding year.
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