Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MAPES, James Jay, chemist, born in New York city, 29 May, 1806 ; died there, 10 January, 1866. He received a common-school education and had some knowledge of the classics, but developed a fondness for chemistry. For many years he was a clerk, but on attaining his majority entered business for himself. In 1832 he invented a new system of sugar-refining, many features of which are still in general use, and he subsequently devised an apparatus for manufacturing sugar from the cane, which was extensively employed in the southern states and the West Indies. His process for the manufacture of sugar from West India molasses was used in nearly every state in the Union, and he himself followed the business of sugar-refining, but unsuccessfully. He was appointed professor of chemistry and natural philosophy in the National academy of design of New York, and delivered courses of lectures there on the chemistry of colors. Meanwhile he invented a method of tanning hides and numerous technical processes with machines. Subsequently he was appointed professor of chemistry and natural philosophy in the American institute, and delivered before that body lectures on natural philosophy, mechanical philosophy as applied to the useful arts, and chemistry. His analyses of beer, made for the New York senate, and of beer and wine for temperance societies, were long regarded as standard, and he also made numerous improvements in distilling, dyeing, tempering steel, color-making, and in other industries. In addition to his knowledge of chemistry, he was proficient in civil engineering, and was one of the first of that profession t<) open an office for consulting purposes. He held high rank as an expert, and was frequently called into court on patent cases. In 1847 he removed to Newark, New Jersey, where during the remaining years of his life he devoted much attention to agriculture. The manufacture of artificial fertilizers was one of his inventions, and he originated the use of super-phosphates in the United States, receiving a patent for his process in 1859. Conspicuous among the machines and implements invented by him is the lifting subsoil plow. Early in life Professor Mapes took considerable interest in military affairs, and was captain and then colonel of militia. His command was subsequently merged into the state national guards, as the 7th regiment. He was elected president of the Mechanics' institute in 1844, was vice-president for many years of the American institute, and active in its work, and organized the Franklin institute of Newark. Professor Mapes was a member of scientific societies both in the United States and Europe, and, besides being a member of the principal clubs, was president of the Novelty club, a body of men who had made their mark. His addresses before agricultural societies exceeded 150 in number. As the editor and publisher of "The American Repertory of Art, Sciences, and Manufactures" (New York, 1840), he encouraged the application of science to the useful arts. Later he was associated in the editorship of the "Journal of Agriculture," and subsequently edited "The Working Farmer" for nearly fifteen years, beginning in 1850. Horace Greeley wrote of him: " Few men have delivered more addresses at agricultural fairs, or done more lasting good by them. Certainly American agriculture owes as much to him as to any man who lives or has ever lived."--His son, Charles Victor, agricultural chemist, born in New York city, 4 July, 1836, was graduated at Harvard in 1857, and has since devoted his efforts to the realization of the theories on artificial fertilizers that were advanced by his father. His work has included the study of the composition of the soil, determining the ingredients required for certain crops, and the subsequent preparation of fertilizers that have the desired materials. The future of successful agriculture depends upon artificial fertilizers, and it has been Mr. Mapes's mission to reduce the discoveries and investigations of chemistry to actual practice. He has published various articles and pamphlets on this subject, and has held the office of president of the New York fertilizer and chemical exchange since its organization.
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