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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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Peter Force

FORCE, Peter, historian, born near Little Falls, Essex County, New Jersey, 26 November 1790; died in Washington, D. C., 23 January 1868. His father, William Force, was a veteran of the Revolution, and in talking with him the boy acquired a fondness for the history of that period. He removed with his parents to New Paltz, Ulster County, New York, and afterward to New York City, where, on leaving school at the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed to a printer. While foreman of an office in Bloomingdale, he printed the second edition of Irving's "Knickerbocker's History of New York," and in 1812 was president of the New York typographical society. He removed to Washington in November 1815, under an arrangement with his employer, W. A. Davis, who had obtained a contract for the government printing, and in 1820'8 compiled and printed the "Biennial Register," which had been begun under an act of congress in 1816. The name of "Blue Book," suggested by Mr. Force, was officially recognized in 1820 [and the title has since been adopted by the English government for a different kind of publication].

He also published an annual "National Calendar" in 1820'36, and in 1823 established the "National Journal," which he edited and published till 1830, supporting the administration of John Quincy Adams. Many years before this he had begun to collect books • and papers on American history and antiquities, and in 1833 he was authorized by act of congress to compile a vast work, to be known as the "American Archives, a Documentary History of the English Colonies in North America." The plan embraced six series of six or more volumes each, covering the period from the discovery of America to the final ratification of the constitution of the United States. Mr. Force at once began a personal examination of the public archives in the thirteen original states, and by means of his agents ransacked the country for pamphlets, rare books, letters, newspaper files, and maps bearing on the history of the colonies. These he gathered in seven rooms adjoining his residence in Washington. One who knew him says of this library: "Excepting when visited by the friends of its proprietor, members of congress addicted to historical pursuits, or literary pilgrims from abroad, its silence was only broken by the presence of an assortment of dogs and cats, which enjoyed the full range of the establishment, and whose characters seemed to have been influenced by the solemn wisdom of the tomes among whom they lived."

Between 1837 and 1853, in conjunction with Matthew St. Clair Clarke, he had issued the whole of the fourth series of his work and part of the fifth, comprising nine folio volumes, and covering the years from 1765 to 1776; but in 1853, owing to a misunderstanding about the law authorizing the publication, Secretary Marcy discontinued it. Mr. Force, though cruelly disappointed, continued to increase his collection of material, even mortgaging his real estate for means to do so, and in 1867 it was bought by the government for $100,000 and placed in the library of congress. It contains 22,000 books and 46,000 pamphlets, most of them rare, and is considered by some the most valuable collection of its kind 'in existence. Mr. Force held various civil and military offices in Washington, rising to the rank of major general of militia, and being mayor of the City in 1836'40. In the latter year he was the first president of the "National institute for the promotion of science." Beside the volumes that constitute his lifework, he published "Tracts and other Papers relating principally to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America" (4 vols., Washington, 1836'46); "Grinnell Land : Remarks on the English Naps of Arctic Discoveries in 1850'1 " (1852); "Notes on Lord Mahon's History of the American Declaration of Independence" (London, 1855); and a paper in the Smithsonian contributions to knowledge, entitled "Record of Auroral Phenomena" (Washington, 1856).

His son, William Quereau Force, scholar, born in Washington, D. C., 7 March 1820; died there, 15 December 1880, was graduated at Columbian College in 1839. From January 1843, till July 1845, he edited and published the "Army and Navy Chronicle and Scientific Repository." From 1857 till 1868 he had charge of the department of meteorology in the Smithsonian institution. Mr. Force was a trustee of Columbian College in 1851'62, and was for several years its secretary and treasurer. He published "Builders' Guide" (Washington, 1842) and "The Picture of Washington" (1848), and in 1845'57 aided his father in preparing the " American Archives."

Another son, Manning Ferguson Force, soldier, born in Washington, D. C., 17 December 1824, was graduated at Harvard in 1845, and at the Law School in 1848. He was appointed major of the 20th Ohio regiment in 1861, promoted to lieutenant colonel, and engaged at Fort Donelson and Shiloh. It e was then made colonel, was with General Grant in his campaign in southwestern Tennessee and his expedition into northern Mississippi in 1862'3, took part in the siege of Vicksburg, and on 11 August 1863, was made brigadier general of volunteers. He was with Sherman in his Atlanta campaign and his march to the sea, was brevetted major general of volunteers, 13 March 1865, and commanded a district in Mississippi till he was mustered out of service, 11 January 1866. He was judge of the court of common pleas of Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1867'77, and judge of the superior court of Cincinnati from that year till 1887. He has published "From Fort Henry to Corinth," being vol. ii. of "Campaigns of the Civil War" (New York, 1881), and several pamphlets, mostly historical, including " Prehistoric Man," " Darwinism and Deity," "The Mound Builders" (Cincinnati, 1873); "Some Early Notices of Ohio Indians"; " To What Race did the Mound Builders belong!" (1879); "Marching across Carolina" (1883); "Personal Recollections of the Vicksburg Campaign " (1885);" Letters of Amerigo Vespucci," an address delivered before the Ohio historical and philosophical society (1885); and "Sketch of the Life of Justice John McLean" (Cambridge, 1885). He has edited Walker's "Introduction to American Law" (Boston, 1878), and Harris's "Principles of Criminal Law" (Cincinnati, 1880).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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