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Thomas Addis Emmet

EMMET, Thomas Addis, Irish patriot, born in Cork, Ireland, 24 April 1764; died in New York City, 14 November 1827. He was an elder brother of the famous Irish patriot, Robert Emmet, who was executed in Dublin in 1803. The father of the Emmets was an" eminent physician in Dublin. Thomas was graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied medicine in Edinburgh University, where he received his degree in 1784. After traveling through Italy and Germany, and returning to Dublin, he decided to adopt the legal profession, for which he had always had a fondness. He studied law in the Temple, London, for two years, and in 1791 was admitted to the Dublin bar, of which he soon became a prominent member. He early became a leader of the " United Irishmen," an association whose object was to make Ireland an independent republic, and was one of the committee whose duty it was to supervise all branches of the society through the country. Disclosures being made to the government, Emmet was apprehended by order of the privy council in 1798, confined in Kilmainham jail, Dublin, and, being promised his liberty, made a full confession, but without implicating other persons, before a committee of the Irish House of Commons a few months later. Notwithstanding this, he was confined for two years and a half in Fort George, Scotland, but was liberated after the treaty of Amiens, and permitted to go to France with his wife, who had been with him in his imprisonment, both being forbidden to set foot again on Irish soil.

Emmet spent the winter of 1802'3 in Brussels, whence he saw his brother, Robert, undertake the rash enterprise that led to his death. He came to the United States in 1804, intending to go to Ohio, but, by the advice of G or. George, Clinton, remained in New York City, where he spent the rest of his life, attaining great eminence at the bar. He identified himself with the Democratic Party, and became attorney general of the state in 1812. Mr. Emmet was a hard worker, devoting more than thirteen hours a day to study and business, mingling but little in society, and resorting to mathematics for diversion. He excelled as an advocate. "His mind," says Judge Story, "was quick, vigorous, searching, and buoyant. He kindled as he spoke. His rhetoric was never florid, and his diction, though select and pure, seemed the common dress of his thoughts, as they arose, rather than any studied effort at adornment." He was seized with an apoplectic fit in the courtroom, and died on the same day. He is buried in Marble cemetery in Second Street, between First and Second avenues, New York City, next to the vault occupied for twenty-seven years by the remains of President Monroe, and a monument to his memory stands in St. Paul's Churchyard.

While in prison in Scotland, Mr. Emmet wrote sketches of Irish history, particularly of events in which he had taken part, which he afterward published in connection with Dr. William J. McNevin, under the title "Pieces of Irish History" (New York, 1807). His memoirs were written by Charles G. Haynes (London, 1829).

His son, Robert Emmet, lawyer, born in Ireland about 1792 : died in New Rochelle, New York, 15 February 1873, came to this country with his father, was admitted to the bar, attaining high rank in his profession, and became a justice of the state superior court. At the time of the contemplated Irish insurrection of 1848 he was one of the directory formed in New York for the purpose of aiding it, and made an eloquent address at a mass meeting held on 6 June 1848. Another son, John Patton, chemist, born in Dublin, Ireland, 8 April 1797; died in New York City, 13 August 1842, also came to New York with his father. He left school in 1813 on account of his health, was at the U. S. military academy in 1814'7, spent a year in Naples, and on his return studied medicine in New York for four years with Dr. William J. McNevin. He received his degree at the College of physicians and surgeons, and practiced in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1822'4+ also giving popular lectures on chemistry there.

In the latter year he accepted the chair of chemistry and natural history in the University of Virginia, where his lectures were noted for simplicity of style and beauty and novelty of illustration. Several months before his death his health, which had never been good, failed completely, and after a visit to Florida he returned to New York to die. Dr. Emmet was a good draughtsman, and did some work as a sculptor, including an excellent bust of his father. He also occasionally attempted musical composition. His chemical papers, published in "Silliman's Journal," include "Iodide of Potassium as a Test for Arsenic" (1830); "Solidification of Gypsum "(1833); a description of a new mode of producing electromagnet currents (1833); an inquiry into the cause of such currents, in which he concludes that it is induction (1835); and one on " Formic Acid" (1837).

Another son, Thomas Addis Emmet, born in Ireland in 1798: died in Astoria, L. I., 12 August 1863, also came to this country with his father, was well known as a lawyer, and for many years filled with credit the office of master in chancery.

Robert's son, Thomas Addis Emmet, engineer, born in New York City, 4 June 1815; died in Carmel, Putnam County, N Y., 12 January 1880, entered Columbia in 1834, but left in the following year and became a civil engineer. He was engaged in the construction of various railroads, but was employed chiefly on the Erie. From 1870 till his death he was an assistant in the Croton aqueduct department, and superintended the construction of the large reservoir near Brewster's, N.Y. He was one of the twelve founders of the American society of civil engineers. John Patron's son, Thomas Addis, physician, born at the University of Virginia, 29 May 1828, took a partial course there, and was graduated in medicine at Jefferson medical College, Philadelphia, in 1850. He began practice in New York City in 1852 and in 1862 became surgeon-in-chief to the Women's hospital, of which he had been assistant surgeon since 1855. He retained this office till 1872, and since then has been visiting surgeon. Dr. Emmet is a member of various medical associations.

Since 1859 he has made a specialty of the diseases of women, and has introduced new operations and methods of treatment that are important in the history of medical science. He has contributed largely to the literature of that branch of medicine, his important papers in medical journals numbering nearly forty. His publications in book form are "Vesicovaginal Fistulae" (New York, 1868);" Risse des Cervix Uteri als eine haufige und nicht erkannte Krankheitsursache" (Berlin, 1875); "Treatment and Removal of Fibroids from the Uterus by Traction" (New York, 1875); and "Principles and Practice of Gynecology" (Philadelphia, 1879; 3d ed., revised, 1884). The last-named work has passed through three editions in London, has been translated into German (Leipsic, 1881), and is now (1887) in course of translation into French. Dr. Emmet's later papers include one on "Certain Mooted Points in Gynecology," read before the British medical association in August 1886, and "Pelvic Inflammations," before the American gynecological society, Baltimore, in September 1886.

Robert's grandson, Robert Temple Emmet, soldier, born in New York City. 13 December 1854 is the son of William J. Emmet. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1877, assigned to the 9th cavalry, and served with distinction as commander of Indian scouts through the four years campaign against the Apaches.

His twinsister, Rosina Emmet, artist, was educated at Pelham Priory, Westchester County, New York, and studied art under William M. Chase in 1879'80, and in Paris in 1885'6. She received the first prize in Prang's Christmas card competition in 1879, and a first prize medal in London in 1878, for heads on china. She has illustrated a book for children, entitled "Pretty Peggy," collecting and arranging for it the poems and music (New York, 1880), and Mrs. Burton Harrison's "Old-Fashioned Tales" (1884); and has made many illustrations for prominent periodicals. She is a member of the Society of American artists, and has exhibited many paintings, both in oil and watercolors.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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