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
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THORNTON, William, superintendent of the patent-office, born in Tortola,
Virgin Islands; died in Washington. D. C., in 1827. He was educated as a physician, and lived for many years in Philadelphia, where he was well known in the circle of scientific men, being chosen a member of the American philosophical society on 19 January, 1787. He was a skilled architect, and designed the Philadelphia library building, which was completed in 1790. He removed to Washington, D. C., when the seat of government was transferred to that place, and drew the plans and superintended the erection of the first capitol building in its early stages. He was one of the first to act as commissioner of public buildings, and was the first head of the patent-office, being appointed superintendent in 1802, and serving till the time of his death. He published " Cadmus, or the Elements of Written Language (Philadelphia, 1793).
Editor's Note: " I noticed you have his
birthplace as Tortola, Wisconsin. Not correct. Tortola is in the British Virgin
Islands, and is adjacent to Jost Van Dyke, where he was actually born. He
studied medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was an amateur architect. He, along
with several other notable men of that period, were born in the Caribbean,
where, for a period of time there were more "Americans" living than were in the
colonies (East Coast of US.)" -- Betty Adams
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