Joseph Henry Appointed Chair of Franklin Institute Committee to Investigate Explosion of the "Peacemaker"

ID:

Creator:

Form/Genre:

Date: April 1, 1844

Citation:

Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results

Reset

Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.
 

Summary

Joseph Henry (1797-1878), physicist and professor at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), is appointed to chair a Franklin Institute committee to investigate the explosion of the "Peacemaker," a wrought-iron cannon on the experimental steam frigate, the U.S.S. Princeton. The accident occurred during a demonstration cruise on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and killed six men, including the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Navy. The committee concluded that the metal used to construct the gun was of poor quality, that the strength of the iron had been compromised by the welding process, and that the welding had been imperfect. The Navy undertook its own research on the cast and wrought iron used in making cannon, and on the fabrication of large guns. As a result, a moratorium was declared on wrought iron guns and thereafter, weapons were made of cast iron or steel. The Franklin Institute committee was discharged after its report was approved on August 8, 1844. In 1846, Joseph Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Subject

  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States Dept. of the Navy
  • Franklin Institute

Category

Chronology of Smithsonian History

Notes

  • Engraving of Peacemaker explosion, 1844. Library of Congress, negative number LC-USZC2-3201.
  • Marc Rothenberg, et al., eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Princeton Years, January 1844 - December 1846, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 47, 66-67, 115-18, 650 (index entry).

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu

Date

April 1, 1844

Topic

  • Boats and boating
  • Firearms
  • Accidents
  • Ships

Full Record

View Full Record