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of the Portsmouth, and obtained all the information necessary to a correct determination of the causes of the explosion. This event occurred on the August, 1844, on the Delaware, opposite to High street, within two or three minutes after the engine had commenced working, and about one minute after the blowers (which were driven by a separate engine,) were in motion. The interior cylinder of the steam chimney was rent at the part where it united with the boiler, and, in fact, formed a portion of its interior shell as the exterior cylinder of the steam chimney was discontinued at this point, (as is usual, for the purpose of forming a passage for the steam,) a large surface existed wholly unsupported by stays, which elsewhere strengthened the chimney. If stays had been provided at this point it would have been necessary to attach thein from the remote end of the boiler. The rent sheet, which, at this exposed position, should have been made of very thick plate,* was originally too thin, and had become still further reduced by exfoliation, caused by the fire acting on it on one side, whilst the steam- —a bad conductor, corroded the other. The sheet was in some places reduced to a thickness of only one-tenth of an inch. The corrosion and exfoliation at this exposed point, were increased by the relative position of the draft doors, one of which, owing to a defect in the latch, could not be kept perfectly closed. The air rushing through the crevice deflected the flame, (which was still further heightened by this additional supply of fresh air,) against the sheet which was rent. According to the testimony of Captain Devoe, who voluntarily appeared before the committee, and answered their inquiries with great ingenuousness: "the boiler had borne a pressure of twenty-seven inches of steam in his presence on the Hudson river, in New York, before he purchased the boat, about the 24th of July, 1844. The hull of the vessel was two or three years old; the boiler more than six." As the rent did not occur in the boiler, however, but in the steam chimney, the age of the boiler proper is immaterial in this investigation. "The water was found to be ample by the captain seven or eight minutes before the accident, coming from the third cock. The pressure of the steam was seventeen inches only, according to the declarations of the engineer, on his death bed, made to Captain Devoe."
From this statement of facts the causes of the explosion are manifestly the following:
1st. The original deficiency in thickness of the rent sheet, which was yet further reduced by the chemical action of the steam, and by exfoliation caused by the fire.
2d. The absence of stays at this part.
The construction and management of steam engines are now so well understood, that the term accidents, as explosions are usually called, should no longer have a place in our vocabulary: when they occur they are always the result of carelessness, and may always be prevented by reasonable precautions.
The inside diameter of the steam chimney was four feet four inches; as the pressure of the steam was against the external surface of a cylinder, the usual strength of the cylindrical form, so well adapted to resist internal pressure, was, of course, absent.
As no evidence has been submitted to the committee, that any undue pressure had been employed on board the Portsmouth, it is manifest that the steam chimney was defective long prior to the time of the explosion; it appears to the committee that the certificate of the inspector at the port of New York, (a copy of which is here with submitted,) was not founded on a careful and accurate examination. Captain Devoe, relying on such certificate as corroborating his inquiries made previously, purchased the steamboat as safe and trustworthy. The lamentable loss of life, which has created such consternation in this city, where such events are nearly unprecedented, cannot be attributed to his negligence.
The use of steam chimneys being very common in this country, and numerous explosions and collapses having occurred from their use, the committee would again earnestly solicit the attention of the public to them. Were they made of suitable materials and dimensions, and carefully stayed, as they are manifestly useful in surcharging and drying the steam, they may be safely and advantageously employed; but they require frequent and very careful examination, and should always be made of very thick plates. These precautions are absolutely indispensable, when blowers are used for increasing the intensity of the heat; and particularly so when the latter are resorted to, to ensure a sufficient supply of steam from a boiler otherwise too limited in its dimensions to produce it. The temptation to make light and small boilers for steamboats, and to remedy the deficiency of boiler surface by blowers, is lamentably frequent on our waters, and unless a system of more frequent and careful examination could be instituted and enforced by penalties rigorously exacted, than the present law of inspection relating to steam vessels exhibits, in practice, it would be advisable to forego the use of this very common apparatus in steamboats, the steam chimney, rather than to be constantly exposed to risk from this, the weakest, the most dangerous, part of the boiler; a part moreover where danger may sometimes exist wholly unsuspected even by a careful observer.
The committee, in concluding this report, avail themselves of the occasion to request the attention of the constituted authorities to the manner in which coroner's inquests are usually conducted in this country, when an investigation of the causes of death should be conducted with all the intelligence which is applicable to the case. In England, from which we have derived this institution, whenever an explosion occurs attended with loss of life, every available source of information is resorted to; days and weeks, and even months, in extreme cases, are devoted to the examination of witnesses, to obtaining the opinions of scientific men of acknowledged eminence which may shed light on any department of the subject of inquiry. The evidence, at length, is published in the daily journals, and frequently commented on, from time to time, during the investigation. public is thus aware of what occurs, and new witnesses and more opinions of scientific men are obtained. If no negligence is imputed in the verdict of the jury, the public can place a reasonable reliance on the conclusion; if otherwise, a deodand, or fine, stamps, in charac
ters as legible as durable, the condemnation of the cause of injury. It is needless to remark how different the system is in this country; how deplorable the remissness of juries, and the apathy of an injured, a defenceless, but too patient, and long suffering public, whom the newspapers almost invariably endeavor to assure that no blame can possibly be attributed to any of the parties concerned.
By order of the Committee,
WILLIAM HAMILTON, Actuary.
Philadelphia, November 14th, 1844.
Address delivered by FREDERICK FRALEY, Esq., at the close of the Fourteenth Exhibition of American Manufactures, held by the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania, for the promotion of the Mechanic Arts, October, 1844.
We are about to close this display of the products of the skill and industry of our fellow citizens, and the occasion may appropriately be improved by some considerations which naturally force themselves on the mind on such an event. The history of the useful arts is the history of man in his civilized state. In whatever direction we turn our eyes, this truth is most emphatically exhibited, and all the discoveries of modern times bear their testimony to its correctness. If we search the ruins of Egypt, or the more imperfect memorials of western Asia; if we explore the hitherto almost untrodden wilds of America; or if we study the history of man as recorded in sacred and profane history, we find that just in proportion as he has put on the habits of civilized life, the comforts bestowed by the useful arts attend his path, and fit him to tread it under those feelings which connects him most closely with the great Author of his being. Man may be appropriately described as the creature of wants; his mind even in its most uncultivated state, cannot remain in a state of inactivity; it must either be at work for the elevation of the individual, or for the benefit of the race.
The pursuits of the wandering savage are too closely connected with the selfish feeling of the individual, to enable him to carry himself beyond the dominion of such an influence; but when even the savage, from the pressure of external and accidental circumstances, is compelled to remain stationary for a very limited period, he becomes a creature of wants; and the natural tendencies of his mind labors to supply them. Alone, or merely attended by his faithful helpmate, the shades of the forest protect their heads from the beating of the storm, or the scorching heat of mid-day. The spoils of the chase yield them food and clothing; the clear stream from the mountain spring slakes their thirst, and the pure breezes from the hill stimulate their appetites, and invigorate their bodies. But once check this wild and roving spirit by the most trivial event; let it be wounds, or sickness, or even the presence of an enemy, that compels man to fix his habitation, and at once the ennobling ends, for which he has been fitted,
bud forth and blossom, and he becomes a new creature. The trees of the forest must be knitted together, and cemented by the soil, to form a permanent dwelling; the skins of the animals slain in the chase must be softened and cured by heat and smoke, so that they will not need perpetual renewal; the fruits of the soil must be collected and garnered up for a constant supply, and the operations of nature must be watched in the recuperation of the animal and vegetable kingdoms; so that the creature hitherto so dependent upon accident and chance may render himself, in a great degree, independent of both. The comforts which centre in a settled home, having been once enjoyed, the influence of example begins to operate, and the hitherto solitary hut becomes the centre of a village; men become individualized in a new aspect; and the division of labor is the necessary fruit of this new change. The isolated man finds that now it is only needful for him to direct his energies to a single pursuit, and as each feels and acts upon this truth, excellence gradually shines forth, at first by an uncertain and often obscured light, but finally in a steady and regular ray. Improvement stretches forward with rapid strides, and at last a degree of perfection is attained which leads man to remodel his first creations; and the monuments which after times display, record but imperfectly the steps by which he has reached the goal.
Such is a brief sketch of the history of man: nation after nation, of whom the record only remains in the majestic pyramid, or the chaste but decayed temple, have run such a course; and as successive generations have appeared upon the great theatre of the world, they have trodden the same path, and each in turn found, when they had almost neared the zenith, that the wise man of inspiration gave utterance to a truth fitted to all times, and all conditions of men, when he proclaimed that there was "nothing new under the sun." But although such is the inevitable law under which man fulfils his destiny here, ought it to induce him to strive against the progress of improvement? Who will not answer most sincerely and decidedly in the negative? Who would be willing to exchange the comforts, nay luxuries which surround us, attended as they necessarily are by some restraints of personal independence, for the uncontrolled freedom enjoyed by man in his normal condition?
Who would be willing to exchange those intellectual gratifications which are yielded by the poetry, history, statuary, painting, and music, of the refined and cultivated Greeks and Romans, for the strictly sensual gratifications that characterize the wandering and savage nations by whom they were surrounded? Compare the condition of France, Britain, or America, at this day, with that of the nations now covering the soil of Egypt, and western Asia, or even with that of China, whose boastful people connect themselves with the time immediately succeeding the deluge; and how greatly does the former preponderate.
Although their path is not attested by the magnificent piles which, whatever may have been their object, show that millions must have groaned under the toil necessary to erect them; a more benevolent
and catholic spirit has been watching by the way side, and at every step they have made in real civilization, the pulses which have recorded the advance, have successfully thrilled in the veins of class after class, until the humblest individual has known and felt that he had a destiny far above that of the beasts that perish. While in the earlier ages, the possession of knowledge, and power, and wealth, was confined to the kings, and priests, and nobles, the present state of the world exhibits a more general diffusion of those gifts, and the classes of society that were formerly chained to the soil, or still more effectually chained to the will of a despot, now control the destinies of the world, and governments are raised up, or cast down, at their bidding. How important, therefore, it becomes that such a power should be wisely and well directed. Left to the naturally selfish impulses of his nature, man is always striving to elevate himself— educated to the great truth, that he must, in civilized society at least, be, in a great degree, a dependent creature, his selfishness is changed to a new principle, and that principle is to make the country, or the city, in which he lives, greater and more prosperous than those in her neighborhood, or those of foreign and distant parts. As the new principle enlarges, he is willing to extend the circle of his affections. and efforts; and finally, in some few things, civilized men of all nations agree to stand on a common ground, and to recognize these common principles as the rules for their international intercourse. The aggregation of the small communities of a country into states and kingdoms, is another consequence of the existence of the principle just referred to; and when society reaches this point, a new development of the principle of the individualization makes its appearance. This is the distinction of intellectual efforts, and it shows itself in a great variety of forms. With some, the examination of the material substance by which they are surrounded, is the ruling spirit-the laws that govern the motions of the sun and planets-the changes produced by the action of air, moisture, and heat-the new and useful products yielded by the combination of one, or more, substances together, occupy the attention of others, and make in the hands of such inquirers the arts and sciences. As the great truths of nature are thus won from her infinite laboratory, the simple generalizations from first experiments yield to the more subtle inquiries of the philosopher; and at every step almost he finds some new lights shed upon his path, so that in the experimental part of physical science, at least, he learns that there is always something beyond his present attainments; and, when that is reached, a still wider and diversified field invites his continued scrutiny. I have indulged in these views of the case from a conviction that there are by far too many who undervalue the inquiries, which, at the present time, occupy so large a share of the attention of men of science. They compare the present with what existed half a century ago; and while they exclaim with delight and wonder at the progress they have witnessed, they forget that even while the burst of gratification is swelling their hearts, some one but a little removed from their stand is already in advance. We find sufficient illustrations of the correctness of the position, in the rapid