Bio19c: 19th Century Biographies

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John Hopkins Harney Biography

Born: Feb. 20, 1806 Bourbon county, Ky.

Died: Jan 26, 1868 Louisville, Ky.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans 1904

John Hopkins Harney, educator, was born in Bourbon county, Ky., Feb. 20, 1806. He was left an orphan when quite young and was adopted by Judge Benjamin Mills, his father's cousin, and law partner of Henry Clay. He was graduated at Miami university, A.B., 1827; A.M., 1831. Before entering at Miami he had been principal of the academy at Paris, Ky., and was an acknowledged expert in mathematics and surveying. He was a teacher of mathematics in the state seminary, Bloomington, Ind., in 1827; and professor of mathematics and the natural sciences after the school had been incorporated as the Indiana college, 1828-32. He was professor of mathematics and astronomy at Hanover college, Hanover, Ind., 1832-36, and of natural philosophy, chemistry and geology there, 1836-38; professor of mathematics and civil engineering in the University of Louisville, Ky., 1838-44; editor and publisher of the Louisville Democrat, 1844-68; trustee of the Louisville school board, 1850-61, and for several years president of the board; a member of the Charleston presidential convention, 1860; and a representative in the Kentucky legislature, 1861-63, declining re-election. He was a candidate for the ministry of the Presbyterian church, but left that denomination and joined the "Wilderites," a local sect. He later became an independent preacher in Louisville and six months before his death was received in the communion of the Protestant Episcopal church. He defended the rights of the state of Kentucky through the Democrat and was equally severe toward the Confederate encroachments and the Federal usurpation. He is said to have been largely instrumental in keeping Kentucky in the Union. He was arrested by the Federal officers but released by General Burnside, upon investigation of the offense charged. At the close of the war he advocated universal amnesty, but in 1868 he questioned the expediency of nominating ex-Confederates to high state or national office. He published Harney's Algebra (1840). He died in Louisville, Ky., Jan 26, 1868.


Johnson, Rossiter, ed.
Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans.
Vol. I-X. Boston, MA, USA: The Biographical Society, 1904.

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