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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 biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor



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Thomas Clap

CLAP, Thomas, educator, born in Scituate, Massachusetts, 26 June, 1703; died in New Haven, Connecticut, 7 January, 1767. He was a descendant in the third generation from Thomas Clap (1597-1684), who came to New England in 1630, settling in Scituate ten years later. The young man was fitted for College principally under the Rev. James McSparran, a missionary to Narragansett, and was graduated at Harvard in 1722. While in College he was induced, from the reading of a treatise on conversion, to unite with the church, and then decided to study for the ministry. In 1725 he began to preach at Windham as a candidate, and in August, 1726, settled there as the successor of the Rev. Samuel Whiting, whose daughter he married in 1727. He continued in Windham until 1740, when, having been chosen rector of Yale College at the commencement of 1739, he was inducted into office with appropriate ceremonies on 2 April, 1740. It was with great reluctance that his congregation parted with him, and only after the decision of an ecclesiastical convention advising his immediate acceptance was he allowed to take the new office. The legislature agreed to compensate the people of Windham for the loss of their pastor, and the amount to be given was left by the representatives of the College and of the parish to a committee of the general assembly, who reported that "inasmuch as Mr. Clap had been in the ministry at Windham for fourteen years, which was about the half of the time ministers in general continue in their public work, the people ought to have half so much as they gave him for settlement, which, upon computation, was about fifty-three pounds sterling." This sum was paid. He went to the College with a high reputation for general scholarship, and especially a great knowledge of pure mathematics and astronomy; and in the various departments of natural philosophy he had few equals. The first orrery or planetarium made in America was con-strutted by him. His first great work in connection with the College was the formation of a new code of laws, which, after adoption by the trustees) was in 1748 published in Latin, and was the first book printed in New Haven. Later he made important improvements in the College library, and caused catalogues to be prepared, he drafted a new and more liberal charter, which was granted by the legislature in 1745, incorporating the institution under the name of "The President and Fellows of Yale College in New Haven." In his capacity as president, he undoubtedly accomplished much good for the College, owing to his remarkable qualifications for the transaction of business; but his religious views created ill feeling. He opposed the preaching of Whitefield, believing that his influence would result in the injury of true religion. As this view was not supported by the Rev. Joseph Noyes, then pastor in New Haven, to whose church the officers and students of the College belonged, a professorship of divinity was instituted, and President Clap was requested by the corporation to preach in the College hall. This course was objected to, and legal measures were taken to suppress the so-called "irregular procedure." Subsequent controversies with Dr. born Gale, of Killingworth, and with Jonathan Edwards, of Northampton, increased the spirit of opposition, and his opponents requested the assembly to appoint a commission of visitation to inquire into the affairs of the College. To this memorial President Clap made an elaborate written reply, in which he intimated if the project was persisted in, the president and fellows would appeal to the king. In 1765 this difficulty euhni-nated in the resignation of the tutors, and in July of that year President Clap signified his determination to resign likewise. He continued, however, at the request of the corporation, to preside until the commencement in September, when he took his leave of the College. During his administration many improvements were made, including the erection of a new College edifice in 1752 and a chapel, which was completed in 1769. His publications include "A Sermon at the Ordination of the Rev. Ephraim Little" (1732), " An Introduction to the Study of Philosophy" (1743); "Letter to a Friend in Boston" (1745); "A Letter to the Rev. Jonathan Edwards" (1745); "The Religious Constitution of Colleges, especially of Yale College" (1754); "History and Vindication of the Doctrines received and established in the Churches of New England" (1755); "Nature and Foundation of Moral Virtue and Obligation" (1765); "Annals, or History of Yale College" (1766); and "Nature and Motions of Meteors" (1781).@LAPP, Asa, merchant, born in Mansfield, Massachusetts, 15 March, 1762; died in Portland, Maine, 17 April, 1848. He was the son of a farmer, who likewise was the magistrate and commander of a military company in Mansfield. Young Clapp received a common-school education, and at the age of sixteen volunteered in the expedition under General Sullivan for the expulsion of the British from Rhode Island. Subsequently he enlisted on an American privateer, was soon promoted to be an officer, and toward the end of the war obtained command of a ship, when he had but just reached the age of twenty-one. He was at Port au Prince when the attack was made on that City by the Negroes, and rendered essential aid to the white population, who were exposed to great sufferings during the insurrection. After the war he continued in command of various ships trading between the United States and England, and in 1793 was captured by Sir Sydney Smith and carried to England. After a detention of six months, he was released, and his cargo paid for by the British government. In 1796 he established himself as a merchant in Portland, and in time became one of the wealthiest and most distinguished merchants of Maine. He had vessels employed in trade with Europe, the East and West Indies, and South America. In 1811 he was a member of the council of Massachusetts under Governor Elbridge Gerry. During the war of 1812 he was a firm supporter of the administration, nearly all of his ships were driven from the ocean, and he volunteered as a common soldier in the defenses of Portland, when that City was threatened by the British fleet. In 1816 he was one of the commission appointed to obtain subscriptions to the capital stock of the bank of the United States, and was the largest subscriber to that institution in Maine. He was elected a delegate to the convention held in October, 1819, for forming the constitution, and for several years was a representative from Portland to the legislature. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the first church established in Portland.

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