Eliphalet Nott

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Eliphalet Nott
Portrait of Eliphalet Nott
Born(1773-06-25)25 June 1773
Died25 January 1866(1866-01-25) (aged 92)
Alma materRhode Island College (now Brown University)
OccupationPresbyterian minister, inventor, educational pioneer, president of Union College
Known forLong-term president of Union College
The Nott Memorial

Eliphalet Nott (June 25, 1773 – January 25, 1866), was a famed Presbyterian minister, inventor, educational pioneer, and long-term president of Union College, Schenectady, New York.


Nott was the second son (and the youngest of nine children) of Stephen and Deborah (Selden) Nott. He was born at Ashford, Connecticut on June 25, 1773. He earned a degree in 1795 from Rhode Island College, which became Brown University. In 1804 he became president of Union, at the age of 31. He continued as president of Union College until his death. He married Sarah Marie "Sally" Benedict, the daughter of Rev. Joel Benedict of Plainfield, Connecticut, under whose instruction in early life he pursued his classical and mathematical studies. Sally Nott died at the age of 29 on March 10, 1804.[1] In 1807, he married Gertrude Peebles, who died in January 1841. A year and a half later, in 1842, Nott married educator Urania Sheldon.[2]

Career as an educator[edit]

More than 4,000 students are estimated to have graduated from Union during Nott's tenure. In the early 1830s, after the founding of the Union Triad fraternities, Nott called for the dissolution of all fraternities. He was dissuaded from this by a member of Delta Phi named John Jay Hyde. Nott was also president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1829 to 1845. He found Union financially embarrassed, but succeeded in placing it on a sound footing. His legacy there is recognized by the imposing Nott Memorial, a centerpiece of the College's campus.

Around 1802, he was called to the Presbyterian Church at Albany, where he took a prominent position as a preacher and was listened to by large congregations. Among his successful pulpit efforts at Albany, was a sermon on the death of Alexander Hamilton. An oration condemning the practice of dueling, it was delivered in the wake of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton's passing. On the Death of Hamilton (1804) had profound influence in curtailing the custom and remains recognized to this day as an exemplary period example of the orator's art.[3] In 1805, the College of New Jersey conferred upon him the title of D.D. (Doctor of Divinity), and in 1828, he received the title of LL.D. His publications include collections of sermons, Counsels to Young Men (1810), and Lectures on Temperance (1847). In 1814, Nott was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[4] A number of imprints authored by Nott, or related to him in some way reside in the society's collections.[5]

Career as an inventor[edit]

As a scientist he studied heat and obtaining some thirty or more patents for applications of heat to steam engines, but was best known in his day as the inventor of the first stove for anthracite coal, which was named for him. [3]

Career as a land speculator and developer[edit]

Nott was an important land speculator and developer, who bought several farms on the Long Island shore of the East River, that became the sites of industrial enterprises.[6]


He died on January 25, 1866 in Schenectady, New York. Nott Road in Rexford, New York, the location of his farm, is named for him, as are Nott Street and Nott Terrace, which border Union College in Schenectady, New York. He remains the longest serving college president in the United States to this day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eliphalet Nott, A Discourse, Delivered in the Presbyterian Church, in the city of Albany: Before the Ladies' Society, for the Relief of Distresed Women and Children, March 18th, 1804 (Albany, NY: Charles R. and George Webster, 1804), 37.
  2. ^ "Portrait of a Lady" (www.union.edu/N/DS/s.php?s=6016), Union College press release, 18 January 2006.
  3. ^ a b "On the Death of Hamilton"[permanent dead link] Bartleby.com
  4. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  5. ^ AAS catalog search results for "Eliphalet Nott"
  6. ^ Jennifer Brisbane (2014). "Historical Relationships between Land Elevation and Socioeconomic Status in New York City: A Mixed Methods GIS Approach". City University of New York. p. 114-115. Retrieved 2018-11-14. On June 17, 1835, a representative of the Eliphalet Nott, the president of Union College in Schenectady, bought the land from the family for $100,000 as speculative property.


  • Benjamin Franklin Greene, Biographical Record of the Officers and Graduates of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1824-1886. D.H. Jones & Co.: Troy, NY (1855). [1]
  • Life by C van Santvoord (ed. Tayler Lewis, 1876).

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nott, Eliphalet" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 824.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Maxcy
President of Union College
1804 – 1866
Succeeded by
Laurens Perseus Hickok
Preceded by
John Chester
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1829 – 1845
Succeeded by
Nathan S.S. Beman