World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nathan Read

Article Id: WHEBN0007441550
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nathan Read  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 6th United States Congress, Maine state court judges, List of the oldest living members of the United States House of Representatives, Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, Massachusetts state court judges
Collection: 1759 Births, 1849 Deaths, American Inventors, Federalist Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University Alumni, Maine State Court Judges, Massachusetts Federalists, Massachusetts State Court Judges, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts, People from Belfast, Maine, People from Warren, Massachusetts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nathan Read

Nathan Read
Born (1759-07-02)July 2, 1759
Warren, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died January 20, 1849(1849-01-20) (aged 89)
Belfast, Maine, United States
Residence Belfast
Nationality United States
Fields high-pressure steam engine

Nathan Read (July 2, 1759 – January 20, 1849) was an American engineer and steam pioneer.

Nathan Read was the true inventor of the high-pressure steam engine in 1789, this was twelve years before the steam-engine was known to be used in the form of a high-pressure engine, and led a great revolution in steam power to navigation and land-transport.


  • Early life and family 1
  • Harvard University 2
  • As an apothecary 3
  • High-pressure steam engine 4
    • Use in transportation 4.1
  • Nail machine 5
  • Other inventions 6
  • Marriage 7
  • Politics 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life and family

Nathan Read was born in Warren, Massachusetts, on July 2, 1759. His ancestors came from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England. His father, Reuben Read, was an officer in the Revolutionary service and his mother, whose maiden name was Tamison Eastman, was first cousin to Major-General Nathaniel Greene, of Rhode Island.

In 1774, Nathan Read commenced his preparatory studies for college. At the close of the summer vacation of 1777, he became a member of Harvard University.

Harvard University

At Harvard, Read studied medicine and graduated in 1781. He taught school in Beverly and Salem and was elected a tutor in Harvard University. After graduated, he became a scholar until 1783. Then, he was elected a tutor and continued his labors as such where he continued until 1787. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791.[1]

As an apothecary

Then, he opened an apothecary store in Salem and developed the potassium bicarbonate (CHKO3)in 1788, but keep it for only one year.

High-pressure steam engine

From October 1788, Nathan Read quit the last work and began to made a number of improvements of the steam engine. He built the tubular boiler, a new kind of steam boiler. He then made efforts on improve the function of the steam cylinder, and placed it in a horizontal position so the engine could sustain much higher pressure than ever before, that is to say, Read invented the high-pressure steam engine, a new kind steam engine, different from James Watt's old engine. Read made the engine more convenient and portable, also much lighter and safer. The most important was that the new engine needed much less room and fuel than the old one. Read was succeeded in reconstructed steam engine, he modified the Watt engine to a high-pressure engine, and could be widely used in new fields, such as steamboat and locomotive.

Use in transportation

To prove the useful of the high-pressure steam engine, Read made several models of steamcar and steamboat in 1790. Read's experiment was very succeeded; it proved that the engine he built functioned well. He also devised the true inventor of the chain-wheel to using paddle wheels to propel the steamboat, and set up a shipbuilding factory with his friends in 1796.

Nail machine

Several years later, Read made another important innovation, he developed a new machine, which could be cutting and heading nails at one operation. It was patented on January 8, 1798.

Other inventions

He developed a style of rotary steam engine in 1817.

In agricultural areas, he had more inventions and plans, such as threshing machine, thrashing machine, different forms of pumping engines and a new kind of windmill. Came up with a plan for using the expansion and contraction of metals, multiplied by levers, widely used in winding up clocks and other purposes. He patented some of them, but mainly used in agricultural fields and never patented.


Nathan Read married Elizabeth Jeffrey in October 1790.


Read was elected as a Federalist to the Sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Samuel Sewall; he was reelected to the Seventh Congress and served from November 25, 1800, to March 3, 1803. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1802. In 1803, he was judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Essex County. In 1807, he moved to Belfast, Maine, and was judge of the county court of Hancock County that year. He was instrumental in establishing Belfast Academy and served as trustee for forty years. He died near Belfast; interment was in Grove Cemetery, Belfast.


  1. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 


  • Nathan Read at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Engines of our Ingenuity No. 2089 NATHAN READ by John H. Lienhard
  • Nathan Read his invention of the multi-tubular boiler and portable high-pressure engine, and discovery of the true mode of applying steam-power to navigation and railways. A contribution to the early history of the steamboat and locomotive engine, 1870

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Samuel Sewall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Seth Hastings

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.