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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HENRY COPPEE, LL. D. Not only as the President of the Lehigh University, a far-famed literary and scientific institution, but also as the author of many well known and widely read volumes, Dr. Coppee has gained distinction as one of the eminent men of Pennsylvania. His scientific and literary researches have been of a most important nature, and his superior ability commands the respect of all with whom he comes in contact. In 1874 he was honored by the appointment of Regent of the Smithsonian Institute, and since that time he has been reappointed by Congress every six years, being at present an incumbent of that responsible position. He has twice served as a member of the Assay Commission of the United States Mint.

The Lehigh University, of which Dr. Coppee was the first President, and of which since the death of Dr. Lamberton he has been acting President, is one of the most thorough educational institutions in the country. It is situated at South Bethlehem, the park being in the suburbs of the town, as are also the athletic grounds. Packer Hall, the library, chapel, gymnasium, chemical laboratory, school of mines, physical laboratory and numerous other buildings stand in the park, which comprises one hundred and fifty acres. These structures are replete with all needed apparatus, and are admirably adapted to their various uses. The chapel cost over $300,000, and it is said that there is no finer college chapel in the world. The new physical laboratory is being supplied with everything that modern science can devise for convenience of experimental instruction. In civil, mechanical, mining and electrical engineering, applied chemistry, metallurgy, architecture and collateral studies, the instruction has from the first been superior to the majority of our universities; from the beginning, also, prominent attention has been given to the classics.

The name of Dr. Coppee is inseparably associated with the history of the University, and therefore a record of his lineage and life will possess for our readers more than ordinary interest. He was born in Savannah, Ga., October 13, 1821, and is of French ancestry. His great-grandfather, a man of wealth and prominence in France, was obliged to leave that country on account of poor health, and, seeking a more congenial clime, he went to San Domingo, where he purchased a plantation and spent the remaining years of his life. By profession he was an attorney-at-law, and general counselor.

A son of this gentleman continued to live on the plantation, and there died shortly before the massacre of the whites, one of the most terrible and relentless events known in history. During those dark times his widow fled to the United States with her children and settled in Georgia. Edouard St. Leger Coppee, one of her sons, was born in San Domingo in 1794, and was graduated from the University of South Carolina with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Opening an office in Savannah he engaged in the practice of his profession for many years, retiring shortly before his death, which occurred in 1851. He was a member of the Episcopal Church, and socially was connected with the Masonic fraternity. His wife, who was also of French descent, was born in San Domingo and bore the maiden name of Carolina De la Villatte; she died at the age of eighty-seven years. Her father, Edouard De la Villatte, was a planter of San Domingo, but at the time of the revolution the family was taken to New York State and subsequently to Savannah.

Dr. Coppee was in the Class of ‘39 at Yale, and thereafter studied civil engineering, being connected with the construction of the Georgia Central Railroad from 1837 to 1840. July 1, 1841, he entered West Point Military Academy, from which he was graduated four years later, being promoted to Second Lieutenant of the First United States Artillery, July 1, 1845. The following year, after having served in garrison and Ft. Columbus, N. Y., he was sent to Mexico, taking part in the battles of Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco and Contreras in 1847, being then promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, and breveted Captain for “gallant and meritorious conduct” in those battles. He also took part in the storming of Chapultepec, September 11, and the assault and capture of the city of Mexico, September 13 and 14, 1847.

From August 22, 1848, until June 22, 1849, Dr. Coppee was Assistant Professor of French at the United States Military Academy, and the following year was stationed at Ft. McHenry, Md., whence he returned to West Point as Assistant Professor of English Studies, remaining there for a period of five years. June 30, 1855, he resigned. For the succeeding eleven years he occupied the post of Professor of English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and was then elected President of the Lehigh University, which office he accepted, becoming the first President of the institution. In 1875, on account of his exhausting literary labors, he resigned his more arduous position, though he still remained connected with the University as Professor of Literature, and now holds the chair of English Literature, International and Constitutional Law, and the Philosophy of History.

In the literary field Professor Coppee’s work has been very extensive. From 1864 to 1866 he conducted the “United States Service Magazine,” and among the volumes which he has published are the following, the titles of which will show his varied range of subjects: “Elements of Logic,” the “Gallery of Famous Poets,” “Elements of Rhetoric,” the “Gallery of Distinguished Poetesses,” the “Select Academic Speaker,” the “Manual of the Battalion Drill,” “Evolutions of the Line,” “Manual of Courts Martial,” “Songs of Praise in the Christian Centuries,” “Life and Service of Gen. U. S. Grant,” “A Manual of English Literature,” “Lectures on English Literature,” “The Conquest of Spain by the Arab Moors,” “Life of Gen. George H. Thomas,” and many translations from the French, among them Marmont’s “The Spirit of Military Institutions,” and “The Civil War in America,” by the Comte de Paris.

The wife of the Doctor was formerly Miss Julia de Witt, who was born in New York, coming from the old Knickerbocker stock. Of their family the following are living: Mrs. George Jenkins, of South Bethlehem; Mrs. Murray Duncan, a resident of Michigan; Mrs. E. L. Griffith, of San Francisco; Miss M. P. Coppee; and Henry St. Leger, a graduate of the Lehigh University as a civil engineer, and now in the United States Engineering Service at Vicksburg, Miss. Dr. Coppee received the degree of Master of Arts from the University of Georgia, and his degree of Doctor of Laws from two sources, one from Union College, of New York, and one from the University of Pennsylvania. During the war he was appointed Colonel on Governor Curtin’s staff, and later was transferred to the position of chief of the staff of General Couch, when on his way to Gettysburg. He is one of the Wardens in the Church of the Nativity in South Bethlehem.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Northampton County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Northampton County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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