Born in Baltimore, Maryland. Married Mary Stewart Vowell in 1845. They had one child. Received A.B. from Princeton University in 1836. Employed with Girard College in Philadelphia prior to 1840; professor at Jefferson College 1841 to 1843.
He was melter and refiner at the mint 1846 to 1849. He accused Franklin Peale of using mint workers to do personal tasks and using mint facilities for personal gain. He refused to provide gold for Peale's medals. He published his accusations in "The Proceedings of the late Director of the Mint in relation to the official misconduct of Franklin Peale, Esq. Chief Coiner and Other Abuses in the Mint."
Professor at Princeton 1849 to 1854; at Columbia College 1854 to 1863. He joined the Confederacy as a consulting chemist with Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau. Professor at Washington and Lee University 1866 to 1877; professor at Louisiana State University 1877 to 1888.
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Report made to the Hon. Thomas Corwin, Secretary of the Treasury, by Professor R. S. McCulloh, of his operations at the mint of the United States, in refining California gold by his zinc method
Washington, Gideon & Co., Printers, 1852. 56 pp., 21 cm.
Official Misconduct of Franklin Peale, Esq., Chief Coiner of the Mint
Charges raised against Franklin Peale, Chief Coiner of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, by Richard S. McCulloh, formerly the melter and refiner.