The Full Wiki

Clarence King: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clarence King

Born January 6, 1842 (1842-01-06)
Newport, Rhode Island
Died December 24, 1901 (1901-12-25)
Phoenix, Arizona
Citizenship American
Fields Geologist
Alma mater Yale University
Known for Exploration of the Sierra Nevada

Clarence King (January 6, 1842 – December 24, 1901) was an American geologist, mountaineer, and art critic. First director of the United States Geological Survey, from 1879 to 1881, King was noted for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada. He was born in Newport, Rhode Island.



In 1862, King graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale College with a Ph.B. in chemistry. While at Yale, he studied with James Dwight Dana. After graduation King traveled on horseback to California with his good friend and classmate, James Terry Gardiner. In California he joined the California Geological Survey without pay where he worked with William H. Brewer, Josiah D. Whitney and Richard D. Cotter. In October 1872, he uncovered a diamond and gemstone hoax perpetrated by Philip Arnold. In 1864, King and Richard Cotter reported the first ascent of Mount Tyndall, at the time labeling it mistakenly as the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada.

In the mid-1850s King began to read works by John Ruskin and associated with a group of American artists, writers, and architects who followed Ruskin's thinking. Through this group he became aware of the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In 1863, with John William Hill and Clarence Cook he helped to found the Society for the Advancement of Truth in Art, an American group, similar to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who published a journal called The New Path. [1]

In 1867, King was named U.S. Geologist of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, commonly known as the Fortieth Parallel Survey, a position for which he strongly lobbied. King spent six years in the field exploring areas from Wyoming to the border of California. During that time he also published his famous "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada" (1872)[2]. After the completion of the field work, in 1878 King published "Systematic Geology."

While conducting field work for the Survey, King met and befriended Henry Brooks Adams. Their friendship lasted for the rest of King's life, and he is often mentioned by Adams in the autobiographical The Education of Henry Adams (1907).

In 1879, the US Congress consolidated the number of geological surveys exploring the American West and created the United States Geological Survey. King was chosen its first director; however, he served for only twenty months.

King died of tuberculosis in Phoenix, Arizona, and is buried in Newport, Rhode Island.[3] Kings Peak in Utah, Mount Clarence King and Clarence King Lake at Shastina, California are named in his honor.

Double life as James Todd

Clarence King in camp near Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, October 1868.

King spent his last thirteen years leading a double life. In 1887 or 1888, he met and became enamored with Ada Copeland, an African-American nursemaid (and former slave) from Georgia who had moved to New York City in the mid-1880s. As miscegenation was strongly discouraged in the nineteenth century (and even illegal in many places), King hid his identity from Copeland. Despite his blue eyes and fair complexion, King convinced Copeland that he was an African-American Pullman porter named James Todd. The two fell in love and entered into a common law marriage in 1888. Throughout the marriage, King never revealed his true identity to Ada, pretending to be Todd, a black railroad worker, when at home, and continuing to work as King, a white geologist, when in the field. The union produced five children. King finally revealed his true identity to Copeland in a letter he wrote to her while on his deathbed in Arizona.[4]


  1. ^ Shi, David (1996). Facing facts: realism in American thought and culture, 1850-1920. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-1951-0653-9.  
  2. ^ Clarence King (1871). Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Boston: James Osgood & Co., New York: C. Scribner’s sons tenth edition 1902
  3. ^ "Clarence King (1842-1901)". Find A Grave.  
  4. ^ Sandweiss, Martha A. (2009). Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line. ISBN 1594202001.  
  • Clarence King, Catastrophism and Evolution, The American Naturalist, Vol. 11, No. 8. (Aug., 1877), pp. 449–470.
  • Thurman Wilkins and Caroline Lawson Hinkley (1988). Clarence King: A Biography, University of New Mexico Press, 1988 revised edition, softcover, ISBN 0-8263-1085-0
  • Aaron Sachs, The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism, (Viking, 2006), King, one of four Americans on whom the author focuses, was influenced by Alexander von Humboldt.
  • Robert Wilson (2006). The Explorer King : Adventure, Science, and the Great Diamond Hoax—Clarence King in the Old West, Scribner, ISBN 0-7432-6025-2

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CLARENCE KING (1842-1901), American geologist, was born at Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A., on the 6th of January 1842. He graduated at Yale in 1862. His most important work was the geological exploration of the fortieth parallel, of which the main reports (1876 and 1877) comprised the geological and topographical atlas of the Rocky Mountains, the Green River and Utah basins, and the Nevada plateau and basin. When the United States Geological Survey was consolidated in 187 9 King was chosen director, and he vigorously conducted investigations in Colorado, and in the Eureka district and on the Comstock lode in Nevada. He held office for a year only; in later years his only noteworthy contribution to geology was an essay on the age of the earth, which appeared in the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1893. He died at Phoenix, Arizona, on the 2 4 th of December 1901.

<< Charles William King

Edward King (writer) >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address