Matthew Fontaine Maury: 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

Matthew Fontaine Maury, USN

Matthew Fontaine Maury (January 14, 1806 – February 1, 1873), United States Navy was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator.

He was nicknamed Pathfinder of the Seas and Father of modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology and later, Scientist of the Seas, due to the publication of his extensive works in his books, especially Physical Geography of the Sea 1855, the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to charting winds and ocean currents, including ocean lanes for passing ships at sea.

In 1825 at age 19, Maury joined the United States Navy as a midshipman on board the frigate Brandywine. Almost immediately he began to study the seas and record methods of navigation. When a leg injury left him unfit for sea duty, Maury devoted his time to the study of navigation, meteorology, winds, and currents. His hard work on and love of plotting the oceans paid off when he became Superintendent of the Naval Observatory and head of the Depot of Charts and Instruments. Here Maury studied thousands of ships' logs and charts. He published the Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages. Maury's uniform system of recording oceanographic data was adopted by navies and merchant marines around the world and was used to develop charts for all the major trade routes.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Maury, a Virginian, resigned his commission as a U.S. Navy commander and joined the Confederacy. He spent the war in the South, as well as abroad in England, acquiring ships for the Confederacy. Following the war, Maury accepted a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. He died at his home in Lexington in 1873 after completing an exhausting national lecture tour.


Early life and career

Lieut. Matthew Fontaine Maury U.S. Navy.

Maury was of Huguenot ancestry whose family can be traced back to 15th century France. Matthew Fontaine Maury's grandfather (the Reverend James Maury) was an inspiring teacher to three future US Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Maury also had Dutch-American ethnicity from the "Minor" family of early Virginia.

M. F. Maury was born in 1806 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, but his family moved to Franklin, Tennessee when he was five. He wanted to emulate the naval career of his older brother, Flag Lieutenant John Minor Maury, who however caught yellow fever after fighting pirates as an officer in the United States Navy. As a result of John's painful death, Matthew Maury's father, Richard, forbade him from joining the Navy. Maury considered attending West Point to get an education, but he obtained a Naval appointment through the influence of Senator Sam Houston in 1825, at the age of 19.

Maury joined the Navy as a midshipman on board the frigate Brandywine which was carrying the Marquis de La Fayette home to France. Almost immediately, he began to study the seas and record methods of navigation.

Matthew Maury's seagoing days came to an abrupt end at the age of 33 after a stagecoach accident broke his hip and knee. Thereafter, he devoted his time to the study of naval meteorology, navigation, charting the winds and currents, seeking the "Paths of the Seas" mentioned in Psalm 8 in the Bible.

His hard work on and love of plotting the oceans paid off when he became the first superintendent of the United States Naval Observatory in 1842, holding that position until his resignation in April 1861. The observatory's primary mission was to care for the United States Navy's marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment.

As a sailor, Maury noted that there were numerous lessons that had been learned by shipmasters about the effects of adverse winds and drift currents on the path of a ship. The captains recorded these lessons faithfully in their logbooks, but they were then forgotten. At the Observatory, Maury uncovered an enormous collection of thousands of old ships' logs and charts in storage in trunks dating back to the start of the United States Navy. Maury pored over these documents to collect information on winds, calms, and currents for all seas in all seasons. His dream was to put this information in the hands of all captains. (Source: Nautical Gazette May '40)

Maury also used the old ships' logs to chart the migration of whales. Whalers at the time went to sea, sometimes for years, without knowing that whales migrate and that their paths could be charted.

Maury's work on ocean currents led him to advocate his theory of the Northwest Passage, as well as the hypothesis that an area in the ocean near the North Pole is occasionally free of ice. The reasoning behind this was sound. Logs of old whaler ships indicated the designs and markings of harpoons. Harpoons found in captured whales in the Atlantic had been shot by ships in the Pacific and vice versa, and this occurred with a frequency that would have been impossible had the whales traveled around Cape Horn.

Maury, knowing a whale to be a mammal, theorized that a northern passage between the oceans that was free of ice must exist to enable the whales to surface and breathe. This became a popular idea that inspired many explorers to seek a reliably navigable sea route. Many of those explorers died in their search.

Lieutenant Maury published his Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages; his Sailing Directions and Physical Geography of the Seas and Its Meteorology remain standard. Maury's uniform system of recording synoptic oceanographic data was adopted by navies and merchant marines around the world and was used to develop charts for all the major trade routes.

U.S.N. Matthew Fontaine Maury 1855

Maury's Observatory team included James Melville Gilliss, Lieutenant John Mercer Brooke, William Lewis Herndon, Lieutenant Isaac Strain, John Herndon Maury of the Darien Gap expedition, Lardner Gibbon and others — but their duty was always temporary at the Observatory, and new men had to be trained over and over again. Thus Lt. M F Maury was working with astronomical work and nautical work at the same time, while constantly training new temporary men to assist in these works.

Maury advocated much in the way of naval reform, including a school for the Navy that would rival the army's West Point. This reform was heavily pushed by Maury's many "Scraps from the Lucky Bag" and other articles printed in the newspapers and many changes came about in the navy including his finally fulfilled dream of the creation of the United States Naval Academy.

Maury also advocated an international sea and land weather service. Having charted the seas and currents, he worked on charting land weather forecasting. Congress refused to appropriate funds for a land system of weather observations.

Maury early became convinced that adequate scientific knowledge of the sea could be obtained only through international cooperation. He proposed that the United States invite the maritime nations of the world to a conference to establish a “universal system” of meteorology, and he was the leading spirit of that pioneer scientific conference when it met in Brussels in 1853. Within a few years, nations owning three fourths of the shipping of the world were sending their oceanographic observations to Maury at the Naval Observatory, where the information was evaluated and the results given worldwide distribution. (Source: Matthew Fontaine Maury, Scientist of the Sea, Frances L. Williams, (1969) ISBN 0-8135-0433-3)

Maury was sent by the United States as advocator of his sea data collecting ideas but not for land. Still, as a result of the Brussels conference a large number of nations, including many traditional enemies, agreed to cooperate in the sharing of land and sea weather data using uniform standards. (Source: Nautical Gazette May '40)

It was soon after the Brussels conference when Prussia, Spain, Sardinia, the free city of Hamburg, the republic of Bremen, Chile, Austria, and Brazil, and others all joined the enterprise.

The Pope established honorary flags of distinction for the ships of the papal states, which could be awarded only to those vessels which filled out and sent to Maury in Washington D.C. the Maury abstract logs. (Source: Matthew Fontaine Maury by Charles Lee Lewis, Copyright, 1927 the United States Naval Institute.)

In the early 1850s Matthew Fontaine Maury had planned and did send by 1851, his cousin, William Lewis Herndon, and another co-worker at the Naval Observatory, Lardner Gibbon, both of whom worked at the USN Observatory, to explore the Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon region to Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean, while gathering as much information as possible for trade and slavery in any of those areas. In addition, Maury thought the area could serve as a "safety valve" by allowing Southern slave owners to move there or sell their slaves there. He reasoned that Brazil was bringing in new slaves from Africa and by moving those who were already slaves in the United States to Brazil, there would be less slavery or in time perhaps no slavery in as many areas of the United States as possible while also cutting down on bringing new slaves into Brazil which only increased slavery through the capture and enslavement in Brazil of more Africans. "Imagine", Maury wrote to his cousin, "waking up some day and finding our country free of slavery!" (Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, U.S.N. and C.S.N., compiled by his daughter, Diana Fontaine Maury-Corbin).

Matthew Fontaine Maury

In 1849, Maury spoke out on the need for a transcontinental railroad to join the eastern United States to California. He recommended a southerly route with Memphis, Tennessee as the eastern terminus, since the city is equidistant from Lake Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico. He argued that a southerly route running through Texas would avoid winter snows and could open up commerce with the northern states of Mexico. Maury also advocated construction of a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama.[1]

Civil War

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Maury, a native of Virginia, ended the career that he dearly loved by handing in his commission as a U.S. Navy Commander in order to serve Virginia, which had joined the Confederacy, as Chief of Sea Coast, River and Harbor Defences. Because he was an international figure, he was ordered to go abroad for many reasons including propaganda for the Confederacy, for peace, and for purchasing ships. He also went to England, Ireland, and France, acquiring ships and supplies for the Confederacy. Through speeches and newspaper publications, Maury tried desperately to get other nations to stop the American Civil War, carrying pleas for peace in one hand and a sword in the other, each to deal with whatever the outcome.

Maury also perfected an electric torpedo which raised havoc with northern shipping. Maury had experience with the transatlantic cable and electricity flowing through wires underwater when working with Cyrus West Field and Samuel Finley Breese Morse. The torpedoes, similar to present-day contact mines, were said by the Secretary of the Navy in 1865 "to have cost the Union more vessels than all other causes combined." (Source: The Nautical Gazette May '40)

The war brought ruin to many in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Maury's immediate family lived. Following the war, after serving Maximilian in Mexico as "Imperial Commissioner of Immigration" and building Carlotta and New Virginia Colony for displaced Confederates and immigrants from other lands, Maury accepted a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), holding the chair of physics.

Maury advocated the creation of an agricultural college to complement VMI. This led to the establishment of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia in 1872.[2] Maury declined the offer to become its first president partly because of his age. He had previously been suggested as president of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1848 by Benjamin Blake Minor in his publication the Southern Literary Messenger. Maury considered becoming president of St. John's College in Annapolis Maryland, the University of Alabama, and the University of Tennessee.[1] It appears that he preferred being close to General Robert E. Lee in Lexington from statements Maury made in letters. Maury served as a pall bearer for General Lee. (Source: Southern Historical Society's Papers)

During his time at VMI, Maury wrote a book entitled The Physical Geography of Virginia. He had once been a gold mining superintendent outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and had studied geology intensly during that time, so was well equipped to write such a book. During the Civil War, more battles took place in Virginia than any other state (Tennessee was second), and Maury's aim was to assist war-torn Virginia in discovering and extracting minerals, improving farming and whatever else could assist her to rebuild after such destruction.

During its first 1868 meeting, Maury helped launch the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Maury later gave talks in Europe about cooperation on a weather bureau for land just as he had charted the winds and predicted storms at sea many years before. He gave these Weather on Land speeches until his last days when he collapsed giving a speech. He went home after he recovered and told Ann Hull Herndon-Maury, his wife, "I have come home to die."

Matthew Fontaine Maury died at home in Lexington. He was exhausted from traveling throughout this nation while giving speeches promoting Land Meteorology. Maury breathed his last at 12:40 P.M., on Saturday, February 1, 1873. He was attended by his eldest son, Major Richard Launcelot Maury and son-in- law, Major Spottswood Wellford Corbin. Maury asked his daughters and wife to leave the room. His last words were, "All's well", a nautical expression telling of calm conditions at sea, as he raised his hands into the air as though being taken to a better place. (Source: Life of Maury by his daughter, Diana Fontaine Maury-Corbin) His body was placed on display in the VMI library. Maury was initially buried in the Gilham family vault in Lexington's cemetery, across from Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, until, after some delay into the next year, when his remains were taken through Goshen Pass to Richmond, Virginia. He was reburied between Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

International honors

Bust of Maury in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, New York, NY.

After decades of national and international hard work averaging 14 hours per day, Maury received fame and honors, including being knighted by several nations and given medals with precious gems, as well as a collection of all medals struck by Pope Pius IX during his pontificate, a book dedication and more from Father Angelo Secchi, who was a student of Maury from 1848 - 1849 in the U.S. Naval Observatory. The two remained life-long friends. Other religious friends of Maury included James Hervey Otey, M. F. Maury's former teacher who, before 1857, worked with Bishop Leonidas Polk on the construction of the University of the South in Tennessee. While visiting there, Maury was convinced by his old teacher to give the "cornerstone speech".

As a United States Navy officer, he declined awards from foreign nations as their acceptance was against U.S. military policy. However, they were offered to Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury's wife, Ann Hull Herndon-Maury, who accepted them for her husband. Some have been placed at Virginia Military Institute, others were loaned to the Smithsonian and yet others remain in the family. Matthew Maury became a Commodore (often a title of courtesy) in the Virginia Provisional Navy, and a Commander in the Confederacy.

Matthew Fontaine Maury "Pathfinder of the Seas" monument, Richmond, Va.

A monument to Maury, by sculptor Frederick William Sievers, was unveiled in Richmond on November 11, 1929. Maury Hall, the home of the Naval Science Department at the University of Virginia and headquarters of the University's Navy ROTC battalion, was named in his honor. The original building of the College of William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science is named Maury Hall as well. Another Maury Hall, named after him, houses the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the Systems Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ships have been named in his honor, including three United States Navy ships named USS Maury. A fourth United States Navy ship named in his honor was the "USS Commodore Maury" (SP-656), patrol vessel and mine sweeper.] of World War I. A World War II Liberty Ship was also named in his honor. Additionally, Tidewater Community College, based in Norfolk Virginia, owns the R/V Matthew F. Maury [2] This ship is used for Oceanography research and student cruises.

Portrait of Matthew Fontaine Maury
by Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer

Lake Maury in Newport News, Virginia is named after Maury. The Lake is located on the Mariners' Museum property and is encircled by a walking trail. The Maury River, located entirely in Rockbridge County, Virginia, near Virginia Military Institute (where Maury was on faculty), also honors the scientist, as does a Maury (crater) on the Moon.

Additionally, a high school in Norfolk, VA is named for Maury, and has been ranked in the top 1000 high schools in the country, and the highest in the city, by Newsweek. Matthew Fontaine Maury High School is located in Norfolk Public Schools which was named the Best Urban School District last year. Maury County, TN is named for his great-uncle.

Also, Maury Elementary School, in Alexandria, VA was named for Matthew Maury. Maury Elementary was built in 1926.

Dan Graves listed Matthew Maury among his 48 great Scientists of Faith on grounds that: Maury lived by the Scriptures; he fully and unconditionally believed in what the Holy Scriptures stated; he hardly ever spoke or wrote without the inclusion of scriptural references; he prayed every day.

See also


  1. ^ Sigafoos, R.A. Cotton Row to Beale Street: A business history of Memphis. Memphis State University Press, 1979. p 19.
  2. ^ Captain Miles P. DuVal, Jr., USN (Ret.). Matthew Fontaine Maury: Benefactor of Mankind. Naval Historical Foundation. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  • Flying Cloud -- An 1851 true story of America's most famous clipper ship that raced other ships from New York, around Cape Horn, to San Francisco by using both Maury's Wind and Current Charts plus his Sailing Directions. The clipper ship, Flying Cloud, was Captained by Josiah Perkins Creesy and [3] navigated by his wife Ellenor Prentiss-Creesy who was the first person to navigate around the Horn by using the new route laid down by then-Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury, of the national observatory at Washington. She used Maury's Sailing Directions and Winds and Currents. She gained and held the 89 day speed record of that route for decades. The old route was usually 100+ days from New York, around the dangerous Cape Horn at the tip of South America and then onward to San Francisco. Source: Flying Cloud by David W. Shaw (copyright) 2001. ISBN 0-06-093478-6 (pbk.) and Physical Geography of the Sea (1855) by Matthew Fontaine Maury.
  • Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, U.S.N. and C.S.N., compiled by his daughter, Diana Fontaine Maury-Corbin.
  • [Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas (1927) by Charles Lee Lewis, associate professor of the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis. ISBN 0-405-13045-7 Reprinted (1980).
  • Matthew Fontaine Maury, Scientist of the Sea, Frances L. Williams, (1969) ISBN 0-8135-0433-3
  • Physical Geography of the Sea by Matthew Fontaine Maury 1855.
  • Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology by Matthew Fontaine Maury (1861).
  • Wind and Current Charts by Matthew Fontaine Maury
  • Sailing Directions by Matthew Fontaine Maury
  • [4] Sky and Ocean Joined—The U.S. Naval Observatory 1830-2000 by Steven J. Dick (2003) ("The Maury Years" 1844-1861)
  • The Pathfinder of the Seas, The Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, by John W. Wayland, (1930). Professor Wayland writes, in the back of the book, under Chronology, that in 1916 the Virginia legislature created a law whereby "Maury Day " "..would be celebrated in all Virginia schools" (and it was); but it has been abandoned for unknown reasons.
  • Tracks in the sea: Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Mapping of the Oceans by Chester G. Hearn (Camden, Maine: International Marine, 2002) ISBN 0-07-136826-4
  • Pathfinder of the Seas by David L. Cohn (The Nautical Gazette, May '40)

Maury's publications

  • On the Navigation of Cape Horn; by M.F.Maury, Passed Midshipman, U.S.Navy
  • Whaling Charts
  • Wind and Current Charts
  • Sailing Directions
  • [5] U.S.Navy Contributions to Science and Commerce (1847)
  • Explanations and Sailing Directions to Accompany the Wind and Current Charts, 1851, 1854, 1855
  • Lieut. Maury’s Investigations of the Winds and Currents of the Sea, 1851
  • On the Probable Relation between Magnetism and the Circulation of the Atmosphere, 1851
  • Maury’s Wind and Current Charts: Gales in the Atlantic, 1857
  • [6] The Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855, 1856, 1859
  • Observations to Determine the Solar Parallax, 1856
  • Amazon, and the Atlantic Slopes of South America, 1853
  • Commander M. F. Maury on American Affairs, 1861
  • The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology, 1861
  • Maury’s New Elements of Geography for Primary and Intermediate Classes
  • Geography: "First Lessons"
  • Elementary Geography: Designed for Primary and Intermediate Classes.
  • Geography: "The World We Live In" by M. F. Maury
  • Published Address of Com. M. F. Maury, before the Fair of the Agricultural & Mechanical Society.
  • Geology: A Physical Survey of Virginia; Her Geographical Position, Its Commercial Advantages and National Importance, Virginia Military Institute, 1869

External links

  • Works by or about Matthew Fontaine Maury at Internet Archive (scanned books original editions color illustrated)
  • [7] Matthew Fontaine Maury website with unique pages.
  • [8] Images of Maury's medals and letters. 1996 website retrieved via the Wayback Search Engine
  • [9] CBNnews VIDEO on Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury "The Father of Modern Oceanography"
  • [10] Naval Oceanographic Office—Matthew Fontaine Maury Oceanographic Library — The World's Largest Oceanographic Library.
  • [11] United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps — Matthew Fontaine Maury — Pathfinders Division.
  • [12] The Maury Project; A comprehensive national program of teacher enhancement based on studies of the physical foundations of oceanography.
  • [13] The Mariner's Museum: Matthew Fontaine Maury Society.
  • [14] Letter to President John Quincy Adams from Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury (1847) on the "National" United States Naval Observatory regarding a written description of the observatory, in detail, with other information relating thereto, including an explanation of the objects and uses of the various instruments.
  • [15] The National (Naval) Observatory and The Virginia Historical Society (May 1849)
  • [16] Biography of Matthew Fontaine Maury at U.S. Navy Historical Center.
  • [17] The Diary of Betty Herndon Maury, daughter of Matthew Fontaine Maury, 1861-1863.
  • s:Matthew Fontaine Maury "Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury USN & CSN", by Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin -- Wikisource
  • [18] Matthew Fontaine Maury School in Richmond, Virginia, USA, 1950s. Photographer: Nina Leen. Approximately 200 TIME-LIFE photographs
  • [19] Astronomical Observations from the Naval Observatory 1845.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Matthew Fontaine Maury — Biography
by Diane Fontaine Corbin
Transcribed by William Maury Morris. Edited by Sir Clements Robert Markham

See: "Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon", Vol. I, 1853 by William Lewis Herndon, Lieutenant, U.S.N. and "Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon", Vol. II, 1854 by Lardner Gibbon, Lieutenant, U.S.N. They both are are conected to this book. Commander William Lewis Herndon is 1st cousin to Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury and an uncle to Major General Dabney Herndon Maury. Source text for this book donated by William Maury Morris II.

Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury - Pathfinder of the Seas


Ancestry of Matthew Fontaine Maury — Virginian Planters — Huguenots in Virginia — The Reverend James Maury — His Classical School and Scholars — Thomas Jefferson and the Great North-West — Richard Maury and Diana (Minor) Maury — Birth of Matthew Fontaine Maury — Emigration to Tennessee — State of society in Tennessee — Occupations and amusements of Maury and his brothers — Religious training — Maury’s School life


Notice of the Career of Maury’s eldest brother — Life in the Navy — Left on the Marquesas Islands for two years — He is taken on board the ship Essex by Commodore Porter — Capture of the Essex at Valparaiso — At the Battle of Lake Champlain — Died at Sea — Matthew Fontaine Maury receives a Midshipman’s Warrant — Journey to take up his appointment — Adventures and entertainment by relations — Meets his future wife — Her parentage — Cruise on board the ship Brandywine — Cruise on the ship Vincennes — Visits the Marquesas — Passes his Examination — Buys a little seal for his sweetheart.


Appointed Master of the ship Falmouth on the Pacific Station — Melancholy anecdote — Literary studies under great difficulties — First study of Winds and Currents — Paper on the low barometer off Cape Horn — First Lieut. of the ship Dolphin — Return home in 1834 — Marriage — Publication of his work on navigation — Birth of his eldest daughter — Appointment to survey Southern Harbors — Visit to his parents in Tennessee — Fall from a stagecoach — Fracture of his leg — Long illness — Death of his parents — Application for employment.


Publication of Scraps From The Lucky Bag — Appointment to the charge of the Depot of Charts and Instruments at Washington — Letters respecting the work at the Observatory.


History of the Wind and Current Charts — Letter from Captain Phinny of the Bark Gertrude — Great races between four clipper ships, sailing from New York to San Francisco by the Wind and Current Charts — One Ship wins the race of 16,000 miles by three hours — The Senate of the United States proposes to remunerate Maury for his Wind and Current Charts, but never carried out their proposal — Annual savings to the commerce of the world effected by the charts — Abstract Logs — Sailing Directions — Physical Geography of the Sea — Maury’s rule of conduct in scientific investigations — The Brussels Conference — Honors conferred upon Matthew Fontaine Maury by the governments of foreign countries.


Plans for meteorological co-operation on land — Invitation to Agricultural Societies to communicate observations for the construction of meteorological Land Charts — Proposal for a system of warnings to Farmers — Opposition he met with — His prophecy about the Weather Bureau — Weather Forecasts — Extracts from Mr. Harlan’s Report before the Senate, praying for an extension of meteorological observations for the benefit of farmers — Letter to Mr. Dorr on the same subject — Honor to whom Honor is due — List of letters on this subject to be found at the Observatory — Fulfillment of Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Prophecy.


Deep Sea Soundings — Maury prophesies existence of the Telegraphic Plateau — John Mercer Brooke’s invention of a deep sea lead — Extract of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy — Maury’s letters to the Secretary, suggesting the place for the cable, and the kind of line to be used — Dinner at New York to celebrate the first arrival of a message across the ocean — Cyrus W. Field’s speech — The cable ceases to work — Maury explains the cause — Letters on file at the Observatory on this subject.


The Naval Retiring Board


Publications in the periodical press while at the Observatory — Observations of the rise and fall of the Mississippi “Drowned Lands” — Steam Navigation to China — Ship canal schemes — Inca Papers — Their defense in a letter to his cousin, Mrs. Blackford of N.Y.


Exploration of the Amazon by Captain William Lewis Herndon — Loss of the ship Central America — Maury’s official report of that shipwreck, and the death of her gallant commander — Monument to William Lewis Herndon at Annapolis — Maury’s Steam Lanes — Present of $5,000 and a service of plate from the merchants and underwriters of New York — Part of an address to the University of Virginia.


Maury’s personal appearance and manners — Life in his family — The way he wrote his books — How he dressed in the morning — The nicknames he gave his children — How he taught his daughters round the breakfast table — The borrowed book — The brass telescope — The trip to Europe and visit to Wrottesley Hall.


Maury’s letter on the harmony between science and revealed religion — The work of Colonel Smith of the Virginia Military Institute — Letters to his daughters after marriage — Correspondence during his lecturing tour, and extracts — Letters to Bishop Otey — Maury’s address on the study of Physical Geography.


Breaking out of the Civil War — Maury’s letter to Bishop Otey — Maury’s Appeals to the Governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware — Letters to Mr. Hasbrouck of Newburgh — Lincoln’s Proclamation calling on Virginia to furnish troops to subjugate South Carolina — Reply of Virginia — Maury resigns his commission and leaves Washington — Offers from the Grand Duke Constantine and from France — Maury’s reply — Defence of Maury’s decision in letters to a friend — Maury appointed Chief of the Seacoast, Harbour, and River Defenses in the South.


Torpedo Warfare — Maury Invents an electric torpedo for Harbour and Land Defence — Indifference on the part of the authorities — Commander Maury’s experiment — He mines the James River — Maury’s plans and drawings fall into the hands of the enemy — Panic caused by fear of torpedoes in the Federal Fleet — Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury on the necessity for a Confederate Navy — The whole South arming for defence — Maury’s two sons become volunteers — Colonel Richard Launcelot Maury shot through the body — Lieutenant John Herndon Maury slain at Vicksburg, Mississippi. — Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury in England — Orders from the Confederate Secretary of the Navy to proceed to England — Leaves Charleston with his youngest son, Matthew Fontaine Maury Jr. — Maury organizes a society in England to promote cessation of hostilities — Petition to the United States for peace — Letter from chronometer-maker offering Maury a home — Letters about his son at school in England, and on news from home.


Mexico - Maury’s residence and occupation in England — Departure for the West Indies — Tidings of the fall of the Confederacy — M. F. Maury surrenders his sword — His son “Brave” returns home — Letter from Dr. Brodie Herndon on the condition of Virginia after the war — Maury resolves to go to Mexico — Reception by the Emperor Maximilian — Appointed Commissioner of Immigration — Explains his motives and course of action in a letter to Dr. Tremlett — The decree respecting immigration — Maury’s explanatory memorandum — His scheme disapproved by friends — Letters from Commodore Jansen and General Lee — Maury’s defence to his cousin Rutson Maury — Arrival of his son Richard at Mexico — Maury goes on leave to England — Mrs. Maury and her family at Liverpool — Letters from Mexico to his wife and children — An imperial dinner — Keeping house — Description of the journey from Mexico to the coast — Maury’s reply to the Emperor’s intimation that the Immigration department was abolished — M. F. Maury’s introduction of the Chinchona cultivation into Mexico — Causes which led to the fall of the empire — Desertion of the French — Death of the Emperor — Maximillian’s tomb at Vienna — Melancholy fate of the Empress and her last letter to Matthew Fontaine Maury.


In England, 1866-68 — Matthew Fontaine Maury’s arrival in England — Meeting with his family — The Maury Testimonial — Instructing French officers in defensive sea-mining at Paris — Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Electrical Torpedo School — Defence of Wurtemberg by electrical mines — M. F. Maury’s memorandum on the use of electrical torpedoes — Writing class-books on geography — Visits to Nottingham and to Wrottesley Hall — Arrival of his daughter, Mrs. Corbin — Maury’s love for his grandchild — He joins the Church and is confirmed with his children — Made LL.D. at Cambridge — Accepts appointment as Professor at the Virginia Military Institute — Returns to America 1868 — Occupations at Richmond.


Description of Lexington,Va. — Maury settled in his last home — Virginia the best route to the North-West — Plans for a Map showing a caste of the atmosphere — Reaches his sixty-sixth birthday — Arrangement to deliver addresses — Meteorological survey of Virginia — Resumes his lectures on agricultural meteorology — His address delivered at Nashville, St. Louis, and Richmond — In delivering his lectures of weather forecasts for farmers M.F. Maury overtaxes his strength — Maury comes home to Lexington to die. — His last illness — The last scene — His death — Sketch of his character — Particulars of his last days — Quotation of a notice in Temple Bar — His wishes respecting his obsequies.

Biographical Chronology

Notes and Sources

Awards, Medals, Memorials, &c. (in progress)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)


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