Matthew Fontaine Maury

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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.


--William Maury Morris II (talk) 13:10, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

Biographical Chronology

Notes and Sources

Awards, Medals, Memorials, &c.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.