Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Marsh, George Perkins (United States
philology, physical geography, diplomacy
||People who have applied themselves to as wide a range
of subjects as Marsh did have been few in number in American history.
After graduating from Dartmouth he tried teaching briefly but decided
to become a lawyer. This too was unable to fully absorb his attention,
but meanwhile he was involving himself in various business commitments
and continuing an extraordinary avocation for language and linguistics.
By the middle of his life he knew twenty languages and was a leading authority
on Scandinavian forms and the history of the English language. His energy
and enthusiasm was soon channeled into public service, where he served
three terms in Congress and spent over twenty-five years as a foreign
minister. Marsh dabbled in other things, often successfully, as well:
for example history, architectural design (his most famous structure:
the Washington Monument), and tool design. But none of these things is
what he is most remembered for today. In 1864 he published his famous
study on the deterioration of natural resources, Man and Nature, or
Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Through this work
Marsh became the father of conservation studies by passionately arguing,
and demonstrating through example, that humankind was assuming an increasingly
important role among the forces shaping the earth's surface environment.
--born in Woodstock, Vermont, on 15 March 1801.
--1820: graduates B.A. from Dartmouth College with highest honors
--1825: admitted to the bar
--1825-1842: practices law in Vermont; involves
himself in various business enterprises
--1838: publishes his A Compendius Grammar
of the Old Northern or Icelandic Language
--1843-1849: serves as a Representative
in the U. S. Congress; helps found the Smithsonian Institution
--1847: regent, Smithsonian Institution
--1849-1853: serves as U. S. Minister to Turkey
--1856: publishes his The
Camel, His Organization, Habits, and Uses...
--1857: publishes report on fisheries expansion
--1857-1859: serves as state railroad commissioner
--1860-1861: lectures on the English language
at Columbia University
--1860: publishes his Lectures
on the English Language
--1861-1882: serves as U. S. Minister to
--1862: publishes his The
Origin and History of the English Language
--1864: publishes his Man
and Nature, or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action
--dies at Vallombrosa, Italy, on 23 July
Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 6 (1909).
--American National Biography, Vol.
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 18 (1883): 447-457.
--George Perkins Marsh: Versatile Vermonter
--George Perkins Marsh, Prophet of Conservation
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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