Matthew Fontaine Maury

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Matthew Fontaine Maury
BirthplaceSpotsylvania County, Virginia
Oceanographer, naval officer, educator

Maury, Matthew Fontaine


Born Jan. 14, 1806, in Spotsylvania, Va.; died Feb. 1, 1873, in Lexington, Va. American oceanographer and meteorologist; naval officer.

From 1842 to 1861, Maury headed the Depot of Charts and Instruments, from which the Naval Observatory and Hydrographical Office of the USA was subsequently formed. He organized the processing of log books of vessels of all countries in order to chart maps of winds and currents of the world’s oceans and charted the first map of the North Atlantic Ocean bottom. In 1847 he began publishing Notice to Mariners. Upon his initiative, the first International Conference on the Meteorology and Physical Geography of the Sea was held in Brussels in 1853. In 1855 he wrote a manual on oceanography. Maury was professor of meteorology at the Virginia Military Institute from 1868 to 1873.


The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology. Cambridge, 1963.
Physical Geography for Schools and General Readers. London, 1864.
Manual of Geography. New York, 1925.


Lewis, C. L. Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas. Annapolis, 1927.
Williams, F. L. Matthew Fontaine Maury: Scientist of the Sea. New Brunswick, 1963.


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sojourners; the involvement of Matthew Fontaine Maury, an eminent Virginian whose scheme was "to transfer enslaved Africans in the U.
It is a fascinating and well written story that ranges from the establishment of the observatory in 1830, as part of the Navy's Depot of Charts and Instruments under Lieutenant Louis Goldsborough, to the sixteen-and-a-half-year tenure of the longest-serving superintendent, Matthew Fontaine Maury, who led when it was first designated the National Observatory.
Matthew Fontaine Maury made sailing safer and far more efficient.
Matthew Fontaine Maury, who popularized Brazil in North America and initiated Confederate torpedo research, served as Imperial Commissioner for Confederate Colonization in Emperor Joseph Maximilian's Mexico, before assuming a physics professorship at Virginia Military Institute.