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MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY

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MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY

Pauline Phelps (View posts)
Posted: 29 Dec 1998 5:00AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Fontaine, Fountaine, Fountain, de la Fontaine
Notes for MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY:
Maury, Matthew Fontaine
Pronunciation:
(1806--73)
oceanographer; born near Fredericksburg, Va. He entered the U.S. Navy (1825) and spent
the next nine years on worldwide sea voyages. In 1839 a stagecoach accident left him
permanently lamed. Considered unfit for active duty, in 1842 he was appointed superintendent
of the Naval Observatory's Depot of Charts and Instruments. There he compiled information
from numerous ships' logs, and gained an international reputation for his research in navigation,
oceanography, and meteorology. By interpreting the crossing of the trade winds at the equator,
he designed shipping routes which shortened an Atlantic-Pacific crossing by 40 days. In his
most famous work, The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), he proposed a transatlantic
telegraph cable to be constructed on a level sea-floor plateau he had discovered between
Newfoundland and Ireland. In 1861 Maury became a commodore in the Confederate Navy;
while working to perfect underwater mines, he went to Europe where he also purchased and
outfitted cruisers for the Confederate navy. After a brief self-exile in Mexico and Europe
(1865--68), he returned to the U.S.A. to teach at the Virginia Military Institute (1868--73).
He is known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas."

THE CAMBRIDGE BIOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA
edited by David Crystal
Copyright (c) 1994, Cambridge University Press
Reproduced with permission.

Maury, Matthew (Fontaine)
Pronunciation: [mawree]
(1806--73)
Naval officer and hydrographer, born in Spotsylvania, VA. He entered the US navy in 1825,
and voyaged round the world (1826--30). After an accident in 1839, he was appointed in
1842 superintendent of the hydrographical office at Washington, and in 1844 of the
observatory. There he wrote his Physical Geography of the Sea (1856), and his works on
the Gulf Stream, ocean currents, and Great Circle sailing. He became an officer of the
Confederate navy, and later professor of physics at Lexington.

THE CAMBRIDGE BIOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA
edited by David Crystal
Copyright (c) 1994, Cambridge University Press
Reproduced with permission.

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