Bache, Alexander D. (ON HOLD)


Distinguished scientist and educator, 1st President of the National Academy of Sciences


Autograph ID: 5377
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1806-1867) Benjamin Franklin’s great-grandson, USMA 1825 (youngest in his class), graduated with highest achievement. Army construction engineer to 1828, resigned to become a University of Pennsylvania chemistry professor. Member of Franklin Institute for the Promotion of Mechanic Arts and of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, he conducted notable scientific studies in general mechanics, terrestrial magnetism, and weights and measures. Accepted presidency of Girard College 1836 and traveled to Europe to learn how a school could be organized according to Girard’s innovative desires. After 26 months of intense investigation into 278 schools, he published the influential “Report on Education in Europe” (1839), a study of “the systems of general education” as well as the education of orphans. When the college’s opening was delayed by financial and political problems, he helped organize Philadelphia’s Central High School and became its 1st principal 1839. Adapting ideas from the Prussian system, he planned the curriculum with emphasis on science (“Report to the Controllers of the Public Schools on the Reorganization of Central High School” 1839). In 1843 President Tyler appointed him Superintendent of the US Coast Survey, held until his death, where he directed expansion of the office’s scientific activity. Influential in establishing the National Academy of Sciences, he was its 1st president 1863-1867.

8 x 5 ALS marked “private”, Capitol Hill (Washington), January 10 no year (likely 1843-66), to publisher William W. Seaton, regarding a notice in the Intelligencer of the Dudley (?) last week being from the Trustee’s side, hopes he will find room for publication of Dr. Ginea’s statement which shows why the Council found themselves in duty bound to hold their positions. In a postscript, sends thanks for Boston Journal article.

WILLIAM W. SEATON (1785-1866) Virginia-born journalist, with his brother-in-law Joseph Gales, was proprietor of the National Intelligencer at Washington, D.C. 1812-60. From 1812-20, they were the only reporters of congressional proceedings. Their “Annals of Congress, Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States from 3 March 1798, till 27 May 1824” (42 vols., 1834–56), and their “Register of Debates in Congress from 1824 till 1837” (29 vols., 1827–37) are important sources of the history of the times. Seaton was on the Washington Board of Alderman 1819-31, and was Mayor of Washington (Whig) 1840-50. As Mayor, he was instrumental in developing the city’s public education system and in civic improvements, inc. telegraph and gas lines and construction of the first waterworks. During the 1820s, he was a member of the prestigious Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences.”
Type: Letter

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