Poet, essayist, chemist, geologist, educator, entrepreneur, publisher--Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864) was one of the virtuosi of the Early Republic and a founder of the American scientific community. This absorbing biography is not only a study of the youth and early career of a complex and remarkable man but also a window on his times. In lively and often moving detail, Chandos Michael Brown opens the broad context of Silliman's life in his native Connecticut. From Silliman's father's disastrous captivity among the British during the Revolution to the intensities of New England religious revivals, from the international celebrity of the Weston Meteor to the economic hazards of introducing artificial mineral waters to the New York market, here is an engaging portrayal of the growth of an American scientist within his rich cultural setting. Brown tells how the young Silliman confronted the declining fortunes of his distinguished family and how he strove to invent a new career worthy of his ambition and social standing. He describes Silliman's education at Yale College and in Philadelphia, his European tour, and his subsequent activities as a professor of chemistry and mineralogy, founder of the Yale Medical School, and editor of the American Journal of Science. Throughout this cultural biography, Silliman appears as the concerned member of an often troubled family--a man who nonetheless managed to achieve that elusive quality, greatly admired by his contemporaries, that of the representative American.
Originally published in 1990.
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