Tracks in the Sea: Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Mapping of the Oceans
A great story of discovery and adventure in the tradition of "Longitude"
Maritime navigation remained largely a matter of guesswork until well into the 19th century, and making a voyage meant following a series of all-too-often disastrous hunches. Changing that became the lifelong obsession of the brilliant, irascible geographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, whose career both aided and mirrored America's rise as a maritime power. With his controversial appointment as the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory in 1840, he at last found his life's work. While others built railroads across the trackless interior, Maury mapped the highways of wind and current over the previously trackless sea. In "Tracks in the Sea," Chester G. Hearn uses Maury's career as a window on the 19th century, including the brief but glorious clipper-ship era of the 1850s, the rise of steam and steel, the Civil War and the destruction of the U.S. merchant fleet, and the points of intersection with some of the most colorful and influential people of the time, including presidents, congressmen, military leaders, scientists, explorers, merchants, and writers.
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Chapter Setting the Navy Straight
haptet Sailors and Whalers
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