Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Matthew Fontaine Maury

Born : 1806
Died : 1873

Maurys ancestry can be traced back to 15th century france.
His grandfather (reverend James Maury) was a teacher to 3 future U.S. presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Munroe.
He was born in Virgina, but then moved to Tennessee when he was five.
He wanted to be in the navy like his older brother John Minor Maury, but when he caught yellow fever and after fighting pirates while an officer in the U.S. Navy, and died from it, his father forbade Matthew to join. He eventually joined anyway though.
When a leg injury left him unable for duty at sea, Maury spent his time studying  navigation, meteorology, winds, and currents. His hard work on and love of plotting the oceans paid off when he became Superintendent of the Naval Observatory and head of the Depot of Charts and Instruments. Here Maury studied thousands of ships' logs and charts. He published the Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages. Maury's uniform system of recording oceanographic data was adopted by navies and merchant marines around the world and was used to develop charts for all the major trade routes.