A Guide to the Matthew Fontaine Maury Letters, 1848-1861 Maury, Matthew Fontaine, Letters, 1848-1861 18769

A Guide to the Matthew Fontaine Maury Letters, 1848-1861

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 18769


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© 2003 By the Library of Virginia.

Processed by: Trenton Hizer

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Matthew Fontaine Maury Letters, 1848-1861
Physical Characteristics
6 leaves and 40 pages
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Physical Location
Personal Papers Collection, Acc. 18769

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Matthew Fontaine Maury. Letters, 1848-1861. Accession 18769. Personal papers collection. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Walter R. Benjamin, New York, New York, 21 December 1923.

Biographical Information

Matthew Fontaine Maury was born near Fredericksburg, Virginia, 14 January 1806 to Richard Maury (1766-1843) and Diana Minor Maury (1768-1843). At five he moved with his family to Tennessee. In 1825, he received a midshipman's warrant and joined the United States navy. After nine years on active duty at sea, Maury returned to Virginia in 1834 and married Ann Hull Herndon (1811-1901) 15 July 1834. He settled in Fredericksburg and began writing articles on the navy. In 1842, he was appointed superintendent of the Depot of Charts and Instruments of the Navy Department and began researching ocean winds and currents. His work resulted in time being cut off from sea voyages. In 1858, he was restored to active command with the rank of Commander. When the Civil War began, he resigned his commission 20 April 1861. He was appointed special agent to England by the Confederate government. While in England, he helped procure ships for the Confederacy and worked on electric mines. When the war ended, Maury offered his services to the Emperor Maximilian (1832-1867) to colonize former Confederates in Mexico. Colonization proved to be a failure and Maury returned to England in 1866, where he received an honorary degree from Cambridge University. Friends convinced him to return to the United States and in in 1868, he was appointed professor of meteorology at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. Maury died in Lexington 1 February 1873 and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Maury and his wife had eight children.

Scope and Content Information

Letters, 1848-1861, of Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) of Washington D.C. and Albemarle County, Virginia, discussing ocean and wind currents; charts and maps of the ocean currents; sailing directions; his efforts to improve recordation of meteorological observations, both on land and at sea; navigation and its improvements as aid to commerce; weather patterns in eastern Tennessee and western Virginia, specifically the Shenandoah Valley; agricultural education; the Transatlantic Cable; possible lecture appearances in Chicago, Illinois; and nitric acid. Maury's correspondents included Andrew Hull Foote (1806-1863), H. J. Raymond (1820-1869), Charles James Faulkner (1806-1884), Chicago mayor John Wentworth (1815-1888), and John Anthony Winston (1812-1871).



Contents List

Letter, 22 April 1848, Matthew Fontaine Maury, [Naval] Observatory, Washington, to an unidentified correspondent thanking him for letter. Maury discusses currents around Cuba and would like to have the "Saratoga" test them and report. Maury comments on poor wind direction records. Provides instructions for proper notes. Maury discusses the currents off of Yucatan, tracks of vessels sailning to Europe, and a bill for the retired list in Congress, and its features.
3 p., ALS.
Letter, 30 May 1848, Matthew Fontaine Maury, National Observatory, Washington, to the Editor of Hunt's Merchant Magazine and the National Intelligencer correcting an error in sailing directions to the Equator.
2 p., ALS.
Letter, 1852, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to Henry J. Raymond, the New York Times, soliciting support for an international meteorlogical observation system of reporting and enclosing an explanatory pamphlet (not present).
1 leaf, printed form letter, signed.
Letter, 31 May 1854, Matthew Fontaine Maury, National Observatory, Washington, to Commander Andrew Hull Foote, United States Navy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, thanking Foote for a copy of his book Africa and the American Flag.
1 leaf, ALS.
Letter, 6 August [ante-1855], Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, to Editor of the Globe requesting that his newspaper be sent care of Franklin Minor, Ridgway, Albemarle County, [Virginia].
1 leaf, ALS.
Letter, 25 August 1855, Matthew Fontaine Maury, University of Virginia, to Reverend J. Proudfit, New York, New York, requesting assistance in promoting a meteorological observation system for land areas, similar to that established for navigation.
3 p., ALS.
Letter, 13 March 1857, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to Captain J. W. Sherman of the "Art Union" thanking him for the fragmentary abstract log of the ship, and offering new information for his next voyage.
1 leaf, ALS.
Letter, 23 July 1857, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to Charles James Faulkner, Congressman, Boydsville, near Martinsburg, [(West) Virginia], declining invitation. Maury does not have copies of pamphlets for the "Knoxville Convention." He sends copy of a report to be given at Old Point Comfort, [Virginia]. Comments on the promotion of European investments in the United States.
3 p., ALS.
Letter, 15 December 1857, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to P. D. Richards, Boston, Massachusetts, hoping Richards will soon have a ship. Maury authorizes F. W. Lincoln, Jr., to supply Richards charts.
1 leaf, ALS.
Letter, 30 August 1858, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to Congressman Charles James Faulkner, Martinsburg, commenting on his lack of knowledge of the climatology of the Shenandoah Valley, but suggesting some factors which might affect it. Maury discusses the need for land-based weather reporting, agricultural education, and the Trans-Atlantic Cable.
17 p., ALS.
Letter, 18 September 1858, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to John Wentworth, Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, asking about the possibility of speaking engagements in Chicago either 26-27 November or 3-4 December.
2 p., ALS.
Letter, 18 February 1859, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, to Charles James Faulkner, House of Representatives, concerning a letter sent to him and asking Faulkner to see the President.
2 p., ALS.
Letter, 5 July 1859, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, to Charles James Faulkner stating that he had hoped to visit Faulkner while on a rail trip. Maury did not return until Saturday which is the reason for his delay in responding to Faulkner. Comments on other social matters.
2 p., ALS.
Letter, 21 June 1860, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, Washington, to Dr. J. J. Hayes of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, stating that he cannot supply his needs without orders. Adds that wind and current charts are available from F. W. Lincoln, Mayor of Boston.
2 p., ALS.
Letter, 1 October 1860, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Observatory, to Lieutenant William B. Whiting, Philadelphia, stating that he had received Whiting's of the 28 September. Advises Whiting on preparing a map for a Mr. Smith and on pay.
3 p., ALS.
Letter, 20 June 1861, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Richmond, [Virginia], to John Anthony Winston, former governor of Alabama, stating that he has sent the bill for nitric acid to Mr. Tuttle at the University of Virginia. Maury is off the Governor's Advisory Board. Adds that letters may be delayed.
2 p., ALS., and 1 leaf transcript.