Baron Humboldt

1769–1859
Civilization: European — Prussia
   Field of Renown:  science — Biogeography
Era:  Revolution

Humboldt
ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT.
Alexander von Humboldt was a scientist, and an avid explorer, from the time he was a small boy. His interest in the sciences and the need to discover things marked his character. Although his mother planned a profitable political career for her son, it became clear after her death that Alexander was simply humoring her by pursuing government business. After her death, the first thing he did was drop all government contacts and set out on a voyage of discovery to Latin America.

Hailed as the ‘second discoverer of Cuba’ because of the amount of time and energy he poured into researching that particular colony, Humboldt’s discoveries are hardly limited to that one country. Although his scientific discoveries and honors are too numerous to list here, his expeditions gained him world-wide fame and acclaim. They also created a furor among the scientific community to whom they were presented, as people learned that there was yet more to the New World than met the eye. Humboldt died in bed at the age of 89. He was granted great honors posthumously, but his most lasting legacy was his contribution to the sciences.


Key events during the life of Baron Humboldt:


Year
Event
1769
Born. Father was Royal Chamberlain at the time.
1779
Death of father, Alexander Georg von Humboldt. Mother takes over education.
1788
Sudied finance for six months at University of Frankfurt.
1789
Matriculated at Göttingen (comprehensive research university).
1789
Goes on scientific expedition up the Rhine, writes treatise Mineralogic Observations on Several Basalts on the River Rhine.
1790
Visits England in the company of Georg Forster.
1792
Visits Vienna. Obtains official employment by appointment as assessor of mines at Berlin.
1793
Publishes Florae Fribergensis Specimen.
1794
Admitted to 'Weimar coterie'.
1795
Contributes to Friedrich Schiller's new periodical, Die Horen. Makes geological and botanical tour through Switzerland and Italy.
1797
Publishes Experiments on the Frayed Muscle and Nerve Fibres.
1796
Death of mother, Maria Elizabeth. Severs official connections in preparation to travel.
1799
With Aimé Bonpland, obtains patronage from Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo, Secretary of State to Spain. Sails for Latin America, June 5th.
1799
July 16th, land at Cumaná, Venezuela. Discovers oil-bird in Guácharo cavern.
1800
Leaves the coast with Bonpland to explore the course of the Orinoco River and its tributaries. Trip lasts four months and covers 1,725 miles of mostly uninhabited country.
1800
November 24th, set sail for Cuba. Meet fellow botanist and plant collector John Fraser.
1802
Arrive at Quito, Ecuador, January 6th. Leave for Lima, Peru, via the Amazon River. Goes to Mexico and resides there for a year.
1804
Visits America. Guest of President Thomas Jefferson for six weeks. Leaves America from Delaware, arrives at Bordeaux, August 3rd.
1810
Elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Frederick William III of Prussia conferrs the honour attached to the post of royal chamberlain and a pension of 2,500 thalers. Refuses the appointment of Prussian minister of public instruction.
1814
Accompanies Allied sovereigns to London.
1817
Summoned by king of Prussia to attend him at the congress of Aachen.
1822
Elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Accompanied King of Prussia to Congress of Verona.
1823
Returns to Paris.
1827
Settles permanently at Berlin.
1829
Expedition to Russia; too rapid to be profitable
1830-48
Employed in diplomatic missions to the court of Louis Philippe of France.
1835
Death of brother Wilhelm von Humboldt, April 8th.
1840
Ascension of Frederick William IV, favor at court increases.
1845-47
First two volumes of the Kosmos published; a comprehensive work about geography and the natural sciences.
1850-58
Fourth and third volumes of the Kosmos published.
1857
Suffers from minor stroke.
1858-59
Health declines during the winter. Dies May 6th, peacefully in bed.
1862
A fragment of the fifth volume of the Kosmos is published posthumously.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Adventures of Baron Humboldt  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Humboldt and Nature in the New World  in  Children's Stories of the Great Scientists  by  Henrietta Christian Wright


Image Links

Alexander Von Humboldt
Alexander Von Humboldt
 in Back Matter

Alexander von Humboldt
 in Children's Stories of the Great Scientists


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