Pathfinder of the Sea
Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Oceanographer, naval officer, educator
United States of America;
Confederate States of America
United States Navy;
Confederate States Navy
of service : 1825-1861 (USN);
Fontaine Maury (January 14, 1806 to February 1, 1873), United States
Navy, was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer,
meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator.
was nicknamed "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of
Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" and later,
"Scientist of the Seas," due to the publication of his
extensive works in his books, especially The Physical Geography of the
Sea (1855), the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography
to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to
charting winds and ocean currents, including ocean lanes for passing
ships at sea.
1825 at age 19, Maury joined the United States Navy as a midshipman on
board the frigate USS Brandywine. Almost immediately he began to study
the seas and record methods of navigation. When a leg injury left him
unfit for sea duty, Maury devoted his time to the study of navigation,
meteorology, winds, and currents. He became Superintendent of the U.S.
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.
the outbreak of the Civil War, Maury, a Virginian, resigned his
commission as a US Navy commander and joined the Confederacy. He spent
the war in the South, as well as abroad in Great Britain, Ireland, and
France. He helped acquire a ship, CSS Georgia, for the Confederacy
while also advocating stopping the war in America among several
European Nations. Following the war, Maury accepted a teaching
position at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
died at his home in Lexington in 1873 after completing an
exhausting state to state lecture tour on national and international
weather forecasting on land. He had also completed his book on his
Geological Survey of Virginia and a new series of geography for young
Of Sea" Psalms 8
story of "A Brief Sketch of the Work of Matthew Fontaine
Richard Launcelot Maury (1915 AD) is told below by Katherine C.
I took charge of the Georgia Room, in the Confederate Museum, in
Richmond, Virginia in 1897, I found among the De Renne collection an
engraving of the pleasant, intellectual face of Commodore Matthew
Fontaine Maury, so I went to his son, Colonel Richard L. Maury, who
had been with his father in all his work here, and urged him to write
the history of it, while memory, papers and books could be referred
to; this carefully written, accurate paper was the result.
one time, when Commodore Maury was very sick, he asked one of his
daughters to get the Bible and read to him. She chose Psalm 8, the
eighth verse of which speaks of "whatsoever walketh through the
paths of the sea," he repeated "the paths of the sea, the
paths of the sea, if God says the paths of the sea, they are there,
and if I ever get out of this bed I will find them."
did begin his deep sea soundings as soon as he was strong enough, and
found that two ridges extended from the New York coast to England, so
he made charts for ships to sail over one path to England and return
over the other.
proceeds from the sale of this little pamphlet will be used as the
beginning of a fund for the erection of a monument to Commodore Maury
have called into question the story of Matthew Maury using the Bible
as a guide to discover ocean currents. In a nutshell, I find it
incredible that the US Naval Institute would not only publish the
story if untrue in 1929, but then puts the quote of the entire verse
of Ps 8:8 "Paths of the seas" on his monument. What did the
US Naval academy know that modern skeptics don't know that would lead
them to do this? The book also references an earlier newspaper story
that says the same thing. But the evidence gets even more powerful,
given the fact that the State of Virginia built a monument to Maury at
Goshen Pass in 1923 and put this inscription on it:
INSPIRATION HOLY WRIT
& 107, VERSES 8, 23 & 24
CHAP. 1, VERSE 8
Perhaps one of the most important
reasons NOT to reject the story, is because no one BACK THEN
questioned it! To me the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour that the
basic story must be true. The US Navel academy and the State of
Virginia are not some irresponsible Internet vigilantes promoting
rumors and half truths. THEY ARE THE AUTHORITATIVE HISTORIANS.
only question is about WHEN Maury was first inspired by the Bible to
discover ocean currents. Bible skeptics have supplied no argument that
has not been answered. Until Bible skeptics supply me with some
documented reason to reject the story, it remains a basic fact of
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