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Author Bio

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) embodied the enlightenment ideal as well as anyone in his age. Explorer, courtier, laboratory scientist, he built a lasting reputation on the effectiveness of his methods, the quality of his writings, and the strength of his friendships. Goethe, John C. Fremont, Samuel Morse, and Charles Lyell were among his colleagues. He practically founded the fields of meteorology, oceanography, and seismology. His influence in the United States was immense. As a scientist, he prompted academic leaders to strengthen curricula. As a geographer, he assisted in America's westward expansion. As an advisor of eminent men, he urged for the abolition of slavery and protection of American Indians. As an author, he inspired and informed a love of nature that persists to this day.