Born Salem, Massachusetts, USA, 4 April 1809
Died Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 6 October 1880
Benjamin Peirce established an American presence in celestial mechanics, trained a number of leading astronomers, and played an important role in the development of the institutional structure of American science.
Peirce was the son of Benjamin and Lydia Ropes (née Nichols) Peirce. The Peirces were among the oldest families in the United States; Peirce's ancestor, John Pers of Norwich, England, came to the New World in 1637. Peirce attended the Salem Private Grammar School where he became acquainted with Nathaniel Bowditch, father of his classmate Henry Ingersoll Bowditch. Peirce entered Harvard University in 1825, at a time when the university was in a dire financial crisis. When Nathaniel Bowditch became one of Harvard's trustees the next year, he forced a thorough reorganization of the university, including the dismissal of a mathematics professor whose grasp of mathematics, according...
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