The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2007 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, F. Jamil Ragep, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt

Peirce, Benjamin

  • Jeff Suzuki
Reference work entry

BornSalem, Massachusetts, USA, 4 April 1809

DiedCambridge, 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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Selected References

  1. Beach, Mark (1972). “Was there a Scientific Lazzaroni? “In Nineteenth‐Century American Science, edited by George H. Daniels, pp. 115–132. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Dupree, A. Hunter (1957). “The Founding of the National Academy of Sciences – A Reinterpretation.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 101: 434–440.Google Scholar
  3. Eliot, Charles W., A. Lawrence Lowell, W. E. Byerly, Arnold B. Chace, and R. C. Archibald (1925). “Benjamin Peirce.” American Mathematical Monthly 32: 1–30.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  4. James, Mary Ann (1987). Elites in Conflict: The Antebellum Clash over the Dudley Observatory. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Jones, Bessie Zaban and Lyle Gifford Boyd (1971). The Harvard College Observatory: The First Four Directorships, 1839–1919. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Matz, F. P. (1895). “Benjamin Peirce.” American Mathematical Monthly 2: 173–179.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  7. Menand, Louis (2001). The Metaphysical Club. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  8. Peirce, Benjamin (1852). “Criterion for the Rejection of Doubtful Observations.” Astronomical Journal 2: 161–163.ADSGoogle Scholar
  9. ——— (1882). Linear Associative Algebra, edited by C. S. Peirce. New York: Van Nostrand. Originally published in American Journal of Mathematics 4 (1881): 97–229. (Revision of 1870 edition.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Suzuki

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