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Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz ( ; ) FRS (For)
FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to be "eminently distinguished in their subject". ...
(May 28, 1807 – December 14, 1873) was a Swiss-born American biologist and geologist who is recognized as a scholar of Earth's
natural history Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecul ...

natural history
. Spending his early life in
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, he received a doctor of philosophy and a medical degree at Erlangen and Munich, respectively. After studying with
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any orga ...

Georges Cuvier
and
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * ...

Alexander von Humboldt
in Paris, Agassiz was appointed professor of
natural history Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecul ...

natural history
at the
University of Neuchâtel The University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) is a French-speaking university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research wh ...
. He emigrated to the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
in 1847 after he visited
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
. He went on to become professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, to head its
Lawrence Scientific School The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is the engineering education, engineering school within Harvard University's Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). It offers undergra ...
, and to found its
Museum of Comparative Zoology The Museum of Comparative Zoology (formally the Louis Agassiz Museum of Comparative Zoology and often abbreviated to MCZ) is a zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. i ...
. Agassiz is known for his regimen of observational data gathering and analysis. He made vast institutional and scientific contributions to zoology, geology, and related areas, including writing multivolume research books running to thousands of pages. He is particularly known for his contributions to
ichthyological Ichthyology is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish, including bony fish (Osteichthyes), cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes), and jawless fish (Agnatha). According to FishBase, 33,400 species of fish had been described as of October 2 ...
classification, including of extinct species such as
megalodon Megalodon (''Otodus megalodon''), meaning "big tooth", is an extinction, extinct species of mackerel shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 Mya (unit), million years ago (Mya), during the Early Miocene to the late Pliocene, Pliocene. It w ...

megalodon
, and to the study of geological history, including the founding of
glaciology Glaciology (from Latin: ''glacies ''Glacies'' is a genus of moths in the family Geometridae erected by Pierre Millière in 1874. Species * ''Glacies alpinata'' (Scopoli, 1763) * ''Glacies alticolaria'' (Mann, 1853) * ''Glacies baldensis'' (W ...
. In the 20th and 21st centuries, his resistance to
Darwinian Darwinism is a theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic L ...
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
, his belief in
creationism Creationism is the religious belief that nature, and aspects such as the universe, Earth, life, and humans, originated with supernatural acts of Creation myth, divine creation.#Gunn 2004, Gunn 2004, p. 9, "The ''Concise Oxford Dictionary'' say ...

creationism
and the
scientific racism Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseu ...
implicit in his writings on human
polygenism Polygenism is a theory of human origins which posits the view that the human race (classification of humans), races are of different origins (''polygenesis''). This view is opposite to the idea of monogenism, which posits a single origin of human ...
have tarnished his reputation and led to controversies over his legacy.


Early life

Louis Agassiz was born in the village of
Môtier
Môtier
(now part of
Haut-Vully Haut-Vully ( frp, Hiôt-Vulyi) is a former Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of See (district of Fribourg), See/Lac in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Fribourg (canton), Fribourg in Switzerland. Until 1977, it was o ...
) in the Swiss
Canton of Fribourg The canton of Fribourg, also canton of Freiburg (french: canton de Fribourg, , german: Kanton ) is located in western Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalis ...
. He was the son of a pastor, Louis Rudolphe and his wife, Rose Mayor. His father was a
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
clergyman, as had been his progenitors for six generations, and his mother was the daughter of a
physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practices medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintainin ...

physician
and an intellectual in her own right, who had assisted her husband in the education of her boys. He was educated at home until he spent four years at secondary school in
Bienne , french: Biennois(e) , neighboring_municipalities= Brügg, Ipsach Ipsach is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Biel/Bienne (administrative district), Biel/Bienne administrative district in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton ...

Bienne
, which he entered in 1818 and completed his elementary studies in
Lausanne , neighboring_municipalities= Bottens Bottens is a municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Gros-de-Vaud District, Gros-de-Vaud in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. History Bottens is first me ...

Lausanne
. Agassiz studied at the Universities of
Zürich Zürich () is the in and the capital of the . It is located in north-central Switzerland, at the northwestern tip of . As of January 2020, the municipality has 434,335 inhabitants, the urban area (agglomeration) 1.315 million (2009), and the 1. ...

Zürich
,
Heidelberg Heidelberg () is a university town in the German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (states); commonly informally / federated s ...
and
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by population, third-largest city in Germany, ...
. At the last one, he extended his knowledge of
natural history Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecul ...

natural history
, especially of
botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botany
. In 1829, he received the degree of
doctor of philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
at
Erlangen Erlangen (; East Franconian East Franconian (german: Ostfränkisch), usually referred to as Franconian (') in German, is a dialect which is spoken in Franconia Franconia (german: Franken; in the Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' rɑŋgŋ ...
and, in 1830, that of
doctor of medicine Doctor of Medicine (abbreviated M.D., from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lat ...
at Munich. Moving to Paris, he came under the tutelage of
Alexander von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 17696 May 1859) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * ...

Alexander von Humboldt
and later received his financial benevolence. Humboldt and
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any orga ...

Georges Cuvier
launched him on his careers of respectively geology and zoology. Ichthyology soon became a focus of Agassiz's life's work.


Early work

In 1819 to 1820, the German biologists
Johann Baptist von Spix Johann Baptist Ritter von Spix (9 February 1781 – 13 March 1826) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of ...

Johann Baptist von Spix
and
Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius Carl Friedrich Philipp (Karl Friedrich Philipp) von Martius (17 April 1794 – 13 December 1868) was a German botany, botanist and explorer. Life Martius was born at Erlangen, the son of Prof Ernst Wilhelm Martius, court apothecary. He graduate ...

Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius
undertook an expedition to
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
. They returned home to Europe with many natural objects, including an important collection of the
freshwater fish Freshwater fish are those that spend some or all of their lives in fresh water Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and ...
of Brazil, especially of the
Amazon River The Amazon River (, ; es, Río Amazonas, pt, Rio Amazonas) in South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be described as the southern of a single con ...

Amazon River
. Spix, who died in 1826, did not live long enough to work out the history of those fish, and Martius selected Agassiz for this project. Agassiz threw himself into the work with an enthusiasm that would go on to characterize the rest of his life's work. The task of describing the Brazilian fish was completed and published in 1829. It was followed by research into the history of fish found in . Enlarging his plans, he in 1830 issued a prospectus of a ''History of the Freshwater Fish of Central Europe''. In 1839, however, the first part of the publication appeared, and it was completed in 1842. In November 1832, Agassiz was appointed professor of natural history at the
University of Neuchâtel The University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) is a French-speaking university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education and research wh ...
, at a salary of about US$400 and declined brilliant offers in Paris because of the leisure for private study that that position afforded him. The
fossil fish The evolution of fish began about 530 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion. It was during this time that the early chordates developed the skull and the vertebral column, leading to the first craniates and vertebrates. The first fish ...
in the rock of the surrounding region, the
slate Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism uprigh ...

slate
s of
Glarus , neighboring_municipalities= Glarus Nord Glarus Nord is one of three Municipalities of Switzerland, municipalities of the canton of Glarus, Switzerland (the others being Glarus and Glarus Süd). Effective from 1 January 2011, Glarus Nord inc ...

Glarus
and the
limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in its na ...

limestone
s of Monte , soon attracted his attention. At the time, very little had been accomplished in their scientific study. Agassiz as early as 1829, planned the publication of a work. More than any other, it would lay the foundation of his worldwide fame. Five volumes of his ''Recherches sur les poissons fossiles'' (''Research on Fossil Fish'') were published from 1833 to 1843. They were magnificently illustrated, chiefly by Joseph Dinkel. In gathering materials for that work, Agassiz visited the principal museums in Europe. Meeting Cuvier in Paris, he received much encouragement and assistance from him. They had known him for seven years. In 1833 he married Cecile Braun, the sister of his friend
Alexander Braun Alexander Carl Heinrich Braun (10 May 1805 – 29 March 1877) was a German botanist from Regensburg, Bavaria. His research centered on the morphology of plants. Biography He studied botany in Heidelberg, Paris and Munich. In 1833 he began teachi ...
and established his household at
Neuchâtel , neighboring_municipalities= Auvernier Auvernier is a village in the district of Boudry (district), Boudry in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Neuchâtel (canton), Neuchâtel in Switzerland. The municipalities of Auvernier, Bôle and Co ...

Neuchâtel
. Trained to scientific drawing by her brothers, his wife was of the greatest assistance to Agassiz, with some of the most beautiful plates in ''fossil'' and ''freshwater'' fishes being drawn by her. Agassiz found that his palaeontological analyses required a new ichthyological classification. The fossils that he examined rarely showed any traces of the soft tissues of fish but instead, consisted chiefly of the teeth, scales, and fins, with the bones being perfectly preserved in comparatively-few instances. He therefore adopted a classification that divided fish into four groups (ganoids, placoids, cycloids, and ctenoids), based on the nature of the scales and other dermal appendages. That did much to improve fish
taxonomy Taxonomy is the practice and science of categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience Experience refers to conscious , an English Par ...
, but Agassiz's classification has since been superseded. With Louis de Coulon, both father and son, he founded the ''Societé des Sciences Naturelles'', of which he was the first secretary and in conjunction with the Coulons also arranged a provisional museum of natural history in the orphan's home. Agassiz needed financial support to continue his work. The
British Association The British Science Association (BSA) is a Charitable organization, charity and learned society founded in 1831 to aid in the promotion and development of science. Until 2009 it was known as the British Association for the Advancement of Scienc ...
and the
Earl of Ellesmere Earl of Ellesmere ( ), of Ellesmere, Shropshire, Ellesmere in the County of Shropshire, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1846 for the Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of E ...
, then Lord Francis Egerton, stepped in to help. The 1290 original drawings made for the work were purchased by the Earl and presented by him to the
Geological Society of London The Geological Society of London, known commonly as the Geological Society, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an ...

Geological Society of London
. In 1836, the
Wollaston Medal The Wollaston Medal is a scientific award for geology, the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London. The medal is named after William Hyde Wollaston, and was first awarded in 1831. It was originally made of gold (1831–1845), th ...
was awarded to Agassiz by the council of that society for his work on fossil ichthyology. In 1838, he was elected a foreign member of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
. Meanwhile,
invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebra ...
animals engaged his attention. In 1837, he issued the "Prodrome" of a monograph on the recent and fossil
Echinodermata An echinoderm () is any member of the phylum In biology, a phylum (; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of ...

Echinodermata
, the first part of which appeared in 1838; in 1839–1840, he published two quarto volumes on the fossil echinoderms of Switzerland; and in 1840–1845, he issued his ''Études critiques sur les mollusques fossiles'' (''Critical Studies on Fossil Mollusks''). Before Agassiz's first visit to England in 1834,
Hugh Miller Hugh Miller (10 October 1802 – 23/24 December 1856) was a self-taught Scottish geologist and writer, folklorist and an evangelical Christian. Life and work Miller was born in Cromarty, the first of three children of Harriet Wright (''b ...

Hugh Miller
and other geologists had brought to light the remarkable fossil fish of the
Old Red Sandstone The Old Red Sandstone is an assemblage of rocks in the North Atlantic region largely of Devonian The Devonian ( ) is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( ; from the Greek Greek may refer to: ...
of the northeast of Scotland. The strange forms of '''', ''
Coccosteus ''Coccosteus'' (from el, κόκκος , 'berry' and el, ὀστέον 'bone') is an extinct genus of arthrodire placoderm. Its fossils have been found throughout Europe and North America. The majority of these have been found in freshwater sed ...

Coccosteus
'', and other genera were then made known to geologists for the first time. They were of intense interest to Agassiz and formed the subject of a monograph by him published in 1844–1(45: ''Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Grès Rouge, ou Système Dévonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Îles Britanniques et de Russie'' (''Monograph on Fossil Fish of the Old Red Sandstone, or Devonian System of the British Isles and of Russia''). In the early stages of his career in Neuchatel, Agassiz also made a name for himself as a man who could run a scientific department well. Under his care, the University of Neuchâtel soon became a leading institution for scientific inquiry. In 1842 to 1846, Agassiz issued his ''Nomenclator Zoologicus'', a classification list with references of all names used in zoological genera and groups. He was elected as a member of the
American Philosophical Society The American Philosophical Society (APS), founded in 1743 in Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community ...
in 1843.


Ice age

The vacation of 1836 was spent by Agassiz and his wife in the little village of
Bex Bex (;German:Beis) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level su ...

Bex
, where he met
Jean de Charpentier Jean de Charpentier or Johann von Charpentier (8 December 1786 – 12 December 1855) was a German-Swiss geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes Earth and other terrestrial pla ...
and
Ignaz Venetz Ignaz (Ignace) Venetz (1788 — 1859) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi- ...
. Their recently-announced had startled the scientific world, and Agassiz returned to Neuchâtel as an enthusiastic convert. In 1837, Agassiz proposed that the Earth had been subjected to a past
ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents an ...

ice age
.E.P. Evans:
The Authorship of the Glacial Theory
, ''North American review'' Volume 145, Issue 368, July 1887. Accessed on January 24, 2018.
He presented the theory to the Helvetic Society that ancient glaciers flowed outward from the Alps, and even larger glaciers had covered the plains and mountains of Europe, Asia, and North America and smothered the entire
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
in a prolonged ice age. In the same year, he was elected a foreign member of the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences ( Swedish: ''Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien'') is one of the royal academies of Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic co ...
. Before that proposal,
Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...

Goethe
, , Ignaz Venetz, Jean de Charpentier,
Karl Friedrich Schimper Karl Friedrich Schimper (15 February 1803 – 21 December 1867) was a German botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is ...
, and others had studied the
glaciers A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glaciers
of the Alps, and Goethe, Charpentier, and Schimper had even concluded that the blocks of alpine rocks scattered over the slopes and summits of the
Jura Mountains The Jura Mountains ( , , , ; french: Massif du Jura; german: Juragebirge; it, Massiccio del Giura, rm, Montagnas da Jura) are a sub-alpine mountain range a short distance north of the Western Alps and mainly demarcate a long part of the ...

Jura Mountains
had been moved there by glaciers. Those ideas attracted the attention of Agassiz, and he discussed them with Charpentier and Schimper, whom he accompanied on successive trips to the Alps. Agassiz even had a hut constructed upon one of the
Aar GlaciersThe Aargletschers, literally "Aare-Glaciers", are a system of glaciers located at the sources of the Aare river in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland. In the original German the name is "Aargletscher" both in singular and plural, as in German the plural o ...
and for a time made it his home to investigate the structure and movements of the ice. Agassiz visited England, and with
William Buckland William Buckland DD, FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family ...

William Buckland
, the only English naturalist who shared his ideas, made a tour of the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
in search of glacial phenomena, and became satisfied that his theory of an ice age was correct. In 1840, Agassiz published a two-volume work, ''Études sur les glaciers'' ("Studies on Glaciers"). In it, he discussed the movements of the glaciers, their
moraines A moraine is any accumulation of unconsolidated debris (regolith and rock), sometimes referred to as glacial till, that occurs in both currently and formerly glaciated regions, and that has been previously carried along by a glacier or ice she ...
, and their influence in grooving and rounding the rocks and in producing the striations and ''roches moutonnées'' seen in Alpine-style landscapes. He accepted Charpentier and Schimper's idea that some of the alpine glaciers had extended across the wide plains and valleys of the
Aar The Aare () or Aar () is a tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem ...

Aar
and
Rhône The Rhône ( , ) is a major river in France and Switzerland, arising in the Alps and flowing west and south through Lake Geneva and southeastern France before discharging into the Mediterranean Sea. At Arles, near its mouth, the river divides in ...

Rhône
, but he went further by concluding that in the recent past, Switzerland had been covered with one vast sheet of ice originating in the higher Alps and extending over the valley of northwestern Switzerland to the southern slopes of the Jura. The publication of the work gave fresh impetus to the study of glacial phenomena in all parts of the world. Familiar then with recent glaciation, Agassiz and the English geologist William Buckland visited the mountains of Scotland in 1840. There, they found clear evidence in different locations of glacial action. The discovery was announced to the Geological Society of London in successive communications. The mountainous districts of England,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
, and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
were understood to have been centres for the dispersion of glacial debris. Agassiz remarked "that great sheets of ice, resembling those now existing in
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...

Greenland
, once covered all the countries in which unstratified gravel (boulder drift) is found; that this gravel was in general produced by the
trituration Trituration is the name of several different methods used to process materials. In one sense, it is a form of comminution Comminution is the reduction of solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter 4 (four) is a number ...
of the sheets of ice upon the subjacent surface, etc."


United States

With the aid of a grant of money from the
king of Prussia The monarchs of Prussia were members of the House of Hohenzollern The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal whose members were variously s, , s and of , , , the , and . Th ...

king of Prussia
, Agassiz crossed the in the autumn of 1846 to investigate the natural history and geology of North America and to deliver a course of lectures on "The Plan of Creation as shown in the Animal Kingdom" by invitation from
John Amory Lowell John Amory Lowell (November 11, 1798 – October 31, 1881) was an American businessman and philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the Public good (economics), public good, focusing on quality of life". Philanthropy co ...
, at the
Lowell Institute The Lowell Institute is a United States educational foundation located in Boston, Massachusetts, providing both free public lectures, and also advanced lectures. It was endowed by a bequest of $250,000 left by John Lowell Jr. (philanthropist), John ...
in
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
. The financial offers that were presented to him in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
induced him to settle there, where he remained to the end of his life. He was elected a foreign honorary member of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded 1780, (abbreviation: AAAS) is one of the oldest learned societies A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization ...

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
in 1846. In 1846, still married to Cecilie, who remained with their three children in Switzerland, Agassiz met Elizabeth Cabot Cary at a dinner. The two developed a romantic attachment, and when his wife died in 1848, they made plans to marry, and the ceremony that took place on April 25, 1850 in Boston, Massachusetts at
King's Chapel King's Chapel is an independent christianity, Christian unitarianism, unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "unitarian Christian in theology, anglicanism, Anglican in worship, and congregationalist ...

King's Chapel
. Agassiz brought his children to live with them, and Elizabeth raised and developed close relationships with her step-children. She had no children of her own.Paton, Lucy Allen. ''Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz; a biography.'' Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919. Agassiz had a mostly cordial relationship with the Harvard botanist
Asa Gray Asa Gray (November 18, 1810 – January 30, 1888) is considered the most important American botany, botanist of the 19th century. His ''Darwiniana'' was considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutual ...
despite their disagreements. Agassiz believed each human race had been separately created, but Gray, a supporter of
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (; ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that fu ...

Charles Darwin
, believed in the shared evolutionary ancestry of all humans. In addition, Agassiz was a member of the
Scientific Lazzaroni The Scientific Lazzaroni is a self-mocking name adopted by Alexander Dallas Bache Alexander Dallas Bache (July 19, 1806February 17, 1867) was an American physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scienti ...
, a group of mostly physical scientists who wanted American academia to mimic the more autocratic academic structures of European universities, but Gray was a staunch opponent of that group. Agassiz's engagement for the Lowell Institute lectures precipitated the establishment in 1847 of the
Lawrence Scientific School The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is the engineering education, engineering school within Harvard University's Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). It offers undergra ...
at Harvard University, with Agassiz as its head. Harvard appointed him professor of zoology and geology, and he founded the
Museum of Comparative Zoology The Museum of Comparative Zoology (formally the Louis Agassiz Museum of Comparative Zoology and often abbreviated to MCZ) is a zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. i ...
there in 1859 and served as its first director until his death in 1873. During his tenure at Harvard, Agassiz studied the effect of the last ice age in North America. In August 1857, Agassiz was offered the chair of palaeontology in the Museum of Natural History, Paris, which he refused. He was later decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor. Agassiz continued his lectures for the Lowell Institute. In succeeding years, he gave lectures on "Ichthyology" (1847–1848), "Comparative Embryology" (1848–1849), "Functions of Life in Lower Animals" (1850–1851), "Natural History" (1853–1854), "Methods of Study in Natural History" (1861–1862), "Glaciers and the Ice Period" (1864–1865), "Brazil" (1866–1867), and "Deep Sea
Dredging Dredging is the excavation of material from a water environment. Possible reasons for dredging include improving existing water features; reshaping land and water features to alter drainage Drainage is the natural or artificial remova ...
" (1869–1970). In 1850, he married an American college teacher, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, who later wrote introductory books about natural history and a lengthy biography of her husband after he had died. Agassiz served as a nonresident lecturer at
Cornell University Cornell University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
while he was also on faculty at Harvard. In 1852, he accepted a medical professorship of
comparative anatomy Comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their ...
at
Charlestown, Massachusetts Charlestown is the oldest Neighborhoods in Boston, neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Originally called Mishawum by the Massachusett tribe, it is located on a peninsula north of the Charles River, across from downtown Boston, and also adjoins ...
, but he resigned in two years. From then on, Agassiz's scientific studies dropped off, but he became one of the best-known scientists in the world. By 1857, Agassiz was so well-loved that his friend
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride "Paul Revere's Ride" is an 1860 poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that commemorates ...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
wrote "The Fiftieth Birthday of Agassiz" in his honor and read it at a dinner given for Agassiz by the Saturday Club in
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
. Agassiz's own writing continued with four (of a planned 10) volumes of ''Natural History of the United States'', published from 1857 to 1862. He also published a catalog of papers in his field, ''Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae'', in four volumes between 1848 and 1854. Stricken by ill health in the 1860s, Agassiz resolved to return to the field for relaxation and to resume his studies of Brazilian fish. In April 1865, he led a party to Brazil. After his return in August 1866, an account of the expedition, ''A Journey in Brazil'', was published in 1868. In December 1871, he made a second eight-month excursion, known as the ''
Hassler Hassler (also Haßler, Häßler, Hässler, Hasler, ...) is a toponymic surname derived from a number of places called Hasel, Germany, Hasel or Hassel (disambiguation), Hassel in German language, German-speaking parts of Europe. Notable people with ...
'' expedition under the command of Commander Philip Carrigan Johnson (the brother of
Eastman Johnson Jonathan Eastman Johnson (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906) was an American painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of ...
) and visited South America on its southern Atlantic and Pacific Seaboards. The ship explored the
Magellan Strait The Strait of Magellan (), also called the Straits of Magellan, is a navigable sea route in southern Chile separating mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south. The strait is considered the most important natural pass ...
, which drew the praise of
Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (; ; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that fu ...

Charles Darwin
. His second wife, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the daughter of Thomas Graves Cary, of
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
, who was president of
Radcliffe college Radcliffe College was a women's A woman is an adult female human. The term ''woman'' may also refer to a girl (a female child or Adolescence, adolescent). The plural ''women'' is sometimes used for female humans regardless of age, as in ph ...
in 1898, desired to share his studies and aided her husband in preparing his ''A Journey in Brazil''. In connection with their son,
Alexander Agassiz Alexander Emmanuel Rodolphe Agassiz (December 17, 1835March 27, 1910), son of Louis Agassiz and stepson of Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, was an American scientist and engineer. Biography Agassiz was born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and immigrated to ...

Alexander Agassiz
, she wrote ''Seaside Studies in Natural History'' and ''Marine Animals of Massachusetts''. Elizabeth wrote at the Strait that "the ''Hassler'' pursued her course, past a seemingly endless panorama of mountains and forests rising into the pale regions of snow and ice, where lay glaciers in which every rift and crevasse, as well as the many cascades flowing down to join the waters beneath, could be counted as she steamed by them.... These were weeks of exquisite delight to Agassiz. The vessel often skirted the shore so closely that its geology could be studied from the deck."


Family

From his first marriage to Cecilie Braun, Agassiz had two daughters and a son, Alexander. In 1863, Agassiz's daughter Ida married
Henry Lee Higginson Henry Lee Higginson (November 18, 1834 – November 14, 1919) was an American businessman best known as the founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a patron of Harvard University. Biography Higginson was born in New York City on November 18 ...
, who later founded the
Boston Symphony Orchestra The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the second-oldest of the five major American symphony orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five (orchestras), Big Five". Founded by Henry ...
and was a benefactor to Harvard and other schools. On November 30, 1860, Agassiz's daughter Pauline was married to
Quincy Adams Shaw Quincy Adams Shaw (February 8, 1825June 12, 1908) was a Boston Brahmin investor and business magnate who was the first president of Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Family and early life Shaw came from a famous and moneyed Boston family. With a n ...

Quincy Adams Shaw
(1825–1908), a wealthy Boston merchant and later a benefactor to the Boston
Museum of Fine ArtsMuseum of Fine Arts (French: ''Musée des Beaux-Arts''; German: ''Museum der bildenden Künste'') may refer to: Argentina * Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), Buenos Aires Austria * Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Belgium * Roy ...
. Pauline Agassiz Shaw later became a prominent educator, suffragist, and philanthropist.


Later life

In the last years of his life, Agassiz worked to establish a permanent school in which zoological science could be pursued amid the living subjects of its study. In 1873, the private philanthropist John Anderson gave Agassiz the island of
Penikese Penikese Island is a island off the coast of Massachusetts, United States, in Buzzards Bay (bay), Buzzards Bay. It is one of the Elizabeth Islands, which make up the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts. Penikese is located near the west end of the ...
, in
Buzzards Bay Buzzards Bay is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, ...
, Massachusetts (south of
New Bedford New Bedford (Massachusett The Massachusett are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American people and ethnic group in the United States Massachusetts, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, mostly inhabiting their traditional homeland whi ...
), and presented him with $50,000 to endow it permanently as a practical school of natural science that would be especially devoted to the study of marine zoology. The school collapsed soon after Agassiz's death but is considered to be a precursor of the nearby Woods Hole
Marine Biological Laboratory The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is an international center for research and education in biological and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution affiliated with the U ...
. Agassiz had a profound influence on the American branches of his two fields and taught many future scientists who would go on to prominence, including
Alpheus Hyatt Alpheus Hyatt (April 5, 1838 – January 15, 1902) was an American zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology Biology is the natural ...

Alpheus Hyatt
,
David Starr Jordan David Starr Jordan (January 19, 1851 – September 19, 1931) was the founding president of Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * ...

David Starr Jordan
,
Joel Asaph Allen Joel Asaph Allen (July 19, 1838 – August 29, 1921) was an American zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal ...
,
Joseph Le Conte Joseph Le Conte (alternative spelling: Joseph LeConte) (February 26, 1823 – July 6, 1901) was a physician, geologist, professor at the University of California, Berkeley and early California conservationist. Early life Of Huguenot descent, he ...
,
Ernest Ingersoll Ernest Ingersoll (March 13, 1852 – November 13, 1946) was an Americans, American natural history, naturalist, writer and explorer. Biography A native of Monroe, Michigan, Ingersoll studied for a time at Oberlin College and afterward at Harvard U ...
,
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
,
Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce ( ; September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, ian, mathematician and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of ". He was known as a somewhat unusual character. Educated as a chemist an ...

Charles Sanders Peirce
,
Nathaniel Shaler Nathaniel Southgate Shaler (February 20, 1841 – April 10, 1906) was an American paleontologist Paleontology (), also spelled palaeontology or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the ...
,
Samuel Hubbard Scudder Samuel Hubbard Scudder (April 13, 1837 – May 17, 1911) was an American entomologist upright=1.2, A Phyllium sp., mimicking a leaf Entomology () is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and ...
, Alpheus Packard, and his son Alexander Emanuel Agassiz. He had a profound impact on the paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott and the natural scientist Edward S. Morse. Agassiz had a reputation for being a demanding teacher. He would allegedly "lock a student up in a room full of turtle-shells, or lobster-shells, or oyster-shells, without a book or a word to help him, and not let him out till he had discovered all the truths which the objects contained."James, William. "Louis Agassiz, Words Spoken.... at the Reception of the American Society of Naturalists.... [Dec 30, 1896]. pp. 9–10. Cambridge, 1897. Quoted in Cooper 1917, pp. 61–62. Two of Agassiz's most prominent students detailed their personal experiences under his tutelage: Scudder, in a short magazine article for'' Every Saturday'',; Originally published in and Nathaniel Shaler, Shaler, in his ''Autobiography''. Those and other recollections were collected and published by Lane Cooper in 1917, which Ezra Pound would draw on for his anecdote of Parable of the sunfish, Agassiz and the sunfish. In the early 1840s, Agassiz named two fossil fish species after Mary Anning (''Acrodus anningiae'' and ''Belenostomus anningiae'') and another after her friend, Elizabeth Philpot. Anning was a paleontologist known around the world for important finds, but because of her gender, she was often not formally recognized for her work. Agassiz was grateful for the help that the women gave him in examining fossil fish specimens during his visit to Lyme Regis in 1834. Agassiz died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1873 and was buried on the Bellwort Path at Mount Auburn Cemetery, joined later by his wife. His monument is a boulder from a glacial moraine of the Aar near the site of the old :File:Hotelneuchatelois2.jpg, Hôtel des Neuchâtelois, not far from the spot where his hut once stood. His grave is sheltered by pine trees from his old home in Switzerland.


Legacy

The Cambridge elementary school north of Harvard University was named in his honor, and the surrounding neighborhood became known as "Agassiz, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Agassiz" as a result. The school's name was changed to the Maria L. Baldwin School on May 21, 2002 because of concerns about Agassiz's involvement in scientific racism and to honor Maria Louise Baldwin, the African-American principal of the school, who served from 1889 to 1922. The neighborhood, however, continued to be known as Agassiz. Circa 2009, neighborhood residents decided to rename the neighborhood's community council as the "Agassiz-Baldwin Community." Then, in July 2021, culminating a two-year effort on the part of neighborhood residents, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to change the name to the Baldwin Neighborhood. An elementary school, the Agassiz Elementary School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, existed from 1922 to 1981.


Geological tributes

An ancient glacial lake that formed in the Great Lakes region of North America, Lake Agassiz, is named after him, as are Mount Agassiz (California), Mount Agassiz in Palisades (California Sierra), California's Palisades, Mount Agassiz (Utah), Mount Agassiz, in the Uinta Mountains of Utah, Agassiz Peak in Arizona, Agassiz Rock in Massachusetts and in his native Switzerland, the Agassizhorn in the Bernese Alps. Agassiz Glacier (Montana) and Agassiz Creek in Glacier National Park (U.S.), Glacier National Park and Agassiz Glacier (Alaska) in Saint Elias Mountains, Mount Agassiz in Bethlehem, New Hampshire in the White Mountains also bear his name. A impact crater, crater on Mars ''Crater Agassiz'' and a promontorium on the moon are also named in his honor. A headland situated in Palmer Land, Antarctica, is named in his honor, Cape Agassiz. A Asteroid belt, main-belt asteroid, 2267 Agassiz, is also named in association with him.


Biological tributes

Several animal species are named in honor of him, including Agassiz's dwarf cichlid ''Apistogramma agassizii'' ; Agassiz's perchlet, also known as Agassiz's glass fish; and the olive perchlet ''Ambassis agassizii'' ; The Spring Cavefish ''Forbesichthys agassizii'' ; the catfish ''Corydoras agassizii'' ; the Rio Skate ''Rioraja agassizii'' ; the Snailfish ''Liparis agassizii'' ; a sea snail, ''Borsonella agassizii'' ; a species of crab ''Eucratodes agassizii'' ; ''Capniidae, Isocapnia agassizi'' (a stonefly); ''Publius agassizi'' (a Passalidae, passalid beetle); ''Xylocrius agassizi'' (a longhorn beetle); ''Exoprosopa agassizii'' (a Bombyliidae, bee fly); ''Chelonia agassizii'' (Galápagos green turtle);Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). ''The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles''. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. . ("Agassiz, J.L.R.", p. 2). ''Philodryas, Philodryas agassizii'' (a South American snake); and the most well-known, ''Gopherus agassizii'' (the desert tortoise). In 2020, a new genus of pycnodont fish (Actinopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) named Agassazilia erfoundina (Cooper and Martill, 2020) from the Moroccan Kem Kem Group was named in honor of Agassiz, who first identified the group in the 1830s.


Tribute awards

In 2005, the European Geosciences Union Division on Cryospheric Sciences established the Louis Agassiz Medal, awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding scientific contribution to the study of the cryosphere on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system. Agassiz took part in a monthly gathering called the Saturday Club at the Omni Parker House, Parker House, a meeting of Boston writers and intellectuals. He was therefore mentioned in a stanza of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. poem "s:At the Saturday Club, At the Saturday Club:"


Daguerreotypes of Renty and Delia Taylor

In 1850, Agassiz commissioned daguerreotypes, which were described as "haunting and voyeuristic" of the enslaved Renty Taylor and Taylor's daughter, Delia, to further his arguments about black inferiority. They are the earliest known photographs of slaves. Agassiz left the images to Harvard, and they remained in the Peabody Museum's attic until 1976, when they were rediscovered by Ellie Reichlin, a former staff member. The 15 daguerrotypes were in a case with the embossing "J. T. Zealy, Photographer, Columbia," with several handwritten labels, which helped in later identification. Reichlin spent months doing research to try to identify the people in the photos, but Harvard University did not make efforts to contact the families and licensed the photos for use. In 2011, Tamara Lanier wrote a letter to the president of Harvard that identified herself as a direct descendant of the Taylors and asked for the return of the photos. In 2019, Taylor's descendants sued Harvard for the return of the images and unspecified damages. The lawsuit was supported by 43 living descendants of Agassiz, who wrote in a letter of support, "For Harvard to give the daguerreotypes to Ms. Lanier and her family would begin to make amends for its use of the photos as exhibits for the white supremacist theory Agassiz espoused." Everyone must evaluate fully "his role in promoting a pseudoscientific justification for white supremacy."


Polygenism & Racism

After Agassiz came to the United States, he wrote prolifically on
polygenism Polygenism is a theory of human origins which posits the view that the human race (classification of humans), races are of different origins (''polygenesis''). This view is opposite to the idea of monogenism, which posits a single origin of human ...
, which holds that animals, plants, and humans were all created in "special provinces" with distinct populations of species created in and for each province, and that these populations were endowed with different attributes. Agassiz denied that :wikt:Migration, migration and adaptation could account for the geographical patterns. For example, Agassiz questioned how plants or animals could migrate through regions they were not equipped to handle. According to Agassiz, the conditions in which particular creatures live "are the conditions necessary to their maintenance, and what among organized beings is essential to their temporal existence must be at least one of the conditions under which they were created". Agassiz was opposed to monogenism and evolution, believing that the theory of evolution reduced the wisdom of God to an impersonal materialism. Agassiz was influenced by philosophical idealism and the scientific work of
Georges Cuvier Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organism In biology, an organism () is any orga ...

Georges Cuvier
. Agassiz believed that one species of humans exists, but many different creations of races occurred.Paul M. Blowers, 2008, "Entering 'This Sublime and Blessed Amphitheatre': Contemplation of Nature and Interpretation of the Bible in the Patristic Period, ''In'' "Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: Up to 1700", 2 vols (Scott Mandelbrote & Jitse van der Meer, Eds.), , book , pp. 147–176, esp. 159–164 and 151–154, chapter }, accessed June 8, 2014. These ideas have been used in support of
scientific racism Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseu ...
. According to Agassiz, genera and species were ideas in the mind of God; their existence in God's mind prior to their physical creation meant that God could create humans as one species, yet in several distinct and geographically separate acts of creation. Agassiz was in modern terms a creationist who believed nature had order because God created it directly. Agassiz viewed his career in science as a search for ideas in the mind of the creator expressed in creation. Agassiz, like many other polygenists, believed the Book of Genesis recounted the origin of the white race only and that the animals and plants in the Bible refer only to those species proximate and familiar to Adam and Eve. Agassiz believed that the writers of the Bible knew only of regional events; for example that Noah's flood was a local event known only to the regions near those populated by ancient Hebrews. Stephen Jay Gould asserted that Agassiz's observations sprang from racist bias, in particular from his revulsion on first encountering African-Americans in the United States. In contrast, others have asserted that, despite favoring polygenism, Agassiz rejected racism and believed in a spiritualized human unity. Agassiz believed God made all men equal, and that intellectualism and morality, as developed in civilization, make men equal before God. Agassiz never supported slavery and claimed his views on polygenism had nothing to do with politics, but his views on polygenism emboldened proponents of slavery. Accusations of racism against Agassiz have prompted the renaming of landmarks, schoolhouses, and other institutions (which abound in Massachusetts) that bear his name. Opinions about those moves are often mixed, given his extensive scientific legacy in other areas, and uncertainty about his actual racial beliefs. In 2007, the Swiss Federal Council, Swiss government acknowledged his "racist thinking," but declined to rename the Agassizhorn summit. In 2017, the Swiss Alpine Club declined to revoke Agassiz's status as a member of honor, which he received in 1865 for his scientific work, because the club considered that status to have lapsed on Agassiz's death. In 2020, the Stanford University, Stanford Department of Psychology asked for a statue of Louis Agassiz to be removed from the front façade of its building. In 2021, Chicago Public Schools announced they would remove Agassiz's name from an elementary school and rename it for the abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman.


Works

*
Recherches sur les poissons fossiles
' (1833–1843) * ''History of the Freshwater Fishes of Central Europe'' (1839–1842) *
Études sur les glaciers
' (1840) *
Études critiques sur les mollusques fossiles
' (1840–1845) *
Nomenclator Zoologicus
' (1842–1846) *
Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Gres Rouge, ou Systeme Devonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Iles Britanniques et de Russie
' (1844–1845) *
Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae
' (1848) * (with Augustus Addison Gould, A. A. Gould
''Principles of Zoology for the use of Schools and Colleges''
(Boston, 1848) *
Lake Superior: Its Physical Character, Vegetation and Animals, compared with those of other and similar regions
' (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1850) *
Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America
' (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1857–1862) *
Geological Sketches
' (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1866) *
A Journey in Brazil
' (1868) *
De l'espèce et de la classification en zoologie
' [''Essay on classification''] (Trans. Felix Vogeli. Paris: Bailière, 1869) *
Geological Sketches (Second Series)
' (Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1876)
''Essay on Classification''
by Louis Agassiz (1962, Cambridge)


See also

* :Taxa named by Louis Agassiz * List of geologists


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Smith, Harriet Knight, ''The history of the Lowell Institute'', Boston: Lamson, Wolffe and Co., 1898. * *


Archive sources

A collection of Louis Agassiz's professional and personal life is conserved in :fr:Archives de l'État de Neuchâtel, the State Archives of Neuchâtel. *


External links

* * * *
Works by Louis Agassiz
online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library. * * Pictures and texts o
''Excursions et séjours dans les glaciers et les hautes régions des Alpes''
and o
''Nouvelles études et expériences sur les glaciers actuels''
by Louis Agassiz can be found in the database VIATIMAGES.

by Louis Agassiz (1850) * ''Runner of the Mountain Tops: The Life of Louis Agassiz'', by Mabel Louise Robinson (1939)
free download
at ''A Celebration of Women Writers'' – UPenn Digital Library

(Agassiz went to Brazil to find glacial boulders and to refute Darwin. Dom Pedro II gave his support for Agassiz's expedition on the Amazon River.)
Louis Agassiz Correspondence
Houghton Library,
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University

Illustrations from 'Monographies d'échinodermes vivans et fossiles'

National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
* Agassiz, Louis (1842
"The glacial theory and its recent progress"
''The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, vol. 33''. p. 217–283. (Linda Hall Library) * Agassiz, Louis (1863
''Methods of study in natural history''
– (Linda Hall Library)
Agassiz Rock, Edinburgh
– during a visit to Edinburgh in 1840, Agassiz explained the striations on this rock's surface as due to glaciation {{DEFAULTSORT:Agassiz, Louis 1807 births 1873 deaths American Christian creationists 19th-century American geologists American glaciologists American ichthyologists Catastrophism Swiss glaciologists American taxonomists Agassiz family, Louis Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Foreign Members of the Royal Society Hall of Fame for Great Americans inductees Members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences Members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Recipients of the Pour le Mérite (civil class) Museum founders Corresponding members of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences Recipients of the Copley Medal Wollaston Medal winners Swiss emigrants to the United States 19th-century Swiss geologists People from the canton of Fribourg Heidelberg University alumni Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich alumni University of Erlangen-Nuremberg alumni University of Neuchâtel faculty Harvard University faculty Cornell University faculty University of Zurich alumni Swiss Protestants History of Science articles needing expert attention Burials at Mount Auburn Cemetery Members of the Royal Academy of Belgium Scientific racism