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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/301

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PIONEERS OF SCIENCE IN AMERICA

John Torrey

Dr. N. L. BRITTON

DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

As a pioneer of American botany, John Torrey naturally finds a place among the men whose works we gladly celebrate to-day, in this grand institution, developed in the city where he was born, where he resided the greater part of his life, and where he died. To-day's recognition of Torrey as a master of botanical science is, therefore, peculiarly appropriate in New York, where he is already commemorated by the society which bears his name, by the professorship in Columbia University named in his honor, and by ids botanical collections and library deposited by Columbia University at the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Torrey was born on August 15, 1796, and died March 10, 1873, nearly thirty-four years ago; the pleasure of his personal acquaintance is, therefore, known to but few persons now living; we have abundant evidence, however, that he was honored and beloved to a degree experienced by but few; righteousness was instinctive in him, aid to others was his pleasure, he was tolerant and progressive, and his genial presence was a delight to his associates.

He was educated for the profession of medicine, graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1818, but soon abandoned it and in 1824 became professor of chemistry at West Point; after ihree years service there, he was elected professor of chemistry and botany in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a position which he held for nearly thirty years, during part of this period lecturing on chemistry also at Princeton; he was also United States assayer in New York from 185-1 until his death.

Dr. Torrey's attention was directed to botany during his youthful association with Professor Amos Eaton, and his interest in that science subsequently stimulated during his medical studies by the lectures of Professor David Hosack. It early became his favorite study, and, notwithstanding his noteworthy services to chemistry, his fame rests on his botanical researches, although they were accomplished durng his hours of rest and recreation, and largely during the night.

His botanical publications began in 1819 with 'A Catalogue of Plants Growing Spontaneously within Thirty Miles of the City of New York,' published by the Lyceum of Natural History, now the New York Academy of Sciences, and were completed the year after his death in the 'Phanerogamia of Pacific North America,' in Vol. 17 of the Report of the United States Exploring Expedition. His contributions to botany include over forty titles, many of them volumes requiring years of patient study; they throw a flood of light on the