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 William Chauvenet

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William Chauvenet

  • Birth 24 May 1820 Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Death 13 Dec 1870 Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA
  • Burial Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
  • Plot Block 25, Lot 990
  • Memorial ID 22097

Mathematician, Professor. He may be best remembered for the driving force he had in establishing the U.S. Navy Academy as it is known today. He developed the course of studies giving time for both classroom and being at sea. His parents, Mary Kerr and William Marc Chauvenet, were well-to-do farmers. He earned a degree from Yale University after attending private schools as a child. A highly regarded scientist who made contributions in the areas of trigonometry and geometry and in the application of mathematical principals to astronomy and navigation, he was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences, a president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He was a professor of mathematics in the United States Navy and served on the USS Mississippi. He was placed in charge of the U.S. Naval Academy in Philadelphia, relocated the school to Annapolis, and became the first commandant, a position he held until 1859. Then he accepted a position at Washington University in St. Louis. Chauvenet becaming the Chancellor of the University from 1862 to 1869 and leaving when he had a decline in his health. He is particularly remembered by mathematicians since the Mathematical Association of America created the “Chauvenet Prize” in 1925 to be awarded for mathematical exposition. In 1969 Chauvenet Hall was dedicated at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, which contains the Department of Mathematics. The USNS Chauvenet built by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1970 was the first ship specially designed for the U.S. Navy to conduct coastal hydrographic surveys. Several biographies have been written that give the details of his life.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 May 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22097
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Chauvenet (24 May 1820–13 Dec 1870), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22097, citing Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .