Edward Hitchcock

Edward Hitchcock

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Edward Hitchcock

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Edward Hitchcock (24 May 1793 – 27 February 1864) was a noted American geologist and the third President of Amherst College (1845–1854).


Born to poor parents, he attended newly-founded Deerfield Academy and in 1821 was ordained as a Congregationalist pastor. A few years later he left the ministry to become Professor of Chemistry and Natural History at Amherst College. He held that post from 1825 to 1845, serving as Professor of Natural Theology and Geology from 1845 to his death in 1864. In 1845 Hitchcock became President of the College, a post he held until 1854. As president, Hitchcock was responsible for Amherst's recovery from severe financial difficulties. He is also credited with developing the college's scientific resources and establishing its reputation for scientific teaching.

In addition to his positions at Amherst, Hitchcock was a well-known early geologist. He ran the first geological survey of Massachusetts, and in 1830 was appointed state geologist of Massachusetts (he held the post until 1844). He also played a role in the geological surveys of New York and Vermont. His chief project, however, was natural theology, which attempted to unify and reconcile science and religion, focusing on geology. His major work in this area was (Boston, 1851). In this book, he sought out ways to re-interpret the Bible to agree with the latest geological theories. For example, knowing that the earth was at least hundreds of thousands of years old, vastly older than...
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