Potter, Alonzo, 1800-1865

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Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Pennyslvania.

From the description of Alonzo Potter papers, 1840-1869. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 663477638

Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) was an important scientific reformer during the early nineteenth century. From his position as superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, and through leadership roles in the scientific institutions of the time, Bache helped bring American science into alignment with the professional nature of its European counterpart. In addition, Bache fostered the reform of public education in America.

On July 19, 1806 Alexander Dallas Bache was born into one of Philadelphia's elite families. The son of Richard Bache and Sophia Dallas, he was Benjamin Franklin's great-grandson, nephew to George Dallas (vice president under James K. Polk), and grandson to Alexander James Dallas (secretary of the treasury under James Madison). In 1821, Bache was admitted to the United States Military Academy at the age of 15, graduating first in his class four years later. He remained at the Academy for an additional two years to teach mathematics and natural history. While serving as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, working on the construction of Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., he met Nancy Clarke Fowler whom he would later marry.

Bache left the Army in 1828 to begin an academic career, accepting an appointment as professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Although his scientific interests were broad, he had a particular interest in geophyscial research. While in Philadelphia, he constructed a magnetic observatory, and made extensive research into terrestrial magnetism, and during the 1830s he began to be recognized as a leading figure in the city's scientific community. Bache was an active member of the American Philosphical Society and the Franklin Institute, seeking to raise the professional standards of both institutions and urging them to place a stronger emphasis on original research. While at the Franklin Institute from 1830-1835, Bache led a Federally-funded investigation into steam-boiler explosions, the government's first use of technical experts to examine a matter involving public policy.

In 1836 Bache became interested in educational reform when he was asked to help organize the curriculum at Girard College, of which he later served as president. Bache spent two years in Europe visiting over 250 educational institutions. The result of his visit was a 600 page study, Report on Education in Europe, to the Trustees of the Girard College for Orphans published in 1839. Although Bache was unable to apply the report at Girard College because of its delayed opening, it proved useful in overhauling the curriculum of Philadelphia's Central High School, where he was superintendent from 1839-1842, and was widely influential among American educational reformers, helping to introduce the Prussian educational model to the United States.

After meeting many of the leading savants during a European tour, including Alexander von Humboldt, Francois Arago, and Karl Friedrich Gauss, Bache became convinced of the need to professionalize American science. His opportunity to make an impact came in 1843 with the death of Ferdinand Hassler, superindendent of the U.S. Coast Survey. In the years before the Civil War, the Coast Survey supported more scientists then any other institution in the country, and Bache and his colleagues saw the Survey as a means of gaining federal patronage for science. After a campaign by his friends and colleagues, Bache was named as Hassler's replacement. Over the next two decades Bache transformed the Coast Survey into one of the nation's leading scientific institutions, becoming an important patron of science himself in the process . Bache was not just an administrator, but remained personally involved in field work.

Bache also led the reform of American science through his leadership of an elite group known as the "Lazzaroni" or scientific beggars. The goal of the Lazzaroni was to ensure that the nation's leading scientists kept control of the nation's scientific institutions, and they were instrumental in reforming the American Association for the Advancement of Science (of which Bache was president of in 1850). In his remarkably busy schedule, Bache was a member of the Lighthouse Board (1844-1845), superintendent of the Office of Weights and Measures (1844), and a prominent regent for the Smithsonian Institution, where he convinced fellow Lazzaroni Joseph Henry to become its first secretary. Bache also played a leading role in the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, serving as its first president. When the Americn Civil War broke out, Bache focused the Coast Survey to support the war effort, was vice president of the Sanitary Commision, a consultant to the army and navy on battle plans, a superintended for Philadelphia's defence plans, and a member of the Permanent Commission of the navy in charge of evaluating new weapons. Bache died in Newport, R.I. on February 17, 1867.

From the guide to the A. D. Bache Collection, 1833-1873, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Lea, Annie Anderson Cabeen, 1842-1921,. Papers of the Buxton, Lea, and Marshall families, 1860-1950. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. Papers, 1835-1864. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Academy Of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. Joseph Leidy Collection.
creatorOf Rogers, Fairman, 1833-1900. Papers, 1849-1862. University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
referencedIn Protestant Episcopal Bishops collection, 1740-1950 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Autograph File, P, 1554-2005. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 33: Office Of The Secretary, Outgoing Corres..
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IId, 1837-1844 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Potter, Horatio, 1802-1887. Autograph letters of Bishop Horatio Potter of diocese N.Y. [dated respectively Albany, July 18, 1842, and New York, April 16, 186o] and [note from] Bishop Alonzo Potter [dated May 9, 1860, on Walter Delafield's project of securing aid for his parish] Newberry Library
referencedIn Dorothea Lynde Dix papers, 1798-1893 (inclusive), 1827-1887 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. Robert J. Walker Papers.
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. Peter Force Papers.
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 7001 (Henry) Or Ru 7053 (Bache) Per Author.
referencedIn University Of St. Andrews Library, Special Collections. James David Forbes Papers.
referencedIn Letters sent to Watson G. Haynes on the initiative to change regulations in the United States Navy, 1846-1852. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Loveland, Julia Lord Noyes. Papers, 1855-1965. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (inclusive) 1820-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. James Henry Coffin Papers. Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 26: Office Of The Secretary, Incoming Corres..
referencedIn Hawks, Francis L. (Francis Lister), 1798-1866. Letter, 1838 June 23, New York [to Alonzo] Potter / F.L. Hawks. Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, Keller Library
creatorOf Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. Letters of Jared Sparks [manuscript], 1830-1856. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIa, 1743-1806 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Duane Family Collection, 1764-1933 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Newton, Richard Heber, 1840-1914. R. Heber Newton collection, 1848-1914. New-York Historical Society Library
referencedIn University Of Pennsylvania, Archives. [Contact repository for more information].
creatorOf William L. Clements Library. Lewis Cass papers, 1774-1924. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 60: Meteorological Project, 1849 1875.
referencedIn John Fries Frazer papers, 1834-1871, 1834-1871 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852. Daniel Webster papers, 1813-1852. New England Historic Genealogical Society
referencedIn Cowper, James S. Letter, to Alfred B. Street, Albany, N.Y. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Potter, Alonzo, 1800-1865. Alonzo Potter papers, 1840-1869. Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
creatorOf A. D. Bache Collection, 1833-1873 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Potter, Alonzo, 1800-1865. Papers, 1864. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Clark, Thomas M. (Thomas March), 1812-1903. [Ambrotypes of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church] [photograph]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Duane family. Papers, 1770-1933. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Princeton University Library, Dept. Of Rare Books & Mss., Ms. Hodge Collection.
referencedIn Protestant Episcopal bishops collection, 1740-1950 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Lewis Cass papers, Cass, Lewis, papers, 1774-1924 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke, 1857-1935. Henry Kirke Bush-Brown papers, circa 1932. Library of Congress
referencedIn Wayland, Francis, 1796-1865. Francis Wayland family papers, 1754-1941, (bulk 1826-1865). Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society. Aps Archives.
referencedIn Huntington Library. William Jones Rhees Collection.
referencedIn University Of Alabama, Reynolds Historical Library. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn Ucla, University Research Library, Special Collections. Henry Stevens Papers.
referencedIn Autograph File, P, 1554-2005. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Episcopal Bishops collection, 1778-1911 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Thomson, Charles West, 1798-1879. Charles West Thomson papers, 1817-1877. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIe, 1845-1865 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Historical Society Of Pennsylvania. Gratz Collection.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis person
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873 person
associatedWith American Association For Education corporateBody
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Babbage, Charles, 1791-1871 person
associatedWith Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. person
associatedWith Bache, Albert Dabadie, 1832-1895 person
correspondedWith Bache, Alexander Dallas person
associatedWith Barnes, H. B. (Henry Broughton) person
associatedWith Bond, W. C. (William Cranch), 1789-1859 person
associatedWith Brewster, David, Sir, 1781-1868 person
associatedWith Brewster, Sir David person
correspondedWith Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke, 1857-1935. person
associatedWith Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 person
associatedWith Cheney, T. Apoleon (Theseus Apoleon), 1830-1878 person
associatedWith Combe, George, 1788-1858 person
correspondedWith Cooke, R. L. person
associatedWith Cooper, Peter, 1791-1883 person
associatedWith Cowper, James S. person
correspondedWith Dewey, Chester person
associatedWith Dickins, Asbury, 1780-1861 person
correspondedWith Dix, Dorothea Lynde, 1802-1887 person
associatedWith Duane family family
associatedWith Duane family. family
associatedWith Episcopal Church corporateBody
associatedWith Episcopal Church. Diocese of Pennsylvania. corporateBody
associatedWith Episcopal Church. Diocese of Pennsylvania. Bishop (1845-1865 : Potter) corporateBody
associatedWith Fessenden, W. P. (William Pitt), 1806-1869 person
associatedWith Foster, John person
associatedWith Frazer, John Fries, 1812-1872 person
associatedWith Gillespie, William M. person
associatedWith Hale, Charles person
associatedWith Hale, Charles, 1831-1882 person
associatedWith Hawks, Francis L. (Francis Lister), 1798-1866. person
correspondedWith Haynes, Watson G., recipient. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Hilgard, Julius Erasmus, 1825-1891 person
correspondedWith Hodge, Charles person
associatedWith Hopkins, John Henry, 1792-1868. person
associatedWith Ingersoll, J. R. person
associatedWith Johns, Henry V. D. (Henry Van Dyck), 1803-1859. person
associatedWith King, Horatio, 1811-1897 person
associatedWith Lee, Samuel Phillips, 1812-1897 person
correspondedWith Leidy, Joseph person
associatedWith Livingston, Robert R. person
correspondedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
associatedWith Loveland, Julia Lord Noyes. person
correspondedWith Miller, John (Rev.) person
associatedWith Mitchell, Maria, 1818-1889 person
associatedWith Mitchell, S. W. person
correspondedWith Morris, P. P. person
associatedWith Newton, Richard Heber, 1840-1914. person
correspondedWith Nott, Eliphalet person
correspondedWith Ord, George person
associatedWith Paine, Robert Treat, 1803-1885 person
associatedWith Paine, R. T. person
associatedWith Peirce, Benjamin person
correspondedWith Potter, Edward T. person
associatedWith Potter, Horatio, 1802-1887. person
associatedWith Quetelet, Adolphe, 1796-1874 person
associatedWith Redfield, W. C. (William C.), 1789-1857 person
associatedWith Rogers, Fairman, 1833-1900. person
associatedWith Rogers, Robert Empie person
associatedWith Ruggles, Samuel B., (Samuel Bulkley), 1800-1881 person
associatedWith Schofield, John McAllister, 1831-1906 person
associatedWith Schumacher, Heinrich Christian, 1780-1850 person
associatedWith Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872 person
associatedWith Silliman, Benjamin, Jr. person
associatedWith Sparkes, Jared person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866. person
associatedWith Spencer, Charles Achilles, 1813-1881 person
associatedWith Stevenson, Alan, 1807-1865 person
associatedWith Stevenson, David person
associatedWith Stevenson, David, 1815-1886 person
associatedWith Stevenson, Robert, 1772-1850 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles West, 1798-1879. person
associatedWith Tilghman, Tench, 1810-1874 person
associatedWith Toucey, Isaac, 1792-1869 person
associatedWith Upsher, Able Percey person
associatedWith Vroom, Peter Dumont, 1791-1873 person
associatedWith Wayland, Francis, 1796-1865. person
associatedWith Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852. person
correspondedWith Whittingham, William Rollinson, 1805-1879 person
associatedWith William L. Clements Library. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Scientific publications
Cooper Union
Girard College
Smithsonian Publications
Women physicians
Geological Survey of the State of New Jersey
District of columbia
Recommendations For Positions
Church work with immigrants--Episcopal Church
American Assoc. For The Advancement Of Science (+ Aagn Etc.)
Early National Politics
Albany, New York
Women in church work--Episcopal Church
Smithsonian Institution
Natural history
Science and technology
Antebellum Politics
National Academy of Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
Lectures, Popular
Church work with immigrants
American Philosophical Society
Slavery and the church--Episcopal Church
German Americans--Missions
United States Coast Survey
Science In America


Birth 1800

Death 1865


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