Clarence King

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Clarence King
Clarence King.jpg
BornJanuary 6, 1842 (1842-01-06)
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
DiedDecember 24, 1901 (1901-12-25) (aged 59)
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
FieldsGeologist
Alma materYale University
Known forExploration of the Sierra Nevada
Signature
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Clarence King
Clarence King.jpg
BornJanuary 6, 1842 (1842-01-06)
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
DiedDecember 24, 1901 (1901-12-25) (aged 59)
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
FieldsGeologist
Alma materYale University
Known forExploration of the Sierra Nevada
Signature

Clarence Rivers King born (January 6, 1842 in Newport, Rhode Island was an American geologist, mountaineer, and art critic. He succeeded at becoming the first director of the United States Geological Survey, from 1879 to 1881, King was noted for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada. King died December 24, 1901) age 59, from Tuberculosis in Phoenix, Arizona.

Early life and Education[edit]

Clarence King was the son of James Rivers King and Caroline Florence Little King. Clarence's father, James, owned a successful China trading firm - King and Company. With his father always gone Clarence had to wait to meet his father three years after his birth. Two year later James went off again to work in China leaving Caroline alone with Clarence. Clarence was brought up through the encouragement of his mother. Caroline enrolled Clarence in the Christ Church Hall run by Reverend Dr. Roswell Park. Park had liberal views on religion and science, but also had an interest to add geology in his teaching. His influence helped Clarence find geology at a young age to be a favorite subject. From this time on Clarence's drive to look at fossils and rocks made his mother push him in education even more. Clarence had enrolled in Hartford High School. After a few years of education his fathers firm had mobs rise up against in across seas and the King's nearly lost all assets. After battling through adversity with his mother, King finished high school and was encouraged to continue on with college.[1]

College life and Early Career[edit]

In the mid-1850s, King began to read works by John Ruskin and associated with a group of American artists, writers, and architects who followed Ruskin's thinking. Through this group he became aware of the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. King's initiative helped him pursue his dreams in the science field at Yale. When King joined the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale it was only in place 13 years and it had been looked down upon. While King attended; the community had yet to be moved by Charles Darwin's revolutionary "On the Origin of Species". King continued his education in the science field and in 1862, he graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University with a Ph.B. in chemistry.[1]

After graduation King traveled on horseback to California with his good friend and classmate, James Terry Gardiner. In California he joined the California Geological Survey without pay, where he worked with William H. Brewer, Josiah D. Whitney and Richard D. Cotter. In 1864, King and Richard Cotter reported the first ascent of Mount Tyndall.[2] King knew that with learning experience on the job he would boost his name in the geological world. His keen interest in pursuing geology at all costs sprung King towards success. In 1863 while learning the ropes King, John William Hill, and Clarence Cook, helped found the Society for the Advancement of Truth in Art, an American group similar to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who published a journal called The New Path.[3] This helped show how King kept initiative in growing and making a difference in his early career. King stayed on Whitney's survey in California until 1866 to learn and develop understanding of the hands on knowledge of studying geology.[4]

Clarence King; Camp near Salt Lake City, Utah. The exploration of the Survey of the Fortieth Parallel. Photo by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, October 1868.

Career[edit]

Before King developed his own survey he was in search of funding. He wrote a letter, supported by colleagues, to Chief of Army Engineers Andrew A. Humphreys. It was of necessity that King could relate his work to be of an importance to the United States. With King's cunning ability to show how his research would help develop the west, Humphreys granted King federal funding for his next survey.[4] In 1867, King was named U.S. Geologist of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, commonly known as the Fortieth Parallel Survey.

King spent six years in the field exploring areas from Wyoming to the border of California. During that time he also published his famous Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (1872).[5] After the completion of the field work, in 1878 King published Systematic Geology. In this work he narrated the geological history of the West as a mixture of uniformitarianism and catastrophism.[6] While King was finishing the 40th Parallel Survey, the western US was abuzz with news of a secret diamond deposit. King and some of his crew tracked down the secret location in northwest Colorado, and exposed it as a fraud, now known as the Diamond hoax of 1872.[7] Americans saw his determination to discredit this diamond rush as a heroic act.

As a western surveyor King was competing with a wide variety of geologists. In 1879, the US Congress consolidated the number of geological surveys exploring the American West and created the United States Geological Survey. King was chosen as its first director. He was the youngest person to attain such a position in his time of life. In the end King served for only twenty months. King went on to finish publishing his work and do more research throughout the west. His most well-known accomplishments were from 1866-1880.[4] King had made huge progress in mapping the west with his Forieth Parallel Survey, but many Americans remember him best for the Diamond Hoax.

Characteristics[edit]

King's values were highly base on how he was brought up as a child. His mother Caroline believed that there should be no color line between races. She helped build a base for Clarence that believed in equal treatment towards African Americans. While King explored during the Fortieth Parallel Survey he hired a Jamaican born cook named Jim Marryatt. King grew close with Marryatt. During a winter and spring King had Marryatt stay at his home while the rest of the crew slept else where.[1] This was another way of showing King's compassion towards the opposite side of the color line. King's mother also pushed him to succeed in every way. She molded King to become hard working; to strive for success; and to show compassion for all people. He enjoyed the presence of nature and truly had pulse to delve deep in geology.[1] While conducting field work for the Survey, King met and became friends with Henry Brooks Adams. Their friendship lasted for the rest of King's life, and he is often mentioned in reverent and adoring terms by Adams in the autobiographical The Education of Henry Adams (1907). From descriptions of King appearing in both Adams and Sandweiss, it is clear that King was unusually intelligent, witty, charming and magnetic – and a one-of-a-kind conversationalist. People in general were drawn to King. King wanted his accomplishments to be known, but he kept his personal life to himself. This secretive notion was later understood after looking at his unknown double life.

Marriage and family[edit]

King spent his last thirteen years leading a double life. In 1887 or 1888, he met and fell in love with Ada Copeland, an African-American nursemaid (and former slave) from Georgia, who had moved to New York City in the mid-1880s. As miscegenation was strongly discouraged in the nineteenth century (and illegal in many places), King hid his identity from Copeland. Despite his blue eyes and fair complexion, King convinced Copeland that he was an African-American Pullman porter named James Todd. The two fell in love and entered into a common law marriage in 1888. Throughout the marriage, King never revealed his true identity to Ada, pretending to be Todd, a black railroad worker, when at home, and continuing to work as King, a white geologist, when in the field. Their union produced five children, four of whom survived to adulthood. Their two daughters married white men; their two sons served classified as blacks during World War I.[8] King had sent many letters to Ada over the time of his life as "James Todd". He requested Ada to dispose of any proof of letters being sent after she had read and responded to him during their thirteen years of marriage. King finally revealed his true identity to Copeland in a letter he wrote to her while on his deathbed in Arizona.[1] King was extremely secretive about his love life due to society frowning upon the idea of interracial marriage in the late 19th century. He kept these secrets to protect himself and Ada.

The End of his Life[edit]

King died of tuberculosis in Phoenix, Arizona, and was buried in Newport, Rhode Island.[9] Kings Peak in Utah, Mount Clarence King, and Clarence King Lake at Shastina, California are named in his honor. The US Geological Survey Headquarters Library in Reston, Virginia, is also known as the Clarence King Library.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Sandweiss, Maratha A. Passing Strange :A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line”. NY, Penguin Press, Published: 2009.
  2. ^ Geological Survey of California, J.D. Whitney (1865). "Geology, volume 1", Sherman & Co, Philadelphia
  3. ^ Shi, David (1996). Facing facts: realism in American thought and culture, 1850–1920. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510653-9. 
  4. ^ a b c Davis, Keith F., Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Jane Lee Aspinwall, François Brunet, John P. Herron, Mark Klett, and Julián Zugazagoitia. Timothy H. O'Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs. Yale University Press Mass. Published:2011.
  5. ^ Clarence King (1871). Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Boston: James Osgood & Co., New York: C. Scribner’s sons tenth edition 1902
  6. ^ Clarence King's Fortieth Parallel Survey by William H. Goetzmann
  7. ^ King, Clarence. 1872. Copy of official letter, addressed November 11th, 1872, to the Board of Directors of the San Francisco and New York Mining and Commercial Company, "... discovering the new diamond fields to be a fraud." San Francisco and New York Mining and Commercial Company. [San Francisco? 1872]. pp. 12.
  8. ^ American Lives: "The 'Strange' Tale of Clarence King", PBS, August 18, 2010, accessed 21 September 2012
  9. ^ "Clarence King (1842–1901)". Find A Grave. 
  10. ^ "Clarence King Library". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 

Bibliography[edit]

Works about King[edit]

Works by King[edit]

External links[edit]