Josiah Meigs


Josiah Meigs (source unknown)(source unknown)
  Born in Middletown, Connecticut August 21, 1757, he received a college education at Yale. An energetic (possibly temperamental) guy, he became City Clerk of New Haven and started a newspaper, now known as the New Haven

Gazette, which was used to argue for Federalism. He passed the bar in 1783
and after a brief stay practicing law in Bermuda became a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Yale in 1794. Leaving Yale (his federalist sentiments were disliked by the loyalist incoming Yale president), in 1801 he became the 2nd president (and 1st teacher) of what was then Franklin College, but is now known as University of Georgia. He was forced to resign the presidency of UG in 1810 due to disagreements with the Board of Directors, over his desire to separate science and religion.

He then moved to Washington and became U.S. Surveyor General and then 2nd Commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office in 1814 (this evolved into the BLM) focusing on midwestern territories such as Illinois. In 1817, the year following the famous "year without a summer", he ordered the various land offices to collect meteorological observations, and thus started the second effort to collect systematic meteorological observations in the US, the first being started by the US Army medical corps a few years earlier. Apparently the original observations have been lost. He was also 2nd president of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, an early but unsuccessful precursor to the Smithsonian Institution. He was one of the original trustees of Columbian College, now George Washington University. In 1820 he was also part of a successful effort to introduce national vaccinations for smallpox. He died in 1822.

(source: Meigs, W.M., 1887: Life of Josiah Meigs, printed). See also, Henry, A.J., Monthly Weather Review, 59, 1931).