Nathaniel Bowditch

March 26, 1773 - March 16, 1838

Salem, Massachusetts

Even before Practical Navigator was published, Bowditch had been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1799).

He gave up his sailing career in 1804 after a voyage ending in a blinding snow storm in which he navigated safely to his home port of Salem, Massachusetts, without being able to see either stars or land. He joined the corporate world as president of Salem’s Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company.

Bowditch’s continuing publications in astronomical investigations – including what remains the best translation of French Mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace’s monumental work on heavenly bodies, Traité du Méchanique Céleste – brought him offers of academic chairs at Harvard, West Point, and University of Virginia. Preferring to work unattached, he turned them all down.

– Roger Vaughan

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