Memoir

John Alexander

June 26, 1812 - March 2, 1867


Election Year: 1863
Scientific Discipline: Engineering Sciences
Membership Type: Member

John H. Alexander was a noted topographical engineer who made significant contributions to the fields of topography and geology. He is best known for his work with the State of Maryland. Alexander graduated in 1827 from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland. He began studying law independently, but soon decided to pursue a career in the burgeoning railroad industry. After briefly working in surveying for the Susquehanna Railroad, he lobbied for a project that would produce a complete topographical map of Maryland. Not only was the proposal approved by the state, but Alexander, at the age of twenty-one, was appointed topographical engineer for the project in 1834. Alexander was also the founder of George’s Creek Coal and Iron Company in 1836, which proved to be a lucrative business venture. He held a number of brief professorships at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, and the College of St. James. In addition to science, Alexander was greatly interested in linguistics and poetry, and he held a vast knowledge of modern and classical languages. Alexander was one of the charter members of the Academy.

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