Science goes South: John Millington, Frederick Barnard, and the University of Mississippi, 1848-1861

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Virginia Tech

Traditional explanations for the lack of scientific activity in the antebellum South are not sufficiently inclusive. Past accounts generally consider religion, climate, lack of urbanization, and deficiency of intellectual activity as the major causative factors. I assert that scientific activity was proceeding along "normal" developmental lines; that is, it was following the national pattern established by the Northern universities whose proximity to urban centers provided the impetus for the earlier start of intellectual activities of various sorts.

In this thesis I present as a case study the scientific program at the University of Mississippi developed by John Millington and Frederick Barnard - - with a central focus on Barnard's efforts - - from 1848 to 1861. The case study provides evidence of a Southern academic institution's ability to hire qualified and ambitious scientists, to promote a sophisticated curriculum in science, and to procure the instruments necessary to support a full-fledged scientific effort. An Appendix provides a detailed inventory of the ante-bellum instruments at the University of Mississippi.