© 1996 by William Maury Morris IIAll Rights Reserved.
Some Correspondence and Honors Conferred Upon Matthew Fontaine Maury.
(More text to be added later and with color images)
The Emperor of Russia made Maury "Knight of the Order of St. Ann".
The King of Denmark made him "Knight of the Dannebrog".
The King of Portugal, "Knight of the Tower and Sword".
The King of Belgium, "Knight of the Order of St. Leopold".
The Emperor of France, "Commander of the Legion of Honour".
Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Holland, Sardinia, Bremen, and France
struck gold medals in his honor.
The Pope sent a complete set of all the medals which had been struck
during his pontificate as a mark of his appreciation of Maury's services
in the cause of science.
To these was added the decoration of "Our Lady of Guadeloupe,"
presented by the unfortunate Emperor of Mexico.
Maury's services were also recognised by numerous learned Societies,
both at home and abroad.
He became Corresponding Member of the "Naturudige Vereenigin
in Nederladsch Indie." Batavia, 17th Feb., 1853.
Member of "Die Naturforschende Gesellschaft in Emden."
Emden, March 22nd, 1854.
Member of the "Societe des Sciences, des Arts at des Lettres de
Hainault." Mons, Dec. 7th, 1854.
Member of the "Academie Imperiale des Sciences de Russie." St.
Petersburg, Dec. 29th, 1855.
Member of the "Academie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des
Beaux- Arts de Belgique." Brussels, Dec. 17th, 1854.
Corresponding Member of the "New York Lyceum of Natural
History." New York, June 18th, 1865.
Correspondent of the "Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences."
Philadelphia, Feb. 22nd, 1858.
Member of "Die Gesellschaft zur Beforderung der Gesammten
Naturwissenschaften in Marbur." Marburg, Feb. 13th, 1856.
Member of the "Historical Society of New Jersey."
Trenton, May 17th, 1856.
Member of the "Historical Society of Tennessee."
Nashville, Sept. 3rd, 1857.
Member of "Die Gesellschaft fur Erdkunde in Berlin."
Berlin, April 18th, 1858.
Member of the Bohemian Royal "Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften."
Prague, January 13th, 1858.
Director "del Observatoria Nacional." Mexico, 1865.
"Consejero Honorario de Estado." Mexico, 1865.
"Miembro honorario de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia
y Estadistica." Mexico, 1865.
LL.D. of the University of Cambridge. England, 1867.
Some of the letters are inserted here that accompanied these honors
from the different sovereigns of Europe.
These begin with the letter from Baron Von Humboldt, presenting the
Great Gold Medal of Science from the King of Prussia, and also the
My Dear and Illustrious Friend,
Berlin, Feburary 3rd, 1855
It is now a great many years since you have been so kind as to enrich
with your generous contributions the most important institutions -- the
Admiralty, the Academy, the School of Navigation, and Libraries -- of
my country. Your immense labours on currents and soundings, and the
direction of winds at different seasons and latitudes, have exercised the
most beneficial influence on the commerce of nations, by shortening in
a surprising manner the passages by sea, and augmenting the security of
navigation in all seas. The result has been the opening of new paths to
navigators who have been penetrated by the correctness of your views,
and an increase of the facilities previously derived from the application
of steam. My Sovereign, the King of Prussia, sensible of the eminent
merit of your laborious undertaking, and interested by the noble efforts
now making by the Government of the U. S. for the advancement of the
sciences which are so closely allied with the development of the
common prosperity, desires to give to you, Lieutenant Maury,
Superintendent of the National Observatory at Washington, a mark of
his gratitude, by presenting him, through the hands of our Minister,
M. de Gerolt, with the medal designed as a reward for distinguished works
of science. Sensible also of the affection with which you have honoured
me for so long a period, the King has deemed that he would be doing
you a further pleasure by adding another medal -- that which his Majesty
had struck for me upon the publication of "Cosmos." I pray you to
accept, my dear friend, the renewed assurance of my highest and most
Your very humble and most devoted servant,
The Baron Alexander von Humboldt
Accompanying the model struck in his honor, came the following
letter from the Republic of Bremen:
Sir, Washington, D.C., December 28th, 1856
It affords me great pleasure to hand you, in the name of my Government,
the accompanying gold medal; its German inscription may be thus rendered
in English: "To the Promoter of Science, to the Guide of Navigators,
Lieutenant M. F. Maury, an honorary acknowledgment of the Senate of the
Republic of Bremen."
This inscription, better than could any of mine, shows the sense of
high appreciation in which your eminent merits, in regard to all maritime
interests, are held in my country -- the citizens of which are perhaps
more generally engaged in navigation, and therefore more benefited by
your valuable discoveries and directions than those of any other
country. Your name, which has so long been an ornament of the U.S. Navy,
is, and will ever be, gratefully remembered in Bremen. I beg leave to avail
myself of this agreeable occasion to offer you at the same time a renewed
assurance of the great personal respect and regard with which I have the
honour to be Your obedient servant,
Minister-Resident of the Republic of Bremen.
Legation of Denmark, Nov. 11th, 1856. I have great pleasure in
informing you, by order of my Government, that His Majesty the King
of Denmark, being desirous of testifying his high sense of the eminent
services you have rendered to science by your important and
comprehensive researches with reference to the physical geography of
the sea, its winds and currents, recorded in the valuable publications of
the National Observatory under your superintendence, His Majesty has
been pleased to confer on you the Cross of a Knight of the Dannebrog.
I shall have the honour to transmit to you the insignia of the Order as
soon as received by the Legation here. I shall have the honour to be,
with high consideration, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Sir, U. S. National Observatory, Nov. 14th, 1856.
Your letter of the 11th inst. has been received and read with a high
degree of satisfaction. In it you have the kindness to inform me that
His Majesty the King of Denmark, to testify his high appreciation of the
services rendered by myself in the cause of science, has signified his
wish to confer upon me the Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog.
I consider myself fortunate, so to have wrought in my humble office
that my labours in the service of my own country should have
commended themselves to the favourable consideration of His Majesty;
and I feel myself highly honoured that he should deem them worthy of
such a signal mark of royal favour.
The organic laws of my country, however, will not allow one of its
officers to accept a title from any foreign potentate. Permit me,
therefore, to plead this in excuse of the request that you will
proceed no further in carrying out the honourable and friendly
intentions expressed in your letter.
I have the honour to be your obedient servant,
M. F. Maury.
To: Mr. Torbin Bille.
Count, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris, Nov. 6th, 1858.
The Government of the Emperor has been struck with the great services
every day rendered to navigators of all countries by the remarkable works
of which Lieut. Maury, of the navy, is the author. I have accordingly
agreed with the Minister of the Marine to solicit from His Majesty, as an
evidence of the high esteem placed upon these works, the nomination of
Lt. Maury to the Order of the Legion of Honour. I should not be willing
at any time to carry out this intention before having informed Mr. Mason,
and obtained the assurance the the Government of the U.S. would see no
objection thereto. The Minister of the United States replied that the
Constitution of the Union prohibits every American citizen occupying any
position in the employ of the Government from accepting any emolument,
present, charge, or other titles conferred by any foreign government, and
that it is only from Congress that authority can emanate for Lt. Maury to
accept the distinction proposed. He added, moreover, that he would write to
Washington upon the subject.
Receive, Count, the assurance of my high consideration.
The following letter accompanied a valuable present of books and charts
from Admiral Hammelin, Minister of Marine at Paris, Imperial Marine
Director-General of the Department of Charts and Plants:--
To: Lt. Maury, Director of the Observatory, Washington.
Dear Sir, Paris, Feb. 24th, 1860.
I hasten to transmit to you by the present courier a letter of Admiral
Mathieu's relative to the present which we are preparing for you of our
hydrographical collections. I make to you also on this occasion my very
sincere compliments. You should be convinced, dear sir, that we shall
always be disposed to be useful or agreeable to you. I only regret that
we are not able to send you something of importance on the subject of
winds and currents; but we are scarcely yet organized. I hope, however,
that we shall yet in time bring one stone at least to that edifice which
you have so carefully reared, and that we should follow in the fruitful
path which you have opened for us.
Receive, dear sir, the assurance of my entire devotedness, and of my
A. de la Marche.
To: Lt. Maury, Director of the Observatory, Washington.
Paris, Feb. 24th 1860.
Sir, and Highly Honoured Colleague,
Independently of the great gold medal which the Government of the
Emperor has decreed you, as a mark of esteem for the eminent services
which you have rendered to navigation, Admiral Hammelin, Minister
of Marine, had determined to give you an especial mark of his
gratitude for the communications so important and so numerous
which you have addressed to the department. Admiral Hammelin has
instructed me to send two complete collections, bound, of our Charts
and Nautical Instructions, the one intended for the Observatory, and
the other for yourself personally.
The copy which is destined for you bears on the inside of the binding
the following words: "His Excellency, Admiral Hammelin, Minister of
Marine, to Lieutenant Maury"; and they have just been sent through
the Legation of the United States at Paris.
I pray you accept my sincere congratulations, and to be assured of the
devoted affectionate sentiments and of the high consideration with
which you will ever be regarded by your
Very obedient servant,
Rear-Admiral and Director-General
P.S. Our Meteorological Service, under the active and experienced
Director of Engineers, De la Marche, is now organized. As soon as we
shall have collected sufficient data, we will communicate them to you.
Sir, Milan, December 10th, 1857.
I avail myself, with real pleasure, of the opportunity given my by your
kind offer of the Sailing Directions, to express to you my warm and
sincere thanks for it; to tell you how since years I observed, with
intense interest and admiration, your noble and unequaled efforts, in
order to forward the improvement of the scientific part of our
I trust you will accept this little present as a token of my gratitude
towards a man whom all seafaring nations are bound to look upon
with respect and thankfulness.
Believe me, sir,