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Short Biography on William Dunbar

Obscure Achiever

In our nation’s great history, there have always been those who have achieved greatness but are not recognized. One such person is the scientist and planter William Dunbar. Not much is known about William, what is known is as follows.

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During the year 1749, William Dunbar was born in and lived near Elgin, Scotland. William Dunbar was the youngest son of Sir Archibald Dunbar of Morayshire, Scotland. He was educated at Glasgow and later studied mathematics and astronomy at London. The call of America reached him so that in 1771 he traveled to America.

He moved to West Florida in 1773 and built a plantation near Natchez, MI. In 1798 he was appointed by Gayosa, then Governor of Louisiana, to act as an astronomer on behalf of Spain in running the line of demarcation. A correspondent of Thomas Jefferson, Dunbar found himself invited to become a member of the Philosophical Society, with the President of the United States as his sponsor. He was later commissioned by the president to investigate the Ouachita and Red River areas.

While fulfilling his commission he wrote the first scientific account of the mineral wells at Hot Springs, Ark. Dunbar imported instruments from Europe which he used to set up his own astronomy lab. It was there that he took his first meteorological observations. These observations were the first in the Southwest.

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William Dunbar also studied the rise and fall of the Mississippi. During his studies of it he explored its delta. Later he would publish his findings on these subjects and on the plants, animals, and Native Americans of the region. The findings were published in the “Transactions of the American Philosophical Society”.

Source”” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.
© 1994, 2000-2005, on Infoplease.
© 2000–2005 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease.
03 Jun. 2005 <>.

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