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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Pathfinder of the Seas: Matthew Fontaine Maury

Since I married my wife, whose maiden name is Maury, I've known about the most famous person in their family tree. At a used book store I bought a biography of his and discovered just what an amazing man Matthew Fontaine Maury was. 
My father-in-law was not in the direct line of MFM. They share a common ancestor Rev. James Maury.
I've always thought about doing a fictionalized history on him to bring him to life. Then I checked Wikipedia, which I do occasionally to see if there's anything new about him. I came across this.

Numerous historical markers commemorate Maury throughout the South, including those in Richmond, Virginia, Fletcher, North CarolinaFranklin, Tennessee, and several in Chancellorsville, Virginia.

On July 2, 2020, the mayor of Richmond ordered the removal of a statue of Maury erected in 1929 on Richmond's Monument Avenue. The mayor used his emergency powers to bypass a state-mandated review process, calling the statue a "severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety."]

I know since George Floyd was murdered and the BLM protests started that many Confederate statues have been torn down. In New Mexico monuments to the Conquistadors have been removed. 

I agree with ending the glorification of generals and politicians who are only known for their treason. Not too sure about disparaging the Hispanic history of New Mexico, which make up 60% of our population, to appease the Native American Pueblos. Explorers and conquerors are seldom kind and gentle.

Matthew Fontaine Maury is another story. His place in history has nothing to do with slavery or the Confederacy. He was one of the giants of 19th century science. Perhaps one of the greatest scientific minds ever. 

He was nicknamed "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" and later, "Scientist of the Seas" for his extensive works in his books.

Riddle me this: How could someone who first charted the ocean currents that made sailing safer and faster in the 1800's be a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

How could the man who headed the endeavor to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable from the U. S. to Europe, be a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

He never owned a slave or condoned slavery, he advocated sending all the slaves in Virginia to Brazil in order to shift the economy away from this practice. It was a futile attempt, but it shows he was against the practice.

He stayed faithful to his southern roots and resigned his commission and joined the Confederate navy. The only problem was, there wasn't a Confederate navy. He spent most of the war in England lobbying, unsuccessfully, for the UK to side with the south.

The only strike against him is before leaving for England he invented something still in use today. He called it the Electric Torpedo, we know it as the naval mine.

Farragut's famous quote: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Was in reference to them.

The majority of the union navy ships damaged and sunk were from those torpedoes.

Is that enough reason to consider such a great mind and the accomplishments he made in his lifetime for his statue to be considered a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

The same reasoning could be applied to Albert Einstein for the atomic bomb, Werner Von Braun for his V2 rockets which caused American casualties in WW2.

Click on the link and read what Wikipedia says about his accomplishments and then decide if he's a war criminal or a truly great American hero worthy of our respect.   

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