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Morse, Jedediah (1761–1826)

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Father of Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, Jedediah Morse (1761–1826) is sometimes called the father of American geography. After studying divinity at Yale, starting at age 14 and graduating in 1783, Morse became a prominent evangelical Calvinist preacher and man of letters in Charlestown, Massachusetts, near Boston, for 30 years. He was as involved in religious controversies as in geography: A staunch conservative, he wrote extensively in support of orthodox Calvinism and against the rising tide of liberal Unitarianism. In 1798, Morse famously warned of an Illuminati conspiracy, which earned him much ridicule. He was a strong Federalist and became disenchanted with the French Revolution. He was also a founder of the Andover Theological Seminary in 1808 and the American Bible Society in 1816.

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