Sir Joseph Banks, an English naturalist and traveller, born in London, Jan. 4, 1743, died June 19, 1820. At Eton school he first showed a taste for botany, which he cultivated afterward with enthusiasm at Oxford. In 1764, at the age of 21, he came into his paternal prcp-ertv, which was considerable. Two years later he became fellow of the royal society, after which he made a voyage to Newfoundland and Labrador, with Lieut. Phipps of the royal navy, to collect plants. On his return he formed an intimacy with Dr. Solander, a Swede, the pupil of Linnaeus. The four years following Mr. Banks devoted to the study of botany and natural history, and through the interest of the earl of Sandwich, who was then first lord of the admiralty, was appointed with Dr. Solander naturalist to the expedition under the command of Capt. Cook, which sailed from England in August, 1768, to visit Tahiti for the purpose of observing the transit of Venus. In this voyage, which lasted three years, he visited Tierra del Fuego, Tahiti, New Zealand, and New South Wales. In 1772 he made a voyage to Iceland with Dr. Solander, visiting the Hebrides on his return, and discovering the columnar formation of the rocks surrounding the caves of Staffa. On the retirement of Sir John Pringle from the presidency of the royal society in 1777, Mr. Banks was chosen to that office, which he held for 42 years.
In 1781 he was created a baronet. Soon after, on the sudden death of Dr. Sounder, he abandoned his purpose of publishing the results of his observations and discoveries in botany. In 1795 he received the order of the Hath, in 1797 was made a privy councillor, and in 1802 was chosen B member of the national institute of France. With the exception of brief memoirs or occasional communications to the transactions of societies, he published no account of his large collections on natural history, or of the results of his studies and observations. A small work on "Blight, Mildew, or Rust in Corn," and another on "Merino Sheep," are his only published books. He dispensed his large tort line with liberality, aiding in most of the scientific enterprises of his time, and relieving the necessities of scholars and travellers. The African association and the Botany Bay colony owed their origin to him. His immense library and scientific collections were bequeathed to the British museum.
BA.\KS, Nathaniel Prentiss, an American statesman and general, born in Waltham, Mass., Jan. 30, 1810. While a boy he worked in a cotton factory in his native village, of which his father was overseer, and afterward learned the machinist's trade. He devoted his leisure hours to study, and at an early age lectured before political meetings, lyceums, and temperance societies; he afterward became editor of the village paper of Waltham, and received an office under the Polk administration in the Boston custom house. About this time he was admitted to the bar, and in 1849 was elected to the house of representatives of Massachusetts. In 1851 he was chosen speaker of the house as one of the prominent advocates of the "coalition" between the democrats and the freesoilers, by which the ancient rule of the whigs was overthrown in Massachusetts. He was again elected the following year by the same combination, also representative to the ensuing congress. In the summer of 1853 he was president of the convention called to revise the constitution of the state.
During his first term in congress he withdrew from the democratic party, and in 1854 was reelected with the support of both the "know-nothing" or American and republican parties, and in December, 1855, was adopted as the candidate of the latter for speaker. After a contest of more than two months, he was elected on the 133d ballot by a small plurality. He was a member of the next congress, and was nominated in separate conventions of the American and republican parties' for the office of governor of Massachusetts, to which he was elected in November, 1857, and reelected in 1858 and 1859. In 1860 he succeeded Capt. G. B. McClellan as president of the Illinois Central railroad; but on the breaking out of the civil war, in 1861, he received a major general's commission, and was assigned to the 5th corps of the army of the Potomac, with his command at first on the upper Potomac, and afterward in the valley of the Shenandoah. A portion of his troops fought with success at Winchester, March 23, 1862. On May 24 he was attacked by the confederate Gen. T. J. Jackson at Stras-burg, and forced to retreat rapidly to the Potomac. As commander of a corps under Gen. Pope he fought the battle of Cedar Mountain, Aug. 9; and after participating in Gen. Sigel's movements in the valley of Virginia, in September he was put in command of the city of Washington. In December he succeeded Gen. Butler as commander of the department of the gulf, with his headquarters at New Orleans. In April, 1863, he captured Opelousas, and in July took Port Hudson, completing the opening of the Mississippi river.
In the spring of 1864 he made an unsuccessful expedition up the Red river, and in May of that year was relieved of his command. He was elected to congress in his old district in November, 1864, and was reelected in 1866, 1868, and 1870, serving as chairman of the committee on foreign relations. In the canvass of 1872 he took an active part in favor of the election of Horace Greeley as president of the United States.