Edward Hitchcock, an American geologist, born in Deerfield, Mass., May 24, 1793, died at Amherst, Feb. 27, 1804. He was principal of the academy in his native place from 1815 to 1818; pastor of the Congregational church in Conway. Mass., from 1818 to 1825; professor of chemistry and natural history in Amherst college from 1825 to 1845; president of the college from 1845 to 1854; and professor of natural theology and of geology there from 1845 till his death. He was appointed state geologist of Massachusetts in 1830, of the first district of New York in 1836, and of Vermont in 1857, and was for several years a member of the Massachusetts board of agriculture. In 1850 he was commissioned by the government of Massachusetts to examine the agricultural schools in Europe. His life was in a great measure identified with the history of Amherst college. During his presidency of ten years he procured for it buildings, apparatus, and funds to the amount of $100,000, doubled the number of students, and established it on a solid pecuniary as well as literary and scientific basis.
He began his career as an author by the preparation of an almanac, which he conducted for four years (1815-'18), and the publication of a tragedy, "The Downfall of Bonaparte" (1815). His first important contribution to science was a paper on " The Geology and Mineralogy of a Section of Massachusetts on the Connecticut River," with a map, published in the first volume of the "American Journal of Science" (1818), to which he became a frequent contributor. About the same time he gave an account of Bailey's new method of longitude. As state geologist he was added to the corps who had charge of the trigonometrical survey of Massachusetts. His first report, a pamphlet of 70 pages, on the economical geology of the state, was published in 1832. In 1833 he made a full report, containing about 700 pages, with an atlas of plates and a geological map. In 1837 he was commissioned to reexamine the geology of the state, which resulted in a final report of two 4to volumes of 840 pages, with 56 plates and 82 woodcuts (1841). After this he made several reports on the hematite of Berkshire county, and also a report on the "Ichnology of New England," the result of more than 20 years of study, which was published by the state (1840; supplement in 1865). In 1856, while suffering from physical infirmities, he commenced with his two sons the geological survey of Vermont, which was successfully completed, the report of the work appearing in 1862. His last geological paper of importance was " New Facts and Conclusions respecting the Fossil Footmarks of the Connecticut Valley," in the " American Journal of Science," July, 1863. He published more than 20 volumes.
Among those not already mentioned are : "Geology of the Connecticut Valley"(1823); "Catalogue of the Plants within Twenty Miles of Amherst" (1829); a prize essay on the " Wine Question," an "Argument for Early Temperance," and " Lectures on Diet, Regimen, and Employment" (1831); "History of a Zoological Temperance Convention in Central Africa," and " Lectures on the Peculiar Phenomena of the Four Seasons" (1850); "Memoir of Mary Lyon," and " Religion of Geology" (1851); and "Illustrations of Surface Geology," published by the Smithsonian institution (1857). His " Elementary Geology" (1840; revised and enlarged, with a preface by J. Pye Smith, London, 1854) has passed through many editions in America and England. His last literary work was "Reminiscences of Amherst College " (1863). He was the first to give a scientific exposition of the fossil footprints of the Connecticut valley, and with him ichnology as a science began. (See Fossil Footprints.) He suggested as well as executed the geological survey of Massachusetts, the first survey of an entire state under the authority of government in the world.
The American geological association (now the scientific association) was originated at his suggestion, and he was its first president. - His son, Charles II., was associated with him in the geological survey of Vermont, after which he was engaged in a survey of Maine for two or three years, and was subsequently appointed professor of geology in Dartmouth college, and state geologist of New Hampshire.