John Torrey, an American botanist and chemist, born in New York, Aug. 15, 1796, died there, March 10, 1873. He graduated at the New York college of physicians and surgeons in 1818. While a student there he was one of the founders of the New York lyceum of natural history, of which he was for many years president. In 1824 he became professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at West Point, and in 1827 was called to the chair of chemistry in the college of physicians and surgeons, which he held till 1854. He was also at the same time professor of chemistry in the college of New Jersey; and in 1836 he was appointed botanist of the geological survey of the state of New York. In 1854 ho became United States assayer at New York, which office he held until his decease. Though better known as a botanist, he was a profound chemist, and was the frequent confidential adviser of the government, especially in matters relating to coinage and currency. Dr. Torrey's first publication was "Catalogue of Plants growing spontaneously within Thirty Miles of the City of New York" (Albany, 1819). In 1824 he published the first volume of the " Flora of the Northern and Middle States." This was not continued, but in 182G he gave in a " Compendium," in a condensed form, the materials he had accumulated.
In 1838 he began the publication, in connection with Prof. Asa Gray, of the "Flora of North America," which appeared at intervals till 1843, when it was discontinued on account of the vast amount of new material brought to light by exploration. From 1822 to 1858 he prepared the botanical reports, some of them in connection with Dr. Gray, of most of the United States exploring expeditions. Among his other publications are "Cyperaceae of North America" (1836), and "Flora of the State of New York," in the series of reports of the natural history survey of the state (2 vols. 4to, 1843-'4). He was also the author of numerous botanical, chemical, and mineralogical papers in the "Smithsonian Contributions" and other scientific publications. His herbarium, the result of 40 years' collection, and his botanical library, one of the most valuable in the country, were transferred to Columbia college some years before his death.