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George Perkins Marsh

Born: 15-Mar-1801
Birthplace: Woodstock, VT
Died: 23-Jul-1882
Location of death: Vallombrosa, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Cimitero Acattolico, Rome, Italy

Gender: Male
Religion: Congregationalist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author, Naturalist
Party Affiliation: Whig

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Ecologist and camel enthusiast

Called "the fountainhead of the conservation movement", George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature was the first scholarly assessment of the impact of humanity on natural ecosystems. Generally considered America's first modern environmentalist, Marsh wrote that nature left undisturbed is stable, but that after the arrival of humans "the harmonies of nature are turned to discord". He advocated that consequences of human activity and development should be considered and minimized.

He trained as a lawyer, and also worked as a sheep farmer, mill owner, newspaper editor, and US Congressman. An intellectual dilettante, he wrote about Alpine glaciers and Icelandic grammar, and called for establishment of the US Army Camel Corps, which used camels to patrol the American southwest. In the midst a long controversy over the design of the Washington Monument, his recommendation of architect Robert Mills' design was adopted, along with Marsh's suggested changes to the monument's height and elimination of superfluous ornamentation. He served three terms in Congress, and had a long career in diplomacy, representing American interests in Turkey and Italy.

His father, Charles Marsh, represented Vermont in the US Congress from 1815-17, and his cousin, James Marsh, was President of the University of Vermont from 1826-33. His birthplace -- a mansion subsequently owned by railroad baron Frederick Billings and airline magnate Laurance Rockefeller -- is now part of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park.

Father: Charles Marsh (US Congressman, b. 10-Jul-1765, d. 11-Jan-1849)
Mother: Susan Perkins Arnold Marsh
Sister: Sarah Burrill Marsh Lyman (b. 5-Jun-1809, d. 1-Sep-1841)
Brother: Charles Marsh, Jr. (farmer, b. 1821, d. 1873)
Wife: Harriet Buell Marsh (m. 10-Apr-1828, d. 1833, two sons)
Son: Charles Marsh (b. 1829, d. childhood)
Son: George Ozias Marsh (attorney, b. 24-Aug-1832)
Wife: Caroline Crane Marsh (author-poet, b. circa 1816, m. 1839)

    High School: Phillips Academy Andover (1816)
    University: BA, Dartmouth College (1820)

    Royal Society
    US Congressman, Vermont (1843-49)
    US Ambassador to Turkey (1850-53)
    US Ambassador to Italy (1861-82)
    English Ancestry

Author of books:
A Compendious Grammar of the Old Northern or Icelandic Language (1838)
The Camel: His Organization, Habits, and Uses, with Reference to His Introduction into the United States (1856)
Lectures on the English Language (1860)
The Origin and History of the English Language (1862)
Man and Nature (1864)
The Earth as Modified by Human Action (1874)
Mediaeval and Modern Saints and Miracles (1876)

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