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Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers
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Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: "How a Nineteenth-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life"

Tamara Plakins Thornton


Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838) was a mathematician, astronomer, navigator, seafarer, and business executive whose Enlightenment-inspired perspectives shaped nineteenth-century capitalism while transforming American life more broadly. His scientific publications and best-selling New American Practical Navigator earned him praise from Thomas Jefferson as a “meteor in the hemisphere,” but it was his broader mathematical vision that inspired his creation of that cornerstone of capitalism, that touchstone of modern life, the impersonal bureaucracy. Enthralled with the precision of numbers and the r ... More

Keywords: Bowditch, Nathaniel, Capitalism, Mathematics, Science, Bureaucracy, Impersonal institutions, Corporations, Elites, Maritime affairs, Navigation

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9781469626932
Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016 DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626932.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Tamara Plakins Thornton, author