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Alexander von Humboldt

Berlin 1769 - Berlin 1859


Alexander von Humboldt was born on September 14, 1769 in Berlin. As officer's sons, he and his brother Wilhelm received their basic education from private tutors, which were selected from the leaders of the Berliner Enlightenment. The children were taught by J. H. Campe, among others. Alexander von Humboldt studied natural sciences and mining in Fribourg and worked in the Prussian civil service from 1792 until 1796. As of 1788, he had developed three research programms, "Physical Geography," "Physics of the Earth," and "Theory of the Earth," which he turned into a methodology in 1793.
In his work "Physical Geography," Humboldt considered morphography, climatology, magnetism of the earth, hydrography, along with the geography of plants, animals, and humans.
After 1799, Alexander von Humboldt was one of the most well respected geographers. In that year, he traveled to South America with the botanist Aimé Bonpland on a research trip, which included the countries Venezuela, Cuba, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico. Returning to Europe in 1804 by way of Cuba and the United States, Alexander von Humboldt befriended Thomas Jefferson in Washington, DC.
He considered this journey to be the greatest private expedition in history. After his return, Humboldt lived mainly in Paris until 1827, when he was appointed as an advisor to the Prussian king in Berlin. His lectures in Berlin beginning in 1827/1828 heralded a new age of the natural sciences in Germany.
In 1829, Humboldt began traveling again, through the Baltics to Moscow and the Ural Mountains, all the way to the Chinese border. He used his influential personality, helping many artists and writers such as Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Teick, and Klaus Groth. Humboldt maintained friendships with many notables such as Claudius, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. He was described by Charles Darwin as the greatest scientific traveler of his time.
Alexander von Humboldt died on May 6, 1859 in Berlin.


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