Agassiz came to the United States in 1846 and two years later accepted the professorship of zoology and geology at Harvard. His first wife died in Germany in 1848, and in 1850 in Cambridge he married Elizabeth Cabot Cary (see Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary). In the United States he was primarily a teacher and very popular lecturer. His influence extended to the fields of zoology, paleontology, geology, anatomy, and glaciology. Emphasizing advanced and original work, he gave major impetus to the study of science directly from nature and influenced a generation of American scientists. His extensive research expeditions included one along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Americas from Boston to California (1871–72). His Contributions to the Natural History of the United States (4 vol., 1857–62) includes his famous
Essay on Classification, an extension of the theory of recapitulation to geologic time. Despite his own evidences for evolution, Agassiz opposed Darwinism and believed that new species could arise only through the intervention of God.
See biographies by J. Marcou (including letters, 1896), J. D. Teller (1947), E. Lurie (1960, repr. 1967), and C. Irmscher (2013); L. Cooper, Louis Agassiz as a Teacher (rev. ed. 1945).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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