CHARLES LYELL’S LOWELL LECTURES OF 1841: EVIDENCE AND REVISION
In 1836, an endowment from John Lowell, Jr. funded the Lowell Institution Lecture series. Popular across Europe and larger metropolitan areas of the US, lecture series, such as the Friday evening discourses at the Royal Institution in London, promoted science among the population at large. Academic and scientific elites, such as Benjamin Silliman, Louis Agassiz, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, were among the series lecturers in the nineteenth-century. The annual series continues today at the Boston Public Library. Charles Lyell was invited to Boston to deliver the 1841 series, which he repeated in Philadelphia and New York City. The eight lectures presented in New York were recorded verbatim and printed in the New York Tribune. As such, they provide an excellent source to demonstrate Lyell’s contributions to American geological history. Using the lectures as a framework, this essay flips the question around by exploring the influence of American geology on Lyell’s developing principles. This will be accomplished by examining the revisions and inclusion of evidence from North America in subsequent editions to the original 1830 edition, of Principles of Geology, with particular emphasis on the seventh edition (1847).