George William Featherstonhaugh (April 9, 1780 - September 28, 1866) (pronounced Feer-sten-haw) was a British-American geologist and geographer. Born in London, Featherstonhaugh grew up in Scarborough in North Yorkshire. He went to the United States with the intention of studying indigenous languages in 1806. Two years later, on November 6, 1808, he married Sarah Duane in Schenectady, New York, with whom he had four children. During this time, he farmed and set up the first New York Board of Agriculture. Featherstonhaugh also began advocating for a railroad between the Hudson River at Albany and the Mohawk River at Schenectady. It took ten years for this plan to receive enough support, but Featherstonhaugh finally applied for a charter in December 1825, which was granted on April 17, 1826. Also in 1826, Featherstonhaugh's wife and two daughters died, which led him to sell his estate and moved to Philadelphia. Construction of the railroad began on July 29, 1830, and it opened on August 13, 1831. Featherstonhaugh remarried, to Charlotte Williams Carter, on January 28, 1831, with whom he had three children. In 1834, Featherstonhaugh was appointed the first U.S. government geologist. That year he left for St. Louis to survey parts of the Louisiana Purchase with his son George Jr. as his assistant. Featherstonhaugh travelled a large section of the upper Midwest from Green Bay, Wisconsin to the Wisconsin River and then downstream to Prairie du Chien, and then up the Mississippi to the Minnesota River. He travelled the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers in 1837, and then attended the Cherokee National Council in Red Clay, Tennessee. While ostensibly in the area to survey the mountainous regions in North Carolina and Georgia, Featherstonhaugh also spied on white people living with the Cherokee for the U.S. government. He and his family moved to England in 1838. Upon his return, Featherstonhaugh was appointed a commissioner to help settle the northern boundary dispute between the United States and Canada. After successfully solving the problem with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, Featherstonhaugh was named consul from the British Government to the departments of Calvados and Seine, France. In this capacity, Featherstonhaugh almost single-handedly arranged and led the escape of the King and Queen of France to London after Louis Napoleon led a military coup against the King of France.

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