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Encyclopedia > Constantine Samuel Rafinesque
C. S. Rafinesque
C. S. Rafinesque

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (October 22, 1783-September 18, 1840) was a nineteenth-century polymath who led a chaotic life. C. S. Rafinesque. ... C. S. Rafinesque. ... October 22 is the 295th day of the year (296th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 70 days remaining. ... 1783 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... September 18 is the 261st day of the year (262nd in leap years). ... 1840 is a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Leonardo da Vinci is seen as an epitome of the Renaissance man or polymath. ...

Many have called him a genius, but he was also an eccentric autodidact, sometimes considered close to insanity. He was very successful in various fields of knowledge; zoologist, botanist, malacologist, meteorologist, writer, evolutionist, polyglot, translator. He wrote prolifically on such diverse topics as anthropology, biology, geology, and linguistics; but was honored in none during his lifetime. Today, it is generally recognized that he was far ahead of his time in many fields. A genius is a person with distinguished mental abilities. ... In popular usage, eccentricity refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. ... Inmates at Bedlam Asylum, as portrayed by William Hogarth Insanity, or madness, is a general term for a semi-permanent, severe mental disorder. ... Zoology (Greek zoon = animal and logos = word) is the biological discipline which involves the study of animals. ... Botany is the scientific study of plant life. ... Classes Caudofoveata Aplacophora Polyplacophora - Chitons Monoplacophora Bivalvia - Bivalves Scaphopoda - Tusk shells Gastropoda - Snails and Slugs Cephalopoda - Squids, Octopuses, etc. ... Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting. ... The term writer can apply to anyone who creates a written work, but the word more usually designates those who write creatively or professionally, or those who have written in many different forms. ... This page is a candidate to be moved to Wiktionary. ... Polyglot has several meanings: Look up Polyglot on Wiktionary, the free dictionary The property of speaking multiple languages A polyglot is a person that can speak many languages A polyglot is a book that contains the same text in more than one language, usually a bible such as the first... Translation is an activity comprising the interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language—the source text—and the production of a new, equivalent text in another language—the target text, also called the translation. ... Initiation rite of the Yao people of Malawi Anthropology (from the Greek word , man or person) consists of the study of humanity (see genus Homo). ... Biology (from Greek βίος λόγος, see below) is the branch of science dealing with the study of living organisms. ... World geologic provinces Oceanic crust  0-20 Ma  20-65 Ma  >65 Ma Geologic provinces  Shield  Platform  Orogen  Basin  Large igneous province  Extended crust Geology (from Greek γη- (ge-, the earth) and λογος (logos, word, reason))[1] is the science and study of the solid matter of a celestial body, its composition... Linguistics is the scientific study of language. ...



Rafinesque was born in Galata, a suburb of Constantinople, of a French father and mother of German descent. He spent his youth in Marseilles, France and was mostly self-educated. By the age of twelve, he had learned botanical Latin and had collected plants for a herbarium. Galata or Galatae is a district in Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey. ... Map of Constantinople. ... Marseilles redirects here. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...

In 1802, at the age of nineteen, he went to America, where he made the acquaintance of most of the young nation's few botanists; but in 1805 returned to Europe and settled in Palermo, Sicily, where he became so successful in trade that he could retire by age twenty-five and devote his time entirely to natural history. He also worked for a time as secretary to the American consul. During his stay in Sicily he studied plants and fishes, naming many of each. In 1815, after his son (named after Carolus Linnaeus) had died, he left his common-law spouse and returned to America. He lost all his books (50 boxes) and all his specimens (including more than 60,000 shells), when the ship Union, registered in Malta, foundered near the coast of Connecticut on 2 November 1815. Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... 1805 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... (This article is about Palermo in Sicily. ... The Battle of New Orleans 1815 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Carolus Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as  , (May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist[1] who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

In New York he became a founding member of the newly established "Lyceum of Natural History." By 1818, he had collected and named more than 250 new species of plants and animals. Slowly he was rebuilding his collection of objects from nature. Official language(s) English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  Ranked 27th  - Total 54,520 sq mi (141,205 km²)  - Width 285 miles (455 km)  - Length 330 miles (530 km)  - % water 13. ... 1818 (MDCCCXVIII) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar. ...

In 1819 he became professor of botany at Transylvania University, Lexington (Kentucky), giving private lessons in French and Italian as well. He started at once describing all the new species of plants and animals he encountered in travels throughout the state. In 1817 his book Florula Ludoviciana, had drawn much criticism from fellow botanists, causing his writings to be ignored. He was considered as the most erratic student of higher plants. In the spring of 1826 he left the university, after quarreling with its president. A legend later developed that Rafinesque placed a curse on the university when departing. Shortly afterwards, the university's president, Horace Holley, died from yellow fever and the original main building of the university (in present-day Gratz Park) was destroyed by fire. 1819 common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Pinguicula grandiflora Botany is the scientific study of plantlife. ... Transylvania University is a private liberal arts college related by covenant to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) located in Lexington, Kentucky, with approximately 1,100 students. ... 1817 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... The oldest surviving photograph, Nicéphore Niépce, circa 1826 1826 (MDCCCXXVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ...

Rafinesque left for Philadelphia without employment. He gave public lectures and continued publishing, mostly at his own expense. His book Medical Flora, a Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America (1828-1830) became his most financially successful work. In Herbarium Rafinesquianum, he described numerous new plants. He also became interested in the collections of Lewis and Clark. Among them, he gave a scientific name to the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), the White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Lewis and Clark The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) was the first United States overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back, led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark of the United States Army. ... Species Cynomys gunnisoni Cynomys leucurus Cynomys ludovicianus Cynomys mexicanus Cynomys parvidens Prairie dogs are small stout-bodied burrowing rodents with shallow cheek pouches native to both North and Central America. ... Binomial name Peromyscus leucopus (Rafinesque, 1818) Peromyscus leucopus is a rodent native to North America. ... Binomial name Odocoileus hemionus (Rafinesque, 1817) The Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer whose habitat is in the western half of North America. ...

In the books he published between 1836 and 1838 he proposed hundreds of new genera and thousands of new species in the major floristic regions of the world. However most of these names were not accepted by the scientific community.

Atlantic Journal (1832-1833)
Atlantic Journal (1832-1833)

His early conclusion that the taxonomic categories called species and genera are man-made generalizations which have no physical existence led to his deep appreciation of variation in plants. He understood that such variation, through time, will lead to the development of what we call new species. But he had no explanation for the cause of variation, though he did consider hybridity a possible mechanism and, without calling it that, he had what appears to be some perception of mutation. Hence, he never developed a theory of evolution earlier than Darwin, as sometimes has been claimed, because Rafinesque had no inkling of natural selection and his understanding of geological time was far too shallow. Atlantic Journal (1832-1833) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... In 1832, while traveling on the Beagle, naturalist Charles Darwin collected giant fossils in South America. ... Charles Robert Darwin FRS (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist [1] who achieved lasting fame by producing considerable evidence that species originated through evolutionary change, at the same time proposing the scientific theory that natural selection is the mechanism by which such change occurs. ...

In 1836, in his two-volume American Nations, he published a small portion of his own translation of the Walam Olum, a Lenape migration story. This has since been branded a hoax, and it clearly is not an authentic Indian document. However, having been many times the victim of practical jokes by others, Rafinesque may himself have been the victim of a hoax rather than the hoaxer. The Walam Olum, usually translated as Red Record or Red Score, is said to be a Lenape or Delaware Indian account (although some consider it a spurious account) of their history and migrations across the globe from the Old Word into the New. ... The Lenape or Lenni-Lenape (later named Delaware Indians by Europeans) were, in the 1600s, loosely organized bands of Native American people practicing small-scale agriculture to augment a largely mobile hunter-gatherer society in the region around the Delaware River, the lower Hudson River, and western Long Island Sound. ...

His most notable contribution to North American prehistory was his study, especially in the Ohio Valley, of ancient earthworks, which he was first to label the "Ancient Monuments of America." He listed more than 500 such archaeological sites, many of which have since been obliterated. He never excavated. Rather, he recorded by careful measurements, sketches, and written descriptions the sites he was able to visit. Only a few of his descriptions found publication, but among his 148 Kentucky sites all of those included by Squier and Davis from that state in their famous Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848) came from his manuscripts.

Rafinesque’s Mesoamerican studies had to be centered on the linguistic data he could extract from printed sources, mostly those of travelers. It was he who designated the language spoken anciently in Haiti as Taino, a term later extended by others to cover Caribbean ethnicity. Although mistaken that the language of ancient Maya was alphabetical, he probably was first to insist that the best way to decipher its script was through the study of modern Mayan languages. His was the first explanation that its bar-and-dot symbols represent ones and fives.

He died of stomach cancer in Philadelphia. He was buried there by his friends in Ronaldson's cemetery. His considerable collections were sold as junk or destroyed. In March 1924 what was thought to be his remains were brought back to Transylvania University to rest in a tomb under a stone marked by the words "Honor to whom honor is overdue." Nickname: City of Brotherly Love, Philly, the City That Loves You Back, the Quaker City, The Birthplace of America Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Mayor John F. Street (D...

In 1841 Thomas Nuttall proposed, in his honor, the genus name Rafinesquia, (family Asteraceae), with two species. Rafinesque himself had proposed this name twice, but was each time turned down. Asa Gray named in 1853 the second species. 1841 is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Thomas Nuttall (January 5, 1786 - September 10, 1859) was an English botanist and zoologist, who lived and worked in America from 1808 until 1842. ... Diversity About 1500 genera and 23,000 species Type Genus Aster L. Subfamilies Barnadesioideae Cichorioideae Tribe Arctotidae Tribe Cardueae Tribe Eremothamneae Tribe Lactuceae Tribe Liabeae Tribe Mutisieae Tribe Tarchonantheae Tribe Vernonieae Asteroideae Tribe Anthemideae Tribe Astereae Tribe Calenduleae Tribe Eupatorieae Tribe Gnaphalieae Tribe Helenieae Tribe Heliantheae Tribe Inuleae Tribe Plucheae... Asa Gray, Botanist Asa Gray (November 18, 1810 - January 30, 1888) is considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. ...

  • Rafinesquia californica Nutt. (California Plumeseed, California Chicory)
  • Rafinesquia neomexicana A.Gray (Desert Chicory, Plumeseed)

His scientific work has been gaining more and more recognition in recent years. He was an overly enthusiastic, but accurate observer driven by a monomaniacal desire to name every object he encountered in nature.

The standard botanical author abbreviation Raf. is applied to species he described. In biology, binomial nomenclature is the formal method of naming species. ... In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biodiversity. ...

Major works

  • Caratteri di Alcuni Nuovi Generi e Nuove Specie di Animali e Piante della Sicilia, Palermo 1810
  • Specchio delle Scienze, Palermo 1814
  • Précis des Découvertes et Travaux Somiologiques, Palermo 1814
  • Principes Fondamentaux de Somiologie, Palermo 1814
  • Analyse de la Nature, Palermo 1815
  • Florula Ludoviciana, New York 1817
  • Ichthyologia Ohiensis, Lexington 1820
  • Ancient History, or Annals of Kentucky, Frankfort 1824
  • Neogenyton, Lexington 1825
  • Medical Flora, a Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America (two volumes), Philadelphia 1828, 1830
  • Atlantic Journal and Friend of Knowledge, Philadelphia 1832-1833
  • Herbarium Rafinesquianum, Philadelphia 1833
  • A Life of Travels, Philadelphia 1836
  • Flora Telluriana (four parts), Philadelphia 1836
  • The American Nations (two volumes), Philadelphia 1836
  • New Flora and Botany of North America (four parts), Philadelphia 1836-1838
  • Genius and Spirit of the Hebrew Bible, Philadelphia 1838
  • Alsographia Americana, Philadelphia 1838
  • Sylva Telluriana, Philadelphia 1838
  • Autikon Botanikon, Philadelphia 1840
  • The Good Book (Amenities of Nature), Philadelphia 1840


  • Betts, Edwin M., "The Correspondence between Constantine Samuel Rafinesque and Thomas Jefferson." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 87, No. 5, 1944.
  • Boewe, Charles. "Editing Rafinesque Holographs: the Case of the [Charles Wilkins] Short Letters." Filson Club History Quarterly, Vol. 54, 1980.


  • Call, Richard Ellsworth. 1895. The Life and Writings of Rafinesque. Filson Club Publications, Louisville, KY.
  • Fitzpatrick, T. J. 1911. Rafinesque: A Sketch of His Life with Bibliography. Historical Department of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.
  • Dupre, Huntley. 1945. Rafinesque in Lexington, 1819-1826. Bur Press, Lexington, KY.
  • Merrill, Elmer D. 1949. Index Rafinesquianus. Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA. (Indexes Rafinesque's plant names.)
  • Black, Glenn A., et al.. 1954. Walam Olum, or: Red Score, the Migration Legend of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians, a New Translation, Interpreted by Linguistic, Historical, Archaeological, Ethnological, and Physical Anthropological Studies. Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Boewe, Charles. (Ed.). 1982. Fitzpatrick's Rafinesque: A Sketch of His Life with Bibliography, revised by Charles Boewe. M & S Press, Weston, MA.
  • Boewe, Charles. (Ed.). 2001. Mantissa: A Supplement to Fitzpatrick's Rafinesque. M & S Press, Providence, RI.
  • Boewe, Charles. (Ed.). 2003. Profiles of Rafinesque. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.
  • Boewe, Charles. 2004. C.S. Rafinesque and Ohio Valley Archaeology. Center for Ancient American Studies, Barnardsville, NC.
  • Boewe, Charles. (Ed.). 2005. A C.S. Rafinesque Anthology. McFarland & Co., Jefferson, NC.
  • Sterling, K. B. (Ed.). 1978. Rafinesque. Autobiography and Lives. Arno Press, New York, NY. (Reprints Rafinesque's autobiography and the books by Call and Fitzpatrick.)

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Constantine Samuel Rafinesque, naturalist and philologist, was born on October 22, 1783, in Galata, a suburb of Constantinople, to Francois G. and Madeleine (Schmaltz) Rafinesque.
At age nineteen Rafinesque became an apprentice in the mercantile house of the Clifford Brothers in Philadelphia.
Rafinesque fathered two children in Sicily but could not legally marry their mother, Josephine Vacarro, because he was a Protestant and she a Roman Catholic.
C. S. Rafinesqu...: Web Search Results from Answers.com (100 words)
discovered in North America [electronic resource] CS Rafinesqu.
plants, andc discovered in North America / CS Rafinesqu...
Polipturus Rafinesqu e 181 5 :84 [ ref.
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