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In conversation with... Sandra Rebok: Alexander von Humboldt and Scientific Exploration of the American West

  • The Huntington Library 1151 Oxford Rd San Marino, CA, 91108 United States (map)


In spring 1804, after completing his famous five-year expedition through the Spanish
colonies in Latin America, Alexander von Humboldt traveled to the United States and was invited to meet with President Thomas Jefferson. The Prussian scientist and the 3rd President of the US discussed the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as Jefferson’s vision for the American West following the Louisiana Purchase.

Over the next fifty-five years, Humboldt developed a particular interest in the exploration
of this vast territory. Through personal and epistolary contact with expeditionary leaders and participants, such as John C. Fremont, Amiel W. Whipple, Balduin Möllhausen, Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, and Duke Paul Wilhelm of Württemberg, he was informed about the latest scientific work in the West. Humboldt would not only become an important European promoter of the exploration of the American West, but he would also exert remarkable influence through his wide scientific and other networks.