Karl Friedrich Gauss and Benjamin Apthorp Gould
H. W. Gould, Fellow, AAAS (1963)
Department of Mathematics
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6310
Benjamin Apthorp Gould, Jr. (1824-1896), of Boston,
was a protégé and favored mathematics student of Benjamin
Peirce (1809-1880), one of the leaders of the Lazzaroni, a small group
of distinguished scientists who saw as their purpose to introduce and
develop true scientific research in the United States.
The Lazzaroni group played a significant role in
establishing the American Association for the Advancement of Science
and the National Academy of Science and Harvard University's Lawrence
Scientific School. A valuable account of the Lazzaroni and their
leaders and opponents was published by the Smithsonian Institution .
Benjamin Gould's father was the Principal of the
Boston Latin School. The younger Gould went to Berlin and
Göttingen and studied with Karl Friedrich Gauss, the "Prince of
Mathematicians", taking his doctorate in 1848 in astronomy under
Gauss's tutelage. He returned to Boston in 1848.
Benjamin Gould was a favorite student of Gauss
according to Dunnington , who devoted a number of pages of his
biography of Gauss to the close relationship between Gould and Gauss.
Dunnington spent many years studying the life of Gauss. He noted in his
book that Gauss even offered his chair to Benjamin Gould when he
retired if Gould would stay in Germany, however Gould returned to
Boston and went on to develop astronomical observatories in the U.S.
and also notably the first observatory south of the equator in
Argentina. To advance research in astronomy Benjamin Gould founded
the Astronomical Journal in 1849, which became the leading journal
of the American Astronomical Society. It is still published.
Benjamin Gould's family traces back to Zaccheus
Gould, who settled in Massachusetts in 1635. Over a period of time
Benjamin Gould traced out family records of some three dozen Goulds who
migrated from Britain to America and Canada, and published his
definitive account of this in a book . This book traces the Gould
line, variously spelled (Gold, Gould, Goold, etc.) back to the year
1235 and with appearances of the name in the Domesday Book that
appeared after William the Conqueror in 1066.
Rebecca Gould Mitchell  wrote a definitive
account of the descendants of Jeremy Gould of Rhode Island. Jeremy was
a brother of Zaccheus, who left Massachusetts for religious reasons and
went in 1636 to Rhode Island, the true land of religious freedom in
America. Today you can still see the Statue of the Independent Man,
high atop the State Capitol in Providence, symbolizing the person with
no shackles on his mind. Rhode Island became home to the Touro
Synagogue, the first Quaker Meeting House, and Roger Williams' Baptist
Church. This religious freedom was finally codified by Thomas Jefferson
in his Bill establishing Religious Freedom in the State of Virginia, a
document that went further and guaranteed the right to believe or not
believe and is the main document establishing academic freedom in
America. Jefferson wanted to be remembered on his tombstone for this
document, the University of Virginia, and the Declaration of
Alice Bache Gould (1868-1934), daughter of B. A.
Gould, Jr., received her A.B. in mathematics and physics at Bryn Mawr
in 1889. She was to do a thesis on geometry under E. H. Moore at
Chicago, but the death of her father in 1896 put a strain on her and
she returned to Cambridge, Mass. In 1911 she became interested in the
life and voyages of Christopher Columbus, spending the remainder
of her life in Spain, becoming a leading authority on Columbus.
The author traces his ancestry to Jeremy Gould of
Rhode Island. The noted topologist Robert Lee Moore believed that all
noted mathematicians are related. Some years ago I learned from
Professor Robert E. Greenwood of the University of Texas that it had
been shown that R. L. Moore was a close cousin of Eliakim Hastings
Moore (of Moore-Smith Limit Theory fame).
Of course, in my own fifty years study of genealogy,
I have found numerous evidences how we are ALL related. This is a
truism that we should not forget. It is true, as John Donne observed
that "No man is an island unto himself."
The Goulds of West Virginia trace back to the French
Creek Settlers who came from Massachusetts circa 1799. Similarly the
author's line of Goulds settled in eastern Virginia circa 1820, coming
from Rhode Island.
It is interesting to note that after an unsuccessful first visit to
the University of Virginia in 1841, James Joseph Sylvester returned to
the U.S. in 1870 to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and it was
there that he established the first really serious mathematics research
journal in the U.S. in 1878, that he called The American Journal of
Mathematics, and which it is still published by Johns Hopkins
University. This university became the principal leader in graduate
education in the U.S. when it opened in 1870.
1. G. Waldo Dunnington, Gauss, Titan of Science. Hafner, New York,
1955. Reprinted with additional material by Jeremy Gray, Mathematical
Association of America, 2004.
2. B. A. Gould, The Family of Zaccheus Gould of Topsfield, Lynn,
3. Lillian B. Miller, The Lazzaroni: Science and Scientists in Mid-
nineteenth-century America. Published for the National Portrait Gallery,
124 pages. Paperback. Smithsonian Institution, by the Smithsonian
Institution Press, 1972.
4. Rebecca Gould Mitchell, The Goulds of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode
11 August 2007; updated 21 Nov. 2007.