The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936 Page: 100

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Southwestern, Historical Quarterly

Professor of History in The Ohio State University
During the three or four years following the close of the Civil
War no fewer than eight or ten thousand people left the south-
ern states and sought new homes in Mexico, Central America,
and South America. Before attempting to follow these heroic
souls on their interesting ventures into the wilds of the tropics
it may be well to make brief inquiry into a few factors which
prompted their going.
It is certain that southern interest in the tropics reaches back
into the era of "manifest destiny," when the "Young Ameri-
cans" were saturating the atmosphere with their fulminations,
filling books and newspapers with their chauvinistic philosophy,
and dispatching advance agents into the domains of their Latin
neighbors. Among the thousands of enthusiasts of this wild era
none had more influence in arousing interest in tropical regions
than Matthew Fontaine Maury. A Virginian of Huguenot
descent, Maury's unbounded enthusiasm and imagination had
brought to him honors and distinctions in many fields. Scien-
tists everywhere recognized his achievements in astronomy, geog-
raphy, and hydrography; his own government made him super-
intendent of the United States hydrographical office and astron-
omer of the naval observatory at Washington, which positions he
held for many years. These honors and rewards increased his
prestige in general; they caused the southern people in all ranks
of life to make him the repository of confidence in any field
upon which he chose to expatiate.
So far as his writings show, Maury's interest in the tropics
at first centered on the Amazon Valley. In the decade just prior
to the outbreak of our Civil War he wrote voluminously and
spoke frequently to southern audiences on the importance of this
region. He thought "the Garden of the Hesperides," covering two


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936, periodical, 1936; Austin, Texas. ( accessed September 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.