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W. L. (William Larkin) Webb.

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basis for a profound knowledge of science, alone made it possible
for Professor See to take high rank among the great scholars of
history.

In an account of his stay at Berlin during the winter of 1787-8,
Humboldt recalls that he applied himself in emulation of his in-
dustrious Brother Wilhelm, afterwards founder of the University
of Berlin, more assiduously to Greek; and in the following May
he writes to his friend Wegener that he works hard under Bar-
tholdi's instruction, and finds the study of the language a pleasure.
"The more I know of the Gereek language, the more I am con-
firmed in my preconceived opinion that it is the true foundation
of all the higher branches of learning. It was certainly very ill
contrived of me to build my house on mere sand; yet the founda-
tions of so temporary a structure as mine may easily be relaid,
and therefore it does not distress me that I am only learning to
decline exiSva in my nineteenth year." (Bruhns' Life of Hum-
boldt, transl. by Lassell, Vol. I, p. 54).

Similar reasoning evidently was employed by young Mr. See,
for he too first learned Greek in his nineteenth year, because he
conceived that it was indispensable to a thorough mastery of the



UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 31

sciences. Mr. See never had occasion to alter this impression of
his early student life at the University; and he remains to this
day a firm believer in the high value of Greek to the scientific
investigator. In the opening sentence of Chapter XXII of
his Researches, Vol. II, 1910, pp. 625, he says: "The Science of
the physical Universe begins with the Greeks, and it will therefore
be of interest to examine their theories of the Milky Way, although
it would be unreasonable to expect more than sound fundamental
principles from the greatest philosophers who lived before the in-
vention of the telescope."

It may have been this classic standard of scholarship as well
as his admiration for Humboldt and the most assiduous industry
in the pursuit of scientific truth that caused Mr. See to be fre-
quently spoken of at this early period of his undergraduate life
as the "Humboldt of the University." At any rate he acquired
this name among the students; and now it almost seems as if the
saying that great events cast their shadows before them had a
prophetic basis of truth.

Humboldt's charm of style is due to his classic training, and
modern readers notice the same elegance and beauty of style in the
writings of Professor See. These literary accomplishments are
comparatively rare among men of science, and it is unfortunate
for science that it is so; because elegance adds to the beauty and
artistic finish of even the greatest works. Among modern scien-
tists who are noted for elegance and simplicity in their writing,
one recalls especially Laplace and Sir John Herschel, Lord Kelvin
and Sir George Darwin, Newcomb and Poincare; but the com-
bination of a classic style with scientific thought is sufficiently rare
to occasion remark.

Thus after the appearance of the second volume of Professor
See's famous Researches, in 1910, Professor W. B. Smith of Tulane
University, New Orleans, writes with enthusiasm how fortunate
it is that America had produced such an astronomer who is also
in learning and spirit a Hellenist. It is not wonderful therefore
that Professor See has always shown great appreciation of his



32 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE

early instruction under Professor J. C. Jones, and Professor A. F.
Fleet, who awakened his love for the classic languages.
f^ During Mr. See's first year at the University it happened that
his studies did not include physics or natural philosophy. That
department was in charge of Professor B. F. Thomas, who at the
end of the year resigned to go to the University of Ohio; while
Professor W. B. Smith of Central College, Fayette, Mo., was
called to the University to fill the chair of physics. This seems
to have been especially fortunate for Mr. See. For Smith was a
most inspiring teacher, and both his learning and charm of manner
set up an enthusiasm for knowledge which carried several of the
Missouri students into high professional careers as investigators,
among whom See and Defoe are the most famous. )

But before dwelling on the influence of Smith, it may be
pointed out that Professors Ficklin, Cauthorn, and Tindall, in the
department of mathematics, had confirmed Mr. See more and
more in his enthusiasm for geometry and the related mathemati-
cal studies. Ficklin was a quiet man, of slow methodical habits,
but an excellent teacher, and a very clear-headed mathematician.
He was kind and gentle, but not very intimate with the students.
When, however, he came to know the serious turn of a student he
would take a deep interest in him; and thus it was that Ficklin
heard of the promise of Mr. See in the geometry class of Professor
Cauthorn.

The second year of Mr. See's career at the University was
one of the most important of the five. He had then entered upon
his studies with zeal and enthusiasm, and during the year obtained
a good start in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, as well as
in German and the classics. \

As already mentioneoT'Professor W. B. Smith held the chair
of physics at the beginning of the session of 1885-6, and he con-
tinued to occupy it till Professor Ficklin' s death in the summer
of 1887, when Smith was given charge also of mathematics, and
later formally made professor of mathematics. Mr. See's studies
in mathematics were therefore first under Ficklin and his associ-




PROFESSOR PAUL SCHWEITZER.

Head of the Department of Chemistry, one of the most eminent Pro-
fessors of the University of Missouri. He was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1840,
and died at Columbia, Mo., in 1911, after 40 years service to the University.
He was strict, but very just, and always much beloved by the students, a firm
friend of Professor See, and among the first to recognize his great discoveries in
Geogony and Cosmogony.



UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 33

ates, and subsequently under Smith. The students whom Pro-
fessor Smith had enthused by his labors in the department of
physics now followed him to the department of mathematics.
He was the center of thought and inspiration in the University -
the one member of the faculty who could fill with credit and suc-
cessjmy chair, from Greek and logic to mathematics and physics.

We shall not go into the details of Mr. See's studies, further
than to say that his work in physics, chemistry and mathematics
had its foundation laid in the years 1885-7, and was more fully
rounded out during the last two years at the UniversityJ The
department of chemistry under Professor Schweitzer was es-
pecially fine. It was in this department that See broke the record,
making the best grade since the foundation of the University.
Professor Schweitzer wanted him to be a chemist, but his mind
was already set on the study of the stars. Mr. See has always
said that his inspiration in science was especially due to Smith
and Schweitzer, both of whom were greatly beloved by the stu-
dents, because they really tried to develop the young people by a
personal interest in their intellectual progress.

Many students at college grope in the dark and waste time,
merely finding the way to knowledge, because no one of greater
experience is approachable as a guide to them. On account of
this need of competent guidance, President Woodrow Wilson,
while at the head of Princeton University, introduced a system
by which all students were brought into close personal contact
with the members of the Faculty, each professor and instructor
being assigned responsible advisory power over a small group of
young men, and all of them thus cared for systematically. This
is an educational reform of the first magnitude, and will have
to come into universal use before our Universities can be made
really efficient. The problem of developing professors of the
highest class is not yet solved, and presents great difficulty in view
of the inadequate rewards of intellectual effort. In our modern
universities, overcrowded with numbers, this condition is greatly
aggravated; but at the University of Missouri, in Mr. See's day,



34 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE

the numbers were not so great, and close personal contact with
the professor was possible. And it happened that the quality of
some of the professors was so high that it could hardly be improved
on anywhere. Thus Ficklin was a good teacher, clear-headed,
just, honest and candid in all his work; while Smith and
Schweitzer had all these high qualities, and besides were attrac-
tive to students and inspired them with energy and ambition
for high scholarship and research.

At that time the Missouri University was, properly speaking,
only a college, but it was a good college; because the elective
system had not weakened the vigor of the college curriculum. The
courses for degrees were prescribed, and such as might properly
be considered appropriate, though some of the studies gave only
an introduction to the different subjects.

It was in this second year also that Mr. See made a great dis-
covery in the University library a copy of Bowditch's Trans-
lation of Laplace's Mecanique Celeste, bound in boards, with the
leaves uncut. Apparently it had never been used by anyone, or,
if at all, very little. Of course no other student had ever thought
of looking into this great work. But no sooner was the discovery
of the monumental work made by Mr. See than he sought access
to it daily. At first the work could not be withdrawn from the
library, and could only be read during office hours, but by the
time the session of 1886-7 came around Mr. See was sufficiently
established in the confidence of everybody that the librarian
allowed him to take volumes of the precious work home with
him.

Mr. See's enthusiasm over the Mecanique Celeste of Laplace
knew no bounds. It was his subject of meditation day and night,
Sundays and holidays. The other students might go in for sports
or games, but he would be found working at the Mecanique Celeste
of Laplace of the Principia of Newton. Mr. See purchased a copy
of Newton's Principia in the autumn of 1886 and studied it zeal-
ously. The Bowditch translation of the Mecanique Celeste was
much more expensive and difficult to get. But he could not rest



UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 35

content without it, so that in the summer of 1887 he had the
Columbia book store of Kirtley & Phillips advertise for it in New
York, and in November, 1887, they obtained for Mr. See a copy
originally purchased by Dr. John Sage, of Sag Harbor, Long Is-
land, at the time of publication (1839), and left by him to his cous-
in, Wm. S. Pelletrean, of Southampton, Suffolk Co., New York.

This great work is directly responsible for Mr. See's becoming
an astronomer it was the determining factor in fixing his career
in science. Prior to this time Mr. See had been aroused to enthu-
siasm for science by the writings of Humboldt and Newton; but
as the nebular hypothesis had interested him from boyhood, since
his purchase of Steele's Fourteen Weeks in Astronomy (Oct. 1,
1883) it only required the greatest work of Laplace to make him
supremely happy*.

Probably it was his secret hope that he might sometime add
to Laplace's work, but he never dared to believe that his own re-
searches in cosmogony, twenty years later, would supplant those
of Laplace. Naturally there was a vast difference between read-
ing a work of Laplace, and meditating over his ideas, and devising
mathematical proofs and methods to supplant the theories of the great
French geometer. This was to be Mr. See's labor during the next
twenty years, and well was it worth this effort, since it has now
given us an entirely new theory of the formation of the heavenly
bodies. To the State of Missouri has come the imperishable honor
of discovering the laws of the development of the solar system,
which will mark an epoch in astronomy not inferior to those made
by Copernicus, Kepler and Newton.

During the summer of 1887, Professor Ficklin died, after an
illness of some months, from a kind of dropsy. He had already
seen Mr. See grapple with the different branches of Mathematics,
through calculus and analytical geometry, and also Astronomy.
He was so impressed with Mr. See's earnestness and reliability

* Mr. See was always a very active worker in the Athenean Literary Society,
and wrote numerous essays on scientific subjects, especially on the discoveries of
Laplace relating to the Mechanics of the Heavens.



36 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE

that he gave to this undergraduate student the keys to the Obser-
vatory, and invited him to make free use of all the instruments.
Considering how tenacious Ficklin was in holding on to the per-
sonal supervision of the Observatory this was a remarkable testi-
monial to the esteem in which young Mr. See was held. It used
to be said by the students of the University that by hard work
during his first three years See had made such a reputation for
high standing and scholarship that after that time any Professor
would give him the highest grades without question. But of
course Mr. See never ceased to work, any more than he has since
leaving the University.

During the summers of 1887 and 1888 he remained in Colum-
bia, hard at work in the Observatory, returning to his home at
Montgomery City only for short visits. He began the work under
Ficklin, and after his death carried it on under Smith, who was
later given charge of the department of mathematics and astron-
nomy. Thus for two years before graduation Mr. See was actually
in charge of the Observatory, and did all kinds of work, from de-
termining the latitude, with the altazimuth, to observing the
planets, comets, sun spots and prominences, with the 7>-mch
equatorial.

Among the first objects which especially interested Mr. See
were the double stars gigantic systems of double suns revolving
about one another under the Newtonian law of gravitation. Hav-
ing once seen such double stars as Mizar in the Great Bear, he
never afterwards lost sight of these systems, but kept them con-
stantly in mind, and in 1889 wrote his graduating thesis on the
"Origin of Binary Stars" to which was awarded the Missouri
astronomical medal.

Mr. See took to the problems of cosmogony, on account of
his interest in Laplace's Nebular Hypothesis, from boyhood days.
Professor George H. Darwin, of Cambridge, England, had recently
modified Laplace's theory to some extent; and Mr. See's under-
graduate effort was to consider the influence of tidal friction on
systems such as the double stars. The thesis was very notable,




MR. T. J. J. SEE, AS HE APPEARED AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-TWO.
From a photograph by Douglass, Columbia, Mo., 1888, about eight months
before Mr. See graduated at the head of his class.



UNPARALLELED DISCOVERIES OF T. J. J. SEE 37

as a beginning of the more celebrated researches since carried out
at the University of Berlin, and in his monumental work, Researches
on the Evolution of the Stellar Systems, Vol. I, 1896, and Vol. II
1910.

During the period of his student days, Mr. See was always the
most respected and influential student in the University. He
was the one whose work had weight with both students and facul-
ty; yet in a student assembly he was not so popular as some of
the more reckless talkers, and on one or two occasions they were
preferred over him, as editors of the college paper. While Mr.
See was open and democratic in manner, he was dignified and a
little austere by his high standing as a student. Then, too, he was
a Greek fraternity man a member of the Phi Delta Theta
and that tended to set an element of the "Barbarians" against
him. He had positive convictions and dared to express them, so
that, as usually happens with positive characters, he had very
devoted friends, and a few enemies among a class whose methods
were none too scrupulous.

The events of the last year, 1888-9, showed his unquestioned
supremacy in the most conclusive manner. There were a series
of crying abuses in the University, now growing noticeably worse*
and Dr. Laws, the President, had been there so long that he was
set in his way, and would do nothing to alleviate the dissatis-
faction. The complaints ran all the way from incompetent pro-
fessors to injustice to students and general lack of progressiveness,
and in some cases involved bad faith with the people of the State.
Senator Morton of the visiting board appointed by the Governor
reported to the Legislature early in the year that things were not
satisfactory at the University. A great commotion followed
among the students, and then a special committee of the Senate
and House of Representatives was appointed to investigate the
University, at the head of which Hon. Champ Clark was placed,
because he was the recognized leader in the Legislature.

The committee visited the University, held a long and search-
ing investigation, with the result that the Legislature reorganized



38 BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND POPULAR ACCOUNT OF THE

the Board of Curators and removed Dr. Laws, by a rider attached
to the appropriation bill. Above all others, Mr. See was the
student on whom the insurgents at the University had to rely for
the management of their fight for the overthrow of the old regime.
He desired to keep out of the fight, but could not do it, with the
faculty split, and most of his devoted teachers on the side of the
insurgents.

Rather than desert his devoted teachers, to whom he owed
so much, he took the side against the president, who had very
antiquated methods and had much outlived his usefulness. When
the contest began in earnest, the students came to Mr. See and
said: "Now, See, you must come to our support. You have
influence and prestige here and you alone can save the day for us."
With great reluctance, but from a sense of duty, Mr. See went over
to the cause of progress, and did the hard work of making the
movement a success. Everyone trusted See, and he gathered all
the data, drew the questions, and conducted the prosecution for
the students.

Hon. Champ Clark conducted the inquiry from the legisla-
tive point of view, and afterwards carried through the heavy work
^reorganization in the House of Representatives. And a won-
derfully able effort he made. It saved the life of the University,
and enabled it to enter upon a period of progress and greatly in-
creased usefulness. By this well nigh incomparable service to the
State, Mr. Clark earned the title of "Founder of the University,"
in distinction from the College, which it had been before, and of
which Major James S. Rollins was justly entitled to be called the
Father.

It is not necessary to say anything more about Mr. See's
college days, except to include here the commencement program,
which tells its own story:




\/






Jv|issouri



Thursday Morning,




Proqrarp,



Music Prayer - M usic.
9 - - - . - John Locke and His Theories of Education.

RICHARD GEORGE HADELICH, Pe. P.
English Prize Essay, - - - - The Poetry of Browning.

CHARLES HENRY STUMBERG,A. B., L.B.

n^cusia.

Stophens Medal Oration, The World's Heroes

GEORGE FAUST YOUMANS. S. B.

Astronomical Prize Thesis,, - - - Origin of Binary Stars.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE, A. B., L. B., S. B.



Valedictory Address of haw Class.

BYRON BUCKINGHAM BEERY, LL. B.

Valedictory Address of Academic Classes.

THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE, A. B., L. B., S. B.



DELIVERY OF DIPLOMflS AND PRIZES.

Stephens Medal, ...... GEORGE FAUST YOUMANS.

Astronomical Medal, - THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.
McAnally Medal, - * - - - CHARLES HENRY STUMBERG.
Appleton Prize, ........ JAMES HENRY COONS.

31. C. "Lilly Sword Prize, ..... LUTHER YAGER EERR.

A Salute of Forty-Two Guns by University Cadets,

LIEUT. E. H. CROWDER, U. S. Army, Commandant.



OIF 1 1889.

ACADEMIC COLLEGE.
First Rank (Av. grade 00-06..)

Thos. TefTerson Jackson See, A. B., L. B., S. B. die Belle Denny, S. B.
Charles Henry Stumberg, A, B., L. B. George Faust Youmans, 8. B.

Curtis Fletcher Marbut, S. B. Samuel David uromer, S. B.

Louis Elmer Pitts, A. B.

Second Rank . ( \ v. grade 70-90 . )

Myron Alfred Cttruer, S. B. Elston Holmes Lonsdale, S. B.

Charles Breckwjridge Farls, L. B. Mitchell Cross Shelton, A. B. '

James Tliaddeus Duk, S. B. Sterling Price Dorman, L. B.

LAW COLLEGE. (Degree Of LL. B.)

BACHELOR OF LAWS, Robert Terrel Halnes.

ftim taude. Frank M. Howell,

Byron Buckingham Beery. Thomas Henry Jenkins.

George Alvin Dabbs. Charles Fielding Keller,

BACHELOR OF LAWS. Wlliam Echols Ralney,

William Kennedy Amlck, Joseph Johnston Reynolds.

Rudolph.Bahn, John Fletcher Sharp.

Marion Richard Btgs:s T William Henry Utz.

Robert Alexander IJrown, Samuel Newton YanPool,

James Peddicord Chlnn, Conrad Waidecker,

Eugene Warrlngton Couey, Sam Mason Wallace.

Thomas Jefferson Dlckson, John Samuel Wash.
William Henry.Young.

ENGINEERING COLLEGE.

John Thomas Gnrrett, C. E. William Florlan Seldel, C. E.

Alexander Maitund. C. E. Kirby Calhoun Weedln. 0. El

Orvilie Hlckman Browning Turner, Top'l Eng'r.

CERTIFICATE IN SURVEYING.

Oliver Neal Axtell . Charles Decatur Potts..

Charles Alden Bonfils. Samuel Glrard Ratekln.

Edgar Fisher Fielding. Samuel William Shinkle.

Bernard Wilbern Hays. Theodore Arthur Sturnberg.

MEDICAL COLLEGE (Degree of M. D.)

[Eighty-three young men were graduated from section No. 2 (Missouri Medical Col-
lege, St. Louis,) in March. Of this number,Uiose given belovr received the joint Diploma
of section No. l and section No. 2.

Arthur L, Engle. Roscbe w. Maintz.

George J. Field. John D. Proweil.

George E. Gray. Robert W. Renwlck.

Gustave A. Keehn. Rufus B. Schoffeld.

John L. McGhee. James H. Smith.

AlfordR. McLeod.

AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE, (Degree Of B. A. S.)
Thomas Doss.

-NORMAL COLLEGE.
Degree of Pe. B. (Bachelor of Pedagogics.)

Ulie Belle Denny, S. B. James Thaddeus Dick, 8. K.

Samuel David Gromer, S. B. Elston Holmes Lonsdale. S. B.

Myron Alfred Corner, is. B. Sterling Price Dorman, L, B.

Charies L. Mosely, L. B. '82.

Degree of Pe. P. (Principal In Pedagogics.)

Richard George lladelicli. Fannie McNutt.

Una Verda Peters. John Charles Storm.

Annn Calvin Payne. . Noah Els worth Sutton.

Minnie Ann Pettinglll. Walter CaldvveU Cox.

Eva Liggett. Jennie Lorena Hall.

Anna Maud Reed. Annie Margery Byrne.

Carrie Man rer. . Lula Graves.

Maggie Chapman Maupln. Ida Orissa Post,

Ida May Knepper. Eva Levy,

wiiber Flsk Johnston. Ruby Moss Westlake.

Gilbert Newton Harrison. Ella Bowden.

Kilen Winchester Dorsett. Amanda Bay Ruc.'cer.

Georgie Olive Nagel. Brookey Ann Yowell.
Sallle Pierce.

MASTER'S DEGREES,.A. M.
Thomas L. Rubey, A. B. '85. Edgar D. Watson, A. B. '86.

L. M.
Payne A. Boulton, L. B. '85. Edward E. Longan, L. B. -8<>

S. M. %
Wm. Wallace Clendenin, S. B. 'S6. * Ida May Cleudenin, S. B. '86.



Honorable flftention.

1888-9.

All students, who have finished the work of any department,
and who have reached in it an average grade of 96 to 100, shall be
named by the Professor in charge of such department in his annual
report to the President of the University for HONORABLE MENTION in
the catalogue ; this fact of honorable mention shall likewise be
stated on the Commencement programme tn the case of graduates.
[From rules for grading students, adopted April, 1884.]

DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY.

MYRON ALFRED CORNER.
CURTIS FLETCHER MARBUT.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.
GEORGE FAUST YOUMANS.

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH.

CHARLES HENRY STUMBERG.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.

DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOOY AND MINERALOGY.

ELSTON HOLMES LONSDALE.
CURTIS FLETCHER MARBUT.
MITCHELL CROSS SHELTON.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSOtf SEE.

DEPARTMENT OF HEBREW.

THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.

DEPARTMENT OF LATIN.

THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.
CHARLES HENRY STUMBERG.

DEPARTMENT OF METAPHYSICS.

JAMES THADDEUS DICK.
CHARLES HENRY STUMBERG.

DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY.
THOMAS JEFFERSON JACKSON SEE.
THE JAMES S. ROLLINS UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIPS.

These scholarships have been awarded as follows :

College of Arts, A. B. Course... JAMES HENRY COONS.

College of Arts, S. B. Course .....^......CHARLES PAGE WILLIAMS,

College of Agriculture JOHN LEWIS TANDY.

College of Law...... JAMES L. NICHOLAS.

College of Medicine. JOHN GARTH RUCKEJ*.

College of Engineering, C. E. Course- ...... FRANK BLAIR WILLIAMS.



Online LibraryW. L. (William Larkin) WebbBrief biography and popular account of the unparalleled discoveries of T.J.J. See .. → online text (page 4 of 28)