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    Re: Lunars & Bowditch's First Method
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2004 Aug 12, 18:27 EDT
    Bruce S, you wrote:
    "I'm willing to concede that you have good reasons for believing Bowditch didn't invent that method, but am still inclined to think he did."

    Please do let me know if you find some evidence for this, or if you can think of anyone who has discussed the issue in print. I intend to look into it further next time I'm out east. Just to clarify, I'm not looking to deny Bowditch credit for what he did. But I would like to know specifically what he did, in order to separate the Bowditch legend from the Bowditch reality. From my present perspective, I see Bowditch as an intelligent self-taught nautical mathematics and astronomy enthusiast (not so different from many people on this list) whose principal unique trait was his ability to think in terms that could be understood by real practicing navigators at sea. He streamlined methods and persuaded other navigators that the methods could be applied literally by anyone. He was a teacher.

    I also have wondered what might compel a New England author c.1800 like Bowditch to omit the name of "Jose de Mendoza y Rios" from his work. It's not a crime or anything --nothing says that he's required to put the guy's name on it-- but what might have been a motivation for the omission? I would speculate that anti-Catholic sentiment may have been a real motivation. There's no question that Catholic countries were thought of in highly prejudicial terms in New England in that era. Would Bowditch have been able to sell New England navigators on using this clever method if they had known it was created by a Spaniard?

    Frank R
    [ ] Mystic, Connecticut
    [X] Chicago, Illinois
       
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