On This Day
1812 – Napoleonic Wars: The Battle of Krasnoi ends in French defeat, but Marshal of France Michel Ney’s leadership leads to him becoming known as “the bravest of the brave”.
Marshal of the Empire Michel Ney (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl ˈnɛ]), 1st Duke of Elchingen, 1st Prince of the Moskva (10 January 1769 – 7 December 1815), popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud (“red-faced” or “ruddy”)[page needed] by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves (“the bravest of the brave”) by Napoleon.
Born On This Day
1810 – Asa Gray, American botanist and academic (d. 1888)
Asa Gray (November 18, 1810 – January 30, 1888) is considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. His Darwiniana was considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Gray was adamant that a genetic connection must exist between all members of a species. He was also strongly opposed to the ideas of hybridization within one generation and special creation in the sense of its not allowing for evolution, as he felt evolution was guided by a Creator.
As a professor of botany at Harvard University for several decades, Gray regularly visited, and corresponded with, many of the leading natural scientists of the era, including Charles Darwin, who held great regard for him. Gray made several trips to Europe to collaborate with leading European scientists of the era, as well as trips to the southern and western United States. He also built an extensive network of specimen collectors.
A prolific writer, he was instrumental in unifying the taxonomic knowledge of the plants of North America. Of Gray’s many works on botany, the most popular was his Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States, from New England to Wisconsin and South to Ohio and Pennsylvania Inclusive, known today simply as Gray’s Manual. Gray was the sole author of the first five editions of the book and co-author of the sixth, with botanical illustrations by Isaac Sprague. Further editions have been published, and it remains a standard in the field. Gray also worked extensively on a phenomenon that is now called the “Asa Gray disjunction”, namely, the surprising morphological similarities between many eastern Asian and eastern North American plants. Several structures, geographic features, and plants have been named after Gray.
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