Philippe Buache

Birth: 1700


Philippe Buache de la Neuville (1700-1773) was a French geographer and cartographer. He was born in Neuville-en-Pont on 7 Feb., 1700. He was a pupil of Guillaume Delisle, and succeeded him in the Academy of sciences in 1730. He invented a new system of geography, which, although defective in many instances, contributed greatly toward the progress of that science, and popularized it.

By a careful study of the map of the earth he became convinced that a connection existed in Bering strait between Asia and America, and he placed on his map the peninsula of Alaska and the Aleutian islands long before their discovery. After reading the narrative of Admiral de Fuente he drew a chart of the western coast of North America, then almost unknown, which was valuable to navigators. He affirmed also that a continent or large islands existed in the vicinity of the south pole.

Among his works are "Considerations geographiques et physiques sur les decouvertes nouvelles dans la grande mer," which contains a chart of the western coast of North America (Paris, 1754); "Le parallele des fleuves des quatre parties du monde pour servir a determiner la hauteur des montagnes" (1757); "Memoire sur la traversee de la mer glaciale arctique," which contains his hypothesis of an Alaskan peninsula (1759); and "Considerations geographiques sur les terres australes et antarctiques" (1761).

His nephew, Jean Nicolas, b. in Neuville-en-Pont, 15 Feb., 1741; d. in Paris, 21 Nov., 1825, taught geography to Louis XVI., Louis XVIII., and Charles X., was afterward keeper of the marine charts and log-books in the navy department, and, being elected to the Academy of sciences in 1782, prepared the charts for the unfortunate expedition of La Perouse to the South sea.

Among his works are "Memoire sur la terre des Arsacides," in which he claims that Surville discovered the Salomon islands before Mendana de Neyra (Paris, 1781); and "Considerations sur les limites meridionales de la Guiane Francaise" (1797), in which he urged the government to claim a tract of land 150 miles large, which he affirmed belonged to Guiana. This work contained also a map of Guiana which provoked complications with Portugal, and the "Directory" was at one time on the eve of declaring war with the latter country.

The difficulties that were raised by Buache de la Neuville's work were brought to an end only under the reign of Louis Philippe. He also wrote "Memoire sur les decouvertes faites par la Perouse" (1798); "Recherches sur l'ile Juan de Lisboa" (1801); "Recherches sur l'ile Antilla et sur l'epoque de la decouverte de l'Amerique" (1806); and "Observations sur quelques iles situees entre le Japon et la Californie" (1809).

He died in Paris on 24 Jan., 1773.


Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography pg. 498. (1900)

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