World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Isaac Greenwood

Isaac Greenwood
Born (1702-05-11)11 May 1702
Boston, Massachusetts
Died 22 October 1745(1745-10-22) (aged 43)
Charleston, South Carolina
Nationality American Colonies
Fields Mathematics
Alma mater Harvard College
Academic advisors Thomas Robie, John Theophilus Desaguliers
Known for Greenwood Book (1729),
short scale value of billion
Notable awards Hollisian Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy

Professor Isaac Greenwood (11 May 1702 Boston, Massachusetts[1] – 22 October 1745 Charleston, South Carolina [1]) was the first Hollisian Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard College.[2]

He graduated at Harvard in 1721, and was instrumental in the smallpox inoculation controversy of that year, speaking out in favour of inoculation. He travelled to London, where he lodged with John Theophilus Desaguliers and attended his lectures on Newtonian Experimental Philosophy. He later introduced the subject in the American Colonies and his book An Experimental Course of Mechanical Philosophy, published in Boston in 1726, owed much to Desaguliers. In London Greenwood met with Thomas Hollis, who wished to endow a Chair at Harvard College for him. Hollis later fell out with Greenwood, over his lack of financial prudence. However, back in Boston, Greenwood was eventually appointed to the new Hollis Chair in 1727.

During his tenure, he wrote anonymously the first natively-published American book on mathematics – the Greenwood Book, published in 1729. This book made the first published statement of the short scale value for billion in the United States, which eventually became the value used in most English-speaking countries.[3]

Greenwood married Sara Shrimpton Clarke, daughter of Dr John Clarke, on 31 July 1729, and had five children, of whom the eldest, Isaac, became a noted dentist.[1]

He was removed from the Chair for intemperance in 1737. Unable to support his family, he joined the Royal Navy as a chaplain aboard HMS Rose in 1742, transferring to HMS Aldborough in 1744. He was released from service in Charleston, South Carolina, on 22 May 1744 and died from the effects of alcohol on 22 October 1745.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Harvard Library
  2. ^
  3. ^ History of Mathematics Volume II (1925, republished 1953) by David Eugene Smith, pp. 84–86
  4. ^ Leonard, David C. (April 1981). "Harvard's First Science Professor: A Sketch of Isaac Greenwood's Life and Work". Harvard Library Bulletin (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University) 29 (2): 162. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Hollis Chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy
Succeeded by
John Winthrop
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.