Five Historical Figures Who Were Land Surveyors

Posted By: garrettandassociates | December 10, 2015

Photo Of George Washington On Mt. Rushmore - Garrett and Associates

In addition to being brave men and women who accomplished monumental things, several famous names from American history were also land surveyors. Here are five of them.

George Washington

Not only was he a great general and the first U.S. President, but George Washington was also an experienced land surveyor. Starting as a teenager, the strapping lad would go on to survey over two hundred tracts of land in his life. The skill served Washington well, helping him acquire more than 65,000 acres of land in thirty-seven locations. At the time of his death, he was one of the wealthiest landowners in Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson

Another U.S. President from Virginia, Thomas Jefferson was a Renaissance man who explored numerous fields of knowledge—one of which was land surveying. Appointed County Surveyor for Albemarle County, Virginia in 1773, he would use the skills he acquired in that post as Secretary of State (under President Washington). According to historians, Jefferson helped manage teams of federal land surveyors who were responsible for the orderly settlement of the frontier.

Abraham Lincoln

Before he was a small-town lawyer and a U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln was a local land surveyor. Appointed Surveyor for Sangamon County, Illinois in 1833, young Lincoln was responsible for surveying roads, boundary lines, town lots, and settling boundary disputes.

Daniel Boone

Not every famous land surveyor was also a U.S. President. Daniel Boone was a early American explorer, woodsman, and pioneer. His intimate knowledge of the wilderness that is now Kentucky made him the few men qualified to survey the land of that region. As such, he was named Deputy County Surveyor for Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1783.

Lewis & Clark

Shortly after President Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, he commissioned an expedition to explore the new lands. Captain Meriwether Lewis and his friend, Second Lieutenant William Clark, were put in command. Both men had studied surveying; Lewis had been taught the subject by President Jefferson, while Clark had learned land surveying and mapping in the army. On the expedition, Lewis was responsible for most of the celestial observations, while Clark drew most of the maps.

A challenging profession, land surveying was instrumental to the creation of every modern nation. Because the United States was once an uncharted wilderness, many of its most famous citizens studied the science at some point. Some of them even accomplished great things with the help of their training.

Photo Credit: James Hawley

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