ABSTRACT

The life of Edwin James (1797–1861) is bookended by the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803–06) and the Civil War (1861–65). James was born in Vermont and graduated from Middlebury College in 1816. He rapidly became acquainted with a circle of prominent scientists and presented early botanical and geological work at the Troy Lyceum in New York (Benson, “Edwin James” 7, 14–25). 1 The 1819–20 expedition to the Rocky Mountains led by Major Stephen H. Long employed James as a botanist and surgeon. When James is mentioned today, it is usually in connection with the first recorded ascent of Pikes Peak, which occurred during the Long expedition. In fact, Pikes Peak was briefly known as James Peak in his honor. James’s solid botanical descriptions and specimens are recognized as offering the first recorded examples of many North American plants, especially those collected in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. One was a blue columbine (James called it Aquilegia caerulea), which is now the state flower of Colorado. Another was an alpine shrub commonly known as cliffbush or waxflower, which was given the scientific name Jamesia americana Torr. & Gray (Williams 22–23).