by Jean Lee Latham
Nathaniel Bowditch's story is both exciting and inspiring - especially for homeschool students.
After only a few years of school, Nathaniel was apprenticed at the age of 12 to a bookkeeper at a shipping business.
When not at work, he determined to learn everything he could, persuading a local doctor to let him use his private library
for study. In the next few years, Nathaniel taught himself mathematics, navigation and several foreign languages among other things.
When his indenture was finished, he went to sea, serving as a ship's clerk. But soon he was
teaching navigation to the seamen!
Eventually, he wrote a new book of navigation, correcting the mathematical errors he had found
in the most prominent navigation manual of his day. In doing so, he saved untold thousands of lives and ultimately
was awarded an honorary degree by Harvard University for his work.
Reading level: 6th grade