John Leonard Riddell
John Leonard Riddell (February 20, 1807 – October 7, 1865) was a science lecturer, botanist, geologist, medical doctor, chemist, microscopist, numismatist, politician, and science fiction author in the United States. He was born in Leyden, Massachusetts, the son of John Riddell and Lephe Gates. He received his B.A. and M.A. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from professor Amos Eaton and his M.D. from Cincinnati College in 1836.
He lectured in Ogdensburg, New York, and then in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. From 1836 until his death in 1865, he was Professor of Chemistry at the Medical College of Louisiana (now Tulane University) in New Orleans. While there, he invented the first practical microscope to enable binocular viewing of objects through a single objective lens. In 1850, he also undertook one of the earliest and most extensive American microscopic investigations of cholera.
Riddell published a science fiction story giving an account of a fictional former student named Orrin Lindsay, who travelled to the moon and Mars.
Following his botanical explorations of Texas, he was appointed melter and refiner of the New Orleans Mint, a position confirmed by President John Tyler following an internal mint dispute. He likewise was appointed Postmaster of New Orleans, which position he held even during the Civil War despite Confederate appointments intended to displace him.
Active in local and state politics, he seems to have claimed to have been elected Governor of Louisiana in November, 1863 and sworn in by a Justice of the Peace in January, 1864. During this time the military Governor George F. Shepley was still in actual power. His governorship was rejected in the course of a Congressional inquiry into a contested election in the House.
- American National Biography, Oxford Univ. Press, 2004
- Riddell JL (1854). "On the binocular microscope". Quart J Microsc Sci 2: 18–24.
- Gage SH (1964). "Microscopy in America (1830-1945)". Transactions Amer Microscopical Soc. LXXXIII (4 (Supplement)): 54–55.
- Cassedy JH (1973). "John L. Riddell's Vibrio biceps: Two documents on American microscopy and cholera etiology 1849-59". J Hist Med 28 (2): 101–108.
- Dexter RW (1988). "The Early Career of John L. Riddell as a Science Lecturer in the 19th Century". Ohio J Sci 88 (5): 184–188.
- United States Congressional Serial Set by United States Government Printing Office - 38th Cong. 1865 p.582
- "Author Query for 'Riddell'". International Plant Names Index.
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