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Edward Payson Evans

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Edward Payson Evans
From Hinsdale, History of the University of Michigan
Born(1831-12-08)December 8, 1831
DiedMarch 6, 1917(1917-03-06) (aged 85)
EducationUniversity of Michigan (BA, 1854)
Occupation(s)Scholar, linguist, educator
Years active1855–1917
Notable workThe Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals (1906)
Elizabeth Edson Gibson
(m. 1868; died 1911)

Edward Payson Evans (December 8, 1831 – March 6, 1917) was an American scholar, linguist, educator, and early advocate for animal rights. He is best known for his 1906 book on animal trials, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals.



Evans was born in Remsen, New York, in 1831.[1] His father was the Reverend Evan Evans,[2] a Welsh Presbyterian clergyman.[3] Evans earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1854.[2] He then taught at an academy in Hernando, Mississippi, in 1855, before becoming a professor at Carroll University (then Carroll College) in Waukesha, Wisconsin from 1856 to 1857.[4]

From 1858 to 1862, he traveled abroad, studying at the universities of Göttingen, Berlin and Munich.[5] On his return to the United States, he became professor of modern languages at the University of Michigan.[5] In 1868, he married Elizabeth Edson Gibson,[6] and in 1870, Evans resigned his position at Michigan to travel abroad again, where he gathered materials for a history of German literature,[5] and made a specialty of studying oriental languages.[7]

While living in Munich, he became a fixture at the Royal Library of Munich,[8] and joined the staff of the political journal Allgemeine Zeitung in 1884.[4] Evans' wife died in 1911 and when the First World War broke out in 1914, he returned to the United States, where he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York City.[8]

Evans died at his home in New York City, on March 6, 1917.[3]



Evans' 1906 book The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, is considered to be the seminal work on the topic of animal trials.[9] In recent years the book has been the subject of several critiques.[10]

Environmental historian Roderick Nash argues that both Evans and J. Howard Moore, "deserve more recognition than they have received as the first professional philosophers in the United States to look beyond anthropocentrism."[11]

Selected works







  • Adolf Stahr, The Life and Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (with an introduction; 2 vols., Boston, 1866)
  • Athanase Josué Coquerel, First Historical Transformations of Christianity (1867)


  1. ^ Heyse, Paul Johann Ludwig von (1899). "Evans, Edward P. geb. 1831 in Remsen (Staat NY), gest. 1917" [Evans, Edward P. born 1831 in Remsen (NY State), died 1917]. Das literarische München: 25 Porträtskizzen [The Literary Munich: 25 Portrait Sketches] (in German).
  2. ^ a b Hinsdale, B. A.; Demmon, Isaac Newton (1906). History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. p. 237.
  3. ^ a b "Edward Payson Evans Dies". The New York Times. March 8, 1917. p. 11. Retrieved January 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b "Evans, Edward Payson" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900. p. 381.
  5. ^ a b c "Evans, Edward P." . The American Cyclopædia. Vol. VI. 1879.
  6. ^ "Evans, Elizabeth Edson". Chicago Examiner. Vol. 9, no. 230. September 15, 1911. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  7. ^ "Evans, Edward Payson" . Encyclopedia Americana. Vol. X. 1920.
  8. ^ a b Evans, Edward Payson; Humphrey, Nicholas (1987). "Foreword". The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals. London: Faber & Faber. p. xxviii. ISBN 978-0-571-14893-6.
  9. ^ Szerlip, B. Alexandra (June 25, 2021). "Animal Trials: The Quest for Order in a Chaotic World". Berfrois. Archived from the original on June 25, 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  10. ^ "Commissioned Text: Aleks Pluskowski on YEAST". [ SPACE ]. September 2016. Archived from the original on May 16, 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  11. ^ Nash, Roderick Frazier (1989). The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-299-11843-3.[permanent dead link]