William Saunders (botanist)
William Saunders (December 7, 1822 – September 11, 1900) was a botanist, nurseryman, landscape gardener, landscape designer, and horticulturist. As the nation’s chief experimental horticulturalist, he was responsible for the introduction of many fruits and vegetables to American agriculture; with seven others he founded the National Grange and Patrons of Husbandry.
William Saunders was born in Saint Andrews, Scotland. He served as the first Master (President) of the National Grange. He was a founder of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The other founders of the Grange were: Oliver Hudson Kelley, Francis M. McDowell, John Trimble, Aaron B. Grosh, John R. Thompson, William M. Ireland and Caroline A. Hall.
Botany and design
He was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first botanist and landscape designer. Saunders had been previously appointed to Superintendent of the Propagating Gardens in the Department of Agriculture, where he developed hundreds of plants, trees and shrubs that are grown throughout the United States.
An ardent botanist, he designed the cemetery at Gettysburg, for which the Gettysburg Address was written by President Lincoln as a dedication ode to those interred there. Saunders designed the park system in Washington, D.C., and oversaw the planting of 80,000 trees in the city.
He was crucial in the introduction of the seedless Navel Orange to California agriculture, by mailing three trees from Bahia, Brazil in the Department of Agriculture collection to farmer and friend Eliza Tibbets in Riverside County, Southern California. They were the basis of the state's successful 20th century citrus industry. One of two remaining original trees stands in the Mission Inn courtyard in downtown Riverside.
Film & TV
In the 2015 documentary film The Gettysburg Address, Saunders is portrayed by actor Victor Garber.
- Saunders was a nurseryman, landscape gardener, and horticulturist. Among other things he designed the Soldier's National Cemetery at Gettysburg and the Lincoln Monument in Springfield, Illinois. See biography in 1899, Meehan's Monthly, 9; William Saunders, "Experimental Gardens and Grounds," in USDA, Yearbook of Agriculture 1897, 180 ff; USDA, Yearbook of Agriculture 1900, 625 ff. As the nation’s chief experimental horticulturalist, he was responsible for the introduction of many fruits and vegetables to American agriculture; with five others he founded the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. L. H. Bailey,The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1930) 3: 1594-95. See also, US Dept of the Interior, Pioneers of American Landscape Design II (Washington: GPO, 2000) 132-137.
- (Harding, T. Swann, Two Blades of Grass, 1947)
- "Author Query for 'W.Saunders'". International Plant Names Index.