Joseph Pitty Couthouy Photo

Joseph Pitty Couthouy

Born: Jan 6, 1808

Death: Apr 4, 1864

Nationality: United States

Joseph Pitty Couthouy

Date of Birth : Jan 6, 1808
Date of Death : Apr 4, 1864

Joseph Pitty Couthouy was an American naval officer, conchologist, and invertebrate palaeontologist. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he entered the Boston Latin School in 1820. He married Mary Greenwood Wild on 9 March 1832. Couthouy applied to President Andrew Jackson for a position on the Scientific Corps of the U.S. Navy's Exploring Expedition of 1838. President Jackson said that all positions were filled, to which Couthouy replied "Well General, I'll be hanged if I don't go, if I have to go before the mast!" The President replied "Go back to Boston and I will see if anything can be done for you." A few days later his commission was received. He sailed with the expedition on 18 August 1838, but was returned home from Honolulu in November 1840 by Lt. Charles Wilkes for "disobedience of orders." Although he meticulously labeled all of his specimens from the expedition, Dall recounts how "The authorities in Washington had appointed a reverened gentleman who knew nothing of science, with a fat salary, to unpack and take care of the specimens sent home by the expedition." This gentleman then separated the specimens from the tags thus rendering many of them useless.

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