Summary [from ABEBooks]: In becoming "a useful man" on the maritime stage, Matthew Fontaine Maury focused light on the ills of a clique-ridden Navy, charted sea lanes and bested Great Britain’s admiralty in securing the fastest, safest routes to India and Australia. He helped bind the Old and New worlds with the laying of the transatlantic cable, forcefully advocated Southern rights in a troubled union, and preached Manifest Destiny from the Arctic to Cape Horn. Late in life, he revolutionized warfare in perfecting electronically detonated mines. Maury’s eagerness to go to the public in person and in print on the questions of the day riled powerful men in business and politics, and the U.S., Confederate and Royal navies. They dismissed him as the "Man on the Hill." Over his career, Maury more than once ran afoul of Jefferson Davis, and Stephen R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States Navy. He argued against eminent members of the nation’s emerging scientific community in a decades-long debate over science for its own sake versus science for the people’s sake. Through the political, social and scientific struggles of his time, however, Maury had his share of powerful allies, like President John Tyler; but by the early 1870s they, too, were in eclipse or in the grave.
p. 48, in an early circumnavigation (1926) to the Indian Ocean aboard Vincennes, Maury “went through a course of study commencing with the rudiments of Euclid and extending to; the higher mathematics of LaPlace.”