(born May 28, 1807, Motier, Switz.—died Dec. 14, 1873, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.) Swiss-born U.S. naturalist, geologist, and teacher. After studies in Switzerland and Germany, he moved to the U.S. in 1846. He did landmark work on glacier activity and extinct fishes. He became famous for his innovative teaching methods, which encouraged learning through direct observation of nature, and his term as a zoology professor at Harvard University revolutionized the study of natural history in the U.S.; every notable American teacher of natural history in the late 19th century was a pupil either of Agassiz or of one of his students. In addition, he was an outstanding science administrator, promoter, and fund-raiser. He was a lifelong opponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. His second wife, Elizabeth Agassiz, cofounder and first president of Radcliffe College, and his son, Alexander Agassiz, were also noted naturalists.
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Born in Paris, he studied at the École des Chartes and the École de Droit, and starting early on a legal career he rose to be counsellor to the Court of Cassation (1877 to 1900). His first publication was an Essai sur François Hotman (1850), completed later by his publication of Hotman's correspondence in the Revue historique (1876), and he devoted the whole of his leisure to legal history.
Of his writings may be mentioned:
On Greek law he wrote some notable works:
He collaborated with Theodore Reinach and B Haussoullier in their Recueil des inscriptions juridiques grecques (1905), and his name is worthily associated with the edition of Philippe de Beaumanoir's Coutumes de Beauvaisis, published by Salmon (2 vols., 1899, 1900).