Thomas Hutchins (1730-1789) was a geographer, frontiersman, and engineer who served the British army as a surveyor; later fighting in the Revolutionary War to secure independence for America.
Hutchins took an oath of allegiance to the new nation and, on Benjamin Franklin’s advice, became Geographer for the United States.
Early Life and Education
Hutchins was sent to Harvard College by his affluent merchant father and shortly thereafter embarked on a successful maritime commerce and trading career in Massachusetts Bay Colony as well as participating in various Indian conferences.
In 1765, Hutchins published An Historical Account of Bouquet’s Expedition Against the Ohio Indians which featured maps that clearly identified Hutchins as its author.
Hutchins was committed to American independence. During the Revolutionary War, he risked travel to London so as to arrange further publication of his cartography materials on frontier America.
In 1781, he returned to the United States, joined the Continental Army, and served as geographer until his death in 1789. At that time, he was responsible for plotting out Northwest Territory under the Land Ordinance of 1785.
Thomas Hutchinson has over three decades of experience as a professional engineer working in the pipeline and energy industries. With both a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees to his name, his first experience was building pipelines and compressor stations for El Paso Natural Gas as part of Kinder Morgan’s interstate pipeline network before leading EH&S (environment, health and safety) organizations supporting chemical plants, refineries, power plants and coal mines.
He currently serves as Director of Homeland Security for Governor Hogan’s Office, overseeing several cabinet agencies such as Maryland State Police and Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. In his free time he enjoys waterfowl enforcement as a passion. Musically inclined, he founded Hutchins Consort – an ensemble consisting of eight string instruments from contrabass violin to tiny treble violin – as a means to celebrate music.
Achievement and Honors
During the American Revolution he was an ardent supporter of Patriot cause and contributed several historical documents to support it. Additionally he led Sons of Liberty movement as leader before signing Declaration of Independence as signatory. Later becoming geographer his journals of military expeditions across western country are invaluable historical sources.
Thomas Hutchinson was an exceptional frontiersman and engineer. He assisted in planning Fort Pitt, and took part in Bouquet’s expedition into Ohio Country as part of his response to Pontiac’s Rebellion.
Hutchins was highly appreciated during this march, prompting Bouquet to suggest rewarding him financially; however, Hutchins declined this offer, considering it improper to accept money from the Crown given that he was an upstanding citizen of Massachusetts.
Hutchins was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey and served in the British Army during the French and Indian War. He kept diaries of military expeditions into western territories which are valuable historical resources today.
Hutchins was an active supporter of the American Revolution despite being a loyalist himself, yet had difficulty reconciling his obligation to his family with helping build its new nation.
He was hired as a geographer by the newly founded United States in 1781 and charged with plotting land acquisitions for future acquisitions, although his efforts were hindered by hostility from Native Americans in Ohio’s northwest region. Three copies of his journal from this period can be found at APS; unfortunately he died from illness before finishing survey of seventh range.
Hutchins has long been engaged in charitable giving, giving away more than $25 million personally over time. He serves as vice-chair for the Obama Foundation as well as leading North Island, an investment firm specialising in private equity deals.
Thomas Hutchins graduated with a bachelor’s in civil engineering from New Mexico State University before working as a field engineer building pipelines for Kinder Morgan. To broaden his technical knowledge further, Thomas later pursued a master’s in business administration to round off his technical knowledge base.
Hutchins first served with the militia before earning a regular commission with the British army. As an expert cartographer and geographer, in 1781 he became known as the first “geographer of the United States”.