Mark Teeter as Humboldt
Who in the world was Alexander von Humboldt?
He took science to uncharted jungles and some of the tallest mountains in the world. He created entire scientific fields. He insisted on accurate observation of the smallest details, and he sought the connections that would describe the cosmos. He explored the wonder—and he returned to talk and write about it, so we could share in that exploration.
Along the way he asserted the wisdom and dignity of Indigenous cultures, and championed freedom for all. "The principle of individual and political freedom is implanted in the ineradicable conviction of the equal rights of one sole human race," he wrote. "All are alike designed for freedom."
He was a hero of both intellectual and popular culture in the 19th century. He was the most famous scientist in the world, and next to Napoleon, the most famous individual.
Though this “second discoverer of America” and “father of modern America” is almost unknown in the U.S. today, Cornell historian Aaron Sachs writes that his “radical approach to nature and humanity makes him an astonishingly relevant figure for the twenty-first century.”