Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

Biography of James Gates Percival

James Gates Percival was born on September 15, 1795 to the town of Berlin, Connecticut. At the young age of sixteen he went to Yale where he studied medicine and graduated in 1820 at the age of twenty. Soon after graduating college he moved to Charleston, South Carolina where continued practicing medicine as well as aiding Noah Webster in the composition of his American Dictionary of the English Language. Beginning in 1821 to 1823, Percival would most well be known for his volume of his poems that were highly received by the public. By 1824, Percival became an assistant surgeon for the United States Army. Shortly after, he became a professor at West Point Military Academy as a professor of chemistry where he resigned shortly after. In 1827, Percival settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where in 1835, he constructed a mineralogical and geological survey of Connecticut. Relatively soon after this, The American Mining Company nudged him to survey a lead-mining region located in Wisconsin. By 1854, Percival was appointed the role as the state geologist of Wisconsin. On a more personal note, “Percival never married, cared little for society, and was said never to be so happy as when ‘with a book in his library, or the geologist's hammer in his hand’” ("James Gates Percival”). On May 2, 1856, Percival died in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. James Gates Percival was a “poet, scientist, botanist, linguist, and musician, and was a precocious child, and a morbid and impractical, though versatile man, with a fatal facility in writing verse on all manner of subjects and in nearly every known meter.” His name remains one of polarizing air, but the quality of his work cannot be overlooked.

Works Cited

“James Gates Percival.” Penny's Poetry Pages Wiki,

“James Gates Percival.” Galenapoetryfestival,