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was an American military engineer, cartographer, geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...
Surveyor may refer to:Professions and their activities* Surveying, the process of determining accurate positions on, or near the Earth's surface** Cadastral surveying, the process of establishing boundary locations and land parcel corners...
He joined the militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...
during the French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...
and later took a regular commission with British forces. He resigned this in 1780 during the American War of Independence.
Hutchins was the first and only Geographer of the United States (see Department of the Geographer to the Army, 1777-1783) from 1781. He became an early advocate of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...
, proposing that America should annex West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...
and Louisiana which were then controlled by Spain.
Hutchins died on assignment while surveying the Seven Ranges
The Seven Ranges was a land tract in eastern Ohio that was the first tract to be surveyed in what became the Public Land Survey System. The tract is across the northern edge, on the western edge, with the south and east sides along the Ohio River...
- The Thomas Hutchins Papers, spanning the bulk of Hutchins's career from the 1750s to the 1780s, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is a historical society founded in 1824 and based in Philadelphia. The Society's building, designed by Addison Hutton and listed on Philadelphia's Register of Historical Places, houses some 600,000 printed items and over 19 million manuscript and graphic items...