Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Samuel M. Craver


Several studies have examined the life of William Small but only in respect to certain phases of his life, particularly Small's connections to Thomas Jefferson, James Watt, or the Birmingham Lunar Society. In 1758 William Small was recruited for the post of professor of mathematics at the College of William and Mary. From 1760 through 1762, he was Thomas Jefferson's only professor at the College of William and Mary. In 1764 Small returned to England and, with the assistance of Benjamin Franklin and others, became physician and scientific advisor to Matthew Boulton, a wealthy industrialist. Small, Boulton, and Erasmus Darwin established the celebrated Birmingham Lunar Society, which played an important role in the industrialization of Britain in the late eighteenth century. In 1767, Small met James Watt and thus began a collaboration that produced the steam engine. While American scholars have concentrated on Small's influence on Thomas Jefferson, British scholars have focused on Small's role in the Birmingham Lunar Society or his role in the development of the steam engine. This study examines Small's life in its entirety. Areas of Small's life overlooked by previous studies include his early life and education, the substance of his teaching career at the College of William and Mary, and his medical career. The true extent of Small's influences and the connections that he maintained between British and American intellectuals can only be seen by examining his life in its entirety. This study sought to bring together the disparate elements of Small's life in order to make clearer his place in history.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

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