Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ROSS, Alexander Milton, Canadian naturalist, born in Belleville, Ont., 13 December, 1832. He attended school at Belleville till his eleventh year, when the death of his father compelled his removal. He evinced a great love for natural history at an early age. In his boyhood he came to New York city, and after struggling with many adversities became a compositor on the "Evening Post." William Cullen Bryant, its editor, was much interested in him, and remained his friend ever afterward. During this period he became acquainted with Garibaldi, who was then a resident of New York; and in 1874 Ross was instrumental in securing a pension for Garibaldi from the Italian government. In 1851 he began the study of medicine under the direction of Dr Valentine Mott, in New York, and after four years of unremitting toil, working as a compositor during the day and studying medicine at night, he received his degree of M.D. in 1855. Soon after his graduation he was appointed a surgeon in the forces in Nicaragua, under William Walker. In 1856 he became actively engaged in the anti-slavery struggle in the United States, becoming a personal friend of John Brown. During the civil war he served for a short time as a surgeon in the National army, and afterward he was employed by President Lincoln as confidential correspondent in Canada, where he rendered important services to the United States government, receiving the thanks of the president and Sec. Seward. At the close of the war Dr. Ross offered his services to President Juarez of Mexico, and received the appointment of surgeon in the Mexican army. After the overthrow of the empire he returned to Canada and began to collect and classify the fauna and flora of that country, a work that had never before been attempted by a native. He has collected and classified hundreds of species of birds, eggs, mammals, reptiles, and fresh-water fish, 3,400 species of insects, and 2,000 species of Canadian flora. After his return to Canada he became a member of the College of physicians and surgeons of Quebec and Ontario, and was one of the founders of the Society for the diffusion of physiological knowledge in 1881. Dr. Ross has been appointed treasurer and commissioner of agriculture for the province of Ontario, and he has removed from Montreal to Toronto. He was knighted by the emperor of Russia, and by the kings of Italy, Greece, and Saxony in 1876, and by the king of Portugal in 1877. He was appointed consul in Canada by the kings of Belgium and Denmark, and received the decoration of the "Academie Francaise" from the government of France in 1879. He is a member of many scientific societies, and is the author of "Recollections of an Abolitionist" (Montreal, 1867) ; "Birds of Canada" (1872) ; "Butterflies and Moths of Canada" (1873); " Flora of Canada" (1873): "Forest Trees of Canada," (1874) ; " Ferns and Wild Flowers of Canada" (1877) ; "Mammals, Reptiles, and Fresh-water Fishes of Canada " (1878); " Vaccination a Medical Delusion" (1885); and " Medical Practice of the Future" (1887).
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