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In the 1780s, with the American Revolution a recent memory, Thomas Walter, an Englishman by birth, gained title to a large plantation in South Carolina. In addition to raising rice, he found time to prepare a tabulation of Carolina plants he found around him. Walter's Flora Caroliniana was the first flora written in America that used Linnaeus' classification system and binomial nomenclature. A large proportion of these plants were unknown to European botanists, and the names Walter gave them are used even today. Walter's botanical work has been appreciated, if incompletely known, among the successors of his science. But the man behind his work has remained a vague shadow, with few primary sources to document. Finally, this book puts on record what can be said about Thomas Walter and his botanical achievements.
The late Dr. Daniel B. Ward was born in 1928 in Crawfordsville, Indiana to a family proud of its pioneer heritage. He attended Wabash College receiving the A.B. degree in 1950. Shortly after graduating he moved to Ithaca, New York to work with the botanist Dr. Walter Muenscher at Cornell University. He received his Master's degree before joining the U.S. Army. He served for two years, first as cadre with the Chemical Corps Leadership Program at Fort McClellan, Alabama, then as a technician in developing and testing chemical munitions at the Edgewood Arsenal facility in Maryland.
Dr. Ward returned to Cornell in 1954 to work with Dr. Robert Clausen, with a thesis on the numerical analysis of northeastern species of Sisyrinchium (Iridaceae). He completed his Doctorate in l958. His study was among the first to employ mathematical techniques for plant classification. His career began as a staff member of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and curator of the Station's herbarium at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Later he would join the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where he retired in 1995 with the title of Professor Emeritus.
An important thrust of his work has been plant nomenclature, through which he has been influential in determining and stabilizing the technical names of many southeastern plant species. His attention to the early botanist Thomas Walter came through Walter's description of a tree supposedly of a pine, but which Ward realized was the first notation of the Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri). He is the author of two books, Endangered Biota of Florida: Plants and Big Trees, the Florida Register, as well as numerous technical papers.