Three Iconic U.S. Presidents Began as Land Surveyors

Land surveyors have been a crucial part of the expansion and development of our country. In fact, some of our nation’s most famous Presidents held this occupation. Prior to presidency, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson had esteemed positions as surveyors in their home states.

Before becoming the first President of the United States, George Washington worked as a surveyor in his home state of Virginia. Hired by Thomas Lord Fairfax, Virginia’s greatest landowner, and appointed by the College of William and Mary, Washington became the Surveyor General for Virginia at the young age of 17. He then became the first Registered County Surveyor in America.

Thomas Jefferson was also a Surveyor General. He studied under George Wythe, a skilled surveyor and mathematician. On October 14, 1773, Jefferson was appointed the County Surveyor for Albemarle County, Virginia. When he became Secretary of State and later as President, his experience in surveying allowed him to instruct and appoint surveyors to official posts, greatly aiding the nation in settlement.

Prior to entering the political scene, Abraham Lincoln also served as deputy county surveyor in Illinois. Learning from John Calhoun, his mentor, he was able to gain great insight of land ownership and boundaries. When Lincoln served as a Representative in the Illinois State Legislature from 1834-1842, his experience in surveying largely influenced his policies regarding land distribution.

Land surveying is an important profession that has played a vital role in many aspects of society dating back to the beginning of time. A huge part of how the United States came to be can be credited to land surveyors. Then and still now, surveying provides accurate and important information about a property’s physical characteristics, needed for all types of work.

At Finelli Consulting Engineers, a Division of UTRS, our expert team of licensed engineers, planners, surveyors, and environmental specialists have been delivering innovative, cost-effective solutions throughout northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania since 2000. For more information regarding our diverse range of services, please contact us at 908-835-9500.


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