his fathera shipmaster in Salem, Massashusettsfaced
financial troubles, Nathaniels formal education ended. Self-education
continued on his five voyages on merchant ships destined for India
After becoming the head of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance
Company in Salem in 1804, Bowditch became, until his death, actuary
of the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company. Because
this position provided him time for research and writing, he declined
election as professor of mathematics and philosophy at Harvard,
as well as offers from West Point and the University of Virginia.
His publications include The New American Practical Navigator
(1802), still used for sea navigation, and his translation and
annotation of La Places five-volume summary of the progress
of astronomy, Traite de mechanique celeste.
He was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society of London,
president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellow
of the Harvard Corporation.