Nathaniel Lupton

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Nathaniel Lupton

Nathaniel Thomas Lupton (born December 30, 1830 in Frederick County, Virginia; died June 11, 1893 in Auburn) was President of the University of Alabama from 1871 to 1874 and State Chemist of Alabama from 1885 until his death.

Lupton, the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Hodges Lupton of Virginia, studied at Newark Academy in Delaware. He enrolled at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1846 and graduated in 1849, intending to pursue a legal career. Instead he accepted an offer to join the faculty of the Aberdeen Female College in Mississippi as a professor of chemistry. The following year he moved to a similar position at Petersuburg College in Virginia. After a year there, he was chosen as the college's president for two years.

In 1854 Lupton married Ella Virginia Allemong of Newtown, Virginia. The couple had three daughters.

In 1856 Lupton joined the faculty of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia as a chemistry professor. He accepted an offer to move to Alabama and create a chemistry program at the newly-opened Southern University in Greensboro, Hale County beginning in 1859. During 1858 he traveled to Europe to secure equipment and to study under Robert Bunsen at the University of Heidelberg.

During the Civil War, Lupton served with the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau, which produced gunpowder in Selma until it was destroyed by Union troops in 1865. Lupton returned to his teaching post until he was named chair of chemistry and fifth president of the University of Alabama in 1871, charged with overseeing the first steps toward the rebuilding of its war-damaged campus.

Lupton left Tuscaloosa to serve as professor and head of the School of Pharmacy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He returned to Europe to secure supplies for that department's laboratories and attended the Congress of Orientalists in London in 1874. He returned to Alabama in 1885 to become a professor and State Chemist at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in Auburn and remained at that post until his death at age 62. During that period he published several works on the use of organic phosphates as commercial fertilizers. He is buried at Pine Hill Cemetery in Auburn.

Lupton was vice president of the American Chemical Society and vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1880. During his academic career, Lupton also became involved with numerous mining ventures, natural science surveys and archeological activities in the Western United States and Mexico.

Preceded by:
Matthew Maury
President of the University of Alabama
Succeeded by:
Carlos Smith


  • Lupton, Nathaniel (1880) "The Elementary Principles of Scientific Agriculture" New York: D. Appleton and Company
  • Lupton, Nathaniel (1890) Nitrogen as a Fertilizer. Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station, No. 8. Auburn: Agricultural and Mechanical College
  • Lupton, Nathaniel (1891) Effects on Butter by Feeding Cotton Seed and Cotton Seed Meal. Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station, No. 14. Auburn: Agricultural and Mechanical College
  • Lupton, Nathaniel (1892) Effect of Decomposing Organic Matter on Natural Phosphates
  • Lupton, Nathaniel (1893) The Effect of Organic Matter on Natural Phosphates: Commercial Fertilizers