Archie Alexander

Last updated

Archie Alexander
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands
In office
April 9, 1954 August 31, 1955
Preceded by Morris de Castro
Succeeded by Charles Claunch (Acting)
Personal details
Born(1888-05-14)May 14, 1888
Ottumwa, Iowa, U.S.
DiedJanuary 4, 1958(1958-01-04) (aged 69)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Republican
Audra Linzy
(m. 1913;died 1975)

Archie Alphonso Alexander (May 14, 1888 – January 4, 1958) was an African-American mathematician and engineer. He was an early African-American graduate of the University of Iowa and the first to graduate from the University of Iowa's College of Engineering. He was also a governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mathematician person with an extensive knowledge of mathematics

A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics in his or her work, typically to solve mathematical problems.

Engineer Professional practitioner of engineering and its sub classes

Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are professionals who invent, design, analyze, build, and test machines, systems, structures and materials to fulfill objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost. The word engineer is derived from the Latin words ingeniare and ingenium ("cleverness"). The foundational qualifications of an engineer typically include a four-year bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, or in some jurisdictions, a master's degree in an engineering discipline plus four to six years of peer-reviewed professional practice and passage of engineering board examinations.

University of Iowa Public research university in Iowa City, Iowa, United States

The University of Iowa is a public research university in Iowa City, Iowa. Founded in 1847, it is the oldest and the second largest university in the state. The University of Iowa is organized into 11 colleges offering more than 200 areas of study and seven professional degrees.


Alexander was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, the son of Price and Mary Alexander. When the family moved to a farm outside Des Moines, Price became head custodian at the Des Moines National Bank. Attending Oak Park Grammar School, Oak Park High School and Highland Park College for one year, Archie began his engineering education at the State University of Iowa (The University of Iowa). [1] When three colleges merged Highland Park College became part of Des Moines College. "Although he initially went to Des Moines College and attempted to join the white-only American football team there, he was declined. As a result, he played tackle from 1910 to 1912 [at Iowa] and was nicknamed 'Alexander the Great'." [2] During the summer Alexander worked as a draftsman for Marsh Engineers, a Des Moines bridge-designing firm and in 1912, he received a bachelor of science degree, becoming the University of Iowa's first black football player and engineer. [3]

Ottumwa, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Ottumwa is a city in and the county seat of Wapello County, Iowa, United States. The population was 25,023 at the 2010 U.S. Census. Located in the state's southeastern part, the city is split into northern and southern halves by the Des Moines River.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

After graduation, Alexander worked as a foreman for a bridge-building company before going into business for himself in 1917. Continuing his education at the University of London, Alexander studied bridge design in and obtained a degree in civil engineering in 1925 from the State University of Iowa.

University of London federal public university in London, United Kingdom

The University of London is a collegiate federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2018, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.

Civil engineering engineering discipline and economic branch specialising in design, construction and maintenance of the built environment

Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways. Civil engineering is traditionally broken into a number of sub-disciplines. It is considered the second-oldest engineering discipline after military engineering, and it is defined to distinguish non-military engineering from military engineering. Civil engineering takes place in the public sector from municipal through to national governments, and in the private sector from individual homeowners through to international companies.

In 1929, he formed Alexander & Repass, where he would work until his death. They were responsible for the construction of many roads and bridges, including the Whitehurst Freeway, the Tidal Basin Bridge, and an extension to the Baltimore–Washington Parkway. With his business partner, George Higbee, Alexander designed the Tuskegee Airfield and the Iowa State University heating and cooling system.

Tidal Basin lake in Washington, D.C.

The Tidal Basin is a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Washington, D.C. It is part of West Potomac Park and is a focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring. The Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the George Mason Memorial are situated adjacent to the Tidal Basin. The basin covers an area of about 107 acres (43 ha) and is 10 feet (3.0 m) deep.

Bridge structure built to span physical obstacles

A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle, such as a body of water, valley, or road, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle, usually something that can be detrimental to cross otherwise. There are many different designs that each serve a particular purpose and apply to different situations. Designs of bridges vary depending on the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed and anchored, the material used to make it, and the funds available to build it.

Baltimore–Washington Parkway historic National Parkway and highway in Maryland, United States

The Baltimore–Washington Parkway is a highway in the U.S. state of Maryland, running southwest from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The road begins at an interchange with U.S. Route 50 (US 50) near Cheverly in Prince George's County at the D.C. border, and continues northeast as a parkway maintained by the National Park Service (NPS) to MD 175 near Fort Meade, serving many federal institutions. This portion of the parkway is dedicated to Gladys Noon Spellman, a representative of Maryland's 5th congressional district, and has the unsigned Maryland Route 295 (MD 295) designation. Commercial vehicles, including trucks, are prohibited within this stretch. This section is administered by the NPS' Greenbelt Park unit. After leaving park service boundaries the highway is maintained by the state and signed with the MD 295 designation. This section of the parkway passes near Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Upon entering Baltimore, the Baltimore Department of Transportation takes over maintenance of the road and it continues north to an interchange with Interstate 95 (I-95). Here, the Baltimore–Washington Parkway ends and MD 295 continues north unsigned on Russell Street, which carries the route north into downtown Baltimore. In downtown Baltimore, MD 295 follows Paca Street northbound and Greene Street southbound before ending at US 40.

In 1934, Alexander was appointed as one of a 12-member commission to investigate the social and economic conditions in Haiti. In 1946, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering by Howard University.

Haiti country in the Caribbean

Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti and formerly called Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola, east of Cuba in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 10.8 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.

The Doctor of Engineering, or Engineering Doctorate, is a doctoral degree awarded on the basis of advanced study and research in engineering and applied sciences. In most of the countries it is a terminal research doctorate; in the United Kingdom it can be a higher doctorate. An EngD degree is essentially an engineering PhD with a solid industrial base and an additional taught element.

Howard University university in Washington D.C.

Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. It is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with higher research activity and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

In 1954, Alexander was appointed Governor of the United States Virgin Islands by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was the first Republican governor there since the establishment of the civil government. His tenure at the post was short and controversial. In 1955, he was highly criticized for favoring old business partners in contracts for road building on St. Thomas. The United States House of Representatives launched a probe and he subsequently resigned on August 18, 1955, ostensibly for health reasons. He died in 1958 in Des Moines, Iowa. Alexander was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th president of the United States

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

The Archie Alphonso Alexander Papers are held at the University of Iowa Special Collections & University Archives.

Non-recipient of the Spingarn Medal

Some sources, including Alexander's obituary in The New York Times , incorrectly credit him as winner of the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1928. The award went to author Charles W. Chesnutt; Alexander never received one.

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  1. Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (2004). African-American Architects : A Biographical Dictionary 1865–1945. New York, NY 10001: Routledge. pp. 11–12. ISBN   0-415-92959-8.
  2. Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (2004). African-American Architects : A Biographical Dictionary 1865–1945. New York, NY 10001: Routledge. pp. 11–12. ISBN   0-415-92959-8.
  3. Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (2004). African-American Architects : A Biographical Dictionary 1865–1945. New York, NY 10001: Routledge. pp. 11–12. ISBN   0-415-92959-8.
Political offices
Preceded by
Morris de Castro
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands
Succeeded by
Charles Claunch