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The Erld (if tile Ni~ete/~ntri Century WILLIAM BARTON ROGERS (187~1882) The single stated function of the Academy, as set down in its Charter: whenever called upon by any department of the Government. investigate. examine, and report upon any subject of science or art O was sufficiently broad to allow succeeding presidents a certain leeway ~ · . at Interpretation. Thus Bache, the pragmatist, had realistically seen as preeminent the want of an institution by which the scientific strength of the country may be brought, from time to time, to the aid of the government in guiding action by the knowledge of scientific principles and experiments.... No govern- ment of Europe has been willing to dispense with a body, under some name, capable of rendering such aid to the government, and in turn of illustrating the country by scientific discovery and by literary culture." NAS, Annual Report for 1863, p. I. 134
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The End of the Nineteenth Century / 135 William Barton Rogers, President of the Academy, 1879-1882 (Photograph courtesy Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Henry's ideal of pure science reflected the European conception of science for science's sake. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the idea was widely debated in the United States, which placed high value upon invention and technology. Even in the twen- tieth century, the issue of balanced support between basic research and technology has never been fully resolved.2 O. C. Marsh, who became Acting President upon Henry's death, modified but did not drastically change Henry's interpretation. The Academy was "to advance science, and especially to investi- gate . . . and report on any subject of science or art whenever called upon....''5 2 George H. Daniel, "The Pure-Science Ideal and Democratic Culture," Science 156:1699-1705 (June SO, ~967). S NAS, Annual Report for 1878, p.
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36 / WILLIAM BARTON ROGERS (~8~88~) William Barton Rogers, who became President in ~879, went a step further in seeing as a role of the Academy the obligation to bring to the attention of the government scientific matters relevant to the public welfare. As he declared in his first report to Congress, The object of the academy is to advance science, pure and applied, by original researches; to invite the attention and aid of the government to scientific inquiries of especial public importance, to be directed by the academy; and especially to investigate . . . any subject of science . . . whenever called upon by any department of the government.4 When William Barton Rogers assumed the presidency ot the Academy, he was nearly seventy-five and far from well. He was also President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a demanding job in itself. Nevertheless, when he received the telegram notifying him of his election, he left his sick bed in Cambridge and took the night train to Washington, arriving early on the morning of the last day of the meeting to accept the office.5 Although he was an active advocate of technical education and an administrator and counsellor most of his life, Rogers was also an outstanding scientist. With his brother Henry he had published in ~84z a paper entitled "The Laws of Structure of the More Disturbed Zones of the Earth's Crust"; his wave theory of mountain chains was the first real contribution to dynamic and structural geology in this country and his enduring monument in science. Marsh had rightly called him "the Nestor of American geology" when he named him to the Committee on a Plan for Surveying and Mapping the Territories of the United States.6 Upon his arrival in Washington in April ~879, Rogers found a new request before the Academy, asking its assistance on behalf of the National Board of Health, provisionally established by Congress just the month before. Acting President Marsh had already appointed a committee of nine, headed by S. Weir Mitchell, to consider the matter. Mitchell, a distinguished practicing neurologist in Philadelphia, who had served as a surgeon in the Union Army, had been Henry's friend and personal physician. In addition to his medical writings, which included Wear and Tear (~87~), Injuries of Nerves and Their Consequences (~8~), and Fat and Blood (~8~), he was an author and 4 NAS, Annual Report for 1879, , p. 5. s Emma S. Rogers, (ed.), Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., ~896), vol. II, p. 359. 6 NAS, Biographical Memoirs 3 :6-7; NAS, Annual Report for 1878, p. 7.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century / 13~7 poet with an assured place in American letters. His best-known novel is probably Hugh Wynne: Free Quaker. The National Board of Health had been set up as the result of an epidemic of yellow fever that struck New Orleans in the summer of ~878 and spread up the Mississippi River as far as Memphis and east to Chattanooga. Before it began to wane, the epidemic had struck at least eighty thousand persons, killing between sixteen thousand and twenty thousand and creating panic through the South. There was a Marine Hospital Service at that time that looked after merchant seamen, but no national agency for public health, and Congress had acted. The legislation that established the National Board of Health had directed the Academy to appoint a committee to assist the Board's military and civilian physicians in their organization and planning for a national public health service and program. The detailed report of the committee was submitted to Congress as a joint report of the Academy and the Board in January ~880.7 At the request of the Board, the Academy committee continued in an advisory capacity for some years; but the Board, beset by conflicts with state and local medical authorities and with the Marine Hospital Service, declined rapidly in ~88~. In April ~886, when four years had passed without a request for its assistance, the Academy committee was discharged. The Board itself ended in ~893. The functions that it had been established to fulfill were performed to an ever increasing extent by the Marine Hospital Service, which evolved into the Public Health Service early in the next century.8 The sense of activity and purpose in the Academy that began with Rogers's arrival in Washington continued throughout his term. Early in ~880 Congress passed an act calling on the Secretary of the Interior and the Academy to examine the parchment of the Declaration of Independence and determine ways to prevent its deterioration. Early in ~88~, the Academy committee recommended that no attempt be made to restore the manuscript by chemical means, since such methods were "at best imperfect and uncertain. . ., and partly be- cause . . . the injury to the document . . . is due, not merely to the fading of the ink employed, but also . . . to the fact that press copies 7 NAS, Annual Reportfor 1879, pp. 6-7; correspondence in NAS Archives: Committee to Co-operate with National Board of Health: ~880. 8"Minutes of the Academy," April ~886, p. too; A. Hunter Dupree, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ~957), pp. 258-263.
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I38 / WILLIAM BARTON ROGERS (~8~88~) have been taken from the original, so that a part of the ink has been removed from the parchment."9 As a result of the Academy's report, the Declaration of Indepen- dence was covered by wooden doors. In ~894 it was removed from exhibition, sealed between glass plates, and placed in a steel safe to protect it from further exposure to light and from careless handling. There it remained until ~ god, when a second Academy committee was requested by Secretary of State John Hay, who was concerned that the document was still deteriorating. The committee examined the doc- ument again and agreed with the first committee as to the principal causes of the deterioration and as to the best means of preventing further damage. Following the report, the safe containing the Decla- ration was opened only once during the next decade, in May ~9 ~ ~.~° Three more requests came to the Academy in ~88~ and another three the following year, all of transient interest except one, "on questions of meteorological science." At the request of the Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Army's Signal Service, who was seeking to advance that science and its application to agriculture and commerce, President Rogers appointed a committee of consulting specialists under Simon Newcomb. The committee made no reports, but pro- vided continuing information and advice to the Army Signal Service until ~884, when a congressional commission disputed the place of meteorology in that Service. William Rogers's presidency appears to have been a time of recon- ciliation and reassessment, the meetings in that period easy, well attended, and productive. To the number of illustrious names en- tered on the Academy rolls in the decade before- Newcomb, Cope, Hayden, Marsh, King, Langley, and Charles S. Peirce were added during Rogers's brief office the meteorologist Cleveland Abbe, mathe- matician and physicist [osanh Willard Gibbs (his election the first real recognition of his extraordinary genius), geologist John Wesley Powell, the precocious young Johns Hopkins physicist Henry A. Rowland, and 9 Frederick True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, 1863-1913 (Washington, ~9~3), p. 28 ~ . In ~823 a copperplate facsimile of the Declaration was made by order of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, from which 200 copies were struck off and distributed in accordance with a Congressional resolution. 'I True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 27~284. In ~92 ~ the parchment was removed from the safe in the State Department library to the Library of Congress. Since ~95", under carefully controlled conditions, it has been on exhibition in the National Archives. ~~ NAS, Proceedings, April ~88 I, pp. ~8 ~-~82; NAS, Annaul Report for 1884, p. ~ i.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century / 139 the Hopkins chemist Ira Ren?sen. The members now numbered above ninety, and they continued prolific in their preparation of scientific papers. The Annual Reportfor 1883 listed a total of 777 papers read before the Academy since ~864. Of these, the Academy had printed only five in the first volume of its Memoirs, published in ~866.~2 Acting on Rogers's suggestion at the April ~882 meeting that the Memoirs series be resumed, President Marsh included four papers with his ,883 report to Congress, which the Government Printing Office published as Volume ~ of the Memoirs in ~884. Publication of the Memoirs at government expense continued intermittently well into the next cen- tury; the last volume, Volume 23, was published in ~94~.~3 Rogers did not see the second volume. A disability with which he had lived for many years, "rendering intellectual exertions highly dangerous to his life," had forced him in To to resign the presi- dency of MIT. In ~ 8~8 he was able to resume that of fice and continued as its head until physical infirmities led him to resign once again in ~88~. Ire Cambridge on May 30, ~882, in his third year as President of the Academy, he was presenting diplomas to the graduating class of MIT when "he fell to the platform instantly dead."~4 ~ . Be. ~ ~e ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . ~ . . . ~ OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (1883 - 1895) Following Rogers's death, Marsh again became Acting President of the Academy, serving until the following April, when Wolcott Gibbs was elected to the presidency. Gibbs at once declined to serve, saying "that a sense of duty . . . owing to various engagements . . . obliged him to decline," and on the next ballot Marsh was elected the new President.~5 His twelve years in that office was the longest term of any JONAS, Proceedings, August ~865, p. 5~; NAS, Ann~IReportfor1883, pp. 34-56. IS NAS, Proceedings, November ~88~, pp. 199-200; True, a Hilton of the First Half- Centu~y of the National Academy of Sciences, p. 62. For Spencer F. Baird's comments, see "Minutes of the Academy," April ~880, p. 574. The printing of Academy Annual Reports and Memoirs was provided for by a public law passed on January ~2, ~895 ("Minutes of the Academy," April ~895, p. 432; NAS Archives: CONGRESS: Acts: Public Printing: ~895). See p. ~53 and note 50 in this chapter. 4 NAS, Biographical Memoirs 3: 12. ~5 "Minutes of the Academy," April ~883, p. ~5.
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140 / OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (1883—1895) Academy President until it was equaled by that of Detlev W. Bronk, elected President in two. Born to affluence, 0. C. Marsh had studied geology and paleontol- ogy under Dana and Silliman, Jr., at Yale. After three years' study in Germany, at Heidelberg, Berlin, and Breslau, he returned to Yale in 1866 to a new chair of paleontology created for him. He held it until he died, in 1899. A large, robust, and full-bearded man and a dedicated scientist, Marsh remained a bachelor all his life, austere, reluctantly sociable, and endowed with a splendid presence. By the middle Ados his discoveries in the West of fossil birds with teeth, mosasaurs, pterodac- tyls, and dinosaurs had begun to make him world famous. The field of paleontology, dominated since the ~840s by Joseph Leidy, was still relatively unexplored, but early in his career Marsh had encountered an active rival in the field in Edward D. Cope, a member earlier of the Hayden and Wheeler surveys.~7 Sometime in ~87~ Cope invaded one of Marsh's fossil sites in Wyoming, further inflaming a bitter professional feud that lasted more than twenty-five years. The quarrel between two such eminent scientists, both of whom contributed much to the field of paleontology, was something of an academic scandal, precipitating bitterness and ill-feeling, not only between themselves but also among scientific colleagues and as- sociates. It was not without its humorous aspects, however, as re- counted by Reingold: Covering so much ground and working with great speed, Cope sometimes committed errors and blunders in his haste. Once Leidy, his fellow Philadel- phian and former teacher, discovered that Cope had reconstructed a skeleton with the skull at the wrong end of the vertebral column. Marsh, his great rival, never let Cope forget that incident. ]6 Charles Schuchert and Clara Mae LeVene, O. C. Marsh: Pioneer in Paleontology (New Haven: Yale University Press, ~940), pp. 65, 333. For Simon Newcomb on Marsh, see Newcomb, Reminiscences of an Astronomer (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., agog), pp. 263-269. t7 For the early work of Marsh and Cope, see George G. Simpson, "The Beginnings of Vertebrate Paleontology in North America," American Philosophical Society, Transac- tions 86: 130 -188 ( ~ 943). '8 Nathan Reingold, Science in Nineteenth-Century America: A Documentary History (New York: Hill & Wang, ~964), p. 237. Cope directed in his will that his body should not be buried at the time of his death, but presented to the Anthropometric Society, which was to preserve his skeleton and brain in its collection. The skeleton was mysteriously lost until ~966, when it arrived at the University of Pennsylvania with some primate material from the Wistar Institute of
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Othniel Charles Marsh, Press dent of the Academy, ~883- ~895 (From the archives of the Academy). The End of the Nineteenth Century / ~4~ Marsh was elected to Academy membership in ~8~74, two years after Cope.~9 He became a devoted academician, not missing a single one of the forty stated sessions of the Academy after he became a member, or a meeting of any committee on which he served. The cordial relations between the Academy and the government that Marsh had hailed after the report on the surveys in ~ 879 produced no further comparable requests, however. In ~88e, while Acting President, Marsh appointed the Committee to Represent the Academy before Congress and, a year later, a second Committee on the Relations of the Academy to the Government.20 When their efforts met with no response, Cleveland Abbe, in an effort to make Anatomy and Biology. It is now arranged in a cardboard box in the office of Loren Eiseley, Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and the History of Science at the University [Caroline E. Werkley, "Professor Cope, Not Alive but Well," Smithsonian 6 :72-75 (August ~ 975)]. '9 Because Marsh had ready access to the American fournal of Science for his papers of discovery, and Cope did not, one consequence of the feud was Cope's purchase of The American Naturalist in ~878. His first contribution was an editorial on an Academy committee headed by Marsh. See Chapter 5, note 72. 20NAS,Proceedings, April ~882, p. 2~5; April ~883, p. 234.
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|42 / OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (~883—~895) these committees more effective, recommended that the Academy set up a Washington office when Congress was in session. Such an office would follow current bills and proposed legislation affecting scientific interests and at the same time would present the scientific needs of the country to members of Congress and congressional committees. T he Council of the Academy declined to approve. Marsh's long term in office saw just two committees of importance, one on behalf of the Allison Commission in ~884, and another on standards for electrical units in ~894. The remaining seven requests were on minor matters. The last decades of the nineteenth century were marked by rapid expansion and change in the United States, including the disappear- ance of the great American frontier and the acquisition of island possessions overseas as an outcome of the Spanish-American War. The period was one of unprecedented industrial, scientific, and economic growth, interrupted only briefly by the financial panic of ~893 and the three-year depression that followed. During the closing years of the nineteenth century, science and education were given great impetus by the rise of graduate schools across the country, the surge of American students to Germany for scientific training, and the founding of great private universities: Vanderbilt ~ ~ 873), Johns Hopkins ~ ~ 876), Tulane (reorganized, i884), Stanford (~885), Clark (~887), and the University Of Chicago (~89~. Science acquired a new, far-ranging voice when, in February ~883, Alexander Graham Bell (elected to the Academy that year) and Gardiner G. Hubbard, the lawyer and friend of science, founded Science magazine, to report and promote the progress of science.22 In its introductory editorial, Science remarked on the auspicious promise that occasioned its publication. American science might seem overly descriptive or utilitarian by European standards, but its reputa- tion was assured in the names of the original researchers the century had produced, in the work of Louis Agassiz, Benjamin Peirce, Joseph Henry, John William Draper, Robert Hare, Benjamin Silliman, Sr., William C. Bond, James C. Watson, William Chauvenet, David Rit- tenhouse, Joseph Saxton, Edward Hitchcock, Parker Cleaveland. Their successors and the assurance of the future were even then in the schools and universities and laboratories of the nation. "The 2~"Minutes of the Academy," April ~885, pp. ~os-~o6, ~7-~8; "Minutes of the Council," April ~ 885, pp. ~ ~ 8- ~ ~ 9. 22 Participating in the founding were President Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins, O. C. Marsh, and naturalist and Academy member Samuel H. Scudder, first editor of Science. John Wesley Powell was an associate editor.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century / 143 scientific sky is clear, and the outlook promising," Samuel H. Scudder wrote.23 Although natural history was the most widely pursued scientific activity in nineteenth-century America, the later years of the century saw the emergence of the physical and mathematical sciences, but some of the results were insufficiently recognized at the time. There was Henry Rowland's work in experimental physics, the studies of H. A. Newton and Simon Newcomb of meteor and planetary orbits, of Henry Draper and S. P. Langley in solar physics, the discoveries in the mechanics of heat by the physicist-mathematician Josiah W. Gibbs, the Michelson-Morley studies of "ether drift," the spectroscopic work of Harvard astronomer Edward C. Pickering, and the papers of the theorist-mathematician Charles S. Peirce.24 Gibbs' paper on the geometry of thermodynamics in ~873, when he was thirty-four, was first recognized by I. C. Maxwell in England. His most creative work, "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Sub- stances" in ~876-~8~8, was called by Robert A. Millikan "the most fundamentally significant experiment since the discovery of elec- tromagnetic induction by Faraday." Albert A. Michelson was elected to the Academy in ~888. Also elected during Marsh's tenure were Alexander Graham Bell (more for his research in aid of deaf mutes than his inventions); Thomas C. Men- denhall, President of Rose Polytechnic Institute and later Superinten- dent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey; and naturalist and Assistant Secretary at the Smithsonian George B. Goode. The Son Commission (~84-~86J In an address before the British Association for the Advancement of Science in ~885, its President, Sir Lyon Playfair, observed as some- thing of an American phenomenon that, "in some respects, this young country is in advance of all European nations in joining science to its 25 The Future of American Science," Science 1:1 - (~883); "National Traits in Science," Science 2:457 ( ~ 883). "The science of physics . . . is to arise among us," declared Henry Rowland in "A plea for Pure Science," AAAS, Proceedings 32:106, 125 (~883). As Rowland saw "Ameri- can Science . . . a thing of the future," so G. B. Goode, in "Scientific Men and Institutions in America," The Epoch 1:467~69 ( ~ 887), considered science in the government, liberally supported, likely to accomplish more for some time to come than in the universities and other institutions. 24 Reingold, Science in Nineteenth-Centu~ America, pp. 162, 251-252. !
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144 / OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (1883—1895) administrative offices."25 It was a comment upon a significant con- . . . . . gress~ona Investigation t ten In progress. By 1884, the proliferation of U.S. agencies and departments in which science played a significant part had raised so many questions regarding the relationships between science and government that Congress set up a Joint Commission to study and report upon the issues involved. With only a brief hiatus during the presidential elections of that year and the change to a Democratic Administration under Grover Cleveland in ~ 885, the Commission conducted its hearings for two years, raising questions and issues that have persisted to the present day.26 Comprising three members of the Senate and three from the House, the Commission took its name from its Chairman, Senator William B. Allison of Iowa, but its most effective member was Repre- sentative Theodore Lyman of Massachusetts, a trained scientist, member of the Academy, and son-in-law of Louis Agassiz. The other members were Senators Eugene Hale and George Pendleton and Representatives Robert Lowry and Hilary A. Herbert. One of the Commission's first acts was to request President O. C. Marsh to appoint a committee to study the organization of the national surveys and signal services in Europe and then "consider the present organization of the Signal Service, Geological Survey, Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Hydrographic Office of the Navy Department, with a view to secure greater efficiency and economy of administration of the public service."27 Marsh responded by appointing, in July ~884, an Academy Com- mittee on the Signal Service of the Army, the Geological Survey, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Hydrographic Office of the Navy Department. The Chairman was retired Quartermaster-General and Army Engineer M. C. Meigs, and the members were William H. Brewer of Yale, Samuel P. Langley of the Allegheny Observatory, E. C. Pickering and W. P. Trowbridge of Columbia, Francis A. Walker of MIT, C. A. Young of Princeton, Col. Cyrus B. Comstock of the Corps of Engineers, and Simon Newcomb of the Nautical Almanac Office. However, Comstock and Newcomb were ordered by their superior 2S George Basalla et al. (eds.), Victorian Science (New York: Anchor Books, ~970), p. 66. 26 Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, Chapter XI. 27 "Report on the National Surveys and Signal Service, October ~6, ~884," NAS, Annual Report for 1884, pp. 34-35; Joint Commission to Consider the Present Organiza- tion . . ., Testimony, March ~6, ~886, 48th Cong., fist sees., Senate Misc. Doc. 82 (Ser. 2345), p. 2.
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154 / OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (1883—1895) the duty of the National Academy of Sciences to prescribe and pub- lish . . . such specifications of details as shall be necessary for the practical application of the definitions of the ampere and volt hereinbefore given, and such specifications shall be the standard specifications herein mentioned.52 The report on specifications for the ampere and volt was the work of the' seven-member Committee on Standards for Electrical Mea- sures headed by Henry A. Rowland. It was presented at the special meeting in February ~ 895, adopted by unanimous vote of the Academy as a whole, and sent to Congress for its formal enactment.53 Effort to Reorganize the Academy At the April meeting that year, Marsh declined to be nominated for a third term as President, intimating the reason in his last address to the Academy. He felt strongly about "the profound changes in our organization which some of our most honored members have advo- cated in the last few years" and which he had resisted, although he had "endeavored as president to maintain an impartial attitude."54 He referred to the repeated efforts of some of the long-time members of the Academy to restore the classification of membership, abolished in 1872. To them, the unstructured membership in an expanding Academy seemed to have little precedent, little merit, and no advantage. B. A. Gould and Wolcott Gibbs declared that in a larger Academy, more like those abroad, classification of members would promote relations among those pursuing kindred researches, enable the Academy to 52 NAS, Annual Reportfor 1881, p. 20; 1894, pp 3~42. The American delegates at Chicago were Henry A. Rowland; Thomas C. Men- denhall, Superintendent, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey; Henry S. Carhart, Professor of Physics at Michigan; Edward L. Nichols, Professor of Physics at Cornell; and Elihu Thomson, electrician for the Thomson-Houston and General Electric companies, which operate under his inventions. 5` NAS, Annual Reps for 1894, pp. ~7, 39-42; 1895, pp. 7-~3; correspondence in NAS Archives: Committee on Standards for Electrical Measures, ~893-~894, ~895; True,A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, p. 3 ~ 3. The appointment of that "electrical commission" became an early argument for a depart- ment of science. See Science 4:109 (August 8, ~884). In a rare instance in that century, the expenses of the committee, $6g.oo, were reimbursed by the U.S. Treasury (NAS, Annual Report for 1896, p. 8). 54 "Minutes of the Academy," April ~895, p. 44~; "Address of President 0. C. Marsh, April ~9, ~895," p. 6.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century I 155 refer practical and scientific inquiries to appropriate groups of ex- perts, and further Academy efforts to advance the interests of science, particularly in view of the growing tendency toward specialization in research.55 The idea of restoring classification had been first broached in 1879, when a list was made of the special fields of science in which each member considered himself expert.56 A proposed amendment five years later, to classify the members into four more or less propor- tional sections, was rejected. And in 1890, when B. A. Gould and Gibbs, as the Committee of the Council on a Classification of the Academy into Sections, proposed a broader alignment, action was postponed by referring it to the Council as a whole.57 Two years later, with the encouragement of Gould and Gibbs, T. C. Mendenhall became chairman of a committee of five to consider an amendment to the Academy's Constitution designed "to increase the efficiency of the Academy as a means of advancing and conserving the interests of science in America," specifically, to circularize Academy members on enlarging or reducing the membership, to devise a way to place greater restriction on admission to membership, and to consider again the matter of classification. At that meeting Theodore N. Gill, a taxonomist at the Smithsonian and Professor of Zoology at Columbian College (now George Washington University), immediately offered a resolution declaring it the sense of the Academy that reorganization into sections was desirable; to Marsh's annoyance, it was seconded by Edward Cope and adopted. 58 In the subsequent canvass of the membership, fewer than one-f~fth replied, their letters expressing opposition to any further increase in numbers but wide interest in restoring classes. The committee continued in- termittently active until discharged in ~895, when Wolcott Gibbs succeeded Marsh to the presidency.59 Several of the classification schemes proposed during these years 55 NAS, Proceedings, April 1890, p. 337. 56 "Minutes of the Academy," April ~879, p. 566; NAS, Proceedings, April 1880, p. 172. 57 NAS, Proceedings, April 1885, p. 264; "Minutes of the Academy," April ~885, pp. 95-96, 99-100: NAS, Proceedings, April 1890, pp. 336-339. 58"Minutes of the Academy," April 1892, p. 352; NAS, Annual Report for 1892, pp. 1 2-13- No action was taken on the suggestion of Gibbs that the Academy be limited to seventy-five members ("Minutes of the Academy," ibid., p. 354). 5sNAS, Proceedings, April 1892, pp. 367-369; November 1892, pp. 372-377; NAS, Annual Report for 1892, pp. ~2-14; "Minutes of the Academy," April 1895, pp. 442-443
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156 / OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH (1883—1895) were reminiscent of the system in effect prior to the removal in To of the Charter provision limiting the Academy membership to fifty and the abolition in 18~ of the Classes of Natural History and of Mathematics and Physics. Under that system the loss of a member resulted in a "vacancy" in the membership, and the Council was empowered to decide which of the two classes would nominate a new member to fill it. The Council usually assigned the vacancy to the class that had lost the member; thus, a natural quota system had operated, perpetuating the numerical advantage enjoyed by the Class of Mathematics and Physics over the Class of Natural History.60 Following the reforms of ~87~8~2, the only limitation on the membership had been to restrict election of new members to no more than five at each of the two yearly sessions; nominations by any five members were acted on by the full Academy. The membership rose quickly, and in ~88~, with the total near one hundred, the Constitu- tion was amended to require a larger percentage of affirmative votes to elect members beyond that number. A second amendment the same year restricted elections to five new members at the April session in Washington. In ~899, four years after Marsh left the presidency, the Academy reinstituted classification of the membership. Six standing committees were created, with members expert in more than one field per- mitted to enroll in more than one committee. Each nomination for membership was to be referred to the pertinent committee for approval before it could come before the full Academy. In this way, scientists would be elected to membership who were acceptable to those in the Academy most familiar with their work.62 60 NAS Archives: NAS: Election Procedures: Quota System: ~863-~965: Memorandum: ~975. Between ~863 and ~869 the Class of Mathematics and Physics lost twelve mem- bers and the Class of Natural History lost nine. The Council assigned them eight and thirteen vacancies, respectively, increasing the smaller Class of Natural History from 30 percent to 40 percent of the total membership by ~87~. For Gould's reference to the "difficulties and embarrassments" encountered with the original system, see NAS, Proceedings, April ~ 890, p. 337. 63 NAS, Annual Report for 1881, p. '3; True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 73-74; NAS Archives: NAS: Membership and Elections: ~863-~963: ~963. In ~907 the annual limit was raised to ten; by '963 it had risen to thirty-five. 62 NAS, Annual Report for 1899, p. 9; True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 68-70.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century 1 157 WOLCOTT GIBBS (1895—1900) When in ~895 Marsh declined to be a candidate for the presidency for another term, Alexander Agassiz nominated Wolcott Gibbs, who was elected President, with Asaph Hall as Home Secretary and Agassiz as Foreign Secretary. Gibbs, the longest lived of the incorporators and a member of the Lazzaroni, had been forty-two when the Academy was founded. He had been Home Secretary for nine years, Vice-President for six, Foreign Secretary for another nine of his thirty-two years in the Academy, a member of many committees, and had twice refused to preside over the Academy—declining reelection to the vice- presidency in ~878 and the presidency in ~883. After an early association with the chemist Robert Hare, Wolcott Gibbs had studied analytical and inorganic chemistry in Justus van Liebig's laboratory in Berlin and at Giessen and Paris. He returned an apostle of German university education for research. During most of his fourteen years as Professor of Chemistry at the College of the City of New York (~849-~863), he served as an associate editor on Silli- man's Journal. His early researches in the platinum metals, published in ~86~, established his reputation; and two years later he went to Harvard as Rumford Professor and head of the Chemistry Labora- tory at Lawrence Scientific School, a colleague there of Louis Agassiz, Asa Gray, Jeffries Wyman, Benjamin Peirce, and Josiah P. Cooke. In ~887, he had retired to the private laboratory he had set up in the family summer home at Newport, Rhode Island, when he was called to head the Academy. On his election at the age of seventy-three, Gibbs had grown tranquil of mind and mien, his eyes, in his portraits, warm and gentle in his full-bearded face; and he addressed the members as the oldest of the surviving founders of the Academy.63 For many years Gibbs had advocated a small elitist membership and the restoration of classes; and he made these the opening subjects of his presidential address, suggesting that the Academy consider re- turning more closely to its original organization. At the same time, in order to make the Academy more broadly representative, he pro- 63 Word of James D. Dana's death on April ~4, ~895, at the age of eighty-two arrived at the Academy during its meeting that spring. Only Fairman Rogers, Peter Lesley, and Gibbs lived on into the new century.
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158 / WOLCOTT GIBBS (1895—lgoo) Wolcott Gibbs, President of the Academy, ~ 895- ~ goo (From the archives of the Academy). posed a "section at large," extending membership beyond the physical and natural sciences to include history, philology, "Anthropology in its widest sense, including Ethnology," geography, agriculture, and political science. He pointed out that these subjects were accepted branches of science abroad and should be so considered by the Academy.64 Despite his efforts, however, those fields were not repre- sented in the organizational structure of the Academy until two decades later, and then only in part. The American Forestry Problem In his address, Wolcott Gibbs regretted that the government had not applied to the Academy more frequently in recent years; but as it 64 Address in "Minutes of the Academy," October 30, ~895, pp. 470-476 (copy in NAS Archives: NAS: Meetings: ~895). Gibbs's address, with Marsh's retiring address of April ~895, was submitted to a special committee of the Council for review. The committee did not approve enlarging the scope of the Academy, spoke favorably of some new classification of members,
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The End of the Nineteenth Century / 159 turned out, his administration produced the second most consequen- tial report of the Academy in that century- its study of American forests. The despoliation of the great American forests, which had begun with the early clearing of the land and had increased with industrial exploitation, had been of little concern to the federal government, which had drawn upon them, also, for the timber needed for Navy ships. The waste had worried Joseph Henry, had been deplored repeatedly by botanists and naturalists, and, as the forests began to disappear, had alarmed conservationists like John Wesley Powell. At length, in ~89~, Congress authorized the President to set aside the first forested area, and in the next two years almost ~8 million acres of forest were declared reserves. Congress had, however, neglected to provide for any regulatory mechanisms or for protection against fire and theft.65 A meeting was held in Tune ~895 at the home of botanist Charles Sprague Sargent, Director of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum and au- thor in ~884 of a Report on the Forests of North America. 66 Among those present were Gifford Pinchot, an ardent conservationist with training abroad in forest management, and Wolcott Gibbs. Gibbs suggested that an Academy committee might persuade Congress to look after the nation's forests. Because the Department of the Interior had a minuscule "department of forester Esic]," they asked the Interior Secretary, Hoke Smith, a high-powered reformer then battling for the conservation of natural resources, to request a report from the Academy. Such a report would look to the "inauguration of a rational forest policy for the forested land of the United States," particularly as a basis for forest conservation, to determine whether it was practicable to preserve from fire and provide maintenance for public timber lands; to determine the influence of forests upon discussed at length Gibbs's comments on "expert testimony," and ordered the addresses printed together as a confidential document for distribution to the members ("Minutes of the Academy," October ~895, pp. 475-476; "Minutes of the Council," April ~896, pp. 238-246)- 65 The first of the forest preserves, on the eastern and southern margins of Yellowstone Park, was established by proclamation of President Benjamin Harrison on March So, ~89~. 66 The report stemmed from a work begun by Asa Gray in ~848 at Henry's request for publication by the Smithsonian, but Gray became preoccupied with other projects and subsequently turned it over to Sargent. See Smithsonian Institution, Annual Report for 1849, p. ~8;1853, pp. ~7~, cog; A. Hunter Dupree,Asa Gray (New York: Atheneum, ~969), p. 4°5
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160 / WOLCOTT GIBBS (1895 - 1goo) climate, soil, and water; and to recommend specific legislation "to remedy the evils now confessedly existing."67 Two weeks after Secretary Hoke Smith's formal request to the Academy, Gibbs appointed the Committee on the Inauguration of a Rational Policy for the Forested Lands of the United States. Sargent was named Chairman, and the other members were Alexander Agas- siz, the Army engineer and hydrographer Gen. Henry L. Abbot, Yale agriculturist William Brewer, the Geological Survey's Arnold Hague, and the scientist-crusader Gifford Pinchot. "No subject upon which the Academy has been asked before by the Government for advice compares with it in scope," Gibbs wrote Smith of the request upon his appointment of the committee, "and . . . no other economic problem confronting the Government . . . equals in importance that offered by the present condition and future fate of the forests of western North America."68 The sum of $~s,ooo that Gibbs sought for the study the first such amount for an Academy investigation was granted through the Department of the Interior and enabled the committee to spend three months that summer inspecting the forest reservations under federal aegis and a number of other forested areas in the public domain. All were found in various stages of despoliation or devastation from fire; the pasturage of sheep; illegal and reckless cutting by mining, timbering, and railroad contractors; and wanton destruction by pros- pectors, squatters, settlers, hunters, and campers.69 On February 22, ~897, President Grover Cleveland, incorporating the text of the preliminary report of the Academy in his proclama- tion, announced as one of his last acts in office the establishment of thirteen new forest preserves comprising more than 2 ~ million acres. Charles D. Walcott, Powell's successor as Director of the Geological Survey, was designated to study and map them.70 Two months later, on May I, the Academy's full report appeared, recommending the immediate detailing of military detachments to 67 Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1947), pp. 88 95.; Hoke Smith to Gibbs, February 15, 1896, in NAS, Annual Reportfor 1896, p. 13. 68 Gibbs to Hoke Smith, March 2, 1896, in NAS, Annual Report for 1896, p. 14. 69 NAS, Annual Report for 1897, pp. 43-49. 70 NAS, Ibid., p. 1 7; NAS, Biographical Memoir 39 :48 1-484 ( 1 967); Pinchot, Breaking Nero Ground, pp. 116, 123. Angered by Powell's persistent crusade for conservation in the arid regions, western senators retaliated by cutting Geological Survey appropriations and forcing Powell out, but not before he had arranged for his assistant "with the hardiest exterior for political abuse," Charles Walcott, to succeed him (Dupree, Science in the Federal Government, pp. 234-235)
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The End of the Nineteenth Century I ~ 6 ~ protect the forests, the establishment of a permanent national forest service as a bureau in Interior, creation of a corps of foresters and rangers to patrol the reservations, and organization of a school of forestry to train the corps.7~ Members of Congress strenuously protested Cleveland's proclama- tion and did not confirm the Academy recommendations. Although Congress granted funds in ~897 and ~899 to Interior for forest protection against fire, another six years passed before the essentials of the Academy program became effective with the establishment in egos of the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. Recognition of the Academy as "High Tribunal" The interest aroused in federal agencies by the Academy's report to the Allison Commission, the debate in the press over the department of science, and the publicity attending the Academy report on Ameri- can forests and forest policy all focused attention on the Academy as the nation's high tribunal in matters of science. In ~896 that recogni- tion achieved explicit statement. That year a local humane society had prevailed on Congress to prepare legislation banning the use of animals for experimental purposes in medical agencies of the federal government. Calling attention to the National Academy, "generally recognized as the highest scientific tribunal in the United States," the directors of the four medical agencies concerned requested Senator Jacob H. Gal- linger, who had introduced the legislation, to seek the opinion of the Academy on the scientific value of such experiments. The letter was signed by the Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Surgeons General of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Hospital Service. The Academy, then in session at the Smithsonian, adopted a statement prepared by Harvard physiologist H. P. Bowditch, which Wolcott Gibbs incorporated into a long letter to Senator Gallinger. As he later noted, "No action twas] taken by Congress upon the sub- ject...."72 7i NAS, Annual Report for 1897, pp. 29-65. The drafts of five bills for the regulation of American forests, prepared by the Academy committee at the request of Interior and foreshadowing later legislation, were appended to the report, pp. 66-73. For later Academy committees on forestry, see Chapter 7, p. ~73, and Chapter lo, pp. 29~-292. 72 NAS, Annual Report for 1896, pp. ~7-20; "Minutes of the Academy," April ~896, pp. 487, 489-492; Annual Reportfor 1897, p. 8.
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162 / WOLCOTT GIBBS (1895 - 1goo) However welcome that recognition, it called attention once again to the rootless condition of the Academy, aggravated at that time by the shrinking space it occupied in the bulging museum building of the Smithsonian.73 In the midst of an era of bureau-building and the beginning of a program of construction that would transform the city of Washington, the Academy, possessing a name but without a habita- tion, watched with interest the rise of the new Library of Congress building in ~897. Created in ~800 to purchase books for the use of Congress, the Library, which had been occupying space in the Capitol, would soon have a structure spread across a great city block to hold its collections and the records of federal agencies that it had amassed.74 Citing the need of the Academy for a suite of rooms for its own library and for its sessions, and with hopes of greater permanence than the Smithsonian promised, Gibbs applied to the Library of Congress for accommodations in its new quarters. Although a room in the Library was made available to the Academy for its meeting in April ~898, the request for a permanent suite was denied.75 The Academy met at Columbian College for the next two years and then returned to the Smithsonian. In its disparate meeting places, the Academy elected fifteen new members during Gibbs's presidency, among them Charles Sprague Sargent, Director of Arnold Arboretum, Harvard; William H. Welch, Baxley Professor of Pathology at Johns Hopkins; paleontologist Charles D. Walcott, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey; Robert S. 7` A letter of an earlier date makes plain that long-standing problem of the Academy. On September ~4, ~887, Home Secretary Asaph Hall wrote to Marsh that he had just come from the Smithsonian, where he found a letter from the Treasury Department addressed to "The National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., c/o Prof. S. F. Baird." "It is old," wrote Hall, "and seems to have been mislaid. I hope you got the matter in hand without this." The franked envelope alone is preserved, bearing a three-months-old postmark, "June ~7, ~887" (NAS Archives: Members: A. Hall). The letter from the Treasury Department is recorded in True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 308-309; on pp. 28~ and 325 are later letters addressed to Alexander Agassiz, "President of the National Academy, Cambridge, Mass." 74 For splendid notes on the Washington scene around the turn of the century, see Charles G. Abbot, Adventures in the World of Science (Washington: Public Affairs Press, i958), PP. ~3-~4, 33-36, 39-40, 44-45, ~20. 75 "Minutes of the Academy," April ~896, pp. 479-48~; April ~897, p. 5~9; April ~899, pp. 569-570; correspondence in NAS Archives: NAS: Attempts to Secure Permanent Quarters: ~ 896- ~ 9 ~ 3. A list of the meetings of the Academy, ~863-~9~2, is in True, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 385-387.
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The End of the Nineteenth Century I i63 Woodward, Professor of Mechanics and Mathematical Physics at Co- lumbia University; Albert A. Michelson's co-worker Edward W. Morley, Professor of Chemistry, Western Reserve College; Edmund B. Wilson, Professor of Zoology, Columbia University; Edgar Fahs Smith, Profes- sor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania; Harvard chemist Theodore W. Richards (Nobel laureate in ~9~4 for his determination of the atomic weights of chemical elements);76 Henry F. Osborn, Professor of Zoology at Columbia University; and the Curator of the Depart- ment of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, Franz Boas. All participated in the Academy resolution of ~899 accept- ing membership in the International Association of Academies. Proposed by the Royal Society the year before to further coopera- tion in scientific inquiries and enterprises of world scope and concern, the Association had been organized by the congress of academies, eighteen in number, called by the Royal Prussian Academy at Wies- baden in the fall of ~899.77 The Harvard physiologist Henry Pickering Bowditch, with Simon Newcomb and Ira Remsen, had represented the National Academy at Wiesbaden. At its November meeting a month after the congress, the Academy in assembly formally accepted membership, adding in its notice that it looked forward to the appointment of the first international committees.78 It was a fitting conclusion to Wolcott Gibbs's long years.as member and officer of the Academy. In the spring of Woo, tired and feeling that the Academy needed a more vigorous President, he resigned the office and returned to live out his last eight years at his home in Newport. At the meeting of the Academy that spring he read the brief farewell note he had prepared: Gentlemen of the Academy: When, five years ago, you did me the honor to elect me your President, I accepted the trust in the earnest hope that as one of the few surviving Charter members it might be in my power to do at least a little to carry out the views and objects of the founders of the Academy. I thank you for your indulgent treatment of my shortcomings. It is now my duty to tender to you my 76 See Aaron l. Ihde, "Theodore William Richards and the Atomic Weight Problem," Science 164: 647~51 (May 9, ~ 969). 77 For its inception, see Charles S. Minot, "The Organization of an International Science Association," Science 4 :8~81 (July 25, ~ 884). 78 NAS, Annual Report for 1899, pp. ~3-~8; "Minutes of the Academy," Woo, p. 584; NAS, Annual Report for 1900, pp. 8, ~4-~6; 1901, pp. ~7-~8; correspondence in NAS Archives: IR: International Organizations: Internatl Assoc of Academies: ~ 899- ~ 9 ~ 3.
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164 / WOLCOTT GIBBS (1895—1goo) resignation of the office which I hold, that bodily and mental vigor may replace age and infirmity . . .79 As Gibbs had requested, the resignation took effect at the end of that session. 79 MS note, "Washington, April  Woo'' (NAS Archives: NAS: Meetings: 1goo).
Representative terms from entire chapter: