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3 The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy "The Lazzaroni" and Their ·nf luence Bache's address at that Albany meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in August ~85~ was the call that summoned the leading spirits to unite in efforts to impose greater order and direction on American science. During the same year, an attempt on the part of the citizens of Albany to establish a highly idealized university seemed to present the kind of opportunity these forward-looking scientists were seeking. Edward Lurie describes it as "a truly national 'American' university . . . that would stress graduate instruction, basically in the sciences. Classes would be few, research time plentiful, and salaries high." But although moral support for the enterprise was strong among the citizens of Albany, their financial support failed to match it. The only part of the grand plan that materialized was the Dudley Observatory, directed by Benjamin Ap- ' Richard J. Storr, The Beginnings of Graduate Education in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ~953), pp. 67 95.; Edward Lurie, Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ~ 960), pp. ~ 8 ~ - ~ 8 2. 43
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44 I The Incorporation and Organization of the academy thorp Gould and managed by a "Scientific Council," consisting of Henry, Bache, and Benjamin Peirce. The total effort did, however, bring together a small group of Cambridge scientists, who began to meet informally in ~853. Initially they were: Bache; Agassiz; Benjamin Peirce, Professor of Mathe- matics and Astronomy at Harvard; Benjamin Gould, founder in ~849 of the Astronomical Journal and head of the longitude department of the Coast Survey from ~85z to ~867; and Cornelius C. Felton, Harvard Professor of Greek and Latin, a close friend of Agassiz, and the only nonscientist. Thinking perhaps of the early science academies in Italy, they first called themselves the Florentine Academy. Later the Academy expanded, still loosely held together and meeting in a spirit of conviviality. With academic tongue in cheek, they renamed themselves "The Scientific Lazzaroni," after the Neapolitan idlers and beggars. The group gradually expanded to include scientists from other cities: Joseph Henry in Washington; James D. Dana, Silliman Profes- sor of Natural History at Yale; Wolcott Gibbs, Professor of Chemistry of the City College of New York ~ ~ 849- ~ 863) who was associated with Agassiz and Dana on Silliman's fournal; and John F. Frazer, long-time teacher of chemistry and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. As the most influential member in high places, the most skilled in persuasion and managing people and affairs, and the most ambitious for science, Bache came to dominate the group. Before long, with some assistance from their "Chief," as they called Bache, members of the Lazzaroni were spread all along the coast, with Gould in Albany, Peirce and Agassiz in Cambridge, Dana in New Haven, Wolcott Gibbs in New York, Frazer and his brilliant student Fairman Rogers2 in Philadelphia, and Bache and Henry in Washington. Soon, their manifest clannishness, their excessive zeal for professionalism, and their activities as "an inner circle" had begun to raise apprehensions among some members of the long-established scientific societies.3 Busy with their careers and peripheral interests, they kept in close touch through correspondence, coming together principally at the meetings of the American Association and the American Philo- 2 Horace H. Furness, F.R., 1833-1900 (Philadelphia: privately printed, ~903). Lurie, Louis Agassiz, pp. ~ 82- ~ 84. It may have been of this group that Bache wrote in September ~853 concerning a meeting of "savants" to discuss "a dawning project for an Academy of Sciences or a near approach to it." Quoted in Merle M. Odgers, Alexander Dallas Bache: Scientist and Educator, 1806-1867 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ~947), p. ~70.
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 45 sophical Society. Intent on seeking government recognition and in- stitutional support of science, they used their influence to secure university appointments for those who had their approval, promoted the operations of the Coast Survey and the Smithsonian from the forums of the American Journal and the AAAS, and exposed charlatanry in science wherever it appeared. All were among the incorporators of the National Academy a decade later. Agassiz, however, lost some of the high esteem in which he was held by "Bache & Co." as a result of his curious rejection of Charles Darwin's theories, which were beginning to revolutionize natural science abroad. He appeared jealous of his dominant place in Ameri- can science and was intellectually isolated from the progress of science in Europe. A youthful disciple of Georges Cuvier and trained in the scala naturae of Carolus Linnaeus, he believed with them in a super- natural design in nature whose varieties of species, each characteristic of their geological periods, were immutable. The whole duty of the naturalist was to discover them methodically and exactly classify the . . . . speaes In t ne c Dine pattern. As early as ~854, Asa Gray, Harvard Professor of Botany, had been corresponding with the English botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker and with Darwin and had shown ardent interest in the new ideas on evolution. He was increasingly disenchanted with Agassiz's insistence on immutability. The series of debates on the Origin of Species at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston in January ~860 showed that the following were all receptive to or tolerant of the idea of evolution: the naturalist Dana (also corresponding with Darwin), anatomist Joseph Leidy, geologist and paleontologist James Hall, Harvard zoologist Jeffries Wyman, and the geologist William Barton Rogers, who later became the first President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the discussions of Darwin's book in the American journal of Science and in subsequent debates, private and public, Agassiz lost not only intellectual stature but the uncritical devotion of many of his fellow naturalists.4 However, the Darwin controversy in no way lessened Agassiz's self-esteem, his fame, his penchant for projects, or the high regard in which he was held by the public. Honors poured in on him In that period: the Prix Cuvier of the Paris Academy of Sciences in ~852, offers of professorships at the University of Edinburgh and the Zurich museum in ~854, the chair of the Paris museum in ~858, and 4 Laurie, Louis Agassiz, pp. 268-275, 29~ 95., 30~.
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46 I The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in ~86 I, awarded for contribu- tions to natural science.5 The activity and influence of Bache, Agassiz, and their circle were in the ascendant. Six times since the organization of the AAAS, mem- bers of the group had held the office of President.6 Agassiz reached for high honors for his friends. Long a foreign member of the Royal Society (since ~8~,8), though not of the French Academy, he was instrumental in gaining membership in both for Bache in ~860 and ~86~. After some maneuvering at the expense of Charles W. Eliot, Agassiz succeeded in influencing the Corporation of Harvard in ~863 to appoint Wolcott Gibbs Rumford Professor and Dean of the Law- rence Scientific School.7 The idea of a national academy, "to give character to the efforts of our men who devote themselves to science" and to ensure "the advancement of true science in the country," became increasingly a matter for speculation among the Lazzaroni. Unsure yet how to bring it about, Agassiz in the summer of ~858 set down a plan of member- ship and organization for such an academy in a confidential letter to his friend John F. Frazer. There would almost certainly be "an outcry against the aristocratic spirit of such a Society," Agassiz wrote. It must consist of "men from all parts of the country . . . yet into which nobody would be elected, unless he had made some valuable original investigation. This would at once draw a line between mere learning without originality, and real original research." As Agassiz saw it, it would begin with ten or twelve charter mem- bers, each representing a particular field of science, including math- ematics and astronomy; physics and chemistry; mineralogy and geol- ogy; botany, zoology, and paleontology; and anatomy and physiol- ogy. If the "applications of science" merited inclusion, agriculture could be added to botany, physical geography and navigation might be represented, and possibly medicine and engineering. The original members of each section would then nominate a third for their section, who would be elected by the combined sections, "the 3 together to nominate a fourth and so on," until an agreed total membership was reached. How the original members were to be 5 The most prestigious honor of British science, the Copley Medal, awarded annually since ~73~, had been bestowed on Franklin in ~753. It did not come to an American again for over a century, when it was bestowed on Louis Agassiz in ~86~, on Dana in ~877, and on.}osiah Willard Gibbs in ~902. 6 Following William C. Redfield, the first President in ~848, Henry, Bache, Agassiz, Peirce (twice), and Dana successively held the chair through ~855. ~ Lurie, Louis Agassiz, pp. ~ 83, 327-33 ~ .
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 47 selected was suggested only in the names mentioned in the letter, those of Henry and Robert Hare, former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, as the nucleus for the physics and chemistry section.8 It was not until the Civil War finally broke out, however, that the Lazzaroni achieved their ten-year-long aspirations for a truly national . . . ~ . Institution ot science. The Outbreak of the Civil War The fall of Fort Sumter on Sunday, April ~4, ~86~, may have aroused little reaction in far-away Cambridge, but it stunned the city of Washington. With its telegraph lines to the South cut, the city that week trembled at rumors that Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard was on his way with an army of fifty thousand.9 The Cabinet met daily. Earthworks were dug around the Capitol and artillery planted at Anacostia. But neither side was ready or wanted to strike the first blow. Then two months later, in July, several hastily assembled Union regiments marched into Virginia and were routed by the Confeder- ates at the Battle of Bull Run on July ~ I. Before long, as the import of that defeat became clearer, the first of the entrepreneurs and self-seekers arrived, and the city became a maelstrom of movement as merchants and manufacturers from the North poured in and scurried between their hostels and the doors of their legislators. Just a decade before, Washington had been "a rather shabby Southern village scattered over a grandiose plan." In ~86~ it was fast becoming a large city, but apt to be "a deserted village in the summer." A splenetic visitor that January had found it a hive of hotels, boarding houses, oyster-and-ale cellars, and ivory-banks (gambling houses), "a great, little, splendid, mean, extravagant, poverty-stricken barrack for soldiers of fortune and votaries of folly."~° ~ Agassiz to Frazer, July 12, ~858 (original letter in possession of Gordon Ray, President, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; copy in NAS Archives: Members: L. Agassiz). 9 April ~5 (Monday): "We went up on the high tower of the Smithsonian on Thursday morning [the ~ ~ th] & saw the secession flags waving in Alex [andria], while every public building in Washington was surmounted by the Stars & Stripes.... [Saturday] evening was a gloomy one for us all; it was supposed an attack on the city might be made at any minute" ("Diary of Mary Henry, ~858-~863," Smithsonian Institution Archives). '° William H. Dall, Spencer Fullerton Baird: A Biography including Selections from his
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4~3 / The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy Civil War review on Pennsylvania Avenue (Mathew Brady photograph, courtesy the National Archives). Six months later the customary "whirl and roar of winter-life in Washington" was muted; field hospitals had been erected on the Mall, and Union soldiers were everywhere, constructing defense works on Capitol Hill, on City Hall hill with its Patent Office and Post Office, and around Executive Square. There would be no exodus from the city when the next summer arrived. In the first month of combat, Agassiz had seen the rebellion as an opportunity to show that not even "difficult times" could "cripple the onward progress of science in the new world," and that "the intellect Correspondence with Audubon, Agassiz, E)ana, and Others (Philadelphia: ]. B. Lippincott Co., ~9~5), pp 227-247; Anon., "Washington City," Atlantic Monthly 1 :1-8 (January ~86~); Margaret Leech, Reveille in Washington, 1860-1865 (New York: Harper & Brothers, ~94~), pp. 56-57, 65 After Chancellorsville and Lee's advance north, as Henry wrote Bache on June 27, ~863, the capital awaited an attack on the city through Maryland, and Henry was trying without success to send his family north. The sanitation of the city had become very bad, the air "redolent of stables, hospitals, and the stench of the canal" (Joesph Henry Papers, Smithsonian Institution Archives).
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The Incorporation and Organization of the academy 1 49 ~0 . The city of Washington as it appeared in 1869, from a wood engraving in Harper's Weekly (Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress). tual interests of the community" could be tended "with as great solicitude as in ordinary times." At meetings where Bache, Peirce, Gould, Gibbs, and Agassiz gathered for talk, Henry might shy from some of their great plans for the future, but in the visits of Bache and Agassiz to his rooms in the Smithsonian he warmed to their talk of advancing the cause of sciences For that cause, Agassiz sought out and found a powerful ally in the i2 Agassiz to Theodore Lyman, Curator and Trustee of the "Agassiz Museum" at Harvard, June ~ I, ~86~, quoted in Lurie, Louis Agassiz, p. 302. i, It is of interest that almost certainly at Henry's request, Charles A. Alexander, a scribe at the Smithsonian, translated M. Flourens's commissioned "Historical Sketch of the Academy of Sciences in ~Paris" for the Smithsonian Annual Report for ~862 and prepared a short "History of the Royal Society of London" for the report of ~863. For notes dated March So, ~863, of published histories of those academies available in the Smithsonian library, see the bound register, "National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863-'64," pp. 270-27~, in NAS Archives. (The existence of this Academy register was unknown until January ~968, when it was found in a storage area of the Academy building and placed in the Archives with its companion volumes, "N.A.S., Minutes, ~863-~882" and "National Academy of Sciences, Committee Papers, ~863-'64 ")
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50 I The Incorporation and Organization of the academy U.S. senator from Massachusetts, Henry Wilson, a leader in the Republican party and fervent emancipationist with as strong convic- tions about national prestige and progress as Agassiz and his friends. He was at that time acquiring a reputation as one of the most skillful political organizers in the country. To him, Agassiz broached his dream. The Permanent Commission Events were also moving in Washington, but in another direction, when in the second year of the war Bache was joined there by Charles Henry Davis, a naval officer who had been a student under Peirce at Harvard and astronomer in the Coast Survey under Hassler and Bache. In November ~862, after commanding gunboat operations on the Mississippi, he was recalled to Washington to head the Bureau of Navigation with its Naval Observatory, Hydrographic Office, and Nautical Almanac Office. The next year he became a rear admiral. Except in some of the bureau developments under Davis and Senator Henry Wilson of Mas- sachusetts (From the archives of the Academy). _ ~ ~: ::: r: :_ _ :~ ._
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TheIncorporation and Organization of the academy I 5~ Bache, the conflict had not been, nor would it be, a "scientific" war on either side. But it had inspired invention, and for almost a year Congress and the War and Navy Departments had been bombarded by patriotic citizens with ideas and devices in aid of the war. Many of the more imaginative or technical ones had been sent to the Smithso- nian, where Henry and Bache examined and reported on them.~4 Before long the numbers of projects and proposals meriting ex- tended study required organization, and Bache and Davis con- templated the possibility of securing approval for an agency to handle this work that might later be elevated to national status. On February 2, ~863, Davis wrote home: "How much have I told you, if anything, about a Permanent Commission or Academy? Bache, Henry, and myself are very busy on this topic, and have made a move which will no doubt result in the Permanent Commission. The Academy is more doubtful."~5 It was Henry who questioned the possibility, or wisdom, of setting up a national organization under congressional sanction such as Bache proposed, and he had already submitted to the Navy Depart- ment his own plan for an agency to examine and test new weapons and devices. On February ~ I, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles approved it as the Permanent Commission, comprising Davis, Bache, and Henry, "to which all subjects of a scientific character on which the Government may require information may be referred." Davis said that upon the appointment of the Permanent Commis- sion, the idea flashed through his mind "that the whole plan, so long entertained, of the Academy could be successfully carried out if an act of incorporation were boldly asked for in the name of some of the i. Among the inventions and innovations of the Civil War (none specifically identified with any wartime agency) were military telegraphy, military photography, large rifled cannon, telescopic sights, submarines, ironclad warships, rotating turrets, breech- loading guns, machine guns, flame throwers, poison gas, the use of railroads to deploy troops, mobile operating theaters, observation balloons, concentrated food, and mass- produced uniforms and boots [I. Bernard Cohen, "American Physicists at War: From the Revolution to the World Wars," American.Journal of Physics 13 :22~230 (August ~945)] i5 Charles H. Davis, Life of Charles Hens Davis, Rear Admiral, 1807-1877 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., ~899), pp. 28~290. }6 "Permanent Commission of the Navy Department," Scientific American 10:165 (March ~2, ~864); Nathan Reingold, "Science in the Civil War: The Permanent Commission of the Navy Department," Isis 49:307-318 (September ~958). Although it lasted just two years, the Permanent Commission was long considered the progenitor of the National Academy. See editorial in the New York Daily Tribune, October 3 I, ~ 873.
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52 I The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy leading men of science from different parts of the country." But Bache and Henry, he said, did not immediately accept his view.~7 The Permanent Commission did not deter Agassiz from his larger enterprise, as he wrote Senator Wilson from Cambridge on February 5 that the time had come to establish a "National Academy of Sciences." "tiff you think favorably of this suggestion you have in Bache, to whom the scientific men of the country look as upon their leader, a man who can draft in twenty four hours a complete plan for you...." Significantly, a letter Agassiz wrote to Henry that same day made no mention of the plan thus set in motion. The Drafting of the Academy Bill A week later Wilson nominated Agassiz to a vacancy on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian, and on February ~ 9, ~ 863, Agassiz arrived in Washington to accept the appointment and, incidentally, to attend a dinner and meeting of the Lazzaroni that had been set for the twenty-f~rst. He did not see Henry that day, as he had arranged, to discuss his duties on the Board, but went directly from the train to Bache's house, where they were joined by Senator Wilson and later by Benjamin Peirce and B. A. Gould. Before them was a plan that had been drawn up by Charles Henry Davis, as well as one by Bache, and before the evening ended they had a draft of a bill ready for Congress "my plan amplified and improved," said Davis.~9 The drafted bill named fifty men of science chosen by the assem- bled group to be the incorporators of a National Academy of Sciences. Frederick True, an early historian of the Academy, surmised that "the little group of men that guided the Academy movement" may well have sat down that night with the membership lists, totaling, with duplications, over eleven hundred names, drawn from the American Philosophical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to assist them in the selection of incorporators. All but four of the fifty named in the draft (Uriah A. Boyden, John A. B. Dahlgren, John Strong Newberry, i7 Letter to his wife, February 24, ~ 863, quoted in Davis, Life of Charles Henry Davis, p. 290. IN Agassiz to Wilson, February 5, ~863, quoted in Lurie, Louis Agassiz, p. 332. Agassiz's letter was reported by Peirce to Bache that same day. See 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), p. ~38. '9 Davis to his wife, February 20, ~ 863, in Davis, Life of Charles Hens Davis, p. 290.
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 53 and John Rodgers) were members of one or more of those societies, and twenty-one were members of all three.20 The act gave the members power to make their own rules and fill all vacancies in the membership as they occurred. It provided for the election of domestic and foreign members. It called for an annual meeting and, as the advisory institution of science that Bache had long envisioned, the Academy would whenever called upon by any department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art, the actual expense of such investigations, examinations, experiments, and reports to be paid from appropriations which may be made for the purpose, but the Academy shall receive no compensation whatever for any services to the Government of the United States. This was its single stipulated function, its sole obligation. The extraordinary brevity of the bill of particulars, comprising six lines of type, in contrast to the twelve pages of the Royal Society's charter of ~663 and the fifty conditions of the French Academy, left the burden of interpretation to the incorporators and to members in future years. Henry Wilson introduced the bill in the Senate on February so, and it was read twice by its title and ordered to be engrossed.22 A little more than a week later, toward the close of the day of March 3, as the outgoing Congress worked calmly through its customary mass of resolutions and measures before adjournment, Wilson rose to ask leave "to take up a bill, which, I think, will consume no time, and to which I hope there will be no opposition. It is a bill to incorporate the National Academy of Sciences. It will take but a moment, I think, and I should like to have it passed." There was a pause but no objection, and Wilson continued. "I 20 Frederick True, A History of the First Half-Centu7y of the National Academy of Sciences, 1863-1913 (Washington: ~9~3), pp. ~-~3, ~o3-~o4. Drawing on the study by Richard J. Storr (cited in note I), A. Hunter Dupree sheds new light on the event in "The Founding of the National Academy of Sciences—A Reinterpretation," American Philosophical Society, Proceedings 101:434 440 (October ~957), and in Science in the Federal Government, pp. ~35-~4~. Further details have been contributed by Edward Lurie, Louis Agassiz, pp. 33 ~-335, and Nathan Reingold, Science in Nineteenth-Century America: A Documentary History (New York: Hill & Wang, ~ 964), pp. 220-225. I am much indebted to their studies. See also Lillian B. Miller et al., The Lazzaroni: Science and Scientists in Mid-Nineteenth Century America (Washington: Smithso- nian Institution Press, ~972). 2~ For the NAS Act of Incorporation, see Appendix A. 22 Congressional Globe, 37th Cong., 3d sees., February 20, ~863, pp. ~ ~3 I, ~ ~55.
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68 / The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy the New World, as many of its friends testified, the Academy's closet conception and creation, whatever the justification, had not been wise. Thus the members did not hold their first meeting under the happiest of auguries, nor were the several public notices prior to the assembly in New York reassuring. At a meeting of the American Philosophical Society on April ~7, its Proceedings noted: The Secretary [he may have been either John LeConte or, acting for him, Peter Lesley] made some remarks upon the organization of a National Academy of Science [sic], which led the way to a general discussion by the [thirteen] members present of the importance of that class of subjects, which relate to the welfare and improvement of society; such as the trial by jury, the giving of evidence ....55' The Academy fared little better at the Franklin Institute, where the only notice appeared in an article in its journal edited by Academy incorporator John F. Frazer, "On a National Academy of Science Esic] and Technological Institution" by one John W. Nystrom, a civil engineer recently from Stockholm. He noted that, although the Academy might be of great value after the war "for the improvement of our moral dignity and standing among nations in a political view," at the present time we "have more science in this country than we can properly manage." He cavilled at its "Professors in Colleges" who wrote scientific books destitute of practical examples when the knowl- edge of steam engineering was so far behind the knowledge of science and deplored the creation of an academy of science when a national technological institution was so much more imperative.54 Equally uninformed, and bewildered, was the Scientific American, published in New York, which described "recent proceedings in the Franklin Institute, wherein it was proposed to establish, under Gov- ernment auspices a 'National Academy of Sciences,' which should embrace the practical details of the machine-shop within its walls...." While such "an academy of the natural sciences would be . . . an important advantage to the resources of the country," the editorial declared, its establishment under government protection would sub- ject it to the blight of politics and of personal interests.55 [Sir Henry Lyons, The Royal Society 1660-1940: A History of its Administration under its Charters (Cambridge: The University Press, ~944), pp. 2~-22]. 5S American Philosophical Society, Proceedings 9:206 (April ~ 7, ~ 863). 54 f ournal of the Franklin Institute 75 :275-277, 28~285 (April ~ 863). 55 "Theory and Practice," Scientific American 8:329 (March 23, ~ 863). Both Nystrom and Scientific American apparently confused the Academy with W. B. Rogers's Institute of
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 69 The Sillimans in their journal, with a copy of Wilson's bill at hand, gave a full account of the incorporation of the Academy and its membership, adding only the slightly acerbic comment that The members of the Academy named in the Act had before them simply to accept or decline the trust reposed in them, by no choice of theirs. So far as they have accepted their position, we feel justified in saying it is with a conviction that there were many not named on the list who might most properly have been there, and with the assurance that so far as any honor may attach to membership, it will be shared by the suffrages of the corporators who are named in the lawns Notices of the founding of the Academy in other journal literature appear to have been few, and the implications in its establishment furthering professionalism in science, raising the estate of science, and promoting original research were wholly ignored. The brevity of the bill and the single stated function of an organization called the National Academy of Sciences seem to have confused many of the incorporators themselves about its reason or purpose. The daily press, when it reported the Academy meeting, was even more mys- tif~ed. The New York newspapers, which relied on a garbled notice in the New York Commercial Advertiser of April 23 for information, were resentful that"the proceedings were conducted with closed doors," and resorted to hearsay and fustian. They attributed the founding of the "National Academy of Science" to a "Mutual Admiration Society" in Boston of lecturers and talkers eminent in science, art, and litera- ture, or to "some persons in the Coast Survey." In a longer report on April 28, the New York Express charged "this Royal Society of America" and its "life aristocracy of fifty men" with plans to get possession of the Smithsonian and its funds and to "seize the scientific patronage of the country." It predicted that Congress on second thought would repeal the Act of Incorporation of this "very suspi- cious body" or modify it.57 A month later the New York Times published an extended account of the organization under the caption, "The New American Academy of Sciences" (which Wolcott Gibbs had prepared at Bache's request), and Technology (later MIT) that obtained its act of association in January ~ 86 ~ . See Rogers, Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, vol. II, p. ~6~. 56 American f ournal of Science and Arts 85 :462-465 (May ~ 863). 57 The notice of April 23 appears in True's history of the Academy, p. 20. Press clippings of April 24 and 28, ~863, are in the Academy register, "National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863-'64," pp. 8g-go, 93-94, 96, 29~.
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~ ~ ~ Retry ~~ ~ ~ ~~" ~~ ~: dame person ~ ~ ~~. bent - .,.~:~-~co~pa~ ~ sums. ;~rusb—1~b,~t;h6:~:~—t fight of ~th4:~! : ~ ~ ~~ ~ 'I ' A 'a P i ~~ | - ~ ~~: =~ Abe. ~:G~::~e~n thy ~o X - ~~ _~.~we'" ~ Up '' ~ ~ ~ - to ~~: - id ~~ papa Id ~ ~—D.i~ ' ,, _ ~~ - t ~~ - t ~ ~ :~ :: __~nf~~:~ :~_ ~ _.a~—ohm ~—I _ = it.—J malul—-~.~¢i34~p4~ ~ Dips ~~ I hats fir ;_ ~~ Do ~ clog ~d~~~ r ~~* ——~ - _ ~~ p - . :~ ~ ~c:: ~ _: ~~ its - ,,, - .. - );po=~::~ba~ - ~ - a,`. - Bum Ate - ^c~Bcp~e:~ecou~ I: ~ I: ~~$~,~f=ia]~le7 1 . ~ ~ ~ ~ . . m_ ~ ~ I-- am ~ ~ - rs~dr ~:~'u~ :~fi~:~=e~m~:~-~ :.n ~:::::~lve:~::tale~ H~ `~a _ on~::~ti~q~ next Hi—, _$ for :— m.—: _~anD~es span to en ane. :~ —~ ~~ - ~E:Et J\3~p~_ ~~:~ ~~" ~ The first meeting of the Academy at New York Univer- sity in April ~863 drew muddled and derisive notices in the press such as these two from the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch (left) and the New York Evening Express (right) (From the archives of the Academy). Jo
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TheIncorporation and Organization of the academy 1 71 followed it the next day with a long speculative editorial on historical precedents for the manner of the Academy's founding. "A more reasonable objection," the New York Times concluded, was "the fact of its exclusive nature," that all its members were already appointed when they met. Although few on the list should be left out, all the foremost scientific men of the country were not there, it observed. Nevertheless, "we hope the best for this important new ~ns~u~'on and trust that its leading men will later "purify the membership and raise its standard."58 The organization meeting on April c~ had begun inauspiciously for William Barton Rogers the night before. He and his brother could riot get a room at the Brevoort House, but found Bache, Agassiz, Peirce, Gould, Frazer, and Fairman Rogers there with Senator Wilson; moreover, the brothers were not invited "to join the conclave held in B.'s parlor or to join Etheir] dinner party."59 The meeting the next morning was opened by Senator Wilson, who spoke briefly of his sponsorship of the Act of Incorporation through Congress and then of the difficult and delicate task it had been to devise the bill. If, he said, an unintentional injustice, a seeming wrong had appeared in the act that some men of merit had been forgotten it would be righted by the Academy. He then called upon Agassiz to take the chair. With courtly grace, Agassiz declined, and nominated Henry and Caswell as Chairman and Secretary pro tempore of the inaugural meeting. With Henry in the chair, the assembly of thirty-two settled down in that first session to the appointment of a Committee on Organization under Bache and a committee of five under F. A. P. Barnard to prepare a form for a diploma of membership, a corporate seal, and a stamp for the books and property of the Academy.60 58 New York Times, May 20 and 2l, ~863, in Academy register, "National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863-'64," pp. ~ lo- ~ I; James Gilliss to Bache, April 27 and May I, ~863, and Gibbs to Bache, May ~7, ~863, ibid., pp. 88, 97, foe. A decade later the meetings of the Academy were better reported, owing to the press releases provided by the Home Secretary. An imaginative reporter did, however, preface his account of the "Savants in Council" with the sentence: "The association was incorporated in ~ 863, to constitute an advisory body to stand between the Government and the projects of schemers whose assaults on the Treasury had become of a serious and alarming nature" [New York Daily Tribune, April ~6, ~873 (NAS Archives: Meetings: ~ 873)]. 59 W. B. Rogers, "Memoranda of the Meeting . . . ," p. 4. 60 On Bache's committee were Caswell, W. B. Rogers, Gibbs, Frazer, Silliman, Jr., B. A. Gould, Peirce, Agassiz, and at Bache's later request, Winlock. F. A. P. Barnard's committee included Hilgard, Saxton, Rutherfurd, and Lesley. (Continued overleap
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 73 "there are many here who in their hearts must feel that they have no claim to be here when such men as I have named have been excluded!" The shaft struck the mark, and caused a pause in the exultation and mutual glorifica- tion in which some had been indulging. Of the fifty corporators named in the bill, thirty-two were present the first day, and twenty-seven during the rest of the session. A committee of organi- zation was first appointed, consisting of nine, Bache being chairman, sup- ported by Benjamin Gould, Agassiz, Peirce, Benjamin Silliman, Frazer, etc., and to which I also was admitted. The Constitution and Rules, most elabo- rately prepared, were read from the MS. by Bache. There was no dissent on any important point, unless when I made objection. One of the provisions made the tenure of the offices of president, vice-president and secretary, for life! To this no one objected, and I let it pass without voting until, the morning's task being closed, Bache was about shutting up his book. Then I rose, and calmly called their attention to this clause, told them that to exact that would be to blast every hope of success, and so impressed them with the responsibility of such a course that they voted the term of six years instead of for life. I had much use for my backbone, but did all calmly and without personality. I was supported in the general meeting by Newberry, and by Stephen Alexander on several occasions, and succeeded in modifying or defeating some of the most objectionable provisions, and, what is better, in having the whole open to immediate amendment or excision at the first stated meeting to be held in Washington next January. At first I felt indisposed to go; Gray and Wyman, yielding to such a feeling, stayed at home. But I rejoice now that I took part in the matter, as I feel that I did good.6~ During the evening session the Articles of Organization prepared by Bache's committee were read to the assembly. All went smoothly until the reading of the seventh Article, fixing an oath of allegiance to be taken by the members of the Academy, which would, as Rogers pointed out, have the effect of later barring from membership anyone "even slightly implicated in the Rebellion."62 Peter Lesley described the event in a letter home the next day: [There was] a most exciting debate, in which I was compelled to join in three or four speeches, against Leidy, St. Alexander, W. B. Rogers, Newberry, and one or two others, while the most stirring and thorough-going little speeches were made by Agassiz, Bache, Gould and Frazer. After repeated protestations from the Copperheads [a term of opprobrium for Northerners who sym- pathized with the South] that they were ready to take that or any other, but unwilling to exclude "repentant" "brethren" "for all time". .. I urged.. . 6} Rogers, Life and Letters of William Barton Rogers, vol. II, pp. ~6~-~62. 62 W. B. Rogers, "Memoranda of the Meeting . . . ," p. ~ I.
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74 I The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy EthatJ those they were providing for had failed to stand the test. This brought Barnard of Mississippi to his feet, who had forsaken all and come North. FIe spoke as only the Union men in the South can speak. He assured us that there was not a man of science in the South who would not continue to be a rebel and spit on our diploma. Leidy threatened to resign. When we passed the resolution, he asked to be recorded against it. Frazer and I immediately called for the ayes and noes; but afterwards it was all hushed up and no record was made by general consent. Agassiz, like a glorious fellow as he is, led off and gave us courage; Bache, like a cunning old dog, waited until we had all spoken and then came in, like the ironsides, with one of the most thundering broadsides ever fired. W. B. Rogers . . . was extremely embarrassed and troubled, appealing to his record as an old and consistent anti-slavery man. Robert [Rogers] sat by and said nothing, looking so the picture of consumptive and dismembered de- spair, that my heart bled whenever I saw him. [Prof.] Henry escaped by being in the chair. Caswell, the Secretary, Gould and other politic ones urged all the while that when the time of penitence and reconciliation should come, the oath should be set asides. Some one, I willingly forget who, argued that we would lose government patronage, unless we bid for it with the oath; I suspect it was only an unfortunate way of stating a higher truth, that we are the children of the government, and the Academy is the creation of the govern- ment, and owes it an oath of allegiance as its first duty....63 During this "somewhat protracted debate," as the Minutes re- ported, efforts by Joseph Leidy to amend the oath of fealty were rejected and the Article as written was adopted as the meeting adjourned. The next morning, April 23, John Torrey, who had been delayed in Cambridge, answered the roll call for the first time. But Dana, who was in ill health, did not return, and Stephen Alexander, General Barnard, Davis, and Silliman, Jr., had absented themselves. Im- mediately, debate began again on the oath of allegiance, subsiding only when Benjamin Peirce rose to say he would prepare a substitute oath. Continuing that afternoon, the assembly considered the remaining Articles, and after protracted debate on several of them, and setting two aside for revision, adopted the rest. Following a brief adjourn- ment, the session continued, the two revised Articles were adopted, and Peirce's modification of the loyalty oath, following brief discus- sion, was accepted. On Bache's motion, the Articles were then provi- sionally adopted as a whole. The next day, on motions made by Rutherfurd and W. B. Rogers, a committee headed by Frazer was 65 Ames, Life aM Letters of Peter and Susan Lesley, vol I, pp. 4~9-42o.
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 75 announced to revise their style and arrangement in final form and present them at the next annual meeting.64 Leidy was absent from that fifth assembly on Friday morning, April 24, calling it another meeting of the "illiberal clique, based on Plymouth Rock,"65 and so also were Alexander, Dana, Guyot, Hall, Newton, and R. E. Rogers. But it proved a quiet and productive session. The morning was devoted to enrolling the incorporators in the classes and sections they wished to represent in the Academy. The class of mathematics and physics was made up of five sections: mathematics; physics; astronomy, geography, and geodesy; me- 64 Interestingly, there was little then or later in the Constitution or Bylaws of the Academy describing the duties, rights, privileges, or responsibilities of Academy mem- bers. Although the Constitution provided for the impeachment and expulsion of members "habitually neglecting their duties," J. H. Alexander pointed out that "the 'duties' spoken of are not defined . . . [and] therefore each member must be left to construe them for himself...." The Constitution did state that four consecutive unexcused absences from meetings constituted grounds for forfeiture of membership, a rule arising from the desire that committee reports be considered by the entire Academy before transmittal to the government. These provisions were deleted from the Constitution in ~872. Still in effect are the requirements that election to member- ship be accepted, either personally or in writing, and that members pay annual dues (NAS, Annual Report for 1863, pp. 2, ~ ~ 5; J. H. Alexander to Bache, May ~ I, ~ 863, in "National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863-'64," p. 101). A sense of responsibility was implicitly considered an obligation of membership. Various presidents of the Academy took the position that a prospective member must not be "in the slightest degree tainted with injustice or want of truth.... [He must be of] unimpeachable moral character"; that personal behavior must be considered lest it bring discredit on the judgment of the Academy; that Academy members must be "men of probity." See Joseph Henry in NAS, Proceedings, April ~878, pp. ~32-~33; Charles Doolittle Walcott's remarks recalled in letter, E. B. Wilson to F. Seitz, November ~4, ~ 964 (NAS Archives: ORG: Historical Data); Frank B. Hewett in NAS, Proceedings 48:484 (April , ~962) On the other hand, until ~973 when it was deleted, Article V, Section 2, of the Academy Constitution stated that members who read a paper of a nonmember were not responsible for its facts or opinions but only for `'the propriety of the paper." Perhaps, as a knowledgeable member said in later years, "People of sense keep details out of constitutions and even out of bylaws" [President Frank B. Jewett quoted in letter, E. B. Wilson to F. Seitz, June 26, ~964 (NAS Archives: ORG: Historical Data)]. Interesting, too, is Article IV, Section 9, of the Constitution (not deleted until ~972) that strictly speaking did not allow a member to resign from the Academy until his resignation had been accepted by the membership. Such is the effect of the Bylaw reading: "Resignations from membership shall be addressed to the president and acted on by the Academy." Until ~872 the Constitution also stipulated that no resignation could be accepted unless the member's dues had been paid. 65 Leidy to geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden, April 28, ~863, in Reingold, Science in Nineteenth-Century America, p. 209.
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76 / The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy chanics; and chemistry. The class of natural history similarly com- prised five sections: mineralogy and geology; zoology; botany; anatomy and physiology; and ethnology—the latter reflecting a new interest of Henry's Smithsonian. All but the last three sections had representatives among the members present in the hall that day.66 That done, Wolcott Gibbs arose to propose that a book be arranged for the signatures of the members of the Academy.67 Next, Bache and then the assembled members, took the oath of allegiance to the United States and to the Academy, and the meeting turned to the election of officers.68 Before the balloting began, Joseph Henry asked not to be nomi- nated to any Academy office, "as his duties as a public officer in the Smith. Ins. forbad him to assume any others connected with the Govt."69 Without further hesitation then, Bache was nominated and elected President of the Academy, and Henry rejoined the members on the floor. Next, James D. Dana, although absent, was elected Vice-President, Louis Agassiz was named Foreign Secretary, Wolcott 66 Although natural history, not the physical sciences, was the most widely pursued scientific activity of the nineteenth century, more than twice as many of the incor- porators of the Academy were in the physical sciences and technology as in the natural sciences. A section enrollment, almost certainly made up when the list of incorporators was originally prepared, shows seven names in mathematics, nine in physics, seven in astronomy, nine in technology (i.e., mechanics or engineering, largely represented by the military services), four in chemistry, five in geology, six in zoology, and three in botany ("National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863- '64," pp. 6-7). The disproportion also appears in the section roster in the Academy's Annual of the National Academy of Sciences for 1863-1864, pp. 3~-33. Eight of the incorporators did not appear on this roster: Dahlgren (who resigned), Engelmann, Hitchcock, Hubbard (recently deceased), Leidy, Longstreth, R. E. Rogers, Totten, and Boyden (who refused membership). It did however include three members of the Academy elected in ~864: Baird, Dalton, and Lesquereux. 67 A signature book was ready for the annual meeting in ~864. It was signed by all but nine of the fifty incorporators, and subsequently by all new members for the next fourteen years. Then the book was mislaid and lost, not to be found until the spring of ~95~. See NAS,Annual Reportfor 1951-52, p. 2; Robert Livingston, "Original Signature Book, National Academy of Sciences," NAS-NRC, News Report II :6-7 ( ~ 952). See also NAS Archives: ORG: NAS: Signature Book of Members: ~952; "Minutes of the Council," November ~ 2, ~ 9 ~ 6. 68 The original Article VII prescribing the oath, its revision by Benjamin Peirce, and the oath taken by the incorporators all appear in the "Minutes of the Proceedings.... " In the Constitution and Bylaws as revised and adopted in January ~ 864, the oath appeared in Article I, Section 3. See the original "Minutes" (NAS Archives: NAS Meetings: ~863, pp. 3~2-3~3 of Secretary's notebook); Annual of the National Academy of Sciences for 1863-1864, pp. ~ 6- ~ 7. 69 W. B. Rogers, "Memoranda of the Meeting . . · . p. ~6.
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The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy 1 77 Gibbs became Home Secretary, and Fairman Rogers the Treasurer.70 As the principal officers of the Academy, they would head the Academy Council for the transaction of such business as was assigned to it by the Constitution or by the Academy.7~ At this point, as the election of other members of the Council was about to begin, the propriety of that election was raised owing to the uncertainty as to whether absent members would accept their ap- pointments as academicians. The discussion was not reported, but it led the Home Secretary to read the names of absent incorporators who had sent letters accepting their appointments.72 Joseph Henry, the first to be nominated for the Council, asked that his name be withdrawn, and Davis, Lesley, Rutherford, and Torrey were then elected to the Council.73 In the afternoon, Peirce and Silliman, Sr., were elected chairmen to represent the scientific interests of the Academy in, respectively, the classes of mathematics and physics and of natural history. Next, after a previous decision to hold yearly Academy meetings in January and August, it was voted to dispense with the summer meeting that year. A flurry of miscellaneous matters was attended to and then the final business of the organization meeting came up. Answering the first call of the government upon the Academy, Bache was named to a Com- mittee on Weights and Measures that would be appointed when the request was formally received. At four o'clock that day the Academy adjourned, with plans to meet again on January 4, ~864, in the city of Washington. The founding exercises of the Academy had been vigorous, and for 70 It was almost certainly Wolcott Gibbs, Home Secretary from ~863 to ~872, who ordered made and began keeping the bound volumes of Academy documents entitled, in gold letters, "National Academy of Sciences, New York and Washington Meetings, ~863-'64" (previously cited in note ~3); "N.A.S., Minutes, ~863-~88~;" and "National Academy of Sciences, Committee Papers, ~ 863-'64." See Gibbs to Bache, December So, ~863, in the"Meetings" volume, p. ~29. 7] The officers and councillors of the Academy from ~863 to ~963 appear in Appendix E. 72 The letters were from Chauvenet, Engelmann, Gray, LeConte, Longstreth, John Rodgers, Silliman, Sr., and Wyman. Those who had neither signified acceptance or refusal nor appeared at the New York meeting were John H. Alexander, Boyden, Dahlgren, A. A. Gould, Hitchcock, Humphreys, Mahan, Totten, and Whitney. 7S The Council met briefly that evening to discuss Article V, providing for the publica- tion of "proceedings, memoirs, and reports." The Treasurer and Home Secretary recommended using the Transactions of the Royal Society as model for transactions or papers of the Academy and the Wiener Berichte as model for proceedings or abstracts of scientific memoirs ("Minutes of the Council, ~863-~902," p. 3).
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78 I The Incorporation and Organization of the Academy most of the participants memorable and rewarding. "I have a world of anecdote to tell you," Peter Lesley wrote home, "about the long hard three days' meeting, and the splendid success of the organization as it appears."74 John Torrey, who had missed the first day but heard of the several outbursts, found the rest of the meeting "very harmoni- ous.... What will come of the academy will depend on the subsequent action of the leading members."75 For Joseph S. Hubbard of the Naval Observatory, the meeting seemed a visible sign of"the new Atlantis of his scientific aspiration...." He wrote a friend soon after, "The inauguration of this Academy marks the most important epoch ever witnessed by Science in America"; and to his brother, "A better Three Days for science were never spent."76 Most pleased with the meeting was Agassiz. "To have this organiza- tion settled is a great step," he wrote Bache a month later, "and I see the best fruits growing out of it. The malcontents will be set aside or die out and the institution survive and it now remains for us to give it permanency by our own doings." The success represented by the meeting had at the least accomplished one great thing. We have a standard for scientific excellence, whatever our shortcomings may be. Hereafter a man will not pass for a Mathematician or a Geologist, etc. because the has been] given an appoint- ment. He must be acknowledged as such by his peers, or aim at such an acknowledgement by his efforts and this aim must be the first aim of his prospects.77 74 Ames, Life and Letters of Peter and Susan Lesley, vol. I, p. 420. At a dinner he attended at the Royal Society Club in London that fall, Lesley was asked about the Academy, and he gave an account of its founding, "upon which great laughter arose" prompting his Academy memoirist to add, "perhaps because it seemed to them so absurd that a scientific academy should be founded in a raw wilderness" (Ames, Life and Letters of Peter and Susan Lesley, vol. II, p. 442; William M. Davis, Harvard Emeritus Professor of Geology, in NAS, Biographical Memoirs 8:195, 1919). 75 Rodgers,John Torrey, p. 275. 76 Quoted in B. A. Gould, "Eulogy on Joseph Hubbard," Annual of the National Academy of Sciencesfor 1863-1864, p. 7~. 77 Agassiz to Bache, May 23, ~863 (Rhees Collection, Huntington Library), quoted by Reingold in Science in Nineteenth-Century America, pp. 909-210.
Representative terms from entire chapter: