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the Attorney-General were to be ex-officio members. The bill was read twice and on the next Monday was taken up for consideration. But a discussion of direct taxes brought a conflict of opinion between city and country members; also Jefferson opposed the recommendation for a military academy, which was associated with this proposal, on the ground that it was not authorized by the specific powers delegated to Congress by the Constitution. The friends of the measure feared to allow it to come to a vote, and it was never further debated.
A similar unsuccessful attempt was made in 1817. In answer to a memorial from the agricultural society of Berkley, Mass., presented on January 29, Mr. Hulbert, chairman of the special committee to which the matter was referred, reported a bill on February 21 for the establishment of a board of agriculture. The bill was committed to the Committee of the Whole, but got no further. Madison's Administration closed on March 4 following, and that time was too near at hand to undertake new legislation of such importance.
WORK OF AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVES ABROAD. But while Congress was waiting for an opportunity for full deliberation on the subject, consuls and naval officers abroad were sending home seeds and cuttings for new crops and aiding in the introduction of new breeds of domestic animals. During Washington's last Administration William Eaton, consul at Tunis, sent to Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State, several Barbary sheep. They came by an armed vessel in the United States service, commanded by Henry Geddes. Mr. Pickering presented a pair of the sheep to the president of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society, and from these the breed spread throughout Pennsylvania and adjoining States.
In 1810, William Jarvis, United States consul at Lisbon, took advantage of the Napoleonic wars to secure thousands of Merino sheep for this country. The Spanish noblemen who owned the sheep had up to that time been slow to part with their pure-bred stock, as they had a practical monopoly of the finest grades of merino wool, but when the French armies were destroying the flocks they were glad to sell them to the Americans. Also, Chinese and French hogs were introduced early in the nineteenth century by such aid of American officials.
During the Administration of President John Quincy Adams directions were given to all United States consuls to forward rare plants and seeds to Washington for distribution, and the National Botanic Garden was established. In 1826 Congress authorized the publication of a manual, prepared by Richard Rush, Secretary of the Treasury, containing the best practical information that could be collected on the growth and manufacture of silk. In 1828 Count Von Haggi's “Treatise on Rearing Silkworms” was printed as a Congressional document. Several valuable reports on the silk industry were also made and published about this time.
AGRICULTURAL DIVISION OF PATENT OFFICE. In 1836 Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, of Connecticut, Commissioner of Patents, received from Government representatives abroad and from others considerable quantities of seeds and many plants, and distributed them to enterprising farmers throughout the country. This he did without Government authority or aid further than the use of the franks of Congressmen who were his personal friends. He also urged in his report that the Government take up the work of aiding agriculture in this and other ways.
FIRST APPROPRIATION BY CONGRESS.
His suggestions and arguments led to the appropriation in 1839 of $1,000 for the purpose of collecting and distributing seeds, prosecuting agricultural investigations, and procuring agricultural statistics. The
money was to be taken from the Patent Office fund and the work was to be done under the Commissioner, at that time an official of the Department of State. In his report, made in January, 1841, Commissioner Ellsworth stated that 30,000 packages of seeds had been distributed during the year and that agricultural statistics, as gathered in the census, were being prepared for publication. In 1842 these statistics were published, with a survey of crop
conditions and prospects. ProgHENRY L. ELLSWORTH,
ress in agricultural science was 1836–1845.
reviewed and special notice was made of the manufacture of sugar from Indian corn and the use of lard oil in place of whale oil for lighting. A firm, it was stated, was seeking to make a contract to supply the light-houses on the Great Lakes with maize oil.
GROWTH OF THE WORK IN THE PATENT OFFICE. The distribution of seeds and the collection and publication of agricultural information continued under succeeding Commissioners of Patents. These were Edmund Burke, of New Hampshire; Thomas Ewbank, of New York; Silas H. Hodges, of Virginia; Charles Mason, of Iowa; Joseph Holt, of Kentucky; William D. Bishop, of Connecticut; Philip F. Thomas, of Maryland; S. T. Shugert; and David P. Holloway, of Indiana. In 1849 the Department of the Interior was established, and the Patent Office, with its agricultural work, became
Commissioner of Patents.
a part of it. The collection of seeds and the publication of agricultural statistics and scientific articles were directly under the care of the Commissioner until that time. No clerk was especially assigned to the duties. In that year the name of F. G. Skinner, who had been publisher of the American Farmer at Baltimore, appears in the Official Register as collector of agricultural statistics, at $1,500 a year. In 1851 it had been found advisable to secure a man of high scientific attainments, and Dr. Daniel Lee, of Georgia, was employed at $2,000. In 1853 the salary was reduced to $1,500 again, and D. J. Browne, of New Hampshire, was employed. In 1855 Mr. Browne's salary had been made $2,000, and C. L. Alexander, at $3 a day, was assigned to the same work. In 1857 the roll stood: D. J. Browne, $2,000; T. Glover, New York, $2,000; H. C. Williams, Virginia, $2,000; C. L. Alexander, District of Columbia, $1,200; W. H. Dietz, Pennsylvania, $1,000; Thomas Donoho, District of Columbia, and Jos. Kilian and C. Simmons, Maryland, each $3 a day.
Mr. Browne was succeeded, on change of Administration in 1861, by Isaac Newton, of Pennsylvania. David P. Holloway, of Indiana, became Commissioner of Patents at that time, and in his first annual report made an earnest argument for the establishment of a separate department of the Government to deal with the interests of agriculture and productive arts.
ORGANIZATION AND WORK OF INDEPENDENT DEPARTMENT. The subject of an independent department was immediately taken up in Congress and the necessary legislation enacted practically without opposition. The lawq was approved May 15, 1862. The United States Agricultural Society, organized in 1852 and meeting in Washington annually from that time till 1860, was at all times active in urging the establishment of the department. It was largely instrumental in creating the public opinion which made this practical realization of the hopes of Washington so easily possible. It is noteworthy that in this same year, June 19, 1862, was passed the first act, known as the Morrill law, for the establishment of agricultural colleges.
COMMISSIONER NEWTON'S TERM. The first Commissioner of Agriculture was Hon. Isaac Newton, already mentioned as chief of the section of agriculture in the Patent Office. He took charge in his new capacity on July 1, 1862, when the law establishing a department went into effect. He was a native of New Jersey, but early in life settled in Pennsylvania, where he devoted himself to scientific farming. Under his new appointment he was given full control of the property of the division in the Patent Office and conducted his work independently of the Department of
a The text of this and other laws will be found elsewhere. See p. 57.
rom thať timoanized in 1852 an, 1862. The Unitechar
the Interior. The propagating garden at Sixth street and Missouri' avenue NW., in Washington, first mentioned in the annual report of 1858, was placed under his care and a tract of 40 acres in the same city, lying between Twelfth and Fourteenth streets SW., and B street SW. and the canal (B street NW.), the same now forming the Department grounds, was assigned to him for an experimental farm.
The organization of the new Department proceeded rather slowly at first. There was delay in the transfer of the property of the agricultural division from the Patent Office. Commissioner Newton said in his first report, dated January 1, 1863, that he was not yet formally in possession, though he had called attention to the matter in the previous July. Also, on January 1, 1864, he said he had been unable to use the ground at Twelfth and B streets SW. as a farm, because it was needed by the War Department as a cattle yard for army supplies.
Appointment of early officials.-In 1862 Commissioner Newton appointed William Saunders to be superintendent of the propagating
garden, and Mr. Saunders aided materially with advice in organizing the departmental work. It was proposed to employ a chemist, and Mr. Saunders was asked what there was in his branch for the attention of such an official. He said that in the experiments with new varieties of grapes there were analyses which could be made with profit. On August 21, 1862, C. M. Wetherill was appointed Department chem
ist. He made certain analyses ISAAC NEWTON,
of grapes, and also of sorghum sirup, which were given to the
public in the second bulletin published by the Department. The first bulletin was a pamphlet by Mr. Saunders on the objects and aims of the Experimental Garden, with a catalogue.
This work and the distribution of plants from the propagating garden, the collection and distribution of seeds, and the publication of agricultural statistics and other information constituted the chief activities of the Department for the first six months.
In 1863 Commissioner Newton appointed Lewis Bollman to be statistician and Townend Glover to be entomologist. He imported several hundred bushels of choice seed wheat, corn, rye, and other cereals, and several thousand dollars worth of other seeds. At the same
time with these he distributed 1,500 bushels of cotton seed and a large amount of tobacco seed. An especial effort was made to stimulate the cultivation of cotton in the Northern States. In all, Commissioner Newton distributed in 1863 1,200,000 packages of seed and 25,750 bulbs, cuttings, and vines. The publication of monthly reports of the condition and prospects of crops was begun. A Maine farmer wrote soon after this was well under way: “Your monthly reports give me just the information I have wanted for years. Knowing the supply and demand, I am able to sell at my own price.”
Weather service and beet sugar inquiry suggested.— The study of the climate and storms of this country had long been fostered by the various Departments of the Government and by the Smithsonian Institution, as well as by several individual States, before the act of 1862 establishing the Department of Agriculture. Commissioner Newton in his first and second annual reports dwelt on the vital importance of the weather and climate, and in his third report (1864, p. 10) said:
I would renew my suggestion of last year that if, under the direction of the Government, the state of the weather at different points of the country could be daily communicated by telegraph, so as to be immediately spread over the whole country, very important and beneficial results might follow.
The publication of meteorological data gathered by Smithsonian observers was continued in the monthly reports of the Department from 1863 to January, 1872; but meantime the efforts made by many to induce the Government to establish a practical service for the prediction of storms and floods culminated in the organization of a meteorological division in the office of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army. Eventually this became the Weather Bureau of to-day.
In his third annual report Commissioner Newton also called attention to the beet-sugar industry as it had been developed in France and suggested its adaptability to this country.
Death of Commissioner Newton.—During the summer of 1865 he got possession of the land at Twelfth and B streets SW., and started the experimental farm. His son, Isaac Newton, jr., was placed in charge of this work. Tests were made that summer of new and promising varieties of corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, rice, sorghum, peas, beans, grasses, clover, cabbage, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and melons. Seventy-seven varieties of potatoes were tried. A large quantity of seed was saved from the farm and distributed during the winter and spring.
In July, 1866, Commissioner Newton suffered a sunstroke while in the field on the experimental farm. A large number of varieties of wheat—Tappahannock, Mediterranean, and others now in general use—were being tried. The grain had been cut and was lying