Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/20

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May 17, 1848, "he made a most earnest and stirring appeal" in that direction. Three years later he made a declaration of sentiment and policy, emphatic, specific and self-sacrificing. This shall be given in his own words:[1]

Twenty years ago I was present at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Cincinnati, where specimens from all parts of the west were brought together to be seen by the scientific men of the east. ... When one of the members of the association moved that to make the best use of these collections they should be sent to Europe to be identified by paleontologists and zoologists of the old world, I opposed that motion as earnestly as I could, stating that it would be an acknowledgment of inferiority on the part of America from which we could never rise again. ... My motion was carried, and yet I remained under the imputation, which was loudly expressed by some, that I had carried a big job; that my motion had been made in order that I might have the benefit of describing those specimens, and thus raise my reputation. I resolved then to myself, but never spoke of it before, that I would never describe an American fossil, and I have kept my resolve. The progress since then has been such that now an American student scouts the idea of sending a piece of work to a European ordeal.

Agassiz came to America upon a scientific mission provided for by the King of Prussia. He found here unlimited material for research, the chance of earning by lecturing the means of repaying obligations incurred by his European publications, and a cordial welcome alike from naturalists, from society and from the people at large. Changed political conditions rendered his return less desirable, and he accepted a professorship in the newly-established Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University.[2] Ten years later he declined a favorable and repeated offer of a chair in the Paris Museum of Natural History. When the Civil War broke out "no American cared more than he for the preservation of the Union and the institutions it represented." Indeed, "he was naturalized in the darkest hour of the war, when the final disruption of the country was confidently prophesied by her enemies. By formally becoming a citizen of the United States he desired to attest his personal confidence in the stability of her constitution and the justice of her cause.[3]

Although the subjects of Agassiz's studies had commonly to be killed, he was not a sportsman. "His passion for Natural History never carried him so far as to shoot birds or animals for sport." The

  1. From the report of the meeting of the joint committee on education of the Massachusetts Legislature as printed in the Boston Weekly Spectator for February 12, 1871. Among other obvious misprints Agassiz is made to say that his protest was made "twenty-four" years ago, which would be 1847, whereas the first Cincinnati meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was in 1851.
  2. His first wife died July 27, 1848, and in the spring of 1850 he married Miss Elizabeth Cabot Cary, of Boston, who became his "guardian angel."
  3. Mrs. Agassiz, pp. 568, 570.