of April, 1874, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution asking information from the President respecting the surveys that were operating in the same and contiguous areas of territory west of the Mississippi, and whether it would not he practicable to consolidate them under one department, or to define the geographical limits to he embraced by each.
The President's message in reply to this resolution was accompanied by a report from the Secretary of War, who transmitted the views of the Chief of Engineers, and one from the Secretary of the Interior, transmitting in like manner sub-reports from the heads of the respective surveys under his superintendence, viz., Hayden and Powell. Upon the question of consolidating all the surveys then in operation under one department, but one opinion was expressed, all being in favor of such a measure; but, as to which department should control them, the views were discordant—the President, the Secretary of War, and the Chief of Engineers, urging the claims of the War Department, and the Secretary of the Interior and both the heads of surveys under his direction as firmly advocating the fitness of that department to administer them. The War Department claimed this right by a sort of prescription, as it was under its protection and control that all the early explorations, including the celebrated expedition of Lewis and Clarke, had been conducted, and by it the leading object was declared to be the accurate mapping of the country for military operations. It also claimed a higher scientific training and discipline for performing the work.
The Department of the Interior, on the other hand, connected the surveys primarily with the public domain, and showed that they were chiefly ancillary to the operations of the Land-Office, which had always been under that department. It also maintained that even in the expeditions under the Engineer Corps civilians had always performed the bulk of the scientific work.
The committee to which the reports were referred recommended that the surveys under the War Department should be continued, so far as they were necessary for military purposes, and that all other surveys for geographical, geological, topographical, and scientific purposes should be continued under the direction of the Department of the Interior.
This report left matters nearly where they were, and was not satisfactory to either party. A second inquiry was ordered by the House in March, 1878, and the officers immediately charged with the surveys were again called upon to express their views on the subject. Major Powell, in his statement, pointed out the essential vices of the multiple surveys; proposed that each branch of natural history should be prosecuted wholly by some one of the divisions, which should be in possession of all the materials; offered to turn over to Dr. Hayden all the materials in his possession relating to any or all of these branches,