Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/409

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395
PROFESSOR JOHN W. POWELL.

or to receive and elaborate the materials collected by other surveys; and pointed out the different methods by which the work of surveying was performed by the parties of the War and those of the Interior Department, and the impossibility of ever completely harmonizing them. He also presented a map, showing the amount and location of the duplicated work. His paper concludes with these remarks: "If the surveys of both departments are carried on over the entire region, there will be two general atlases of the whole area, and the work will be twice done. If the surveys are confined to different areas, there will be an Interior Department atlas of one region and a War Department atlas of the other, and neither atlas can be completed for the entire region without reconstructing the maps of the other. In view of these facts, it is manifest that the work should be unified and a common system adopted. This may be accomplished either by an act of Congress, by executive direction, or by placing the work under one management."

The improbability that, in case of consolidation, Professor Powell would be called to the head of the surveys, as well as the known sincerity of his personal character, precluded suspicion of any other motive for such an expression of views than that of concern for the interests of the service.

A provision was inserted in one of the appropriation bills, requiring the National Academy of Sciences to take into consideration "a plan for surveying and mapping the Territories of the United States on such general system as will secure the best results at the least possible cost." Professor O. C. Marsh, president of the academy, and chairman of the committee appointed by it to consider the subject, requested the Secretaries of War and of the Interior to furnish the committee with any data at their disposal to aid it in performing the duty thus imposed upon it. Both secretaries responded through their chosen representatives, Professor Powell, with Dr. Hayden and Commissioner Williamson of the Land-Office, appearing for the Interior Department. Professor Powell's paper was even a more clear and complete statement than the one he had made before the congressional committee, of the necessity of consolidating the surveys and making a division of the labor on a scientific basis. On the 26th of November the National Academy submitted its report, on the basis of the one that had been made to it by its committee, recommending the establishment, under the Department of the Interior, of an independent organization, to be known as the United States Geological Survey, to be charged with the study of the geological structure and economical resources of the public domain, the director of which should be appointed by the President. A provision organizing the survey, in accordance with these recommendations, was passed by Congress in an appropriation bill.

Professor Powell supported Mr. Clarence King, who was appointed