Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/821

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THE PROGRESS OF AMERICAN MINERALOGY.

is the author of several important papers on mineralogy, and was the discoverer of the occurrence of native tungstic acid as a mineral species. For more than fifty years he continued as teacher in Yale College, and when he resigned his professorship, in 1853, he had the satisfaction to have as his successor in the department of mineralogy and geology Professor James D. Dana, who was already among the foremost mineralogists of the day, and whose published works, before and since his accession to this professorship, have done so much for the advancement of mineralogy. . . .

It will be inferred from what has been said of these pioneers that the developments and discoveries of minerals, during the first twenty-five years of the century, were due entirely to individual enthusiasm and private enterprise. Up to this time no aid had been received from either State or national governments, and in looking over the work accomplished during this period we are filled with wonder and admiration at the energy and rare devotion to science exhibited. The larger portion of the continent was an unbroken wilderness, and the facilities of communication even in the settled parts of the country were of the most primitive character. Yet at the present day, with our means of rapid transportation, many naturalists would hesitate to undertake the long journeys then made for purely scientific purposes.

Geologists as well as mineralogists will recall how much science is indebted to such men as William Maclure, James Pierce, Thomas Nuttall (the botanist), and others who made extensive trips through the whole territory east and in some instances to the west of the Mississippi River. Maclure not only devoted his time and money to making and publishing a geological survey of the United States and Canada, the first report of which was made in 1809, but to him the Academy of Natural Sciences, in Philadelphia, owes its first endowment.

I shall be pardoned, I trust, if I mention still another signal instance of private liberality in this connection. General Stephen Van Rensselaer, of New York, a generous patron of science, defrayed all the expenses of a geological survey of the country adjacent to the Erie Canal, including the making of a geological section from Lake Erie to the eastern coast of Massachusetts. This survey was under the charge of Professor Amos Eaton, with a competent corps of assistants, and was continued for four years, from 1820 to 1824, at a cost of many thousands of dollars. General Van Rensselaer was also the founder of the first school of technical science in this country—the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, at Troy, which was placed under the charge of Professor Eaton. It may be interesting here, in these days of summer schools, to recall, although parenthetically, that what was probably the first Summer School of Science in the United States was established more than fifty years ago in connection with this institution. The school consisted of a flotilla of towed canal-boats, and the route was from Troy to Lake Erie. It took two months for the trip, and visited