Antebellum Period Was Formative but Limited
In recent decades, a number of historians have examined antebellum science, and those years are recognized as the crucial transitional period in the development of science in America. Writers on those times do not make claims for American contributions as world-class science.[1] When the subject of competitive status arises, the question tends to be about American priority over Europeans for particular discoveries, i.e., a matter of timing and not of singular breakthroughs – e.g., William Charles Wells’s[2] early comment on the role of natural selection (although by the time he made this suggestion, Wells resided in London), or Joseph Henry’s discovery of electromagnetic induction independently of Michael Faraday.
Science is Social and Organizational
What has motivated and directed historical study of American science is a realization that science is not genius, though that rare human quality periodically punctuates scientific development. In modern times, science is, above all, a social enterprise, including an institutional infrastructure (both private and public), and cultural values that facilitate and sustain the growth, dissemination, and application of specialized knowledge of the physical and natural world. The development of such an organizational foundation for American science is the essence of the antebellum contribution. It was, however, a complex historical process. As an identifiable scientific community emerged, it both drew upon and acted counter to existing cultural and political patterns.[3] Important as these organizational developments were, however, it is important to keep clearly in mind, as Hamilton Cravens and Alan Marcus have recently emphasized, that knowledge was central to the concerns and activities of scientists.[4] The necessity to consider social situation, intellectual orientation, and the relationship of the two is the characterizing feature of any balanced history of science.
Adapting European Origins to Local Conditions
The roots of organization lie in Europe, of course. It was not an original invention by Americans but a process of catching up and accommodating to a long historical process that went back to the seventeenth century and the establishment, in England, of the Royal Society and its Philosophical Transactions.[5] But the new United States was not the same as old Europe, and imitation had to be molded to local conditions of geography, distribution of economic resources, occupational and class structure, governmental form and formulation, ideological presuppositions, and the shared as well as conflicted values that characterized the new American nation. American political ideals both assisted and complicated the process of institutionalizing and promoting science. On the one hand, democracy readily allied with science insofar as both stood in opposition to authority based on economic power or tradition alone.[6] At the same time, the fluidity of the American political and social milieu, in contrast to the more patterned state of things in Europe, invited confusion and conflict. Issues of pure and applied science, or esoteric and popular knowledge, for example, did not sort easily into established hierarchies or recognized social roles, as they tended to in the older societies of Europe.[7]
General Characteristics of Antebellum Science and Society
In the antebellum period, American scientific development coincided with the rise of Jacksonian democracy and an emphasis on egalitarianism and opportunity for personal as well as national advancement. Along with this political movement was the rise of commercial and industrial interests that countered some of the traditional centering of public values in the agricultural sector. Also at work was an increasing interest in developing educational opportunities for advanced training in (applied) science, agriculture, and engineering in order to address the needs of the nation.
The extent of interest in science and the overall characteristics and dimensions of a so-called community of science have been topics of some interest and concern to historians. This community was not necessarily representative of the general population. In terms of social origins, publishing scientists tended to come from, and therefore perpetuate, an intellectual class.[8] There were various means of expressing interest in science other than publication in scientific journals, however, and the spread of this interest through the population is revealed in increasing detail by historians. Daniel Goldstein, for example, through the use of records relating to individuals assisting the Smithsonian Institution with its various collecting interests, concluded that "Scientific activity was not limited to a small class of highly educated urban professionals. The doctors, professors, and government scientists were complemented by large numbers of farmers, tradesmen, clerical workers, and manual laborers."[9] The general population also played different roles in relation to different areas of science. For example, meteorological studies depended significantly on volunteers in various locations and this continued for a longer time than for some other sciences.[10]
While the community of science has been a special concern of historians, there also is the question of science in the general community.[11] If the study of Milwaukee newspapers in the 1830s and 1840s is indicative, the general public considered science a wholly democratic activity and freely offered their views to other readers.[12] Joseph Henry thought in 1841 that more Americans had an interest in science than was true in other countries.[13] Sorting through various levels of expertise and commitment to science, and erecting identifiable markers that signified amateurs and professionals (to use the conventional bi-polar categorization),[14] was an ongoing concern of antebellum leaders of science, as it has been to historians. George Daniels analyzed this process of professionalization, tracing it through stages of preemption of esoteric scientific knowledge formerly open to all, institutionalization or the establishment of accepted modes of behavior, legitimation in which the professionalizing scientists put forth claims for general acceptance of their role based on general social values, and finally, the stage of professional autonomy.[15] Highly valued though such formulaic views of the historical process are, Mary Ann James has made a convincing case for the need to use them with caution and with openness to the contingencies in any particular historical application.[16]
In whatever terms it is examined, it is apparent that a distinctive structure and social role for American science had been substantially achieved by the end of the antebellum period.[17] It was science with some pointedly American characteristics. Early in the century, the anti-theoretical attitude of Thomas Jefferson held true for American science more generally,[18] and throughout the antebellum period American practice characteristically was data gathering and physical manipulation of objects of study.[19] In spite of its achievements, however, there was a cost which some bore substantially. Margaret Rossiter concluded that by the time full professionalism was achieved by the 1880s and 1890s, through various maneuvers women were "restricted … to the fringes of science."[20]
The process of professionalization, therefore, posed a particularly ironic scenario. On the one hand, it aimed to promote the development and support for science. But at the same time, with partial success came an effort by the scientific leadership to assert control of that development, while trying not to alienate the popular and political support that nourished and sustained it. These developments and related conflicts were played out in several sectors of the nation, reflecting to some degree different aspects of the total mosaic of scientific maturation in its social setting.
Sectors: Learned Societies and the "Sorting Process"
From the colonial period, science as activity had been sustained chiefly by learned societies,[21] including an important early role for the Royal Society of London and later for the quasi-national American Philosophical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the early nineteenth century, the founding of local societies helped to foster the direct involvement of more individuals, many of whom may have been interested only marginally in science but acted as cultural stewards for the community. Consequently, amateurs had a strong presence in the local community groups,[22] but the growth in the number of societies also offered opportunities for presentation and publication of findings by those with a higher level of interest or expertise in science. In various locales, more focused societies were established, especially for the study of natural history, and these organizations offered support and resources for the development of specialized studies. The local societies, in fact, became the early scene of divergence and conflict that characterized the professionalizing process.[23] Within the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, for example, the older explorer group that had been among the founders of the Academy was shunted aside by an emerging group who wielded advanced nomenclature and higher standards of output.[24]
By mid-century, the level of organizational interest for many scientists had become national in scope. Initially, however, scientific leaders such as Joseph Henry and Alexander Dallas Bache were reluctant to support a national organization based on the model of the British Association for the Advancement of Science because of fears that a large uncontrolled lay constituency would reflect negatively on American science in the eyes of Europeans.[25] By the late 1840s, however, there was enough momentum and a growing number of accomplished and committed individuals, so that a national organization became the next logical step. With its founding in 1847, the American Association for the Advancement of Science became the locus of the conflict between amateurs and professionals.[26]
A central objective of the A.A.A.S. leadership was control of publication. John Holmfeld has published a revealing view of this process in his study of the successful attempt in 1853 to eliminate questionable work from the published Proceedings of the Association, an event he considered definitive for the triumph of professionals over amateurs.[27] The A.A.A.S. thus not only reflected the overall development of American science but also became a mechanism and an arena for the furtherance of research effort. To accomplish that central mission, in fact, it focused on scientific work while muting the public discussion of topics or perspectives that might prove controversial or divisive.[28]
While much was accomplished in the antebellum period, the contention between amateurs and professionals continued throughout the century.[29] For example, it has been argued that the issue in biology and medicine came to a head in the 1880s and 1890s.[30] For women, there was a brief period of hope for equitable treatment within the scientific societies following the Civil War, but this expectation was later reversed, so that Rossiter concludes that by the later decades of the century "the very word professional was in some contexts a synonym for an all-masculine and so high status organization."[31]
In the antebellum period, the learned societies were effectively the chief locale for the sorting process within science. These activities eventuated, by the later years of the century, in a pattern of social separation. Individuals who were educated and knowledgeable in science and employed in positions where such expertise was at least partially used, were on one side. On other side was the general population, by century’s end chiefly consumers of scientific writings or technical information, rather than participants or arbiters in its creation and dissemination.
Sectors: Academia and the Cultural Status of Science
Through much of the antebellum period, the colleges played a significant part in maintaining a cultural place for science among that small percentage of the population who attended college and who potentially would take leadership roles in various sectors or geographical locations in the country. Studies in recent years have revealed the extent and variety of science teaching in the colleges during this period. Beyond the general institutional influence that colleges had on the course of science in society, their more direct role is attested by the comparatively large percentage of scientists who attended college and the significant contribution that college professors made to the scientific literature.[32]
Within the colleges, students were exposed to a notable amount of science instruction as part of the traditional bachelor’s degree curriculum. As of about 1820, the college curriculum was still the traditional course that featured ancient languages and culture, while the transformation through the expansion of scientific offerings was accomplished by mid-century. In consequence of this development, the number of professors of science grew by a factor of ten between the late 1820s and 1860.[33] While the colleges were a crucial agent in the economy of science, they were not a source for specialized training in this period, although, arguably, one consequence was a closer integration of science and scientists with the general learned culture of the time. Instruction aimed specifically at a career in science (or engineering) tended to develop outside the college curriculum, in new schools such as the Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, or in special departments developed within established universities, such as the Lawrence and Sheffield scientific schools at Harvard and Yale, respectively.
It is important to keep in mind, in evaluating the role of the colleges in the antebellum economy of science, that its function was largely educational. While Guralnick argues for the development of a faculty research ethic by mid-century,[34] it is generally agreed that the increase of knowledge as an institutional mission was an outcome of developments later in the century.[35] Part of the problem, of course, was where to send individuals who had prepared for a research career, when few employment opportunities existed, a situation faced, for example, by American chemists trained for research in German universities in the period from the 1850s to the 1870.[36]
If the scientific societies were the primary arena for the development of professional prerogatives vis-à-vis other persons or groups with an interest in science, the colleges were the locale for the growth of science in relation to other subjects or cultural areas. Ostensibly, the "intellectual locus" of science in America could have gone elsewhere, but in fact, in time, it settled in academia.[37] From this process emerged an academic mission and goal valuing study as an end in itself rather than for other social purposes (such as character development or the honing of mental skills).[38] By the late nineteenth century, Cravens concludes, "Together, university and scientific societies helped create professional scientific subcultures and a role for the scientist-specialist."[39] This confluence of roles and results is a reminder of the inter-dependency of developments within the sectors of science.
Sectors: Government, Politics, and the Social Role of Science
The state and federal governments were a part of the occupational structure for science, though less numerous than the academic sector.[40] In the antebellum period, government involvement in science related chiefly to studies of natural history, geography, and natural resources, including the U.S. Coast Survey and state and federal topographical, geological, and natural history surveys. These endeavors and the inevitable politics that accompanied them brought to the fore concerns about the role of science in society and issues of intent – that is, whether emphasis should be on economic or more basic science goals. Between 1820 and 1860, thirty-one states established geological surveys.[41] Economic concerns were the predominate reason for the establishment of these projects,[42] while a desire to signify American scientific maturity and independence from Europe also played an important part in rationalizing government’s underwriting of the surveys.[43] Whatever the public motives were for establishing the surveys, individual scientists were able to seize the opportunity to do research that did not have obvious economic benefit. Edward Hitchcock, as Massachusetts geologist in the 1830s, was able to accomplish this balanced approach,[44] but others were not so adroit, and rivalry between scientists who aimed to advance knowledge and others wanting to exploit natural resources sometimes led to open and disruptive controversy.[45] Daniel Kevles sees the prospects of political control of science as one of the motivations for professionalizing efforts among scientists.[46]
Sectors: Professional and Commercial (Special to the Period)
In the antebellum period, another social "sector" played a significant direct role in science that was not true in the same way during the years that followed. Derived especially from the profiles of scientists’ employment, this fourth leg on which science rested is not easily named but can be described. It was private in character, and drew on the professions (especially medicine) and commerce. About 30% of the scientists were practicing physicians during some period in their lives[47] while about 9% spent time as members of the clergy or in the practice of law. Some 11% engaged in business at some time; farming played only a small direct role in science, at about half the level of business.[48] Overall, almost half of the antebellum scientists, at some period in their careers, found employment in positions that were neither science nor science-related.[49] This is a powerful reminder that science, while in the process of developing a social and cultural niche of its own, was still, in practical terms, embedded in the traditional and general matrix of antebellum American life.[50] This situation gave the private commercial and professional sector a role and influence over science that they would not have after the Civil War.
In addition to general employment, some individuals worked for commercial interests in a scientific capacity (an area where employment opportunities increased significantly in the late nineteenth and in the twentieth centuries).[51] Among the sciences in the nineteenth century, geology benefited most from the connection with commercial interests. Chemists also were able to find employment as applied scientists, especially as consultants (including work relating to agriculture, an area where entomologists also made modest contributions), but compared to the number of chemists in the academic sector, relatively few found employment in industry before the Civil War. Other sciences in this period had few connections to the commercial sector.[52] Some fields drew on the support of individuals from a wide array of occupations; in meteorology, for example, "physicians, educators, naturalists, military officers, settlers, agriculturists, and others" made contributions.[53] In a development that ran parallel to the sciences, civil and mechanical engineers came to be characterized professionally by the bureaucratic settings (especially the business firms) that employed them.[54]
The foregoing suggests the complexity in the social and economic support for science during this formative period. The support, however, was not one-directional. While the non-science employment sector made it possible for some scientifically active individuals to make a living, the scientific societies (as suggested earlier) were a venue for the exercise of social influence by persons who were, at most, only marginally involved in scientific research or practice. The Boston Society of Natural History, founded in 1830, for example, noted in its early history that "‘It is not requisite for membership, that a person should be practically engaged or immediately interested in the study of natural history. Any person who is willing to contribute to the support of the Society, either from personal interest or because he regards it as an institution calculated to conduce to the public good, may become a member.’"[55] While naturalist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) was chosen to serve as the first president of the Society, he declined to accept, and the position was taken by Benjamin Daniel Greene (1793-1862). Although Greene apparently made no published contributions to science, he had studied law and was a non-practicing physician (M.D., Edinburgh, 1821) who assembled a botanical collection and library and continued as Society president for seven years.[56]
While a fair amount has been written about government underwriting of science, Mary Ann James’ study of the controversy between the professional scientific community and the local supporters of the Dudley Observatory at Albany in the 1850s highlights the importance of private patronage and its significant consequences for the institutional growth of science. Rather than looking for villains in the controversy, James explores the conflict of values in the Albany events. The outcome is a better understanding of the strong sense of stewardship that characterized antebellum philanthropy, and the limits of scientific authority in that era.[57]
Individuals, Multi-Sectors, and Institutionalized Forms
There were some individuals in the antebellum years who were involved, in varying ways, in all of the social sectors of science. An example is Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864), who early in his career was a practicing member of the clergy (the professional-commercial sector), and thereafter became a professor of geology at Amherst College where he also served as college president (the academic sector). While engaged in his academic duties, he was the Massachusetts and Vermont state geologist (government sector). Finally, he was the first president of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists (scientific associations). Others also played multiple roles across institutional and sectoral boundaries. Through this network of agencies and individuals, as well as through more formal structures and informal or personal relationships, the work of science was done and the exchange of information and perspectives took place. These activities led to the advancement not only of new knowledge but to the establishment of institutionalized channels for work and to the development of ideologies that rationalized the evolving role of science and the scientist in society during the antebellum period and in the years thereafter.
Looked at overall, activities in the antebellum period were a combination of ad hoc or independent choices, and deliberate planning by the leaders of science. Crucial among the latter were Alexander Dallas Bache, superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, and Joseph Henry, professor at Princeton University and later first head of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with a small self-appointed group referred to as the Lazzaroni,[58] Bache and Henry set out to organize American science in a way that would reinforce and promote their normative views and program of influence.[59] A component of these developments was the construction of a social role for the scientist per se. This was a long historic process, however, and Laurence Veysey argues that the "university-trained expert," which surely included the scientist, was a role that grew from the later Progressive Era.[60] In the antebellum period, signifiers of status such as the Ph.D. were absent, and the authority of the scientist drew perhaps more on personal qualities and institutional connections than from deference to individual expertise. Among the numerous professors, research achievement itself resulted not from an institutional commitment but from "personal drive, discipline, and ability."[61]
Perspectives and Ideologies (Religion – General Culture)
Science is more than social practice and organization. It also is a particular way of viewing the world, as well as a body of knowledge and an array of points of view. As such, accommodation to other perspectives within the larger social setting had to be negotiated. During the antebellum period, science still maintained many links to religion and to general culture, relationships that would be stressed or broken in the later years of the century. For some time, the so-called warfare interpretation of the relations of science and religion was current among historians who were influenced by developments and reflections generated during the post-Darwinian decades. While specific issues of science and religion emerged in the antebellum era – such as the nebular hypothesis and the origins of the solar system; the relations of geological investigation to the authority of the Genesis accounts of creation, the age of the earth, and the biblical flood; the nature and meaning of species, varieties, and higher levels of relationships of plants and animals, and the particular question of the unitary or multiple origins of the human races – overall, in the American setting, there was a patient and open minded dialogue on the authority of scripture and of science.[62] Natural theology mediated this relationship as the data of science were used to demonstrate the beneficence and wisdom of a designing God.[63] Many important scientists, among whom the geologist Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was one of the most outspoken, were believing Christians who worked to reconcile conflicts in their own scientific studies and their faith.[64]
The question of religion intruded on science in several ways and during the antebellum period, when religion was a dominant social and cultural force,[65] it was a factor not to be overlooked. Scientists’ collective response has been seen in different ways. Daniels’ analytical approach tends to emphasize the token use of religious values to win acceptance and support for science.[66] When examined in a concrete institutional setting, as Kohlstedt does in the A.A.A.S., a more genuine aspect to the relationship emerges, though it still was necessary to assuage religious sentiment in order to accommodate the practice of science. To do this, the Association had to negotiate a delicate balance between religious sentiment and intellectually protected science.[67]
The rise of evangelical religion during the antebellum period posed a particularly difficult task for the promotion of science.[68] Daniels, in fact, locates the highpoint of scientists’ linkage to religious sentiment to the years 1846-1860, when such references characterized the prefaces of zoological textbooks.[69] In the later years of the century, however, science and religion tended to withdraw to their respective spheres of contemplation and concern, and a mark of a professional scientist was the lack of reference to theological themes in one’s work.[70]
During the antebellum years, the practice of science still maintained more-or-less close ties with the republic of letters,[71] an association that characterized the college curriculum and was manifest to some degree in the older general learned societies such as the American Philosophical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the content of general journals such as the North American Review.[72] In the early years of the American republic, there was a close relation between civil and natural history, as epitomized in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia.[73] A number of individuals who contributed to the scientific literature also published in other areas as well,[74] indicating a more than passive association with general culture. The relation of science to other areas of interest also is evident in the relative lack of specialization even within science.[75] The concentration of interests among science writers during the antebellum period was in biology, geology, and geophysics, with zoology the most popular area as well as the one that attracted the most "specialists."[76]
In the process of developing and promoting science, the role of scientist took on certain presumed qualities that established a generalized social function for the professional. The study of natural history, for example, was seen to have "moral and practical benefits," an outcome that was grounded during the antebellum period in the precepts of natural theology.[77] While naturalists can be assumed to have gained from this activity, a physical scientist such as A. D. Bache also could become the vehicle for demonstrating the high value of dedicating one’s life to the furtherance of scientific knowledge without expectation of personal gain. Living in this way would achieve an "underlying moral or religious end," an outcome that such activity was socially programmed to produce.[78] As the century progressed, however, the direct contribution of the specialist scientist to the general concerns of the layperson lessened and professional scientists became increasingly less interested in the role of popularizer.[79]
Supports: Journals and Societies
Among the supports for science, the journals were important particularly as disseminators of scientific work. They also became arbiters of acceptable levels of performance, as in the efforts within the A.A.A.S. to control what papers were published in its proceedings (discussed above). Similar efforts motivated leaders of individual disciplines, as with the founders of the Entomological Society of Pennsylvania in the 1840s.[80] By the nineteenth century, the journal article had become the characteristic mode of publication in science and has been used historiographically to gauge the scope and variety of investigation and writing within the developing scientific community.[81] Samuel Latham Mitchill (1764-1831) established the Medical Repository in 1797 as the first independent journal that incorporated science as an important part of its coverage; it continued until 1824. The earliest specialized scientific journal in the United States, the American Mineralogical Journal, was founded by Archibald Bruce (1777-1818) in 1810 and continued until 1814, but only one volume was published. A watershed in the history of science in the United States occurred in 1818 when Yale University chemistry and natural history professor, Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864), began issuing the American Journal of Science and Arts, still published today. The so-called "Silliman’s Journal" was the premier general scientific publication for Americans throughout the antebellum years.[82] Later in the period, a few specialized journals came into being, most notably the Astronomical Journal, established by Benjamin A. Gould (1824-1896) in 1849 with the explicit purpose of serving the needs of research scientists. Important though publishing was as a mark of the committed scientist, Mary Ann James, for one, has argued that numbers of publications was not an entirely adequate gauge of the best scientist. Viewing the situation from the perspective of core leaders of the scientific community, James notes that what they considered in making an appraisal of value was "the seriousness of an individual’s work and the rigor with which he approached it."[83]
Scientific American first appeared in 1845 as a popular, technological journal. In certain respects that publication symbolizes a confusion or ambivalence about the character of science in America, where science and technology often are equated. This is a complex topic, not to be taken up here, but a classic paper by Edwin Layton made it possible for historians to look at the subject in a new way. Layton has argued that in the nineteenth century the American "technological community … was reconstructed as a mirror-image twin of the scientific community," in which academic training, professional institutions, a specialized body of technical literature, and theoretical and experimental approaches were developed.[84]
In the decades following the Civil War, additional subject-area journals appeared[85] along with societies devoted to particular sciences,[86] thus signifying and further facilitating the increasingly specialized nature of scientific work and its isolation from popular and amateur involvement. During the antebellum period, while these concerns were current, it is interesting to note that the initial development was from formation of the Association of American Geologists in 1840, to its renaming as the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists in 1842, and the eventual evolution of the organization into the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1847. Although this particular course of events went from a specialist association to a very general one, from the outset the A.A.A.S. was organized into divisions, initially two, devoted respectively to the mathematical, physical, and applied sciences, and to the natural, geological, and medical sciences.
Themes: Takeoff and Patriotism
Certain themes or approaches to the study of antebellum science are addressed or assumed in three major historical works relating to this time period.[87] There is consensus that 1815, the end of the War of 1812, was the time when development of science in America began in earnest.[88] In addition to other contributing factors in the social, political, and economic setting, patriotism was an important motivating factor in the early development of American science. This was a part of the assertion of American cultural independence from Europe,[89] however ambivalent that process might have been. It was not simply a matter of ambition but one of national pride, aimed at countering a negative attitude of Europeans toward American science.[90] The rivalry with Europe was a common concern not only of scientists but of their patrons as well.[91] John Greene presents a picture, for the early years of the century, of both collegiality and competition between native-born Americans and Europeans in natural history. Europeans in America (e.g., André and François Michaux, Thomas Nuttall, and Frederick Pursh) had some freedom to roam and to explore and collect, whereas their American counterparts often had occupational and other commitments that inhibited their freedom of movement. While this was the pattern especially in botany, Greene sees the Americans as more in control of the work in zoology,[92] a reminder that generalizations about social aspects of science often have to be modified to account for differences between individual fields of study. As the scientific enterprise in America progressed in the years before 1861, in certain ways patriotism, or American pride, increased as a goad toward organization and excellence, including the movement among scientific leaders to impose direction and quality control over American efforts. [93] It was an important element in the reform program of A. D. Bache and Joseph Henry.[94]
Themes: Practical vs. Pure
The place of practical or applied interests in American science in the nineteenth century is one of the historical field’s most discussed topics. That science should be useful was a fundamental tenet of the early learned societies, such as the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in Jefferson’s view, science encompassed technology, agriculture, and invention.[95] By about 1815, however, such applied or practical concerns had been taken up by other societies specifically devoted to mechanics, agriculture, and the like.[96]
The place of practical interests is conceded to be a difficult phenomenon to gauge when considered in the context of actual work and motives operative in the scientific community. Daniels argues that utility was by no means the leading reason for the pursuit of science in America in the antebellum period. In reaching this conclusion, he notes that arguments based on usefulness, when stated in the pursuit of public funding and of other social support, must be separated from the underlying interests of scientists qua scientists, which was to advance knowledge.[97] Nevertheless, contemporaries did characterize Americans as chiefly concerned with utilitarian values in science (e.g., Joseph Henry made this contention),[98] and this must have had its effect on the ways in which scientists thought about their work, entirely aside from the necessity to add a veneer of usefulness for public purposes. For the antebellum period, in fact, historians generally agree that pure (or abstract) and applied science were not mutually exclusive categories, Reingold arguing that "Only overly rationalistic, sensitive scientists worried about the problems of defining discrete forms of research styles and goals."[99] Reflecting a perspective derivative from Francis Bacon, A. D. Bache considered science as inevitably purposeful and connected to the control of the human environment and the advancement of the economy.[100] Scientists no doubt accepted this view in varying degrees,[101] while popular views largely supposed that the study of science would have a useful outcome, although that result could be either technical and economic, or moral and cultural.[102] From her study of the Dudley Observatory controversy, James argues that both scientists and patrons, ultimately, were concerned with advancement of basic or "‘professional’ science," a convincing conclusion that contradicts earlier readings of the Dudley events. [103]
The question of pure and applied science is further complicated by the parallel development of technology, as noted above. By mid-century, technology and applied science came to be equated (in spite of the tenuous tie between scientific knowledge and technological development) and this situation was both gain and loss for science.[104] The gain was in the suggestion of a greater social impact for science when viewed in a causative relationship to material advancement, while it was loss that science as knowledge was overshadowed in public perceptions by the more obvious economic and life-changing consequences derivative from technology and invention.
Themes: Religion and the Clergy
In conformity with the earlier discussion, the three summary texts for American science in the antebellum period agree that, in broad social terms, religion and science generally were mutually supportive; though there were some areas of latent conflict, they were kept in check during this period. In the early Jeffersonian era, the potential combatants were the deists (including Jefferson himself) and Christians, but later the rise of evangelicalism brought to the fore a more general Christian-centered view, one, however, that was defended by scientists themselves.[105] It is important to keep in mind that throughout these years, it was generally assumed that science should be subordinated to religion.[106] More was at stake than abstract ideas. Potential conflict also could arise between the emerging community of scientists and the older clerical profession whose traditional authority was threatened by new ways of looking at the world (that is, by the professionalizing scientists who were the creators and proselytizers of new views). In fact, available evidence suggests that, at mid-century, scientists were more inclined toward religious sentiment than other lay professionals. With the passage of the antebellum years, however, the mutual support of science and religion became ever more tenuous.[107] In the wake of publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, by the 1870s virtually all American scientists had accepted the idea of evolution (though not necessarily Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection), while many Protestant clerics had come to reject it on theological or biblical grounds.[108] In the latter years of the century, the hegemony of religion over science no longer was operative. In fact, the two tended toward a reversal of relations, as science rose to dominant cultural authority. Concurrently, education (i.e., educators) achieved top status among the professions, and this at a time when a professorship became nearly synonymous with a professional scientist in American society. Through an historical process played out across the century, by its end science had achieved security and relative insularity in both its cultural (ideational) and its institutional status.[109]
Themes: Scientific Fields and Geography
In addition to general studies, historians of the antebellum period also have found it useful to examine the organizational and intellectual development within particular disciplines and in the various regions of the country. These facets constitute the basic organizing principle for Greene’s work on science in the Jefferson period.[110] Bruce, dealing with the end years of the antebellum period, argues on the basis of relative specialization among his population of scientists, that the best way to understand scientists’ accomplishments and how they worked was to examine the individual disciplines (i.e., mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, life science, and earth science).[111] Zoology in particular (and the life sciences more generally) constituted the largest area of interest for antebellum scientists, though this was followed closely by geology, which underscores the perception that American science was oriented to a significant degree toward study of the American environment. Nevertheless, the mathematical, astronomical, and physical sciences were an important component of the American scientific scene and should not be minimized.[112] Among the general public, astronomy and geology appear to have been the most popular. Whether scientists really were able to communicate their interests to the public, however, is brought into question by an examination of newspaper content which showed, for example, that popular zoological interest tended toward the exotic or unusual rather than the more ordinary concerns of naturalists.[113]
Specialization among scientists is surprisingly difficult to gauge, but there is no doubt that concentration within a single discipline or subject was the historical trend.[114] Various factors contributed to this development, including the increasing complexity of areas of study, and the ever-growing body of information that had to be mastered.[115] From the early nineteenth century, scientists themselves began to feel the force of specialization, although, as Daniels observes, "they did not all agree that the trend was desirable."[116] It does appear that the leading scientists were first affected by the trend toward concentration, whereas the supporting or perhaps less committed among the scientific population during the antebellum period tended to work under fewer disciplinary constraints.[117]
Scientists in the antebellum period were a relatively mobile population (about one-third resided in two or more American states or in the United States and Europe). Overall, the Middle Atlantic states (including the important centers of science in Philadelphia, New York, and the District of Columbia) was the most populous region in terms of adult scientists resident there, followed by New England.[118] The South had relatively few resident scientists.[119] A very small gain in the proportion of adult scientists resident in New England is indicated for those born after 1810 compared to those before that date.[120] While this evidence of a geographical shift in the general scientific population is suggestive only, by other evidence, including the distribution of leading scientists, Boston had become the center of American science by the mid- to late-1840s, displacing Philadelphia from the position it held earlier in the century.[121]
The movement from a local to a national focus among scientific leaders was discussed above. In this regard, Bender notes that the early, localized focus of science and the later shift to the national level was "the greatest story of nineteenth century science," involving a change from community to disciplinary-orientation as well as a change from amateur to professional.[122]
Themes: Effects of Ideology
When all has been said about the substantial progress made on the organizational front as the characteristic feature of American science in the antebellum period, science still must be considered as an intellectual as well as a social phenomenon. In this regard, Daniels’ examination of the philosophical and methodological underpinnings for science in America during this period led him to conclude that other, "less tangible factors" operated to prevent American scientists from taking full advantage of the infrastructure that they had built. Having reached this conclusion, the bulk of his book is devoted to an analysis of the reasons why success was limited. Daniels’ study identifies Baconianism, which he describes at one place as "a kind of naïve rationalistic empiricism," as the central constellation of ideas that underlay the work of science in the period. The ongoing attempt to maintain unity among science, Philosophy, and religion in the era meant that scientific investigation and expression was limited by its alliances.[123]
Historians generally agree that Baconianism was a major foundation of scientific Philosophy and practice in the antebellum period. Numbers points to Baconianism as a commonly recognized source for the relatively smooth relations of science and religion during the period.[124] When this bridge had largely been abandoned by scientists, they still were substantially influenced methodologically by the empirical data-oriented arguments of Bacon.[125] The question of whether philosophical precepts directed scientific practice or were only appealed to as a rhetorical aid is, of course, a central question for all intellectual history.[126] The point has been argued that "the constellation of social values and interests in general, rather than … the incipient organization of scientific work" largely directed the development of science in various countries before the mid-nineteenth century.[127] The discussion above regarding the energy and effort directed toward countering the influence of religion, and the professionalization movement itself (in its efforts to insulate science from lay control), is a historical endorsement of the view that pre-professional science was especially susceptible to general societal influences. Bender sees a correlation between the historical changes "in the institutional basis of science" in the later nineteenth century and "the intellectual style of science," a process of differentiation that set science apart from other ideational and investigational domains.[128] By the early twentieth century, the professional development of science had shattered the concept of a commonly shared culture,[129] a construct that Daniels (as indicated above) saw as having worked to the detriment of scientific advance in the American setting during the early part of the nineteenth century.
Organization, Thought, and Individual Lives
Science in antebellum America developed at the meeting place of organization and activity, on the one hand, and thought and ideology on the other. But the foregoing also indicates that it was a community of individuals, and the characteristics of particular lives, collectively considered, are used to show aspects of the community and the larger social structure that supported and promoted science in that era. Daniels used a selection of fifty-six scientists in order to establish his basic generalizations, while Bruce relies on a statistical study of scientists from the Dictionary of American Biography to guide his probe. The size of the scientific community in antebellum America has been variously noted, but the result from any study depends on the data chosen for analysis, which in turn is related to the initial concept of a scientist. My own study was based on contributions to the periodical literature as indexed in the Royal Society’s Catalogue of Scientific Papers and demonstrated that there were some 500 actively publishing scientists during the era, although about four times as many other individuals were occasional contributors. The overall size of the scientific community (according to definitions other than publishing) has been estimated to be very much larger.[130]
Collective and quantitative studies among American historians over the last several decades have brought to the fore the question of individual and community, though this is often done only implicitly. John Lankford, in his study of astronomers, has confronted the question openly, arguing for interplay between generalized views of behavior, and examples or illustrations as shown in particular lives.[131] The conceptualization of the size and demographics of the community (at least of the naturalist community) was considerably expanded by Goldstein through his examination of the Smithsonian Institution correspondents during the third quarter of the century. It was an important reminder that a host of Americans were seriously interested in science in the nineteenth century, and many found ways of acting on that interest short of publication or leadership in scientific organizations. In this broad based view of the community, Goldstein felt that easy categorization such as professional - amateur was ineffective. It was necessary, instead, to examine individual lives from multiple perspectives in order to understand "the significance and quality" of that person’s work.[132]
In the American context, democratic culture meant that all were expected to engage in income-producing activity and without benefit of patronage.[133] This requirement – combined with the lack of clear-cut pathways to a scientific career before the end of the century – meant that finding a situation that would facilitate pursuit of science often was ad hoc and the prospect of failure was always present.[134] For example, early in the century, explorer-naturalists played an important role in biological research, but, as Hughes recognized, this adventurous activity was not for everyone.[135] Furthermore, as noted above, the development of natural history as a science tended to move the early explorer to the periphery of influence so that "scientific insights gained on the frontier remained outside the mainstream of natural history."[136] Hughes concludes that "until well into the nineteenth century" very few biologists earned a living based on scientific know-how. [137] Though it is true that scientists specializing in areas other than biology were more likely to hold science-related positions, even for the biologists science and science-related employment accounted for two-thirds of the occupational-total. For the biologists, work as physicians was relatively more important, and professorships in science less important, than for other areas of science.[138]
The motivation for scientific work, as with any subject interest or career choice, is a complex matter involving both personal and social factors.[139] For example, one’s place in the economic and social class structure played a part, and movement from one level to another could result – this might be motivation for some to undertake scientific work.[140] Though no social advance was involved in the case of patrician scientist A. D. Bache, his recent biographer argues that Bache’s "commitment to science as an intellectual and social activity did not exist separately from his family background, his educational experiences, and his cultural ties."[141]
There are facets of motivation in addition to personal background – e.g., the origin and nature of one’s interest in science, the particular field or problems that are investigated, and what one intends as the outcome of scientific effort. The question of motivation in terms of purpose has been brought to the fore especially through the work of Elizabeth Keeney who used this factor as a prime means of differentiating amateur and professional, where the former were concerned with personal improvement, the latter with the furtherance of knowledge. Goldstein, however, did not encounter this clear break as incentive for scientific involvement among the Smithsonian correspondents, and in fact most drew upon both projected outcomes as a reason to study science.[142] Cravens and Marcus make the general point that it is not "a sustainable assumption that one’s social background or individual psyche, or both, constitute a predictable guide to one’s attitudes and behavior."[143] It is clear that making connections between the elements of a single life can be as complex and ineffable as the connections between individual lives and the characteristics of a community, or the relations of all these elements to intellectual or technical products. But the effort must be made. The dynamics of institutional development in a new political and cultural context, and individual efforts at scientific advancement, often without full preparation or support, makes antebellum America a particularly important and instructive period for the study of science history. To fully grasp what was happening, society (including organizations, institutions, and politics), culture, and biography have to be treated as integral and not as separate spheres.
1 Charles C. Gillispie, The Professionalization of Science: France 1770-1830 Compared to the United States 1910-1970, 3rd Neesima Lectures (Kyoto, Japan: Doshisha University Press, 1983), 3, gave a similar characterization of American science for as late as the early twentieth century.
2 Factual information in this essay, when not otherwise referenced, ordinarily is taken from Clark A. Elliott, The History of Science in the United States: A Chronology and Research Guide (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1996), or Clark A. Elliott, Biographical Dictionary of American Science: The Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries (Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press, 1979). The former (for the years 1790-1910) is at this website.
3 By the second half of the nineteenth century, the scientific community had grown to the extent that it was a significant area of activity (and now of historical study) in its own right, aside from the question of its inter-relations with the larger society of which it was a part. John Lankford, for example, examines the historical situation among astronomers in order to understand the varied nature of scientific "communities as populations, institutions, and complex social processes," while making the point that individual careers are part of a larger social phenomenon. John Lankford, American Astronomy: Community, Careers, and Power, 1859-1940 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997), xvi.
4 Hamilton Cravens and Alan I. Marcus, "Introduction: Technical Knowledge in American Culture: An Analysis," in Technical Knowledge in American Culture: Science, Technology, and Medicine since the Early 1800s, ed. Hamilton Cravens, Alan I. Marcus, and David M. Katzman (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 1996), 2.
5 Different sciences develop at different rates, itself an indication of social dependency, as David Allen’s description of the "‘take-off’" phase as applied to British natural history in the early nineteenth century shows. Allen describes the desirable situation in terms of a growing population (by which he apparently means interested and active naturalists), agreed-upon goals and a collective consensus to work toward them, attainment of standard work procedures (e.g., for naming specimens), and "at least one institution" (a national society or journal, for example) that will play the role of coordinator and sustainer of the collective effort. In Allen’s estimation, British natural history failed to attain this level of organization and vitality in the early nineteenth century. David Elliston Allen, The Naturalist in Britain: A Social History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994, ©1976), 105-106.
6 Daniel J. Kevles, "American Science," in The Professions in American History, ed. Nathan O. Hatch (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 107.
7 Nathan Reingold, "Reflections on 200 Years of Science in the United States," in The Sciences in the American Context: New Perspectives, ed. Nathan Reingold (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 18.
8 Clark A. Elliott, "The American Scientist in Antebellum Society: A Quantitative View," Social Studies of Science 5 (1975): 93.
9 Daniel Goldstein, "‘Yours for science’: The Smithsonian Institution’s Correspondents and the Shape of Scientific Community in Nineteenth-Century America," Isis 85 (1994): 577. Goldstein’s data is taken from records of the third quarter of the century, especially from the year 1875.
10 James Rodger Fleming, Meteorology in America, 1800-1870 (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 171-172, argues that lay participation in the collection of weather data (as with astronomy) continued after such a relationship had diminished for the biological sciences.
11 Thomas Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities: The Nineteenth Century," History of Education Quarterly 16 (Spring 1976): 65, posed this as a topic of special interest and research.
12 Donald Zochert, "Science and the Common Man in Antebellum America," in Science in America since 1820, ed. Nathan Reingold (New York: Science History Publications, 1976), 31.
13 Robert V. Bruce, The Launching of Modern American Science 1846-1876 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 80.
14 Nathan Reingold, "Definitions and Speculations: The Professionalization of Science in America in the Nineteenth Century," in The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Early American Republic: American Scientific Societies from Colonial Times to the Civil War, ed. Alexandra Oleson and S.B. Brown (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 33-69, discusses this question in depth, and proposes a more nuanced labeling, using the terms researcher, practitioner, and cultivator.
15 George H. Daniels, "The Process of Professionalization in American Science: The Emergent Period, 1820-1860," Isis 58 no.2 (Summer 1967): 151-166. Daniels’ presentation, as he explains, is based on the beliefs among professionalizing scientists, rather than an examination of the social infrastructure (p.152).
16 Mary Ann James, Elites in Conflict: The Antebellum Clash over the Dudley Observatory (New Brunswick and London: Rutgers University Press, 1987), 15.
17 Lankford, American Astronomy (1997), 14, identifies the 1850s as the crucial transition period. Hamilton Cravens, "American Science Comes of Age: An Institutional Perspective, 1850-1930," American Studies 17, no.2 (Fall 1976): 53, assumes achievement of the modern institutions of science by about 1860.
18 John C. Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1984), 31.
19 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 352.
20 Margaret W. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University, 1982), 99.
21 The standard general history is Ralph S. Bates, Scientific Societies in the United States, 3d ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965).
22 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 35.
23 James, Elites in Conflict … the Dudley Observatory (1987), 29-30.
24 Charlotte M. Porter, The Eagle’s Nest: Natural History and American Ideas, 1812-1842 (University: University of Alabama Press, 1986), 11 and 126; and Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 36. Questions of new knowledge aside, it is worth noting here that, while it was not necessarily the chief mission of larger learned societies, many local organizations did play a part in the diffusion of scientific knowledge to the general public; Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities," History of Education Quarterly (1976): 67.
25 Hugh Richard Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: Alexander Dallas Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 37; and Daniels, "Process of Professionalization in American Science," Isis (1967): 157.
26 Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, The Formation of the American Scientific Community: The American Association for the Advancement of Science1848-60 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976), 138. The A.A.A.S. was formed out of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, which decided at its 1847 meeting to expand into the more general society. The first meeting of the A.A.A.S. took place in 1848, at which time the formal organization took place. In 1863, the movement to control the definition of who was (and was not) a true scientist entered the political arena when Congress, acting on the prior effort of a self-selected group of scientists, established the fifty member National Academy of Sciences. Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867), head of the U.S. Coast Survey and one of the group who formulated the Academy, was elected its first president.
27 John D. Holmfeld, "From Amateurs to Professionals in American Science: The Controversy over the Proceedings of an 1853 Scientific Meeting," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 114, no.1 (1970): 35; Kohlstedt, Formation of the American Scientific Community [AAAS] (1976), 139.
28 Kohlstedt, Formation of the American Scientific Community [AAAS] (1976), 131.
29 For a general discussion of science and technology in the post-Civil War era – emphasizing organizational aspects, and relations of science and technology and the latter’s manifest effects, but suggesting the complexity of the topic – see James Rodger Fleming, "Science and Technology in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century," in The Gilded Age: Essays on the Origins of Modern America, ed. Charles W. Calhoun, 19-37 (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1996).
30 Toby A. Appel, "Organizing Biology: The American Society of Naturalists and Its ‘Affiliated Societies,’ 1883-1923," in The American Development of Biology, ed. Ronald Rainger, Keith R. Benson, and Jane Maienschein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 88.
31 Rossiter, Women Scientists in America (1982), 76-77.
32 More than half of the scientists active in the antebellum years (defining the population in terms of contributions to the periodical literature) were college graduates. Science and science-related employment accounted for 70% of the occupational total for scientists, and employment in multiple positions characterized two-thirds of the scientific population. About 40% of the scientists worked at least part of their lives as professors of science. Clark A. Elliott, "The American Scientist, 1800-1863: His Origins, Career, and Interests" (Ph.D. diss., Case Western Reserve University, 1970), 99, 113, 115-116 [recalculated from data given]. For Daniels’ much more select group of fifty-six scientists, over 70% were professors of science, and he concludes that academia was the "characteristic home" of the nineteenth century American scientist; George H. Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1968), 31 and 34.
33 Stanley M. Guralnick, Science and the Ante-Bellum American College, American Philosophical Society Memoirs, vol. 109 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1975), ix, 21, 117.
34 Stanley M. Guralnick, "The American Scientist in Higher Education, 1820-1910," in The Sciences in the American Context: New Perspectives, ed. Nathan Reingold (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 127.
35 Edward H. Beardsley, The Rise of the American Chemical Profession, 1850-1900, University of Florida Monographs, Social Sciences, no.23 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964), 47; Roger Cooke and V. Frederick Rickey, "W. E. Story of Johns Hopkins and Clark," in A Century of Mathematics in America, ed. Peter L. Duren, Richard Askey, and Uta C. Merzbach (Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society, 1988-1989), III: 29; Cravens, "American Science Comes of Age," American Studies (1976): 54; Gillispie, Professionalization of Science: France … Compared to the United States (1983), 5; Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 21-22.
36 Beardsley, Rise of the American Chemical Profession (1964), 18.
37 Bruce A. Kimball, The ‘True Professional Ideal’ in America (Cambridge, Mass. and Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1992), 212. Kimball suggests that the centering of science might, alternatively, have fallen to the military, government, industry, or engineering.
38 Julie A. Reuben, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1996); see, e.g., p.6.
39 Cravens, "American Science Comes of Age," American Studies (1976): 66.
40 About one-third of the scientists, at some point in their careers, were engaged in government science work. Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 132.
41 Gerald D. Nash, "The Conflict between Pure and Applied Science in Nineteenth-Century Public Policy: The California State Geological Survey, 1860-1874," in Science in America since 1820, ed. Nathan Reingold (New York: Science History Publications, 1976), 175.
42 Walter B. Hendrickson, "Nineteenth-Century State Geological Surveys: Early Government Support of Science," in Science in America since 1820, ed. Nathan Reingold (New York: Science History Publications, 1976), 138.
43 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 49.
44 Hendrickson, "Nineteenth-Century State Geological Surveys," Science in America since 1820, ed. Reingold (1976), 134 and 144.
45 Nash, "Conflict between Pure and Applied Science in Nineteenth-Century Public Policy," Science in America since 1820, ed. Reingold (1976), 175.
46 Kevles, "American Science," Professions in American History, ed. Hatch (1988), 119.
47 Medicine was a strong presence in antebellum American science in several respects. For example, subjects such as chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and natural history first entered the college course of study by way of the medical schools; Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 414. Medical training was an important avenue to a scientific career early in the period but became increasingly less adequate in the light of growing specialization. While physicians once gave lectures in chemistry and biology in the colleges, they were later superseded by full-time professors; see Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 90; Guralnick, Science and the Ante-Bellum American College (1975), 114.
48 The agricultural and rural classes, overall, had relatively little part in the science of this era, a curious fact given that much of the scientific work related to natural history. This suggests the function that educational and cultural factors played in the development of science as compared to unmediated contact with the natural world. At the same time, however, the number of agricultural journals went from none in 1800 to more than 400 by the end of the antebellum era. This fact points to a sphere of publishing activity among agriculturists paralleling rather than intersecting with science. See Elliott, "American Scientist in Antebellum Society," Social Studies of Science (1975), 96; and Donald deB. Beaver, "The American Scientific Community, 1800-1860: A Statistical – Historical Study" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1966), 24.
49 The percentages given in this paragraph are calculated from tabular data, Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 114 and 116 note b.
50 Clark A. Elliott, "Models of the American Scientist: A Look at Collective Biography," Isis 73 (March 1982): 86.
51 In fact, in the hundred years after 1875, industry became the chief employer of chemists. See Arnold Thackray, Jeffrey L. Sturchio, P. Thomas Carroll, and Robert Bud, Chemistry in America, 1876-1976: Historical Indicators (Dordrecht, Boston, Lancaster: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1985), 83. In 1870, there were 800 persons employed as chemists and in 1970 there were 110,000 (p.9).
52 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 139,144-148; Beardsley, Rise of the American Chemical Profession (1964), 43, 60-61.
53 Fleming, Meteorology in America (1990), xix.
54 Daniel Hovey Calhoun, The American Civil Engineer: Origins and Conflict (Cambridge: Technology Press, MIT, distributed by Harvard University Press, 1960), 195; Monte A. Calvert, The Mechanical Engineer in America, 1830-1910: Professional Cultures in Conflict (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967), 225; Bruce Sinclair, "Episodes in the History of the American Engineering Profession," in The Professions in American History, ed. Nathan O. Hatch (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame, 1988), 137 and 141.
55 Augustus A. Gould, "Notice of the Origin, Progress and Present Condition of the Boston Society of Natural History," American Quarterly Register 14, no.3 (1842): 236-241, as quoted in Max Meisel, A Bibliography of American Natural history: The Pioneer Century, 1769-1865 (1924-1929; reprint, New York and London: Hafner Publishing, 1967), II: 458.
56 National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York: J. T. White and Co.), 7 (1897): 509; also see Meisel, Bibliography of American Natural History (1924-29, 1967), II: 463 and index to Meisel. It appears that Greene had independent means. For an insightful general analysis of the relations of amateurs and professionals in the context of the Boston Society see Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, "The Nineteenth-Century Amateur Tradition: The Case of the Boston Society of Natural History," in Science and Its Public: The Changing Relationship, ed. Gerald Holton and William A. Blanpied (Dordrecht, Holland; Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1976), 173-190.
57 James, Elites in Conflict … the Dudley Observatory (1987), e.g., 4, 12, 240. The classic general study of patronage in this period is Howard S. Miller, Dollars for Research: Science and Its Patrons in Nineteenth-Century America (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1970).
58 See, for example, Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 217-224 and passim.
59 Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 32 and 35.
60 Laurence Veysey, "Higher Education as a Profession: Changes and Continuity," in The Professions in American History, ed. Nathan O. Hatch (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame, 1988), 22.
61 Cravens, "American Science Comes of Age," American Studies (1976): 52-53, 55.
62 Ronald L. Numbers, "Science and Religion," in Historical Writing on American Science, ed. Sally Gregory Kohlstedt and Margaret W. Rossiter, Osiris 2nd ser., vol. 1, 59-80 (Philadelphia, Pa. : Dept. of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1985): 59-61, 66-70, 80.
63 See, for example, Keith R. Benson, "From Museum Research to Laboratory Research: The Transformation of Natural History into Academic Biology," in The American Development of Biology, ed. Ronald Rainger, Keith R. Benson, and Jane Maienschein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 56-57; Elizabeth B. Keeney, The Botanizers: Amateur Scientists in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina, 1992), 99; Kohlstedt, Formation of the American Scientific Community [AAAS] (1976), 6 and 114; Zochert, "Science and the Common Man in Antebellum America," Science in America since 1820, ed. Reingold (1976), 28-29.
64 Stanley M. Guralnick, "Geology and Religion before Darwin: The Case of Edward Hitchcock, Theologian and Geologist (1793-1864)," in Science in America since 1820, ed. Nathan Reingold (New York: Science History Publications, 1978), 129-130. Kohlstedt has demonstrated the degree to which scientists had a personal stake in the relations between science and religion. Of the leaders of the A.A.A.S., three-quarters were identified as religious or at least as church members; Kohlstedt, Formation of the American Scientific Community [AAAS] (1976), 219-220.
65 Kimball, ‘True Professional Ideal’ in America (1992), 209, argues that natural theology itself gave witness to the hegemony of religion over science in the antebellum period.
66 Daniels, "Process of Professionalization in American Science," Isis (1967): 160-162, 166. He uses similar arguments in regard to the relations between pure and applied science, where the latter must be appealed to in order to establish legitimation or social acceptance of the former.
67 Kohlstedt, Formation of the American Scientific Community [AAAS] (1976), 114-118. Also see Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 258-259.
68 Numbers, "Science and Religion," Historical Writing on American Science, ed. Kohlstedt and Rossiter (1985), 66.
69 Daniels, "Process of Professionalization in American Science," Isis (1967): 163n47.
70 Keeney, Botanizers: Amateur Scientists (1992), 100 and 108. Also see Daniel J. Kevles, The Physicists: The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), 7.
71 Elliott, "American Scientist in Antebellum Society," Social Studies of Science (1975): 101; Clark A. Elliott, "Introduction: The Scientist in American Society," Biographical Dictionary of American Science: The Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries (Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press, 1979), 6. Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 118, notes in regard to creative and imaginative authors’ attitudes toward science that "The scientific and literary cultures had not yet diverged quite beyond speaking distance," but the gap was growing.
72 Reingold, "Definitions and Speculations: The Professionalization of Science in America," Pursuit of Knowledge in the Early American Republic, ed. Oleson and Brown (1976), 40, reports briefly on an examination of science in general periodicals especially as found in the library of Joseph Henry (the North American Review was not among those examined). Interestingly, Reingold asserts that scientists never cited law, medicine, or the ministry as models for the professional, which suggests that they envisioned a new kind of social role for the scientist not derivative or parallel to other historical functionaries (p.48).
73 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 188-189, 217.
74 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 228-229.
75 See discussion of specialization below.
76 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 168, 170, 283.
77 Benson, "From Museum Research to Laboratory Research," American Development of Biology, ed. Rainger, Benson, and Maienschein (1988), 51; also see Keeney, Botanizers: Amateur Scientists (1992), 38 and 103.
78 Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 23-24.
79 Kevles, Physicists (1978), 35.
80 W. Conner Sorensen, Brethren of the Net: American Entomology, 1840-1880 (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 1995), 30.
81 See: Beaver, "American Scientific Community" (1966); Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970).
82 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 18, argues that "Silliman’s quarterly could very well be credited with having been the greatest single influence in the development of an American scientific community."
83 James, Elites in Conflict … the Dudley Observatory (1987), 30. Also see Clark A. Elliott, "The Royal Society Catalogue as an Index to Nineteenth Century American Science," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 21, no.6 (1970): 396-401 (especially pp.400-401), which considers the use of journal articles in the identification of a scientific population. In the antebellum period, not all notable scientists published extensively in the journals (i.e., other means of publication could still establish a reputation), but there was a correlation between the number of articles published and the likelihood that a person would be considered historically important.
84 Edwin Layton, "Mirror-Image Twins: The Communities of Science and Technology," in Nineteenth-Century American Science: A Reappraisal, ed. George H. Daniels (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972), 210.
85 For example: American Naturalist (1867), originally a popular publication that subsequently became more technical in orientation; Botanical Gazette (1875); American Journal of Mathematics (1878); American Chemical Journal (1879); Journal of Morphology (1887); Journal of Geology (1893); Physical Review (1893).
86 Including: American Chemical Society (1876); Geological Society of America (1888); American Society of Zoologists (1890); Botanical Society (1894); American Mathematical Society (1894); Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America (1899); American Physical Society (1899).
87 These are Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984); Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968); and Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987). Greene and Bruce are surveys of their time period. Daniels is a somewhat different type of work, combining investigation of the state of science through a quantitative view based on the lives of fifty-six leading scientists, with an extensive examination of the philosophical and methodological presuppositions of American scientists in the Jacksonian era (and especially the dominant place of Baconian Philosophy).
88 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 410 and Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 3 and 7.
89 For example, see Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 10-12, which traces this attitude (especially in regard to natural history) to the early years of independence.
90 Beaver, "American Scientific Community" (1966), 20; Fleming, Meteorology in America (1990), xix.
91 James, Elites in Conflict … the Dudley Observatory (1987), 11.
92 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 275-276, 318-319.
93 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 25-27.
94 Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 73.
95 Silvio Bedini, Thinkers and Tinkers: Early American Men of Science (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975), 313.
96 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 6-7, 418.
97 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 20-27. Daniels ties the deployment of utilitarian arguments in the public arena to the process of professionalization, where such arguments are used to promote the "social value" of scientific knowledge in a circumstance where science’s internal developments increasingly precluded the direct involvement of the lay public. In this context he contends for a "general utilitarian spirit of the age." To cover the circumstances that science, in fact, appeared to have little direct practical value, scientists also used arguments for the religious and moral benefit of their work. (Daniels, 41, 48-51)
98 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 72-74.
99 Reingold, "Reflections on 200 Years of Science in the United States," Sciences in the American Context, ed. Reingold (1979), 19; Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 145.
100 Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 27, 32.
101 Lankford, American Astronomy (1997), 15, argues that after the late 1850s, astronomical research was increasingly separated from concerns for application, a state not then reached by other fields such as chemistry, geology, and physics.
102 Guralnick, Science and the Ante-Bellum American College (1975), 122; Zochert, "Science and the Common Man in Antebellum America," Science in America since 1820, ed. Reingold (1976), 29, suggests the value of considering "two ‘utilities’ – one objective and one subjective."
103 James, Elites in Conflict … the Dudley Observatory (1987), 10. Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities," History of Education Quarterly (1976): 73, who used the Dudley affair as an example of the conflict of what he calls vernacular and professional science, reached a similar conclusion, noting that "In fact, neither side showed any interest in ‘practicality’; both groups sought to satisfy an intellectual curiosity after their own fashion."
104 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 127-131.
105 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 12-20, 411-413.
106 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 53.
107 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 119-124.
108 Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), 6-7, 13-14.
109 Kimball, ‘True Professional Ideal’ in America (1992), 199-201; in Kimball’s overview, "polity," in fact, had replaced religion as the "primary source of cultural inspiration and validation" as early as the mid-eighteenth century (p.10). Elliott, "Models of the American Scientist," Isis (1982): 87 and 91.
110 Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984).
111 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 94.
112 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 167-169, 235-236. In this study, based on publication of journal articles, the life and earth sciences total was about 58%, with most of the remainder mathematics, astronomy and related studies, and chemistry and physics.
113 Zochert, "Science and the Common Man in Antebellum America," Science in America since 1820, ed. Reingold (1976), 8,12,15; Lankford, American Astronomy (1997), 16.
114 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 164: "Of the 503 authors in the study, only 167 [33%] confined their writings to a single section or subsection of the classification;" the greatest concentration of specializing scientists were those writing on zoology. Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 27-29, using statistical evidence roughly comparable to that of Elliott, concludes that specialization was fairly well advanced during the period (although it had not developed to the degree that some scientists thought). Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 94, likewise argues in favor of specialization, noting that in 1846, about two-thirds of the scientists limited their interest to a "single major field." Bruce’s statistics are taken from a study of scientists included in the Dictionary of American Biography, while Elliott and Daniels use a less selective population, based on contributors to the periodical scientific literature.
115 Cravens, "American Science Comes of Age," American Studies (1976): 50.
116 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 27.
117 Beaver, "American Scientific Community" (1966), 150-151.
118 New England was first among birth places of scientists, which suggests that opportunities for adult employment there may have been less than in other regions, leading to a decline in its rank as place of adult residence. Significantly, however, the District of Columbia accounted for most of the gain of the Middle Atlantic states as region of adult residence. Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 144.
119 At the end of the century, the South still had few scientists who engaged in research and relatively little interaction with the larger scientific community; Nancy Smith Midgette, To Foster the Spirit of Professionalism: Southern Scientists and State Academies of Science (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 1991), 19. For a pointed study and generally more positive view of nineteenth century science in the South, see Tamara Miner Haygood, Henry William Ravenel, 1814-1887: South Carolina Scientist in the Civil War Era (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 1987).
120 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 141-154, especially 141, 144-145.
121 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 32-33, 241; Greene, American Science in the Age of Jefferson (1984), 36.
122 Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities," History of Education Quarterly (1976): 66.
123 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 33, 66, 197-200. In his summary (pp.197-200), Daniels identifies three aspects of the "thought patterns of that period" that accounted for the state of ambiguity and limited outcome: (1) a faith in the ultimate benefits of science to humankind; (2) Scottish common sense Philosophy; and (3) Protestant Christianity "that lay at the very basis of all the thought of the period."
124 Numbers, "Science and Religion," Historical Writing on American Science, ed. Kohlstedt and Rossiter (1985), 68.
125 Kevles, Physicists (1978), 7.
126 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 69, in his subtle, punning way observed that "Baconianism, in short, was for most American scientists an accessory after the facts, a rationalization more than a reason."
127 Joseph Ben-David, The Scientist’s Role in Society: A Comparative Study (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971), 170; also quoted in Elliott, "Models of the American Scientist," Isis (1982): 86.
128 Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities," History of Education Quarterly (1976): 70.
129 Kevles, Physicists (1978), 96.
130 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), p.38, 45. The study defined an active member of the scientific community as someone who published three or more articles during the period. Reingold analyzes the data in this source and, through various estimates and projections, arrived at the following as a suggested quantitative view of the total scientific community in antebellum America. It is expressed in terms of the three categories of participants that he developed for that article:
Researchers: 200
Practitioners: 3,000
Cultivators; 11,000
Reingold, "Definitions and Speculations: The Professionalization of Science in America," Pursuit of Knowledge in the Early American Republic, ed. Oleson and Brown (1976), 62.
131 Lankford, American Astronomy (1997), xviii.
132 Goldstein, "‘Yours for science’: … Scientific Community in Nineteenth-Century America," Isis (1994): 594-595. Definition of the scientific community during the antebellum period is a difficult undertaking and is liable to the purposes of individual studies. When such efforts began seriously in the 1960s, emphasis was on differentiation of the scientist from the larger population, and practices such as publishing, society membership and leadership, and employment were utilized. Once this population was identified and characterized, subsequent studies such as Goldstein’s undertook to expand the view of the community to encompass more of the supportive participants. The ability and desirability of doing this says much about the character of science during the period. Historians (including Goldstein, p.598) agree, however, that more impervious barriers came into place later in the century. Bender, "Science and the Culture of American Communities," History of Education Quarterly (1976): 71-72, argues for a vernacular and professional science that was evident by about 1870 and which increasingly spoke a different "‘language’," precluding interaction. Part of the ethic of professionalization for men such as A. D. Bache and Joseph Henry meant that discourse on scientific matters was to be directed to other (specializing) scientists (Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey, 1994, 31), so that the insular character of science must be seen both as a general historical development and a matter of deliberate action. Much of the literature on quantitative studies of American scientists to 1982 was noted in Elliott, "Models of the American Scientist," Isis (1982), which also presents statistical tables on certain aspects of American scientists from colonial times to the 1940s. Reingold took exception to the author’s presentation of five individual scientists as representative of five successive historical periods (selected according to their approximate conformity to salient characteristics of a scientist as shown in the quantitative data). He countered the suggestion that these lives gave a view of American science from the bottom up, arguing instead for the need to study the "individuals who really constituted the lower strata of the American scientific community"; Nathan Reingold, "To the editor," Isis 73 (December 1982): 551.
133 Daniels, American Science in the Age of Jackson (1968), 44.
134 Elliott, "Models of the American Scientist," Isis (1982): 86; Elliott, "Introduction: The Scientist in American Society," Biographical Dictionary of American Science (1979), 7.
135 Arthur F.W. Hughes, The American Biologist through Four Centuries (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1982), 140.
136 Porter, Eagle’s Nest: Natural History and American Ideas (1986), 127-128, 136-137. Porter mentions Thomas Say and Thomas Nuttall, as well as Constantine S. Rafinesque, Titian R. Peale, and other, less well-known naturalists, whose careers were affected by this early process of differentiation. Later, of course, employment in state and federal surveys became a source of support for major scientists.
137 Hughes, American Biologist through Four Centuries (1982), 140.
138 Elliott, "American Scientist, 1800-1863" (1970), 191, 203-204. Medical practice was counted among the science and science-related occupations. Those specializing in mathematics are not included in this discussion
139 Bruce, Launching of Modern American Science (1987), 93.
140 Reingold, "Reflections on 200 Years of Science in the United States," Sciences in the American Context, ed. Reingold (1979), 16, notes that science in America has been primarily a middle class phenomenon, and in some cases "was a means of going from the lower middle to the upper middle class."
141 Slotten, Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science: … Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey (1994), 21.
142 Keeney, Botanizers: Amateur Scientists (1992), 6-7; Goldstein, "‘Yours for science’: … Scientific Community in Nineteenth-Century America," Isis (1994): 593.
143 Cravens and Marcus, "Introduction," Technical Knowledge in American Culture, ed. Cravens, Marcus, and Katzman (1996), 15. 


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