In the middle decades of the 19th century, American science matured rather rapidly. The general scholar with an interest in natural history gave place to the specialist in a particular science, and the various sciences themselves became distinct from each other and from the general body of knowledge.
The geological sciences made especially rapid progress in America because of the opportunity and the necessity to explore the vast western territories. Although Clarence King later remarked1 that before 1867 (when Congress authorized both the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel and the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories) "geology was made to act as a sort of camp-follower to expeditions whose main object was topographic reconnoissance," and that it amounted to "little more than a slight sketch of the character and distribution of formations, valuable chiefly as indicating the field for future inquiry," American geologists had, in fact, established a professional society, the Association of American Geologists, as early as 1840. Several years later this society became the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Several State surveys were founded in the 1830's, and by 1840, courses in geology were regularly included in the curricula of several colleges.
|Title||John Wesley Powell: Pioneer statesman of federal science: Chapter A in The Colorado River region and John Wesley Powell (Professional Paper 669)|
|Authors||Mary C. Rabbitt|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Professional Paper|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|