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leaders consistently negotiated compromises that promoted the public interest. To this policy we may attribute much of the progress in the successful operation of interdependent research units in a complex system of Federal-State tax-supported research.

Both farm and urban populations have gained from the many research accomplishments of the State experiment stations. Their findings have contributed immensely to the growth and welfare of the respective States. Their research, together with that of the closely associated Federal Department of Agriculture, provides a pattern of science organization that is unique in history.

This publication traces the developments. Early chapters draw richly on historical records searched and established by Ernest M. Law, historian and professor of history at Boston University. Subsequent chapters rely in part on “A History of Agricultural Experimentation and Research” by the late A. C. True, on the Proceedings of the American Association of Land-Grant Colleges and State Universities, and on records of ESCOP meetings contributed by Dean and Director Emeritus R. E. Buchanan of Iowa State University. The appendix includes official records and policy statements available in the Department of Agriculture.

The reader is cautioned not to consider this volume as a history of agricultural experiment station accomplishments, but rather a history of cooperative research procedure and policy development under the dually administered system of publicly supported agricultural research of the State Experiment Stations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition to historical photographs, some pictures have been included to provide glimpses of current activities underway at many stations.

The writers are indebted to Associate Director Noble Clark of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station for his review of the manuscript and for his many helpful criticisms and suggestions. Grateful acknowledgment is made for the cooperation given over the years by the directors of agricultural experiment stations and present and former members of ESCOP, many of whom played major roles in the development of an established State-Federal cooperative system that has stood the test of time.

Chapter One-


Modern society places considerable confidence in science and technology as the solvers of major problems that confront the world. In the course of human history, no problem seems to have been more real to more people than that of hunger. So it is not surprising that, in an age when science is splitting atoms and conquering distance and time, more and more people all over the world look expectantly to science for a solution to the hunger problem.

This hope, this image of the ultimate goal of science, has become fixed in the minds of millions. It has grown from the practical recognition that food abundance is a reality in the United States. This development, stimulated largely through science and education, is now recognized as perhaps the greatest step forward in the history of civilization.

Many centuries and many ages contributed to the scientific knowledge we are now putting to work in American agriculture. As far back as the 13th century, a Franciscan friar named Roger Bacon (1214–92) advocated the demonstration of fact through experiments. He repeated the same experiments many times until there could be no reasonable doubt of effect following cause. Although a prisoner of medieval thought, he recognized a principle that later became the basis for all scientific research.

Several centuries later another Bacon-Francis Bacon (1561– 1626)-proposed a "House of Salomon” to be manned by a company of scholars that would acquire new knowledge by observation and experiment, knowledge that would lead to practical results and advancement.

Experimentation as proposed by the Bacons began being applied to agriculture in England and the American colonies as early as the 17th century. During the 1600's, experiments in growing mulberry trees and silkworms were underway in Virginia and the Carolinas. In 1630, Parliament provided funds to Georgia for experiments to encourage indigo growing. James Logan, Secretary to William Penn, sought agricultural improvements in Pennsylvania through scientific observations on the botanical nature of maize. These were so accurate in the light of present knowledge that Logan is often credited with being America's first scientific agriculturist. In 1733, Jethro Tull (4) reported experiments with cultivation of soil between plants that brought increased yields.

"These few examples," wrote R. W. Trullinger in 1952 (3), “illustrate that the agricultural revolution had well begun by the middle


Italic numbers in parentheses refer to Literature Cited, p. 4.

of the 18th century. Experimentation, the making of scientific inquiry and the systematic probing of practice, was destined to become the new tool whereby man would enlist the cooperation of nature for the advancement of human welfare. This trend was helped greatly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when there were rapid developments in the field of science. These came under the influence of scholars with a practical bent, like Joseph Priestly, Lavoisier, Sir Humphrey Davy, Jean G, Boussingault, and Justus von Liebig. Their work established some of the basic principles of chemistry.

"The years of the industrial and agricultural revolutions were marked by a spirit of discovery and invention on the part of many practical men ... they appreciated the value of the knowledge that could be contributed by the scholars and students of science toward speeding progress in industry. Societies at the meetings of which the philosophies of the scholars and practical suggestions in the field of science could be discussed became organized in both England and the United States.

“The Royal Society of London was incorporated in 1662. Its American counterpart was the American Philosophical Society, organized in Philadelphia in 1743 under the leadership of Benjamin Franklin. Since colonial interests were to a considerable extent rural, scientific inquiries and discussions in the American Philosophical Society frequently turned to agriculture. This no doubt had much to do with Franklin's active part in organizing the Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Agriculture in 1785."


Thus the 17th and 18th centuries reflected a growing consciousness of the need for experimentation in farming. The early agricultural societies, of which men like Washington and Jefferson were active members, are links in the sequence from which grew the subsequent establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the land-grant colleges, and the State agricultural experiment stations. The New Jersey Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Commerce, and Art was formed in 1781. The Philadelphia Society, referred to above, and the South Carolina Society for Promoting Agriculture were organized in 1785. Others were formed in the following order: New York in 1791, Massachusetts in 1792, and Connecticut in 1794.

Following the pattern of the pioneer societies, many State and county agricultural societies came into being during the early decades of the 19th century. Meetings were held, usually in the wintertime. These meetings featured papers and talks aimed at bringing about agricultural improvements in the States and counties. By 1852, approximately 300 such societies were active in 31 States and 5 territories. By 1860, 2 years before the organic acts creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the land-grant colleges were signed, there were more than 900 societies. Proceedings reflect that as early as the 1840's the establishment of agricultural colleges was prominent in the public mind.

The agricultural societies also had a profound effect on the movement that led later to the development of agricultural experiment stations as they became organized under the Hatch Act. The mass effect of wide discussion of the need for improving agriculture in the societies has been ably described by Carstensen (1):

Behind this dramatic development lay a long period of groping. For more than a century the notion had been propounded again and again-from lecture platforms, editorial offices and even pulpits—that the farmer not only could but should improve his craft; that he could and should become more productive. Thus, for example, the Massachusetts Agricultural Society, in its petition to the General Court in 1792 asking for corporate powers, underscored the need for an organization that would itself make experiments aimed at improving agriculture and would invite others to do so. Moreover, the petitioners claimed that they had funds with which to reward “men of enterprise who have, by their inquiries, made useful discoveries and communicated them to the public.” Similiarly, the Albemarle Agricultural Society, as conceived by Thomas Jefferson, proposed to obtain "A succinct report of the different practices of Husbandry in the district inhabited by the members ... including the bad as well as the good. . . . It is believed that a judicious execution of this article alone might nearly supercede [sic] every other duty of the society, inasmuch as it would present every good practice which has occurred to the mind of any cultivator of the state for imitation and every bad one for avoidance; and the choicest processes culled from every farm would compose a course probably near perfection.

This idea lay at the base not only of the agricultural societies and the 19th century farmers' clubs, but it provided the Justification for many other activities : the organization of agricultural fairs, the launching of farm journals, the creation of state and federal departments of agriculture, and the many experiments with agricultural education. In large measure this faith provided the basis for the Morrill Act of 1862. Editors, educators, politicians and self appointed farm spokesmen never tired of reminding each other and the public that improvement was the motto of the age, that agricultural progress was both necessary and inevitable.


The Act of May 15, 1862, "establishing the United States Department of Agriculture," and the Act of July 2, 1862, “donating public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of American agriculture and the mechanic arts," became the first Federal, legal authority under which the cooperative features of today's nationwide agricultural research system was to develop. In the framework thus established it became possible to cultivate further the concept that the problems of farming were primarily problems of man understanding nature. To do the latter required scientific knowledge. And to acquire and interpret scientific knowledge in the light of the many localized farm problems, required a new kind and quality of education. The land-grant institutions were established to provide such education and training. Although they were intended primarily to aid agriculture, the pattern of higher education developed by them, combining laboratory research and classroom training, became the model now used in most areas of preparation for a career in science and technology.

"As early as 1835, the first chemical laboratory for student instruction had been started at the University of Pensylvania," wrote Eddy (2). “By 1868, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered the first laboratory work in physics. But up to 1872 only six colleges in the country taught either chemistry or physics by the laboratory method. The early use of the method, then, was scattered and purely experimental. It remained for the land-grant colleges to assist in a development born of necessity rather than design.”

The necessity confronting the land-grant colleges was the solution of agricultural problems. Here, on a new continent, the spirit of frontier had fathered a new kind of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people.” For many years farmers had heard the word "experimentation."

The modern type of agricultural experiment station, although of European parentage, as later chapters will show, was perfected in the United States under the USDA-land-grant system. It represents a combination of systematic research carried on by qualified scientists in a laboratory, combined where necessary with intensive and repeated field trials, and wide dissemination of findings through scientific publication and demonstration of new practices accruing from the research. This organizational pattern of experiment stations grew out of the discussions of the agricultural societies and subsequently out of the debates and trials of the early land-grant institutions.




AN AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION. Agr. Hist. 34(1): 13–20. (2) EDDY, E. D. 1957.


AMERICAN EDUCATION. 328 pp. Harper & Bros., New York. (3) TRULLINGER, R. W. 1952. THE ROOTS FROM WHICH OUR FARM SCIENCE GREW. County Officer

Magazine 17 (5): 128-134, 144, illus. (4) [TULL, JETHRO.)

1733. THE HORSE-HOING [SIC] HUSBANDRY 269 pp., illus. London.

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