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Book Chapter

The Society’s Background

January 01, 1932


WHILE aboriginal man was yet the sole possessor of the Americas, earth science had rebirth in Europe through Da Vinci; and, at the time the first permanent settlements were made by Europeans in territory now the United States, in the years 1610, 1620, Bruno in Italy, Palissy and Descartes in France, and Bauer (Agricola) and Kircher in Germany had created a place for geologic study in the intellectual life of western Europe.

During all of colonial time, and in the years of stress during and following the war for independence, little attention was given to any branch of science; unless the primitive medical study of that period may be excepted. The people were occupied in establishing the new regime in government, and in the subjugation of the forest-clad and none-too-fertile Atlantic littoral.

Before the year 1800 there had been in the United States some desultory references and brief descriptions of geologic features, but no serious studies. The interest in vertebrate paleontology of President Jefferson is the most prominent; but, by that date numbers of eminent students in France, Germany and England, listed above, had developed geology to a very creditable degree.

America was a new country and naturally far inferior to Europe in the knowledge of the earth and in interpretation of the processes of nature. Fortunately, however, America was not compelled to develop the science de novo but was permitted to use, in the study of a new and generous continent and in its exploitation, the knowledge which

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The Geological Society of America, 1888-1930

Herman LeRoy Fairchild
Herman LeRoy Fairchild
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Geological Society of America
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January 01, 1932




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