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THE influence of Professor Baird in the encouragement of scientific enterprise was exceedingly great. The relation of the Smithsonian Institution to scientific exploration, especially in natural history and ethnology, is for all time inseparably connected with the history of the country. This department of its work was from its inception under the direction of the Assistant Secretary, and so intimately through him was the Institution connected with the scientific work of the exploring expeditions that the annual reports from 1851 to 1871 contain what is practically a complete history of the work of the government in the exploration of the great unknown regions of the West. This constitutes, in fact, the only systematic record of government explorations for this period which has ever been prepared.

The decade beginning with 1850 was one of great activity in exploration. Our frontier was being rapidly extended toward the West, but in the territory between the Mississippi were immense regions which were entirely unknown. Numerous government expeditions were sent forth and enormous collections were gathered and sent to Washington to be reported upon. The Institution had been designated by law custodian of these collections, and within its walls assembled the naturalists by whose exertions they had been brought together. Professor Baird was surrounded by conditions most congenial and stimulating, for he found full scope for his energy in arranging scientific outfits for these expeditions, preparing instructions for explorers, and, above all, in inspiring them with enthusiasm for the work.

To him fell also in large part the task of receiving the collections, arranging for the necessary investigations, and the accumulation and publication of the results.

The natural history portion of the reports of the Mexican Boundary Surveys, the Pacific Railroad Surveys, and the expeditions of Ives, Marsh, Stansbury, McClellan, and others, as well as those of the Wilkes exploring expedition, which remained still under investigation, were all prepared with his cooperation, and in large degree under his supervision.

This however, was only a small part of his work, for he maintained relationships with numerous private collectors, who derived their materials, their books, and, to a considerable extent, their enthusiasm from him. The various "Instructions to Collectors," which have passed through several editions, as well as numerous circulars written with a similar purpose, originated with him.

As a result of this work, a large number of men were trained as collectors and observers; among them not a few who have since become eminent in various departments of science: Gill, Hayden, Girard, Kennicott, Dall, Bannister, Colbertson, Stimpson, Ridgway, Rathbun, Bean, Ryder, True, and Cushing. The list might be extended for many lines. Among the older men who were thus associated with him were Meek, Cooper, Kennerly, Suckley, Gibbs, Newberry, Parry, Powell -- all names familiar in the history of American exploration.

Many army officers detailed for this same work became enthusiastic naturalists, and sent in important collections and notes. Some of these men subsequently became famous as military leaders. I have seen a manuscript on the "Mountain Sheep," written by General George H. Thomas and prepared for the press by Professor Baird. General Winfield Scott and General George B. McClellan both made collections of reptiles in the West, the genus Scotophis and the species Pituophis McClellanii commemorating their names; and among other monuments to men also known as military heroes are the species named for McCall, Van Vliet, Graham, Couch, Fremont, and Emory.

Even more striking was the enthusiasm of the officers of the Hudson Bay Company in the far North, and with all these men an active personal relationship was maintained.

"Collections and correspondence," writes Dall, "poured in upon Professor Baird in extraordinary quantity. Not alone was the shedding of its horn by the antelope on the Western plains, or the nesting of the canvasback among Alaskan marshes, the theme of eager letter writing. The ladies of his household might often have been seen among the shops, seeking novels for the army officer at some isolated post, a necktie for a Northern voyager, or the dress goods for a wedding to come off on the banks of the Mackenzie during the crisp Arctic September."

The war of 1861 - `65 broke rudely into these happy days, and after it closed the old relationships were never entirely resumed, although the Institution was closely related to the natural history work of the early surveys of Hayden, Wheeler, King, and Powell. Many of the Polar expeditions, and still earlier, the natural history of Alaska under the direction of Kennicott and Dall, were largely under the influence of Professor Baird; while later his interest in the Arctic zoology manifested itself in the pains which he took to secure the appointment of naturalists as observers at the various stations of the International Meteorological Service. The important explorations of Nelson, Turner, and Murdoch in the far northwest, and of Kumlien and Turner in Labrador, were thus provided for.


NATURAL history and the directing of explorations were only a portion of that for which he was held officially responsible, for his first duty was from the start in connection with certain departments of routine. The system of international exchanges, for instance, was organized by him in all its details. His first task after entering upon his duties on October 11, 1850, was to distribute the second volume of the "Contributions to Knowledge." In connection with his private enterprises he had already developed a somewhat extensive system of exchanges with European and American correspondents, and the methods thus established were expanded to meet the wider needs of the Institution.

He had in charge also the details of organizing the corps of meteorological observers, and for twenty years wrote out with his own hand daily a large number of briefs of letters for the signature of the Secretary.

The development of the natural history collections was the work for which he cared the most. As has already been indicated, the private collection which he brought with him to Washington formed the nucleus of the Smithsonian Museum. The only specimens in the possession of the Institution at the time of his arrival were a few boxes of minerals and plants. The gatherings of the Wilkes expedition - the legal nucleus of the Museum - were at that time under the charge of the National Institute and arranged in the Patent Office building; but it was not until 1857 that the Regents finally consented that this material should be transferred to its building. Before this time Congress had granted no funds for the support of the Smithsonian cabinets, and its collections had been acquired and cared for at the expense of its own endowment. They had, however, become so large and important before 1857 that the so-called "National Collection" at that time acquired was but small in comparison.

The National Museum had thus a double origin, its actual, though not its legal, nucleus having been the collection assembled at the Smithsonian prior to 1857. Its methods of administration were the very same which had been developed by Professor Baird in Carlisle as early as 1845, and are still in use, having stood the test of nearly fifty years without any necessity for their modification having become apparent.

In the fifth annual report of the Institution, now exceedingly rare, is a communication by the Assistant Secretary in charge of the Natural History Department, which after enumerating the specimens belonging to the Museum January 1, 1851, discussed fully the possibilities for the development of natural history collections in Washington - a remarkable paper in which the germs of all future development were embodied.

The period of the Civil War was one of comparative quiet, though much was accomplished by Baird and his pupils; and his two most scholarly memoirs - the "Review of American Birds" and the "Distribution and Migrations of North American Birds" - were then written.

During this decade were continued the summer expeditions, usually extending through a period of two or three months, which were yearly more exclusively devoted to the investigation of aquatic life, and ultimately led to the organization of the Fish Commission in 1871.

During this period, too, the tendencies toward interest in the problems of general science growing out of his early connection with the "Iconographic Cyclopaedia" began to revive, and he felt a new interest in the popularization of scientific subjects.

At the solicitation of Mr. George W. Childs, he took charge in 1867 of the column of scientific intelligence in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and about 1870 became the scientific editor of the periodicals published by Harper & Brothers, of New York. His connection with this firm continued until 1878, and in addition to his contributions to other periodicals, there resulted eight volumes of the "Annual Record of Science and Industry." About the time he became Secretary of the Institution these editorial labors were abandoned, but the idea of the annual record was continued in the appendices to the Smithsonian Report until 1888 under the title of "Record of Progress."


IN 1871 an entirely new interest was intrusted to his care, when he was appointed by President Grant United States Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries. The duties of this office, although not permitted to interfere with his other official work, occupied nevertheless a large portion of his time and much of his best thought for the remaining years of his life.

The interests of the Fish Commission, so limited at first that they were performed largely by himself and a few volunteer associates, soon became so extensive that he was obliged to give up his personal studies and to work entirely through the agency of others. So rapidly did the work extend in later years that notwithstanding the large and competent staff which the increased appropriations enabled him to employ, the burden of his routine grew greater than he was able, with his other responsibilities, to endure, and led to his untimely death.

The work of the Fish Commission while under his charge was the most prominent of all the efforts of the government in the way of aggressive scientific research.

The law which authorized the appointment of a Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries defined his duties as follows:

"To prosecute investigations and inquiries on the subject [of the diminution of valuable fishes], with the view of ascertaining whether any and what diminution in the number of the food-fishes of the coast and the lakes of the United States has taken place; and, if so, to what causes the same is due; and also whether any and what protective, prohibitory, or precautionary measures should be adopted in the premises; and to report the same to Congress."

The same resolution required that the Commissioner should be a civil officer of the government, of proved scientific and practical acquaintance with the fishes of the coast. Only one man was eligible under these conditions. Indeed, the office had been made for Professor Baird.

The work of the Commission was at first limited to the investigation of the causes of the decrease in the food-fishes of the Atlantic coast, and it was in this connection that the summer stations were established in successive years at Eastport, Noank, Portland, Gloucester, Providence, and finally at Woods Hole, where a permanent station and biological laboratory were erected. It soon came to pass that the Great Lakes and also the rivers were included in the province of the Commission, and that the Commissioner was required to undertake extensive operations in practical fish-culture. This last has now become the most prominent part of the work of the Commission, but was in early years regarded by Professor Baird as incidental to his own interest, which was to discover the facts upon which fish-culture, fishery legislation, and fishery economy in general, must of necessity forever rest.

In making his original plans, he had insisted that to study only the food-fishes would be of little importance, and that useful conclusions must need rest upon the broad foundation of purely scientific investigation. The life-histories of economic species were to be understood from beginning to end, but no less requisite was it to know all about the animals and plants upon which they feed or upon which their food is nourished; the habits of their enemies and friends, and the foes and friends of their friends and enemies; as well as the currents, temperatures, and other physical phenomena of the waters which are so intimately related to migration, reproduction, and growth.

In furtherance of these views, he carried on an exhaustive biological survey of the waters of the United States and of the adjoining regions of the Atlantic and Pacific. What was done by the Fish Hawk and the Albatross, vessels designed by him and constructed under his personal supervision, has given to our nation a most honorable place among the Governments of the world in the field of deep-sea research. The achievements of the British ship Challenger are famous throughout the world on account of the magnificent series of reports, published by the Government, based upon its collections. The material accumulated by Professor Baird's vessels was quite as extensive, and had he lived the reports would have been equally famous.

The marine biological laboratory at Woods Hole is the most extensive, and at the time of its completion was one of the best equipped, in the world. Had his plans for it come to fruition, it would have been without a rival among such establishments.

Notwithstanding his own taste and inclinations, all personal work in natural history was soon abandoned to others, and his own great powers of administration applied to the practical side of the work - a task for which he had little personal liking. He nevertheless did it with enthusiasm, since he was convinced that the increase in the food supply which he was thus rendering practicable was of the greatest importance to millions of his fellow-citizens. To him was due the inception of what I have termed "public fish-culture," to distinguish it from all previous work of this kind, performed, as it always had been, upon a limited scale, and for the benefit of a few individuals.

"Public fish-culture" is fish-culture for the benefit of the masses. It does not depend for its effectiveness upon the assistance of protective legislation. It is based upon the idea that it is better so to increase the supply of fishes by artificial propagation that protective laws are not necessary; that it is cheaper to make fish so abundant that the fisheries need not be restricted, than to spend large sums of public money in preventing people from fishing. "Public fish-culture" is essentially democratic and American. In 1883 I wrote: "`Public fish-culture' scarcely exists except in America, though in Europe many eminent men of science appreciate its importance and are striving to educate the people up to the point of supporting it." These words, after the lapse of thirteen years, are still true.

In 1883 Professor Huxley remarked: "If the people of Great Britain are going to deal seriously with the sea fisheries, and not let them take care of themselves, as they have for the last thousand years or so, they have a very considerable job before them, and unless they put into the organization of the fisheries the energy, the ingenuity, the scientific knowledge, and the professional skill which characterize my friend Professor Baird and his assistants, their efforts are not likely to come to very much good." "I do not think," he added, "that any nation at the present time has comprehended the question of dealing with fish in so thorough, excellent, and scientific a spirit as the United States."

The juries of the Fishery Exhibition in Berlin in 1880 said in their official report: "We must thank America for the progress which fish-culture has made during the past decade."

The principal French authority, M. Raveret-Wattel, wrote: "Nowhere has a Government given so much enlightened care to the rational cultivation of the waters, and afforded such efficient protection and generous encouragement."

The importance of his services to fishery economy were perhaps more fully recognized in Germany than elsewhere. At the first great International Fishery Exhibition, - that held in Berlin 1880, - the magnificent silver trophy, the first prize of honor, was awarded to him by the Emperor. His portrait was placed over the entrance to the American court, and Herr von Behr, president of the German Fishery Union, never passed beneath it without taking off his hat in honor of the man whom he delighted to call the "first fish culturist of the world": he insisted that whoever might be in his company should follow his example, and the late Emperor Frederick, at that time the Crown Prince and "Protector of Fisheries," did homage in the same manner to the American philanthropist.

The German Fishery Union issued a circular immediately after his death, which contained the following appreciative eulogy:

"Ein edler Freund in weiter Ferne, - ein Wohlthater des Deutschen Fischerei-Vereins, ist dahin geschieden. Wir trauern am Grabe des uneigennutzigen, schlichten Gelehrten, der ein langes Leben lang den Austausch geistiger Arbeit zwischen Europa und Amerika auf vielen Gebieten der Naturkunde gepflegt hat, der seit Jahren auch unermudlich bestrebt war, von dem Reichthume amerikanischer Gewasser an Deutschland abzugeben. Keines Lobes oder auch nur Dankes gewartig, hielt sich Professor Baird taglich und stundlich bereit, Fragen zu beantworten und Aufschlusse zu ertheilen. Noch mehr; aus eigenem Antriebe bot er dem befreundeten deutschen Fischerei-Verein das beste an, was nach seinem gewiegten Urtheile sich fur uns eignen konnte. Ihm verdankt die Fauna unserer vaterlandischen Strome seit 1878 die Zufuhrung von nicht weniger als vier der edelsten Fische aus dem Salmonidengeschlechte, die sammtlich bereits durch Nachzucht unser bleibendes, gesichertes Eigenthum geworden sind, namlich: des Binnensee-Lachses (landlocked salmon), der Regenbogenforelle (rainbow trout), des Bachsaiblings (brook trout), und der amerikanischen Marane (white fish). Auch den in Amerika so beliebten Black Bass und den Catfish (Zwerwels), von dem wir uns Nutzen fur die heimischen Strome versprechen, danken wir ihm. Nicht weniger als zehn Millionem befruchteter Eier mogen in seinem Auftrage aus den unermesslichen Schatzen, uber welch die `United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries' zu verflugen hat, uber den Ocean uns zugegangen sein.

"Herr Spencer F. Baird war es auch, dessen kraftiger Forderung wir I. J. 1880 den Entschluss der Bundesregierung, die berliner internationale Ausstellung zu beschicken, wesentlich verdanken. Mit solcher Umsicht und mit so grossartiger Vollstandigkeit wurde die amerikanische Abtheilung derselben ausgerustet, dass man sie ohne Weiteres als die lehrreichste und wichtigste aller ausstellungen der Fremde bezeichnen konnte, so dass der grosse Ehrenpreis Sr. Majestat des Kaisers dem Professor Baird zugesprochen wurde.

Moge America die Verdienste des edlen Mannes eingehend darstellen und dauernd ehren, der das Ehrenamt als Vorsitzender der genannten Kommission, durch uberreiche Zuwendung der Bundeskasse und die Freigebigkeit der Eisenbahngesellschaften unterstutzt, mit so kraftiger Initiative zur Erneuerung des bereits dezimirten Fischbestandes ausnutzte, - der die nur in einzelen Stromgebieten heimschen Fishe allen andern im Osten und Westen des gewaltigen Landes zuganglich machte, - der sogar Dampfschiffe bauen liess, um sie als bewegliche Bruthauser zu benutzen, - dem auch jeder Versuch willkommen war, europaische Fische druben zu akklimatisiren. Dass wir in letzterer Hinsicht dem unvergesslichen Freunde auch unserseits haben dienstbar sein konnen, gereicht uns zur lebhaften Genugthuung. Zwei dem amerikanischen Festlande fruher unbekannte Arten, der Karpfe und die Forelle, sind von Deutschland aus dort eingefuhrt worden. Beide mit staunenswerthem Erfolge. Der Karpfe, namentlich, hat druben (wenn der ausdruck gestattet wird) ein neues Leben begonnen. Wie er in kurzester Frist zu kaum gekannten Massen heranwachst, so bemuhen sich die Amerikaner ihrerseits mit Vorliebe um den Ankommling; eine eigene Zeitschrift beschaftigt sich seit Kurzem mit den Schicksalen des Karpfen in jede Theile der Union. Wir vernehmen mit Befriedigung, dass sein mehr jahriger Mitarbeiter, Herr Professor Brown Goode, nunmehr seine Stelle ubernehmen soll. Moge der liebenswordige Gelehrte, dessen sich viele von unserer Fischereiausstellung her erinnern werden, in die Fusstapfen seines Vorgangers voll und wurdiglich eintreten. Uns wird er allezeit bereit finden, mit ihm in demselben Geiste der Bruderlichkeit, der uns mit dem Verewigten verband, weiter zu arbeiten.

"Spencer F. Baird war am 8 Februar 1823 zu Reading in Pennsylvanien geboren. Er war Vorsteher des Smithsonian Institute zu Washington. Am 18 August d. J. verschied er zu Wood's Hole. Im Herzen seiner deutschen wie seiner amerikanischen Freunde wird er lange, lange fortleben. Ave cara anima!" 1 [Circular No 4 (pages 59,60), Berlin, October 13, 1887.]

[Translation by Allen Greenberg of the NOAA Office of Coast Survey. "A distinguished friend of far reaching vision, a supporter of the German Fishery Union, is gone. We mourn at the grave of an unselfish, simple scholar, who, through a long life had cultivated the exchange of intellectual work between Europe and America in many areas of science, and, who had also for many years untiringly strived to deliver to Germany the wealth of American fish technology. Professor Baird was always available to answer questions and to provide information. In addition, on his own initiative, he offered the Fishery Union the best that his prestigious background could offer. The Fauna of our fatherland's streams can thank him for the production of not less than four fish species since 1878, that, collectively have become part of our heritage, specifically: landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, and white fish. We can also thank him for the black bass and catfish which are so loved in America and show much promise for our home streams. No less than ten million fertilized eggs made there way across the ocean here from the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries because of his work in obtaining very large supplies.

We are also fundamentally indebted to Spencer F. Baird for his strong support of the Berlin international convention which started at the beginning of the German republic in 1880. He was so circumspect and craftsmanlike that his American counterparts considered him the most knowledgeable and important of the foreign exhibitors, and he was awarded his Majesty the Kaiser's the highest award.

May America continue to recognize and respect the work of this noble man, who as honorary chairman of the above named commission, and through lavish application of the Federal Treasury and the generous donation of the railroads, used great initiative in the renewal of the decimated fish stock. He also distributed fish throughout the land that were previously found in limited localities, and built steamships to be used as traveling incubators and to acclimatize the fish to European waters. Two previously unrepresented inland species of European carp and trout were introduced to the United States. As his mass production grew in the shortest time, the Americans gave preference to the new arrival. A dedicated publication recently devoted itself to the fate of carp in all parts of the union. We are greatly pleased to hear that Professor Brown Goode, his colleague for many years, will be assuming his position. We wish the respected scholar, who will henceforth be known by many of our fisheries industry, the best in following fully and ably in the footsteps of his predecessor. We will always find ourselves ready to continue to work with him in the same spirit of brotherhood that bound us with the deceased.

Spencer F. Baird was born on February 8, 1823 in Reading Pennsylvania. He was the head of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. On the 18th of August he died in Wood's Hole. He will live long in the heart of his German and American friends.


In May, 1878, he was unanimously elected to succeed Professor Henry as the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In this position he continued the policy of his predecessor, though with more attention to exploration. The number of publications was increased and more attention paid to the development of the library. He secured legislation authorizing the expansion of the endowment fund invested in the Treasury to one million dollars, and began to agitate the question of scholarships in connection with the Institution. During his administration, too, was erected the annex building to contain the overflow of the collections of the National Museum, which had been so suddenly through his influence at the Philadelphia Exposition. To the construction of this building, which covers an area of nearly two and a half acres, he gave his personal attention, and completed it for less than the amount of the appropriation, turning a small balance into the Treasury, something which has rarely happened in the construction of government building, and which is still remembered in Congress as remarkable.

The building has been severely criticized because of its lack of architectural dignity, but it is by far the cheapest structure of the kind ever built, the cost for each square foot of floor space available for exhibition having been only two dollars and a half, while no other museum building has cost less than eleven dollars for the same unit. It was regarded by Professor Baird as a temporary structure, and he acted upon the theory, which experience has shown to be a wise one, that in order to secure for the future a museum worthy of the nation, the first necessity was a building of great capacity, in which the extraordinary opportunities at that time presented for accumulating and organizing great collections could be utilized.

The larger portion of his time was still occupied by his duties as Commissioner of Fisheries, yet the Institution and its dependencies were constantly in his mind, and the ten years of his incumbency were marked by an extraordinary expansion in every direction of the Institution's potentiality for the future.

Honors were showered upon him from every quarter of the world. The King of Norway and Sweden, in 1875, made him a Knight of the Order of St. Olaf; in 1878, he received the medal of the Acclimatization Society of Melbourne; in 1879 the gold medal of the Societe d'Acclimatation de France.

He was an honorary member of many scientific societies in England, Germany, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. Even Japan was not unmindful of his services to science, and from distant Yezo came soon after his death a little volume printed on silk containing his portrait and an appreciation in Japanese.

A few months before his death, at the 250th anniversary of Harvard University, he received the degree of LL. D. This was one of the few occasions upon which he was ever induced to ascend the platform in a public place.

The village of Baird, in Shasta County, California, was named for him in 1877.

His most lasting memorials, however, are those living monuments which commemorate the activity of naturalists - the animals which are named for them by their disciples. Of these there are more than forty, conspicuous among which are Baird's Tapir (Elasmognathus Bairdii), a large mammal of Central America; Baird's Dolphin (Delphinus Bairdii), a species found in the Pacific waters of the United States; and Baird's Octopus, the first conspicuous new form of invertebrate discovered in the early exploration of the Fish Commission on the New England coast.

The most modest of men, Professor Baird cared not for public recognition. His indifference to self was his most conspicuous characteristic. He could never be induced to address an audience, something which seems all the more remarkable to his friends, who remember how winning was his eloquence when he talked in the presence of a few.

The power of his persuasive suavity was never better seen than when in the presence of the committees of Congress before whom he was summoned from year to year to justify his work. He was always received with the heartiest welcome, and these keen, bustling, practical men of business, who ordinarily rushed with the greatest of expedition through the routine of the day, forgot their usual hurry when Professor Baird was before them, and listened so long as he could be induced to talk, and not infrequently would wander from the business before them to ask him questions upon subjects which his remarks suggested. A very practical evidence of their appreciation was the prompt action upon the bill, passed soon after his death, giving twenty-five thousand dollars to his widow in recognition of the uncompensated services which he had rendered as Commissioner of Fisheries.


His personal traits have been sympathetically described by intimate friends in the many eulogies which were published soon after his death, and the appreciations of his character presented by Billings, Dall, Ridgway, Sharpe, and Powell have a peculiar interest, since each writer has depicted a phase of his character especially familiar to himself. To these are now added two others, the first written by Professor John S. Newberry, who had known him as early as 1850, and the other by Professor Harrison Allen of Philadelphia, whose acquaintance was of somewhat later date.

Professor Newberry writes:

"His most marked characteristics, and those which gained the affection and admiration of all who were brought into contact with him, were his great knowledge, his geniality, and his phenomenal industry. His courtesy was proverbial, and remarkable success in dealing with jealous and often antagonistic government departments was largely due to his tact and sagacity. He seemed always to get what he wanted, but it by a geniality which melted down all opposition, and never by the tricks and subterfuges so common among politicians. His suavity was irresistible, making allies and helpers of friends, and disarming all antagonists.

"As a consequence of the possession of all these charming qualities, and as a reward for the kindness he was sooner or later doing to every one about him, he was without an enemy, and more popular and beloved than any other man I have known.

"I have said that his industry was phenomenal: he really seemed never to waste a moment; he had a wonderful head for details and was an ideal business man. All the innumerable ramifications of the practical work of the Smithsonian were not only known to, but were really controlled by him; every moment of his time was occupied, and he worked with singular speed and efficiency; yet never so much engrossed in his work but that he had a pleasant word for strangers and an open ear to all the wishes or complaints of his numerous assistants and employees. When busiest in tabulating the results of the enormous collections which were accumulated at the Smithsonian by his means, if his daughter, then a child, came with any request, he turned from his work to listen to her prattle, and lent himself to her wants and wishes as though he had nothing else in the world to attend to. His wife was a great invalid, and there were days when, very nervous, she could scarcely spare him from her sight. I have known him to sit for many hours at her bedside, holding her hand in one of his while with the other he went on writing, ready at an instant to administer to her wants and wishes, and yet utilizing every free moment.

"His administrative abilities were of the very highest order. As has been said, he not only managed the business of the Institution in all its arrangements with remarkable success, but he instituted and carried out a system of observations and collections in natural history that covered the entire North American continent. All the departments of government were ready to make their machinery tributary to his wants; the express companies and other lines of transportation carried all his articles free, the agents of the Hudson Bay Company even to the Arctic Circle; and both officials and private persons in Mexico and the West Indies constituted themselves representatives of the Smithsonian, and were constantly sending in gratuitously collections which would have cost, if paid for, thousands of dollars. Within the United States Professor Baird had friends and correspondents everywhere, who were working along his lines in the interest of science. In all this he really was Napoleonic, and the result was that the old Smithsonian building was crowded with priceless treasures in every department of natural science, and the National Museum, his creation, was erected and filled; and now the channels he opened are bringing to Washington such a flood of material that a new museum is absolutely indispensable for its reception. 1 [1Doctor Billings writes: "It was the possibility of creating a great museum of natural history that induced him to come to the Smithsonian, and he never lost sight of this object; but for a long time he had to work largely by indirect methods. He did not directly oppose the policy of Professor Henry, and always worked harmoniously with him, but he lost no opportunity of increasing the collections, and constantly urged that the best way to induce Congress to grant the means of caring for such things was to accumulate material worth caring for until its amount and value should be such that public opinion would demand ample accommodation for it. So early as 1853 we find him writing to his friend, Mr. Marsh, about a scheme for a national museum, and a year later he got so far as to consider plans and size of buildings, having in view apparently something like the Crystal Palace. He was not working aimlessly all those years. He could not have what he wanted just then, but he had faith in the future, and meantime went on with his duties, which Mr. Marsh (Life and Letters of George P. Marsh. Volume I, page 262) characterized as `answering of foolish letters, directing of packages of literary societies, reading of proof-sheets, and other mechanical operations pertaining unto the diffusion of knowledge." ("Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy. " Volume III, page 145.)

"The Fish Commission, with all its grand results, is the product of his enterprise and good management. This in itself would constitute a monument that should satisfy the ambition of any man, but it is only one of the good works of the purest, best, kindliest, and most useful man of science America has yet produced.

"He was constantly doing good to others, and was the most unselfish of men. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to encourage and push forward the young men about him.

"Among the collections which I brought from Oregon was a woodpecker, supposed to be new. Of this he wrote and published a description, crediting the species to me without my knowledge or consent, for the credit of the discovery all belonged to him. He was just as generous in his dealings with all others, and he seemed to be entirely free from the desire for notoriety which is so common among scientific men. He had his ambition, of course, but it was of a lofty and unselfish kind, for the advancement of science; and for the accomplishment of this he preferred to encourage and help all true workers rather than to monopolize material and gain honor and fame for himself.

"Only once did I have any difference with Professor Baird. I questioned the policy of Professor Henry, who desired to make the Smithsonian a mere bureau of information and an office for the publication of scientific papers as were too voluminous or abstract to be given to the public through other channels. The library and museum were, therefore, looked upon by him with little favor. On the contrary, I thought the Smithsonian should be a bureau of investigation, where scientific material should be accumulated and studied by the help of a fine scientific library. So I opposed the transfer of the library to the Capitol as the giving up of an important part of the machinery of the Smithsonian. Whatever Professor Baird's private views on this subject may have been he was so loyal to his chief as never to encourage or countenance any opposition to his wishes. I felt, as I feel now, that the influence exerted by the Smithsonian on the government and the people of Washington will be measured by the space it occupies and the tangible evidence it furnishes to the public of the work it is doing. So I rejoice that the Smithsonian has preserved and greatly increased its collections, until its museum is now the finest in the country, and a source of instruction and delight to the thousands on thousands who visit the capital. Time has, I think, vindicated my views with reference to the library, and it is recognized that, as one of several collections of books, a scientific library is an indispensable part of its machinery.

"An effort was made by those who were envious of the great success of Professor Baird in accumulating scientific material to have the abundant collections brought to the Smithsonian by governmental expeditions distributed to other museums. Fortunately, Professor Baird's opposition to this scheme prevented its success; yet no one, except those who were about him at the time, knows how much labor and anxiety the retention of the museum cost him. But for him, the splendid array of scientific material which is now the glory of the Smithsonian would never have been gathered or retained."

Professor Allen writes:

"My acquaintance with Professor Baird began in 1861. At that time I was studying medicine in Philadelphia, and, since the study of the natural sciences was recommended, I was in the habit of frequenting the library of the Academy of Natural Sciences. One day, while reading Griffith's translation of Cuvier's "Regne Animal," I was approached by a gentleman who asked me what I was reading. I chanced to be looking over the chapter which treated of the bats. In the course of the conversation that ensued he advised me to go to the specimens rather than to content myself with reading about them. This was the first notice I had ever received from any one, and the advice made a deep impression upon my mind. I afterward ascertained that the strange gentleman was Professor Baird. He was often in Philadelphia, being in constant communication with Mr. John Cassin, the ornithologist, and I had many opportunities of meeting him. The training in habits of exact observation gained by studying zoology has been of great advantage to me in my profession, and I have always felt an indebtedness to Professor Baird fo rhis advice and encouragement.

"During the period that I remained in the army as assistant surgeon, Professor Baird exerted his influence to obtain for me posts of duty which permitted me to pursue my studies in natural history. I remained for the most part from 1862 to 1865 in close association with him at the Smithsonian Institution.

"Professor Baird impressed me as a great organizer. His interest in men was much the same as that taken by a general in the officers under his command. It appeared to be created by a desire to get certain work done by his lieutenants, but ended in awakening in his mind an affectionate concern for their happiness. The field before him was so vast that he had need of all collaborators. Nothing appeared to give him more satisfaction than to hear of new students coming forward.

"It is too soon to estimate the value of his achievements in perfecting a scheme of a national collection. But this much can be temperately said - namely, that the plan of the magnificent museum at Washington is entirely of his own creation. The difficulties which attended the formation of this plan were greater than is generally known. On one occasion, at least, these would have led to any other man less sagacious than himself to failure of the entire conception. He came to the Smithsonian Institution at a time when its policy was not defined. No one can now estimate as he did the obstacles to be overcome in giving shape to the materials about him; for not only the apathy of the public, but the opposition of men of influence, both in and out of Washington, had to be overcome and changed to sympathy at every step.

"Professor Baird was optimistic in his views of life, judicial in temperament, liberal in religion, catholic in his opinions, wise and shrewd in his conduct of affairs. He had a genial vein of humor. In his literary tastes he was singularly free from pedantry, and entertained a sympathy so wide that he was the most approachable of men. I have often wondered at his patience. Nothing appeared to excite him. I never saw him in ill-temper. To an extent probably without parallel in the history of science, he combined the functions of administrator and investigator. This combination did not interfere apparently with the kind of work he selected. This was purely descriptive and was pursued in a fragmentary way, - subject to innumerable interruptions and revisions without impairment. He once told me that he wrote his book on North American birds in sittings which could not have averaged over fifteen minutes. His industry was enormous. He lost no time either by impaired health or by misdirected efforts;indeed, he was a personification of systematic energy. Thus doubtless it came to pass that the ends for which he so persistently fought were achieved, and his name will be associated for all time with the first comprehensive plan for the organization of science in America."


About sixteen years before his death, his elder brother, to whom he was devotedly attached, and who had been his associate in his earliest natural- history work, died of heart disease. As early as 1855 Professor Baird had been conscious of weakness in the same organ, probably the result of the sudden change from athletic pursuits to desk-work which accompanied his coming to the Smithsonian. In 1873, when he proposed to me to become his confidential assistant, he told me that his condition was such that all exertion, and even mental anxiety, was to be avoided at any cost. I do not doubt that this knowledge of physical weakness and the resultant discipline contributed to strengthen the calmness and self-control to which so much of his success in later years was due.

This habit had been formed in very early life. Only twice was he ever known to show anger: when at the age of twenty, sone one abused his favorite Newfoundland dog; and once in the first years of his connection with the Institution, when a confidential letter from his aged mother was opened and read by a clerk in the course of official routine.

From early youth until failing strength forbade he kept a journal of his daily pursuits, and this, together with immense piles of copy-books and letter-files, will afford a treasure to his biographer. When the history of his life and times shall be written, it will be a history of the natural sciences in America in the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century.

He once remarked to me that he was satisfied that no man's life was of such importance to the people among whom he lived that he might not easily be replaced by another who would fully fill his place. As I looked at the man before me, a giant in body and in mind, a treasury of untransferable experience and wisdom, it seemed to me that if his judgment was in general a true one, in him at least there was an exception. And so it has proved. Ten years have passed by since he died, and his like has not been found.

Goode, George Brown, 1897. "The Smithsonian Institution 1846-1896. The History of Its First Half Century." Pp. 157-200. City of Washington.

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