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THE EVOLUTIONAND FUTURE OF AMERICAN ANIMAL AGRICULTURE G. W. SAUSBURY AND R. G. HART* The body of scientific knowledge is often divided into the basic and the applied. This division although artificial is used by many to separate the scientific intent of the researchers. The investigator concerned with basic research is said to question and probe natural phenomena because they exist, whereas the applied scientist is viewed as the catalyst who translates knowledge into the inorganic and organic machinery of a nation. Such a portrait is responsible for the ivory-tower image of the academician and the sullied profile of the industrial scientist. Surely in the year 1979 we recognize that such a division is based more on the ignorance of those recording or funding science than on the scientific intent of the researcher. To illustrate and expand on this topic we will use as an example the evolution of knowledge in animal agriculture in the United States. The Beginnings The foundation for the scientific development of animal agriculture was laid in the United States on July 2, 1862. On that day, as the Malvern Hill battle raged near Richmond, and as casualty lists were arriving in Washington, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act. This act created the land-grant institutions in our country and served as the cornerstone for the establishment of the colleges of agriculture. It is often assumed that the pressures which combined to produce this act originated entirely from the complaints of the people on this land that they did not know how to handle and manage the soil. Lincoln in his writings tells ofa saddle trip he took to Chicago on one occasion and the fact that he rode through grass that was up to his horse's withers. At this time the area around Champaign-Urbana was a swamp. Most assuredly Lincoln was aware of the agricultural problems ofa country at war while *Department of Dairy Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801.© 1979 by The University of Chicago. 0031-5982/79/2203-0067$01.00 394 I G. W. Salisbury andR. G. Hart ¦ American Animal Agriculture at the same time expanding westward, and these pressures were significant factors in convincing him to sign the bill which the previous administration had vetoed. The seed for the Morrill Act was not planted by any one individual, but among those early advocates of the land-grant concept the name of Jonathan Baldwin Turner [1] stands out. He was a student of Yale University and a professor at Illinois College in the early period of the nineteenth century. He knew Lincoln personally and raised with him, on occasion, the proposition of a land-grant act. Not only did his view of the importance of establishing land-grant institutions center on the practical economic benefit the nation could derive from agriculture research but, as important, he was an advocate of the common man. He believed that the strength of the country depended upon the education of its people. Notjust the wealthy or those going into the professions, but also the children of the dairy farmer in New York, or the planter in Iowa. It was from this framework that the idea of land-grant institutions was born, and it was to this end that they were to be founded. The early history ofthese institutions is fascinating in this respect. While they were born to develop the skills and minds of the man who worked with his hands, arguments went on for a number of years in institutions such as the University of Illinois about whether they would teach Greek or Latin or other subjects traditionally taught in institutions of higher education. In fact, Turner initially turned against the first president of the University of Illinois because he insisted upon teaching students in agriculture such things. Recall that Turner was educated in one of the finest eastern institutions in the country and was essentially taking a position contrary to the foundations of his own education. That is, a knowledge of the classics was the mark of an educated man. Here he argued that the university was more concerned with the form of an education than its content. This early...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 394-409
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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