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Tabie showing the increase and decrease of post offers in the several States and Territories; also the number of post offices at which appointments are made by the President and by the Postmaster General, for the year ended June 30, 1871.

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REPORT

OF

THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,

Washington, D. C., November 15, 1871.

SIR: In accordance with the requirement of the act of Congress establishing the Department of Agriculture, I have the honor to submit my first annual report.

There is scarcely a nation upon earth whose people have not recently been startled into action to promote that great interest in which more than one-half the world is actually employed and upon the success of which the other portion is dependent. The segregated character of the rural population has been such as to forbid that concentration of ideas and consultation of views which are so common to all other professions and occupations. But recently, through the instrumentality of agricul tural journals and the establishment of agricultural societies and colleges, farmers have been brought to discover that there is work for them to do outside of the precincts of the farm. They seem to have been startled into a determined purpose to take their place in the race of the world's progress, and to assert for themselves a position which will enable them to keep pace with all others whose goal is success in life.

It is the purpose of this Department to encourage and aid this new spirit of improvement, having due regard to "the general designs and duties" imposed by the act of Congress establishing it, which are, "to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word, and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants." No language could be more comprehensive to express the power of this Department, or to enlarge the field of usefulness over which its influence may be extended; but it is this almost undefined power, and the vast expanse of this field, that render the task difficult to determine what shall be done to promote the great agricultural interests of the country. If a power thus concentrated, with agencies in every county of every State, and facilities for correspondence with all the countries of the world, should not be able to collect knowledge essential to the interests of the people, and seeds and products for distribution which are new and valuable, the failure would be traceable to its own inefficiency, and not to its want of means to do good.

There is, perhaps, no occupation in life which so greatly needs the fostering care of the Government as that of farming. There is no principle of political economy, no question of public policy, no consideration of statistical facts, no new development of scientific knowledge, which does not come home to be measured in its influence upon the results of the farm. This Department, as I view it, has been established to care for these interests, and it invokes our anxious study to know how this shall be best done. My experience in observing the workings of the Department has not been long enough to enable me either to pronounce upon its excellence or to hastily dictate points of improvement, but time and zeal in the effort to give efficiency to its work may enable me to extend its usefulness.

It will be remembered that, by the act of the 2d of July, 1862, Congress donated to the States public lands to "provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts." This was a new and important era, and may be said to mark the beginning of scientific knowledge as it pertains to agriculture. It must be conceded that the literary institutions of the country educate boys to a state of total unfitness for the occupations of the farm. The father finds his boy, after his return from an absence of a single year, to have had his thoughts and views centered upon an outside world, and when he has graduated and returns after an absence of four years, he gazes around to conclude that the farm is no place for him; his father and mother and brothers and sisters are no companions for him; his thoughts and theirs have been pursuing different paths; all congeniality of feeling is lost and gone, and he is driven to the nearest county town to prepare himself to make a poor figure in professional life, and perchance to be led into the haunts of intemperance and vice, realizing for his anxious parents not only the loss of the hardly-earned expenses of his education, but the loss of the son himself. But the boy whose acquaintance with natural science and modern languages is accompanied by the study and observation of how plants live and feed and die; how implements are formed, and how their mechanical structure and shape are adapted to the work they do; how the earth itself lives and breathes and dies; and who is accustomed to study and ponder these things as he learns the practical operations of the work itself, returns to his father's home upon the farm, proud of his father's occupation, and happy in the associations of his family and friends; and far more so because of the light which he may shed around him, the position which his education will give him among his fellows, and the success which will be sure to characterize his after life. I speak in no disparagement of, and with no desire to make unfavorable impressions in regard to universities, colleges, and schools, in which youth are trained for professional life, but I claim that the agriculturists of the country shall have a place where their youth may be imbued with the light of science, and thus fitted for agricultural life.

The wisdom of Congress having provided for the endowment ef

agricultural college in every State, these institutions are about to perform a most important part in the destinies of the country. They are yet in their infancy; professors and teachers are themselves yet untaught; agricultural education in this land is a new idea which has but now struck the public mind and is yet to be matured, and a curriculum established which shall have for its object the education of youth in the science and art of cultivating the soil. If these institutions will but confer together, and adopt such principles of action as shall be common to them all, and not inconsistent with the habits of the people in their several localities; establish subjects of study and rules of discipline and graduation; and, especially, if they will recognize and act upon the fact that this Department and they are engaged in the prosecution of a common cause, and that the Department may be made the nucleus around which may be collected the knowledge of inventions, statistics and rare facts, new and improved seeds and plants, to be disseminated, distributed, and experimented upon by the instrumentality of agricultural colleges, the farmer will be benefited to a degree which will be felt throughout every vein and artery of our common country. But, to attain this object, agricultural colleges should be distinctive in their character, and should be made to require compulsory labor of at least twelve hours a week from each of their pupils, thus training their tastes and habits, and inuring them to the daily occupation of a farmer's life, and thus, also, answering the objections often made to agricultural colleges, that their graduates at last choose the business of professional life.

An intimate relation between this Department and the agricultural colleges of the country would produce the most profitable information. If the result of their experiments in crops, the value of fertilizers, the nutritive value of various kinds of food, and the mode of planting, cultivating, harvesting, and storing were all concentrated at this Department, and analyzed and published, what a fund of knowledge would be thus collected and disseminated among the people, and how much more likely would that class who are to be benefited by this knowledge be reached through the instrumentality of these institutions than they now are by the course pursued. I do not profess to have matured the subject, and now only introduce it that it may command the consideration of the minds of men who know and feel how important it is that the agricultural improvements of the country should keep pace with the world's progress in all else.

It must be conceded that the course of agriculture in the Southern States has not been conducted with that care, skill, and regard for ultimate results which have characterized the operations of farmers in other States. While their lands are continuously devoted to cotton and tobacco until they have arrived at a state of exhaustion, those of the North are continually improving by rotation of crops, which is abso lutely essential to the life of the soil itself, and without which farming

and planting had better be abandoned. These impressions have induced me to turn my attention to these States to seek some mode by which the influence of this Department may be directed to benefit them; to find out whether their implements, and especially their seeds, may not be greatly improved; and how, in the distribution of seeds and plants, we may best reach those to whom they may be profitably sent.

The agriculture of the Southern States suffers greatly in its interests for want of grasses, in the use of which its productions would be greatly increased, by rendering a rotation of crops necessary. It will be an effort of this Department to introduce this idea, as well as the seeds by which it may be carried out. Clover, with its deep roots, and rye-grass, a strong grower, will well endure the hot sun of the South; and, if prèceded by an application of lime, they are sure to grow luxuriantly.

The report of the superintendent of the seed division, and our correspondence with practical farmers, strongly impress my mind with the immense benefit which the distribution of seeds confers upon the country. I do not hesitate to assert that the increased production of wheat, oats, and grasses, by reason of the distribution of new and improved seeds, pays more than ten times the whole amount expended by the Government in this Department, and such is the appreciation of this by the farmers of the country that the demands upon us are daily increas ing to a degree beyond our ability to supply. It is very desirable that the efforts of the Department should be especially directed to obtain the most approved cereals, grasses, and plants which the world affords, that they may be put into the hands of our enterprising people. Jute, ramie, and many other exotics may be grown here as well as in any part of the world, and they give great promise of adding very much to our agricultural productions and profits. But in the distribution of seeds I am satisfied that the mode heretofore pursued is erroneous. The quantity seut is entirely too small for even an experiment. A piut or a quart of wheat, oats, or other cereal, cannot be successfully grown, and such experiments almost uniformly fail because the quantity is too small. I need not here discuss the reasons for this, but the result is manifest to those who have tried the experiment. It would be far better to put a half or whole bushel of seed into the hands of one conscientious and careful person than to divide the same quantity among ten or twenty.

I regard, also, the mode of distribution of our annual report as very objectionable. Indeed, in my judgment, it should not be published at all, but should be entirely superseded by the monthly reports which it is now the practice of the Department to issue. These may contain all the information that should emanate from the Department during the year, and the last one, containing the Commissioner's report, should be a condensed summary of the operations of the year. But if it be the pleasure of Congress to continue the annual publication, I suggest that a much smaller number than has been customary be delivered

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