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JAMES Madison Approves of the Òlove of truth & devotion to the cause of ScienceÓ

James Madison

Librería: The Raab Collection (Ardmore, PA, Estados Unidos de America)

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Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was an explorer, geographer, geolo- gist, and ethnologist, noted for his travels and early studies of Native American cultures. He explored and wrote about Arkansas, Missouri and the Great Lakes region, and is best remembered for his discovery of the source of the Mississip- pi River. In 1822, he spoke before the American Geological Society on the subject ÒMemoir on the Geological Position of a Fossil Tree discovered in the Secondary Rocks of the River Des Plaines.Ó The rocks were petrified, and this led Schoolcroft to a discussion of their composition, strata and age, and the ages and agents it took to develop them, which led him to a conclusion that they predated the earliest organic life. That speech was published and Schoolcroft sent a copy of the paper to former President James Madison. Science was important to Madison, and he associated it with freedom of information and liberty. In his First Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1809, he specifically stated his intention Òto favor in like manner the advancement of science and the diffusion of in- formation as the best aliment to true liberty.Ó Another time he wrote, ÒKnowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.Ó In writing about Thomas Jefferson after his death, he listed JeffersonÕs scientific knowledge even before his political ac- complishments: Ò[He] will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind.Ó The present is a very inquisitive age, and its researches of late have been ardently directed to the primitive composition and structure of our Globe Madison responded with great interest to SchoolcroftÕs speech, and in that response com- mented on the 19th centuryÕs growing and notable interest in science, and his belief that science will provide mankind with answers to many questions. He also congratulated Schoolcroft on the part he was playing. Autograph Letter Signed, Montpellier, January 22, 1822, to Schoolcraft. ÒI have received a copy of your Memoir on the fossil tree, which you politely forwarded. Of the decisive bearing of this phenomenon on important questions in geol- ogy, I rely more on your good judgment than my own. The present is a very inquisitive age, and its researches of late have been ardently directed to the primitive composition and structure of our Globe, as far as it has been penetrated, and to the processes by which succeeding changes have been produced. The discoveries already made are encouraging; but vast room is left for the indus- try & sagacity of Geologists. This is sufficiently shown by the opposite theories which have been espoused; one of them regarding water, the other fire, as the great agent employed by nature in her work. It may well be expected that this hemisphere, which has been least explored, will yield its full proportion of materials toward a satisfactory system. Your zealous efforts to share in the contributions do credit to your love of truth & devotion to the cause of Science. And I wish they may be rewarded with the success they promise, and with all the personal gratifications to which they entitle you.Ó The address leaf bearing MadisonÕs franking signature is still present. In time it would become known that the earthÕs composition and structure are the result of varied forces, thus synthesizing into one coherent theory the elements Madison sepa- rated (and more). It is interesting that Madison implicitly considers as a given the idea that the earth is very old. N° de ref. de la librería 9260

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The Raab Collection buys and sells rare important historical documents, bring to its endeavors a passion not only for the manuscript but the history behind it. We've built important historical collections for institutions and historical enthusiasts. Our pieces have found homes in many major institutions devoted to preserving history.

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