National Geographic : 1931 Nov
WASHINGTON THROUGH THE YEARS Photograph by Capt. Albert W. Stevens THE UNITED STATES TREASURY DEPARTMENT STANDS IN WASHINGTON'S FINANCIAL CENTER (SEE TEXT, PAGE 611) Facing the south front of the Treasury is the Sherman equestrian statue. Across from the north front, to the left, a corner of the Treasury Annex, and the Riggs National Bank; next, American Security and Trust Company. The dark building with awnings on the upper corner is the National Savings and Trust Company; in the right center, the National Metropolitan Bank. In 1784, when Thomas Jefferson helped draft "an ordinance for ascertaining the mode of locating and disposing of lands in the western territory," the foundation for this powerful Department was laid, though it was not so styled till 1849. Since then its work has grown, till now it not only controls public lands, but also directs Indian Affairs, pensions, reclama tion, national parks, public education, and the Geological Survey. Our part of the great International Map of the World, on the millionth scale, is being done by this Survey. Time and again its field men have been the first whites to explore and map parts of our continent (see, also, p. 578). Through its irrigation engineers, this Department reclaims our arid lands in that one-third of the United States west of the Iooth meridian. Its giant Hoover Dam on the Colorado River will bring flood con trol, light, power, and water to wide farm areas and many cities in seven States of the Southwest. In all its many ramifications, this De partment directs the labors of more than 17,ooo people. FROM HERE THE LONG ARMS OF COM MERCE REACH OUT One spring day in 1785 a group of tired business men called on George Washing ton to talk about trade. The Revolution had been won, but business was bad. These merchants asked the Government "to do something"! In the Constitutional Convention, two years later, it was proposed to appoint a Secretary of Commerce as one of the President's Cabinet. . . . More than a century passed. It was 1903 when Con gress authorized the Department of Com merce and Labor, of which George B. Cortelyou was the first Secretary. With shrewd insight, he said: "No other De partment has a wider field. . .. None will have closer relations with the people or greater opportunities for effective work."