National Geographic : 1897 Oct
GEOGRAPHIC WORK OF THE U. S. COAST SURVEY 295 To these immediate problems the Survey addressed itself with vigor and foresight under the guiding hands of Hassler and his eminent successors. Hassler, the friend of Jefferson and Galla tin, enjoyed the confidence and support of these eminent states men, but he had before him difficulties as great as his field was wide. Inert public opinion as to the utility of the proposed Sur vey had to be vitalized and molded, men had to be trained to carry out the technical parts of the work, instruments had to be constructed, and correct methods had to be prescribed. How these difficulties presented themselves and how they were over come will form a proper chapter not only in the history of the great Survey which yet remains to be written, but also in the his tory of the progress of science in this country. It may be said that Hassler, in 1844, saw the fruition of his hopes when a general plan of operations prescribed by him was adopted by a scientific commission composed of Army and Navy officers and civilians. Its adoption marks the official recognition of the necessity for precise and systematic work in the mapping of our domain. Its simple and correct outline of the operations to be followed in making a survey of great extent has permitted the extension of the work in a manner commensurate with the enlargement of our national domain by acquisitions of territory from France, Spain, and Mexico. With the expansion of terri tory came the extension of the scope of the survey, and finally, when the advantages of a transcontinental triangulation became apparent, its geodetic function was recognized by law. In accordance with its primary duties the Survey has devel oped and charted the depth of the waters along our coasts with extreme minuteness and accuracy, not only in the rivers,bays,and harbors, but off shore as far as the needs of commerce demanded it. Going beyond the immediate requirements of the mariner, it has devoted itself to discovering the depths of the sea over large areas, as is shown by the complete survey of the Gulf of Mexico. Its depths were sounded and charted, its salinity tested, and the temperatures of its waters were recorded. Much earlier than these successful surveys of the Gulf were the explorations of the Gulf Stream, important not alone in their geographi4 results, but in developing methods, often by failures, which rendered subse quent success possible. The hydrographic results achieved are shown on between five hundred and six hundred charts, many of them of such exquisite perfection as to form a standard of ex cellence for all cartographers.