Session S3c (Monday, 2pm, Paterno 104)

P234: Thomas Green Clemson, early advocate for applying science to agriculture

I. Dwaine Eubanks (Clemson University, USA)

Thomas Green Clemson was appointed Superintendent of Agriculture within the Department of the Interior in 1860. The post provided a platform for promoting his passion for applying scientific principles in agriculture and for establishing agricultural colleges. At the time, he was among the most highly regarded agricultural chemists in the United States. Clemson had strongly supported the Morrill Act, passed by Congress in 1857, but vetoed by President Buchanan. The Morrill Act of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, granted Federal land to the states to establish agricultural colleges, except that those states in rebellion were excluded. Following the Civil War, southern states were eventually allowed to participate, and Clemson ceded his plantation to the state of South Carolina to establish an agricultural college. Clemson was a strong believer in educating farmers in the application of scientific practice, and the college supported a vigorous extension service. South Carolina Congressman (and Clemson College Trustee) Asbury Lever teamed with Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia to pass a 1914 bill establishing federal support for agricultural extension at land-grant colleges. The many twists and turns from advocacy to actualization provide an interesting study in the politics of U.S. agricultural policy.


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