The Launching of Modern American Science, 1846-1876 by Robert V. Bruce
Astronomy in the U.S., until approximately the 1880s, was largely a tool for determining latitude and longitude, time and tide. This surprising fact points to the enormous distance American science has traveled. In Bruce's absorbing social history, self-funded amateurs slowly give way to science as a vast collective enterprise. In the South, a pseudomedieval romanticism at odds with the scientific temperament blocked progress, but after the Civil War scientific investigation became an institutionalized, nationwide pursuit with backing from business and government. Bruce, author of books on Lincoln and Alexander Graham Bell, peoples his canvas with battling bone-hunters, moonlighting geology professors and chemists hard-put to find full-time jobs. The 19th century laid the groundwork for discoveries and innovations that would pour forth in the opening years of our century: X-rays, the electron, radioactivity, quantum theory.