Robert K.  Edgar*

*Hellerman Diatom Herbarium, Southeastern Massachusetts University, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747 USA

EDITORS:  Donald H.  Pfister and Carolyn S.  Hesterberg.
In honor of Geneva Sayre on her 70th birthday
JSN: 0090-8754




Diatom biology originated in America around 1840 in the publications of Jacob W.  Bailey.  This sketch examines the influences of John Torrey, the American scientific community, especially its geologists, and the contemporary states of microscopy and diatom biology on the composition and direction of Bailey's early work.


In August of 1856 at its annual meeting in Albany, New York, the American Association for the Advancement of Science elected as its president Jacob Whitman Bailey, the Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  As the Association's ninth president Bailey was to assume a most prestigious chair, one previously occupied by such leading American scientists as Joseph Henry, Alexander Bache, Louis Agassiz, James Dana and John Torrey.  But during February of 1857 Bailey died as a result of frailties and illnesses that had plagued him for nearly a decade.  Augustus A.  Gould eulogized the President-elect at the Montreal meeting that August and reiterated that the reason Bailey had been chosen to preside over the Association was for his "advancement of Science, American Science and American Scientific character" (Gould 1858).  The Association recognized [geology as an important component of the] {g ogy?} scientific community.  An examination of the origin and early development of diatom biology in America necessarily focuses on Bailey.  His contributions were both critical and forceful.  Such an examination also requires consideration of the influence of the scientific community of which he became a part.

In the eighteenth century the experts and the publications on the American flora were European.  The original collections of American plants largely resided in European herbaria.  The story of nineteenth century American botany describes the development of independent botanical resources — specialists, herbaria, gardens and centers of research and education.  Similar transitions occurred in the other natural sciences, in particular, zoology and geology.  By the 1830's America had developed a functional scientific community of her own led by a group of men who were primarily American educated (almost half medically), specialized in their contributions, and largely employed as professors of the sciences (Daniels 1968).  Bailey was a member of this group, but he differed in being primarily self-educated and militarily educated.  After the age of 12 his only formal education was as a cadet at the U.  S.  Militarv Academy from 1828 to 1832.  Even though he had maintained and developed his interests in mineralogy, botany and microscopy from his boyhood days in Providence, Rhode Island, his course after graduation from the Academy was as an officer in the artillery corps, in which he served tours of duty in Virginia and South Carolina between 1832 and 1834.  Bailey's correspondence through 1834 alludes occasionally to his botanical interests but suggests no contemplation of a career in science.

The curriculum at the Academy shortly after it was founded in 1802 was commensurate with that of secondary schools, but gradually through the 1820's and early 1830's Superintendent Sylvanus Thayer transformed it into a college.  It emphasized training in mathematics and natural philosophy (physics) to a degree unconventional in early nineteenth century American higher education and in military engineering modelled after that of the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris (Lovell 1979).  In 1820, as part of his revitalization of the Academy's program, Thayer initiated instruction in chemistry, mineralogy and geology, but because Congress had authorized no professorship for these disciplines, he was constrained to appoint only an Acting Professor and assistants drawn from within the ranks of the Army, generally adjuncts to the Surgeon's Office.  In this capacity, John Torrey, M.  D. , taught these subjects at the Academy from 1824 to'l828.  In 1829 one of Torrey s ablest students, William W.  Mather, an 1828 graduate of the Academy, assumed the instruction in these sciences.  Among his students was J.  W.  Bailey.  Personnel turnover within this unofficial department in 1834 necessitated again drafting instructors from the ranks.  Actually, Thayer preferred his instructors to be Academy graduates, because he felt his "seminary-academy" system would be maintained best by those who had already experienced it (Lovell 1979).  As a result, in 1834 Bailey was reassigned from his position as Post Commander of the Bellona Arsenal near Richmond, Virginia to West Point.  In February of 1834 he wrote to his mother of his reassignment: "The uncertainty of all things in the army is so great that I cannot feel quite certain that something or other may prevent my obeying this very agre[e]able order.  I do not know what duties [there] will be for me to perform at West Point.  If I am to be Assistant Professor of any subject which I feel I can teach, I shall like the situation much" (Bailey 1834).  Bailey's task was instruction in chemistry, mineralogy and geology, and through the first year he worked with Mather, who, in June of 1835, left the Academy to assume the position as geologist for the First District of the New York State Geological Survey.  In 1838 Congress finally authorized the appointment of a Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology, and it was awarded to Bailey, who held it for the next two decades.

Bailey's movement into the American scientific community was facilitated by his assignment to an academic position at the Academy, but it was activated and sustained by his involvement with John Torrey.  His years at West Point had not coincided with Torrey's, yet he knew of Torrey through his interest in botany and through Mather.  His first meeting with Torrey occurred in May of 1835 and was joyously recorded in his diary: "Be the day ever remembered! for on it I first became acquainted with a scientific botanist, and he too the first botanist in America, in short no less a person than the distinguished Dr.  John Torrey of New York.  I was introduced to him at the hotel [at West Point] by Lieut.  Mather.  I was much surprised to find him so young a man [Torrey was 38].  After conversing a while, he proposed a botanical excursion and we proceeded down the hill behind the hotel collecting Corydalis. " (Bailey 1835).  So began one of many "botanical excursions" by the two and a strong personal and professional friendship.  Both shared making a living by teaching chemistry, at least, but for each their love of botany was a higher calling.  Bailey wrote to Torrey that "I cannot be a zealous mineralogist in summer, any more than you, say, you can be a chemist, for there is something so much more fascinating in Botany than in any other science, that in summer, it is sure to cause [a] feeling of indifference, if not disgust for all other pursuits" (Bailey 1837).  Torrey functioned as Bailey's botanical mentor.  Through 1838 he sketched plants for Torrey, examined plants microscopically for him and did other odds and ends: "Whatever I can do to promote the advancement of a science to which I have been indebted for so many happy hours will of course gratify me" (Bailey 1836).  His initial publications (1837-1838), all in Silliman's Journal (American Journal of Science and Arts), show simultaneously his breadth and diffusiveness: on galvanic experiments in frogs, on practical chemical procedures, on a botanical excursion to Maine, on assaying nitric acid, on a peculiar mineral, on the use of the blowpipe in chemistry, on the vascular system of ferns, and on an abnormal flower in Orchis (Edgar 1977).  By 1838 he had not established a scientific focus.

In September of 1837 Charles Daubeny, the Oxford chemist and botanist, visited Torrey in New York and presented him with a sample of a German diatomaceous earth that he had received from Christian G.  Ehrenberg.  Recognizing Bailey's skill and interest in microscopy, Torrey sent the sample to West Point as a potentially interesting specimen.  In June of 1838 Bailey wrote to Torrey about what he had discovered in the sample and suggested that "I might contribute a small mite to the advance of botany, if I could determine and figure the various species of the tribe Diatomae which appear to be very abundant about West Point" (Bailey 1838a).  His contribution appeared four months later in Silliman's Journal as a paper entitled "On fossil infusoria, discovered in peat-earth, at West Point, N.  Y. , with some notices of American species of Diatomae" (Bailey 1838b).  His second paper on this subject would not appear until three years later in Edward Hitchcock's Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts (Bailey 1841a).  In that period he published on no other subjects and in response to the encouragement of Torrey and American geologists solely pursued the diatoms and other microalgae.  His work during this period would culminate in his serial "Sketch of the infusoria, of the family Bacillaria, with some account of the most interesting species which have been found in a recent or fossil state in the United States" (Bailey 1841b, 1842a, b)

Around 1840 natural science, American science and diatom biology were exceptionally dynamic.  The American scientific community labored to produce a science commensurate in quality and breadth with that of its European counterparts.  Geologists struggled with the case for uniformitarianism that Charles Lyell had presented barely a decade earlier.  Microscopical science witnessed quantum advances in the availability of improved optics.  Biologists studying diatoms debated the animal versus vegetable nature of their subjects while involved in a major transition in their classification.  Diatom biology arose in America at this time in this context — a context strikingly reflected in Bailey's first two publications about diatoms (1838b, 1841a), especially in the plates of illustrations contained in them (Figures 1 and 2).

The most apparent feature of these two plates is that they depict primarily fossil diatoms.  This uniquely illustrates the micropaleontological context in which diatom biology arose in America and the momentum provided by geologists for a sustained investigation of the group.  With the exceptions of the publications of Ehrenberg, these two plates are among the earliest illustrations of fossil diatoms.

Diatom micropaleontology originated soon after the discovery of the highly refractive, siliceous nature of the diatom frustule.  In 1833 Friedrich Kiitzing intimated the siliceous character of the wall by referring to it as "glassy," although he did not confirm his suspicions by chemical analysis until the middle of 1834 (Kiitzing 1844).  The paper on his discovery which he submitted to Annalen de Physik und Chemie (Leipzig) was never published, but instead, under the auspices of the Royal Prussian Academy, Ehrenberg (1834) published a notice confirming Kutzing's discovery.  Knowledge of the discovery led Christian Fischer to reveal the diatomaceous nature of tripoli, which Ehrenberg (1836) also reported as the first in a long series of papers on fossil diatoms and infusoria.  In 1836 Alphonse de Brebisson reported the results of his own analyses of diatomaceous frustules and again confirmed Kutzing's observations.  Pierre Turpin (1836) made the geological connection by describing Brebisson's analyses as producing "une sorte de tripoli artificiel.  "Bailey's discovery of the silicification of the frustule was made in ignorance of these reports, and thus independently, although he was aware that diatoms left fossil deposits because of the Ehrenberg sample he received from Torrey.  His almost immediate deduction of the high likelihood of fossil deposits now being formed, given knowledge of the siliceous frustule, is clear in his 1838 paper and in his correspondence with Torrey.  "The imperishable nature of the Bacillariae and Diatomae, led me to suppose that large numbers must be buried in the mud at the bottoms of the bogs, streams, etc, where the living specimens occur,. . . . "(Bailey 1838b).  And to Torrey: "I am happy to inform you that the specimen of fossil infusoria which you kindly gave me, has led me to the discovery of a large deposit of similar siliceous shells in a fossil state in the peat bog (or swampy meadow r ) just south of Fort Putnam.  It was here that I first procured the Confervas among whose ashes I found these creatures.  From their great abundance in the living state, I felt confident that their shells must exist in great quantities in the earthy matter below, but I was hardly prepared to find the lower stratum of the bog principally composed of a white or grey clay like substance every speck of which contains numerous shells of these strange beings.  I can send you enough to supply the world if necessary" (Bailey 1838a).

Bailey's unfamiliarity with the foreign literature on diatoms must be attributable in part to his having recently entered the field, but also, it resulted from his difficulty in gathering communications from abroad, a common problem among American scientists of the day.  In November of 1836 Bailey wrote to Torrey from West Point: "Will you believe it — the only Scientific Journals now received at the Library of the United States Military Academy are Silliman's Journal and Journal of the Franklin Institute.  I have not seen a number of Annales de Chimie et de Physique [Paris] since November 1834! ^Institute' [Annales des Sciences Naturelles] and Reports of the British Association [for the Advancement of Science] I hear of in the newspapers but that is all" (Bailey 1836).  His nearest access to the foreign literature was in New York, either from Torrey or the library at the Lyceum of Natural History.  His production of up-to-date science was limited in part by his access to up-to-date resources.  And independent discovery was a frequent occurrence.  Silliman's Journal attempted to partially compensate for this limitation in the American scientific community by publishing extracts from the foreign literature, but all Bailey could have found in it about diatoms before his initial publication was a brief, miscellaneous note that Turpin has connected siliceous opal deposits with the organic remains of Gallionella or Conferva (Turpin 1837).  I have found no indications that Bailey saw this editorial notice.

The fact that the 1841 paper is devoted almost exclusively to fossil diatoms, whereas the first is not, indicates that impetus for continuing American diatom studies was provided by the geologists.  Edward Hitchcock reported in his geological survey of Massachusetts in 1838 what he termed "siliceous marls" occurring extensively within the state and that similar deposits had been found by Charles T.  Jackson in his geological survey of Maine.  Both agreed that the deposits were basically a hydrate of silica with traces of iron, alumina and magnesia.  Upon seeing Bailey's report of the fossil diatoms of West Point, Hitchcock confirmed microscopically that his siliceous marls were also diatomaceous marls.  He requested in 1840 that Bailey prepare for his Final Report a paper on the diatoms.  Hitchcock saw clearly the implications of the discovery: "We have long been accustomed to admire the process by which the minute Polyparia rear the extensive structures known by the name of Coral Reefs, stretching over hundreds of leagues of tropical seas.  But now we find that within our own observation, we may see effects no less marvelous, produced by animals [diatoms] of a still more diminutive size — too small, indeed, to be discovered by the naked eye" (Hitchcock 1841a).  In his address to the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists in Philadelphia in April of 1841, Hitchcock would paraphrase Linnaeus in characterizing the discovery: "If such is the beginning, what. . . will be the end of this infinitesimal geology] We seem fast advancing towards a realization of the proverb, “omnis calx e vermibus, omnis silex e vermibus, omne ferrum e vermibus" (Hitchcock 1841b).  The implication of the discovery had been clear to others also.  William Whewell (1839) in bestowing the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London on Ehrenberg in 1839 characterized the report of fossil infusorial deposits as "it has assumed the character of one of the most important geological truths which have been brought to light in our time: for the connection of the present state of the earth with its condition at a former period in its history,. . . "  And Charles Lyell (1852) would reflect on ideas he had expressed about the diatom deposits over the last decade that, "It is clear that much time must have been required for the accumulation of strata to which countless generations of Diatomaceae have contributed their remains;. . . for here we discover proofs that the siliceous dust of which hills are composed has not only been once alive, but almost every particle, albeit invisible to the naked eye, still retains the organic structure which, at periods of time incalculably remote, was impressed upon it by the powers of life." Previously, geologists had sought to explain large changes in the earth's surface by large, historical and largely unknowable forces, such as Noachian deluges and volcanoes, but Lyell had made a case for large changes resulting from still extant, small scale forces acting with more or less uniform intensity over long periods of time.  The activity of the coral polyp and the resulting coral reef, as alluded to by Hitchcock (although he was only partially a Lyellist), had been a prime example of this.  By 1840, in addition, diatoms emphasized even more dramatically the difference in scale.  A comparison of the size of diatoms and the size of their fossilized deposits and the demonstration that these deposits were currently being formed provided evidence for uniformitarianism.  The initial observations on fossil diatoms were immediately relevant to one of the most contested subjects of the period.  The geological implications of diatoms were recognized by American geologists other than Hitchcock.  William Mather, still conducting part of the New York State Geological Survey, and William B.  Rogers, who had discovered extensive Tertiary diatomaceous deposits in Virginia as a result of that state's geological survey, solicited Bailey's expertise in 1840 and 1841.  In August of 1841 Bailey wrote to his mother that, "Microscopic geology seems to have fallen to my lot in this country and it affords me plenty of work" (Bailey 1841c).  The interest in diatoms among geologists was indicated by the 1841 paper in Hitchcock's Report.  A result of this interest was an emphasis on fossil deposits in the American diatom literature during the next decade.

In the 1838 plate the living diatoms are all named and illustrated as colonies, or, at least, as aggregates, whereas the fossil diatoms in that plate are universally unnamed and drawn as single frustules or valves.  This dichotomy in illustration reflects the natural state in which living and fossil diatoms characteristically are found, but the lack of names for the fossil forms indicates the overwhelming emphasis of early European diatom systematists on examination and description of living, macroscopic (and consequently colonial) plants.  What little of the diatom literature Bailey had available in 1838 showed this emphasis.  In many pre-1820 classifications the characteristics of the diatom filament were the basis of the taxonomy, because the filament was considered the individual plant.  This resulted in the inclusion of many diatoms in the genus Conferva (see VanLandingham 1968, p.  849-851).  The frustule (Latin, frustulum: a small piece, a bit) was only a part of the plant.  The concept of the frustule as the outer part of a unicellular individual developed gradually and did not become generally accepted until a modified version of Matthias Schleiden's cell theory took hold after 1850.  The later taxonomic investigations of Agardh (1824), Kutzing (1833a), Greville (1833) and Brebisson and Godey (1835) emphasized characteristics associated with the pattern of organization of frustules into filaments and fronds, frustular shape, frustular accessories (such as stipes), and occasionally the color and placement of the endochrome, all still predominantly characteristics of living plants.  Characteristics of the frustule assumed a greater role in the descriptions of Kutzing (1844), William Smith (1853, 1856) and Ralfs (1861).  By 1872, Hamilton L.  Smith, in his "Conspectus of the Families and Genera of the Diatomaceae," would minimize the importance of the characteristics of colonies and living plants and emphasize almost exclusively frustular structure and ornamentation.  "A long study of living forms has convinced me that these characters.  .  .  (frondose, stipitate, filamentous, tubular, etc. ). . .are fleeting — not to be relied upon" (Smith 1872).  More than three decades earlier Bailey had reached virtually the same conclusion based on his examinations of living and fossil material.  He wrote to Torrey in April of 1839: 4 T feel at this time the want of [a] complete series of Diatomaceae, for I believe this group needs a revision, and that they may be arranged best, from the characters derived from the form of the frustules, and the invariable markings or lines upon them.  These characteristics being indelibly impressed upon the silica appear to me more suitable, than those derived from the spots produced by irregularities of the Endochrome" (Bailey 1839).  In the early 1850's Bailey guided H.  L.  Smith in his initial studies of diatoms, and consequently, these conclusions may not be fully independent ones.

The link between advances in microbial systematics and advances in microscopy has been recognized for a long time (Dujardin 1841).  Accordingly, the transition to an emphasis on character variation within the frustule has been viewed as a product of the invention of the achromatic microscope (Hendey 1959, Patrick 1959).  But the discovery of fossil diatom deposits occurred in the same period.  A microscopic examination of these deposits forces an exclusive focus upon the frustule, because the deposits consist of only the siliceous parts from diatoms.  Bailey's examination of fossil deposits stimulated the analysis of character variation in the frustules per se.  This occurred before he had acquired achromatic optics.  The achromat that he later secured facilitated this analysis in addition to revealing characteristics present on a scale smaller than preachromatic optics would permit.

The only references Bailey used in his determinations in the 1838 paper were C.  A.  Agardh's (1824) Systema Algarum and Robert K.  Greville's (1833) section on the diatoms in Hooker's English Flora.  This conclusion is based on the names Bailey applied to the living species of diatoms from West Point and my examination of his notebooks and correspondence.  His determinations were consequently confined to living plants and were based solely on written, unillustrated descriptions.  Not surprisingly then, his determinations in the 1838 paper were often tentative and his pleas to Torrey for help were frequent: "Can you lend me any books containing plates or detailed descriptions of this tribe? . . .  or indeed any work which you think likely to assist me in these observations" (Bailey 1838a) and "I feel most the want of some book containing good figures of the obscurer algae" (Bailey 1839).  In preparing the 1838 paper he saw none of Ehrenberg's papers.  Like many other American scientists of the period, Bailey was hindered in his ability to compete with the European scientific community by the limited access to information.  His characteristic deference to the "authority of Ehrenberg" over the next decade was in large part a result of the realistic recognition of his limited resources.

The fidelity and resolution in the illustrations of frustular structure are considerably greater in the 1841 plate than in the earlier one.  Improved optics and improved literature resources are probably responsible for this.  In preparing the 1838 plate Bailey had used the fixtures of a Raspail contained directions for making the lenses! In 1839 he acquired an improved, but still chromatically aberrated, Raspail microscope, but he noted in his correspondence, with sketches, frustular structure that he had been previously unable to resolve.  In 1840 in the preparation of the Hitchcock paper, he used an achromatic microscope made by Charles Chevalier of Paris and again noted the increased resolution.  Such observations support the idea that the microscope was limiting and not the microscopist.  Also, between 1838 and September of 1840 (when the Hitchcock paper was completed) he acquired several new publications on diatoms that significantly affected his work and probably his illustrations of the diatoms rendered for the Hitchcock production.  Bailey secured from Torrey the 1833 volume of Linnaea, and from it he copied into his notebooks the complete contents and illustrations of two important works by Kutzing: "Synopsis Diatomearum" (1833a) and "Ueber die Gattungen Melosira und Fragilaria" (1833b).  Additionally, he obtained Ehrenberg's "Die fossilen Infusorien und die lebendige Dammerde" (1837) and "Recherches sur reorganisation des Infusoires" in Mandl's Traite pratique du Microscope (1839a).  The Mandl paper was extracted from Ehrenberg's earlier Die Infusionsthierchen (1838).  These publications and the earlier botanical literature previously cited in his preparation of the 1838 paper constituted his major taxonomic resources on diatoms in the early 1840's.  In preparing the 1841 paper he did not see an unabridged, untranslated copy of the important Die Infusionsthierchen.  He heard of it initially in January of 1839 by a note in the New York Review, over one year before notice of it appeared in the American scientific literature.  When he finally located a copy several months later, the price of $55 exceeded his financial means.  He never obtained a copy.

In both plates the coarser fossil forms are illustrated bearing central and terminal nodules, axial areas and striae.  The striae density in the 1838 plate approximates a limit of 6-7 striae per 10 microns.  This approximation is based on estimates of the species illustrated (including Ehrenberg's 1839b and 1841 lists) and the drawings themselves.  In Stauroneis (baileyi) phoenic enter on (1838, f.  6) the striae are typically finer than 12/10 microns and were unresolved.  In the 1841 plate they remain unresolved in the Stauroneis (1841, f.  4), but the striae in several Eunotia (1841, f.  13-17), which should approximate 10 11/10 microns, are illustrated.  Approximately 10 striae per 10 microns probably was the upper limit of resolution available to Bailey at this time.  It represents about a 50% increase in resolution over that of the 1838 plate.  Consequently, striae characterize most species drawn in the 1841 plate, while they are confined to coarse forms in the 1838 plate.  In addition, the 1841 plate presented practically all species in paired valve and girdle views indicating Bailey's emphasis on the complete structure of the frustule — an approach not taken in 1838.  The basic valve-girdle bands-valve structure of the frustule is clearly indicated in several illustrations, but in the 1838 plate this tripartite organization is only suggested in some drawings.  Terminal nodules are indicated in the 1841 plate in Eunotia (f .  16, 20) but not in the 1838 plate (f.  15c).  The striae (alveoli) of Navicula (Pinnularia) viridis (1838 & 1841, f .  1) are drawn as a single line in the 1838 plate, but in 1841 they are drawn as closed, elongated loops, mimicking the illustration (1841, f.  3) borrowed from Ehrenberg (1837).  But most noticeable in the 1841 plate are the illustrations of a raphe in Pinnularia (f.  1), Stauroneis (f.  4) and Cymbella (f.  9, 10a) by means of a median double line.  An explanation of the line illustrating the raphe is contained in Bailey's (1842a) "Sketch of the infusoria," in which he elaborated on his interpretation of the structure of the frustule of Navicula (Pinnularia) viridis.  His interpretation markedly contrasted with that of Ehrenberg (1837).  He wrote: "The striae seen on these faces may correspond to internal cells, but I believe them to be linear openings in the carapace itself, as may easily be seen on the fragments of the fossil specimens.  There are three rounded spaces on each ventral [valvar] face, which I think have been mistaken for openings, but which appear to me to be the thicker portions of the carapace.  One of these spaces is in the middle, and the other two at the extremities of the striated surfaces, and they are connected by a very delicate, double line (canal)? A similar structure is seen in several other species of Navicula, Cocconema [Cymbella] and Gomphonema.  "Bailey's use of the word "canal" should not be confused with the much later evolved idea of a canal raphe.  "Canal" implies an elongated hollow region, an area of decreased silica thickness, and the fact that he used a double line to illustrate it indicates he had begun to appreciate the complexity of the existing microstructure.  His interpretation of the structure of the frustule is remarkably similar to that presented by Schleiden several years later in the second edition (1845-1846) of his Grundziige der wissenschaftlichen Botanik (Schleiden 1849).  Schleiden also characterized the raphe as a "cleft. " Bailey's illustrations of Navicula viridis in the Hitchcock paper and the 1842 "Sketch" (1842a, f.  16a) are virtually identical.  Double lines in illustrations drawn near the locus of the raphe are exceedingly rare before 1841, but where they do occur, such as Ehrenberg, 1837, pi.  1, f.  19 (redrawn in Bailey 1842a, f.  17a), it is not clear that they represent either frustular structure or a cleft.  The newly acquired literature resources alone cannot account for Bailey's production of the 1841 plate or his comments on diatom structure.  His skill as a microscopist in using his recently acquired achromatic optics remains the most likely explanation for many of the differences between the two plates, especially with respect to the resolution and interpretation of structure.

The observation that all the fossil diatoms in the 1841 plate are named (and none are named in the 1838 plate) indicates Bailey had acquired, by 1840, some of Ehrenberg's literature.  But, the other result of this acquisition was to transform the botanical terminology 7 of the diatoms in the 1838 paper (algae, articulations, frustule, diatom) into the zoological terminology of Ehrenberg (animal, carapace, poly gastric, bacillaria).  This transformation reveals a then current debate about the classification of diatoms and about basically what differentiated plants and animals.  Bailey had sketched the two sides of this debate in his 1838 paper by quoting extensively from the review of Meyen (1837), and he summarized the points again in the Hitchcock paper.  In the final analysis Bailey interpreted diatoms as animals because of their "voluntary motility/' their clear ability to move in response to no apparent exogenous stimulus.  Ehrenberg's view of the diatoms stemmed from his ideas about the "chain of being" (scala naturae) and the zoological classification of Georges Cuvier (Jahn 1971, Winsor 1976).  He included the diatoms among the infusorial animals, which were grouped in Cuvier's embranchement Radiata.  He believed diatoms contained organs such as stomachs, a carapace, a mouth, and sexual organs and that they possessed an anatomical organization no simpler than that of any other radiate animal.  He maintained also that the Radiata were no simpler in their organization than the other embranchements, which according to Ehrenberg's interpretation of Cuvier contained the Perfect Animals.  Ehrenberg's observations on diatoms were intent on demonstrating that they were not in any structural sense organ-deficient and not built upon a body plan simpler or different from that of the Perfect Animals.  The full title of his important 1838 work, Die Infusionsthierchen als vollkommene Organismen, indicates a treatment of infusorial animals as complete or perfect in this sense.  Derivative from this demonstration was an argument against spontaneous generation and against transitions ascending a scala naturae.  In large part Bailey did not agree with Ehrenberg's interpretation of diatom structure, as he illustrated previously with the structure of Pinnularia.  He also had no dogmatic mold into which his observations had to fit.  Bailey and Ehrenberg agreed diatoms were animals, but their views of them were radically different.

Werner (1972) in some remarks on the history of diatom biology has noted both the terms diatoms and bacillariae were historically applied to the taxon we now commonly call diatoms.  He segregates several nineteenth century diatomists with respect to the term they favored, and in this segregation he indicates that Bailey favored diatoms.  But he cites as a reference for this favoring Bailey's 1842(a) ''Sketch of the infusoria, of the family Bacillaria,...," a paper in which neither diatom nor a derivative appears.  But this should not be construed to mean that Bailey favored bacillaria.  In the 1838 paper he called this group diatoms.  In his 1841 Hitchcock paper he called them bacillariae.  In his 1840's geological papers he referred to them generally as siliceous bacillariae.  After about 1848, when he fell under the influence of the Irish phycologist William H.  Harvey, he again called them diatoms.  Bailey used the terminology of the botanists when most closely allied with them and that of the zoologists when engaged primarily in micropaleontology, which was then so strongly influenced by Ehrenberg.  Werner also commented that the choice of diatoms as the common name for the group by authors including Bailey was "possibly due to the similarity of bacillae and bacteriae [to bacillariae]. " This is purely speculative and unsupported by the evidence.  It implies either no difference in the meanings of the two words (diatoms vs.  bacillariae) or a relatively unimportant one, so that selection of the name followed the path of least orthographic confusion.  In the nineteenth century diatoms was not considered equivalent to bacillariae.  This was perhaps best illustrated by Kiitzing (1844) who entitled his major work Die kieselschaligen Bacillarien oder Diatomeen, qualifying the application of bacillariae with the adjective siliceous-shelled.  The group denoted by bacillariae has traditionally been more comprehensive than the one denoted by diatoms.  Diatom was a botanical term referring to the incision-like interruptions in filaments of various colonial diatoms, viz. , Diatoma (Greville 1833).  Bacillariae referred to the shape of frustules of Bacillaria paradoxa, which in early classifications was included with the "staff animals" (Gmelin 1788).  Bacillariae was most extensively promulgated in the nineteenth century by Ehrenberg and those whose classifications descended from his.  It incorporated primarily the diatoms and desmids.  Such classifications (Ehrenberg 1838, Pritchard 1852, 1861) consistently used diatoms, if at all, to refer to a group less inclusive than that named by bacillariae.  Consequently, the common name diatoms that evolved to specify the group by the end of the nineteenth century resulted from the recognition that diatoms were plants, their union within the algae, under the domain of the botanists, and from the fact that bacillariae had consistently denoted a larger set than did the subset diatoms.  Diatoms sufficiently and more parsimoniously circumscribed the elements in question.

A.  A.  Gould's eulogy took special note of Bailey's contribution to the advancement of the "American Scientific character”.  Though this can be assumed to refer to the most admirable qualities of a scientist, it probably refers also to Bailey's perserverance despite substantial obstacles.  There is also reason to believe "American Scientific character" connotes a fundamental nationalistic competitiveness.  A significant component of the motivation behind the Wilkes Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) was jingoistic (Stanton 1975).  Bailey would not have objected to pride in American science, as long as it was not a false one (Edgar 1979).  He wrote to William B.  Rogers soon after the discovery of the extensive Tertiary diatom strata in Virginia and Maryland that "I think we may now challenge the world to produce infusorial deposits equal in extent to those of which you made the truly 'splendid' discovery.  In America, in spite of old Buffon, Nature has done all her work on a scale commensurate with an immense territory" (Bailey 1843).  The allusion to Georges Buffon is remarkable in that it had been in the previous century that this French naturalist had questioned the quality of the organisms and the environment of North America as part of his description and explanation of continental biogeographic differences.  Egerton (1976) has pointed out that despite the chauvinism associated with Buffon's ideas, the fact that they were perpetuated "must have served the useful function of encouraging Americans to increase their understanding of their own climate [environment] and its influences upon all forms of life in America".  In Bailey's case the allusion to Buffon appeared in a context which reflected a competitive pride in the accomplishments of American science.  It suggests part of the stimulus to pursue science was because of the chauvinism.  This competitive pride is indicated even more acutely by the widely used appellation, initiated by Rogers in 1843, which Bailey received from his American scientific colleagues — "our Ehrenberg. "




In 1975 Geneva Sayre rekindled my interest in a historical perspective on diatom studies, and since then, she has encouraged a critical retrospection.  I am indebted to her for the intellectual enjoyment that has resulted.  For the luxury of working with the literary fossil record of nineteenth century ideas I am grateful for the generosity of the archives and libraries of Amherst College, Boston Society of Natural History (Museum of Science), Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York Botanical Garden, United States Military Academy and University of Virginia.  The support of the staffs of the Farlow and Gray Herbaria and the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard University, and, in particular, Donald Pfister, has been indispensable.  I am thankful to Francis X.  O'Brien for the embarrassing zoological questions he offered in reviewing the manuscript.



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