Grateful American® Foundation

What did 87 members of the American scientific community establish today?

September 20th

500px-Alexander_Dalls_Bache_pers0117September 20, 1848 — The American Association for the Advancement of Science was created at noon today in 1848.

Eighty-seven of the most distinguished members of the former Association of American Geologists and Naturalists convened, and elected as their president William Redfield of New York, a meteorologist, geologist, and promoter of railway and steamship development.

Following the organizational meeting, members adjourned to the Hall of the University of Pennsylvania where they reconvened at 4 p.m. to begin five days of scientific sessions.

In its early years, AAAS sought to establish a cohesive organization that would “aid in bringing together and combining the labours of individuals who are widely scattered, into an institution that will represent the whole.”

This quest began under the forceful leadership of Alexander Dallas Bache (July 19, 1806 – February 17, 1867), great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. He was an American physicist, scientist and surveyor who erected coastal fortifications and conducted a detailed survey mapping of the United States coastline.

Founding members included Louis AgassizJoseph HenryBenjamin Peirce, Henry Darwin Rogers and his brother William Barton RogersJames Dwight DanaOliver Wolcott GibbsBenjamin A. Gould, William Redfield, and Benjamin Silliman, Jr.

The AAAS’ first president was William C. Redfield (1789 – 1857), a saddle and harness maker by trade, as well as a meteorologist, geologist, and promoter of railway and steamship development.

Words of Wisdom

By periodical and migratory meetings, to promote intercourse between those who are cultivating science in different parts of the United States, to give a stronger and more general impulse, and a more systematic direction to scientific research in our country; and to procure for the labours of scientific men, increased facilities and a wider usefulness.

— William C. Redfield, president, on the rules and objects of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, September 20, 1848

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