REVIEWS A Democracy of Facts: Natural History in the Early Republic. By Andrew J. Lewis. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Pp. 204. Cloth, $39.95.) Reviewed by Gordon M. Sayre In 1814 the Philadelphia scientist Benjamin Smith Barton received a letter from one H. B. Trout, a resident of western Pennsylvania, asking, ``what climate of the Unighted-States would be the most favorable to the growth of the poppy--what sort of manner would be best calculated to put on the ground on which the poppy is to be sowed?'' (62). Mr. Trout had read Barton's textbook Elements of Botany (1804), where Barton wrote that ``Opium, the produce of a species of Papaver, or Poppy . . . might be cultivated in the countries of the United States, with much pecuniary profit'' (286). A few months later George Washington Trout, possibly a relative of the first correspondent, wrote another letter to Barton, basing his appeal upon different principles. G. W. Trout praised Barton's ``patriotism in recommending to the people of the United States the culture of the poppy'' and cast the pursuit of profit as secondary to ``the Desire of Utility.'' Andrew Lewis read the letters from the two Trouts
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Aug 13, 2012
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