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©George Langford III, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, February 6, 1880.
To His Excellency Governor HENRY M. HOYT, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania:

SIR: It is with the sincerest satisfaction that I have the honor to transmit Mr. Lesquereux's complete report upon the vegetable remains found in the coal measures of Pennsylvania and other States of the Union.

The scope and thoroughness of this work, representing as it does, investigations uninterruptedly continued through a long life time, —the high authority of its distinguished author among men of science,—the affluence of materials at his disposal,—the enlightened action of the Board permitting these materials to be represented to the eye of the student by so large a number of admirably designed and executed plates—and the hearty interest taken in the proper preparation of the book by many of our fellow citizens who appreciate the progress of human knowledge in every direction—all this has made my official connection with it delightful, and assures me that you will accept and publish it in the conviction that none of your geological reports will prove more satisfactory to the people of the State or reflect more luster on the Survey.

The most remarkable geological report upon the forms of extinct life ever published in America, that of Professor James Hall, of Albany, consists of a series of quarto volumes of text and plates, together or in separate volumes, the last of which have not yet passed through the press. This rich product of the combined industry and genius of one of its citizens has been given to the world at a great expense by the State of New York; but in a form suitable only to use in public and private libraries. It cannot be taken into the field, nor can it find its way into more than a few of the retired spots where local geologists are busy.

The edition is necessarily of moderate size and the volumes are expensive. But it is so great a work, so thorough and accurate, so copious and complete, so systematic and easily referred to, that it has not only made its author famous all over the civilized world, but done much towards placing American science on a par with that of Europe, and the Legislature of New York in the front rank of enlightened governments. No doubt it will be re-cast and published in some manual form for general use and circulation.

What such a manual of molluscan palaeontology, descriptive of the forms and habitats of the shell fish of early geological times, would be to American field geologists, this work of Mr. Lesquereux is—a manual of the forms and habitats of the plants once growing in the swamps of our American coal fields, or floated out into open water and embedded in the deposits at the bottom of the Carboniferous sea.

Every genus of ancient seaweed, fern, bamboo-like Calamite, and cone tree which, up to the present moment, has been brought to light in mining the American coal beds,* or in surveying
* That is, the coal beds of the old coal era. The lignite plants of the Atlantic coast, and the Cretaceous and Tertiary coal plants of the Mississippi valley, Rocky mountains and Pacific coast, as well as the Permian plants of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the New Red plants recently discovered in New Jersey, are not included in this report. It is confined exclusively to the carboniferous and sub-carboniferous plants of the old coal fields.  Mr. Lesquereux's elaborately illustrated memoirs on the Cretaceous and Tertiary plants of the Rocky Mountain region, California, and the Mississippi valley, are to be found in the published reports of the United States Surveys of the Territories, &c.
the surface of the coal fields, is here described, and placed in its natural connection.

Every species hitherto discovered is named and described, and as many of them figured [i.e., illustrated - GL,III, ed.], as seemed needful to assist the mining geologist in the identification of beds (so far as plant-remains can do that,) or to enlighten the scholar of nature in this branch of learning.

It is more than supposable, indeed, that other species, and perhaps other genera, remain to be discovered. In fact, every month, thus far, has brought to light some new and interesting variety of form. But the total of the botany of the coal measures may be truly said to have assumed a permanent and (in the main) unchangeable aspect ; and this manual, therefore, can justly claim to be not only a reliable but an all sufficient guide to those who wish to understand the subject.

The best guarantee for its accuracy is the reputation of its author—a reputation first made more than forty years ago in the peat bogs of Switzerland, and afterwards extended by successive surveys of similar surface deposits in Germany, Scandinavia and Great Britain. Transferring his botanical studies to America in 1848, Mr. Lesquereux accepted service on the First Geological Survey of Pennsylvania in 1851, and made the first report on the coal plants of the State, published as a separate memoir by Prof. H. D. Rogers, in the Geology of Pennsylvania, 1858, vol. II, pages 837 to 884, with 20 quarto plates. In his introduction to it, Prof. Rogers thus writes:

" The following new species of fossil plants, 110 in number, are some of the results of a systematic investigation of the fossil flora of the carboniferous strata of Pennsylvania and the adjacent coal fields of Ohio and Virginia, undertaken a few years ago by my able assistant in this department of the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, Leo Lesquereux, Esq., formerly of Switzerland, now of Columbus, Ohio.

"By far the greater part of the specimens were collected by himself. A few of the new species were first seen and studied by him in the rich local cabinets of Mr. Clarkson of Carbondale, and of the Rev. W. Moore of Greensburg, to whom our best thanks are due for their liberality in thus opening their collections for the discription of what was new. Many of these hitherto undescribed forms were discovered in the slates associated with the beds of anthracite in the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania, which compared with the bituminous coal measures of western Pennsylvania, appear not only to contain a greater variety of species, but to present them in a condition of more perfect preservation for study.

"The new species here briefly described by Mr. Lesquereux constitute about one half of the total number of well defined forms hitherto detected by him in the coal measure and lower carboniferous rocks (the Vespertine series) of Pennsylvania; more than one hundred of the two hundred and twenty species examined by him proving to be entirely identical with species already recognized in the European coal fields."

Between the years 1853, the date of Mr. Lesquereux' s report to Professor Rogers, and 1870, the date of the present report to the .Board of Commissioners of the Second geological survey of Pennsylvania, Mr. Lesquereux has made elaborate reports to the State geologists of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and California, and to the United States geologists of the Territories, all of which may be found in the published volumes of their reports, many of them copiously illustrated by plates of figures. A list of these memoirs, those relating to coal plants, will be found in the indexes at the close of this report; and references to them by name and page occur all through it.

The number of his new species, 110 in 1853, has swelled in 26 years to 350; and the total number of species described in this report amounts to more than six hundred.

Leaving the author to state in his own excellent way the generalizations, both of a botanical and of a geological kind, at which he has so slowly and laboriously arrived, in the course of the most extensive palaeobotanical investigations on both Continents ever made by one individual, I recommend his report to your consideration, and remain, sir,
Your obedient servant,