The Smithsonian and Guano
Washington, May 28, 1858Hon I. TouceySecretary of the NavySir,In accordance with the request contained in your letter of Mar 8th 1858, that we would cause to be analyzed samples of the soil or deposites of the New Nantucket and Jarvis islands in the Pacific Ocean, we employed two chemists in whose knowledge and practical skill we have full confidence, to make the investigations required in the laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution.The report which I have the honor herewith to transmit, contains a brief account of the results which they have obtained, which we trust will be sufficient for the purposes of the Department. Should any further information be required, we will endeavor to furnish it.From this report it will be seen that the deposits submitted to examination do not possess the peculiar characteristics of Peruvian guano, although of the same origin, and are not equal to it in value. In some cases they might be considered as valuable as bone dust, but not generally. They differ from the latter in being almost entirely deficient in nitrogeneous matter, and therefore their importance for agricultural purposes depends upon their mineral ingredients, which are of a valuable character, being the same as the inorganic matter of bones. The want of nitrogeneous matter however renders a strict comparison between them and bone-dust impossibleI have the honor to bevery respectfullyyour obed’t serv’tJoseph HenrySecretary S.I.