A Description of the Recently Discovered Petroleum Region in California with a Report on the Same by Professor Silliman. Silliman, Benjamin Jr.
A Description of the Recently Discovered Petroleum Region in California with a Report on the Same by Professor Silliman

Science and the Nascent California Oil Industry

A Description of the Recently Discovered Petroleum Region in California with a Report on the Same by Professor Silliman.

New York: Francis & Loutrel, Printers, 45 Maiden Lane, February, 1865.

First edition of Silliman's Second Report on oil in California. Large folding map of the "OJAI Ranch in Santa Barbara County ... Property of The California Petroleum Company," and one folding chart. iii, [1], 24 pp. 1 vols. 8vo. Science and the Nascent California Oil Industry. Printed wrappers. Waterstained, maps creased, with one small tear. Streeter 2903; Giddens p. 167; Sabin 81051; Cowan 1933, p. 588 (in entry for 1864 issue: "Another report was made in 1865"). Item #53841

Silliman's reports on the future of California oil precipitated the nation's first real debate over the ethics of scientific consulting. Silliman's previous analysis of seep oil in Pennsylvania had launched an entire industry; now, as a consultant for the California Petroleum Company, Silliman painted a rosy picture of the future of petroleum in the Santa Barbara region, raising the hopes of speculators who were already excited by the recent boom in Pennsylvania. State Geologist Josiah Dwight Whitney thought that Silliman's fee ($45,000) from the oil companies was prima facie evidence of fraud, and characterized Silliman himself as a mercenary and a disgrace to science. When it was determined that the seep oil samples Silliman had been testing were laced with kerosene from Pennsylvania, stock prices fell dramatically.

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