DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.—The department of agriculture was reorganized in 1889. Previous to that time it had been a bureau of the interior department. The secretary of agriculture is the chief officer of the department of agriculture.
This department collects and diffuses among the people useful knowledge relating to agriculture and agricultural products. Experiments are conducted upon farm and garden products, and the seeds of choice varieties are distributed among the people. Similar attention is given to stock-raising and the care of forests. The bureau of chemistry assists in the enforcement of the pure food law.
The department also includes the weather bureau, which collects and publishes telegraphic reports of storms and the condition of the weather, in the interest of agriculture and commerce.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE.—The department of commerce and labor was created in 1903, and ten years later was divided into two departments. The secretary of commerce presides over the department of commerce. Its duty is to promote and develop commerce, mining, manufacturing, and fisheries. It collects and publishes facts and figures on all these subjects; supplies exactly true weights and measures for any one to copy; controls stations for stocking waters with valuable fish; inspects and licenses steamships, rejecting any that are unseaworthy; surveys the seacoast of the United States, and maintains lighthouses at dangerous points.
The work of the department is divided among a number of bureaus, many of which were already in existence when the new department was formed. Among these is the census office, which takes a census of the United States every ten years, besides collecting other statistics at shorter intervals.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.—The secretary of labor presides over the department of labor. Its duty is to promote the welfare of wage earners. It makes important investigations, and publishes statistics concerning laborers. This department includes the children’s bureau, which studies problems, affecting children’s welfare. It also includes the bureau of immigration and the bureau of naturalisation, which supervise the enforcement of United States laws regarding immigration and naturalization.
SEPARATE COMMISSIONS.—In addition to the civil service commission, Congress has created two other important commissions not connected with any department. The interstate commerce commission, consisting of seven members appointed by the President, supervises interstate railroads, express companies, etc., and enforces the laws which control them. The federal trade commission, consisting of five members appointed by the President, supervises the business of persons and companies engaged in interstate commerce, except those under the control of the interstate commerce commission.