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methods for rapidly diffusing for public use the information had at this office, have been continued.
By an arrangement with the Post Office Department, six thousand and thirty-nine printed “Farmers' Bulletins," on which appear daily the forecasts of this office, have been distributed and displayed in frames daily at as many different post-oftices in different cities, villages, and hamlets in different States, for the use of the agricultural population throughout the United States. The information given on these bulletins is of value for facts relating to the climatology of the different sections, being condensed as they are into brief notes, which are published with the reports.
A " weather case," or "farmers' weather indicator," an instrument arranged to exhibit together on a simple plan the meteorological indications of several instruments, and in such a way that they can be easily noted by any one, is in preparation for general issue. This instrument is intended to be used in connection with the Farmers' Bulletin. It will, it is hoped, enable agricultural populations and others to determine in advance something as to the character of the coming weather from local indications alone, when added means of information cannot be reached, or may fail.
The river reports, giving the average depth of water at the different great rivers of the interior, and notice of dangerous rises, for the benefit of river commerce and the population in the vicinity, have been regu. larly made, telegraphed, bulletined in frames, and published by the press at the different river ports and cities.
By the great diffusion given the reports of the office through the press, the display of the different office bulletins and forms of report, the maps and regular publications, it is estimated that the statements, based upon the information gathered upon the files of the office and issued daily for the public use, reach daily not less than one-third of all the households in the United States.
The regular daily publication of the reports by the press, now continuell for eight years without cost to the United States, is considered as an evidence of the usefulness of the reports and of the favor with which they are received by the communities for which they are intended.
The sea-coast service of the Signal Service, in connection with the Life Saving Service, has been continued during the year. The telegraphie lines, reaching from Sandy Hook to Cape May and from Norfolk by way of Cape Hatteras and Wilmington to the mouth of Cape Fear River, on the most frequented and in some places the most dangerous coasts of the United States, have been continued in operation. The stations upon these lines are occupied, and the telegraphic lines are operated by enlisted men of the Signal Corps.
The saving of human life often rests on the prompt and proper working of these lines, and the fidelity and discipline of the force stationed
The watch kept by the service, and the prompt transmission of a few messages have, in times of danger, saved property amounting to more than the cost of the lines.
A code of danger or distress signals to be furnished without cost to all vessels sailing from the ports of the United States, and enabling them to communicate by flags with stations or relief parties on the shore in case of need, disaster, or distress, was last winter issued and widely distributed.
In pursuance of the act of Congress, authorizing the construction and operation of telegraphic lines in the interior and upon the frontier, for connecting military posts and stations, and for the protection of the populations from Indian and other depredations, ofticers anıl enlisted men of the Signal Service have been continued upon these duties. The lines in Arizona, New Mexico, and upon the Texas frontier tre nearly completed. The lines in the Northwest, for which provision is made, are pushed rapidly forward. The work of construction has been in large part done by working parties finished by the active co-operation of department commanders. A total length of three thousand two hundred miles of line is now operated and maintained in the care of officers and enlisted men of the Signal Service.
The co-operation of scientific men at home and abroad has been continued. It has made a world-wide study possible. The popular support and the support of the press have been steady and considerate. T re is the assurance of success in achieving a public good to follow earnest labor.
THE MILITARY ACADEMY. The annual reports of the major-general commanding the Military Academy at West Point, and of the Board of Visitors which assembled at the examination in June last, are hereto appenderl. I concur with the commanding general in his commendation of the system of competitive examinations now so largely used to determine the selection of candidates for appointment from Congressional districts, which is indirectly but powerfully working to improve the school system of the State. I also concur in a proposed partial revision of the academic system. But I am not at this time in favor of advancing the qualitications for admission, or the grade of theoretical studies at the Academy. It would serve to exclude many young men of sufficient capacity for the ordinary military duties without ailding a necessary element of usefulness in their performance. I would rather drop out certain subjects, to give time for the study of others more practically useful.
The question of admissions at the September term is within the discretion of this department, and will be duly considered.
I specially commend for favorable action the recommendation for sufficient appropriations to procure an adequate supply of water at the post, in connection with the all-important subject of sewerage, and also to complete the hospital. From personal examination last summer, I am
persuaded that their importance to the health of the officers and cadets is not overstated.
The gratifying opinion is expressed by the Board of Visitors, as a “ general result of investigation," " that there is at least one public institution in the United States of which it can be truly affirmed that the more it is investigated the better it appears, and for the direct administraton and control of which no person is believed to have been selected for any other reason than fitness to discharge the trust confided to him." This is the keynote to the candid and liberal view exhibited throughout the report, which should commend it to the careful notice of Congress, while it should also inspire in the country at large the confidence in our Military Academy which it las fairly won and fully deserves.
GEO. W. MCCRARY,
Secretary of War.