We must include the pioneers of the historical school, the economic historians, the socialists, the statisticians, and others whose contributions to economics are now appreciated, and without whose labours the science as we know it now would have been impossible.
But like the early statisticians of the 17th century, economic historians are the " beginners of an art not yet polished, which time may bring to more perfection."
The Bills of Mortality of the 16th and 17th centuries are of more value, and they have been considered and revised by such able statisticians as John Graunt and Sir William Petty.
The standard set up by eminent statisticians, therefore, may be taken to represent an ideal, not likely to be attained anywhere under present conditions, but towards which each successive census may be expected to advance.
Before the census law was passed, a census board, consisting of three members of the president's cabinet, was appointed to draft plans for the inquiry, and the essential features of its report prepared after consultation with a number of leading statisticians were embodied in the law.