Fourth Bill to Establish the Smithsonian (Adams)

[H. 418 ]


A bill to provide for the disposal and management of the fund bequeathed by James Smithson to the United States, for the establishment of an institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.

SEC. 1. Be it enacted, etc., That the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, the Chief Justice of the United States, the Secretaries of State, Treasury, War, and Navy, the Postmaster and Attorney Generals, the chief justice of the circuit court of the United States for the District of Columbia, and the mayor of the city of Washington, shall be, and hereby are, constituted a body politic and corporate, by the style and title of " The trustees of the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," with perpetual succession, and the usual powers, duties, and liabilities incident to corporations.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the corporation so constituted shall have power to appoint, from citizens of the United States other than members of the board, a secretary and a treasurer, to hold their offices during the pleasure of the board, and removable at their pleasure, and others to be appointed in their places, and to fix from time to time their compensations. And the secretary and treasurer only shall receive pecuniary compensation for their services, and those of the members of the board of trustees shall be gratuitous. And the offices of secretary a treasurer may, at the discretion of the board of trustees, he held by the same person The secretary and treasurer shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of the duties their respective offices; and the treasurer shall give bond, under the penalty $50,000, with sureties to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury, for the safe custody and faithful application of all the funds of the institution which may come to his hands or be at his disposal.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the sum of $800,000 be, and the same hereby appropriated, by investment of that sum in certificates of stock to that amount of the United States, bearing interest at the rate of six per cent a year, from and after the passage of this act, redeemable at the pleasure of Congress by the substitution of other funds of equal value and yielding the same income, the said interest being payable half-yearly on the first Mondays of January and July. The said stocks to be applied in manner following: First, to constitute a fund of $500,000, bearing interest as aforesaid, to supply the place of the same sum received at the Mint of the United States at Philadelphia, in gold, on the first day of September, of the year 1838, and on the fourth day of the same month invested, for account of the United States, in five hundred bonds of the State of Arkansas, of one thousand dollars each, bearing interest at the rate of six per cent a year, payable half-yearly, and the principal of which is redeemable on the second of October, 1860. Secondly, to constitute a fund of $300,000, hearing interest as aforesaid, to supply the place of an equal sum invested in one hundred arid forty bonds of the States of Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, and of interest which has accrued, and may hereafter accrue, to the said amount of $300,000, from the said sum deposited et the Mint of the United States at Philadelphia on the first day of September, 1838; the said fund to be applied to the execution of the purpose of the testator, "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," in manner following:

Of the said fund, there shall be applied for the erection and establishment, at the city of Washington, of an astronomical observatory, adapted to the most effective and continual observations of the phenomena of the heavens; to be provided with the necessary, best, and most perfect instruments and books, for the periodical publication of said observations. and for the annual composition and publication of a nautical almanac, thirty thousand dollars.

Of the said fund there shall be reserved in the stock thus invested the sum of $60,000, from the yearly interest of which the compensation shall be paid of an astronomical observator, to be appointed by the board of overseers, removable at their discretion, and another to be appointed whenever the said office may be recant and his compensation shall be at the rate of $3,000 a year, and $600 a year shall be reserved for the incidental and contingent expenses of repairs upon the buildings as they may be required.

Also $120,000, from the yearly interest of which shall be paid the compensation of four assistants to the astronomer and of laborers necessary for attendance on him and for the care and preservation of the buildings. The compensation of the four assistants to be at the rate of $1,500 a year each; and the compensation of the laborers not to exceed in amount, for the whole of those found necessary, $1,200 a year: the assistants and laborers to be appointed and removable by the said board of trustees at their discretion.

Of the said fund there shall be applied to furnish an assortment of the best and most perfect instruments for astronomical observation, to be procured under the direction of the astronomical observator, to be appointed conformably to the provisions of this act, $20,000.

And there shall be reserved $10,000, from the interest of which other instruments may from time to time procured, as occasions for the use of them may arise, and for the repairs of instruments as needed.

And there shall be reserved $10,000, applied to the purchase of a library of books of science and literature for the use of the observatory, to be selected by the observator; and the further sum of $20,000 reserved, from the interest of which to pay for a supply of new works, transactions of learned societies, and periodical publications upon science in other parts of the world or in America.

Of the said fund shall foe reserved $30,000, from the interest of which shall be paid the compensation of the secretary and treasurer, and the contingent expenses of the corporation hereby constituted, including the expense of the yearly publication of the observations made at the observatory, and of a nautical almanac, to be called the Smithsonian Almanac.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That all the moneys and stocks which have been, or may hereafter be, received into the Treasury of the United States on account of the fund bequeathed by James Smithson be, and the same are hereby, pledged to refund to the Treasury of the United States the sums hereby appropriated. And the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause to be opened an account in which the Smithsonian fund shall he charged with the sum of $800,000, hereby appropriated and invested in stocks of the United States, and shall be credited by the six hundred and forty bonds of the States of Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, and by all the sums received, or hereafter to be received, for interest on the said bonds until the final payment of the principal thereof by the said States. And the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to sell and transfer, at their nominal par value, principal and interest, and not under, any of the said bonds, with the interest due and unpaid on the same, and to credit the said fund with the proceeds thereof, till the whole sum hereby appropriated, and all the interest hereafter paid thereon, shall be refunded to the Treasury of the United States.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That no part of the said Smithsonian fund, principal or interest, shall be applied to any school, college, university, other institute of education, or ecclesiastical establishment.

SEC.6. And be it further enacted, That the observatory provided by the third section of this act shall be erected under the direction of the board of trustees on a site in the city of Washington, to be selected by them; and should the same be on land belonging to the United States, so much thereof as, in the opinion of the trustees, shall be necessary for the purpose shall be conveyed to them in consideration of the sum of $10,000, taken from that fund by the general appropriation act of third March, eighteen hundred and thirty-nine: Provided, That if no such suitable site can be found on the public lands, that then a selection of a site on private property may be made at a price not exceeding one-half cent per square foot, to be paid out of the appropriation in the third section of this act.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That all expenditures made by the said board of trustees shall be subject to the approval of the President of the United States; and all the accounts thereof shall he reported to the Secretary of the Treasury, and audited under his direction by the proper officers of the Treasury Department; and the said board shall report to Congress, at every session thereof, the state of the Smithsonian fund, and a full statement of their receipts and expenditures during the preceding year.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the first meeting of the trustees of the Smithsonian fund shall be held at the city of Washington on the third Tuesday of next; and that in the meantime the custody of the said fund and the expenditures under the appropriations herein made shall be held and authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury, subject to the approbation of the President of the United States.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That there shall be a board of visitors, to annually appointed, consisting of nine members; two of whom to be commissioned officers of the Army, to be appointed by the Secretary of War, two commissioned officers of the Navy, to be appointed by the Secretary of the Navy, the mayors the time being of the cities of Alexandria and of Georgetown, within the District of Columbia; and one citizen of each of the cities of Washington, Alexandria, Georgetown, to be appointed by the President of the United States; who shall meet on the first Monday of February, at eleven o'clock, before noon, at the said astronomical observatory, and visit and inspect the condition of the said observatory and of the Smithsonian Institution generally. They shall choose among themselves chairman, and shall make report to the President of the United States of the said condition of the Institution, specifically indicating in what respect the Institution has, during the preceding year, contributed to the purpose of the founder-the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men. To this board the astronomical observator shall make a report to the same effect, so far as regards the astronomical branch of the Institution, which report shall be annexed to that of the board to the President of the United States, who shall communicate the said reports to Congress. The services of the members of the said board shall be gratuitous.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That there is reserved to Congress the right altering, amending, adding to, or repealing any of the provisions of this act which shall be found inconvenient upon experience: Provided, That no contract or individual right, made or acquired under such provisions, shall thereby be impaired or divested.

SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That for any other moneys which have accrued, or may hereafter accrue, upon the said Smithsonian fund, not herein appropriated the board of trustees are hereby authorized to make such disposal as they shall deem necessary for the promotion of the purpose of the testator-"the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men "-unless the same shall be otherwise disposed of by law.

E-text by Courtney Danforth