Fifth Bill to Establish the Smithsonian (Tappan)

[S. 18 ]


A bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution, for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.

Whereas James Smithson, esquire, of London, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, by his last will and testament did give the whole of his property to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men; and whereas Congress have heretofore received said property and accepted said trust, therefore, that the same may be executed in good faith, and according to the will of the liberal and enlightened donor:

Be it enacted, etc., That so much of the property of the said James Smithson as has been received in money and paid into the Treasury of the United States, being the sum of $508, S18, be loaned to the United States Treasury, at six per cent per annum interest, from the third day of December, in the year 1838, when the same was received into the said Treasury; and that so much of the interest as may have accrued on said sum on the first day of July next, which will amount to the sum of $209,103, be, and the same is hereby, appropriated for the erection of suitable buildings, the inclosing of suitable grounds, and for the purchase of books and instruments for the Smithsonian Institution established by this act; and that six per cent interest on the said trust fund, it being the said amount of $508,318, received into the United States Treasury, third of December, 1838, payable, in half-yearly payments, on the first of January and July in each year, be, and the same is hereby, appropriated for the perpetual maintenance end support of said institution: Provided, That the books to be purchased for said institution shall consist of works on science and the arts, especially such as relate to the ordinary business of life, and to the various mechanical and other improvements and discoveries which may be made.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the business of said institution shall be conducted by a board of managers, to consist of twelve, no two of whom shall be citizens of the same State or Territory; that the persons first appointed on the board of managers shall meet in the city of Washington, on the first Monday of July next after the passage of this act, and, when met, shall divide themselves, by lot, into three sections, one of which shall serve two years, one four, and the other six years; and whenever a vacancy occurs in said board, the same shall be filled by such person as may be appointed by a joint resolution of Congress; that all those who may be appointed to fill vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, or removal out of the United States, shall serve the residue of the term, and all those who may be appointed to fill vacancies which occur by lapse of time shall serve for the term of six years; that after said board shall have met and become organized by appointing one of their own body president of said board, it shall be their duty to proceed to select a suitable site for such building as may be, in their judgment, necessary for the institution, and suitable ground for horticultural and agricultural experiments, which ground may be taken and appropriated out of that part of the public ground in the city of Washington called the Mall, lying west of Seventh street; and the ground so selected shall be set out by proper metes and bounds, and a description of the same shall be made and recorded in a book to be provided for that purpose, and signed by said managers, or so many of them as may be convened on said first Monday of July; and such record, or a copy thereof, certified by the president of the board of managers, shall be received as evidence in all courts of the extent and boundaries of the lands appropriated to said institution.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That so soon as the board of managers shall have selected the site for the buildings of the institution, they shall cause to be erected a suitable building, of plain and durable materials and structure, without unnecessary ornament, and of sufficient size, and with suitable rooms or halls for the reception and arrangement, upon a liberal scale, of objects of natural history, a geological and mineralogical cabinet, a library, a chemical laboratory, and a lecture room or rooms; and the said board shall have authority, by themselves, or by a committee of three of their members, to contract for the completion of such building upon such plan as may be directed by the board of managers, and shall take sufficient security to the Treasurer of the United States for the building and finishing the same according to the said plan, and in the time stipulated in such contract: Provided, however, That the expense of said building shall not exceed the sum of $80,000, which sum is hereby appropriated for that purpose out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated; and the board of managers shall also cause the grounds selected for horticultural and agricultural purposes to be enclosed and secured, and a suitable building erected to preserve such plants as will not bear exposure to the weather at all seasons; and the sum of $20,000 is hereby appropriated for such building and enclosure, to be paid out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated; and so soon as it may be necessary for the accommodation of the persons employed in said institution, the said board of managers may cause to be erected on the grounds of the institution such dwelling houses and other buildings, of plain and substantial workmanship and materials, to be without unnecessary ornament, as may be wanted; Provided, however, That the whole expense of building and furnishing as many such houses as may be required shall not exceed the residue of said interest which will have accrued on the first day of July next; and for the said expenditure the said residue of said interest, amounting to the sum of $78,604 is hereby appropriated, payable out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated; and all such contracts as may be made by said board of managers shall be deposited with the Treasurer of the United States; and all questions which may arise between the United States and any person claiming under and by virtue of any such contract shall be heard and determined by said board of managers, and such determination shall be final and conclusive upon all parties; and all claims on any contract made as aforesaid shall be allowed and certified by the board of managers, or a committee thereof, as the case may be, and being signed by the president of the board, shall be a sufficient voucher for settlement and payment at the Treasury of the United States And the board of managers shall be authorized to employ such persons as they deem necessary to superintend the erection of the building, and fitting up the rooms of the institution.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That so soon as buildings shall be erected for their reception, all objects of natural history and geological and mineralogical specimens belonging to the United States which may be in the city of Washington, in whosesoever custody the same may be, shall be delivered to such persons as may be authorized by the board of managers to receive them, and shall be arranged by the proper professor in such order and so classed as best to facilitate the examination and study of them in the building so as aforesaid to he erected for the institution and the managers of said institution shall afterwards, as new specimens in natural history, geology, or mineralogy, may be obtained for the museum of the institution by exchanges of duplicate specimens belonging to the institution (which they are hereby authorized to make) or by donations which they may receive, cause such new specimens to be also appropriately classed and arranged. And the minerals, hooks, manuscripts, and other property of James Smithson which have been received by the Government of the United States, and are now placed in the Patent Office, shall be removed to said institution and shall be preserved separate and apart from the other property of the institution.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That the managers of said institution shall appoint a superintendent, whose duty it shall be to take charge of the ground, buildings and property belonging to the institution, and carefully preserve the same from injury; and such superintendent shall be the secretary of the board of managers, and shall, under their direction, make a fair and accurate record of all their proceedings, to be preserved in said institution; and the said superintendent shall also discharge the duties of professor of agriculture, horticulture, and rural economy in said institution, and in that capacity may, with the approbation of the board of managers, employ, from time to time, so many gardeners and other laborers as may be necessary to cultivate the ground and keep in repair the buildings of said institution; and the superintendent shall receive for his services such sum as may be allowed by the board of managers, to be paid semiannually on the first day of January and July; and the said superintendent shall be removable by the board of managers whenever, in their judgment, the interest of the institution require the superintendent to be changed.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That at the first meeting of the board of managers they shall fix on the times for regular meetings of the board, and on application of any three of the managers to the superintendent of the institution, it shall be his duty to appoint a time for a special meeting of the board, of which he shall give notice by letter to each of the members, and at any meeting of the board managers five shall constitute a quorum to do business; that each member of the board of managers shall be paid his necessary traveling and other expenses in attending meetings of the board, which shall be audited, allowed, and recorded by the superintendent of the institution. And whenever any person employed by the authority of the institution shall have performed service entitling him to compensation, whether the same shall be by way of salary payable semiannually or wages for labor, or whenever money is due from said institution for any purpose whatever, the superintendent shall certify to the president of the board that such compensation or money is due, whereupon the president shall certify the same to the proper officer of the Treasury Department for payment.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That the board of managers may appoint some suitable person as professor of natural history, a professor of chemistry, a professor of geology, and a professor of astronomy, with such other professors as the wants of science may require. They shall also employ able men to lecture in the institution upon the arts and sciences, and shall fix the compensation of such professors and lecturers: Provided, That no professorship shall be established or lecturer employed to treat or lecture on law, physic, or divinity, it being the object of the institution to furnish facilities for the acquisition of such branches of knowledge as are not aught in the various universities.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the board of managers shall make all needful rules, regulations, and by-laws for the government of the Institution and the persons employed therein; and, in prescribing the duties of the professors and lecturers, they shall have special reference to the introduction and illustration of subjects connected with the productive and liberal arts of life, improvements in agriculture, in manufactures, in trades, and in domestic economy. They shall direct experiments to be made by the professor of agriculture, horticulture, and rural economy to determine the utility and advantage of new modes and instruments of culture, to determine whether new fruits, plants, and vegetables may be cultivated to advantage in the United States; and they shall direct the distribution of all such fruits, plants, seeds, and vegetables as shall be found useful and adapted to any of our soils and climates, so that the people in every part of the Union may enjoy the benefit and advantage of the experiments made by the institution. They shall also direct the professor of chemistry to institute a chemical analysis of soils from different sections of the United States, to make experiments on the various modes of improving and enriching the several kinds of soil found within the United States, and at all times to include in his course of lectures the subject of agricultural chemistry. They shall also direct the professor of natural history especially to refer in his course of lectures to the history and habits of such animals as are useful, or such animals and insects as are njurious, including the best means of taking care of and improving the one and of protecting grain and other products from the other. They shall also direct the professor of geology to include in his course of lectures practical instructions of a general character to aid in the exploration and working of mines. They shall also direct the professor of architecture and domestic science to include in his course of lecture practical instructions as to the best modes and materials for building, according to climate and location, throughout the United States, from the simple dwelling to the more complicated and costly structures for public and other purposes; also, to institute experiments in regard to the best mode of lighting, heating, and ventilating buildings, public and private, and to determine the value of such scientific improvements as may, from time to time, be made in the same or in any other important branch of domestic economy. They shall also direct the professor of astronomy to include in his lectures a course on navigation, including the use of nautical instruments. And it shall be competent for the said managers at their discretion, to cause to be printed and published, from time to time, works, in popular form, on the sciences and on the aid they bring to labor, written by the professors of the institution, or by other persons engaged for the purpose: Prorided, That such works shall, at all times be offered for sale at the lowest rates that will repay the actual expense of publication: And provided, That such works shall, before publication, be submitted to and examined by the board of managers, or a committee of their number. And the said board shall also make rules and regulations for the admission of students into the various departments of the institution, and their conduct and deportment while they remain therein: Provided, That all instruction in said institution shall be gratuitous to those students who conform to such rules and regulations.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That be appointed managers of the said Smithsonian Institution, to hold their offices as is hereinbefore provided.

E-Text by Courtney Danforth