Friday, September 14, 2018

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian collections are a national and global resource that millions of visitors and researchers access each year to explore subjects from aeronautics to zoology. Through its collections, the Smithsonian presents the astonishing record of American and international artistic, historical, cultural, and scientific achievement, with a scope and depth that no other institution in the world can match. Collections are acquired from tropical rainforests, archaeological sites, everyday life, the depths of the oceans, and the heavens above.

The Smithsonian Institution was created by act of August 10, 1846 (20 U.S.C. 41 et seq.), to carry out the terms of the will of British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829), who in 1826 had bequeathed his entire estate to the United States ‘‘to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.’’

James Smithson died on June 27, 1829, in Genoa, Italy, where he was buried in a British cemetery. The will left his estate to his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, and stated that if his nephew died without an heir, the money would go "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 ...."

Six years after Smithson’s death, President Andrew Jackson turned the matter over to Congress, which pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust.

On July 1, 1836, Congress accepted the legacy and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust. In September 1838, Smithson’s legacy, which amounted to more than 100,000 gold sovereigns, was delivered to the mint at Philadelphia. Congress vested responsibility for administering the trust in the Smithsonian Board of Regents.
Smithsonian Institution
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