Inspiration Online Magazine


TRIVIA, BRAINTEASERS
& FASCINATING FACTS




Who established
the Smithsonian?


"The Castle"


In June, 1829, in Genoa, Italy, English scientist James Smithson died after a long illness, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate 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." Smithson's curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, James Smithson went on to conduct research in chemistry, mineralogy and geology. Based on his chemical analysis of calamines, a carbonate of zinc was renamed smithsonite in his honor in 1832.

Six years after his death, his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, indeed died without children, and on July 1, 1836, the U.S. Congress authorized acceptance of Smithson's gift. President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, eight shillings, and seven pence, as well as Smithson's mineral
collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects.

After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President James K. Polk.

Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 18 museums and galleries and many research facilities throughout the United States and the world. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the "Castle," visitors to Washington, D. C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other historic US artifacts.

The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting marvels of aviation and space history such as the Wright brothers' plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. James Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution's great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in
the Smithsonian Building.

James Smithson's generous act of philanthropy began a tradition of giving that has been carried on by succeeding generations of donors.

Read more at: James Smithson's Gift ~Source: Bob Osgoodby's Tip of The Day

It's The Cat's Meow Contributed by www.The-Cats-Meow.com

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Chelle Thompson, Editor ~ Jane Cate, The TechAngel
This publication originates in Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 U.S.A.

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