Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents, Minutes, 1846

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  • Present: George M. Dallas, Roger B. Taney, William W. Seaton, George Evans, Isaac S. Pennybacker, Robert Dale Owen, William J. Hough, Henry W. Hilliard, Rufus Choate, Gideon Hawley, Richard Rush, Alexander Dallas Bache. The members not present were Sidney Breese, William C. Preston and Joseph G. Totten (due to illness).
  • The board met in the Patent Office building and resolved to declare Vice President George M. Dallas the "unanimously elected chancellor of the board," and to declare William J. Hough the "elected secretary of the board." The Regents drew cards marked "two", "four" or "six" to determine the length of their terms. Mr. Choate and Mr. Hawley are to serve two years, Mr. Rush and Mr. Totten four years, and Mr. Bache and Mr. Preston six years. The Regents elected Mr. Owen, Mr. Seaton, and Mr. Totten to the Executive Committee and appointed William W. Seaton as the chairman of the Executive Committee; that the chairmen of the Executive committee was to be the disbursing officer of the board's expenses and also the receiving officer of any sum authorized by the chancellor and secretary for such expenses.
  • The board also resolved to authorize the secretary to procure a book in which was to be recorded: the proceedings of the board, a description of the site selected by the board and signed by each member as well as the President, the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, War, the Navy, and the Commissioner of the Patent Office, the will of James Smithson, the act of Congress accepting Smithson's trust, the law establishing the Smithsonian Institution, and the certificates of the secretary of the Senate and clerk of the House of Representatives appointing the regents to the board from their respective houses.
  • The board then resolved that the chancellor be authorized to employ a recording clerk whose compensation was to be determined by the Executive Committee; that the chancellor appoint a committee of three to create a "plan to carry out the provision of the act to establish the Smithsonian Institution" and report that plan to the board at its next meeting, after which the Chancellor appointed Mr. Owen, Mr. Hilliard, and Mr. Bache; that consistent with the act to establish the Institution, which prescribes an average appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars annually for the formation of a library, a committee of three be formed to prepare a report on how to form this library and report back to the board at its next meeting, after which the Chancellor appointed Mr. Choate, Mr. Hawley, and Mr. Rush.
  • The board then resolved to adjourn to 10:00 AM the following morning.


  • Pennybacker, Isaac Samuels 1805-1847
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Dallas, George Mifflin 1792-1864
  • Hough, William Jervis 1795-1869
  • Hilliard, Henry W (Henry Washington) 1808-1892
  • Owen, Robert Dale 1801-1877
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Hawley, Gideon 1785-1870
  • Evans, George 1797-1867
  • Seaton, William Winston 1785-1866
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • Breese, Sidney 1800-1878
  • Preston, William C. 1794-1860
  • Board of Regents
  • Patent Office Building (POB)
  • Board of Regents Executive Committee
  • Board of Regents Special Committee
  • Board of Regents Executive Committee Committee on Organization
  • United States Congress House
  • United States Congress Senate
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Early History
  • United States President
  • United States Patent Office
  • United States President (1845-1849 : Polk)
  • United States. Secretary of State
  • United States. Secretary of War
  • United States. Secretary of the Navy
  • United States. Secretary of the Treasury
  • United States. Secretary of the Senate
  • Board of Regents Committee on Libraries
  • United States Congress House Office of the Clerk
  • Act to authorize President to prosecute claim of U.S. to Smithson legacy


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 1846/09/08 Regents Minutes
  • Board of Regents - Minutes of Meetings, 1846-


  • The Board of Regents elected its major officers and committee members: Chancellor, Secretary, Executive Committee, Committee on Organization, Committee on Libraries. The Committee on Organization and the Committee on Libraries were also given their first assignments.
  • Can also be found in published form in Board of Regents Reports 1846, published by John T. Towers

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 1, Board of Regents Vol. 1 (Bound volume)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


  • 1879
  • September 8, 1846


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men
  • Financial policies
  • SI, Early History
  • Board of Regents
  • Regents
  • Board of Regents--Financial policies


  • Election of officers
  • Board of Regents

Physical description

Number of pages: 2; Page numbers: 2-3

Full Record

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