Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents, Minutes, 1847

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  • Present: George M. Dallas, William W. Seaton, William J. Hough, Robert Dale Owen, Alexander Dallas Bache, Henry W. Hilliard, George Evans, Richard Rush. Also Present: Joseph Henry. The members not present were Roger B. Taney, Lewis Cass, Sidney Breese, Joseph G. Totten, Gideon Hawley, Rufus Choate and William C. Preston.
  • The committee appointed on the 5th of December "to procure the introduction, if they deem it expedient, of a bill amendatory to the act establishing the institution," made a report communicated to the editor of the "Union" and published in that paper on the 15th of February. The report stated that the committee, in "discharging the duty assigned them," considered an editorial published in the "Union" on February 11, and they "beg leave to offer, in reply, a few marks and a brief statement of their intentions." The report stated that the Building Committee had "exonerated" the board from choosing a site for the building on the mall rather than in the city, that no "suitable unoccupied" square existed in the city for the building, and that because the board was given only the powers set out in the act to establish the institution, it could not purchase an "already occupied" site in the city for the Institution's building.
  • The report went on to state that there was a site in the city that would be appropriate for the Institution, that of the present City Hall. However, "it is in the occupation of the city...and...can...receive no other public edifice. Without the concurrent action of Congress and of the City corporation it cannot be obtained as a site for the Smithsonian Institution." The report then stated that the committee, having its attention drawn to this subject not only by the previously referred to editorial, "have resolved to endeavor to obtain such concurrent action." The report stated that the committee examined the City Hall building and its plan, concluding that it was unfinished, "dilapidated," and would be extremely expensive to finish or renovate. Because Congress would probably never appropriate enough money to finish the project, and furthermore, because the building was completely unprofitable to the city, the committee estimated that a sum of fifty thousand dollars would be a "sufficient inducement to the city authorities to abandon" the building.
  • The report went on to state that the committee thought it advantageous to the Institution to pay the city fifteen thousand dollars for the use of "the materials of the City Hall." The only "remaining difficulty" then, was to make up the remaining thirty five thousand dollars of the fifty thousand dollars to be paid to the city, which the committee "believe[s] it to be just and expedient that Congress should appropriate." The report then stated that the committee "[has] introduce into Congress, without delay a bill to accomplish the desired object" and that on February 22, a "common council of Washington" passed a resolution stating "that it is the deliberate opinion of the two boards that the proposed change would not comport with the interests of the city." The report concluded stating that this vote "shuts out all prospect of carrying out the plan contemplated in the proposed bill," and that the committee had therefor abandoned and ceased to urge the Congressional passage of it.
  • The board then resolved that the Executive Committee be authorized to "procure a seal for the Institution, to comprehend the medallion head of Smithson, surrounded by the words 'Smithsonian Institution.'" The board also resolved that the secretary be authorized to receive from the Secretary of the Treasury, treasury notes to be obtained under a previous resolution, and to deposit them with the consent of the Secretary of the Senate, in the treasury of the Senate. The board then adjourned to meet the next Saturday, the 27th at 10:00 AM.


  • Seaton, William Winston 1785-1866
  • 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
  • Evans, George 1797-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Cass, Lewis
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • Hawley, Gideon 1785-1870
  • Breese, Sidney 1800-1878
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Preston, William C. 1794-1860
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Board of Regents
  • United States Congress
  • Board of Regents Committee on Buildings
  • Board of Regents Executive Committee
  • United States. Secretary of the Treasury
  • United States Congress Senate
  • United States. Secretary of the Senate
  • Board of Regents Special Committee
  • Smithsonian Seal
  • Washington, D.C City hall
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 1847/02/24 Regents Minutes
  • Board of Regents - Minutes of Meetings, 1846-

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
  • February 24, 1847


Seals (Numismatics)


Board of Regents

Physical description

Number of pages: 3; Page numbers: 36-38

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