Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents, Minutes, 1850

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  • Present: Millard Fillmore, William W. Seaton, James A. Pearce, Jefferson Davis, William F. Colcock, Graham N. Fitch, and Henry W. Hilliard. Also present: Joseph Henry. The members not present were Roger B. Taney, James M. Mason, Alexander Dallas Bache, Joseph G. Totten, Rufus Choate, Gideon Hawley, Richard Rush, and William C. Preston.
  • The proceedings of the previous meeting were read. A verbal report on the proposal of Mr. Harmon for the improvement of architecture in the U.S. was made by the Secretary, accompanied by a summary of Mr. Harmon's plan; the Secretary stated that he "considered no part of Mr. Harmon's plan to be absolutely at variance with the programme of organization, but he was not clear with regard to its practical application, and the propriety of its adoption," but it could be made public through the regent's report to Congress. A synopsis of the plan was considered, after which the board resolved to adopt the first part of it after being amended to read "that the architects be invited to send in designs for building, and that notice be given that models of ancient or modern architecture will be received by the Smithsonian Institution, and that such designs or models, at the discretion of the Regents, will be placed in the gallery of art."
  • The second and third articles were struck out, and the board resolved "that the fourth article be referred to a committee, consisting of the Secretary and Mr. Seaton, with instructions to ascertain from Mr. Harmon what is his his plan of re-executing the architectural drawings, and the probable cost" and that the rest of the summary of the plan be laid on the table. The Secretary presented the board with the resignation from the Building Committee of Joseph G. Totten; the resignation was accepted and Jefferson Davis was elected to fill the vacancy. A map of the public grounds to the West of the Capitol was presented to the board, and their attention was "called to the recommendation of a general plan for improving the Mall." The Secretary directed the attention of the board to a part of the building contract which needed clarification, and requested that the regents express their opinion regarding what sum should be paid annually to the contractor.
  • The board then resolved that, having "examined the building contract, for the purpose of determining its true construction," that it was the opinion of the board that the contractor was entitled to forty-one thousand dollars for the work done during that year, deducting there-from 15 per cent., which is to be paid him at the end of the five years, with six per cent. interest." The Secretary presented a report from Charles C. Jewett regarding the subject of copyright, which was referred to a committee consisting of Jefferson Davis, James M. Mason, and James A. Pearce. The board then adjourned to the 23rd of that month at 10:00 AM.


  • Colcock, William Ferguson
  • Fitch, Graham Newell
  • Seaton, William Winston 1785-1866
  • Davis, Jefferson 1808-1889
  • Fillmore, Millard 1800-1874
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Hilliard, Henry W (Henry Washington) 1808-1892
  • Pearce, James Alfred
  • Mason, James Murray
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • Harmon, Mr
  • Jewett, Charles C (Charles Coffin) 1816-1868
  • Hawley, Gideon 1785-1870
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Preston, William C. 1794-1860
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • United States Congress
  • Board of Regents Committee on Buildings
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Early History
  • Board of Regents
  • Smithsonian Year
  • Board of Regents Ad hoc committees
  • Assistant Secretary in charge of the Library
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 1850/02/09 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 9, 1850


  • Architecture
  • Contracts


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)


Board of Regents

Physical description

Number of pages: 2; Page numbers: 59-60

Full Record

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