Joseph Henry's Letter to Asa Gray (December 7, 1860)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Asa Gray, a Harvard University botanist, December 7, 1860. In the letter, Henry states his belief that African Americans should be recolonized in Africa, because he did not think that African Americans could "ever exist in close approximation with the white man, except in a state of slavery." Henry was involved in the American Colonization Society, which sought to found a state in Africa for African Americans.


  • Gray, Asa 1810-1888
  • Harvard University
  • American Colonization Society


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


2 pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 10, pages 183-184 (Document 97).

Contained within

Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 10, The Smithsonian Years: January 1858-December 1865 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2004), 183-184

Contact information

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


December 7, 1860

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Slavery
  • Secretaries
  • Letters
  • Botany
  • Botanists
  • African Americans


United States


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-0008 and SIA2012-0009

Physical description

Number of Images: 2 ; Color: Black and White ; Size: 7w x 10h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

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