Joseph Henry's Letter to Asa Gray (March 22, 1870)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Asa Gray, a Harvard University botanist, May 22, 1870. In the letter, Henry discusses the finishing of a report concerning forest trees by Gray. He states that the National Academy of Sciences will be supported by funds left at his death by Alexander Dallas Bache, a close friend of Henry's and Smithsonian Regent, amounting to 50,000 dollars. Henry discusses two new organizations that were formed to combat the National Academy: the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, and the American Union Academy of Arts, Literature, and Sciences. He expresses his fear that the Washington, DC, based American Union Academy will try and obtain the Smithsonian funds once he departs the position of Secretary, and that the Institute will become a political organization.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Gray, Asa 1810-1888
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution
  • Harvard University
  • National Institute for the Promotion of Science


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


5 pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 11, pages 283-287 (Document 138).

Contained within

Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 11, The Smithsonian Years: January 1866-May 1878 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2007), 283-287

Contact information

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


March 22, 1870

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Trees
  • Political science
  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • Botany
  • Deaths
  • Reports
  • Forests and forestry
  • Funds
  • Botanists


Washington (D.C.)


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-3100 and SIA2012-3101 and SIA2012-3102 and SIA2012-3103 and SIA2012-3104

Physical description

Number of Images: 5 ; Color: Black and White ; Size: 6 3/4w x 10h; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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