National Memorial Commission met with President Hoover

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On December 5, 1929, the National Memorial Commission met with President Herbert Hoover and requested that he make available for the construction of the Memorial Building $1.6 million owed to African Americans and lost by the federal government. These funds consisted of the more than $300,000 in unclaimed pay owed to African American soldiers who served during the Civil War that was paid into the federal Treasury after the Freedmen's Bureau was abolished in 1872, and nearly $1.3 million owed to African Americans who lost their money when the Freedman's Bank collapsed in 1874. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon confirmed the legitimacy of the claims, but the funds were not made available to the commission.


  • Hoover, Herbert 1874-1964
  • Mellon, Andrew W (Andrew William) 1855-1937
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Memorial Commission 1929-1933
  • United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
  • Freedman's Savings and Trust Company


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The National Memorial Commission was created by Public Resolution 107 of the 70th Congress and signed by President Coolidge on March 4, 1929. Composed of twelve Presidential appointees, the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, and the Architect of the Capitol; the commission was charged with constructing "a memorial building suitable for meetings of patriotic organizations, public ceremonial events, the exhibition of art and inventions . . . as a tribute to the Negro's contribution to the achievements of America."
  • "The Time Has Come: Report to the President and to the Congress". National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission, last modified April 2, 2003,
  • S.J. Res. 132, 70th Congress (1929). Public Res. 107, 70th Congress.

Contact information

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


December 5, 1929


  • Law
  • History museums
  • Memorials
  • Law and legislation
  • New Museums
  • Museums
  • History
  • Legislation
  • Museums--Law and legislation
  • African Americans--History

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