John Quincy Adams Lectures on Smithson Fund

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Former President and now Representative John Quincy Adams delivers speeches before the Quincy Lyceum (13 Nov.) and the Masonic Temple in Boston to the Mechanic Apprentices' Library Association (14 Nov.). He emphasizes that no school, college, or university should be created using the James Smithson bequest, giving two primary reasons: 1) that the object of a university was not to increase knowledge, but diffuse that which already exists, and 2) that the business of educating America's children is a duty of the American people, who should not recur to a foreigner for their own responsibilities. Due to Adams' efforts, a school or national university was not created with the Smithson funds.


  • Adams, John Quincy 1767-1848
  • Masonic Temple (Boston, Mass.)
  • Mechanic Apprentices' Library Association
  • Quincy Lyceum
  • United States President


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Adams, John Quincy. The Great Design: Two Lectures on the Smithson Bequest. Wilcomb E. Washburn, ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1965., p. 60-61

Contact information

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


November 13/14, 1839


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Policies
  • SI, Early History
  • National University

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