Opinion on Objects of Natural History Belonging to the Government

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Attorney General J. S. Black responds to a query from the Honorable Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior, as to whether objects of natural history belonging to the government are to be placed in the Smithsonian Institution. He affirms that 1. The object of natural history belonging to the government are to be placed in the Smithsonian Institution; 2. Implied repeals are not to be favored; 3. An earlier law is never to be taken as repealed by a later without words to that effect, unless they be so inconsistent that both cannot stand together. Thus, 5 Stat 534 and 10 Stat 572, which place the objects of the Exploring Expedition in the Patent Office do not mean that they should not eventually be transferred to the National Museum at the Smithsonian when Congress supplies appropriations to the Smithsonian for their care, as Congress did on 3 March 1856, based on 9 Stat 102.


  • Thompson, Jacob 1810-1885
  • United States Attorney-General
  • United States Dept. of the Interior
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Patent Office


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 9 Op. Att'y Gen. 46 (1857)
  • Title 20, Education
  • Opinion of the Attorneys General

Contained within

Official Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States (Book)

Contact information

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


  • 1866
  • 06/10/1857


  • Legal opinions
  • Natural History
  • Specimens
  • National Collections
  • Natural history


Opinion of the Attorneys-General

Physical description

Number of pages: 3; Page Numbers: 46-48

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