Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents, Minutes, 1855

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  • Present: Roger B. Taney, John T. Towers, James A. Pearce, Stephen A. Douglas, James M. Mason, William H. English, James C. Meacham, David Stuart, Alexander Dallas Bache, Joseph G. Totten, John M. Berrien, Rufus Choate, and Richard Rush. Also present: Joseph Henry. The member not present was Gideon Hawley.
  • A communication from J.W. Simonton,the Washington editor of the New York Daily Times, and S. Thayer, of the New York Evening Post, was read asking permission to attend meetings of the board. Mr. Meacham moved the request be granted and lost the vote. The resolutions recommended by the report of the Select Committee on the distribution of income were adopted. These repealed the compromise resolutions of 1847 which required the equal distribution of the Smithsonian income be divided between "active operations" and the Library and Museum by a vote of 8 yeas and 6 nays and required that appropriations be handled annually on the basis of the importance of the operation by a vote of 9 yeas and 5 nays. Remarks were made by Messrs. Choate, Pearce, Douglas, and Berrien.
  • James Meacham proposed several resolutions in his rebuttal minority report requesting that a large portion of the income of the Institution be dedicated to the formation of a library and that library expenses be made under the direction of a library committee. These resolutions were rejected by votes of 4 yeas to 9 nays and 3 yeas to 10 nays respectively. James Pearce brought a motion that was adopted to create a committee of three to confer with a committee of The Establishment to facilitate communication between the two bodies. The Chancellor appointed Messrs. Mason, Douglas, and Totten to this committee. The Treasurer, William W. Seaton, then made a statement of the condition of the finacnces of the Institution which was referred to the Executive Committee. The board then adjourned to meet Saturday, January 13th, at 10:00 am.


  • Meacham, James C
  • Pearce, James Alfred
  • Stuart, David
  • English, William Hayden
  • Mason, James Murray
  • Seaton, William Winston 1785-1866
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • Towers, John Thomas 1811-1857
  • Douglas, Stephen Arnold
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Berrien, John McPherson, 1781-1856
  • Hawley, Gideon 1785-1870
  • Board of Regents
  • Smithsonian Library
  • Smithsonian Museum
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • Regents Minutes
  • Title 20, Education
  • Board of Regents - Resolutions

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 1, Board of Regents Vol. 1 (Bound volume)

Contact information

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


  • 1879
  • January 12, 1855


  • Controversies
  • Finance
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • History
  • National Collections
  • Libraries and museums
  • Libraries--History
  • Research


Board of Regents

Physical description

Number of pages: 3; Page Numbers: 114-116

Full Record

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