First Meeting of the Establishment

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The first meeting of the "Establishment" of the Smithsonian Institution is held with President Zachary Taylor presiding. Section 5579 of the Revised Statutes of the United States provides that "The President, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Postmaster General, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice, the Commissioner of the [Patents], and the Governor of the District of Columbia, and any others elected as honorary members, constitute the Establishment." The principal object of this meeting is to elect honorary members: Dr. Robert Hare of Philadelphia, Albert Gallatin of New York, Dr. Benjamin Silliman of Connecticut, and Washington Irving, of New York.


  • Gallatin, Albert 1761-1849
  • Hare, Robert 1781-1858
  • Irving, Washington 1783-1859
  • Silliman, Benjamin 1816-1885
  • Taylor, Zachary 1784-1850
  • United States Attorney-General
  • United States Patent Office
  • Smithsonian Institution Establishment of
  • Postmaster General
  • United States. Secretary of State
  • United States. Secretary of War
  • United States. Secretary of the Navy
  • United States. Secretary of the Treasury
  • United States President
  • United States. Office of the Vice President


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Half-plate daguerreotype portrait of Zachary Taylor, by James Maguire, 1848. National Portrait Gallery, image number NPG.2010.116.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 834.
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, volume 18, number 329. "Journals of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1846-76, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc." William J. Rhees, ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1879, p. 771.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1849. Washing on, D.C.: U.S. Senate, p. 57.

Contact information

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


August 1, 1849


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