House of Representatives Proceedings, 04/22/1846

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  • The bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution is presented. Mr. Jones states that he shall vote against it. Mr. Owens makes a speech, initially discussing the duty that Congress has to James Smithson and the American people to delay no longer in establishing the institution. He then details the history of the fund and bills proposed. He discusses at length the Senate bill, also called the Library bill, in which a library is the recipient of the majority of the fund, along with professorship in natural sciences. Owen stresses practical knowledge and introduces and amendment adding a normal school branch, which would specialize in the training of teachers. He argues that this would be the most effective way of achieving a widespread increase in knowledge.
  • Mr. Jones proposes that the money be returned to Smithson's heirs as he believes Congress never had any right to accept the money in the first place nor to invest it in stocks. Mr. Ingersoll argued that the fact that Congress had invested in state stocks had no bearing on the question at hand. Mr. Ingersoll added that he agreed that a library should be the main form of the institution. Mr. Davis also argued that bill did not confer any powers and that it was to late to make the objection that the fund ought not to have been accepted. Davis did add that he believed that the federal government had no authority to take charge of education but that this bill did not attempt to do that. No votes on amendments were taken at this time.


  • Owen, Robert Dale 1801-1877
  • Ingersoll, Charles Jared 1782-1862
  • Jones, George W
  • Davis, Jefferson 1808-1889
  • Sawyer, William
  • Adams, John Quincy 1767-1848
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • United States Congress


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • Title 20, Education
  • Congressional Report


for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Contained within

The Congressional Globe, New Series (Book)

Contact information

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


  • 1846
  • 04/22/1846


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Trusts and trustees
  • Debates and Debating
  • Stocks
  • Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men
  • SI, Early History
  • Congressional Debates
  • Libraries
  • College teachers
  • Schools
  • Astronomy


Congressional Report

Physical description

Number of pages: 7; Page Numbers: 710-716

Full Record

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