John Quincy Adams' Bill for Smithson Legacy

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Mr. John Quincy Adams of the House of Representatives select committee reports bill H. 386, with the following provisions for the James Smithson legacy: establishment of a corporation of trustees, that all the money received from the bequest be placed to the credit of a fund called the Smithsonian fund, to be preserved undiminished and to bear interest at 6% per annum, that no funds will be applied to any educational institutions or ecclesiastical establishments, interest from the fund be used to erect an observatory and employ an astronomer plus assistants, as well as to purchase astronomical and other instruments, appropriations for a library for use of the observatory, and publication of observations made at the observatory and a nautical almanac.


  • Adams, John Quincy 1767-1848
  • United States President
  • United States Congress


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Rhees, William Jones. The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History: 1835-1899, Vol. 1, 1835-1887. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901, p. 235-238.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1879, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880, p. 177.

Contact information

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


April 12, 1842


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Education
  • Debates
  • Finance
  • Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Astronomy
  • Museum publications

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