Tappan Bill to Organize Smithsonian Introduced




Date: January 21, 1845


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Ohio Senator Benjamin Tappan reports from the Committee on the Library an amended bill, S. 18, for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution. He proposes a board of managers to conduct the business of the Smithsonian. The board is to consist of the Vice-President, the Chief Justice, three members from each House of Congress, and seven other persons not members of Congress, including two members of the National Institute who reside in Washington, and five members who are inhabitants of five different states. Joseph Totten and Alexander Dallas Bache, a close friend of the first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry, are recommended as the members of the National Institute. On January 23, bill S. 18 is passed by the Senate.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Tappan, Benjamin
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • National Institute
  • National Institution for the Promotion of Science
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Establishment of
  • Senate Committee on the Library


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is engraving of Senator Benjamin Tappan, c. 1840, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 2002-32256.
  • 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. 303-319.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, V6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, p. 206.

Contact information

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


January 21, 1845


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men
  • Board of Managers
  • Congressional Debates

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