Marsh Proposes Library for Smithson Bequest

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Representative George Perkins Marsh, of Vermont, delivers an extensive and eloquent speech to the House of Representatives urging the construction of a great library. Though Marsh wanted to direct the James Smithson bequest entirely to the purposes of a library, due to his efforts the annual appropriation for a library increased from $20,000 to $25,000 in the final bill to establish the Institution.


  • Marsh, George Perkins 1801-1882
  • 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. 371-387.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982, p. 465.

Contact information

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


April 23, 1846


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Policies
  • Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men
  • Libraries

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