Van Buren Solicits Ideas re Smithson Bequest

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President Martin Van Buren instructs Secretary of State John Forsyth to "apply to persons versed in science and familiar with the subject of public education for their views as to the mode of disposing of the fund best calculated to meet the intentions of the testator and prove most beneficial to mankind." This reinforces the notion that the Institution will be oriented towards the fields of science and education.


  • Forsyth, John 1780-1841
  • Van Buren, Martin 1782-1862
  • United States. Secretary of State
  • United States President


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. 145-146

Contact information

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


July, 1838


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Policies

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