Choate Urges Creation of a Public Library

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Senator Rufus P. Choate of Massachusetts gives an impassioned and urgent speech to the United States Senate, advocating the establishment of a grand and noble public library with the James Smithson bequest. He recommends that the contemplated Smithsonian Institution allocate $20,000 a year for twenty-five years toward such a project. Due in part to his efforts, the final bill which establishes the Smithsonian Institution contains a provision for a library.


  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • 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. 307-320.
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 21, no. 330, Article I. "James Smithson and his Bequest", by William J. Rhees. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1880, p. 37.

Contact information

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


January 8, 1845


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

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