US Is Notified of the Smithson Bequest

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Aaron Vail, Charge d'Affaires of the United States in London, writes to Secretary of State John Forsyth, to inform him that an Englishman named James Smithson has left a bequest to the people of the United States to found in Washington an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. Vail was notified by Smithson's solicitors, Messrs. Clarke, Fynmore & Fladgate.


  • Forsyth, John 1780-1841
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Vail, Aaron 1796-1878
  • Clarke, Fynmore & Fladgate
  • United States. Secretary of State
  • United States Dept. of State


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897., p. 25, 833
  • 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. 8-9

Contact information

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


July 28, 1835


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  • Major Events in Smithsonian History

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