Joseph Henry A Life in Science

Learn about the scientific research of Joseph Henry (1797–1878), first Smithsonian Secretary and renowned physicist, and how he helped set the Institution on its course.

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Career as Science Administrator

"The worth and importance of the Institution is not to be estimated by what it accumulates within the walls of its building, but by what it sends forth to the world."1–Joseph Henry, 1852

Joseph Henry Portrait Within four months of the Smithsonian Institution's establishment, the American physicist Joseph Henry (1797-1878) was elected by the Smithsonian's Board of Regents  as its first Secretary in December 1846. The regents selected Henry for his reputation as one of the nation’s most accomplished scientists, and according to a resolution passed by the regents just prior to his election, met the requirements as "a man worthy to represent [the Institution] before the world of science and of letters."2 Though required to leave his own research behind, Henry accepted the position out of concern for the state of American science, his sense of duty, and his commitment to public service.3 While some said Henry lacked "executive talents," he would successfully lead the Smithsonian for over thirty years.4

James Smithson Engraving In his will of 1826, English scientist James Smithson left his estate "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." In the decade after the United States learned of the bequest, many ideas were put forward about how to use Smithson's gift—a national university, library, museum, scientific research laboratories, or astronomical observatory, among others. Former President John Quincy Adams argued for an observatory, US Representative George Perkins Marsh advocated a great library, and Secretary of War Joel Poinsett set forth the need for a national museum. After much debate over how to spend the money, Congress finally passed a law establishing the Smithsonian in 1846,  incorporating many of these ideas, except the concept of a national university. The legislation was broad, providing for a "suitable building," containing a museum, scientific laboratories, library to serve as copyright depository, gallery of art, and lecture halls. The act gave a great deal of discretion to the regents in shaping the early programs of the Smithsonian, and even included a clause directing them to spend funds in accordance with their own interpretation of Smithson's intent. As chief executive officer and secretary to the regents, Joseph Henry would have a major role in shaping the Smithsonian and, upon taking office, attempted to mold the Institution in keeping with his own ideas. He proved an effective advocate for scientific research facilities and opponent of the library, but was never able to divest the Institution of its role as the United States National Museum.5  


Programme of Organization for Smithsonian Institution Joseph Henry considered the Smithsonian's primary mission to be the support of basic research, an area where the United States lagged.6 "There is no civilized country in the world in which less encouragement is given than in our own to original investigation," Henry wrote to his close friend and colleague Alexander Dallas Bache, just a day after his election as Secretary. Henry's "Programme of Organization" for the Smithsonian, which he presented a year later, stated the Institution's first priority was "to stimulate men of talent to make original researches, by offering suitable rewards for memoirs containing new truths." Accordingly, no articles in physical science would be accepted for publication which did "not furnish a positive addition to human knowledge, resting on original research."

Chemical Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution Building Henry intended to support projects involving original research only until others could take them over. "Cooperation and not monopoly" was a phrase he frequently used to describe what he saw as the Smithsonian's ideal role as a research incubator and institutional partner.7 One of the first programs he undertook was to establish a national network of meteorological observers to supplement the Navy Department's meager and unreliable support of its own program and the Army's collection of weather data at military posts.8 In 1848, Henry offered to support the first official investigation of food quality and contamination if federal funding for the project fell through.9 A few months later, he offered to provide a small grant to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia for natural history research by a promising young naturalist, Spencer Fullerton Baird. Henry asked that the formal request for funds "mention that the researches cannot be properly prosecuted unless with the aid required from the Smithsonian Institution," as justification for the grant.


Cover of Smithsonian "Contributions to Knowledge Volume 1" Henry's commitment to supporting research was carried out primarily through the Smithsonian's publication of scholarly books and articles that would otherwise "never see the light," as Henry put it.10 The Smithsonian, Henry explained, would not publish any work with "sufficient popular interest" so that its cost could be covered by sales of the work, but "if on the contrary it will not pay for itself then it ought to be published by the Institution." For geologists and natural historians, in particular, whose work often included expensive illustrations, publishing their own studies "frequently cost more than they [could] afford to expend," wrote Henry.

Ephraim George Squier, 1872, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2012-6120 or 84-11135. Edwin Hamilton Davis Henry devoted much of his first year as Secretary to preparing the inaugural volume of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, which he considered the most important element of the Smithsonian's work. In a letter to Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis, the authors of the work comprising this first volume, Henry explained that studies being considered for publication would be "submitted to a commission of competent judges and if any part is found objectionable it is stricken out, or the memoir is rejected." Henry also insisted that "any theoretical matter except in a very subordinate degree" be left out, as work was to consist primarily of new information. "[Y]our positive addition to the sum of human knowledge should stand in bold relief," wrote Henry. In response to criticism that the seemingly arcane and esoteric topics addressed by Smithsonian Contributions were a waste of money and not in keeping with Smithson's intent, Henry countered  that "all knowledge is useful . . . . The discovery of today, which appears unconnected with any useful process, may . . . become the fruitful source of a thousand inventions."11 Henry also responded by expanding the Smithsonian's annual report to Congress to include articles on new research that would be of interest to a much broader audience.12

Spencer Fullerton Baird

"The publications and exchanges are in my opinion the most important operations of the institution and cannot be placed secondary to any thing else," wrote Henry in 1857 to Assistant Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird, who was largely responsible for these two programs. Henry had developed a plan in which scientific publications from throughout the world would be sent to the Smithsonian for distribution to individuals, learned societies, and libraries in the United States. American publications would be sent in exchange, duty-free. As a result, in 1852 the Smithsonian transmitted nearly eight thousand American works and received over five thousand foreign publications for distribution. In the Institution's annual report for that year,   Baird estimated that three-fourths of the scholarly materials exchanged between the United States and Europe were sent through the Smithsonian system.13 


Henry felt his greatest burden as Secretary was the Smithsonian's responsibility, as mandated by Congress, for the national collections and a museum to display them.14  Shortly after his election as Secretary Henry wrote, "I would make the Institution a living establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men generally and not among those alone who happen to live in Washington or cassually [sic] visit that city." Henry also worried that the Institution could "become a mere curiosity shop"—"an omnium gatherum of the ods [sic] and end of creation"—and that its funds would quickly be depleted as a result.15 While the collections would continue to grow, the Institution's income, which derived from the annual interest on Smithson's bequest, was relatively static.

Museum of the United States Patent Office In addition to caring for specimens sent directly to the Institution—ten thousand were received in 1849 alone—the Smithsonian became the custodian of the national collections formerly housed at the Patent Office. Although Henry long resisted the transfer of these objects to the Smithsonian, he finally agreed to accept them in 1857. Henry may have believed that the annual federal appropriation accompanying the collections would defray the cost of caring for the growing number of items already at the Smithsonian, allowing him to spend more on other programs. Henry was also friendly with the patent commissioner, who was eager to rid the Patent Office of the collections and agreed to support the Smithsonian's meteorology program with funds it received for its agricultural division. It is likely the two struck a deal. Whatever Henry's motive, he mistakenly believed the federal government would eventually take responsibility for the collections and free the Smithsonian of the obligation for their care.16 

Ornithologist Cataloging Specimens, Natural History Laboratory, in the Smithsonian Institution Build "Few persons have an idea of the labor, constant care, and expense which attends the proper preservation of a series of objects of natural history," Henry later wrote in his annual report to Congress,  which failed to increase its annual appropriation six years after the national collections were transferred. In addition to having to care for these items, the Institution continued to receive an overwhelming number of artifacts and specimens from land surveys, expeditions, and military excursions. In 1868, Henry again urged Congress to increase its appropriation for the collections and museum, but was unsuccessful. "Our principal encumbrance," he wrote to German colleague Felix Flügel, "is the Museum and the building connected with it. Could I succeed in transferring these to the Government, my mission in regard to the Institution would be fulfilled." Congress finally agreed to increase its annual appropriation for the museum from $4,000 to $10,000 in 1870 and to $15,000 in 1872.17 With increased funds, Henry believed the National Museum , which he long considered a "discredit" to the Smithsonian, could be improved enough that the government might be induced to take it over.18  

While Henry failed to rid the Smithsonian of the national collections and the National Museum, he encouraged the curatorial practice of distributing duplicate specimens to museums throughout the world.19 He also temporarily transferred the Institution's herbarium, consisting of fifteen- to twenty-thousand specimens, to the US Department of Agriculture, and sent human remains and related specimens to the Army Medical Museum in exchange for its ethnological collections.20 "The more we give away the richer we are," he wrote to botanist Asa Gray in 1870. Despite Henry's concerns about the financial demands of a museum, many members of the Board of Regents supported the museum and assistant secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird devoted his career to its development.

LIBRARY AND ART GALLERY Gallery of Art in the Smithsonian Institution Building The Smithsonian was also required to maintain a national library and an art gallery, and because Congress mandated that new publications be sent to the Smithsonian library for copyright deposit, it quickly began accumulating books. Although Henry had initially agreed to a compromise whereby half of the Smithsonian's annual income would be devoted to the library and museum, he successfully persuaded the regents to rescind the compromise in 1855. During the year leading up to the regents' decision, a public conflict erupted between Joseph Henry and the Smithsonian's librarian, Charles C. Jewett, who along with several regents believed the Institution should also serve as the national library. When Henry fired Jewett, and shortly thereafter fired another assistant over an unrelated matter, Congress conducted an investigation of Henry's actions, but exonerated him from any wrongdoing. Henry set a precedent for independence from political interference during this incident, but continued to be concerned about the rapidly expanding library.21 In 1866, however, following a fire in the Smithsonian Building, he succeeded in transferring much of  the library's collection to the Library of Congress. The Smithsonian's enabling act also provided for a Gallery of Art, and the Institution quickly amassed a collection of art works including portraits of important Americans and copies of classical works of art. Despite the Gallery's popularity, Henry believed it had limited or "local" impact, reaching only those who visited the nation's capital. Thus, the regents also approved Henry's transfer of the Smithsonian's art collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art when it opened in 1874. The collection returned decades later when the courts ruled that the Smithsonian was the national gallery of art for the United States.


Filled Lecture Hall in the Smithsonian Institution Building Henry's program for the Smithsonian included a lecture series, which proved to be quite popular. The lecture room was frequently filled and Henry had no problem attracting speakers. As he wrote to botanist John Torrey in 1850, "we find no lack of lecturers and are almost every day requested to invite some one." To be selected was a great honor since lecturers were selected from the American scholarly elite. Henry recognized the series made friends for the Smithsonian in Washington, and hoped that those who lectured would express positive opinions of the Institution once they returned home in "defiance to the assaults of those who are ignorant of its true character."22 Henry found administering the lecture series to be difficult, though, in part because he felt compelled to manage logistical arrangements for each lecture and to oversee issues that arose with the lecture room itself.23

Henry also allowed outside groups to use the lecture hall, but his policy prohibited discussion of "any subject connected with sectarianism, discussions in Congress and the political questions of the day."24 In 1862, however, Henry discovered that a group to whom he had given permission to use the hall had scheduled a series of lectures by prominent abolitionists. Feeling betrayed, Henry insisted that a statement be read prior to each lecture disclaiming Smithsonian responsibility; Henry's decision was not well-received by the public and resulted in negative press coverage. After the lecture series was over, Henry limited outside use of the hall to public schools for award ceremonies, but when the hall was destroyed in the major fire that struck the Institution in 1865, Henry eliminated the lecture program altogether.25


Smithsonian Institution Building In January 1847, shortly after his election as Secretary, Joseph Henry wrote to his wife Harriett that despite having tried his best to prevent a large expenditure on an elaborate edifice to house the Smithsonian, he feared that "nothing but a large building immediately erected will satisfy the Washingtonians." Later dubbed "the Castle," the Smithsonian Institution Building  was designed to evoke the cloistered, scholarly atmosphere associated with venerable English colleges. Henry, however, considered it a "fantastic and almost useless building, an "immense absorbing reservoir" of the Institution's funds, and "a sad mistake."26 Between 1846 and 1850, some $169,000 was spent on the building and grounds, whereas Henry spent less than $18,000 on publications, research, and lectures.27 The regents attempted to preserve as much money as possible by constructing the building over a period of five years. Henry remarked that by the time it was completed, he hoped "to see generally acknowledged the gross injustice of putting the support of the museum of the government of the united states on a small fund the bequest of a foreigner for another object." In 1853, Henry wrote to English colleague J. H. Lefroy of the possibility that the government would purchase the building for a museum to house the national collections then still at the Patent Office. "If this proposition can be carried into effect," he remarked,  "we shall be able to do twice as much as we are now doing for science."

Fire in Smithsonian Institution Building The Smithsonian's finances were further strained by the fire that struck its building in 1865. "The cost and maintenance of a building of the character which has been erected, so far from being necessary to the most efficient realization of the intentions of the founder, have been a constant source of extraneous expense," Henry wrote in the Smithsonian's annual report to Congress that year. "A single wing of the edifice is sufficient to carry on all the essential operations of the Institution," he continued. After submitting the report, he wrote to friend Nancy Clarke Fowler Bache, wife of Alexander Bache, that he was attempting "to induce Congress to rent the upper story of the main edifice for the museum of the medical Department of the army; or for the use of the Agricultural Department." Henry feared the building would "absorbe [sic] all the income, and leave nothing for the active operations to which my life has been devoted."28 Despite Henry's concerns, the distinctive building, designed by architect James Renwick and so different from the classical buildings of the capital city, soon became the symbol of the new Institution and its dedication to the "increase and diffusion of knowledge."


Floor Plan of Smithsonian Institution Building (1849) Due to his opposition to the size and design of the Smithsonian Institution Building, Henry came to an agreement with the regents that half of the Institution's annual income, which totaled around $31,000, would help fund its construction.29 In part because the money available for carrying out the Institution's programs was, therefore, quite limited, Henry micromanaged expenditures. "I am frequently vexed to learn that I am accused of meanness in the administration of the affairs of the Institution," he wrote to Yale scientist Benjamin Silliman in 1850. He went on, "I am frequently asked why do you not have more lectures. My indignant answer is—why did you demand such high towers." 

The Smithsonian's income derived from two sources: the annual interest earned on the principal of Smithson's bequest and the approximately $242,000 in interest, deposited in the US Treasury, that had accrued on the bequest during the eight years between its arrival in  the United States and the Smithsonian's establishment. The construction of the Smithsonian Institution Building was to be primarily funded by the latter source, but after three years of construction, Henry proudly announced that a relatively small percentage of it had been spent. Fearing this money, if not spent on the building, was vulnerable to misuse or being poorly invested, Henry asked Congress to add it to the principal of the Smithson bequest, but Congress initially declined to do so. Henry was left with little money to carry out the Institution's mission, and argued both publicly and privately that "the programme is too broad for our income." 30   

The original Smithson bequest remained intact at the end of the Institution's first decade, and less than half of the accrued interest had been spent on the building; the remainder would eventually be added to the principal.31 The Smithsonian's finances later suffered during the Civil War, when the government's payments of interest earned on the bequest were late and, after January 1862, were made in devaluated currency instead of gold. The government was also unable to provide timely payment of its annual appropriation for the national collections, and the Institution lost about $4,000 a year in interest on state bonds when some of those states joined the Confederacy. Henry's response, according to Baird, was that "all superfluous expenditures were to be lopped off, and the most rigid economy exercised."32

After the 1865 fire, and the discovery that the building's construction had been defective, Henry successfully persuaded Congress to resume interest payments in gold. He was ultimately successful in obtaining retroactive payments in gold back to January of 1862.33  


Henry saw his strict management of the Smithsonian's funds as essential to maintaining the Institution's independence from the federal government. By carefully managing its finances, he believed, the Smithsonian could avoid the congressional interference that would result from the Institution having to ask the government for money. Accepting federal appropriations, wrote Henry in his 1849 annual report, "would annually bring the institution before Congress as a supplicant for government patronage, and ultimately subject it to political influence and control."34     

George Mifflin Dallas, Chancellor of Regents The Smithsonian's status as a trust organization—the federal government's role was essentially to serve as its trustee—gave the Institution a unique position in Washington, although in 1858 it began to receive annual federal appropriations to support the national collections. Unlike executive branch agencies, the Smithsonian did not have an explicit mission restricting it to a particular focus and was controlled by an independent governing body, the Board of Regents. The congressional regents came from both parties and neither they nor the Smithsonian's Secretary were appointed by the President of the United States. The Smithsonian was also free of direct congressional oversight, despite several attempts during Henry's early tenure to establish a "Smithsonian Committee" in Congress. Early congressional inquiries regarding the transfer of the national collections and Henry's dismissal of subordinates were resolved in the Smithsonian's favor and reaffirmed the authority of the regents to independently manage the Institution.35 The regents shared Henry's goal of keeping the Smithsonian politically neutral, which the Board's Committee on Organization noted in its 1847 report: "[We] would deeply regret to see party tests and party wrangling obtrude themselves on the neutral ground of science and education."36   

Once the national collections were transferred to the Smithsonian, Henry became a persistent advocate for increasing the annual appropriation that accompanied them. By insisting the government provide the funds required to support the collections and museum, Henry hoped to preserve the Institution's endowment and fiscal independence for the programs he considered most essential. Two years after the Smithsonian Building was struck by the 1865 fire, requiring an estimated $150,000 in repairs, Henry wrote that he "had so much to do in the way of directing and adjusting the affairs of the Institution that I could scarcely give a thought to other matters," but that the Smithsonian was now "in a better condition, both in regard to finance and organization, than ever before."37

Henry worried, however, that after he was gone the Institution might "fall . . . under political sway." "Congress is unwilling," he wrote in 1869, "to publish anything which is not of a popular character and which the members cannot distribute among their constituents as a complimentary recognition." In 1877, he remarked on two papers he had received that were unworthy of publication, noting that after his death such articles "might be adopted by the Institution under the pressure of the authority by which they are backed." One had been presented by the secretary of war, the other by a senator.38 In its first decades, however, the Institution's scholarly independence and integrity were firmly established and maintained under his successors.


Despite the challenges and setbacks he experienced in his nearly thirty-two years as the Smithsonian's first Secretary, Joseph Henry garnered tremendous respect for the Institution's work. The Smithsonian became central to the growth of American science in the 19th century due to Henry's commitment to supporting the work of scientists and scientific projects that others could or would not take on. Henry failed to persuade the federal government to take control of the national collections and museum, but he was successful in convincing the Congress to provide funds to support these programs. As a result, basic research also remains an essential function of the Smithsonian, just as the Institution's founders and Joseph Henry believed it should be.



Marc Rothenberg, "Joseph Henry: First Smithsonian Secretary," Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Kathleen Dorman, "Joseph Henry: Public Servant," Smithsonian Institution Archives.

"Crowdsourcing Since 1849," Smithsonian Mobile Castle Highlights

Aly DesRochers, "Smokin’ Smithsonian," Smithsonian Institution Archives The Bigger Picture, January 24, 2012.

Bibliography of Joseph Henry Resources.



1Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1852 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1853), 20. Return to text

2 William Jones Rhees, "The Smithsonian Institution: Journals of the Board of Regents, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc., 1846 to January 26, 1876," in vol. 18 of the Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1880), 11. Return to text

3 Marc Rothenberg, Kathleen W. Dorman, John C. Rumm, and Paul H. Theerman, eds., The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, vol. 6 of The Papers of Joseph Henry (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1992), xiv. Return to text

4 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, 554; Marc Rothenberg, Paul H. Theerman, Kathleen W. Dorman, and John C. Rumm, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1847–December 1849, vol. 7 of The Papers of Joseph Henry (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1996), xxiii-xxiv. Return to text

5 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, 463, 469, 471. Return to text

6Joseph Henry to George Bancroft, 21 November 1867, in The Smithsonian Years: January 1866–May 1878, Marc Rothenberg, Kathleen W. Dorman, and Frank R. Millikan, eds., vol. 11 of The Papers of Joseph Henry (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2007), 158-161. Return to text

7 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1847–December 1849, xviii; Joseph Henry, "Statement of Professor Henry in Reference to Lorin Blodget, February 1855; Joseph Henry to Elias Loomis, 18 January 1856; and Joseph Henry to Joseph Leidy, 19 April 1856, in The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857, Marc Rothenberg, Kathleen W. Dorman, and Frank R. Millikan, eds., vol. 9 of The Papers of Joseph Henry (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2002), 197-204, doc. 112 and 308, doc. 175 and 353, doc. 200 and xix-xx. Return to text

8 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1847–December 1849, xxvii; James Rodger Fleming, Meteorology in America, 1800-1870 (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 68-73. Return to text

9 Rothenberg, et al., eds.; and Joseph Henry to Lewis C. Beck, 17 March 1848; and Joseph Henry to Lewis C. Beck, 24 March 1848, The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, xxvii and 286-287 and 291. Return to text

10 Joseph Henry to Samuel Foster Haven, 10 October 1847, The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, 211. Return to text

11 Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1856 (Washington, DC: A.O.F. Nicholson, Printers, 1857). In the Annual Report for the Year 1856, Henry wrote of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, "every well established truth is an addition to the sum of human power, and though it may not find an immediate application to the economy of every day life . . . the world will not fail to realize its beneficial results." Return to text

12 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857, xxv. Return to text

13 Marc Rothenberg and Kathleen W. Dorman, eds., The Smithsonian Years January 1850-December 1853, vol. 8 of The Joseph Henry Papers (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1998), xxv-xxvi. Return to text

14 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846, 467. In 1850, Regent Jefferson Davis argued on the floor of the Senate that the act establishing the Smithsonian, while imposing an obligation on the part of the government to deliver the national collections, did not require the Smithsonian to accept them. Return to text

15 Marc Rothenberg, and Kathleen W. Dorman, eds., The Smithsonian Years January 1850-December 1853, xviii. Return to text

16 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857, xxix-xxxii. Return to text

17 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1866–May 1878, xxxii. Return to text

18 Joseph Henry to Felix Flügel, 14 August 1871; and Joseph Henry to Asa Gray, 23-25 October 1871, The Smithsonian Years: January 1866–May 1878, 357 and 373. Return to text

19 Marc Rothenberg, Kathleen W. Dorman, and Frank R. Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1858–December 1865, vol. 10 of The Papers of Joseph Henry (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2004), xix-xx. Return to text

20 The National Herbarium was transferred back to the Smithsonian in 1894 and the physical anthropology collections were returned in 1904. Return to text

21 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857, xiii-xxii. Return to text

22Annual Report for the Year 1852  (Washington, DC: A. Boyd Hamilton, 1852), 28; Michael F. Conlin, "The Smithsonian Abolition Lecture Controversy: The Clash of Antislavery Politics with American Science in Wartime Washington," Civil War History 46, no. 4 (December 2000): 303. Return to text

23 Rothenberg and Dorman, eds., The Smithsonian Years January 1850-December 1853, xxiii-xxiv. Return to text

24Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1857 (Washington, DC: William A. Harris, Printer, 1858), 36; Conlin, "The Smithsonian Abolition Lecture Controversy: The Clash of Antislavery Politics with American Science in Wartime Washington," 305-306. Henry occasionally permitted lectures on political topics when they were in agreement with his own views. Return to text

25 Kathleen Dorman, "'Interruptions and Embarrassments': The Smithsonian Institution during the Civil War," Smithsonian Institution Archives; Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1858–December 1865, xxxi-xxxii, xlii. Return to text

26 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1858–December 1865, xlii. Return to text

27 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1847–December 1849, xxiii. Return to text

28Joseph Henry to Asa Gray, 22 March 1870, The Smithsonian Years: January 1866–May 1878, 285, doc. 138. Return to text

29 Rothenberg, and Dorman, eds., The Smithsonian Years January 1850-December 1853, xxvi. Return to text

30 Ibid., xxvi. Return to text

31 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857, xxxvi. Return to text           

32 Dorman, "'Interruptions and Embarrassments': The Smithsonian Institution during the Civil War" ; Spencer F. Baird to Felix Flügel, 9 March 1861, Private Outgoing Correspondence, 1849-1888, Baird Papers, Record Unit 7002, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Return to text

33 Rothenberg, Dorman, and Millikan, eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1858–December 1865, xli; Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1865 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1866), 118. Return to text

34Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1849 (Washington, DC: Printers to the Senate, 1850), 21.  "After an experience of three years," Henry continued, "I am fully convinced that the true policy of the institution is to ask nothing from Congress except the safekeeping of its funds; to mingle its operations as little as possible with those of the general government, and to adhere in all cases to its own distinct organization," and "that it is desirable that Congress should place as few restrictions on the institution as possible." Return to text

35 Rothenberg, et al., eds., The Smithsonian Years: January 1847–December 1849, xxv-xxvii. Return to text

36 Report of the Organization Committee of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC: The Office of Blair and Rives, 1847), 16. Return to text

37 Henry cited the estimate of $150,000 in his 1866 annual report to Congress. Return to text

38Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1875 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1876), 38. Return to text