Joseph Henry Spars with Stephen A. Douglas over Mission of the Smithsonian, June 24-25, 1852, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, At a meeting of the United States Agricultural Society held at the Smithsonian, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois attacks the Smithsonian for a lack of "practical results" and claims it "is not what it was designed to be by its founder." According to a local press account, Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry countered that he would rather blow up the Smithsonian and send the funds back to England than turn it into an agricultural society, as Douglas had suggested. It was reported that Henry went on to argue that "Smithson intended not the diffusion of useful knowledge merely, but the increase of knowledge," and "that agriculture is to be more advanced by the microscope than by the plough and harrow." Douglas and Henry would later apologize to each other, and Douglas would become a Smithsonian Regent in 1854, remaining on the board until his death in 1861..