Joseph Henry's Letter to James Abram Garfield (May 3, 1870), May 3, 1870, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Ohio Representative James Abram Garfield, who later became the 20th president of the United States, May 3, 1870. In the letter, Henry asks Garfield to help petition the United States Congress for a small appropriation of funds to assist Major John Wesley Powell, a geologist and ethnologist, in completing a survey of the Colorado River..