Joseph Henry's Letter to Louis Agassiz (May 31, 1869), May 31, 1869, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Louis Agassiz, a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, and geologist, May 31, 1869. In the letter, Henry discusses a recent meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. He states that he does not expect any further appropriations from the United States Congress for the National Academy. It is also stated that Congress will not publish a volume of papers written by the Academy, and he foresees that in the future the Academy will have to be a self-supporting organization., The National Academy of Sciences was established on March 3, 1863, by an act of the United States Congress. The purpose of the Academy was to advance science and to advise the federal government on scientific matters. Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was named as one of the academy's fifty members and chaired its inaugural meeting in New York. He initially declined a leadership position due to his role at the Smithsonian, but would become the Academy's president in 1868. The Smithsonian furnished rooms in the Smithsonian Institution Building, or "Castle," to the organization for its meetings and library..