Joseph Henry's Letter to Louis Agassiz (November 24, 1870), November 24, 1870, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Louis Agassiz, a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, and geologist, November 24, 1870. In the letter, Henry discusses the National Academy of Sciences and his belief that no institution seeking to influence the world of science should be subordinate to the government and depend solely on appropriations from the government to stay in operation. However, he notes that there are possible advantages to being linked with the government, including prestige, and claims that a 'National' institution must have a permanent home in Washington, DC. Henry goes on to discuss in detail his recent trip to Europe, and speaks highly of Switzerland., 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..