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Mary Henry Diary Entries, January-February 1861, on the Congressional Debates

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
For the fully digitized diaries see negative numbers SIA2013-02704 through SIA2013-02816 (Diary 1858-1863) and negative numbers SIA2013-01937 through SIA2013-02126 (Diary 1864-1868).

Entry from the diary of Mary Henry, daughter of Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, describing debates in the U.S. Congress prior to the secession of the Southern states. Mary observed the debates from the visitors' gallery.

Gales and Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress - 01/20/1836

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Debate over the number of copies of the report on the Smithson bequest, the President's message to Congress and Smithson's will that should be printed. Someone raises the question of what is to be done with the fund but the reply is that it would be premature to discuss a course of action before the money has been delivered to the Treasury.

Gales and Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress 04/30/1836

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
See S. no. 4 and H. R. 187 for versions of the bill under debate

The question is whether Congress should authorize the President to appoint an agent to accept the bequest. The issues under debate are whether the gift was to the United States or to the city of Washington and therefore whether Congress would be acting a beneficiary or a trustee, the relationship of Congress to the city of Washington, whether Congress had the power to establish a national university, and, if Congress could both accept the gift and establish the institution, whether the gift was being offered as a means for Smithson to achieve immortality and whether or not Congress wanted to aid him. The bill to authorize the President to appoint an agent to retrieve the money on the behalf of the United States was read for a third time and decided in the affirmative, yeas 31, nays 7.

Engraving of John Quincy Adams

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Engraving of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), President of the United States and Member of the House of Representatives, strongly supported acceptance of Smithson bequest and urged the creation of an astronomical observatory.

Alexander Dallas Bache

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Portrait of Alexander Dallas Bache, who was a director of the United States Coast Survey, an eminent scientist, and involved in the debates over the creation of the Smithsonian Institution. He strongly advocated creation of a scientific research institute and the appointment of Joseph Henry as the first Secretary. Bache also served on the Smithsonian Board of Regents. This photograph shows Bache from above the waist, looking slightly off to his left.

Alexander Dallas Bache

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Professor Alexander Dallas Bache was director of the United States Coast Survey and eminent scientist involved in the debates over the creation of the Smithsonian Institution. He strongly advocated creation of a scientific research institute and the appointment of Joseph Henry as the first Secretary. Bache also served on the Smithsonian Board of Regents and was a close friend of Joseph Henry.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 04/27/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The Speaker announces that the Smithsonian bill is the special order of the day. Mr. Cobb presents a resolution to close the debate on the bill. The resolution is rejected by a vote of 79-83.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 04/21/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
See HR 5

On a motion by Mr. Owen, the Smithson bill was postponed until the next day.

Thomas Cooper, M.D

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Thomas Cooper, M.D., scientist and educator from the University of South Carolina, and he was very active in the debates over creation of the Smithsonian Institution. Engraved by A.B. Durand from a drawing by C. Ingham, and it is dated October 22, 1829.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 02/10/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Mr. Owen presents a substitute for the bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution. The bill is referred to the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union

House of Representatives Proceedings, 12/19/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Mr. Owen presents a bill for the establishment of the Smithsonian institution. On his motion it is referred to a select committee of seven.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 01/27/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

The House receives the bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution. The House resolves themselves into a Committee on the Whole but the Smithsonian bill is laid on the table and the Oregon bill is taken up instead.

Senate Proceedings 06/01/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Mr. Dix from the Select Committee on the Smithsonian reports the House bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution with amendments.

Senate Proceedings, 08/07/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

An act to establish the Smithsonian Institution is passed over because of time constraints.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 04/12/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
See H. R . 5

Mr. Owen said that many members urged him to allow the postponement of the bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution for one week with the understanding that this would be the last postponement. Mr. Haralson proposed two weeks instead of one. The motion for the amendment was lost and the Smithsonian Institution was made the special order of the day for Tuesday April 21.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 12/04/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Mr. Owen gives notice that he would ask leave to introduce a bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 01/28/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

The bill for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution received on 01/27/1845 from the Senate is read and committed to the Committee of the Whole.

Senate Proceedings 04/30/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

The Act to establish the Smithsonian Institution was read. Mr. Lewis moved to have it referred to a select committee of three. The motion was agreed to.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 03/03/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

Mr. Owen and Mr. Adams make remarks on the Smithsonian bill. Mr. Adams moves that the bill be laid aside and the motion is agreed to.

House of Representatives Proceedings 02/28/1846

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
See H.R 5

Mr. Owen from the Select Committee on the Smithsonian reports back H.R. no. 5 with a substitute and a resolution that the report be printed and referred to the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union. Mr. Owen makes a statement that the business of establishing the Smithsonian was long overdue and proposed to establish a specific day in April when the subject could be taken up so that it would be impossible to lay it aside or refer it to a committee any longer. The bill is made the special order of the day for the second Tuesday in April.

House of Representatives Proceedings, 02/27/1840

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Mr. Adams asks to be given the floor to present a report from the Select Committee on the Smithsonian Bequest. An objection is made by Mr. Jones who wants to make a different issue the special order for the day. Objections are made to his request and in the end neither presented their matters of business.

Speech of Robert Dale Owen to 29th Congress, Sess 1, House of Representative

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
refers to the speech given by Rufus Choate in the Senate on 01/08/1845

Owen desires practical and widespread learning to be a part of the Smithsonian and therefore introduces his amendment to the bill, the section on adding a normal school branch to the Smithsonian in an effort to extend the benefits of the institution across the United States.

Speech of F. P. Stanton to the 29th Congress, Sees. 1, House of Representatives

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
See H. R. 5

Stanton's speech is in favor of the proposed bill. He responds to the objection that such a national institution is unconstitutional. He is in favor of the passage of the bill that provides for lecturers of sciences and agriculture and for an instructors of common school education. He suggests limiting the funds allotted to the library.

Senate Proceedings 01/09/1845

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 245, S. 293, S. 292, H. R. 5, H.R. 863, H.R. 259, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161, especially versions of H.R. and S. 18

The bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution is brought up again. The major points debated are professorships and the size and contents of the library. The debate focuses on the question of which specific areas of knowledge should be increased and diffused by the institution.
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