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IS A VALUABLE MEMBER OF SOCIETY WHO, BY HIS OBSERVATIONS, RESEARCHES, AND EXPERIMENTS, PROCURES
CITY OF WASHINGTON
PUBLISHED BY THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
This volume forms the twenty-ninth of a series, composed of original memoirs on different branches of knowledge, published at the expense and under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution. The publication of this series forms part of a general plan adopted for carrying into effect the benevolent intentions of JAMES Smithson, Esq., of England. This gentleman left his property in trust to the United States of America to found at Washington an institution which should bear his own name and have for its objects the “ increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.'
This trust was accepted by the Government of the United States, and acts of Congress were passed August 10, 1846, and March 12, 1894, constituting the President, the VicePresident, the Chief Justice of the United States, and the heads of Executive Departments an establishment under the name of the “SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, FOR THE INCREASE AND DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE AMONG MEN." The members of this establishment are to hold stated and special meetings for the supervision of the affairs of the Institution and for the advice and instruction of a Board of Regents to whom the financial and other affairs are intrusted.
The Board of Regents consists of two members ex officio ci the establishment, namely, the Vice-President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the United States, together with twelve other members, three of whom are appointed from the Senate by its President, three from the House of Representatives by the Speaker, and six persons appointed by a joint resolution of both Houses. To this Board is given the power of electing a Secretary and other officers for conducting the active operations of the Institution.
To carry into effect the purposes of the testator, the plan of organization should evidently embrace two objects: one, the increase of knowledge by the addition of new truths to the existing stock; the other, the diffusion of knowledge, thus increased, among men. No restriction is made in favor of any kind of knowledge, and hence each branch is entitled to and should receive a share of attention.
The act of Congress establishing the Institution directs, as a part of thie plan of organization, the formation of a library, a museum, and a gallery of art, together with provisions for physical research and popular lectures, while it leaves to the Regents the power of adopting such other parts of an organization as they may deem best suited to promote the objects of the bequest.