Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

The Smithsonian Institution In 1846, an Act of Congress signed by President James K. Polk established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to administer the generous bequest of James Smithson, an amount over $500,000. In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist, drew up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulated that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he would in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The motives behind Smithson’s bequest remain mysterious; he had never traveled to the U.S. and seems to have had no correspondence with anyone there.

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