Smithsonian Institution

   James Smithson (1765-1829), an English chemist and mineralogist, was born in France, the illegitimate son of Sir Hugh Smithson (Percy) and Elizabeth Keate Macie. He made many important analyses of minerals and discovered an important zinc ore (calamine) which he gave his name to—smithsonite.
   This British chemist, who had no connection with the United States, left his entire estate of some $508,000 "to the United States of America to found at Washington under the name of The Smithsonian Institution an establishment for increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." There was only one catch. Smithson actually left the estate to his nephew, with the stipulation that should he die leaving no children, the estate would go to the Smithsonian Institution as just described. The nephew died in 1835—childless. One would imagine that a halfmilliondollar bequest would have been received with open arms. Not so. At the time there was much opposition to accepting this bonanza. John Forsyth, Secretary of State, told President Andrew Jackson that anyone offering such a large amount of money as a benefactor must be a lunatic. Vice President John C. Calhoun said it was beneath the dignity of the United States to receive presents of this kind from anyone. Some congressmen said the gift was an attempt by a foreigner to acquire immortality. Smithson died in Genoa, Italy, on June 26, 1829. In 1904, the Institution had his remains removed to Washington, D.C., under the escort of Alexander Graham Bell. Smithson is buried in a chapel in the main entrance of the Smithsonian building.
   An international conference at the Smithsonian Institution was responsible for the parity of major currencies, which came to be known as the Smithsonian parity.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Smithsonian Institution — Smithsonian redirects here. For other uses, see Smithsonian (disambiguation). Smithsonian Institution Rear view of The Castle , the Institution s headquarters Established August 10, 1846 …   Wikipedia

  • Smithsonian Institution — Informations géographiques Pays …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Smithsonian Institution — (Smithsonian) Zweck: Stiftung Vorsitz: G. Wayne Clough Gründungsdatum: 10. August 1846 Sitz: Wa …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Smithsonian Institution —   [smɪθ səʊnjən ɪnstɪ tjuːʃn], von J. Smithson per testamentarische Verfügung gestiftete, 1846 durch Kongressbeschluss begründete wissenschaftliche Einrichtung, Sitz: Washington (D. C.), die dem Präsidenten der USA untersteht. Zu den Aufgaben der …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Smithsonian Institution — [smith sō′nē ən] n. institution & museum founded in 1846 in Washington, D.C. by a bequest of James Smithson (1765? 1829), Eng. scientist: branches of the Institution cover a wide range of fields in the arts and sciences: also, unofficially,… …   English World dictionary

  • Smithsonian institution — (Smidsoniänn institjuschn), engl., von James Smithson gestiftete u. mit 120000 Pf. St. dotirte Anstalt zu Washington für wissenschaftliche Forschungen und Verbreitung nützlicher Kenntnisse; sie gibt seit 1847 einen jährlichen »Report« u.… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Smithsonian Institution — Smithsonian Institution, wissenschaftliches Institut in Washington, s. Smithson …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Smithsonian Institution — (spr. ßohnĭĕn institjuhsch n), wissenschaftliches Institut zu Washington in Nordamerika zur Unterstützung wissenschaftlicher Forschungen und Verbreitung nützlicher Kenntnisse, Stiftung des Engländers James Smithson (gest. 1829), 1846 gegründet. – …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Smithsonian Institution — /smith soh nee euhn/ an institution in Washington, D.C., founded 1846 with a grant left by James Smithson, for the increase and diffusion of knowledge: U.S. national museum and repository. * * * U.S. research institution. Enabled by the bequest… …   Universalium

  • Smithsonian Institution — La Smithsonian Institution es un complejo de museos con la mayoría de sus instalaciones en Washington, D.C. La forman 19 museos y siete centros de investigación, y tiene 142 millones de artículos en sus colecciones. Existe una revista publicada… …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.