Graphical timeline from Smithson to Smithsonian
From Smithson to Smithsonian - The Birth of an InstitutionAll-American Compromise

Who Was James Smithson?
Sccepting Smithson's Gift
All-American Compromise
The Smithsonian Building
An Institution Emerges
A National Collection
Smithson's Legacy

A National Scientific Institute?

Many scientists argued that because Smithson had been a scientist, the institution that would bear his name should devote itself to promoting original scientific research and publishing results.

Alexander Dallas Bache
Alexander Dallas Bache

Alexander Dallas Bache, who was Benjamin Franklin's great grandson and Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, championed the use of the Smithson bequest to support basic scientific research.

"I am most anxious that this fund should furnish means of scientific research in this country & that the institution should thus supply a want which all of us feel to exist unsupplied by our Colleges & Universities."
—Smithsonian Regent, Alexander Dallas Bache,
September 15, 1846

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