Early Schools of Thought
With few national institutions on which to model their thinking, many Americans built their plans for the Smithsonian around the notion of a national university.
The debate moved quickly from, Should we create a national university? to What kind of a national university should we create?
"An institution for liberal and professional purposes, and for the promotion of original investigations?"
Better Living through Science?
Thomas Cooper, an English-born physician and president of South Carolina College who was known for his radical political views, advocated a school that could help to improve social conditions through practical advances in science.
Representative Robert Dale Owen of Indiana, who was influenced by his father, Robert Owen, founder of the utopian community at New Harmony, Indiana, spoke out for free public education. Owen introduced a bill that provided for a school to train teachers in natural science and
and to promote agricultural and chemical research.
A Place to Teach Natural History?
A professor at the University of Virginia, Robley Dunglison, wanted the bequest to be used for a school of natural history that would advance sciences of the type that interested Smithson, such as chemistry, geology, and mineralogy.
A University for the Classics?
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