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REPORT OF THE SECRETARY, PROFESSOR HENRY, FOR THE
To the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution :
GENTLEMEN: I have again the honor to present to you another an. nual report of the operations and condition of the Institution which the Congress of the United States has placed under your charge. During the period embraced in this report, that of the year 1874, nothing has happened to interfere with the prosecution of the plans whicb have been adopted for “the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The Institution, having now existed upward of twenty-five years, has established a character and reputation in the eyes of the world, the tradition of which will tend to perpetuate the same policy, with only such improvements as experience may suggest, notwithstanding the changes to which the personnel of the administration may from time to time be subjected.
The following changes have taken place in the Board of Regents during the year: Chief-Justice Waite has been elected Chancellor of the Institution, in place of Chief-Justice Chase, deceased. Prof. Asa Gray has been elected Regent by Congress in place of Prof. L. Agassiz; Prof. J. D. Dana, in place of Professor Woolsey; Prof. H. Coppee, in place of William B. Astor; Hon. A. A. Sargent, in place of Hon. Mr. Trumbull; Hon. E. R. Hoar, in place of Hon. James A. Garfield ; Hon. G. W. Hazelton, in place of Hon. L. P. Poland; and Hon. George Bancroft, in place of General Sherman. The change in the government of the District leaves vacant, for the present, the position of Regent occupied by the governor of the District.
The resignation of General Sherman, on account of his change of res. idence to Saint Louis, Mo., leaves a vacancy in the executive committee. It gives me pleasure to present to the board, as an expression of his feelings toward the Institution, the accompanying letter.* It is proper to mention in this connection that during the interval between the death of Chief Justice Chase and the appointment of his successor, Mr. Justice Clifford, of the Supreme Court, presided as Chancellor of the board, and with the Secretary signed the requisition for drawing the semi-annual interest from the Treasury of the United States on the 1st of January, 1874.
Since the establishment of the Institution several different bequests have been made, intended to increase its usefulness ; but from none of these has anything as yet been realized, except from that of JAMES HAMILTON, Esq., of Carlisle, Pa., who bequeathed one thousand dollars
* See proceedings of the Board of Regents.
to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, the interest to be appropriated biennially for a contribution, paper, or lecture, on a scientific or useful subject. The money from this bequest has been received and placed in the Treasury of the United States, in accordance with the law of Congress authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to receive any money which the Board of Regents may obtain from gifts, or savings of income, on the same terms as those of the original bequest. The first instalment of interest of the Hamilton bequest has just been received, and will be appropriated in accordance with the will of the testator at the end of next year, and so on continually at the end of every two years. A statement of the manner of expending this income will be given in the accounts of the operations of the Institution, with due credit to the donor. His name will therefore appear from time to time in the annual reports, and thus be kept in perpetual remembrance.
When the public shall become more familiar with the manner in which the income of the additional bequests to the Smithson fund is expended, with the permanence and security of the investment, and with the means thus afforded of advancing science, and of perpetuating the names of the testators, we doubt not that additions to the fund in this way will be made until it reaches the limit prescribed by law of one million dollars.
Since the establishment of the Institution great change has taken place in the public mind as to the appreciation of the importance of ab. stract science as an element in the advance of modern civilization. At the time the bequest of Smithson was made the distinction between original research and educational instruction in science and literature was scarcely recognized. As an evidence of this it may be stated that, in answer to a circular-letter addressed to a number of the most distinguished writers in this country, asking what should be done with a fund intended to increase and diffuse knowledge among men, the unaniinous reply was, “ Establish a national university;" the idea of a uni. versity being at that time an institution simply intended to drill youth in the ancient classics, in the elements of mathematics and physical and moral science. The idea of an institution intended for the higher object of increasing knowledge, or enlarging the bounds of human thought by original research, had not dawned at that time upon the mind of the general public, and the plan proposed for realizing this idea was violently opposed by some of the most intelligent and influential men of the country. Happily, since then a great change has been effected both in this country and in Europe, and to effect this change the persistent policy of the Institution has contributed in no inconsiderable degree. The plan adopted of applying the income as far as possible to the promotion of original research and the distribution of a knowledge of the results through its publications, has received the approval of the civilized world. The Congress of the United States
has fully signified its appreciation of the plan adopted, by relieving the Institution from the support of a library and the National Museum.
Congress having made an appropriation of $20,000 for the support of the National Museum, almost the entire income of the Smithson bequest has been left free to carry on what is now considered the legitimate operations of the Institution. It was thought, however, desirable to retain a part of the income in order to make up the loss of last year, occasioned by the failure of the First National Bank of Washington. The whole amount of deposit in this bank at the time mentioned was $8,224.87. On this the Institution bas received 50 per cent., in two pay. ments, leaving a balance of $4,112.43. Toward making up this loss, the expenditure during the year has been less than the receipts by $3,683.31. The funds of the Institution are therefore in a favorable condition, as may be seen by the exhibit hereafter to be presented.
FINANCES. The following is a statement of the condition of the funds at the beginning
of the year 1875:
Smithson, of England, deposited in the Treasury of the
...... $515, 169 00 The residuary legacy of Smithson, received in 1865, deposited in the Treasury of the United States, in accordance with the act of Congress of February 8, 1867 ...........
Total bequest of Smithson....................... 541, 379 63 Amount deposited in the Treasury of the United States, as authorized by act of Congress of February 8, 1867, de. rived from savings of income and increase in value of investments ......
.............. 108, 620 37 Amount received as the bequest of: James Hamilton, of Carlisle, Pa., February 24, 1874 ...................... 1,000 00 Total permanent Smithson fund in the Treasury of the United States, bearing interest at 6 per cent.,
payable semi-annually in gold.................... 651, 000 00 In addition to the above there remains of the extra fund
from savings, &c., in Virginia bonds and certificates, viz: consolidated bonds, $58,700; deferred certificates, $29,375.07; fractional certificate, $50.13; total $88,125.20, Dow valued at.....
..... 35, 000 00 Cash balance in United States Treasury at the beginning of the year 1875 for current expenses........
15, 909 99 Amount due from First National Bank, Washington, 84,112.43, (present value unknown.) ............
Total Smithson funds January, 1875. ............. $701, 909 99
On comparing this statement with that made last January, it appears that the total amount of the fund has been increased during the year $6,683.31, viz: By the Hamilton bequest.......
.... $1,000 00 By the increased value of Virginia stock ......
2,000 00 By balance of unexpended annual income ......
$6,683 31 The Board of Regents and the Secretary will in future be relieved of all anxiety as to the safety of the semi-annual interest by the arrangement which has been made with the United States Treasurer to receive it as a deposit, and to make payments from it on checks of the Secretary, in the same manner as has been done heretofore in the First National Bank.
The Institution is indebted to General Spinner for his prompt acqui. escence in the proposition and for immediately carrying it out in all the details necessary to facilitate its operation.
Congress, at its last session, made an appropriation of $20,000 for the care and preservation of the specimens in the museum, and $10,000 for fitting up apartments in which the specimens are exhibited.
The uncollected coupons on the Virgiuia bonds held by the Institution were sold on the 9th of May, 1874, by Riggs & Co., with the following result: $1,200 Virginia coupons at 773 .......
$925 50 $2,322 Virginia coupons at 77 ....
$2,695 83 This amount was deposited with the Treasurer of the United States to the credit of the account of the current expenses of the Institution for the year.
Since the reports of the Institution are separately distributed to many persons who have not ready access to the whole series, it is necessary in each succeeding one to repeat certain facts which may serve to give an idea of the general organization of the establishment. The following statement is therefore repeated :
The publications of the Institution are of three classes, viz, the CONTRIBUTIONS to KNOWLEDGE, the MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTIONS, and the ANNUAL REPORTS. The first consist of memoirs containing positive additions to science resting on original research, and which are generally the result of investigations to which the Institution has, in some Fay, rendered assistance. The Miscellaneous Collections are composed of works intended to facilitate the study of branches of natural history, meteorology, &c., and are designed especially to induce individuals to engage in these studies as specialties. The Annual Reports, besides an account of the operations, expenditures, and condition of the Institution, contain translations from works not generally accessible to American students, reports of lectures, extracts from correspondence, &c.
The following are the rules which bave been adopted for the distribution of the several publications of the Institution:
Ist. They are presented to learned societies of the first class which in return give complete series of their publications to the Institution.
2d. To libraries of the first class which give in exchange their cata. logues and other publications, or an equivalent from their duplicate volumes.
3d. To colleges of the first class which furnish catalogues of their libraries and of their students, and all other publications relative to their organization and history.
4th. To States and Territories, provided they give in return copies of all documents published under their authority.
5th. To public libraries in this country, containing 15,000 volumes, especially if no other copies are given in the same place; and to smaller libraries where a large district would be otherwise unsupplied.
6th. To institutions devoted exclusively to the promotion of particular branches of knowledge are given such Smithsonian publications as relate to their respective objects.
7th. The Annual Reports are presented to the meteorological ob. servers, to contributors of valuable material to the library or collections, and to persons engaged in special scientific research.
The distribution of the publications of the Institution is a matter which requires much care and judicious selection, the great object being to make known to the world the truths which may result from the expenditure of the Smithson fund. For this purpose the principal class of publications, namely, the Contributions, must be so distributed as to be accessible to the greatest number of readers, and this will evidently be to large central libraries.
The volumes of Contributions are presented on the express condition that, while they are carefully preserved, they shall be accessible at all times to students and others who may desire to consult them, and be returned to the Institution in case the establishments to which they are presented at any time cease to exist. These works, it must be recollected, are not of a popular character, but require profound study to fully understand them; they are, however, of importance to the professional teacher and the popular expounder of science. They contain materials from which general treatises on special subjects may be elaborated.