Monday, August 22, 2016
A gift that keeps giving..............
Adams' other great preoccupation during this period was an astonishing windfall the United States had received in late 1835. A previously unknown British citizen named James Smithson had left $500,000 to the United States in his will to "found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men." Smithson was a gentleman scientist and sole heir to a large fortune. A reticent man with no family of his own and little social life, Smithson was never known to have uttered a word about the United States and gave no outward sign of democratic sympathies. His gift was, and remains, a mystery.
-James Traub, John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit