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

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