What is the skinny on the Smithsonian?
James Smithson (1765-1829), the illegitimate child of a wealthy Englishman, 1st Duke of Northumberland, traveled extensively throughout Europe most of his life, never married, had no children. He maintained a sizable inheritance from his mother and other relatives. So, why leave his estate to a country foreign to himself?
In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to "the United States of America, to found at Washington, DC, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Smithson's curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.Noteworthy Note: Smithson's estate totaled half a million dollars, which was 1/66 of the United States' entire federal budget at the time.
|The Smithsonian's Castle|
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO
History is so fascinating filled with so much wonder and awe. While it may not be feasible to drop everything for a visit to the Smithsonian, at least within our age of advanced technology lies a plethora of resources without even leaving the house!
Let your fingers do the walking...
Explore & Upload
Educators, Families, Students
SMARTNEWS: Keeping you current