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Washington, and particularly so when I was requested to nominate you as the selection of a majority of the Board of Regents. I could comply with this request, with the conviction that you were well qualified for the office."
I produce these extracts 10 show
1. That there was real cordiality on my part, a sincere desire to harmonize with the secretary.
2. That I had reason to suppose that he felt a like frank cordiality towards me.
3. That he knew that my only wish and object in being connected with the Institution was to be concerned in the formation of a great library, and that it was only in the belief that he cheerfully acquiesced in that plan, under the resolutions of the Board of Regents, that I accepted the office tendered to me.
The action of the Board previous to the adoption of the compromise fixing the appropriation for the library “for the present" at $20,000 was not rescinded by the compromise, but on the contrary, declared by the committee on organization to be in accordance with it. (See report, page 21.) But the money was not expended, although during the year 1848 extraordinary opportunities occurred for the cheap purchase of books.
By the friends of the secretary's plans it was proposed to expend but little money for books previous to the completion of the building, and devote most of the available funds to the publications and researches.
As this proposition seemed equivalent to the abandonment of the library plan, it was not, of course, regarded with favor by the friends of the library. It seemed at one time likely to open anew the old discussion.
But the matter was settled by an agreement on the part of Professor Henry and others that previous to, as well as after, the completion of the building the equal division of the funds contemplated by the compromise resolutions should be observed.
In proof of this, I refer to the following letter from the Hon. George P. Marsh:
WASHINGTON, February 28, 1855. DEAR Sir: Your letter of the 27th instant propounds to me the following queries :
Ist. Did not Professor Henry promise you that the equal division of the income required by the compromise should be observed before as well as after the completion of the building ?
2d. Did he not understand that you would bring the matter before Congress unless the compromise were observed before the completion of the building as well as afier?
3d. Was it not well understood, wbile you were a member of the Board, that Professor Henry was under obligation to keep the compromise ?
I have the following statement to make by way of answer to these questions :
As a member of the House of Representatives and of the Special Committee of the 29th Congress, which reported a bill for the organi
zation of the Smithsonian Institution, I took an active part in procuring the passage of the law under which the Institution went into operation, and amendments proposed by me constituted some of the most important features of the law.
Although not a member of the Board of Regents until 1847, I continued to take an interest in the management of the Institution, and especially in the plan for the formation of a large miscellaneous library, which I had advocated in the House of Representatives, and I had frequent conversation with Professor Henry, and with other persons influential in the Board, on this subject. In these conversations, the compromise resolutions and the questions, whether those resolutions rescinded the order for the appropriation of $20,000 for a library ; whether that order was to be construed as authorizing a single expenditure or an annual appropriation of that sum, until the building should be completed; and, if the order was rescinded, what application should be made of the income of the Institution in the mean time, were discussed. My own opinions were adverse to the compromise as a departure from the spirit if not the letter of the law, and I thought, moreover, that, in the incipient measures of the Institution, the compromise was not impartially administered, the library not being regarded, as it appeared to me, with the favor due to it as a question of expediency, and by the terms of the compromise itself. On all these points the opinions of Professor Henry, and on many of them, as I understood, those of a majority of the Board were in opposition to my own, and I determined to bring the subject before Congress, and apprised Professor Henry of this purpose.
I had now several conferences with Professor Henry, which resulted in an understanding between us at the time I took my seat in the Board, that we should act together in sustaining the compromise, and that, so far as our influence extended, the expenditure of the income of the Institution should, from that time, be divided as nearly as might be, equally between the library and what were called "active operations."
In pursuance of this understanding, I relinquished my intention of moving the subject in Congress, and though neither Professor Henry nor myself surrendered our previous opinions, we both, as I understood, regarded such an arrangement as the best that could be made under the circumstances, and, so far as I was acquainted with Professor Henry's course, our action was entirely harmonious during my continuance in the Board.
In the spring and summer of 1848, I was extremely desirous that a liberal appropriation should be made from the fund by way of anticipation, in order to take advantage of the unprecedented facilities for cheaply purchasing books afforded by the political convulsions of that year in Europe, but Professor Henry was adverse to this proposal, and, as I considered myself, as well as Professor Henry, bound by the understanding above referred to, I, though with much reluctance, refrained from pressing it before the Board.
Upon the whole, then, my answer to each of your inquiries is substantially in the affirmative. I am, sir, respectfully yours,
GEORGE P. MARSH. Professor C. C. Jewett, Washington.
The equal division of the funds was commenced and followed for several years, the schedule of accounts was made to conform to it, and the secretary frequently alluded to it in his reports, stating that it had been rigidly observed, and implying that good faith required its observance.
Thus, matters continued till Protessor Henry began to vary from the division. The variation was at first supposed to be merely to meet a passing exigency. But the whole distribution of the annual appropriations was virtually left in the hands of the secretary. The appropriations were made in lump, and he assigned them to particular objects. His allowing less freely for the library, however, would not have occasioned any unpleasant discussion, had he not, in the interview to which I have alluded in my testimony, (and which I still think occurred in December, 1852,) expressed his firm determination to set aside the compromise, and endeavored to induce me to unite with him in effecting its abrogation without any open discussion.
Previous to this time, I had no idea that Professor Henry was cherishing towards me the feelings which he avows in his statement. I did not suppose that he considered me in the light of an intruder and an opponent. I felt a cordial interest in all the affairs of the Institution, and a sincere willingness to waive all personal preferences, and not to press the interests of the department particularly entrusted to my care.
I cannot sufficiently regret that Professor Henry had not, in frankness, acquainted me with his real sentiments towards me. We might thus have been spared many unhappy passages.
It seems that Professor Henry was all the time under the influence of a feeling, that, in yielding to the direction of the Regents in nominating an assistant secretary to act as librarian, he had parted with a prerogative; and he seems to have been not less under the impression that some power over the other officers, which he might claim under the law, had been taken from him by the Regents. He has since alluded to this in a way to show that his desire to recover his position led him to wish to exercise himself the power of removal, and thus reassert a lapsed authority.
It is singular that the secretary, after manifesting such indignation concerning charges against the Regents, should here himself represent them as trenching upon his prerogatives, in disregard of the law, and in opposition to the best interests of the Institution, and that, too, in one of their first acts after his appointment.
I repeat, in the most solemn manner, that, so far as I believe, the source of all the troubles in the Institution is solely Professor Henry's determination to set aside the compromise, and the means which he took to effect
. The course wbich he actually took with reference to the compromise is set forth in the paper communicated by me to the special committee of the Regents, and in my reply to Professor Henry's answer to the
The only issue which I have ever made with Professor Henry was in my refusal to co-operate with him in violating the compromise, and in defending myself against the measures which, in execution of his plan, he took to depress me.
From my first connexion with the Institution, I had proposed the formation of a set of by-laws and regulations defining the objects of the Institution and the spheres of the officers. This he had never favored. I cannot but think that by adopting it, much, if not all, the subsequent trouble would have been avoided.
I am not aware that there were any circumstances relative to my nomination that were not perfectly open and proper. Mr. Choate did not, so far I know, ever propose me as secretary. He certainly did not vote for me for that office. The record shows that I was the choice of a majority of the Board and not simply of Mr. Choate.
Professor Henry states that I entered fully upon my office about a year after my appointment, and at my earnest request to be admitted before the expiration of the expected time. This is disproved by the record. I was appointed on the 26th of January, 1847, and informed that I might expect to be called into full service and the receipt of my salary in about two years. It was on the 6th of January, 1849, iwo years less twenty-one days from my appointment that a resolution was passed calling for my full service, and allowing me full pay from the first of that month. Such is the record.
I am utterly surprised at the statement that I would render him no assistance unless as the head of an independent department and a co-equal. I set up no such pretensions. I rendered cheerfully all assistance in my power. I arranged the lists and books, and agencies for the exchanges, aided him in the correspondence, and never, so far I know, manifested reluctance to do for him anything but to be made his amanuensis. The claim of independence was never set up by me from first to last, in any instance or manner.
If it should be inferred from Professor Henry's statement that I had ever manifested or felt any reluctance to show to him any letters received or written by me on the business of the Institution, the inference would do me great injustice. I am utterly at a loss to account for the feelings which Professor Henry seems to have cherished on this subject.
I consider it a sacred right for every one to open for himself, or by persons authorized by himself, all letters directed to him. I have never, so far as I know, left town for a day without making arrangements to avoid delay with respect to my correspondence. Letters addressed to me and received at the Institution were directed to be opened there by a person authorized by me to that effect, and nothing of an official character was ever, to my knowledge, withheld from the secretary.
Professor Henry states that the money expended on the stereotyping was to be charged to the library account. I must state that when the esperiments in stereotyping were commenced, there was a distinct and perfectly understood arrangement that the expenditures should be charged to the account of general expenses; because it was supposed that the art would be as useful to the “ active operations” as to the library. The bills were so assigned till, on making up the accounts for the year 1852, Professor Henry finding the library side much less than that for active operations, transferred the whole item for stereotyping, without consulting me, from the account of general expenses to the library account.
The allusions of Professor Henry to a part of my report for the year 1852, at which he took offence, are, according to my recollections, correct in scarcely a single particular. I made no elaborate criticisms upon his report, nor did I, so far as I remember, allude to the parts of his report which he quotes. The remarks which I made related, I believe, to a single point which I had often heard Professor Henry discuss, but which I was not aware at the time he had referred to in any published report. They were argumentative and perfectly respectful, and had, as I supposed, no traceable reference to the secretary.
As soon as I had written the report, I read it to Professor Henry, as I was accustomed to read all my reports to him. He listened to it attentively, and said that he did not approve of all parts, but he would not object to my presenting it. He expressed no offence and appeared to take
I heard nothing more of the matter till several weeks afterwards, just as I was about to read my report in the meeting of the Regents, Professor Henry came to me and requested me not to read that passage. I accordingly omitted it. I do not think that I saw the paper again for months. Just before it was to be printed Professor Henry told me that he considered the passage alluded to an insult to him. I disclaimed all such intention, and reminded him of what he said when I first read it to him. He then referred me to a passage in one of his reports to which my remarks might seem to be a direct reply. I withdrew the whole report and said he might publish whatever he pleased of it. The passage to which he objected was not printed. This is the real state of the case so far as I know it.
Professor Henry mentions in this connexion the circumstance of my taking offence, as he states it, at being sent for by a servant. I remember that on some occasioa a message was saucily delivered to me by a servant. On the secretary's disclaiming sending such a message, the circumstance was overlooked and entirely forgotten by me, until it was recalled to mind by the statement of Professor Henry a few evenings · since. I do not remember the replies which he states that he made to me on that occasion, and am positive in my recollection that this conversation, whether it occurred upon that or some other occasion, had on my part no connexion with or reference to any other subject of discussion.
As to the impression of Professor Henry, that I would shake the Institution to its centre if the compromise was disturbed, if I were foolish enough to make such a threat, I cannot see how anybody could consider it other than simply ridiculous. Professor Henry has been pleased to represent that I was the only person really interested in the library plan. I have considered myself as merely an officer to whom, under the Regents, were entrusted certain limited duties in connexion with this plan. I knew that the plan itself had numerous and powerful friends, who were watching its course with interest, not unmingled with anxiety, and who would be seriously affected by any attempt to dispossess it, and hence alone my remark that such an attempt as he proposed would shake the Institution to its centre.
I have nothing to alter in the testimony which I gave with reference to the interviews with Professor Henry. I have stated the tone of the interviews and the connexion of the conversations to the best of my