Imatges de pÓgina
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223. (Lord Advocate.) An estimate is laid before Parliament by the treasury? Yes.

224. And the estimate goes into details? Yes. 225. It is an arrangement between the trustees and the treasury what part shall go to each department? Yes, in the first instance.

226. The sum advanced to each department must be applied to each department ? Exactly. The officer of each department states previously to the trustees what sum he wishes to have for his department, and they refer that to the finance committee, who consider everything, and draw out an estimate.

COMMUNICATION FROM THE SECRETARY.

To the committee to which was referred the resolutions of Mr. Fitch relative

to the distribution of the income of the Smithsonian Institution, and of Mr. Meacham, relative to the presentation of estimates for the

year

1854.

GENTLEMEN: I have the honor herewith to transmit you communications from Professor Jewett and Professor Baird relative to the resolutions of Mr. Fitch and Mr. Meacham, and to accompany them with such remarks and suggestions as I deem it my duty to offer as the responsible agent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.

The length of Mr. Jewett's communication, the fact that it was not presented to me before the evening on which the committee were to meet, and the multiplicity of engagements to which I am at this time subjected, must be my apology for retaining it so long in my possession.

It would extend this paper beyond all proper bounds to give a specific reply to every statement and verbal criticism made by Mr. Jewett in his elaborate communication, and I shall therefore merely notice those which have the most important bearing on the subject. I, however, beg leave to assure the committee that I am ready to give a satisfactory answer to every point which they may consider of the slightest importance.

I am not surprised at the general character and tone of Mr. Jewett's remarks, for almost from the first day of our intercourse I have been made familiar with the state of his feelings in regard to the policy of the Institution. I need not say that his views and my own have constantly been at variance, though I have endeavored to make his position as pleasant to him as possible, and to allow him all the freedom of action compatible with the faithful discharge of my duty as the responsible officer of the Institution. I must say,

however, that I am surprised that he should accuse me, by implication at least, of dishonesty, and an attempt to carry measures through the Board by means unworthy of a gentleman, and inconsistent with the character which I have endeavored to sustain in all my dealings through life. My surprise is still more increased to find that he presents the honorable gentlemen who attended the meeting of March 12, 1853, in the light either of the dupes of the secretary or of his accomplices in wrong doing.

The Board of Regents have on no occasion, within my recollection, transacted business without a legal quorum, and Mr. Jewett ought not to have taken advantage of the accidental omission, by the clerk, of the name of the mayor on the record, to make so emphatically the assertion that there were but four of the Regents present, particularly since be was himself in attendance at the meeting, and suggested the nomition of the mayor as one of the committee.

Mr. Jewett attempts to make it appear that the secretary has pursued an underhanded line of policy, in relation to the subject before the committee, in publishing bis remarks in bis annual report, and in omitting to insert the proceedings of the Board in the report of the Regents to Congress. It was necessary that the annual report of the Regents should be presented to Congress before the 4th of March, the day of adjournment. It was therefore presented on the first day of that month. But amidst the press of business at the close of the session, it was found impossible to assemble a quorum of the Board until after the adjournment of Congress. The final meeting, therefore, took place on the 12th, and it is evident that the proceedings of this meeting could not have been inserted without an anachronism in the report which had been presented to Congress on the first of the same month.

The remarks of the secretary, however, to which Mr. Jewett refers, were a part of his report on the condition of the Institution, and were, therefore, properly inserted in the place in which they appear. The whole course was precisely the same as that which had been pursued on a previous occasion, and without the least idea in the mind of the secretary as to any bearing which it might have on the consideration of the resolutions of Mr. Fitch.

The statements made by the secretary as to the tendency of the Institution, the increase of expenses, &c., which led to the resolutions of Mr. Fitch, were presented to the Board without any commuuication with any person on the subject, and without the slightest idea at the time that any immediate action in reference to them would be taken; and no other action than that of appointing a committee was taken—a committee which could not meet, without much expense to the Institution, until the next annual session of the Board of Regents.

In what the secretary has done in this matter and in all of his proceedings, he is conscious of having been guided by an unselfish desire to advance what he conceives to be the best interests of the Institution. He has no personal interests involved in the settlement of the questions before the committee, and even should the Board decide against him, and he be obliged, as some of his assailants have asserted, to leave the Institution, while he would regret that the usefulness of the Smithsonian bequest would be abridged by the change of policy, yet, he is confident his own comfort and true reputation would be promoted.

Professor Jewett appears to think it a crime in the secretary to have had regard to the will of Smithson, in presenting a plan of organization to govern the operations of the Institution. The secretary was directed to confer with literary and scientific men, and 10 present such suggestions as might be deemed important in settling the details of the organization, and why should he not have regarded the will of Smithson?

The Board had decided that they were by the ninth section author

ized to expend a portion of the income in the way they might deem best suited for the promotion of the purpose of the testator. It was, therefore, the duty of the secretary to give suggestions and deductions from the will of Smithson, and it was the duty of the Board to say how far these suggestions were in accordance with the law of Congress, and 10 adopt or reject what they might deem proper. Besides this, the secretary would be wanting in truth and duly, if he did not point out any defect which he conceived to exist in the act of incorporation-for while the will of Smithson can never be changed, the act may receive amendments. He is free to declare now, as he was when the programme was first presented to the Board, that, in his opinion the words of the will ought to be interpreted as liberally as their import indicates, and that to confine the benefits of the Institution to one place, or even to one nation, would be at variance with a just interpretation of the words among men.He is also of opinion, that if the law as it stands at present does not afford the requisite authority for the active operations, which he is by no means disposed to admit, its provisions should be immediately altered to authorize these the most important of the objects of the Institution.

But, while he makes these declarations, he denies the assumption on his part of any power which would tend to violate the existing law.

In the construction of a law of Congress, it cannot be denied that the intention of the legislature in the enactment of the law ought to be considered; but this intention is not to be gathered, as Mr. Jewett would make it appear, from the views expressed in the speeches of a small number of members, nor even from the independent views of those who may have proposed any amendments which were adopted; for these views might not have been the same as those of a majority of the members who voted for the act. The intention of the legislature as a whole is to be gathered from a comparison of the several parts of the law itself, and from the evident object for which it was enacted. Now, what was the object of the law relative to the Smithsonian bequest ? Evidently to carry out the will of Smithson, namely: “ to increase and diffuse knowledge among men.” It was therefore proper to consider, whether the interpretation of the law which would restrict the application of the income to the collection of a library and museum, would fully carry out this intention. Though a library and a museum may be considered as means of increasing and diffusing knowledge among men, they cannot be regarded by any proper interpretation of the terms as accomplishing in themselves the object intended. They are among the implements for producing a desired end, but not the end itself. It could not be supposed that Congress, after a critical examination of the will, could have regarded the library and museum other than aids in accomplishing the objects in view, and therefore it became necessary to inquire whether the law itself did not admit of an interpretation more in accordance with the intention of the testator than that which would restrict the expenditures to these objects.

The whole subject was in effect fully considered and decided by the Regents at their first session, and by men well qualified by professional knowledge and experience, io interpret the law. Among these, besides the Chief Justice of the United States, were six members of Congress,

and the President of the Senate, who may be considered as the legal representatives of the very legislature that enacted the law, and therefore well fitted to interpret its provisions.

They found that the law of Congress admitted of a more rational and liberal construction than that to which Mr. Jewett is desirous to restrict it. The very first section of the act indicates something more extended than a mere organization for the purpose of forming a library and museum. It constitutes an establishment by the name of the Smithsonian Institution, consisting of the President and certain other officers of the United States government, and the mayor of Washington, " for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” This body has the character of a learned society, with the power of choosing honorary members, of holding meetings, and enacting by-laws for the government of the Institution. Such an organization is wholly at variance with the narrow views which would limit the duty of the members to a single agency in collecting a library and museum, having no choice of the means by which the important objects of the corporation were to be effected.

The business is to be conducted by a Board of Regents, consisting also of some of the highest functionaries of government, and citizens of different States of the Union, who shall elect a presiding officer under the scholastic name of chancellor, and a secretary, who shall also be secretary of the “Institution.” Has the first part of this act no significance? Are the ex officio members of the “establishment," and the honorary members, whom they are authorized to elect, merely intended as supernumeraries? This body "may advise and instruct the said Board of Regents.” Now, if the law of Congress gave such precise instructions to the Regents that there was no latitude or room for discretion, of what use would be the separate organization of the establishment, with its members, honorary members, and its specially appointed secretary; and if they have power, then it must follow that they may inquire in what way the increase and diffusion of knowledge can be best effected.

It would seem indeed to require no latitude of construction to discover in the whole spirit of the law, and especially in the provisions of the 9th section, complele warrant and authority for the Board to look to the true meaning and design of the testator, whose very language is incorporated into the law itself, as the guiding and controlling principle both of the organic legislation and of all future administrations under it.

At the beginning of an untried experiment, with respect to the shaping of which many discordant opinions existed, Congress thought proper to impress upon the Institution certain features which should be embraced within its organization, but for the execution of these, excepting for the building, no time was specified, and no scale of expenditure definitely prescribed. The building, indeed, being calculated for all time and all contingencies, was to be projected “on a liberal scale," and it is to the building that these words in the act apply, and not, as Mr. Jewett would make it appear, to the library and museum. It is true that in due time the building will be filled with specimens of natural history, a library and a gallery of art, and the liberal scale will then also apply to these objects.

The question as to the introduction of the active operations, warranted by the 9th section of the act is purely one of time. Mr. Jewett contends that a library and museum on a liberal scale must not only be provided for, but actually established before anything else can be done with the money, but the act, as we have said before, applies the words “liberal scale" to the building, and leaves the regents free to adopt a more judicious course, namely, to proceed cautiously, and to expand the scale of the collections as circumstances may offer. The very words of the act for the “gradual formation of a library,” indicate this

Of a similar opinion was the committee of organization, who, after enumerating the specific recommendations of the charter, added :

" Your committee are of the opinion that the task assigned them would be ill performed if they stopped short here and neglected to avail themselves of the authority liberally and wisely, they think, conferred upon the Board, after providing for the above special objects, to such extent as they may think necessary and proper to dispose of the funds actually accruing in such manner as they shall deem best suited for the promotion of the purpose of the testator.”

The Regents have, therefore, decided this matter. On them and not on the secretary devolved the construction of the charter. The secretary has, indeed, always entertained an opinion on the subject, but with due submission to the judgment of the Board, to which its determination is referred by law.

The secretary is also charged with a violation of honor and faith in presenting suggestions to the Board which would tend to change a set of resolutions adopted prior to experience in order to harmonize conflicting views. These resolutions were known by the name of the "compromise,” a term which has at present a political significance, which gives to the suggestions of the secretary a color which, in justice, they ought not to bear.

But what is the real history of the case? An Institution was left to the management of a number of intelligent men, each desiring, it is to be supposed, to adopt the plan best calculated not to advance the interest of himself or his friends, but to produce the greatest amount of good. One party was of opinion that a certain course should be taken, another party, that another plan should be adopted, and, in order that both might be tried an intermediate provisional course was chosen. Experience, however, has since proved, in the opinion of the secretary, that this intermediate course afier fair trial is attended with evils. Is it not his duty to present his views on the subject to the Board, who are supposed to have no predilections, but to be governed by an earnest desire to ascertain the truth?

In answer to the charge that the secretary has “ actually commenced a violation of the compromise,” it might be sufficient to repeat the remark made in his report for 1852, " that if all the items which might properly be charged to the side of the library and collections were added to that side of the account, the balance up to the present date would be in favor of the active operations,” and further, that the library and museum, during the past year, have received within a few dollars of one-half of the whole appropriation made for that period. It is true the secretary expended during 1853 a part of the income de

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