Imatges de pàgina

ence and control over the business, while he has no direct responsibility for the conduct or actual state of any department.

“There may be many cases, certainly, in which it is not expedient only, but necessary that the board should deliberate in the absence even of the principal librarian, or of the heads of departments ; but there must be exceptional cases, and considering the persons who are heads of departments, and the knowledge and ability by which they are and ought to be distinguished, it seems impossible to suppose that the trustees would not derive the greatest assistance from immediate, full and unreserved communication with them on questions arising in the administration of their respective departments. We find, however, there is scarcely one of the highest officers of the institution who has not complained of systematic exclusion from the board when the affairs of his department are under consideration, as equally disparaging to himself and injurious to the interests of the department, giving no opportunity of explaining their reports or meeting the objections and criticisms to which they may have been subject; and their own absence, joined to that of the principal librarian, leaves them under the painful but natural impression, where their suggestions are disallowed, that the interests with which they are charged have not been fully represented. We cannot but ascribe to this cause the unfortunate and unseemly jealousies which the evidence shows to have long existed among the principal officers of the museum. Their distrust in the security of the means by which they communicate with the board, their misgivings as to the fullness and fairness of the consideration which their suggestions receive, and their feelings of injustice done to their own department, arising, it may be, from an over zeal for its interests, or over estimate of its importance.”

Finally, they use this language in reference to what they judge to be the too overshadowing power allowed to the secretary by the trustees :

“From his control of the business, constant intercourse with the trustees, and attendance at all their meetings, he has risen to be the most important officer in the establishment, though without that responsibility which attached to the principal librarian and the heads of departments

. The influence possessed by this officer in the affairs of the museum has followed the usual course where the secretary is permanent,

and where the administrative board is fluctuating, and must depend mainly upon the secretary for the information required in the dispatch of ordinary business."-(Report of commission.)

The case of the British museum confirms the conviction that whatever power is lodged in the secretary, and we do not advise to encroach upon or to diminish his authority, it is all-important to have it defined and guided, and guarded by express regulation. Gentlernen of education and refined sensibilities will be willing to conform to rules in the shape of law, but will always reluct against, and resent the exercise of absolute and unrestrained power. Every American heart instinctively resists arbitary authority-no reasonable mind objects to conformity to established regulations, and obedience to defined, permanent, and uniform rules. Beyond those rules the rights of a subordinate officer are as perfect as those of any other man. Within them he feels

that it is no degradation to obey. It is not at all improbable, that many of the difficulties that have been encountered in the British Museum and in the Smithsonian Institution have arisen, not so much from lodging too much power in the secretary, as from the absence of byelaws, fully defining the powers, duties, and relations of all the officers employed in them. The committee is particularly desirous to have it understood that they feel justified in expressing a very decided opinion that the difficulties that have arisen, and which the evidence sufficiently discloses, in the bosom of the Institution, and the dissatisfaction that may exist in some portions of the community, may safely be attributed to the causes just mentioned, and not in the least to any want of fidelity or zeal on the part of its managers.

As it respecis the general policy advocated by the friends of a library to make it the prominent feature of the Smithsonian Institution, the committee are of opinion that the funds of the Institution are sufficient to accomplish that object at a more rapid rate of gradual accumulation than heretofore, without essentially impairing the usefulness and efficacy of the policy pursued at present by the managers. Active operations, original researches, and the publication of scientific treatises, if the whole income were consumed in them, would have to be confined far within the limits of what would be desirable. A limitation must be suffered at some point within the income; and the satisfaction of the country is of greater importance than a few thousand dollars, more or less, expended ia either direction..

But a few words are needed to do justice to the value of a great universal library at the metropolis of the Union. Every person who undertakes to prepare and publish a book on any subject will be found to bear testimony to the need of such a library. The great historians and classical writers of the country have to send abroad, often to go abroad in person, in order to obtain materials for their works. All literary men are eager to inspect catalogues and explore alcoves in the prosecution of their favorite departments, and there is no direction in which they are more tempted to drain their generally quite moderate resources than in the purchase of books. Such a library as would be accumulated by an appropriation of $20,000 annually for twenty years, judiciously expended, would be frequented by scholars and authors in much larger numbers than persons not acquainted with their wants will be likely to suppose. In half a century it would give to America a library unequalled in value, and probably in size, in the world.

There is a special reason why such a library should be provided at this seat of the federal government. The annals of all other countries, running back into the past

, are soon shıouded in fable or lost in total darkness; but ours, during their whole duration, are within the range of unclouded history. The great social, moral, and political experiment here going on, to test the last hope of humanity, is capable of being described in clear and certain records. The history of each State and Territory can be written on the solid basis of ascertained facts. In each State and Territory there are, and, from the first, have been, many persons who are preparing, and have published, works illustrative of the entire progress of those respective communities. In local bistories, commemorative addresses, and the vast variety of pro

ductions of this sort, our literature is rich and ample beyond that of any other people. There is no way in which the patriotism and virtue of a people can be so effectually fostered and strengthened as by cherishing in their breasts an interest in their ancestry, in the incidents that have marked the fortunes of their States, their towns, and the scenes of their residence—the transmitted reminiscences of their homes and firesides. It would be a great and a good thing, could there be collected in a national library, in distinct alcoves, all valuable publications illustrating the history of the several States of this Union. Different processes of legislation, and various social and political influences, have operated upon them severally, and the records of the results ought to be here for the inspection and instruction of the representatives of the people, of the people themselves, and of the whole world.

But, if every other description of books is avoided or crowded out, there is one which surely ought not to be. If the resources of the Institution are to be exclusively or mainly devoted to science rather than to general literature and knowledge, it ought, at any rate, to have within its walls a perfect and universal library of science and art-not merely modern science and recent researches, but all the publications, of all ages and all countries, that illustrate the progress of science, as such. If we cannot have a universal library, give us, at least, a scientific library such as no other nation can boast.

One advantage of a liberal expenditure for a library, not to be thought lightly of in a government resting entirely on popular opinion, is that it results in something that shows for itself; the people can see in it what has become of the money. It would forever grow before their eyes, and, in all coming generations, from its unapproached and ever expanding magnitude, would be an object of perpetually increasing national pride. Under the present policy the funds disappear, as they are expended, however salutary their application inay have been, and the only monuments are a few volumes, admirable no doubt in their form and substance, highly appreciated by scientific societies at home and abroad, but never seen by the people.

The short time allowed them, the necessary consequent inadequateness' of their investigations and deliberations, and the impossibility of any legislative action by this Congress, restrain the committee from reporting any bill to the House; but, in view of all the circumstances, as a measure of peace, as a mutual concession, which in such a matter is the only way of settling a difficulty, they would express their conviction that the compromise adopted at an early day by the Board of Regents ought to be restored, and that all desirable ends may be ultimately secured by dividing the income equally between the library and museum on one part, and active operations on the other.

The only other suggestion the committee have to make is the expediency, in order to avoid all embarrassment in future, to have each division of the Institution placed under its proper and distinctive head. Let the secretary have charge of the active operations, preside over the scientific researches, and direct the publications. Let the librarian have charge of the library and museum. If the two departments are thus separated, and placed under the control of well devised and clearly defined regulations, never interfering with each other, but working freely

and harmoniously in their respective spheres, each principal responsible only for his own province, and subject alike to a common head, whether the Secretary of the Interior or a Board of Regents, the Institution would, we think, be found to work most auspiciously, and produce the best and greatest results. For the committee,



Mr. Witte, from the Select Committee, made the following


The Select Committee to whom was referred the letter of the Hon. Rufus

Choate, resigning the office of regent of the Smithsonian Institution, also the resolution thereon to inquire whether the Smithsonian Institution has been managed and its funds expended in accordance with the law establishing it, and whether any additional legislation be necessary to carry out the design of its founders, report :

(Mr. TAYLOR concurring, and Mr. PURYEAR and Mr. Wells, although

not dissenting from all the views, preferred not to sign either this report or the report made by Mr. UPHAM alone :]

That they have made a patient examination of the institution, and have concluded that there is no just cause of complaint against the regents or the secretary, in regard to the construction of the act of Congress establishing the institution, and the plan of organization adopied by the regents, or the manner in which its affairs have been administered. The subjects included in the resolution may be appropriately arranged under the following heads :

1. The proper construction of the act of Congress establishing the institution.

2. The plan of organizing and administering the affairs of the institution, adopted by the regents in pursuance of the law.

3. The question whether any new legislation is necessary.
4. The administration of this plan by the regents and secretary.

Of these the committee will treat in the order in which they are stated.

1. The proper construction of the act of Congress.

The question whether the bequest of Mr. Smithson should be applied chiefly to the formation of a great national library, or to researches for the increase of knowledge, and the publication and circulation of their results, for its diffusion among men, divided the opinion of the members of the Board of Regents at their first meeting. These differences of opinion were compromised at the organization of the institution by a resolution, which the regents have lately repealed.

That resolution provided, prospectively, and, on a contingency, which may be said to have just occurred, (the completion of the Smith

sonian building,) for an equal division of the fund committed to the care of the Board of Regents between the two objects above stated-a national library, museum, and gallery of art on the one hand, and researches, publications and lectures on the other.

This compromise resolution has been repealed by the Board of Regents during their present session, and instead of it they have adopted the following:

Resolved, That hereafter the annual appropriations shall be apportioned specifically among the different objects and operations of the institution in such manner as may, in the judgment of the regents, be necessary and proper for each, according to its intrinsic importance, and a compliance in good faith with the law.”

The adoption of this resolution was followed by the resignation of Mr. Choate, one of the regents, and in his letter of resignation, addressed to the Speaker of the House, he assumes that the act of Congress presented a rule of appropriation which is set aside by the resolution. Whether the Board of Regents or Mr. Choate are right in this respect must be determined by a reference to the act of Congress.

When it had created the institution, given it a corporate name, invested it with certain powers, subjected it to specific restrictions, provided for the erection of a suitable building, and directed an annual appropriation not exceeding $25,000, for the gradual formation of a library, it proceeded to declare that of any other moneys accrued, or to accrue as interest on the fund, not otherwise appropriated nor required for the purposes therein provided, the managers were thereby "authorized to make such disposal as they shall deem best suited for the promotion of the purposes of the testator, anything therein contained to the contrary notwithstanding."

Beyond any reasonable controversy, here is a discretionary and controlling power given to the Board of Regents over the whole income of the fund, except only such portion of it as had been appropriated, or should be required for purposes provided by the act. To determine the extent of this discretionary power, it becomes necessary then to ascertain what appropriation had been made, and what purposes were provided by the act.

It directs the selection of a lot and the erection of a suitable building, but does not limit the amount of expenditure, nor make any appropriation for it. It provides that in proportion as suitable arrangements can be made for their reception,” the several objects specified in the 6th section shall be delivered to the order of the Board of Regents, and requires the arrangements and classification of them.

It directs the regents to appropriate “ from the interest of said fund a sum not exceeding an average of $25,000 annually for the gradual formation of a library, and then places the whole residue of the increase of the fund at their disposal. Can this be doubted? For the various purposes provided by ihe act no appropriations are made. The library forms the only exception, and the sole limit of the discretionary power of the regents over appropriations for a library is, that they shall not exceed an annual average of $25,000. Within that limit their discretion is full and entire. Suppose any appropriation made in any given vear for the gradual formation of a library, can any one doubt that the

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