Imatges de pàgina

under his own name I have constantly urged him since the meeting at Cleveland, on the contrary, to use all due diligence in bringing them into a condition proper for publication, and to defer his private essays on the subject until meteorologists of the country in general have an equal opportunity of employing the data produced at the expense of the Smithsonian fund. A prominent maxim in the policy of the Institution is co-operation, and not monopoly.

Again, it is not proper for an individual employed by the Institution, as Mr. Blodgett has been, on a particular work, to make use of facilities which his position affords him, to collect materials on his own account, or to mingle his own operations with those of the Institution.

The secretary issued a circular calling upon all persons having meteorological data in their possession to present it or lend it to the Institution. He also wrote a number ot' letters to individuals, asking for data of the same kind. Mr. Blodgett, I find, has also written to a number of persons, requesting similar favors, and now, if I understand him aright, he considers the materials obtained by such letters as be longing to himself. It is true that, in case of a personal acquaintance, and under particular circumstances, the data may have been given to Lorin Blodgett, as an individual, but in most cases they have been presented to him as connected with the Smithsonian Institution, and as such, it is responsible for their safe keeping and proper use.


I have stated in the preceding paper that I had agreed to give Mr. Blodgett $800 for a year's services, but previous to the expiration of that period, he developed, at the meeting of the American Association, at Cleveland, his peculiar views and claims as to the work on which he had been engaged. He requested me, previous to this meeting, and indeed a year before, to allow him to present some of the results which had been obtained. I consented to this, though I informed him at the time, and in presence of Mr. Rhres, that he must be careful to present the results as having been obtained at the expense, and under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution; and secondly, not to mingle these facts with his own speculations. I also authorized the construction of a number of large charts for this exhibition, which were afterwards paid for by the Institution.

We started together for Cleveland, and reached Pittsburg, where I fell sick ; Mr. Blodgett left me there, and hastened on to the meeting. When I arrived, the session had commenced, the programme of papers to be read had been printed, and to my surprise, I found that Mr. Blodgett had entered all the papers on meteorology entirely in his own name, without mentioning the Smithsonian Institution.

When his first paper was read, I rose, mentioned the facts in connexion with these papers, pointed out the omission, and stated that the Smithsonian fund had been accepted by the United States with the condition that it was to found an Institution to bear and perpetuate the name of the donor; that, consequently, all the good which might accrue to mankind from the employment of the income of the fund ought to be accredited to the name of Smithson, the agents employed in exe

cuting the trust having proper credit for the manner in which they discharged their duty.

The first paper which Mr. Blodgett read was on the northers, or the tempestuous winds which occasionally prevail in Texas. He stated that this paper was in no way connected with the Institution. I then explained to the audience in what manner this paper was connected with the Smithsonian Institution. A young officer of the American army, Lieutenant Couch, had presented to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution a plan of a private exploration which he wished to make in Texas and Mexico. I studied this plan and commended it warmly, in a letter to the Secretary of War. He considered the request of Lieutenant Couch favorably, allowed him leave of absence, and transportation. The Smithsonian Institution gave him scientific instruction, assisted, I think, in fitting him oul with instruments, and especially directed his attention to the existence, in Mexico, of a valuable collection of natural history, and of manuscripts which had been the property of Dr. Berlandier, a member of the Academy of Geneva, Switzerland, who came to this country to make scientific explorations, and after a residence of twenty years, died in Mexico. Lieutenant Couch was so fortunate as to procure this collection, which he sent to the Institution. We paid about $150 for the transportation, and he gave me, in behalf of the Institution, permission to use any of the meteorological records we might require. The principal facts relative to the northers, given in Mr. Blodgeti's paper, were derived from this collec tion, though no credit was given by him to Lieutenant Couch or the Smithsonian Institution.

Again, an earthquake was felt in Washington and throughout a considerable portion of the middle States, and the idea was suggested by Professor Bache that it would be well to collect the facts in regard to this occurrence. I accordingly drew up a circular in which I asked a series of questions, in behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, as to the time of occurrence, direction of the motion, state of the atmosphere, &c., &c. To these circulars quite a number of answers were returned. These I placed in the hands of Mr. Blodgett, requested him to locate their position on a map, in order that the centre of action might be determined. My own time was very much occupied, and I gave no fürther attention to the subject, and I was surprised to find that Mr. Blodgett produced this, again, as his own, without mentioning the name of the Smithsonian Institution. After this development of his peculiar characteristics, I was convinced it would be improper to continue to employ him in the Smithsonian Institution, and therefore resolved to close my engagement with him as soon as the work on which he was immediately engaged could be completed. The meteorological correspondence of the Institution had been, up to that time, conducted by Dr. Foreman, who left the Institution, for a position of larger salary in the Patent office. At the time he left, however, and during my absence, he published a notice in the paper informing the observers that he had leti the Institution, and requested them to direct all their letters to the secretary. Mr. Blodgelt returned to Washington before I did, and immediately commenced, without my authority, to write to the correspondents, dating his letters from the Smithsonian Institution, and signing them “ Lorin Blodgett, in charge of meteorology." I forbid his writing any letters which were not submitted to me previous to being . sent. This order he did not obey, but continued to write letters without showing them to me. At length, I gave him an order in writing, but to this he paid no attention also. After his return from Cleveland, The began to make claims for more salary, and to propose various plans for the establishment of a meteorological bureau, of which he, of course, was to be the head.

I gave no co-operation to these measures, but stated to him that if any means could be found for carrying on a system of meteorology independent of the Smithsonian fund, the Institution would willingly relinquish the charge, but that all data the Institution had collected must be reduced, discussed, and published before closing the work.

He failed, of course, in all these efforts, and then engaged in the preparation for publication, on bis own account, of a number of reports and essays on meteorology, using the materials of the Institution for this purpose. To this course I objected. I stated to him that the great object of the Institution was co-operation and not monopoly ; that the results of ibe computations must be given to the world in a tabular form, and then distributed to all the meteorologists in this country, so that each might have an opportunity of making their own speculations on the subject ; that after they had been thus published, Mr. Blodgett would have the privilege in common with all others to make use of them as he might see fil.

He refused to give some of the materials, on several occasions, to persons who applied for them with my permission even, to be used for the purposes of the Institution. His demands for extra remuneration became greater and greater, and he at length declared that unless they were complied with, the Institution should not have the materials in his hands, and rather than give them up he would, as I was told, burn them.

I was, therefore, obliged, in consequence of this and other threats, to institute measures for securing the papers, and for this purpose consulted Mr. Carlisle, the attorney for the Board of Regents, and took no step without his direction.



All the difficulties which have occurred in regard to the management of the Institution bad their origin, as it appears to me, in certain resolutions adopted at the early sessions of the Regents.

The following was adopted December 4, 1846, viz: Resolred, That it be recommended to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution forthwith to employ, subject to the approval of the Board of Regents, an assistant secretary, well qualified to discharge the duties of librarian.

This was immediately subsequent to my election as secretary, but before I came to Washington.

On the 26th January, 1847, the following resolutions were also adopted:

Resolved, That the secretary be requested now to nominate to the board an assistant, who shall be the librarian, and whose salary shall commence whenever the building is ready for the reception of the library.

Resolved, That for any services rendered from this time in collecting books, making catalogues, &c., he shall receive such compensation as the executive committee may deem reasonable.

Whereupon the secretary remarked that, understanding Professor Charles C. Jewett, of Brown University, to be the preference of a majority of the Board, he therefore nominated Charles C.Jewett for assistant secretary, acting as librarian of the Smithsonian Institution.

I had been requested to nominate Mr. Jewett in order to conciliate Mr. Choate.

Previous to his nomination, Mr. Jewett came on to Washington with a letter of introduction to me. I explained the plan which I advocated; he fully approved of il, said that he would have preferred a library, but previous to the plan I advocated no definite plan bad been proposed.

Immediately after the nomination was confirmed, Mr. Dallas asked me if I had done right in thus nominating; if I had examined the law. He thought I ought not to have been called on to nominate in that way. I then examined the 7th section of the act attentively, and saw that certain powers were granted to the secretary, to be used for ibe best interests of the Institution, and not to be delegated, no mention being made of an assistant secretary to act as librarian He himself was to discharge the duties of librarian and keeper of the museum, and might, with the consent of the Board, employ assistants. The act evidently intended that the secretary should have control over his assistants, that he might have no excuse for not properly discharging his duty. They are his assistants, and not the assistants of the Board. He is responsible for their acts, and from the usages of the government and the necessities of the case, he has the power of removal.

“ The subordinate officers of the customs furnish a somewhat analogous case. They are appointed by the collector, with the approbation of the Secretary of the Treasury. Now, the secretary, as the officia! organ of the President, can remove both the collector and his subordinates, but this does not prevent the collector from removing them.”

Mr. Choate's plan was that of a library, the secretary was to be librarian, and Mr. Jewett was his candidate for that office.

He failed in carrying this point, and provision was made for Mr. Jewett in the way I have stated.

Mr. Jewett was not to enter fully upon his duties until two years after his appointment, 1849. He, however, was brought in at his own earnest request before the expiration of this time.

He entered fully upon his duties about a year after his appointment, but I soon found that he had no idea of rendering me any assistance in the general business of the Institution, unless such assistance should be rendered entirely in his own name and as the head of an independent department, or as a co-equal with myself.

Finding that nothing could be done with him in this way, I left him

in charge of the library exclusively. The books had previously been in the care of Mr. Russell, who remained to assist Mr. Jewett.

I employed another person to a sist me, Dr. Foreman, and with him I conducted alll the affairs of the Institution, except what related to the library, until July 1850.

The bearing of Professor Jewett was frequently very offensive to me, although I endeavored to render his situation as pleasant as possible, to control him as little as might be consistent with my duty.

I had many difficulties at that time to contend with, in the development of a new and untried plan, and the business at length became so extended that it was impossible for me properly to attend to it without more assistance, and I therefore called to my aid in July, 1850, Professor Baird, who was appointed to take charge of the museum, and to do anything else the secretary might require. Professor Baird was very industrious, and rendered me important service. He took special charge of the printing and also of the exchanges. He, however, after a while, began to cornplain that he had no assistance, and his salary was less than that of Professor Jewelt, though he did three times the amount of work. In short he very naturally felt that he ought to have the same privileges as Professor Jewett.

When Professor Baird first came in I gave him a full account of all my views, plans and operations. He asked if I had any objection to his examining the records and papers of the Institution and my letters, to which I replied that I had not. He accordingly made such an examination, and possessed himself of the history of all the previous operations of the Institution.

My official letters, indeed my private ones, were open to Dr. Foreman and to Professor Baird. They were not locked up, but were kept on an open shelf.

I had no secrets of my own, and from the first resolved to do nothing in regard to the business of the Institution which might not be freely given to the whole world, I knew the only course I could pursue with any hope of success was an honest, straight forward one, and that if I attempted in any case a devious course, I should certainly be involvee in inextricable difficulties.

My intercourse with Professor Baird was of the most unreserved character, and it was with grief I began to ihink that he was not equally inclined to be as unreserved as myself.

During each year of his continuance in the Institution he has made excursions with the view of collecting specimens of natural history, and has been absent each time about three months.

I had allowed him, as I had done Professsor Jewett, to write letters on the business of the Institution without insisting upon such letters or their answers being shown to me. Difficulties, however, grew out of this practice, and particularly during the absence of these gentlemen from the city; for Mr. Jewett also took an annual vacation, and in 1852 was absent nearly four months. I considered it highly improper to send letters on official business, which arrived at the Institution during their absence, by mail in search of the persons to whom they were addressed, particularly as such letters might require immediate answer. and, therefore, ordered that they should be opened in the Institution.

« AnteriorContinua »