Imatges de pàgina

5. A special committee should be appointed over each department, and these committees should be composed of different members; that is to say, no member of the Board should be placed upon one of these departmental committees who is, at the same time, a member of either of the others, or of the executive committee. The amount of labor which each committee would have to perform would then be comparatively light, and the officers in charge of the several departments would then feel that their views would be fully and impartially represented before the Board, and that there was a competent authority io protect one department from being encroached on by another.

6. These committees or the Board of Regents should appoint the expenditor in each department, and should examine his expenditures and hold him to a strict accountability. The bills would be paid through the secretary, and he should, of course, at all times have all cognizance which he thinks desirable of the expenditures in every department, but, of course, he should not be held responsible for the correctness of any account applicable to an appropriation of which he is not the expenditor.

7. The appropriations should be founded upon estimates derived (directly or indirectly) from the officers in charge of the departments. The officers in charge should, unless there is some special reason for an opposite course, be the expenditor in his department. These propositions seem so reasonable that I cannot at all comprehend how they can be controverted.

8. The details of any work authorized by the Board should, as far as possible, be left, under the committees, to the officers in charge of the department by which it is to be executed and paid for; because efficiency and promptness, and consequently a rational economy require that an officer should not be required to await, in reference to details, the decision of one not expert in the particular business, and because the means and details for executing any work should in justice be placed in the power of the officer whose literary or scientific reputation is to be affected by the result. If the officer is not to be trusted to that extent, he is not fit to be employed for that purpose. If there is any probability of peculation, fraud or extravagance, the officers may be required to give bonds. It is supposed that every officer will be inumately acquainted with his speciality, that he will be an expert therein, that he is employed on that account, and that therefore his judgment as to the particular means for accomplishing the particular object should never be interfered with, unless there is reason to suppose that there is a want of judgment or of integrity in his proceedings. His discretion should be trusted in the matters for which he is appointed until there is reason to doubt it.

To require one man to oversee, weigh, and judiciously decide upon the minute details of a library, a printing and stereotyping establishment, a department of natural history, publications, and all the manifold objects embraced in the plan of the Smithsonian Institution, is palpably preposterous. To hold him responsible for these details would be denounced as injustice, and very properly so. To have him attempt this would be only to paralyze action, to repress all enthusiasın on the part of the under officers, and to do them injustice by depriving .

them of the control of the means necessary for producing results for which they are held responsible before the public.

To show that my views in this respect are not unimportant, that they are not suggested by fancied possibility of wrong or any feeling of jealousy, that, in short, it is a most probable supposition that the neglect to make such regulations would lead to difficulties in any similar establishment, I beg leave to refer the committee to the following passages from the report (published in 1850) of the commission appointed by the crown to examine into and report upon the condition and management of the British museum. The report and minutes of evidence make a folio volume of 1,000 pages. The report was written by the Earl of Ellesmere. Among the commissioners (twelve in number) are found also the names of Sir R. J. Murchison, Joseph Hume, Samuel Rogers, and Richard Monckton Milnes, signed to the report:

“We are compelled to add, that the mode in which the business is brought before the trustees seems in itself as objectionable as the want of notice. It is done almost invariably by written reports. Not to mention the reports of the assistants and subordinate officers, the heads of departments communicate with the Board by written reports. These reports are transmitted to the trustees by the principal librarian, who accompanies them with another report, in which he states such observations as occur to him. Neither the principal librarian nor the heads of departments are, except in extraordinary cases, admitted to the Board-room when the business of their department is under consideration. The reports themselves, from the great increase of the establishment, have become so voluminous that they cannot be read entirely at the meeting of the trustees. The Board must either rely upon the principal librarian, or upon the secretary, who selects such passages of all the reports as in his opinion require the consideration and decision of the trustees. The answer of the trustees, in the regular course of transacting business, is in the form of a resolution, communicated by the secretary to the principal librarian, and by him transmitted to the heads of departments. Even this course is not always followed, for the secretary sometimes communicates with the departments directly, and Sir H. Ellis states that, on several occasions, communications have passed between the Board of Trustees of which he has been ignorant till the business was transacted. The secretary attends all the meetings, and the officers of the establishment, generally, are perfectly aware of the extent of his influence and control over the business, while he has no direct responsibility for the control or actual state of any department.

“There may be many cases, certainly, in which it is not expected only, but necessary, that the Board should deliberate, in the absence even of the principal librarian or of the heads of departments; but these 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 froin 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 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 fulness and fairness of the consideration which their suggestions receive, and then 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."

And in reference to another subject :

“All appointments having a permanent character, with the exception of the most subordinate employments, ought to be made in writing; and at all events by the principal trustees or majority.”

“ The evidence on this subject will be found at great length in the examination of Mr. Forshall, as connected with the different returns presented to Parliament; and in the opinion of the commissioners it exhibits a remarkable instance of the abuse to which the administration may be subject, where so much is necessarily intrusted to the hands of the secretary, not regularly controlled by an administrative body, to whose views and orders it is his duty to give effect."

It has not been my design to mention any but those which seemed to me the most important points to be guarded in any set of by-laws for such an institution.

Notwithstanding the length of this communication, I have not been able to stale in it many things which have an important bearing upon the subjecis referred to the committee, and have abstained from adducing many considerations which will find appropriate place when ever a wider field of discussion shall be opened than the invitation of the committee, under which these remarks are presented, would seem to comprehend. Respectfully submitted,


221. Then the trustees decide to what particular departments the money which is voted shall be applied ? Everything is submitted to the trustees before it is paid.

222. But do the trustees decide how much of that money shall go to this department, and how much to that? No; in the parliamentary account you will find a specification of certain sums for each department; the officer of each department keeps an account of the disbursements of that sum, and whenever a fresh sum is wanted from the trustees he lays a statement of the condition of the fund appropriated to that department before the Board.

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 aud 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.


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 il 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 he 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 his remarks in his 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 communication 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 to 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

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