The Smithsonian

August 10th, 1846 - Polk Charters the Smithsonian

Did you know that the initial grant money for the Smithsonian was left by an obscure English Scientist? His name was James Smithson. He had been a member of the Royal Society of London from the age he was 22. A type of Zinc Carbonate is even named after him (Smithsonite). He died in Italy in in 1829, leaving his fortune to his nephew, but in his will he wrote that should his nephew die without any heirs, the money would go toward building a vessel for knowledge in the Unites States. When his nephew died childless 6 years later, the money went to the United States. James K. Polk then chartered the Smithsonian Institution in 1846.