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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index S > Category: Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Institution Quotes (2 quotes)

I then bequeath the whole of my property … to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.
From the will of James Smithson written on 23 Oct 1826. (The amount excluded a modest lifetime annuity to a former faithful servant.) Smithson willed his estate firstly to his nephew, but it was to be bequeathed to the U.S. in the case his nephew died without heir—which did come to pass in 1835. Smithson included no further instructions concerning the Smithsonian Institution.
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Modern civilization depends on science … James Smithson was well aware that knowledge should not be viewed as existing in isolated parts, but as a whole, each portion of which throws light on all the other, and that the tendency of all is to improve the human mind, and give it new sources of power and enjoyment … narrow minds think nothing of importance but their own favorite pursuit, but liberal views exclude no branch of science or literature, for they all contribute to sweeten, to adorn, and to embellish life … science is the pursuit above all which impresses us with the capacity of man for intellectual and moral progress and awakens the human intellect to aspiration for a higher condition of humanity.
[Joseph Henry was the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, named after its benefactor, James Smithson.]
The first clause is inscribed on the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C. In Library of Congress, Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989), 313. From 'On the Smithsonian Institution', (Aug 1853), Proceedings of the Third Session of the American Association for the Advancement of Education (1854), 101.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 90 -
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