(1765 - 27 Jun 1829)
English mineralogist, chemist and patron who bequeathed substantial funds to establish the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. His reasons for his bequest remain unknown.
Science Quotes by James Smithson (1 quote)
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.
— James Smithson
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 heirwhich did come to pass in 1835. Smithson included no further instructions concerning the Smithsonian Institution.