The Papers of Joseph Henry


My dear H.

I have heard nothing from you for several days and am begining to be quite anxious about home. Mr Duffield[1] met me in the Rotunday yesterday and called at my room in the evening. I had however but a short conversation with him he promised to call this evening previous to his leaving for Princeton that I might send a letter[B] by him. I have however been obliged to be out since dark and have therefore missed him. How are you getting on?—almost becoming used to be without me. I am very much engaged during the day but long for home at night. The kind of life I am leading here makes me value home the more. The board of Regents meets daily. They determined on the plan of organization to day and adopted my plans in full so far as one half of the income was concerened—the other half they were obliged to give to the Library—the museum and other collections[2] with the hope that if[C] the Institution does well congress will assist them by paying for the keeping of the museum. They could not get rid of the museum unless they went back with the institution to Congress and it was concluded that this would be a hasardous plan and could not be thought of this session. I shall have 15 thousand dollars at my desposal annually for scientific purposes and the publication of reports [?unincombered] and with this well expended something may be done though much less than what could be effected with the whole sum. I fear however that they will expend a large sum[D] on a building—the very salvation of the integrity of the union of the states is thought to be connected with a large building at Washington— Bache has brought forward a plan of adopting the project of a large building and erecting[E] it out of the interest of the fund set apart for the building namely[F] out of the 242 thouzand dollars which have accrued in interest up to this time. I fear however that it will not carry and nothing but a large building immediately erected will satisfy the Washingtonians— Well let the affair go as it may I have endeavoured to do my duty and have exerted all my talents and influeence to prevent the expenditure. I have on my side all the best men and those uninterested namely The vice President[G] Bache Chief Justice Tawney Judge Breese and I think General Cass. The other side however is the stronger now that Mr Rush is away. Unfortunately Owen is struck with an architectural mania and were it not for this the builders would be in the minority.
I have given you all the news about the Smithsonian and nothing about Washington. Indeed I am so much occupied with the former that I give but little attention to the latter. Last night was a great ball at which nearly all the fashion of the city was assembled old and young.[3] To night is the Lavee of the President at which no doubt there is a great gathering. I have not yet been in the White house though I have twice made an engagement to go their. I was at Mr Walker's[4] this evening and saw there Miss Cook[5] from Princeton. She has not heard from Princeton for more than a week. She expects her Father in Washington in the course of next week and will return with him. Last evening I spent with Senators Clayton[6][H] and Crittenden[7][I] or at least two hours or more of it they amused me[J] with an account of their experience as lawyers and each gave two remarkable stories of Murder trials in which had been engaged in professionally.[8][K]
Give my love to all our dear children to aunt Louisa Uncle Stephen Grandmother & Sam. Receive for yourself the old assurance that I am as ever only your[L]
Joseph H
Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [1] John Thomas Duffield (1823–1901), an 1841 Princeton graduate, attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1844 to 1848. Appointed Princeton's tutor of Greek in 1845, he became its adjunct professor of mathematics in 1847. The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review: Index Volume from 1825 to 1868 (Philadelphia, 1871), p. 156; Princeton Catalogue, p. 160.
    [2] The regents' actions—referred to thereafter as "the compromise"—were embodied in two resolutions which were appended to the revised report of the committee of organization. The first of these (numbered 6 in the minutes) declared that Congress had followed Smithson's wishes when, in chartering the Smithsonian, it defined as one of the institution's primary objectives the accumulation of art and natural history collections and the gradual formation of a library. The second resolution (number 7) provided for the permanent appropriation of the annual income between the "two great divisions of the plan of the institution" once the building was completed: $15,000 for the library and collections, and the balance (currently $15,910) for research, publications, and lectures. Salaries and other expenses were to be split evenly between both divisions. Rhees, Journals, p. 26.
    [3] The second Washington Assembly, held at Jackson Hall, was reportedly attended by a "numerous and fashionable company." National Intelligencer, January 27, 1847.
    [4] Robert J. Walker, former Democratic senator from Mississippi and now secretary of the treasury, was a brother-in-law of Alexander Dallas Bache. Henry Papers, 5:450n.
    [5] Leslie (or Lettie) Cook was presumably the daughter of Martha Elizabeth Duncan Walker Cook (1806–1874, DAB). Her mother, an author and a humanitarian, was Robert J. Walker's sister and the wife of William Cook, chief engineer of the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad.
    [6] John Middleton Clayton (1796–1856), Whig senator from Delaware. DAB.
    [7] John Jordan Crittenden (1787–1863), Whig senator from Kentucky. DAB.
    [8] Clayton handled several murder cases as a lawyer in Delaware during the 1820s and 1830s, but none received special notice in his biographies. As a lawyer in Kentucky during the same period, Crittenden was involved in some notable murder trials; see Albert D. Kirwan, John J. Crittenden: The Struggle for the Union (Lexington, Kentucky, 1962), pp. 58–61.
    [A] From internal evidence.
    [B] Altered from s
    [C] Altered from of
    [D] Altered from p
    [E] Altered from ex
    [F] Altered from naamely
    [G] Altered from B
    [H] Altered from c
    [I] Altered from Crettenden
    [J] Altered from mee
    [K] Altered from professional
    [L] Altered from yours