The Papers of Joseph Henry


My dear H

I expect to hear from you by the mail of this evening though I may not get your letter until the morning. I have just returned from attending the funeral of Mrs Allen.[1] She was burried in the congressional burrial ground[2] and placed I think temporarily in a vault. It is customary in this place to expose the face of the corps to all who choose to look at it. It struck me this morning for the first time that the custom is not an agreeable or proper one. We would in preference perfer to remain in the recollection of our friends and acquaintances as we were in health and life rather than in the condition of incipient decay.
I have met the building committee and this morning and I find them much modified in their views of the building. They do not intend to close the contract as soon as they intended and have promised to make no move without consulting me. I think they will consent to the calling of a new meeting of the board to reconsider the whole matter this meeting will probably take place in July.[3] The resolve which I made with your advise on thursday night or rather on friday morning has or will be of good effect. Mr Walker as Bache immagined has taken holed of the affair with great vigour and declairs that if they do not consider well their contracts he will withdraw the funds and stop the whole affair of the building.[4] Indeed he is desposed to proceeed at once to coercive measures. I think however that all will be arranged without violent action.
Mr Owen is now I think quite willing to give up his fantasy of the building provided there is any danger of any thing like a blow up. I wish you would not say much about the affair in Princeton for I think all will be as I wish.
I am now going to see Mr Walker to report progress to him as well as to restrain[B] him from going to rapidly ahead.
I shall drop this into the office as I come back.

As ever yours

Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [1] The funeral of Effie McArthur Allen (1806 or 1807–1847), the wife of Senator William Allen of Ohio. National Intelligencer, March 15, 1847.
    [2] Although it has no direct connection with Congress, the Congressional Cemetery, a few kilometers east of the Capitol, is the site of hundreds of cenotaphs erected by Congress in memory of its members. Eleanor M. V. Cook, Guide to the Records of Your District of Columbia Ancestors (Silver Spring, Maryland, 1987), p. 37.
    [3] No regents' meeting was held until December 8. Rhees, Journals, p. 39.
    [4] As secretary of the treasury, Robert J. Walker oversaw the actual disbursing of the Smithsonian's funds. Rhees, Documents (1901), 1:431, 432.
    [A] From internal evidence.
    [B] Altered from s