Copyright 1972- , Smithsonian Institution Press. All rights reserved.
30. TO ROBERT DALE OWEN
Princeton march 25th 1847
My dear Sir
Enclosed I send you the letter of introduction for Mr Stabler[1
] and I have to acknowledge the receipt of several packages of letters of which I have made the proper disposition.
I intended to mention to you if I did not do so the fact that I had authorized the Rev Mr Russel[2
] the brotherinlaw of Mr French[3
] to receive and acknowledge the receipt of all books prints &c sent to the Institution, in my absence, from Publishers. Should any article of this kind come into your possession you will oblige me by delivering it to this Genleman.
I have made arrangements with Mr French to
the Journal of Proceedings of the Board of Regents copied into the large book by the same person[4
] who copied the first part of the Journal. I thought it best to employ this Person
because by doing so we would have the supervision of Mr French and
because this clerk had been paid
the last time he was employed in part
On reflection I think the engraving of the head of Smithson to accompany the memoir of the chancellor[5
] should be considerably larger than the medallion—say about the size of one of the portraits in[A
] the Democratic Review[6
] perhaps a little larger. We shall require three different engravings of the head one for the seal another for the memoir and the third for the title page of our publications. The last should be a copy of the seal on wood or type metal so that it may be set up with the
of the page and struck off at the same time.
I have sent Daniel's letter to Mr Mills and requested him to attend to sending off the drawings. I have also written to Daniel returning the money enclosed in his letter and informing him that his drawings will be forward to him free of expense.
I have found to day a notice by Davies Gilbert[11
] late president of the Royal Society of Smithson in an annaversary address to the society.[12
] Gilbert and Smithson were at Oxford together and members of the same College.[B
] I would write immediately to Gilbert for farther information as to the character of Smithson but I am under the impression that the former died a year or two ago.[13
] This fact however I can ascertain by going over the volumes for the last few years of the Philosophic Magazine.
Also by asertaining to what college Gilbert belonged we shall have the one of which Smithson was a Member and by writing to Oxford something additional may be procured inreference to our patron Saint.
I arrived safely at home on Monday evening[14
] and am now enjoying the quiet of myown family the pleasure of which is much enhanced by the contrast with the bustle and excitement to which I have been subjected for the last two months in Washington.
Please inform your Brother[15
] that though I am almost overwhelmed with letters and lectures I have found time to verify the fact that an incombustible substance introduced into a flame increases in a very remarkable degree the amount of radient heat.
With much Respect I remain
Truly yours &—
Hon R. D Owen
Draft, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
] Edward Stabler (1794–1883) was the postmaster of Sandy Spring, Maryland, president of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Montgomery County, and a noted engraver of seals and stamps. On March 15, 1847, the executive committee commissioned Stabler to prepare a seal for the Smithsonian. Roger Brooke Farquhar, Historic Montgomery County, Maryland, Old Homes and History
(Silver Spring, Maryland, 1952), pp. 182–183; Rhees, Journals,
p. 445; Stabler's tools, the screw press he made for the Smithsonian, the plaster cast of the seal, and other artifacts are in the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History.
The letter of introduction has not been found.
] Before being employed by the Smithsonian, Charles P. Russell had been a clergyman in New Hampshire and had briefly worked as a messenger in the House of Representatives. He remained with the Smithsonian, assisting in the library and handling the copyright correspondence, until 1850, when he became a clerk in the Post Office. Benjamin Brown French, Witness to the Young Republic: A Yankee's Journal, 1828–1870
, ed. Donald B. Cole and John J. McDonough (Hanover, New Hampshire, 1989), pp. 92, 189, 271; Rhees, Journals,
p. 477; Desk Diary, [July 7], 1850.
] Clerk of the House of Representatives, Benjamin B. French had been assistant secretary, recording clerk, and librarian pro tem of the Smithsonian during the early months of its existence. French's wife and Russell's wife were sisters. Henry Papers, 6:
555n; French, p. 4.
] Adam J. Glossbrenner, a clerk in the House of Representatives. Rhees, Journals,
p. 10. The original “large book” was destroyed in the Smithsonian Building fire in 1865.
] A reference to the biographical memoir of Smithson, never published, projected for the first volume of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge. See Doc. 46.
] These portraits were 12.2 centimeters high by 9.4 centimeters wide. The United States Magazine and Democratic Review
was a general monthly magazine.
] Not found. Howard Daniels was a Cincinnati architect who had submitted the only non-medieval entry for the Smithsonian Building. Kenneth Hafertepe, America's Castle: The Evolution of the Smithsonian Building and Its Institution, 1840–1878
(Washington, 1984), pp. 29, 47.
] Robert Mills (1781–1855) was the Architect of Public Buildings. In 1840 he had produced plans for a proposed Smithsonian/National Institute Building, selecting a medieval style. The building committee hired him as superintendent of the construction of the Smithsonian Building. DAB
; Hafertepe, pp. 6–8; Rhees, Journals,
] Letter to Mills not found.
] Draft, March 19, 1847, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
] Promoter of the cause of science in Britain. Henry Papers, 3:
] Proceedings of the Royal Society,
] David Dale Owen (1807–1860), former Indiana state geologist, had been appointed to survey the Chippewa Land District in Wisconsin. At the request of his brother, in 1845 he had drawn up a plan for the Smithsonian Building. DSB;
Hafertepe, pp. 18–21.
The Papers of Joseph Henry,
ed. Nathan Reingold
(Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2000).
Electronic version based on
The Papers of Joseph Henry,
ed. Nathan Reingold
(Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, distributed by Braziller, New York, 1972- ). On the Web at http://mep.blackmesatech.com/mep/ [Accessed 21 January 2018]