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The stranger and the statesman : James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the making of America's greatest museum: The Smithsonian

Author: Nina Burleigh
Publisher: New York : Morrow, ©2003.
Edition/Format:   Book : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"In 1829, a wealthy English naturalist named James Smithson left his library, mineral collection, and entire fortune to the "United States of America, to found ... an establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men"--Even though he had never visited the United States or known any Americans. In this book, Burleigh pieces together the reclusive benefactor's life, beginning with his origins in the  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Named Person: James Smithson; John Quincy Adams; James Smithson; John Quincy Adams; John Quincy Adams; James Smithson
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Nina Burleigh
ISBN: 0060002417 9780060002411 0060002425 9780060002428
OCLC Number: 52431023
Description: 298 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Contents: Acknowledgments --
1. The body snatchers --
2. The duke and the widow --
3. Nobody's child --
4. Choosing science --
5. Discoveries and revolutions --
6. The gift --
7. 105 sacks of gold --
8. "A rattlesnake's fang" --
9. For the increase and diffusion of knowledge --
10. The Smithson mystery --
Notes --
Bibliography.
Responsibility: Nina Burleigh.
More information:

Abstract:

"In 1829, a wealthy English naturalist named James Smithson left his library, mineral collection, and entire fortune to the "United States of America, to found ... an establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men"--Even though he had never visited the United States or known any Americans. In this book, Burleigh pieces together the reclusive benefactor's life, beginning with his origins in the splendidly dissipated eighteenth-century aristocracy as the Paris-born bastard son of the first Duke of Northumberland and a wild adventuress who preserved for her son a fortune through gall and determination." "After Smithson's death, nineteenth-century American politicans were given the task of securing his half-million dollars - the equivalent today of fifty million - and then trying to determine how to increase and diffuse knowledge from the muddy, brawling new city of Washington. Burleigh discloses how Smithson's bequest was nearly lost due to fierce battles among many clashing Americans - Southern slavers, state's rights advocates, nation-builders, corrupt frontiersmen, and Anglophobes who argued over whether a gift from an Englishman should even be accepted. She also reveals the efforts of the unsung heroes, mainly former president John Quincy Adams, whose tireless efforts finally saw Smithson's curious notion realized in 1846, with a castle housing the United States' first and greatest cultural and scientific establishment."--Jacket.

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schema:reviewBody""In 1829, a wealthy English naturalist named James Smithson left his library, mineral collection, and entire fortune to the "United States of America, to found ... an establishment for the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men"--Even though he had never visited the United States or known any Americans. In this book, Burleigh pieces together the reclusive benefactor's life, beginning with his origins in the splendidly dissipated eighteenth-century aristocracy as the Paris-born bastard son of the first Duke of Northumberland and a wild adventuress who preserved for her son a fortune through gall and determination." "After Smithson's death, nineteenth-century American politicans were given the task of securing his half-million dollars - the equivalent today of fifty million - and then trying to determine how to increase and diffuse knowledge from the muddy, brawling new city of Washington. Burleigh discloses how Smithson's bequest was nearly lost due to fierce battles among many clashing Americans - Southern slavers, state's rights advocates, nation-builders, corrupt frontiersmen, and Anglophobes who argued over whether a gift from an Englishman should even be accepted. She also reveals the efforts of the unsung heroes, mainly former president John Quincy Adams, whose tireless efforts finally saw Smithson's curious notion realized in 1846, with a castle housing the United States' first and greatest cultural and scientific establishment."--Jacket."
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