Essay on The Day The Cornerstone Of The Smithsonian Institution

1148 Words Nov 22nd, 2016 5 Pages
Washington, May 1, 1847. The day the cornerstone of the Smithsonian Institution was laid. A grand ceremony was planned. Banners were strewn across City Hall. Large crowds gathered, in the size of thousands. People drove in from Baltimore and Philadelphia just to witness the event. There was an air of celebration. It felt like a public holiday. Yet, one important man was not officially invited to the event. The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry. This was by no mere accident. It was the building committee’s, constituting some politicians, ploy to irritate Henry. Henry had repeatedly clashed with the politicians on board regarding the building. He wanted to minimize the cost for the building as much as possible. Whereas the politicians saw no issue spending money to erect it. For them, the building would be the face of the Institution. In the end, despite Henry’s attempts, more money than what was within his budget was spent. But as a result, the building now known as the “Castle” is the signature building of the Smithsonian Institution. Looking back, Henry’s idea of a building may have looked very different from the “Castle” that was built. The conflict over the Smithsonian building was only one of many that displays the politicians’ role in what the Smithsonian Institution would become. Some of the ways their actions affected the Smithsonian is more subtle than others but political figures especially in the Congress as well as the Board of Regents,…

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