In Whitman's Hand

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About this Item

Title: Amos T. Akerman to Joseph Henry, 7 April 1871

Date: April 7, 1871

Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: National Archives and Records Administration

Whitman Archive ID: nar.01810

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Joshua Ware, Kevin McMullen, and John Schwaninger



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April 7, 1871

Joseph Henry, Esq.

Secretary of Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D. C.

Sir:

I have received yours of the 5th instant, enclosing a copy of a deed of foundation between Horace Hawes, of San Francisco, California, and certain trustees, conveying property for the use of an institution to be known as the Mount Eagle University. One of the conditions upon which the grant is made is that from other sources certain sums of money shall be collected for the same object, as follows: $100,000 within fifteen years after the decease of the grantor; $500,000 within thirty years after his decease; $1,500,00 within fifty years after his decease;—$4,000,000 within one hundred years after the date of the deed, (February 24, 1871:) and in default of raising, collecting, or expending the said sums within the precise times and periods aforesaid, the grant as to a portion of the land, is to become void, and the granted property as the grantor, by deed or will, shall appoint; and in defect of such appointment in the heirs male of his body,—and in default of such heirs in the Government of the United States, for the use of the Smithsonian Institute.

In behalf of the Board of Regents of the Institution, you have requested to be informed whether any steps should be taken to secure the interests of the Institution in relation to this bequest.

It appears that the failure to raise, collect, and expend the said sums of money within the periods named,—the failure of Mr. Hawes to dispose of the property by deed or will,—and the failure of the heirs male of his body, are conditions which must precede the vesting of the property in the Government of the United States, for the use of the Institute.

The first of these conditions cannot exist until, at least, fifteen years after the decease of Mr. Hawes, and none of these conditions may ever exist.

I am of the opinion that no present action can be taken by the United States to secure the interests of the Institutions; but I suggest that a copy of the deed be filed in the archives of the Institution for use in the possible contingencies of the distant future.

Very respectfully, &c,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.


Contingent bequest of Mr. Hawes, of California, to the Smithsonian Institute.


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