August 10 in freethought history…

smithsonianAugust 10, 1846 – The United States Congress passes a law establishing the Smithsonian Institution for the purpose of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The funds for the Smithsonian were derived from the estate of Englishman James Smithson (1765-1829). Well-educated and well-traveled, Smithson was an avid naturalist and scientist, whose published research included a paper disputing that the fossil contents of Kirkdale Cave in England were the result of Noah’s Flood. Smithson bequeathed his estate, library and scientific collections (valued then at over $500,000) to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson never set foot in America.

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