Who Was James Smithson?

You have heard of the Smithsonian Institution?  The man who provided the money for this famous organization was one James Smithson. He is described on page 4 of the June 2014 issue of Smithsonian magazine —

 

He studied coffeemaking, human tears and snake venom, and published 27 scientific papers.  His brain, a friend said, was “fruitful in whimsies.”  Born 250 years ago this month, James Smithson, illegitimate son of British aristocrats, left a modest fortune (about $12 million) to start an organization in the United States (though he never visited) for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.”  Now the Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex.

 

I have dreams like that.  Wouldn’t it be nice to leave a sum of money (although I don’t have $12 million) and hope that it would grow into something that could change the world?  I would never see the result, but it would be fun to imagine leaving such a legacy.

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