A Quote by John Quincy Adams on age, anticipation, charity, design, gifts, greatness, history, knowledge, mankind, men, museums, perseverance, simplicity, and spirit

Of all the foundations of establishments for pious or charitable uses, which ever signalized the spirit of the age, or the comprehensive beneficence of the founder, none can be named more deserving of the approbation of mankind than this. Should it be faithfully carried into effect, with an earnestness and sagacity of application, and a steady perseverance of pursuit, proportioned to the means furnished by the will of the founder, and to the greatness and simplicity of his design as by himself declared, "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," it is no extravagance of anticipation to declare, that his name will be hereafter enrolled among the eminent benefactors of mankind. . . . Whoever increases his knowledge, multiplies the uses to which he is enabled to turn the gift of his Creator. This passage, in a slightly altered form, is inscribed on the exterior of the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.: "Of all the foundations of establishments for pious or charitable uses which ever signalized the spirit of the age or the comprehensive beneficence of the founder none can be named more deserving of the approbation of mankind than the Smithsonian Institution. Should it be faithfully carried into effect with an earnestness and sagacity of application. . . proportioned to the means furnished by the will of the founder and to the greatness and simplicity of his design as by himself declared, 'The increase and diffusion of knowledge among men,' his name will be hereafter enrolled among the eminent benefactors of mankind. . . whoever increases knowledge multiplies the uses to which he is able to turn the gift of his creator.

John Quincy Adams (1767 - 1848)

Source: House Report 181, pp.2 &3, January 19, 1836, and William J. Rhees, The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History, 1835-1899, vol. 1, pp. 131-32 (1901).

Contributed by: Zaady