The President, the Vice President, the Chief Justice, and the heads of executive departments are constituted an establishment by the name of the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men, and by that name shall be known and have perpetual succession with the powers, limitations, and restrictions hereinafter contained, and no other.
20 U.S. Code § 41 - Incorporation of institution
R.S. §§ 5579 to 5594 (codified as sections 41 to 46, 48, 50, 51 to 53, 54 to 57, and 67 of this title) constituted Title 73 of the Revised Statutes, entitled “The Smithsonian Institution.” A preamble to these sections was as follows: “James Smithson, esquire, of London, in the kingdom of Great Britain, having by his last will and testament given the whole of his property 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 among men; and the United States having, by an act of Congress, received said property and accepted said trust; therefore, for the faithful execution of said trust, according to the will of the liberal and enlightened donor.”
R.S. § 5579, as originally enacted, constituted the President, the Vice-President, the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, War, and the Navy, the Postmaster-General, the Attorney-General, the Chief Justice, the Commissioner of the Patent Office, and the Governor of the District of Columbia, and such persons as they might elect honorary members, an establishment by the name of the “Smithsonian Institution,” for the purposes and with the powers specified in the section as set forth here.
1894—Act Mar. 12, 1894, substituted “the Chief Justice, and heads of executive departments” for “the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Postmaster-General, the Attorney General, the Chief Justice, the Commissioner of Patents, the governor of the District of Columbia, and other such persons as they may elect honorary members”.
1877—Act Feb. 27, 1877, substituted “Patents” for “Patent Office”.