Friday, September 8, 2017

James Smithson

One of my personal heroes was a man named Jacques-Louis Macie who was a collector of minerals and rocks. By all accounts he was also a chemist as well.  He was born at a time when it was inconvenient and frequently illegal for your parents not to be married or in his case, his mother to be a mistress to a Duke under the Hanover Monarchies and then the reign of Queen Victoria.  When Macie was 22, he changed his name to James Smithson and began his travels.  These travels led him across Europe and helped him to test scientific theories and discover new minerals including one that was eventually named for him.  More importantly, upon his death, he left his collections and fortune to the government of the United States of America.  I think his story would make a remarkable film, don't you?   Check out P.L. 89-124, which was a Presidential Proclamation to celebrate the bicentennial  of his birth. Also, there is a good online source the National Institutes of Health discussing his contributions to science at

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