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Charter of Incorporation of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Academy Charter
An Act to incorporate and establish a Society for the cultivation and promotion of Arts and Sciences. Granted May 4, 1780, by an Act of the Legislature of Massachusetts, and amended by the Acts of 1910, 1911, 1931, 1947, and 1974.

As the Arts and Sciences are the foundation and support of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; as they are necessary to the wealth, peace, independence, and happiness of a people; as they essentially promote the honor and dignity of the government which patronizes them, and as they are most effectually cultivated and diffused through a State by the forming and incorporating of men of genius and learning into public societies for these beneficial purposes.

Be it therefore enacted by the Council and House of Representatives in General Court assembled and by the authority of the same that (sixty-two persons) be, and they hereby are formed into, constituted, and made a body politic and corporate, by the name of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and that they, and their successors, and such other persons as shall be elected in the manner hereafter mentioned, shall be and continue a body politic and corporate, by the same name forever.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Fellows of the said Academy may from time to time elect a President, one or more Vice-Presidents, one or more Secretaries, and such other officers of the said Academy as they shall judge necessary or convenient; and they shall have full power and authority from time to time to determine and establish the names, number, and duties of their several officers, and the tenure or estate they shall respectively have in their offices; and also to authorize and empower their President, or some other Fellow of the Academy, at their pleasure, to administer such oaths to such officers as they shall appoint and determine, for the well-ordering and good government of the said Academy, provided the same be not repugnant to the laws of this State.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Fellows of said Academy shall have one Common Seal, which they may make use of in whatsoever cause or business shall concern the Academy, or be relative to the end and design of its institution; and shall have power and authority from time to time to break, change, and renew the Common Seal, at their pleasure; and that they may sue and be sued, in all actions, real, personal, and mixed, and prosecute and defend the same unto final judgement and execution, by the name of the President and Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Fellows of the said Academy may from time to time elect such persons to be Fellows thereof, as they shall judge proper, and that they shall have full power and authority from time to time to suspend, expel, or disfranchise any Fellow of the said Academy who shall by his conduct render himself unworthy of a place in that body, in the judgement of the Academy; and also to settle and establish the rules, forms, and conditions of election, suspension, expulsion, and disfranchisement.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Fellows of the said Academy shall have full power and authority from time to time to make and enact such reasonable rules, orders, and bylaws, not repugnant to the laws of this State, as shall be necessary or convenient for the well-ordering and good government of the said Academy, and to annex reasonable pecuniary fines and penalties to the breach of them, not exceeding the sum of twenty pounds, to be sued for and recovered in any court of record within the State, in the name and for the use of the President and Fellows of the said Academy; and the same rules, orders, and bylaws to repeal at their pleasure; and also to settle and establish the times, places, and manner of convening the Fellows of the said Academy; and also to determine the number of Fellows which shall to present to constitute a meeting of the said Academy. Provided, that the Fellows of the said Academy shall meet twice in a year at the least; and that the place of their meetings shall never be more than thirty miles distant from the town of Boston.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Fellows of the said Academy may, and shall forever hereafter, be deemed capable in the law, of having, holding, and taking in fee-simple, or any less estate, by gift, grant, devise or otherwise, any lands, tenements or other estate real and personal to an unlimited amount: and the annual interest and income of the said real and personal estate, together with the fines and penalties aforesaid, shall be appropriated for premiums to encourage improvements and discoveries in agriculture, arts, and manufactures, or for other purposes consistent with the end and design of the institution of the said Academy as the Fellows thereof shall determine.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the end and design of the institution of the said Academy is to promote and encourage the knowledge of the antiquities and the natural history of America; to determine the uses to which the various natural productions of the country may be applied; to promote and encourage medical discoveries, mathematical disquisitions, philosophical enquiries and experiments, astronomical, meteorological and geographical observations, and improvements in agriculture, arts, manufactures and commerce; and, in fine, to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.

And it is further enacted, that the place where the first meeting of the Fellows of the said Academy shall be held shall be the Philosophy Chamber in the University of Cambridge; and that the Honorable James Bowdoin, Esq., be, and he hereby is authorized and empowered to fix the time for holding the said meeting, and to notify the same to the Fellows of the Academy.

Charter Members

Samuel Adams Ebenezer Hunt Micajah Sawyer
John Adams Jonathan Jackson Theodore Sedgwick
John Bacon Charles Jarvis William Sever
James Bowdoin Samuel Langdon Stephen Sewall
Charles Chauncy Levi Lincoln David Sewall
John Clarke Daniel Little John Sprague
David Cobb Elijah Lothrup Ebenezer Storer
Samuel Cooper John Lowell Caleb Strong
Thomas Cushing Samuel Mather James Sullivan
Nathan Cushing Samuel Moody John Bernard Sweat
William Cushing Andrew Oliver Nathaniel Tracy
Tristram Dalton Joseph Orne Cotton Tufts
Francis Dana Theodore Parsons James Warren
Samuel Deane George Partridge Samuel West
Perez Fobes Robert Treat Paine Edward Wigglesworth
Caleb Gannett Phillips Payson Joseph Willard
Henry Gardner Samuel Phillips, Jr. Samuel Williams
Benjamin Guild John Pickering Abraham Williams
John Hancock Oliver Prescott Nehemiah Williams
Joseph Hawley Zedekiah Sanger James Winthrop
Edward Augustus Holyoke Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant