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I. MEMORIAL OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE AND CITY
SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, FEBRUARY 10, 1866.
At a meeting of the National Association of State and City School Superintendents, recently held in the city of Washington, D. C., the undersigned were appointed a committee to memorialize Congress for the establishment of a national bureau of education.
It was the unanimous opinion of the association that the interests of education would be greatly promoted by the organization of snch a bureau at the present time; that it would render needed assistance in the establishment of school systems where they do not now exist, and that it would also prove a potent means for improving and vitalizing existing systems. This it could accomplish-
(1) By securing greater uniformity and accuracy in school statistics, and so interpreting them that they may be more widely available and reliable as educational tests and measures.
(2) By bringing together the results of school systems in different communities, States, and countries, and determining their comparative value.
(3) By collecting the results of all important experiments in new and special methods of school instruction and management, and making them the common property of school officers and teachers throughout the country.
(4) By diffusing among the people information respecting the school laws of the different States; the various modes of providing and disbursing school funds; the different classes of school officers and their relative duties; the qualitications required of teachers, the modes of their examination, and the agencies provided for their special training; the best methods of classifying and grading schools; improved plans of schoolhouses, together with modes of heating and ventilation, etc., information now obtained only by a few persons and at great expense, but which is of the highest value to all intrusted with the management of schools.
(5) By aiding communities and States in the organization of school systems in which mischievous errors shall be avoided and vital agencies and well-tried improvements be included.
(6) By the general diffusion of correct ideas respecting the ralue of education as a quickener of intellectual activities; as a moral renovator; as a multiplier of industry and a consequent producer of wealth; and, finally, as the strength and shield of civil liberty.
In the opinion of your memorialists, it is not possible to measure the influence which the faithful performance of these duties by a national bureau would exert upon the cause of education throughout the country; and few persons who have not been iutrusted with the management of school systems can fully realize how widespread and urgent is the demand for such assistance. Indeed, the very existence of the association which your memorialists represent is itself positive proof of a demand for a national channel of communication between the school officers of different States. Millions of dollars have been thrown away in fruitless experiments, or in stolid plodding, for the want of it.
Your memorialists would also submit that the assistance and encouragement of the General Government are needed to secure the adoption of school systems throughout the country. An ignorant people have no inward impulse to lead them to selfeducation. Just where education is most needed, there it is always least appreciated and valued. It is, indeed, a law of educational progress that its impulse and stimulus come from without. Hence it is that Adam Smith and other writers on political economy expressly except education from the operation of the general law of supply and demand. · They teach, correctly, that the demand for education must be awak. ened by external influences and agencies.
This law is illustrated by the fact that entire school systems, both in this and in other countries, have been lifted up, as it were bodily, by just such influences as a national bureau of education would exert upon the schools of the several States; and this, too, without its being invested with any official control of the school authorities therein. Indeed, the highest value of such a bureau would be its quickening and informing influence, rather than its authoritative and directive control. The true function of such a bureau is not to direct officially in the school affairs in the States, but rather to cooperate with and assist them in the great work of establishing and maintaining systems of public instruction. All experienco teaches that the nearer the responsibility of supporting and directing schools is brought to those immediately benefited by them, the greater their vital power and efficiency.
Yonr memorialists beg permission to suggest one other special duty which should be intrusted to the national bureau, and which of itself will justify its creation, viz, an investigation of the management and results of the frequent munificent grants of land made by Congress for the promotion of general and special education. It is estimated that these grants, if they had been properly managed, would now present an aggregate educational fund of about $500,000,000. If your memorialists are not misinformed, Congress has no official information whatever respecting the manner in which these trusts have been managed.
In conclusion, your memorialists beg leave to express their earnest belief that universal education, next to universal liberty, is a matter of deep national concern. Our experiment of republican institutions is not upon the scale of a petty municipality or State, but it covers half a continent, and embraces people of widely diverse interests and conditions, but who are to continue “one and inseparable.” Every condition of our perpetuity and progress as a nation adds emphasis to the remark of Montesquieu, that “it is in a republican government that the whole power of education is required.”
It is an imperative necessity of the American Republic that the common school be planted on every square mile of its peopled territory, and that the instruction therein imparted be carried to the highest point of efficiency. The creation of a bureau of education by Congress would be a practical recognition of this great truth. It would impart to the cause of education a dignity and importance which would surely widen its influence and enhance its success. All of which is respectfully submitted.
E. E. WHITE,
J. S. ADAMS,
Secretary State Board of Education, l'ermont. WASHINGTON, D. C., February 10, 1866."
II. AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established at the city of Washington a department of education for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a commissioner of education, who shall be intrusted with the management of the department herein established, and who shall receive a salary of four thousand dollars per annum, and who shall
This memorial is transcribed from the Report of the Commissioner of Education submitted to the Senate and House of Representatives, June 2, 1868, PP. 3, 4.
have authority to appoint one chief clerk of his department, who shall receive a salary of two thousand dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of eighteen hundred dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which said clerks shall be subject to the appointing and removing power of the commissioner of education.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the commissioner of education to present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of snch facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which the department is established. In the first report made by the commissioner of education under this act there shall be presented a statement of the several grants of land made by Congress to promote education, and the manner in which these several trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Commissioner of Public Buildings is hereby authorized and directed to furnish proper offices for the use of the department herein established.'
III, SECTIONS OF THE REVISED STATUTES RELATING TO THE BUREAU.
The following year this Department was reduced to the rank of a Bureau. These are the sections of the Revised Statutes under which the Bureau is now carried on:
SEC. 516. There shall be in the Department of the Interior a Bureau called the Office of Education, the purpose and duties of which shall be to collect statistics and facts showing the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and to diffuse such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.
SEC. 517. The management of the Office of Education shall, subject to the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, be intrusted to a Commissioner of Education, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and shall be entitled to a salary of $3,000 a year.
Sec. 518. The Commissioner of Education shall present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which the office is established.
SEC. 519. The Chief of Engineers shall furnish proper offices for the use of the Office of Education."
"Stat. L., Thirty-ninth Congress, p. 434. Approved March 2, 1867. * See Answers to Inquiries about the United States Bureau of Education, Its Work and History, a Circular of Information by Charles Warren, issued by the Bureau in 1883.
IX. EARLY VIEWS AND PLANS RELATING TO A NATIONAL
1. The Federal Convention.-11. President Washington.-III. Letters of Dr. Rush.-IV.
The first President Adams.-1'. President Jefferson.-11. Joel Barlou's plans.VII. President Madison.-VIII. President Monroe.-IX. The second President Adams.
I. THE FEDERAL CONVENTION, 1787. Several attempts were made in the Federal Convention of 1787 to give Congress educational powers. The “ Plan of a Federal constitution” submitted by Mr. Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, May 29, included the following among other legislative powers: “ To establish and provide for a national university at the seat of government of the United States." August 18 these propositions were referred to the committee of detail, on motion of Mr. Pinckney: “ To establish seminaries of learning for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences;" " To establish public institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, trades, and manufactures.” Neither one of these propositions, nor any reference to them, is contained in any report made by the committee to the Convention that is found in the Journal. Under date of September 14 we find the following in Mr. Madison's report of the debates:
Mr. Madison and Mr. Pinckney then moved to insert in the list of powers vested in Congress a power to establish a university in which no preferences or distinctions should be allowed on account of religion."
Mr. Wilson supported the motion.
Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIs. It is not necessary. The exclusive power at the seat of government will reach the object.
On the question:
Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, aye--4; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, no—6. Connecticut, divided; Dr. Johnson, aye; Mr. Sherman, no.?
Morris's argument is the only one reported on either side, but it would be strange indeed, considering the state of opinion in the Convention concerning the relative spheres of the Federal and State governments, if the stronger objection, although it may not have been expressed, was not that the proposition was an invasion of the proper jurisdiction of the State authority. But however this may be, the
'It is well known to students of the history of the Federal Convention that the so-called “Pinckne. plan" is a document of little authority. See ** The Madison Papers," III, Appendix 2, ana " The Writings of James Madison," IV, 172, 173, 181, 182, 338, 339, 378, 379. Still, it is proper to cite the passage in relation to the university, since Mr. Pinckney alone certainly brought the subject forward, August 18, and again in connection with Mr. Madison, September 14. Dr. Goode does not mention Pinckney, but gives the whole credit to Madison.
2 Elliot's Debates, Vols. I, p. 147; V, 440, 544.
Dr. Henry Barnard, commenting on this history, says Pinckney's motion was lost, as reported by Madison, expressly on the ground that the power to establish such a university was included in the grant of exclusive legislation over the district in which the Government should be located (Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1868, p. 41). Dr. Barnard's statement is stronger than the record will justify. The fact that Mr. Madison reports only this argument is no proof that such was the accepted view of the subject. Action in the Federal Convention was often influenced by arguments that were not stated at all. Nor is Mr. Madison's report of the discussions by any means a full one.
practical result of the Convention's action on the whole subject, or rather inaction, was that education was left where it always had been, in the hands of the States or of the people. Still, two of its foremost members, and one of them its president, in after years strove to persuade Congress to establish a national university. The history of their efforts in that direction not only shows what were their views of the constitutional question, but is also extremely interesting in itself. It is, moreover, not improbable that Washington was associated with Pinckney and Madison in their efforts in the Convention.
The attempt to give education a status in the National Constitution was renewed in 1875–76, but in quite a new form. In his annual message, read December 7, 1875, President Grant urged upon Congress certain matters of legislation that he deemed of “ vital importance," of which these are two:
First. That the States shall be required to afford the opportunity of a good common school education to every child within their limits.
Second. No sectarian tenets shall ever be taught in any school supported in whole or in part by the State, nation, or by the proceeds of any tax levied upon any community. Make education compulsory so far as to deprive all persons who can not read and write from becoming voters after the year 1890, disfranchising none, however, on grounds of illiteracy, who may be voters at the time this amendment takes effect.
On the 14th of the same month Hon. J. G. Blaine, in the House of Representatives, introduced a resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution, which, as slightly modified by the Judiciary Committee, passed August 4, 1876, by a vote of 180 yeas to 7 nays, as follows:
ARTICLE XVI. No State shall make any law respecting ar establishment of religion or prohibiting the free evercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect or denomination; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations. This article shall not vest, enlarge, or diminish legislative power in Congress.!
Three days later the Senate adopted a substitute for this resolution that had been recommended by the Judiciary Committee. The vote stood 28 yeas, 16 nays. As two-thirds did not vote in the affirmative, the resolution was lost. The substitute adopted by the Senate read as follows:
ARTICLE XVI. No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under any State. No public property and no public revenue of, nor any loan of credit by or under the authority of the United States, or any State, Territory, District, or municipal corporation shall be appropriated to or made or used for the support of any school, educational or other institution under the control of any religious or antireligious sect, organization, or denomination, or wherein the particular creed or tenets of any religious or antireligious sect, organization, or denomination shall be taught. And no such particular
McPherson's Handbook of Politics, 1876, p. 240.