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To show that this is no new idea of mine, I may appeal to my early commu. nications to Congress; and to prove how seriously I have retlected on it since, and how well disposed I have been, and still am, to contribute my aid toward carrying the measure into effect, I enclose you the extract of a letter from me to the Governor of Virginia, and a copy of the resolves of the legislature of that State in consequence thereof.

I have not the smallest doubt that this donation (when the navigation is in complete operation, which it certainly will be in less than two years,) will amount to £1200 or £1500 sterling a year, and become a rapidly increasing fund. The proprietors of the Federal City have talked of doing something handsome towards it likewise; and if Congress would appropriate some of the western lands to the same uses, funds sufficient, and of the most permanent and incroasing sort, might be so established as to invite the ablest professors in Europe to conduct it.

In a letter to Hamilton, dated Sept. 6, 1796, Washington adds:

If you think the idea of a university had better be reserved for the speech at the opening of the session, I am content to defer the communication of it until that period; but even in that case, I would pray you, as soon as convenient, to make a draft for the occasion, predicated on the ideas with which you have been furnished; looking at the same time at what was said on this head in my second speech to the first Congress, merely with a view to see what was said on the subject at that time; and this, you will perceive, was not so much to the point as I want to express now, though it may, if proper, be glanced at, to show that the subject had caught my attention early.

I much question whether a recommendation of this measure to the legislature will have a better effect now than formerly. It may show, indeed, my sense of its importance, and that is a sufficient inducement with me to bring the matter before the public in some shape or another at the close of my political life. My object in proposing to insert it when I did. was to set the people ruminating on the importance of the measure, as the most likely means of bringing

it to pass.


In his Farewell Address to the people of the United States, dated September 17, 1796, Washington gave utterance to that noble sentiment which has passed into an axiom of political philosophy :

Promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

Washington did not confine the expressions of his interest in education, and especially the establishment of a national university, to his official communications to Congress and to the people of the United States. In a letter addressed to Mr. Adams, the Vice President, dated Nov. 27, 1794, on a proposition communicated by Mr. Jefferson, for "transplanting the members entire of the University of Geneva to America," there is the following passage :

That a national university in this country is a thing to be desired, has always heen my decided opinion; and the appropriation of ground and funds for it in the Federal City has long been contemplated and talked of; but how far matured, or how far the transporting of an entire seminary of foreigners, who may not understand our language, can be assimilated therein, is more than I am prepared to give an opinion upon; or, indeed, how far funds in either case are attainable.

On 28th of January, 1795, Washington addressed from Philadelphia, the following letter to the Commissioners of the Federal District:

GENTLEMEN-A plan for the establishment of a university in the Federal City has frequently been the subject of conversation; but, in what manner it is proposed to commence this important institution, on how extensive a scale, the means by which it is to be effected, how it is to be supported, or wbat progress is made in it, are matters altogether unknown to me.

It has always been a source of serious reflection and sincere regret with me, that the youth of the United States should be sent to foreign countries for the purpose of education. Although there are doubtless many, under these circumstances, who escape the danger of contracting principles unfavorable to republican government, yet we ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.

For this reason I have greatly wished to see a plan adopted, by which the arts, sciences, and belles-lettres could be taught in their fullest extent, thereby embracing all the advantages of European tuition, with the means of acquiring the liberal knowledge, which is necessary to qualify our citizens for the exigencies of public as well as private life; and (which with me is a consideration of great magnitude) by assembling the youth from the different parts of this rising republic, contributing from their intercourse and interchange of information to the removal of prejudices, which might perhaps sometimes arise from local circumstances.

The Federal City, from its centrality and the advantages which in other respects it must have over any other place in the United States, ought to be preferred, as a proper site for such a university. And is a plan can be adopted upon a scale as extensive as I have described, and the execution of it should commence under favorable auspices in a reasonable time, with a fair prospect of success, I will grant in perpetuity fifty shares in the navigation of the Potomac River towards the endowment of it.

What annuity will arise from these fifty shares, when the navigation is in full operation, can at this time be only conjectured; and those, who are acquainted with it, can form as good a judgment as myself.

As the design of this university has assumed no form with which I am acquainted, and as I am equally ignorant who the persons are, who have taken or are disposed to take the maturing of the plan upon themselves, I have been at a loss to whom I should make this communication of my intentions. If the Commissioners of the Federal City have any particular agency in bringing the matter forward, then the information, which I now give to them, is in its proper course. If, on the other hand, they have no more to do in it than others, who may be desirous of seeing so important a measure carried into effect, they will be so good as to excuse my using them as the medium for disclosing these my intentions; because it appears necessary, that the funds for the establishment and support of the institution should be known to the promoters of it; and I see no mode more eligible for announcing my purpose.

In February, 1795, Mr. Jefferson addressed from Monticello a letter to President Washington, in reference to a proposition of M. D'Ivernois, and the Professors of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, to remove in a body to the United States, and establish here a University, “comprehending a College of Languages, preparatory to the principal one of Sciences, and also a third one for the gratuitous teaching of reading and writing to the poor.” Mr. Jefferson, in view of a previous communication from Washington, as to his intention to aid by testamentary devise, the establishment of a National University, thinks the acceptance of this proposition, with modifications, will give "the institution at the outset such éclat, and such solid advantages, as would insure a very general concourse to it of the youths from all our States, and probably from other parts of America."

The composition of the academy can not be settled there. It must be adapted to our circumstances, and can therefore only be fixed between them and persons here acquainted with those circumstances, and conferring for the purpose after their arrival here. For a country so marked for agriculture as ours, I should think no professorship so important as one not mentioned by them, a professor of agriculture, who, before the students should leave college, should carry them through a course of lectures on the principles and practice of agriculture; and that this professor should come from no country but England. Indeed I should mark Young as the man to be obtained. These, however, are modifications to be left till their arrival here.

To this letter, Washington replied on the 15th of March, 1795:

I had little hesitation in giving the Federal City a preference over all other places for the institution, for the following reasons. First, on account of its being the permanent seat of the government of this Union, and where the laws and policy of it must be better understood than in any local part thereof. Secondly, because of its centrality. Thirdly, because one half (or near it) of the District of Columbia is within the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the whole of the State not inconvenient thereto. Fourthly, because, as a part of the endowment, would be useful, but alone would be inadequate to the end. Fifthly, because many advantages, I conceive, would result from the jurisdiction which the general government will have over it, which no other spot would possess. And, lastly, as this seminary is contemplated for the completion of education and study of the sciences, not for boys in their rudiments, it will afford the students an opportunity of attending the debates in Congress, and thereby becoming more liberally and better acquainted with the principles of law and government.

My judgment and my wishes point equally strong to the application of the James River shares to the same subject at the same place; but, considering the source from whence they were derived, I have, in a letter I am writing to the executive of Virginia on this subject, left the application of them to a seminary within the State, to be located by the legislature.

Hence you will perceive, that I have in a degree anticipated your proposition. I was restrained from going the whole length of the suggestion by the following considerations. First, I did not know to what extent or when any plan would be so matured for the establishment of a university, as would enable any assurances to be given to the application of M. D'Ivernois. Secondly, the propriety of transplanting the professors in a body might be questioned for seve eral reasons; among others, because they might not be all good characters, nor all sufficiently acquainted with our language. And again, having been at variance with the leveling party of the own country, the measure might be considered as an aristocratical movement by more than those, who, without any just cause that I can discover, are continually sounding the bell of aristocracy. And, thirdly, because it might preclude some of the first professors in other countries from a participation, among whom some of the most celebrated characters in Scotland, in this line, might be obtained.

My letter to the commissioners has bound me to the fulfillment of what is therein engaged; and if the Legislature of Virginia, on considering the subject, should view it in the same light as I do, the James River shares will be added thereto; for I think one good institution of this sort is to be preferred to two imperfect ones, wbich, without other aid than the shares in both navigations, is more likely to fall through, than to succeed upon the plan I contemplate; which is, in a few words, to supersede the necessity of sending the youth of this country abroad for the purpose of education, where too often principles and habits unfriendly to republican government are imbibed, and not easily discarded. Instituting such a one of our own, as will answer the end, and associating them in the same seminary, will contribute to wear off those prejudices and unreasonable jealousies, which prevent or weaken friendships and impair the harmony of the Union.

On the 16th of March, 1795, Washington addressed the following letter to Gov. Brooke of Virginia

Sır:-Ever since the General Assembly of Virginia were pleased to submit to my disposal fifty shares in the Potomac, and one hundred in the James River Company, it has been my anxious desire to appropriate them to an object most worthy of public regard.

It is with indescribable regret, that I have seen the youth of the United States migrating to foreign countries, in order to acquire the higher branches of erudition, and to obtain a knowledge of the sciences. Although it would be injustice to many to pronounce the certainty of their imbibing maxims not congenial with republicanism, it must nevertheless be admitted, that a serious danger is encountered by sending abroad among other political systems those who have not well learned the value of their own.

The time is therefore come, when a plan of universal education ought to be adopted in the United States. Not only do the exigencies of public and private life demand it, but, if it should ever be apprehended, that prejudice would be entertained in one part of the Union against another, an efficacious remedy will be, to assemble the youth of every part under such circumstances as will, by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation.

It has been represented, that a university corresponding with these ideas is contemplated to be built in the Federal City, and that it will receive considerable endowments. This position is so eligible from its centrality, so convenient 10 Virginia, by whose legislature the shares were granted and in which part of the Federal District stands, and combines so many other conveniences, that I have determined to vest the Potomac shares in that university.

Presuming it to be more agreeable to the General Assembly of Virginia, that the shares in the James River Company should be reserved for a similar object in some part of that State, I intend to allot them for a seminary to be erected at such place as they shall deem most proper. I am disposed to believe, that a seminary of learning upon an enlarged plan, but yet not coming up to the full · idea of a university, is an institution to be preferred for the position which is to be chosen. The students, who wish to pursue the whole range of science, may pass with advantage from the seminary to the university, and the former by a due relation may be rendered coöperative with the latter,

I can not however dissemble my opinion, that if all the shares were conferred on a university, it would become far more important, than when they are divided; and I have been constrained from concentering them in the same place, merely by my anxiety to reconcile a particular attention to Virginia with a great good, in which she will abundantly share in common with the rest of the United States.

I must beg the favor of your Excellency to lay this letter before that honorable body, at their next session, in order that I may appropriate the James River shares to the place which they may prefer. They will at the same time again accept my acknowledgments for the opportunity, with which they have favored me, of attempting to supply so important a desideratum in the United States as a university adequate to our necessity, and a preparatory seminary.

This letter was accordingly communicated to the Assembly at their next session, when the following resolves were passed :

IN THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES, December 1st, 1795. Whereas the migration of American youth to foreign countries, for the completion of their education, exposes them to the danger of imbibing political prejudices disadvantageous to their own republican forms of government, and ought therefore to be rendered unnecessary and avoided ;

Resolved, that the plan contemplated of erecting a university in the Federal City, where the youth of the several States may be assembled, and their course of education finished, deserves the countenance and support of each State.

And whereas, when the General Assembly presented sundry shares in the James River and Potomac Companies to George Washington, as a small token

of their gratitude for the great, eminent, and unrivaled services he had rendered to this Commonwealth, to the United States, and the world at large, in support of the principles of liberty and equal government, it was their wish and desire that he should appropriate them as he might think best; and whereas, the present General Assembly retain the same high sense of his virtues, wisdom, and patriotism;

Resolved, therefore, that the appropriation by the said George Washington of the aforesaid shares in the Potomac Company to the university, intended to be erected in the Federal City, is made in a manner most worthy of public regard, and of the approbation of this Commonwealth.

Resolved, also, that he be requested to appropriate the aforesaid shares in the James River Company to a seminary at such place in the upper country, as he may deem most convenient to a majority of the inhabitants thereof.

The following are provisions of Washington's last Will:-As it has always been a source of serious regret with me to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign countries for the purposes of education, often before their minds were formed, or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own; contracting, too frequently, not only habits of dissipation and extravagance, but principles unfriendly to republican government, and to the true and genuine liberties of mankind, which thereafter are rarely overcome; for these reasons it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to spread systematic ideas through all parts of this rising empire, thereby to do away local attachments and State prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our national councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation), my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to affect the measure, than the establishment of a University in a central part of the United States, to which youths of fortune and talents from all parts thereof may be sent for the completion of their education in all branches of polite literature, in arts and sciences, in acquiring knowledge in the principles of politics and good government; and, as a matter of infinite importance in my judgment, by associating with each other, and forming friendships in juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitual jealousies, which have just been mentioned, and which, when carried to excess, are never failing sources of disquietude to the public mind, and pregnant with mischievous consequences to the country. Under these impressions,

I give and bequeath in perpetuity the fifty shares which I hold in the Potomac Company (under the aforesaid acts of the Legislature of Virginia,) towards the endowment of a university to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the general government, if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it; and until such seminary is established, and the funds arising on these shares be required for its support, my further will and desire is, that the profit accruing therefrom shall, whenever the dividends are made, be laid out in purchasing stock in the bank of Columbia, or some other bank, at the discretion of my executors, or by the treasurer of the United States for the time being, under the direction of Congress, provided that honorable body should patronize the measure; and the dividends proceeding therefrom are to be vested in more stock, and so on until a sum adequate to the accomplishment of the object is obtained, of which I have not the smallest doubt before many years pass away, even if no aid or encouragement is given by legislative authority, or from any other source.

The hundred shares, which I hold in the James River Company, I have given, and now confirm, in perpetuity, to and for the use and benefit of Liberty Hall Academy, in the county of Rockbridge, in the commonwealth of Virginia.

We shall continue this Historical Development of the National Aspects of Education through successive administrations, down to the action of Congress at its last session—with a notice of which we introduce a speech from Gen. Garfield on the subject.

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