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CIRCULAR RESPECTING NATIONAL LAND GRANTS,
FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Washington, D. C., (Addressed to the Governor of euch State.) Sir: The Act to establish the Department of Education requires the Com. missioner to present a statement of the several grants of land made by Con. gress 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 sufficient data can not be obtained here for the required report, the Commissioner takes the liberty to apply to you for such statements and printed documents as will enable him to present for your State the 1. Number of acres granted for Public Schools. Number of acres sold.
Amount realized from sales.
Annual proceeds thereof in 186
Estimated value of the same.
Amount realized from sales.
Annual proceeds thereof in 186
Estimated value of the same. 3. Number of acres granted for Agricultural and Mechanic Arts Colleges. Number of acres sold.
Total amount realized from sales to date.
Annual proceeds of the same in 186
Estimated value thereof. 4. Number of acres of land granted by Congress to the State for any pur
pose not specified above, which have been applied by the State for educational purposes, specifying object,-acres sold, -amount of funds
arising therefrom,—and the annual proceeds thereof. Any documents illustrative of the legislation of your State as to the disposition of these lands, or management of the funds, or the application of the income, as well as of the progress of education, especially as effected by these grants; and any suggestions as to the modifications of your policy which it might be desirable for ne States to consider, will be thankfully received.
HENRY BARNARD, Commissioner. P. S. Please state the amount of “U. S. Deposite Fund” or “Surplus Revenue" received by your State from the Treasurer of the United States, under the Act of June 23, 1836, the present annual income of the same, and the educational object, if any, to which it is appropriated.
EDUCATIONAL LAND POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES.
The Act establishing the Department of Education makes it the duty of the Commissioner in his first report "to present 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 can be determined."
The following account of the Educational Land Policy of the United States, and of the disposition of the Congressional land grants in Minnesota are printed in advance of the report, not only to diffuse information, but to indicate the nature of the statistics that the Department desires to receive.
The growth of the public sentiment that led Congress to inaugurate the system of land grants for education was gradual. The first settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut from the earliest period set apart lands for schools. In other colonies, before the Declaration of Independence, intelligent men felt the importance of some public provision for the education of the people, as private benevolence was found to be fitful and wholly inadequate. Doctor Samuel Johnson, President of King's (now Columbia) College, in New York city, on April 10, 1762, wrote to Archbishop Secker
I heg leave, my Lord, to observe that it is a great pity when patents are granted, as they often are, for large tracts of land no provision is made for religion and schools. I wish, therefore, instructions were given to our governors never to grant patents for townships or villages or large manors without requiring the patentees to sequester a competent portion for the support of religion and schools.
Early in 1784 Georgia, in an act relative to the survey of lauds in the western part of the State, uses this language :
And whereas the encouragement of religion and learning is an object of great importance to any community, and must tend to the prosperity, happiness, and advantage of the same,
Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the county surveyors, immediately after the passage of this act, shall proceed to lay out in each county twenty thousand acres of land of the first quality, in separate tracts of' tive thousand acres each, for the endowment of a collegiate seminary of learning.
The next year an act establishing a university was passed, a trustee of which was William Houstoun, a member of the Congress of the United States from that State, and one of the committee, as will be seen.
that reported a bill with the provision setting apart a certain portion of land in each township of the western territory for school purposes.
On the 17th of May, 1784, Mr. Jefferson, as Chairman of a committee for that purpose, presented to the Congress of the Confederation an ordinance respecting the disposition of public lands. This draft contained no reference to schools or education. On the 4th of March, 1785, another bill for the sale of western lands was introduced, by whom not stated, and on the 16th was recommitted by Congress to a committee of twelve.*
This committee on the fourteenth of April reported “ An ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of lands in the western territory,” which contained the following paragraph :
There shall be reserved the central section of every township for the maintenance of public schools, and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward for the support of religion. The profits arising therefrom in both in. stances to be applied forever according to the will of the majority of the male residents of full age within the same.
On the twenty-third of the same month, Mr. Pinckney, of South Carolina, seconded by Mr. Grayson, of Virginia, moved to strike out “ for the support of religion,” and insert “ for religious and charitablo
Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, seconded by Mr. Smith, of New York, moved to amend the amendment by striking out the words “religious and.” On the question, Shall the words moved to be struck out stand ?
* The committee were Pierce Long, of New Hampshire, Rufus King, of Mus. sachusetts, David Howell, of Rhode Island, Wm, S. Johnson, of Connecticut, R. R. Livingston, of New York, Charles Stewart, of New Jersey, Joseph Gardner, of Pennsylvania, John Henry, of Maryland, Wm. Grayson, of Virginia, Hugh Williamson, of North Carolina, John Bull, of South Carolina, and Wm. Houstoan, of Georgia.
Rufus King graduated at Harvard, in 1777.
David Howell, born in New Jersey, graduated at Princeton, in 1766, and was at one time Professor of Mathematics in Brown University.
Wm. S. Johnson, son of Dr. Samuel Johnson, graduated at Yale, 1744, a fellow of the Royal Society, and received the degree of LL.D. from Oxford, and at & later period President of Columbia College, New York city.
John Henry graduated at Princeton, in 1769.
Hugh Williamson graduated at College of Philadelphia, now University of Pennsylvania, in 1757, and had been Professor of Mathematics therein.
R. R. Livingston graduated at King's (now Columbia) College, New York city, in 1765, and in after life encouraged Fulton in propelling boats by steam, and was President of the Academy of Fine Arts.
The vote was as follows :*
States voting N:1.
Rhode Island... Mr. Ellery. New Hampshire. . Mr. Long.
Rhode Island... Mr. Howell. Massachusetts ......Mr. Hoiton.
Maryland Mr. McHenry.
Maryland Mr. Henry
New York......Mr. Smith (no.)
Mr. Grayson. New York... Mr. Haring (aye.) South Carolina. ..Mr. Pinckney. North Carolina.. Mr. Williamson (ayo.) Georgia ...
Mr. Houstoun. North Carolina. Mr. Sitgreaves (no.) So the question was lost and the words were stricken out.
Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, seconded by Mr. Smith, of New York, now moved to strike out all that which related to setting apart a section for the support of religion. On the question, Shall the words, " and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward. for the support of religion," stand ? The vote was as follows: States voting Aye.
States voting No. New Hampshire....Mr. Foster.
Rhode Island...Mr. Ellery. New Hampshire....Mr. Long.
Rhode Island... Mr. Howeil.
Maryland Mr. McHenry.
Maryland Mr. J. Henry
Mr. W. Henry.
Mr. Vining: Delaware.. Mr. Bedford,
States divided. Virginia..
. Mr. Monroe.
New York.. Mr. Smith (no.)
New York... Mr. Haring (aye.)
Mr. Houstoun. North Carolina..Mr. Sitgreaves (no.) So the question was lost and the words were stricken out.
A motion was then made by Mr. Johnson, of Connecticut, and seconded by Mr. King, of Massachusetts, further to amend the paragraph by inserting after the word “schools” the following: "and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward, for charitable uses ;" which amendment was lost.
Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, voted by Statos. To adopt a measure the vote of seven States was required, and in certain cases nine. The vote of a Suate was not counted unless at least two members were present.
The vote was as follows:
States roting Aye.
New Hampshire. Mr. Foster.
. Mr King Connecticut.. .Mr. Johnson. Delawaie.
Mr. Viring: Delaware.
.Mr. Bedford. Virginia.
Mr. Monroe. Virginia
Mr. Lee. Virginia .. Mr. Grayson. South Carolina. Mr. Pinckney. Georgia... Mr. Houstoun.
States doting No.
Mr. J. Henry.
On May 20, 1785, the ordinance as finally amended was passed with the following provision for education :
There shall be reserved the lot No. 16 of every township for the maintenance of public schools.
The Ordinance of 1787 " for the government of the Territory northwest of the river Ohio" confirmed the provision of 1785, and declared that "religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” A few days after the passage of the Ordinance, regulations were made for the sale of the western territory, and in these it was provided that lot No. 16 in each township should bu given perpetually for schools, and that “ lot No. 29 in each township, or fractional part of a township, to be given perpetually for the purposes of religion ;” and, further, that “ not more than two complete townships to be given perpetually for the purposes of a university.”
The grant of lot No. 29 for the purposes of religion has only been made in two instances—in the case of the Ohio Company, and what is known as the Symmes Purchase. Ohio, and the other western States admitted into the Union during the first half of the present century, received the sixteenth section of every township for the use of schools, in addition to the grant of two townships for universities.
The Commissioner of the Land Office, in 1846, and the Secretary of the Treasury, (R. J. Walker,) in 1847, recommended an increased grant of lands for school purposes to the new States and Territories.
In the first session of the Thirtieth Congress, February 15, 1848, as the question was about being put on the passage of the bill admitting Wisconsin as a State of the Union, the Hon. John A. Rockwell, member of the House of Representatives from Connecticut, moved an amendment giving the thirty-sixth in addition to the sixteenth section in each