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in repeated instances purchased from them portions of territory, which then became public lands of the United States.
II. DISPOSITION OF TERRITORY.
With the general policy adopted by the Government in the disposition of its public lands thus acquired, we are not at present concerned. It is sufficient to observe that the Congress of the Confederation, on receiving its first cessions of territory from the States, declared, as a fundamental principle, that they
to be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States;" and the principle thus early laid down has ever since, in theory at least, furnished an authoritative rule of action. On this theory something like two hundred million acres of land have been granted to individuals and corporations engaged in works of public improvement, supposed to be “ for the common benefit;" and the laws relating to the settlement and occupation of the public lands have been uniformly framed and administered with a view to benefiting actual settlers, and, through them, the community, rather than increasing the revenue of the general Treasury.
But the Government very early, in accordance with what was then accepted as an almost unquestioned dictate of good policy, made generous donations of its lands for the support of public education, both elementary and higher.
The first ordinance for the government of the Northwest Territory, passed in 1785, and the more famous one of 1787, set apart “ Section 16 of every township " for the maintenance of public schools; the latter act justifying itself by this memorable declaration : “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be for ever encouraged."
The States receiving the 16th section were: Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin. The States receiving the 16th and the 36th are California, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada.
This ordinance was renewed in 1789, after the adoption of the Constitution, and all the States admitted into the Union from the beginning of the present century down to 1848 have received under it the specified 16th section. In 1848, on the
formation of a Territorial Government for Oregon, the 36th section was set apart for schools, in addition to the 16th; and the Territories organized and States admitted since that time have in like manner received these two sections instead of one. Besides these grants to the States at the time of their admission to the Union, sixteen States have received five hundred thousand acres each (Act of 1841), which some of them have added to their school fund ; and fourteen have received, under the designation of “swamp lands” (Acts of 1849, 1850, and 1860), an aggregate of sixty-two million four hundred and twenty-eight thousand four hundred and thirteen acres, which has also, to some extent, been devoted to the same purpose.
The sixteen States receiving the five hundred thousand acres each are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin. The fourteen States receiving the sixty-two million acres are the same, with the exception of Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and Oregon, and with the addition of Indiana and Ohio.
The aggregate of lands thus granted amounts to about one hundred and forty million acres, which may, with substantial accuracy, be taken as a grant from the General Government to the several States for the support of common schools; and the Permanent School Fund of the eighteen States that have received lands under one or all of these grants reaches the considerable sum of $43,866,787.55, an average of nearly two and a half millions each, the most of which is probably derived from that source.
It would be exceedingly interesting and instructive, did space allow, to quote some of the recorded opinions of the eminent men who devised and set in operation the governmental policy touching this important matter. These opinions are scattered in abundance, through public and private documents, and bear the names of Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and many others only less eminent than they. But we must content ourselves with a single quotation of this kind, being an extract from the report of a Committee of the United States House of Representatives, presented February 27, 1806, which well summarizes the views generally prevalent at that period, as well as before and long afterwards :
“ Your Committee are of opinion,” they say, [that] “ it ought to be a primary object with the General Government to encourage and promote education in every part of the Union, so far as the same can be done consistent with the general policy of the nation, and so as not to infringe the municipal regulations that are or may be adopted by the respective State authorities on this subject.
* * The National Legislature has, by several of its acts on former occasions, evinced, in the strongest manner, its disposition to afford the means of establishing and fostering, with a liberal hand, such public institutions."
Nor was the fostering care of the Government restricted to the common schools. The men who laid the foundations of our institutions were not guilty of the absurdity of supposing that any system of elementary education, however excellent, could long thrive unless there were vitally joined with it as part of the same system, provisions for a broad and generous higher education. They believed, and acted upon the belief, that a Government established to “promote the public welfare," and so constructed as to reflect public opinion, might as wisely and legitimately bestow attention upon advanced education as upon primary; and they would have observed with incredulity, if with no stronger feeling, the painful efforts of those philosophers in our own day who labor to show that Government surely ought to promote instruction in “the three R's,” and just as surely ought not to go a step further. They regarded higher and lower education as equally important, each in its own place, and equally worthy of the patronage and assistance of the General Government.
Accordingly, the ordinance of 1787, which has been already referred to, besides its provisions for schools, set apart" not more than two complete townships of land, to be given perpetually for the purposes of a University.” The two townships thus designated for the support of a university have accordingly been given to every State that has been organized since the beginning of the present century; and Ohio was fortunate enough to receive three-one while a Territory, and two on being admitted to the Union. Florida and Wisconsin appear to have received four each. This was the extent of the aid rendered by the Government to higher education previous to 1862. The “ University” lands thus donated amount to only one million one hundred and nineteen thousand four hundred and forty acres, and the benefit derived from them has been exceedingly small. In three or four States the fund has been so administered as to produce good results; but in most cases it has profited a small number of individuals rather than the entire community. The State of Ohio, for example, so disposed of her three townships that they now contribute only $10,000 annually to the support of two “Universities," while the lands themselves have been rendered forever tax-free to the fortunate lessees.
It is a noteworthy circumstance, and, as the result has proved, a grave oversight, that the United States Government, until 1862, attached no conditions to its liberal grants.* In that year the Government may be said to have made a distinct and important advance in its method of donating lands for the support of education, by attaching a condition to its gifts. By the act then passed, as is well known, Congress appropriated to the several States thirty thousand acres of the public lands for each senator and representative in Congress; the amount accruing from the sale of such lands to be invested as a perpetual fund for the maintenance of at least one college in each State, where the principal object should be, “without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the Legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” This grant has been extended, by supplementary acts, so as to apply to States that were in rebellion when the original act was passed ; and on this basis have been established the institutions which have come to be generally, but not very correctly, known as “ Agricultural Colleges.” A few of the States have not completed the establishment of these institutions, and in some others they have
* It would be more strictly accurate to say that the Government attached no “ effective " conditions to its grants. By an Act of Congress, March 3, 1803, certain lands were given to the Legislature of the State of Ohio, “in trust for the use of Schools in that State." But no method was indicated by which the trust should be fulfilled, nor was any penalty provided against a violation of it. The same general condition was probably expressed in other grants.
not been long enough in operation to enable them to state results; but sufficient has been done to furnish the means of estimating their general working, and, especially, of answering the question how far they have fulfilled and are fulfilling the expectations of Congress in establishing them.
Some misapprehension has arisen upon this point, owing, apparently, to a failure to notice the terms of the law, in which the design of the institutions is expressed. A moment's observation will show that the words of the act, as quoted in the preceding paragraph, are the statement of a comprehensive scheme for promoting the advanced education of the people. The broad purpose is to provide for the “liberal ” as well as “practical education of the industrial classes ;” and that not in any single direction, but“ in the several pursuits and professions in life.” The “leading object” is to be the promotion of “agriculture and the mechanic arts," not, necessarily, by training a body of apprentices in manual practice, which experience in general shows to be attended with too many drawbacks, in an educational institution, but by teaching “such branches of learning as are related to” those subjects; that is, in short, the whole range of the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences, with special reference to their applications in these great branches of human industry.
The whole amount of land liable to issue under the act of 1862, ard the 'acts supplementary to it, is nine million six hundred thousand acres. This land, so far as it has been disposed of, has been sold for an average price of seventy cents per acre, and if the entire amount be reckoned at the same price, the total proceeds will be $6,720,000. This grant of less than $7,000,000 is the sum total of what the Government has done for the institutions referred to.
On this basis thirty-five of the States have located institutions, and as four of them have divided the fund, the number of institutions thus established is thirty-nine. Of these, thirty-six have been opened; but some of them only a few months. The returns from them are necessarily imperfect, both in respect to material values and internal working. The average value of the Congressional endowment of the institutions, as far as ascertained, is $179,645. The maximum endowment is $630,000, and the minimum $50,000.