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THE HISTORY OF FEDERAL AND STATE AID TO HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STATE EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES.
EARLY COLONIAL EDUCATION.
There is no finer vista of political progress in the development of the American republic than that afforded by the changing views of education sustained by the people, and constantly modified by marked political tendencies. There is no better example of the influence of politics upon culture and learning than that presented by a historical perspective of the ideas which have developed our great educational system.
The colonists held learning as a sacred trust which they had brought from the Old World to be preserved and transmitted to posterity. They held it alike sacred to the best interests of the church and the Society of a new community. But in this early period a decided political tendency in education was wanting; that is, a tendency toward that which educates the individual as a sovereign citizen and prepares him for the duties of the State. The relations of the church and the Government were very close in colonial days, and the control of the individual was frequently effected by the direct influences of both institutions. His duties in society were exactly and minutely specified, although it had not yet dawned upon the local communities that they were to become the component parts of a great republic, and consequently the political dangers of uneducated masses were not fully apprehended until the rising of the national spirit. Almost without exception the colonial governments, either through chartered rights and privileges or by means of self-government, made provisions for educa. tion by granting privileges and charters to private schools, or by establishing schools and colleges by legislative enactment to be supported in part by taxation. However, it required the united efforts of the colonists, through the church, the Government, and private benevolence, to keep learning from being “buried in the grave” of their fore
It must be remembered, too, that the educational as well as the political institutions of the colonies were parts of European civilization removed across the Atlantic, here to be further developed under new conditions according to the needs of nascent States. The germs of educational systems were transplanted to a virgin soil, where, under the benign influences of free political institutions, they grew up, gradually differentiating from the old stock under the influence of new environments. The first schools in America were like those which the colonists had known in the mother countries, while education had in a great measure the same aim. The “grammar schools” of New England were modeled after the grammar schools and middle schools of old England, while the New England academies were legitimate survivals of the “great public schools” of Rugby, Eton, Westminster, and Harrow. The first colonial colleges, such as Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Columbia, and Dartmouth were practically patterned after the old classical colleges, whose forms and curricula may be traced back to mediaeval influences. But lacking in endowment, and in the support of intellectual and moral forces, these schools, planted in a new country, could not approximate to the excellence of their models in the Old World. Realizing the situation, the colonial governments came immediately to the assistance of these schools in New England and furnished a revenue by means of taxation. At the time of the founding of the Dutch and Swedish colonies, the church in Holland and Sweden was a state institution to which education was intrusted. Hence we find the schools in these colonies following the policy of the mother countries, by giving into the care of the church the education of youth. The church edifice was the primitive school-house, and frequently the pastor of the church, the school-master. After the beginning of English dominion over the Swedish and Dutch territory, things were somewhat changed, although the old schools in many instances continued for a long time. Penn's frame of government, drawn in England before the settlement of the English colonists, authorized schools on the English plan, and it was doubtless intended that aid should be given them by revenues raised by taxation. For a long time, however, the chief work of the assembly was to create and not to support the schools; for they were maintained both by the church and private enterprise. The school organized by. Benjamin Franklin, however, determines the colonial policy in its developed state—that of creating the school and assisting private benevolence in its support. Colonial Virginia inherited a university created in England, endowed with land, and supported in part by subscription and donations. The ground for the university was surveyed, but before it could be located a devastating Indian war swept away the entire scheme. But the type and policy of the original movement may be seen in the laterformed William and Mary College, which was supporte" by private aid,
FEDERAL AND STATE AID TO HIGHER EDUCATION.
by taxation, and by royal endowment. The institution and the church were closely united, and the colony contributed to the support of both. Maryland followed closely in the footsteps of Virginia, first in the sup. port of the Virginia college, and secondly in the support, by taxation, of schools founded by subscription, created by the government within her own territory. These county schools were State institutions according to the definition of the term in those days, and afterward made possible the colleges of Washington and St. John, with their State endowments. Farther south, in the Carolinas and in Georgia, we find the same general plan and purpose of education. The schools were modelled after those of England and were considered to be the charge of the colonial government. But as elsewhere noted the schools did not flourish in the sparsely settled Southern districts as well as they did in the village communities of the North.
The dominant spirit in early colonial education was benevolence. Its whole force was spent on the moral elevation of society and on the support of religion. Theology was taught in nearly every college, and the propagation of the Gospel was an important factor in all education. By those who legislated from across the water in favor of education, the benighted colonists and the rude Indians were viewed in the same charitable light. And yet in every instance in which the colonial gov. ernments touched upon education, they considered it a legitimate function and part of their solemn duty to create schools, control them if need be, and support them when necessary. Particularly was this true of higher institutions of learning. Schools of lower grade might be carried on by the single efforts of individuals under sanction of the government, but the investments necessary to support a school of learning required special control and supplementary aid from the State. To this end it was the policy of colonial governments in general to protect, guide, and assist private benevolence in education. They exempted members of colleges from military duty and from taxation, and, having created colleges, freed their property from taxation and assisted them in their support by levying taxes upon the people. Thus the germs of the later educational policy were gradually developed, although the church and the State, so closely united in early education, have become almost entirely separated.
If in the early records of the colonies we find that the general court has taken the initiative in founding schools, as in Maryland and Vir. ginia, in Connecticut, Massachusctts, and New Hampshire, it must still be remembered that the " affairs of the church and the affairs of the State were subjected to the same general control," ? and consequently the early colleges “ were established and supported by a two-fold agency-of the masses of the people on the one hand, and of private
1 See section on "Virginia."
benevolence on the other.”” “It is worthy of note that the contributions of the colonists were at first more or less voluntary in their nature. The church and the commonwealth were closely allied; and as all who received the benefit of the former felt it their duty to contribute to its support in proportion to their means, so they were also expected to give in like manner to the maintenance of the latter.””
GENERAL POLICY OF THE STATES.
After the Declaration of Independence the provisions relating to education assumed a more decidedly political tone. Sentiments began to be expressed in favor of universities, created, controlled, and supported by the State. The colonies had received a new political baptism, and the ideas of sovereign States began to grow and the national consciousness to awaken. With this new political awakening came enlarged views of the needs of political education for a sovereign people. To the ideas already existing in favor of education for the preservation of learning, for the social, moral, and religious improvement of communities, there was added a new zeal for educated citizenship. Pennsylvania in the Constitution of 1776 provided for the support of “one or more universities.” North Carolina followed the same year with a similar provision. Many other States adopted the same measure, either by constitutional provision or by legislative enactment. The charters of the older colleges were confirmed with all their privileges guarantied. In the majority of the new States, private and sectarian schools received the aid of the Legislative Assembly through taxation, grants of land, or protective laws. The principal ways in which the several States have aided higher education may be enumerated as follows: (1) by granting charters with privileges; (2) by freeing officers and students of colleges and universities from military duty; (3) by exempting the persons and property of the officers and students from taxation; (4) by granting land endowments; (5) by granting permanent money endowments by statute law; (6) by making special appropriations from funds raised by taxation; (7) by granting the benefits of lotteries, and (8) by special gifts of buildings and sites. Nearly all of these methods originated among the colonies and were adopted by the States.
GRANTS AND APPROPRIATIONS.
Harvard College was aided by the first six methods; Yale received a permanent tax endowmeht, and special appropriations of land and money; Columbia College received special grants of land and money; the University of Virginia received grants of land and permanent tax endowments; Georgia was one of the first States to grant a large landed
"C. K. Adams: Address on Washington and the Higher Education, 6.
FEDERAL AND STATE AID TO HIGHER EDUCATION.
endowment; South Carolina supported her State institution by a permanent tax endowment; and Maryland granted to her first two colleges a permanent endowment supported by taxation.
Other striking examples might be cited, but it is not necessary, as these will show the general trend of legislation, and that is sufficient for our present purpose. There has been a manifest tendency in all legislation to foster learning and favor those connected with institutions of higher education, and it is no small matter that so many of the States of the Union have declared in their Constitutions for the protection and fostering care of higher education.
Nearly every State Constitution has a section relating to the encouragement of science, literature, learning, etc., and out of the thirty-eight States, two have provisions authorizing the establishment and main tenance of a State university, while twenty-four States have established universities by statute laws.
EXEMPTION FROM TAXATION.
One of the earliest methods of favoring colleges was the exemption of college property from taxation, which to all intents and purposes is equivalent to granting special appropriations in the several cases, equal to the amount of taxes on property of equal value. This custom was almost universal among the colonies, and even extended so far as to exempt in several instances the property of the members of the collegeor university. Thus, Rhode Island formerly exempted all the property of the professors of Brown University from taxation, but when the charter was revised this feature was amended, so that now the property of each professor is exempted to the extent of ten thousand dollars only. The principle of exemption of educational institutions from taxation has been so grounded in the nature of our Government as to represent a practicably irrevocable law.
Historically, no more settled and constant policy has ever been adopted by so many States in regard to higher education. In the majority of the States either constitutional provision or statute law exempts property in actual use for educational purposes, while several go further and exempt the productive funds also. It would be difficult to estimate the number of millions of dollars thus expended during the history of our country for the support of higher learning; for it is assumed that an exception in favor of property invested in educational institutions must necessarily increase the taxes on other property, which is equivalent to voting a tax for the support of education.
According to the Report of the Commissioner of Education for the year 1885–86, the total amount of productive funds of three hundred and forty-five colleges and universities situated in forty-three States and Territories in the United States was $19,687,378. The total valu
See Appendix A.