Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

seminary of learning.” It was not until October 10, 1806, that the township of land falling within Vincennes Territory was located, according to law, by Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury. The lands were chosen in Gibson County, and the university was located in the borough of Vincennes.


The General Assembly at its first sitting (1806) passed an act incorporating the Vincennes University. A somewhat lengthy preamble sets forth the views of these early legislators on the importance of education.

The preamble commences as follows: “ Whereas, The independence, happiness, and energy of every republic depends (under the influence of the destinies of Heaven) upon the wisdom, virtue, talents, and energy of its citizens and rulers; and whereas, science, literature, and the liberal arts contribute in an eminent degree to improve those qualities and acquirements."3 Proceeding from this the article continues to advocate learning as the support of "liberty" and "rational” religion; and "philosophy, and literature” as the best means of furnishing "pleasant occupation;" and the diffusion of knowledge as “ requisite for a magistrate and elector. Then follows the body of the act, establishing a university, under the control of a board of trustees, who were given power to make laws for its control in accordance with the laws of the Territory and of the United States. The trustees were to appoint a president of the university, and not exceeding four professors, for the instruction of youth in Latin, Greek, French, and the English languages, mathematics, natural philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and the law of nature and of nations."

It was further enacted that the departments of theology, law, and physics might be established, and whenever the funds of the university permitted, all students were to be educated gratis in all or any of the branches they might require. “No particular tenets of religion” were to be taught in the university.

Among other things provided for in this act was the raising of funds, not exceeding two thousand dollars, by means of a lottery, "to be conducted by five discreet persons chosen by the trustees;" also, a clause was inserted providing for the teaching of the children of the Indians, who were to be instructed, clothed, and fed while in attendance.

It was further enacted “that the said trustees, as soon as in their opinion the funds of the said institution will admit, are hereby required to establish an institution for the education of females,” etc.

Thus was established the first university in the new Territory, but it

"U. S. Statutes, II, 277.

2 Woodburn's History of Higher Education in Indiana, MS. for circular of Information, Bureau of Education,

3 Woodburn, MS.

was only established by law; it was not yet built. Time must first see

the failure of the exalted plans of the founders, the doors of a struggling institution closed before a university could be developed. It was not until the year 1810 that the university was formally opened for instruction, and then it was only allowed to teach the elementary branches until the university should gain strength. Even then the university must start with the private school of Rev. Samuel Scott as a nucleus. In 1807 the trustees were legally authorized to sell a quantity of land, not exceeding four thousand acres, of the seminary township, and to rent the remainder “to the best advantages for the use of said university.” The trustees soon sold four thousand one hundred and thirtysix acres, and rented parts of the remainder. With the proceeds, about six thousand dollars, the first building was erected. Although the school was in existence from this date until 1825, neither the State nor Territory gave it aid. The trustees allowed their organization to become illegal through lack of attention, and the State withdrew its care. In 1822 the State passed an act virtually confiscating the lands of the university, and devoted them to the support of the State seminary established at Bloomington. In consequence of this act the institution was suspended in the following year, and afterward re-opened under the name of the Knox County Institute. In 1824 the Legislature declared that the Vincennes University “had expired through the negligence of its members.” “This act of 1822 recited the fact that the trustees of the Vincennes University “ had sold portions of such lands, and had negligently permitted the corporation to die without having executed deeds to purchasers,’ and the act provided for the sale of the seminary township, in Gibson County, and for the use of the money as a productive fund for the benefit of the State seminary previously established at Bloomington.” Proceeding upon the assumption that the lands granted to Vincennes University still belonged to the State, the Legislature passed acts in 1825 and 18274 which authorized the sale of the seminary townships in Gibson and Monroe Counties.” It was further provided “that it shall be the duty of the Treasurer of the State to pay quarter-yearly to the president of the board of trustees of the State seminary, to the order of said president, * * * any interest of money in his hands that may have heretofore accrued, or that may hereafter accrue, from the sales of the seminary townships aforesaid.” However, no greater sums should be paid in this manner than the amount of the yearly expenses for salaries in the seminary.

1. Cf. Knight, 124–5. *Three sections near the seminary * Knight, 126. - were reserved. 3Woodburn, MS. *Laws of 1827, chap. 100, p.98.

“Laws of 1827, chap. 100, p. 95.





In the year 1828 the Legislature authorized a loan of the seminary funds and the payment of the interest to Indiana College.

From the above acts, under which seventeen thousand acres of Gibson County lands were sold and the proceeds placed to the credit of the State seminary fund, sprang the famous litigation between the trustees of Vincennes University and the State of Indiana. The history of this litigation is briefly stated in Woodburn's History of Higher Education in Indiana as follows:

“ The withdrawal of State care and attention from this early school is not fully explained. The removal of the capital of the Territory, and consequently of public influence from Vincennes to Corydon, in 1813, the carelessness and suspension of its own board of trustees, and the indifference of its friends, the rise of similar 6academies' and seminaries' in other portions of the State, the desire to have the State seminary near the center of population, which was moving rapidly toward the north, and perhaps political influence—all these worked adversely to the continuance of the school at Vincennes as a State institution.

“But after the school had continued for some years as the Knox County Seminary, the old corporation was resuscitated by an act of the Legislature in 1838 making provision for supplying vacancies in the board of trustees. A clause, however, was inserted in this act intended to prevent the renewal of any claim to the seminary township taken from it in 1822. But in 1845 the trustees of Vincennes University, thus revived, laid claim to the Gibson County lands and to the proceeds of previous sales made by the State, which had been transferred to the Indiana University, formerly the State seminary, and suit was brought to test the question of title.

“In January, 1846, in order to make legal a suit against the State and to relieve the occupants of the lands of responsibility and litigation, an act was passed by the State Legislature authorizing the trustees of Vincennes University to bring suit against the State of Indiana for other purposes. This suit in the Marion County circuit court resulted in a decree in favor of the trustees in the amount of $30,099.66.

“On an appeal to the supreme court of the State the decision was reversed, the court holding that the act of the Territorial Legislature of 1806 granting the lands of the Vincennes University was nugatory, because no such power was vested in it by act of Congress, and that they were not, at the time of sale and disposal, in existence as a corporation, having allowed their corporation to lapse.

“ The trustees of Vincennes University were not satisfied with this decision, and they sued out a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States, which at the December term, 1852, reversed the decis

Laws of 1828, chap. 87, p. 127.

ion of the supreme court of the State, holding that when the Territorial Legislature of 1806 incorporated a “board of trustees for the Vincennes University,' a grant of a township in the Vincennes district by the Congress of 1804, and which was located by the Secretary of the Treasury in 1806, attached to this board, although for the two preceding years there had been no grantee in existence; and holding further that if the board of trustees, by a failure to elect when vacancies occurred or through any other means, became reduced to a less number than was authorized to act by the charter, the corporation was not thereby dissolved, but its franchises only suspended until restored by legislative action.” * The Vincennes University obtained judgment in its favor to the amount of $66,585, but as one-fourth went for counsel fees 1 only about forty thousand dollars were realized.


The attitude of the State of Indiana toward the promotion of education and the establishment of a system of schools including all grades from the elementary to the university is plainly indicated in the first State Constitution, adopted in 1816. As in its Territorial organization, so now legislators were ambitious for the advancement of learning. The statesmen provided for a system of education by a constitutional act, and the people voted for the same; but many years were to elapse before a respectable system of schools should be established. There was need of the schools, but the nascent state of the country would not admit of a full organization. Even the beginnings of colleges and universities, started under whatsoever auspices, were feeble institutions at best.

Section one of Article IX of the Constitution of 1816 treats of the necessity of a general diffusion of “knowledge and learning” for the “preservation of a free government,” enjoins upon the General Assembly the duty of protecting and improving the public lands granted for school purposes, and finally closes with the following clause: “The General Assembly shall, from time to time, pass such laws as shall be calculated to encourage intellectual, scientifical, and agricultural improvement by allowing rewards and immunities for the promotion and improvement of arts, sciences, commerce, manufactures, and natural history, and to countenance and encourage the principles of humanity, industry, and morality.”* This was followed by a more specific statement, which enacts that, “It shall be the duty of the General Assembly, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide by law for a general System of education, ascending in a regular gradation from township schools to a State university, wherein tuition shall be gratis

* The trustees brought suit against their counsel, Mr. Judah, for retaining an exorbitant fee. Mr. Judah, after sustaining defeat in two lower courts, finally won the case in the Supreme Court of the United States.

* Constitution of Indiana (1816), Art. IX, sec. 1.


and equally open to all.” It was further provided that, “For the promotion of such salutary ends, the money which shall be paid as an equivalent by persons exempt from militia duty, except in times of

war, shall be exclusively and in equal proportions applied to the support of county seminaries; also all fines assessed for any breach of the penal laws shall be applied to said seminaries in the counties wherein they shall be assessed.”

THE NATURE OF THE school systEM.

Thus “the pioneer legislators of Indiana conceived an educational system that should meet the entire wants of the people. The common school was to be its base and the State university its apex. The county, seminary was to fill the space between and furnish a preparatory course for the university. The conception was good in theory, but did not suc

ceed well in practice. The failure was caused by a general want of suc

cessful educators at the head of the county seminaries who could draw support and build them up.”

But this plan has been approximated to after many years of partial success and failure. The undeveloped state of the country must be taken into account for the greater part of the failure. It is shown by the history of every State in the Union that where a territory is settled by individuals, and local interests have been first inaugurated, a complex school system can not exist until a comparatively highly developed state of society is reached. - t

Localism and sectionalism, which have brought into existence so many premature institutions, and have likewise caused their early death, have had their influence upon State systems of learning everywhere. Not until a new territory becomes sufficiently thickly settled, so that the interests of different sections touch each other and a common sentiment of justice flows, and a feeling of unity prevails throughout the State, will there be a successful system of education. Commonwealths grow into real being, and in nearly every case the first legislators anticipate the needs of a people by a long period of time.

The university was not organized for eighteen years after the adoption of the Constitution, although a seminary was soon started. There was provision in 1824 for the organization of county seminaries, while the common school system was not established until 1851, thirty-five years after the adoption of the Constitution, forty-seven after the Territorial organization, and one hundred and twenty-one after the settlement of the country (1730).


When Indiana was admitted to the Union in 1816, an additional town. ship of land was granted to the State for the support of an institution

!Constitution of Indiana (1816), Art. IX, sec. 2. *Smart: Schools of Indiana,26. *Ibid., sec. 3. 880–No. 1–15

« AnteriorContinuar »