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taken toward the founding of the Agricultural College. Pursuant to the tenor of the Constitution a bill was introduced into the Legislature in 1853, but was lost in the House after passing the Senate. In 1853 the Legislature passed an act establishing the school, to be located within ten miles of the State capital, and granting twenty-two sections of the salt-spring lands for purchasing a farm and putting the school in operation. The school was to be placed under the management of the Board of Education, and the executive committee of the State Agricultural Society were authorized to select a farm.

The committee selected 623.56 acres lying about three and one-half miles east of Lansing.

The State Board of Education, according to law, concluded the purchase for the sum of $9,353.55, or at an average price of fifteen dollars per acre. Subsequently an adjoining tract of 53.01 acres was procured for the sum of $1,059.92, making in the whole farm 676.57 acres, obtained at a cost of $10,413.47.2

In 1856 buildings were erected, and the school was formally opened in May, 1857, with an attendance of sixty-one students. This was the first agricultural school opened in the United States.

The minimum price fixed upon the twenty-two sections of the saline grant yielded the sum of $56,320. The Legislature appropriated in 1857 the sum of forty-thousand dollars to meet the needs of the institution. In 1858 the Legislature granted for the various uses of the college the proceeds of 6,961 acres of swamp lands which yielded a fund of $42,396.87.

The college thus so favorably started commenced a struggle against the prejudice existing in different parts of the State against a school of such nature. It was finally thought more fitting that the school should be under the control of the State Board of Agriculture, and in accordance with the desire of the State Board of Education the transfer was made in 1861.

It is to be noticed that the Legislature had petitioned Congress in 1850 for an endowment of three bundred and fifty thousand acres of land, but the request was not granted. Again, in 1858 the State Board of Education conjointly with the faculty of the college made a second petition for the same purpose. Although sanctioned by the Legislature, the petition was without avail. But the constant pressure brought to bear upon Congress by Michigan and other States in which the agitation of agricultural education was taking place led to the passage of a Congressional act, in 1858, granting twenty-five thousand acres for every member of Congress in the several States. This bill was vetoed by President Buchanan, but was passed and became a law with few changes in 1862, the principal change being the increase of the number of acres granted to thirty thousand per Representative in lieu of twentyfive thousand. Michigan received by this grant two hundred and forty thousand acres. The minimum price of these lands was fixed at two dol. lars and fifty cents per acre in 1863, but in 1868, before the patents to the lands had been obtained, the mininum price was fixed at five dollars. In 1869 the price of agricultural lands was fixed at three dollars and forest lands at five dollars. A statement of 1880 shows that there remained unsold 151,315.45 acres, and the amount of the fund at that date was $281,449.52, yielding an income of $17,954.82. A later report shows that one hundred and six thousand acres had been sold at an average price of $3.47 per acre, yielding net returns of $367,117.24.

1 Report of Superintendent Public Instruction, 1880, 374. 3 Ibid., 374, 375.

3 Ibid.

4 Joint documents 1858, No. 7, 33.

The remaining land (134,000 acres) is of good quality, and doubtless will yield a premium on the minimum price fixed, five dollars.

The total income from permanent funds prior to September 30, 1880, amounted to $133,033.37 while the legislative appropriations reached the liberal figure of $530,767.35 during the time from the school's organization (1855) to 1880.

The value of the buildings, apparatus, and grounds was estimated in 1880 by President Abbott to be two hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars.

The Agricultural College of Michigan differs but little from ordinary institutions of other States. It proposes 1 to impart a knowledge of science in its application to the arts of life; to afford to its students. daily manual labor; to prosecute experiments for the promotion of agriculture and horticulture; to afford a means of general education to the farming class, and finally, to afford instruction in the courses of study provided for by the act of Congress and the organic law of the college.

The full organization of the academic department of the University of Michigan has rendered it unnecessary that the literary courses in the Agricultural College be developed as fully as in like institutions of other States where thorough literary culture was wanting.


The University of Michigan.
Total appropriations from 1867 to 1880 inclusive..
From one-twentieth mill tax, 1880 to 1888....
Annual appropriations for homepathic department ($6,000)
Special appropriations, 1880 to 1888....

Total State appropriations to University of Michigan.....

$654, 421,00 312, 783. 75

48,000.00 449, 995. 94

1,465, 200.64 WISCONSIN.

Agricultural College. Appropriations from 1855 to 1880 inclusive Appropriations from 1880 to 1888, estimated...

Total appropriations..

530, 767.35 200,000.00

$2, 195, 968.04

1 Calendar 1879. See Superintendent's Report 1880, 377.


In 1838, two years after organization as a Territory, Wisconsin petitioned Congress for aid to establish a university.?

The request was granted, the usual seventy-two sections of land were set aside for this object, and the Territorial Legislature at once passed a law establishing the University of the Territory of Wisconsin. 2

The organization of a board of trustees was, however, the only other action which took place previous to the adoption of the State Constitution in 1848;3 this provided for the establishment of a State university “at or near the seat of government,” and stated, emphatically, that the lands granted for a university should constitute a perpetual fund, the income of which should be devoted to the support of this institation.


This declaration was apparently to little purpose, as the State has treated these domains as granted absolutely, and not as held in trust. There is probably no worse example of mismanaged public educational funds on record than is to be found in connection with this institution, Proper committees were appointed by the Legislature of 1848 to appraise the lands at their true value," and in the following year a law was passed 8 which provided for their sale at auction at prices ranging from $1.13 to $7.06 per acre, as appraised in 1848. No one questions the wise policy of this method of raising funds for the university, but the fact that the legislative body did, in 1849 and succeeding years, “dispose of large tracts of land for three dollars per acre which to-day would readily bring twenty-five dollars” is cause for just censure. Another strange action is chronicled in the Regents' Second Annual Report, dated January 16, 1850. Here it is stated that, while the school lands (every sixteenth section) were held at a value of $3.44 per acre, the university lands, though well selected and of much better quality, were appraised at an average of $2.78 per acre. In defence of their action the Legislature of 1849 claimed that low prices and rapid sales would be more favorable to the speedy accumulation of funds. At the meeting of the Legislature in 1850, however, the sound principle


History of Land Grants for Education in North-West Territory, G. W. Knight. 2 U. S. Statutes, 244. 3G. W. Knight, 145. 4 Constitution, Art. X, Sec. 6. 6 Historical Sketch of University of Wisconsin, S. H. Carpenter, 12. 6 Ibid., 24. 7 Wisconsin Laws, 1848, 123. 8 North-West Territory, G. W. Knight, 145. 9 Ibid., 146.

was advanced that it would be wiser to accumulate a large sum, even though a longer time were required, and they accordingly raised the minimum price of all unsold land to ten dollars an acre, which caused a large increase in the proceeds of the next year's sales.

But this advance in price resulted in such public dissatisfaction that the Legislature of 1851 was persuaded to change the price to seven dollars per acre, except where the land had been appraised higher ($7.06) in 1848.2 Some parties claiming this was too great a price for some of the land, and others that the sales were too much delayed, the Governor was authorized in 1852 to appoint commissioners to re-appraise the sections remaining; this was accomplished, and a minimum price of three dollars: an acre was fixed, which resulted in the speedy sale of the land not already taken.

After all of the various appraisals the entire sum realized from the 46,080 acres was only “ about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. 92


The University of Wisconsin was established in 18504 on the basis of the funds thus secured, but even while passing laws for the sale of the university lands the Legislature realized that the income would be insufficient to support the institution, and they therefore petitioned Congress for seventy-two additional sections in lieu of the saline lands granted to the State in 1848 but never located.5

Congress granted this petition in 1854,6 and authorized the selection of the same number of sections from any of the public lands in the State for the benefit and aid of the State university. An opportunity to atone for past errors was now afforded the Legislature. It began to be realized, after it was too late to.enact suitable laws to remedy the evil, that the best lands had been sold at a disadvantage. It was felt that, whereas the policy pursued had benefited the State at large, it was not faithful to the increase of the seminary fund. In 1872 the Governor boldly asserted that nine-tenths of the value of the fund had been sacrificed by hasty sales at low prices, and the Legislature of that year is also deserving of praise for its honest courage in jastly condemning the unfair policy hitherto pursued. After fully examining the claims of the regents and the condition of the university in 1872 for four years, this body granted ten thousand dollars annually, to atone for the injustice done by the State in selecting for an endowment un. productive lands.

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6 U. S. Statutes, vol. 10, 597.
Governor's Message, 1872, 17.
8 Wisconsin Laws, 1872, chap. 100,

p. 114.

9 Ibid.


Finally, in 1876, the Legislature again records its disapproval of such measures and votes a permanent tax for the support of the university, declaring that “this tax shall be deemed a full compensation for all deficiencies arising from the disposition of the lands donated to the State by Congress in trust for the benefit of the university.1 - Thus," says Knight, “has the mismanagement of earlier days entailed on the present and all succeeding generations a burden of taxation to compensate for early prodigality.” 2



Greater injury than even that wrought by unjust appraisal is, however, recorded in the legislative annals of 1862; here we find that the Legislature authorized the regents to use the principal fund to pay off the debt incurred in the erection of buildings.

By the permission thus granted the sum of $104,339.42 was taken from the fund. This act was clearly in violation of the conditions of the grant and of the provisions of the Constitution, by both of which the proceeds of the land were to form a permanent fund for the support of the university. But it is a great satisfaction to learn that in 1867 restitution was made for this injustice by the passage of a bill which appropriated annually for ten years the sum of $7,303.76, this being the interest at seven per cent. upon the amount taken from the fund in 1862. The charge of one thousand dollars which had been an. nually made to the university for the care of its funds was also now ordered discontinued, and the State treasurer was made treasurer of these funds without additional salary. In 1882 about twenty-two hun. dred acres of the university lands were still unsold, and the fund was $228,438.83, which was invested in Government and municipal bonds and in loans to various counties. Including the money used for the erection of buildings the proceeds of the sales in 1882 were $333,778.25, or an average of $3.71 per acre.2


The early history of this university was a period of great trial and disappointment. In 1849 the Legislature established the precedent of

i Wisconsin Laws, 1876, chap. 117. 2 North-West Territory, 149. 3 Wisconsin Laws, 1862, 168. 4 Governor Washburn's Message, 1872, 17. O Wisconsin Laws, 1867, chap. 82, p. 79. * Historical Sketch of Wisconsin University, 50. 7 Report of Commission on Public Lands, 1882, 6. 8 Report of Secretary of State, 1882, 12.

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