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To His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable Council:
The Trustees o' the Massachusetts Agricultural College respectfully submit their Fifteenth Annual Report:
The experience of the year 1877 has not differed materially from that of preceding years. The objects for which the College was established have been kept steadily in view by the officers in charge, and such improvements made as the means at their disposal would allow. The appropriation of the last legislature was barely sufficient to defray ordinary expenses; and it has been only through the liberality of an individual member of the Board that certain indispensable repairs have been made, and a new propagating house for the botanical department built, without increasing the indebteddess of the corporation. The same generous friend, Hon. William Knowlton, has also kindly indorsed the notes of the treasurer during the past three years, and thus enabled him to maintain the credit of the College.
Justice demands that this debt of twenty thousand dollars, which has gradually accumulated through the failure of successive legislatures to provide the necessary funds for the current expenses of the institution, should be paid at once by an appropriation.
It is also necessary, unless radical changes of management are adopted, that the sum of five thousand dollars be provided to meet the deficit in the income for the ensuing year. The plan of organization, the course of instruction, and the method of agricultural experiments and scientific investigations which are now in operation at the College, are the results of much discussion, extensive observation, and large experience. They are also, in the main, quite satisfactory to all intelligent persons who are acquainted with them; and the principal objection to the College arises from the fact that money is required for its proper maintenance. Again and again have different legislatures visited the beautiful estate in Amherst belonging to the Commonwealth; and after seeing the faculty and students, with their books, specimens, and apparatus, the costly and commodious buildings, the fine live-stock in the barns, and the interesting contents of the plant-house, they have always voted the indispensable funds. But it is a very difficult and expensive undertaking to exhibit thus the whole Institution to the legislature, to explain in detail all its arrangements, and to answer fully all the misstatements and captious criticisms of those who, for any reason, choose to oppose the needed appropriations. This annual education of the great majority of the general court is rendered stiil moje arduous by the fact that the people of Massachusetts are chiefly engaged in other occupations than agriculture, and therefore feel but little interest in its advancement; while the farmers, as a class, are so conservative as to have but a very moderate appreciation of the advantages to be derived from their College.
On the other hand, there are many reasons for encouragement. The possible utility of agricultural education is no longer questioned, and the importance of technical schools is now generally admitted ; many honest opponents of such institutions having been converted, within a few years, into sincere and helpful friends.
It is easy to demonstrate that the College, with its scientific professors, its excellent farm, live-stock, and machines, its museums, library, laboratories, and plant-houses, may not only furnish a thorough scientific and practical education to such as desire it, but may also accomplish a vast amount of good by the careful trial of new implements, seeds, fertilizers, and methods, and by original investigations upon the great problems of agriculture and horticulture. The analysis and inspection of fertilizers which is constantly going on under the direction of Professor Goessmann is worth more to the farmers of the State than the entire expense of carrying on the College ; and the experiments of Professor Stockbridge, upon the use of chemical fertilizers where stable-manure