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FEDERAL AND STATE AID TO ESTABLISH HIGHER
The interpolated “university grant" connected with the "ordinance of 1787"-The grant for
colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts of 1862–Estimate of the gross sun received for the sale of these lands--The management of the lands for which Jr. Cornell bargained with the State of New York-Expressions of opinion which justify provision for the dissemination both of culture and utilitarian knowledge by Government–The effort of the States to foster higher education - The method of Massachusetts, of New York, of Virginia, and of Michigan selected as illustrations--The present time marked by the desire of the people to directly tax themselves specifically for higher education-Summary, by States, of Federal and State aid for the purpose of establishing universities and colleges. In the United States the establishment of higher institutions of learning has been promoted by one or more of five agencies, which are, respectively, the Federal Government, the several State governments, the churches, private individuals, and the promoters of business enterprises. These agencies have so cooperated as to make it impossible to state exactly the financial part each has played in establishing, much less in maintaining, higher education in the country. Nevertheless it is possible to give with some degree of accuracy the amount of public aid for promoting a project which was first distinctly connected with free government in the Massachusetts constitution of 1780 and subsequently repeated, enlarged in matter and condensed in form, in connection with the so-called "ordinance of 1787," or constitution for the new States that were to be formed in the interior of the continent. This original provision of the constitution of Massachusetts reads as follows:
Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools (in the English sense, or secondary] in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, by rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humor, and all social affections and generous sentiments among the people.?
1 By Mr. Wellford Addis, specialist in the Bureau.
* In his Life of Alexander Hamilton, Mr. William Graham Sumner, professor of political and social science in Yale University, remarks: “The facts which we have now presented suffice to show that the great faults in the public affairs of the United States at this time (the régime of the Continental Congress) were indolence, negligence, lack of administrative energy and capacity, dislike of any methodical, businesslike system, and carelessness as to money responsibility and credit. A man with experience of the world finds that there are few things to be got for nothing. His mind inevitably reverts to the cost or the equivalent. He reduces his expectation to the measure of the equivalents he can give. In these observations we have ED 97-72
For the propagation of this extraordinary announcement, due to the genius of the man who became the first Vice-President and seconil President of the United States, see Note A of this chapter.
I. FEDERAL AID.
In 1787 Congress passed an ordinance for the government of the territory north of the Ohio, then lately converted into public domain through the relinquishment of their claims by the States of Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. This ordinance carefully provided for the interests of elementary education, but said nothing for those of higher education. But under the stimulating influence of a determined and highly educated scientist and minister of the gospel, who was negotiating at the time for the purchase of 5,000,000 acres of land in the territory for which the ordinance had been drawn, a provision was incorporated in the subsequent act authorizing the sale of the lands whereby i not more than two complete townships “were “ to be given [to each State) perpetually for the purposes of a university, to be applied to the intended object by the legislature of the State.” The precedent thus made has been deprived of its casual importance and has been made a rule for the advantage of every new State.
The sale of the lands thus granted for the establishment of a university in each new State was subject to the action of its legislature. Thus there was necessarily an opportunity left for experimenting with the lands until experience had taught its lesson. The newer States of Minnesota (1858),' Kansas (1861), and Nebraska (1867) profited by the experience of their predecessors, and in doing so have produced results which are phenomenal in the popular management of public lands. The disasters and vacillation attending the early action in regard to the university lands, some States receiving their quota before admission, make it difficult to ascertain exactly what sum was obtained from the sales, and to this difficulty must be added that in many cases the lands were sold on long time. In Ohio the lands were leased for ninety-nine years at a valuation of $1.75 an acre, and though in 1804 this valuation of the lands amounted to $70,000, in 1893 it was found that they were assessed at $1,060,000, yet the university was only receiving at that date an income of $9,400 instead of $63,600 from the 46,000 acres which had been granted in 1787 for the establishment of a university. Further, it is said by the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin that lands which were sold in 1850 at $25 an acro were sold by that State in 1819 at $3. But by far the greatest difficulty encountered in computing the amount received from the sales is to separate the university fund from the fund arising from the sale of lands given by the Federal act of 1862 and from State aid given regularly or occasionally. It will therefore be well to state first the amount of land received by each State from the Federal Government, which, being a matter of fact, should be kept quite separate from certain estimates as to the amount those lands were sold for, to be made hereafter.
the clew to the career [during the organization of this Government?] of Alexander Hamilton." Excerpted from pages 101-103. But the article of the constitution of Massachusetts was written by the hand of another Federalist. Cf. Philbrick, in his article, États-Unis, in Buisson's Diction. naire de Pédagogie, 1re partie, page 922; also Barnard's report as Commissioner of Education for 1863, pages 86 and 87, where an interesting
circumstantial account is given of the origin of 1 tho "scientific” and Mr. Adams's fear for the "good humor" clauce.
1 In the first constitution of Minnesota (1858) it is provided that not more than one-third of the school lands may be sold in two years, one-third in fivo years, and one-third in ten years, but the lands of greatest valuation shall be sold first, and no lands shall be sold otherwiso than at public sale.
Grants by Federal Government to States for the establishment of higher institutions
of learning, excluding grant of 1862 for colleges of agriculture and the mechanic aris.
1 Not including ono half of 1 per cent of all proceeds derived from sale of United States lands in State, $156,613.
. One township was granted to Territory and given to Vincennes University, which sold 1.135 acres for $6,000. When the State was admitted, another township was given to Indiana University, and subsequently still another township, Including one-tenth of lands granted to State as "saline," 4.600 acres.
Three sections were also granted (in addition to townships) by treaty of Fort Meigs in 1817. These realized $5,000.
- of which 1,234,240 belong to the new States and tho Territories of the Plains and Rocky Mountain region.
In 1862 Congress passed an act for the purpose of establishing institutions for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, without excluding other scientific studies and the classic languages. The means provided to accomplish this purpose were, including Colorado's share but not the share of any State admitted since 1876, some 9,600,000 acres of public lands—“the land grant of 1862"-as is particularized below: The land granted by the Federal Government, ací July 2, 1862, for the cstablishment
of colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.
NOTE.-Amount obtained from the sale of these lands is given under the name of each State, pages 1006 et seq.
Here are 13,000,000 acres, that is to say, 20,000 square miles, of selectable lands granted by the Federal Government specifically for the establishment of higher education. The question is, How are they to be valued? for, as before remarked, there is no possibility of discovering, without long and patient research among the archives of each of the State capitols, what sum the lands were really sold for, or exactly how much money came into tha hands of the State, or even for what particular educational purposes the amounts received were expended. To this want of precision in regard to the amount received from the lands, and as to the number of acres unsold, or, if sold, yet to be paid for, must be added the far less important difficulty that about 1,234,000 acres of the university lands and about 850,000 acres of the grant for agricultural and mechanical colleges—in Utah
specifically for an agricultural college-belong to the new States of the far West. But as these lands thus granted to the new States are. potential but not actual endowment, or, as it is called, “ productive funds," we are more particularly concerned with the States admitted before 1889.
The United States valued such lands as it gave to the new States of the far West at $10 an acre, or $6,400 a square mile. If valued on this basis, the lands given by Congress during the century, up to 1889, for the purpose of establishing higher education of all kinds would amount to $109,000,000, or, including the grants since 1889 (2,084,000 acres), $129,000,000. The magnitude of the figure ($108,000,000) as compared with the amount now held by each State institution as an endowment fund from the sale of university and other lands for higher education shows at once that $10 an acre is entirely too high as an average valuation of the lands granted by Congress since 1803 to the date of the acts which admitted the States of the Rocky llountains.
In placing these lands upon the market the earlier States that came into the Union felt the competition of the lands still held within the State or elsewhere by the United States. These lands the United States were offering at the uniform price of $1.25 an acre. The advantage of the States was that they could select the best lands, and their policy in disposing of them was the Fabian policy of delay. Without lingering in these generalities or dwelling on the difficulties of legislative management of public property to be placed upon the market, an incident may be related of the possibilities offered to such management. The land scrip issued to many of the States in compliance with the act of 1862 was being sold in some cases at 50 or 60 cents an acre in the open market. The State of New York had 990,000 such acres. These were going at the market rate named when Mr. Cornell made a proposition to the State to buy the whole body of scrip yet unsold at 60 cents an acre, to be paid for as resold, providel the scrip be placed in his hands for location and that all obtained for the lands above 60 cents an acre become an endowment for å university. The proposition was accepted, the scrip was skillfully located in the white-pine forests of Wisconsin, all premature longings and solicitations of too-impatient people were resisted, and the lands were eventually sold for $6.73 an acre on the average. As a result the Cornell University has a fine endowment, a monument not only of the public spirit but of the business sagacity of Mr. Cornell and Mr. Henry W. Sage, who so ably effected their splendid project, not by benefactions, but by their personality, the element by which “benefactors" accumulate their wealth. The State of Kansas has also done well by the lands granted. It deliberately fixed the price of its university lands so high that after some years it was necessary to reduce the price one-fourth to get them on the market. Nor is Kansas alone in her judicious management of the fund granted by the people of the whole country to the several States formed from time to time out of the Federal territory.
Stiil it is not fair to take the results obtained by exceptionally good management as the average price for the 10,800,000 acres given by Congress up to 1889. The United States lands were sold in the early days of the century for $1.25, and that figure may seem to be the average value of public lands. But it is to be remarked that when the Government-aided railroads were constructed the price of public (United States) lands along their routes was doubled with good reason. So would it be in a State into which immigrants were rushing. To be admitted, the State must have been fairly settled in the American sense of being run over by a prospecting population, and the internal-improvement movement of the twenties and thirties was aiding in the construction of thoroughfares. It therefore does not appear to be an extravagant estimate to place the average value of the 10,800,000 acres at $2.50. Thus we obtain $27,000,000 instead of $108,000,000 for the 17,000 square miles of public lands given by the Federal Government up to 1889. Yet small as this amount is, it seems too large. It is a fair statement to
place the price received for the 9,600,000 acres of land given in 1862 for the establishment of colleges of agriculture and the mechanic arts at $1.10 an acre. On that assumption it will follow that $10,500,000 was received for the lands. This amount is a little more than is indicated by the principals of the fund, held separately by the several States, which principals considered as one fund yield, interest estimated at 6 per cent, about $600,000.2
The university lands, however, were not thrown on the market, like the agricultural and mechanical college lands, in an immense block during a distressing period of the country's history, so that scrip was sold for 60 cents an acre, as in the case of New York, or 55 cents, as in the case of Pennsylvania, or 54 cents, as in the case of Ohio, and so on. These university lands, all told, up to 1889, were 1,214,902 acres. Deducting from these the lands given to Colorado, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee, it is probable, from returns and estimates, that the 983,622 acres remaining brought about $1,016,000, or about $1.08 an acre, which will compare favorably with the sales of Cornell University which had about the same quantity and for it obtained $6.73 an acre. Let us assume that $1.08 an acre will be a fair average price for the whole body of 1,344,902 acres, and it will be found that these lands yield $5,000,000 for the establishment of institutions for the higher education of the minds of the youths of the several States. Putting these two grants-one for spiritual and the other fox technical or scientific education-together, it will be seen that the value to higher education of the 17,000 square miles given by the people of the United States to the several States before 1889 was in the neighborhood of $15,000,000 or $16,000,000.
The grant of 1862 was insufficient, and the Federal Government again came to the aid of the States. In 1890 an act for the “more complete endowment of the institutions called into being or endowed by the act of 1862” was passed. Under this act $8,208,000 has been already furnished from the Federal Treasury, and in virtue of the act of Congress of 1887 the experiment stations, which are being more and more intimately connected with the agricultural colleges, have received nearly $8,000,000 from the same source. Thus the sum total estimated and really given by the Federal Government as aid to higher education of some kind or another is in the neighborhood of $31,000,000 or $32,000,000, to say nothing of the future, which now shows an annual offer of about $1,700,000 from the Federal acts of 1890 and 1887 alone.
The uniformity of the legislation of Congress regarding the granting of land for the purpose of establishing higher education in the several States as each came into the Union was interrupted by the provisions of the act of 1889, which adinitted the States of North and South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. In 1854, 1857, and 1881 Congress had given to each of the Territories the usual grant of two townships, and the Territory of Washington as early as 1855 had established a university at Seattle. On the admission of two of the Territories as States in 1889 and the subdivision of another into two States, Congress, instead of granting a certain quantity of land for“-internal improvements,” another quantity as “saline lands,” and still another as “swamp and overflowed lands," gave large blocks of land in lieu of these general unconditioned grants for the specific purpose of establishing institutions for higher education and for charitable purposes and the
* The attorneys for Cornell University place it at $1.65. But it is their duty to make the most of the magnificent management of Mr. Cornell, and they include the sale of 989,920 acres belonging to New York, not at 60 cents an acre, at which the State sold it, but at $6.73, at which Cornell University sold it, or held it. They put the receipts for the sale of the 9,600,000 acres at $15,900,000, $8,188,000 of which being what was obtained over the amount ($173,000) paid by Cornell University to the State of New York. But in this statement of Messrs. Halliday & Finch, the attorneys of Cornell in a friendly suit between that institution and the State, Nebraska is put down for $39,000, whereas it is claimed that $600,000 is nearer the mark, as will be found when the lands are sold.
See Report of Commissioner of Education 1895-96, Chap. XXVII.