« PreviousContinue »
farmer as well—to say in his annual message at the second session of the Fourth Congress, December 7, 1796, just a year after the organization of the first industrial and technical school in Europe, these words:
" It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity this truth becomes more apparent and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting it grow up supported by the public purse ; and to what object can it be dedicated with greater propriety.
Among the means which have been employed to this end, none have been attended with greater success than the establishment of Boards composed of public characters charged with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums and small pecuniary aid to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment contributes doubly to the increase of improvements by stimulating to enterprise and experiment and by drawing to a common centre the results everywhere of individual skill and observation and spreading them thence over the whole nation.
Experience accordingly has shown that they are very cheap instruments of immense national importance."
NATIONAL BOARD OF AGRICULTURE.
The propositions for a National University and a National Board of Agriculture made about this time were referred to a committee, but never heard from after. A few agricultural societies had been already organized, the earliest in Philadelphia in 1785, the Massachusetts Society for promoting Agriculture, incorporated March 7, 1792, and one in New York and another in North Carolina with some others doubtless, before the present century began.
In 1817 a memorial was presented to Congress through the efforts of members of Berkshire, Mass., Agricultural Society in favor of a National Board of Agriculture. The favorable report of the committee to was referred was ably seconded by some, but opposed by the large majority and defeated.
Finally a National Agricultural Department came into being in connection with the Patent Office about 1837. The Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry has been a stimulus to the industrial and agricultural business of the State since 1820. Local societies sprang up in all sections of the country.
INVENTION STIMULATES AGRICULTURE.
Many and varied influences were at work turning the attention of public men to the agriculture of the country. The possibilities of steam transportation by sea and land were just unfolding. Better postal facilities and more rapid transportation of mails gave an unbounded impetus to the publication of papers and literature of all kinds, stirred the minds and quickened the thoughts of the people.
The discovery of gold in California and the subsequent tide of emigration westward, the tireless spirit of invention which strove on every hand so successfully to substitute the machine for man and steam for muscle, reached the hitherto almost untouched field of agriculture. Improved plows, cultivators and barrows were made, mowing machines invented, horse rakes, tedders, reapers, self-binders, etc., etc., came in rapid succession with numberless improvements, till now the number and variety of farming tools is legion.
AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS OF EUROPE.
Meanwhile the elaborate report on the agricultural schools of Europe by Mr. Chas. L. Fleischmann in the Patent Office report for 1847, and of Dr. Hitchcock, commissioned by the State of Massachusetts in 1851 to examine the agricultural schools of England, France and Germany and report thereon, together with spasmodic efforts in some sections of our own country looking toward the establishment of some agricultural school or college, formed a leaven which was slowly but steadily doing its work on public opinion. Again, observing minds had been a little startled and troubled to find from the census reports of the United States, that our lands all through the country were generally deteriorating, the successive census statistics showing a less and less number of bushels of cereals per acre in nearly all the States.
LAND GRANT ACT INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS.
These facts led the Hon. Justin S. Morrill, then a National Representative from Vermont, on the 14th of December, 1857, to introduce a bill which provided for the issue of land scrip to the several States and Territories at the rate of 20,000 acres for each Senator or Representative in Congress for the purpose of founding a college in each, where such branches should be taught as are most intimately related to agriculture and the mechanic arts.
The Committee on Public Lands reported against this bill about four months later, but Mr. Morrill ably and eloquently defended his cause and perseveringly worked for his bill. Fourteen months after it was offered it had successfully passed both branches of Congress and awaited the signature of President Buchanan to become a law. It was returned with the President's veto and the veto was sustained, although the objections were satisfactorily answered by Mr. Morrill.
PASSAGE OF LAND GRANT ACT.
In December, 1861, he again offered a bill providing for 30,000 acres of the public lands for each Senator and Representative, and it was referred to the Committee on Public Lands.
It was not until May 29, 1862, that Mr. Potter of Wisconsin reported against it, and it was referred to the committee of the whole. On the 2d of May, before the House Committee had reported unfavorably, Hon. Benjamin Wade of Ohio offered a bill essentially the same, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Public Lands, Senator Harlan of Iowa, Chairman. With admirable promptness on the 14th of May he reported the bill with trifling amendments, and on June 10th it passed the Senate without active opposition. The following day the bill went to the House, and although strongly opposed by the Committee on Public Lands, passed on June 19th, and became a law with the signature of Abraham Lincoln, July 2, 1862.
PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF 1862.
This Act gave each State, “ for the purpose hereinafter mentioned,” 30,000 acres of public land for each Senator and Representative in Congress, not including any mineral lands.
Section 2 provides the manner in which the lands should þe set off and " said scrip to be sold by said States and the proceeds thereof applied to the uses and purposes prescribed in this Act, and for no other purpose whatsoever.”
Section 3 provides that the State shall pay out of the Treasury all expense of locating, sale and management of funds, “so that the entire proceeds of the sale of said lands shall be applied without any diminution whatsoever to the purposes bereinafter mentioned.”
Section 4 provides for the investment of the funds derived from sale of the land scrip in stocks of the United States or of the State or some other safe stocks yielding not less than five (5) per centum upon the par value of said stocks, and that the moneys so invested shall constitute a perpetual fund, the capital of which shall remain forever undiminished (except so far as may be provided in section fifth of this Act) and the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated by each State which may take and claim the benefit of this Act, to the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislature of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.
Section ý names the conditions “to which, as well as the provisions hereinbefore contained, the previous assent of the several States shall be signified by legislative acts.”
CONDITIONS OF THE ACT OF 1862.
The first condition requires the State to replace any portion or interest thereon which by any action or contingency be diminished or lost, and allows ten per centum (10) of the original fund to be used for the purchase of lands for sites or experimental farms, whenever authorized by the respective legislature of said States.
The second forbids the use of any portion of the fund or interest in the “ erection, preservation or repair of any building or buildings.”
The third requires that the college be provided within five (5) years, or the fund turned over to the United States.
The fourth is “An annual report is to be made regarding the progress of each college, recording any improvements and experiments made, with the costs and results, and such other matters, including state, industrial and economical statistics, as may be supposed useful ; one copy of which shall be transmitted by mail, free by each, to all the other colleges which may be endowed under the provisions of this Act, and also one copy to the Secretary of the Interior."
The sixth excluded any State in a condition of rebellion from the benefits of the Act, and the seventh required the States to accept the conditions of the Act by legislative action within two years of its approval by the President to be entitled to its benefits.
Sections 6, 7 and 8 relate to the locating, price and sale of the lands.
AMENDMENTS TO ACT OF 1862.
An additional Act, amending section five of the Act of 1862, was passed July 23, 1866, extending the time allowed for acceptance of the benefits of said act three (3) years, and allowing five (5) years after the original five named in the Act for the establishment of a college. Also providing the method by which Territories becoming States might obtain the benefit of the Act.
This time of acceptance by the States was further extended by another amendment to two years from July 1st, 1872.
"With which to provide at least one college as described in the 4th section of an Act entitled “ An Act donating,' &c., approved July 2.1, 1862.”
These are the main facts of the United States statutes under which Agricultural Colleges or Agricultural departments in Classical colleges