Page images
PDF
EPUB

universities. From these education must reach the masses. Our own sons must be taught to build and operate machinery. Furnaces and foundries, studios, and workshops must be as honorable and abundant as the offices of the learned professions, and they must be filled with our own children, made experts in our own schools of science. Then population will also flow in from other States and countries, and in a form not to displace or dominate over us but only to add to our strength. Then wealth will increase, homes will multiply, power become a fact and not a theory, and then, and not till then, we shall see and feel, taking bodily shape and form, those tantalizingly perplexing myths after which we have so long vainly grasped-State sovereignty, and State independence !

And what shall we do with the negro? He is still among us. His capacities still form a problem. But our duty is plain, and our interest is equally plain. We must do all in our power to educate, elevate, protect, and advance the negro. If his capabilities prove sufficient to enable us to promote him into an intelligent laborer, the country will reap the benefit. If he prove insufficient we shall have demonstrated the fact, and others will take his place. We must have an educated labor. We must have multiplied industries. We must have schools of agriculture, of commerce, of manufactures, of mining, of technology; and we must have them as sources of power and respectability, and in all our own sons must be qualified to take the lead and point the way.

Let us now apply the views presented to our own State, to our own University, and deduce our duties to both. No portion of the habitable globe surpasses Georgia in natural gifts. In coal, iron, and metals she equals Pennsylvania. In timber and water power for machinery she exceeds, beyond computation, Massachusetts. In capacity to sustain population she is greater than New York, and in value and variety of her productions and the genial healthfulness of her climate she is excelled by no equal area of the earth's surface. Those wise men, therefore, who, in 1787, predicted the superior growth of the Southern States in wealth, population, and power, were certainly not unreasonable in reference to our own State. Then

wiy, with such vastly superior natural gifts, is Georgia so iar behind each of the States mentioned, and, indeed, so far behind other younger and smaller States not mentioned? Only because the art and skill which utilize natural advantages have been applied there, and have not been applied here. We have looked almost exclusively to the negro slave as our laborer. We have by law, even, kept the negro an ignorant laborer. We have thus fixed a social brand on labor itself, and have thus made it promotive of social caste to be able to live idly, and one of the greatest misfortunes, entailing a sort of social exclusion, to be compelled to labor. This system has rendered our own people unwilling and unqualified to multiply our fields of industry, and this same system has kept away the educated laborers of other countries. The result is that almost the only field of labor occupied in our State is that one of agriculture supposed to be adapted to the capacities of the uneducated negro slave, and in that field we find our natural strength greatly lessened by the perpetual wear of ignorant muscle, instead of being, as in the States mentioned, improved by educated skill. We have not only refused to mine our metals and give employment to our water powers, but we have been cutting down and burning up our forests; we have so stirred our soils that the rain which kindly came to fructify them were compelled cruelly to wash them away; we have converted into the flesh and bones of the slaves the wealth which God placed in our hands, and then carried off the slaves west to repeat the process; and in all the natural elements of agricultural wealth we are weaker to-day than we were in 1787. Now, this process cannot continue. Our coal and iron will not always sleep in the shallow earth because we think it unbecoming the social position of an educated gentleman to wake them up and lift them out. nificent trees will not always grow and fall and decay because our young men think the style of a gentleman is a soft hand in a kid glove. Nor will the educated laborers of other States and countries always, or even much longer, send here and freight away, at great expense and labor, our raw material to foreign shops for manufacture. No, that supposed necessity which enacted the law that labor, as a thing of muscle, must be kept ignorant, has been

Our mag

swept away. Its consequences, social and otherwise, must cease. The time is coming, and now is, when professional gentlemen will not be regarded as the only class of occupied society who need a first-class education, and who may compete with the more fortunate idle in social excellence and matrimonial preference. Whether we educate them or not, and whether in the persons of our own children or not, the practical geologist, the mineralogist, the chemist, the miner, the manufacturer, the machinist, the mechanic, the engineer, the artisan, the earnest alumni of all schools of applied science, with diplomas in their pockets, are all to inhabit and will inhabit and work and build

up

this State so favored with rich gifts and spreading fields for all.

Our tired soil will strike up a song like unto Miriam's, when it feels the touch of accomplished skill. Our ores will leap from their beds, and in ringing mirth make and feel active machinery. Our flowers and plants will load the air with merry fragrance as they yield their hidden essences to heal and to comfort. Our waterfalls, wearied with the solos of centuries, will join in musical duets with the shuttle and loom. Our pine and oak, and walnut and cypress, will take every form of beauty and every shape

Our fields, renewed like a strong man from his couch of fever, will yield tenfold sheaves for our garners. Our wilderness will be filled with cottages; our villages will grow into cities, and our cities will enlarge their borders and increase their spires; and our harbors will proudly ride the ships of the whole earth, bearing away the products of mine and fields, and shop and factory, ready wrought into everything of ornament and value.

And I tell you, nay, in the earnest words of one whose very soul feels the pressing weight of the utterance, I warn you this day, that they who work these results will govern in this country. If the present gives sure prognosis of anything in the future, if the examples of other countries like developed teach any lesson, it is that the physical and scientific developments of this country will fix the character of our institutions, and furnish the rulers of our people. Progressive civilization has issued its new decree. Professional men shall have rivals for the seats of power; and those rivals are the devoted children of applied science, the educated leaders of labor, who hold in

for use.

their grasp the ever-enlarging fields which employ, improve, and control mankind.

The only question is, whether our children or the children of others shall occupy these fields and be these rulers. They will be occupied, and by rulers.

God never gave

this Southern country so many rich gifts to lie forever unappropriated. Those who know their value will not permit them to remain forever useless when all the world needs them. We must answer the question. Will we, like wise fathers, like thinking, educated citizens, wake up to the full realization of the new civilization that is now throwing its light in floods upon us, and provide for our children and people the facilities by which they may retain the possessions they occupy? Shall we teach them to pine away or fret to exhaustion for imaginary treasures hopelessly lost rather than how to reach out their hands and gather richer real treasures piled up all around them?

The beginning of all improvement in Georgia lies in the enlargement of our system of education. Education is like water; to fructify, it must descend. Pour out floods at the base of society, and only at the base, and it will saturate, stagnate, and destroy. Pour it out on the summit, and it will quietly and constantly percolate and descend, germinating every seed, feeding every root, until over the whole area, from summit to base, will spring “the tender blade and then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear.”

The first necessary step in any educational system, and the first, the highest, the holiest duty now pressing upon every Georgian, is to build up this University. This is our summit. This is the Ararat on which the ark that bears all that is left of our old civilization must rest from the storms and waves of revolution, and send out the life and strength and hope of a better civilization, which shall not again be destroyed.

In organizing a complete university I would, in the first place, preserve a full and rigid college curriculum for all who desire a strictly classical and literary education. I would then add polytechnic schools with courses of study, abstract and applied. I would provide every facility to make and accomplish the universal scholar and the special expert. Nothing desirable or useful in knowledge should

be better or more thoroughly and cheaply acquirabie elsewhere. I would have teaching by lectures, by recitations, and by experiments; examinations, individual and class, oral and written. In the next place I would make tuition free in every department of the university. I would pull down the toll-gates which bar the passage of light; and knowledge should go to the ignorant mind as air goes to the tired lungs, and water to the parched lips. Every father in Georgia should be taught to feel and be made to rejoice that his son has a patrimony in the University of his State. And not only this, I would provide for the proper selection from every portion of the State of the promising children of orphanage and indigence, who should find here that parental kindness and smile of fortune which would secure food and raiment, with education. I would establish systems of scholarship and fellowships, and would require their recipients to distribute throughout the State the blessings they had thus received from the State. We have had in the past, nominally, a University of Georgia, and I would have in the future really a University for Georgia. The field of power and glory opened by this thought for our State in one generation is rich and inviting, but too broad for exploration to-day.

Let it not be objected that a system like this would require means. Education is the one subject for which no people ever yet paid too much. Indeed, the more they pay the richer they become. Nothing is so costly as ignorance, and nothing so cheap as knowledge. Even under old civilizations the States and people who provided the greatest educational opportunities were always the most wealthy, the most powerful, the most feared and respected by others, and the most secure in every right of person and property among themselves. And this truth will be tenfold more manifest in the future than it has been in the past. The very right arm of all future national power will rest in the education of the people. Modern civilizations mock any extent of brute force in the hands of ignorance. Power is leaving thrones and is taking up its abode in the intelligence of the subjects. Liberty, weakened with perpetual treacheries, and worn out with constant alarms for her safety in the forms of government, will soon find no abiding home save in the intelligence of

« PreviousContinue »