Page images
[ocr errors]

operation of the bill. “ The justices,” says Jefferson, “ beivg generally of the more wealthy class, were not willing to incur the burden, and I believe it was not suffered to commence in a single county.”

Mr. Jefferson continued untiring in his efforts to advance public education; in a letter of November 28, 1820, to Hon. Joseph Cabell, he says:1 “Surely Governor Clinton's display of the gigantic efforts of New York toward the education of her citizens will stimulate the pride as well as the patriotism of our Legislature to look to the reputation and safety of our own country, to rescue it from the degradation of becoming the Barbary of the Union and of falling into the ranks of our negroes. To that condition it is fast sinking. We shall be in the hands of other States what our indigenous predecessors were when invadled by the science and art of Europe. The mass of education in Virginia before the Revolution placed her with th foremost of her sister colonies. What is her education now & Where is it? The little we have we import, like beggars, from other States; or import their beggars to bestow upon us their miserable crumbs.”

Such was the opinion of the great Virginian, who felt deeply the needs of his people, and advocated the education by the State of all classes of society according to their needs. While the people of Virginia believed that intelligence was the only sure foundation of republican institutions, they did not fully realize the duties and responsibilities of the State concerning education.

During the session of the Assembly of 1816-17, a bill was presented for a complete system of education, and passed the House of Delegates, but failed in the Senate. The proposed system provided for primary schools, with three visitors, in each county; nine collegiate districts, with a college in each district, partly supported by the Literary Fund and a complete university at the head of the system.?


In the year 1809, it was ordered during the session of the House of Delegates that a bill be reported authorizing the appropriation of certain escheats, penalties, and forfeitures to the encouragement of learning.” The bill was accordingly reported and passed on January 19, 1810, and became the foundation of the Literary Fund of Virginia. In 1816 this fund was materially increased by the appropriation to it of all the public debt due from the United States Government, with the exception of a reserve of six hundred thousand dollars.


Albemarle Academy was the germ of the University of Virginia. Efforts were put forth, chiefly through the influence of Mr. Jefferson,

[merged small][ocr errors]

as early as 1783, to establish a graminar school in Albemarle County ; but it was not until the year 1803 that a charter was granted the school under the title of Albemarle Academy, which was to receive support by means of subscriptions and lotteries authorized by the State.

It seems, however, that no efficient action was taken in the matter until 1814, when Mr. Jefferson was elected one of the trustees. Plans were then made for raising funds and for locating the institution. It was decided to raise money by subscriptions and by a lottery. The report of a committee favoring the town of Charlottesville as the most advisable place for the academy was adopted.

Subscriptions for the new enterprise flowed in so rapidly that it was determined to enlarge the academy and form a college. Accordingly, in 1815, the trustees petitioned the Assembly (1) for a dividend from the Literary Fund; (2) for a grant of the proceeds of the sale of two glebes in the parishes of St. Ann and Fredericksville; and (3) for a change of name to Central College, with enlarged powers and provisions.1

The General Assembly granted the petition in part," and by proper enactment established Central College, with the Governor of the Commonwealth as patron with power to appoint the visitors of the college. The proper officers were authorized to demand and receive the glebe lands referred to in the petition, and all the property and powers granted to the academy were merged into the Central College. But the institution which had grown from Albemarle Academy into Central College was destined to take still another forward step before its doors were opened to students; it must develop into the University of Virginia.


16 After a

In 1816 the Legislature of Virginia authorized the president and directors of the Literary Fund to report a plan for a university at the next session of the Assembly. The committee made a full report as requested, but nothing was accomplished beyond bringing the subject of education prominently before the people.

At the legislative session of 1817–18 that part of the bill relating to a university and the education of the poor was passed. long and patient discussion and investigation, it was decided not to interfere with education, except in the points where it could not be safely left to individual enterprise, viz, in the case .of persons too poor to pay for it themselves, and in that where the expenso and magnitude of the subject defied individual enterprise, as in case of a university.93 By the act creating the university a body of commissioners was called from all the senatorial districts of the State to recommend a plan and a site for the university.

In the bill authorizing the establishment of the university, it was pro

University of Virginia, Jefferson and Cabell, 390.
2 The glebe lands were granted and the name changed.
3 Jefferson and Cabell Correspondence, 33.

[ocr errors]

vided that the sum of forty-five thousand dollars per annum should be given for the education of the poor, and fifteen thousand dollars to the university. The commissioners having reported in favor of Central College as the most convenient place in Albemarle County, the Legislature decided, after much discussion, to locate the university at Charlottes. ville, and to assume the property and site of Central College. The commissioners embodied in their report an exhaustive plan for a university, chiefly from the pen of Thomas Jefferson.

The University of Virginia was a State institution whose visitors were required to report to the president and directors of the Literary Fund, and they directly to the Legislature. As the president and directors were directly amenable to the Legislature, this was simply an indirect way of reporting to that body. A law was subsequently passed compelling the rectors and visitors to be at all times subject to the General Assembly and to report to the same. 1

In 1823 the Legislature passed an act appropriating the sum of fifty thousand dollars to procure a library and apparatus for this institution, to be paid out of the first funds that might be realized from the General Government in further discharge of the debt still due the Commonwealth. In order to furnish the university buildings, the Legislature voted the sum of thirty-two thousand dollars, to be paid out of moneys recently received from the United States Government on account of interest on advances made to the Government, during the war, by the State of Virginia.

To advance still further the higher educational interests in the State, provision was subsequently made that when the annual income of the literary fund should exceed sixty thousand dollars, all over and above that sum should be given for the endowment of such colleges, academies, and intermediate schools as should be determined by the Assembly, provided the amount appropriated did not exceed twenty thousand dollars. For many years-indeed, down to the Civil War-the Legislature of Virginia continued its annual appropriation of fifteen thou. sand dollars to the university.


The Legislature of Virginia passed an act February 23, 1866, granting the sum of fifteen thousand dollars annually to the University of Virginia, and directed that the same should be credited on account of interest due by the Commonwealth on its bonds held by the Literary Fund.?

An act approved February 26, 1876, increased the annuity paid out of the public treasury to the university to the amount of thirty thousand dollars, and prescribed as a condition of the grant that free tuition in the academic branches should be given to all white stu

Code of Virginia, 1887, sec. 1541.

· Acts of the Assembly, 1865–66, ehap. 108,

dents, over eighteen years of age, who had fulfilled the requirements for admission. Out of this fund there was first to be paid the in. terest on the university debt and the amount necessary for repairs. There was also to be established a sinking fund of one thousand dollars per annum, to be taken from the said annuity.

In the reorganization after the War, the Legislature, in order to assist struggling institutions, passed an act exempting from taxation all property belonging to incorporated colleges, free schools, and academies used for college or school purposes, and all property belonging to the University of Virginia and the Virginia Military Institute.?

On the 25th of March, 1875, the board of visitors was given authority to consolidate all the debts of the university and issue bonds covering the whole amount, and thus cancel the outstanding obligations with the new bonds.3

Very little was done for the university besides paying the regular annuity until the session of the Assembly in 1883–84.

An act was approved March 15, 1884, appropriating forty thousand dollars for the improvement of the grounds, the drainage, and the water supply. Prior to this act, however, the number of visitors had been fixed at nine, and they were to be appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate.5

The last important act in favor of the university was approved March 15, 1884, amending the act of 1876 relating to the annuity, as follows: “There shall be paid annually out of the public treasury forty thousand dollars for the support of the University of Virginia, which shall be paid out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated." In consideration of this grant, all white youths over sixteen years of age were, if they desired it, to receive instruction in the academic branches; that is, in all branches exclusive of those of law and medicine. The students were to be admitted according to the prescribed rules of matriculation. Of the forty thousand dollars granted annually, seven thousand two hundred dollars were to be set apart for two objects : first, the payment of the interest of the university debt; and second, the formation of a sinking fund with the remainder. The debt at this time (1883–84) amounted to seventy-nine thousand dollars.


This institution, although organized chiefly for military training, has given higher education to very many of the youth of Virginia. Owing to its connection with Washington and Lee University at Lexington,

Acts of the Assembly, 1875–76, chap. 102, p. 110.
s Ibid., 1865-66, chap. 1, p. 6.
3 Ibid., 1875–76, chap. 234, p. 275.
* Ibid., 1883–84, chap. 424, p. 544.
6 Laws of Virginia, 1881-82, chap. 46, p. 370.
o Code of Virginia, 1887, chap. 68, sec. 1554.


[ocr errors]

the institute deserves to be ranked among the schools of advanced learning.

An act was passed by the Virginia Assembly, March 22, 1836, authorizing the establishment of the institute, which was finally organized in 1839 as a State military and scientific school, similar in plan to the military school at West Point.

As the institute was located at Lexington, the Assembly enacted that “ The board may enter into arrangements with the trustees of Washington College, by which the cadets at the military school and the students of the college may be respectively admitted to the advantages of instruction at either place." The General Assembly voted that for the support of the institute, $7,710 should be paid annually out of the public treasury, and $1,500 3 out of the surplus of the Literary Fund. Subsequently, in 1859, the sum of $5,790 was appropriated for the support of the State cadets, and in consideration of this last mentioned grant the cadets were to teach two years in the schools of Virginia.

The sum total of these annual appropriations was fifteen thousand dollars, and in 1869–70 the whole appropriation was consolidated, the code of 1873 providing that “there shall be given the sum of fifteen thousand dollars annually for the support of the school out of the public treasury."6

In addition to this general appropriation, special grants were made by the Assembly from time to time; thus, in 1848, the sum of twentyfive thousand dollars was to be applied from the Literary Fund to purchase chemical and philosophical apparatus for the teacher of natural science, and in the same act four thousand five hundred dollars were granted to build a house for an additional professor.?

An act of the Assembly, passed March 8, 1850, directed the payment of eleven thousand dollars annually for four years, for the purpose of building new barracks, but, after two years' appropriations had been paid, an act of May 29, 1852, repealed the law and provided for the payment of thirty thousand dollars in lieu thereof.9

Again, on March 31, 1858, the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars 10 was voted for repairing the buildings and grounds of the institute, and in 1859–60 an additional grant of twenty thousand dollars 11


Laws of Virginia, 1835–36, chap. 12, p. 12. 2 Ibid., chap. 20, p. 18. 3 Code of Virginia, 1873. 4 Laws of Virginia, 1859–60, Chap, 60, p. 103, Ibid., 1841-42, chap. 24, p. 21. 6 Code of 1873, chap. 31, p. 270. ? Acts of the Assembly, 1847-48, p 18. 8 Ibid., 1849–50, p. 17. 9 Ibid., 1852, chap. 34, p. 29. 10 Ibid., 1857–58, chap. 162, p. 115.

11 Ibid., 1859–60, chap. 7, p. 103. 880 No. l-12

« PreviousContinue »