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their children the benefits of the Congressional grant. The principle was well illustrated that it takes something more than buildings and books and apparatus, and even professional teachers, to constitute a university. It takes the moral, intellectual, and material support of a community well advanced on the road to prosperity.
The management of the Congressional land grant for seminaries was an experiment, and almost a failure. The deplorably poor management of this public trust can not be entirely attributed to baste and inexperience, for Illinois, the last of the group to found a university, perhaps was the most unfortunate in the administration of the trust fund.
It is quite remarkable that, while Ohio has been trying to build three institutions endowed by the Federal Government, no less than thirty non-State universities and colleges have maintained a tolerably fair success, while some of these have rivalled in excellence the work of the State institutions. This might be urged as one of the circumstances preventing strong State institutions. If the best life forces of education are devoted to the upbuilding of local and denominational schools, a poorly managed State school-fund has small influence. Let it not be inferred that the writer has a desire to depreciate the work of non-State schools. Nothing can depreciate the work of these institutions. Through local pride and denominational zeal, through private benevolence and hard-grinding self-denial, multitudes of young men and women have been brought into the realm of culture, who otherwise would never have received the light, even with an Oxford or a Harvard in the State. The untiring zeal with which religious organizations have planted colleges and prospective universities in every valley of the West, as well as in every part of the South and East, is a spectacle for our wonder and admiration.
Scores of these institutions have succumbed to fate, while many others have had barely a nominal existence. Here, again, the zeal of propagandism and the appeal to local pride have called institutions prematurely into existence. Likewise the shifting tide of emigration and the powerful influences of railroads have left many a town with its embryo college by the wayside. With full recognition of all the merits of the multitude of schools that have been established, there has been a lack of centralization of power, of union of forces for utilizing in common the means of education. Where is there a fully equipped Methodist university, or a fully equipped Presbyterian or Baptist or Congregational university ! Certainly not in America. There is a young State in the far West that contains among other institutions four colleges under the supervision of the Methodist Church. Each one of these colleges is ambitious to become a university. If three of them would be content to be colleges and allow the fourth to become a university, the latter might be a university in fact. But it will not be done, and thus educational forces are scattered.
In the North-West Territory, as in other parts of the United States,
schools under the patronage of the State have suffered not a little from the opposition of denominational schools, and this has tended to decentralize. It may be said, on the other hand, that State institutions have failed to recognize in some instances non-State schools or have treated them as rivals rather than as allies in a great cause. It is high time such folly and waste should be stopped by both sides.
The University of Michigan is the best example of the influence of a strong central institution in education. For years the youth from neighboring States have flocked to Ann Arbor as a Mecca of learning. Schools in other States, as well as in Michigan, have prepared students for the university. Taking the lead among the universities of the North-West, the University of Michigan has had a powerful influence in shaping the educational policy of neighboring States, and a reflex influence has been felt in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. In fact, Michigan influence has been felt from Cornell to California University.
How long this influence will last, in view of the coming rivalry of Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana Universities, remains to be seen. If in the past the interference of the State in education has been at times a failure, the manner in which the States of the North-West are now developing their universities leads us to suppose that instances of poor adininistration are very rare. In the management of the seminary grants Michigan, though not without mistakes, has the best record, and Illinois the poorest of the group of the North-Western States, as the following investigation will show. While it is greatly to be deplored by the friends of education that the interests of the seminary fund were sacrificed in previous years, it is on the other hand highly gratifying to observe the tendency of the Legislatures to make good all losses, and as far as possible re. deem the past.
The history of higher education in Ohio is of unusual interest, for the reason that it was the first State to struggle with the Congressional seminary land grant. Without experience and without precedent, the first Legislature began its early work of carrying out the educational policy inaugurated by the action of the Federal Government in the celebrated ordinance of 1787.
It is very remarkable that these first grants of land for seminaries of learning were made through contracts with companies the members of which were warm advocates of the measures, while the whole responsibility of controlling and utilizing the grants devolved upon the State Legislature; that these companies had a semblance of private institutions while the State was yet to be built; and that this reservation of land in the contract was for the benefit of the future State and has be. come a national policy in the building of every State since that time.
The results of education in Ohio are quite remarkable, when it is considered that, while the Legislature has attempted to foster and develop no less than three distinct universities, a multitude of sectarian and private institutions have sprung up, some to perish for want of nourishment, some to continue a miserable existence, and others to rise to a position of usefulness and independence. Out of this sporadic group of institutions, thirty-three colleges and universities yet remain, sufficient to constitute Ohio the banner State in respect to the number of its institutions for liberal culture.
TREATMENT OF THE SEMINARY GRANTS.
The contract between the Ohio Company and the Federal Government embodied, among other things, that lot No. 16 in each township be given perpetually by Congress to the maintenance of schools, and lot No. 29 to the purposes of religion, and that two townships of good land near the center be also given for the support of a literary institution, to be applied to the intended object by the Legislature of the State. In the same year John Cleves Symmes contracted with the Board of the Treasury for a large tract of land in the Territory in which reservations were made for schools and religion2 similar to those in the grant to the Ohio Company, and one entire township was reserved for the support of a seminary of learning.
The former of these reservations led to the establishment of the State University of Ohio at Athens, and the latter to the founding of the Miami University. The selections of the first grant mentioned were made in 1795, in Athens and Alexander townships, by the Territorial Legislature. This body chartered in 1802, prior to the admission of Ohio as a State, the American Western University, at Athens, vesting the lands of the said townships in the corporation, and granting the trustees power to lease them for a period not to exceed twenty-one years.
The first Constitution of the State, adopted in 1802, assumes a liberal attitude toward education in general terms, but makes no specific provisions for the disposal of the seminary trust. It declares, nearly in the words of the compact of 1787, that religion, morality, and knowledge being essentially necessary to the good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of instruction shall be forever encouraged by legislative provision not inconsistent with the rights of conscience.” 3 Section twenty-five of the same article enacts that no law shall prevent the poor in different parts of the State from having full and equal participation in the schools” endowed, "in whole or in part," from revenues arising from the Federal donation, and that “the doors of the said schools, academies, and universities shall be open for
Bancroft, II, 433. 2 These two grants were the only support ever given by Congress for the benefit of religion.
3 Constitution of 1802, Art. VIII, sec. 3.
the reception of scholars, students, and teachers of every grade, without any distinction or preference whatever, contrary to the intent for Which the said donations were made.
In connection with this idea of free State education, may be quoted section, twenty-seven, which shows the catholicity of view then entertained by granting unrestricted privileges to charter private institutions. It reads as follows: “That every association of persons, when regularily formed within this State, and having given themselves a name, may on application to the Legislature, be entitled to receive letters of incorporation to enable them to hold estates, real and personal, for the support of their schools, academies, colleges, universities, and other purposes.” In the amended Constitution of 1851, this section and the twenty-fifth, were omitted ; the third section was essentially
1 retained, while new provisions were made for the protection and preservation of school funds and the establishment of a common school system.
FOUNDING OF THE OHIO UNIVERSITY.
In the year 1804 the State Legislature repealed the law of 1802, and organized 1 the “ American Western University” under the name of the “Ohio University," and provided for its control by creating a board of trustees, twenty-one in number, of which the Governor of the State and the president of the university, are ex-officio members and the remainder are nominated by the board with the approval of the General Assembly. The two townships of land were placed in charge of this board of trustees as an endowment for a university, and explicit in. structions were given pertaining to the disposal of the same.
The lands were to be subdivided into tracts of not less than eighty nor more than two hundred acres, to be valued by three disinterested freeholders, as in their original and unimproved state, and to be leased 6 for the term of ninety years, renewable forever, on a yearly rent of six per centum on the amount of their valuation, so made by said freehold ers; and the land so leased shall be subject to a re-valuation at the expiration of thirty-five years, and to another re-valuation at the expiration of sixty years from the commencement of the term of each lease.
Provided always that the corporation shall have the power to demand a further yearly rent on the said lands and tenements not ex. ceeding the amount of the tax imposed on property of like description by the State.”3 Section seventeen exempts these lands with the buildings upon them from all State taxes forever. “This last provision was in effect to give to the university the State taxes upon those two town. ships, though the State did not undertake to collect them. 994
i Laws of Ohio, II, 193.
4 George W. Knight: History and Management of Land Grants for Education in the North-West Territory; Papers of American Historical Association, Vol. I, No. 3, p. 119. 1 Laws of Ohio, III, 79.
This policy seems to have been very fair and entirely liberal to the lessees; had it been adhered to, doubtless the institution in question would have been well-off to-day. As we look back over the history of the disposition of the educational land grants in the several States, it seems that there could have been no better policy than that of long leases with frequent re-valuations of the property. Twenty thousand acres were applied for in the following year and it appeared that all of the lands would soon be taken. But Governor Tiffin recommended in his message that a more liberal policy be pursued toward the lessees ; consequently the law of 1804 was amended so that the lands appraised in their original and uncultivated state could be leased for a term of ninety-nine years, with the privilege of renewal, at an annual rent of six per centum on the appraised valuation. However, lands were not to be leased on a valuation less than one dollar and seventy-five cents per acre. These lands, with the exception of about two thousand acres sold in fee-simple, are still held by perpetual lease yielding but a scanty income based upon a valuation of eighty-four years standing. According to President Scott,3 the rent from the forty-four thousand acres in 1883 was only twenty-four hundred dollars, while the aggregate assessed valuation of the university lands is $1,060,000. The valuation of the act of 1805 for rental is only seventy thousand dollars; that is, had the first policy been adhered to, the university would now be receiving an income approximating $63,600 in place of $2,400.
A full discussion of the struggles of the university with the lessees and the Legislature is too long and complicated to be properly represented here, therefore only the conclusions will be given. When the law of 1804 was amended, in 1805, its meaning was not quite clear, This led to a contention as to whether the lands were subject to re-valuation. Consequently, in 1841, the trustees proceeded to re-value the lands, the thirty-five years specified in the first act baving expired. The lessees objected, and the subject was argued before the supreme court of Ohio, which held that the lands were subject to re-valuation. The lessees appealed to the Legislature, and that body, strange as it may seem, practically set aside the decision of the supreme court in interpreting the meaning of the act of 1805.
Another similar misfortune is to be recorded, pertaining to the collection of the State taxes as an annual rent. The trustees, partly through neglect and partly through difficulty of collection, never received
any rent in lieu of taxes until the year 1876. In 1841 they applied to the Legislature for assistance to enforce the collection, but without avail. Not until 1875 did the Legislature pass a law requiring the collection of the rents; since then the rents have been collected regularly, after having allowed the occupants to escape from taxation for seventy years. The yield of income from this source is about three thousand
2 Knight, 120.