Page images

Again, Mill says in reference to taxation, that "equal sacrifices ought to be demanded from all."1 Is it equality of sacrifice when men, by donating their means to set up a fountain of learning in the desert, are taxed by the State for their offering to benevolence? Turning to a practical example, let us suppose that Mr. A gives $100,000 to build a library in a State university; this amount of money passes out of the range of taxable property and becomes exempt from taxation, which is quite right. The tax which was hitherto raised on this sum must now be raised on other taxable property in the State. On the other hand, Mr. B chooses to give $100,000 to found a library in a non-State institution. If this is taxed by the State, it is evident that Mr. A's and Mr. B's property, devoted to the same cause, disposed of in the same way, and existing in the same form, will be treated in an entirely different manner by the State. Mr. B's benevolence will not only be taxed, but will be taxed at a higher rate than it would if Mr. A's benevolence were taxed. In other words, Mr. B's benevolence is taxed to support Mr. A's benevolence, which is not according to the American meaning of the term, "equality of sacrifice."

Again, it is frequently said that it would be impossible to tax the State university, and to tax it would be the same as if an individual were to pass money from one hand to the other; but this is not generally true. The property of State universities is usually made up of gifts from the National Government and from private individuals, together with accumulations upon various gifts and appropriations by the State. In most cases a large percentage of property came from other sources than from the pockets of the people through taxation. That is, for the State to give an institution one hundred thousand dollars, and then to tax the institution on this sum and two hundred thousand dollars which the State did not give, is not the same as giving money and taking it back again.

Nor is it sufficient to say, when the State has established and provided for the support of its own university, that government has done its duty to higher education. To assume this is to assume that the State has provided for the needs of all classes of the people in all of the branches to be learned, and has placed this source within the reach of all, and, having done this, has gone into remote places of the Commonwealth to bid young men to come, showing them the need of education. The State in taking such a stand assumes an imperialism in education which is entirely out of place. That we need centralization in education is evident, but not at the expense of local institutions and nonState schools. Enough can not be said in favor of that local pride which builds a college and invites young men to be educated, young men who would never be educated if left to the repelling influences of a centralized institution several hundred miles from home. Perhaps it is well to close this argument with the words of President

1 Principles of Political Economy, p. 485.


Stratton, of Mills College, who pertinently says: "Property held for private use, or for business, or on speculation, when the gain is to inure to the benefit of the holder, should be taxed; property devoted to the public good, from which the gain inures to the public at large, should not be taxed. Private benevolence should be allowed free scope to expand itself in these directions (i. e., the welfare of the citizen and the existence of the State). * * That whenever it assumes this charge it should be regarded as the friend and ally of the State in a peculiar sense, the sharer of its cares and the bearer of its burdens."


Whatever ideas men may have had of national education, or of national aid for higher education, the precedents of the colonies and States were already established in regard to all of the points considered. Lands had been granted by the several colonies for the maintenance of schools; schools had been supported from the public treasury. But as public sentiment grew in favor of union, there was also the accompanying development of the Federal idea of education. It was observed that education was to be the nation's defence, and as such it was advocated strenuously by the greatest statesmen. The sentiments in favor of distinctly national schools were not, however, sufficiently universal to carry out any well laid plans; and Congress, although encouraging and supporting education, has thrown the chief responsibility upon the several States.

Besides the Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, the Federal Government has managed no schools, although by libraries and museums it has added to the general sum of knowledge. The great plan has been to furnish the various States with means for the education of all within their respective domains, although many statesmen desired a more decided policy on the part of the Federal Government.


After the great struggle of the Revolution was over and the minds of men were relieved from the strain of war, and political turmoil had subsided by the organization of the new government, the fathers of the republic turned instinctively toward the moral, social, and intellectual improvement of the people. Indeed, the foundation of the new government was conditional. It was made dependent upon growing intelligence. The building of the structure whose foundation had been laid could not continue unless supported by ever increasing morality and intelligence.

[ocr errors]

One can not refer to this period of the nation's history without recognizing the profound and far reaching wisdom of George Washington on all subjects of great moment. In his first message to Congress Washington says: "Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with

mein opinion that there is nothing more deserving your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as ours it is proportionally essential."1

After reviewing the benefits to be derived from the spread of intelligence he continues, "Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aid to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients, will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature." " Before delivering his annual message in 1796, Washington seems to have reached a more definite conclusion on the subject, for he advocates the establishment of a national university as well as a national military academy. He says: "The assembly to which I address myself is too enlightened not to be fully sensible how much a flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes to national prosperity and reputation. True it is that our country contains many seminaries of learning highly respectable and useful; but the funds upon which they rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors in the different departments of liberal knowledge for the institution contemplated, though they would be excellent auxiliaries. Among the motives to such an institution the assimilation of principles, opinions, and manners of our countrymen by the common education of a portion of our youth from every quarter well deserves attention; the more homogenous our citizens can be made in these particulars, the greater will be our prospects of permanent union; and a primary object of such a national institution should be the education of our youth in the science of government."3

And finally, in his Farewell Address, he says: "Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of the government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion be enlightened." 4

These sentiments declared to the law-making body of the people were the expression of long-cherished desires and of deep-seated convictions. Washington's private life and correspondence show how sincerely he endeavored to realize his plans for higher education. He was opposed to sending youth abroad to secure their education, and advocated the establishment of a national university, that the youths coming from different parts of the Republic might be able to turn sectional pride into national feeling. In reference to these two ideas, and the desirability of a national university to counteract evil tendencies, he wrote in his last will and testament the following passage: "Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation), my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure than the establishment of a UNI2 Ibid. 3 Sparks, XII, 71. 4 Ibid., 227.

1 1 Sparks, XII, 9.

VERSITY in a central part of the United States, to which the youths of fortune and talent from all parts thereof may be sent for the completion of their education in all the branches of polite literature, in arts and sciences, in acquiring knowledge of the principles of politics and good government, and, as a matter of infinite importance, in my judg ment, by associating with each other and forming friendships in juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitual jealousies which have just been mentioned, and which, when carried to excess, are never-failing sources of disquietude to the public mind and pregnant of mischievous consequences to this country." In the same document Washington bequeathed fifty shares of stock held in the Potomac Company2 "toward the endowment of a university to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia under the auspices of the General Government, if that Government should incline to extend a fostering hand toward it."3 But as the Government took no energetic action in the matter nothing ever came of the wise benevolence of the far-seeing statesman except the inheritance by posterity of sound educational ideas which will certainly in due time receive their full and merited appreciation.

In his private correspondence Washington often returns to the above views, always emphasizing three points, viz: (1) the education of youth at home rather than abroad; (2) the removal of local prejudices, and (3) the promotion of political intelligence as a national safeguard. These points are strongly urged in his letter to Governor Brooke, of Virginia.1 In his correspondence with Adams, Hamilton, and Jefferson he is no less pronounced in favor of a national university; but with clear discernment he rejects the Jeffersonian scheme of transplanting the Geneva University bodily to America.5 He desired an American university for Americans. "The Father of his Country wished to save


1 Quoted by Dr. H. B. Adams, College of William and Mary, 43; Sparks, XI, 4. Adams: College of William and Mary, 44.

3The Legislature of Virginia, as a mark of esteem and acknowledgment of the great services of General Washington to the State and to the Federal Government, gave him one hundred shares of James River improvement stock and fifty shares of Potomac stock. He declined to accept the gift, but offered to direct it into channels of public use if so desired. Consequently the donation was withdrawn by an act of the Legislature, and the property was placed at the disposal of Washington, to be devoted to whatsoever public object he might direct. (Hening, Statutes, XII, 44.) Washington, after due consideration, concluded that the entire Potomac stock should be devoted to one object-the prospective university in the Federal City, but he left the disposal of the James River stock to the Legislature of Virginia, and that body decided in favor of endowing a seminary within the State. It was given to Liberty Hall Academy, afterward Washington Academy and Washington College, now Washington and Lee University. (Sparks, IX, 83, 142.)

Adams: College of William and Mary, 43.

5 Letter to John Adams, November, 1794; Sparks, XI, 1. For a full discussion of this subject, see College of William and Mary, 46, 47.

the United States on the one hand from provincialism and on the other from sectionalism," and in accomplishing these ends he considered national aid to education necessary.

Previous to the bold declarations of Washington on national education, two statesmen had taken a firm position in favor of a national university in their deliberations as members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, over which Washington presided. These were Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, and James Madison, of Virginia. On the 29th of May the former offered to the Convention a plan for a Federal Constitution, which, among other powers of Congress, authorized it "to establish and provide for a national university at the seat of government of the United States." His plan was not accepted, and in the discussion of the Randolph constitution, Mr. Pinckney, followed by Mr. Madison, moved, on the 14th of September, to insert in the list of powers vested in Congress a power "to establish an university in which no preferences or distinctions should be allowed on account of religion." Mr. Wilson supported the motion, but Gouverneur Morris said, "It is not necessary. The exclusive power at the seat of government will reach the object." 3

The matter was dropped on the ground that Congress already had sufficient power to enact laws for the support of national education. But the discussion doubtless had its influence upon the members of the Convention, and the presiding officer certainly was in sympathy with the movement; for, fresh from the discussions in the Convention, he' presented the recommendations of 1790, hitherto mentioned, to Congress. James Madison, when in the presidential chair, did not forget his earlier zeal for science. In his second annual message he reverted to his favorite idea of a national university: "Whilst it is universally admitted that a well instructed people alone can be permanently a free people, and while it is evident that the means of diffusing and improving useful knowledge form so small a proportion of the expenditures for national purposes, I can not presume it to be unreasonable to invite your attention to the advantages of superadding to the means of education provided by the several States a seminary of learning instituted by the national legislature, within the limits of their exclusive jurisdiction, the expense of which might be defrayed or re-imbursed out of the vacant grounds which have accrued to the nation within those limits."4 The sentiments of John Adams were expressed at every opportunity in favor of universal intelligence. He wrote to the educational committee of Kentucky as follows: "The wisdom and generosity of the Leg

Madison Papers, II, 740.

Madison Papers, III, 1577. Mr. Madison had previously moved to place among the powers of Congress a power "to establish an university." (Madison Papers, III, 1354.)

3 Ibid.

Annals of Congress, 1810-11, 13,

« PreviousContinue »