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In the same year (1783) Colonel Bland moved to accept the Virginia proposition as offered, and that the lands be divided into districts, in which the Continental soldiers were to receive bounty lands. The income of one-tenth of the territory was to be devoted to "the payment of the civil list of the United States; the erecting of frontier forts, the founding of seminaries of learning, the surplus, if any, to be appropriated to the building and equipping of a navy. The resolution was referred to a committee, and never came up again.


The Virginia cession was accepted by Congress with modifications, and there was guaranteed to the State sufficient land in reservation to pay off her obligations promised to her soldiers in the war.

On the first day of March, 1784, the date of the acceptance of the Virginia cession, Thomas Jefferson offered a plan for the temporary government of the Northwest Territory, in which no mention was made of provisions for seminaries of learning nor even for education in any form. The plan was accepted with amendments, yet without mention of education. In the following month Thomas Jefferson brought forward a plan for the survey and sale of the lands in question, which was indefinitely postponed by Congress. In 1785 it was again brought up and referred to a committee. This plan contained no mention of the "provision made for ministers of the gospel, nor even for schools and academies." 2

The committee reported a new ordinance containing many propositions of the old, and in addition provided that "There shall be reserved the central section of every township for the maintenance of public schools, and the section immediately adjoining for the support of religion." 3

For over a month the ordinance was debated before Congress, and the clause on religion was omitted and many other amendments made before its final adoption on the 20th of May, 1785. There was no mention of seminary grants in the ordinance, but the clause reserving "from sale lot number sixteen of every township for the maintenance of public schools within the township," marks the commencement of the policy since uniformly observed in the reservation of one section in each township of each State for the support of common schools.5


The petition of the New England officers of the army having failed, a body of citizens met on the 1st day of March, 1786, in Boston, at the

1 Bancroft: History of the Constitution, I, 312.

2 Life of Pickering, I, 509. King to Pickering.

3 Journals of Congress, IV,

4 Ibid., 521.


5 In the case of Oregon and all States admitted thereafter, two sections were granted for the support of common schools.


call of General Putnam and General Tupper, to consider the question of occupying "the Ohio." At this meeting the Ohio company was formed, for the purpose of settling the said territory by soldiers of the Revolutionary War. A memorial was presented to Congress, which led to the reference of the subject to a committee, which reported a new bill differing from the plan referred to them. The committee in their report wished to reserve one section in each township for common schools, one for the support of religion, and four townships for the support of a university.1 Congress thought these concessions to this company too liberal, and désired to hold to the ordinance of 1785, which provided for the reservation of one section only for common schools. This was unsatisfactory to the company, whose case was managed by Dr. Manasseh Cutler, and a compromise was effected, by which Congress reserved one section for the support of religion, one for common schools, and two townships for the support of a "literary institution, to be applied to the intended object by the legislature of the State." The bill became a law on the 13th of July, and is now commonly known as the "ordinance of 1787 for the government of the North-West Territory."

Of the six articles of compact which form a párt of the Ordinance, the third is remarkable as indicating the future policy of the Federal Government and the several States. The oft-quoted passage is referred to which declares that "religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” 3

This Ordinance was immediately followed by a contract with the Ohio Company, which fulfilled the conditions of the land grant and insured to the State of Ohio two. townships of land for the support of a university.1



In the same year (1787) John Cleves Symmes formed a company for settlement in the North-West Territory, and contracted with the board of treasury for a large tract of land. The land was purchased on nearly the same conditions as that obtained by the Ohio Company; the reservations for common schools and for the ministry were similar, but only one township was granted for a university.5 Thus Ohio received three townships of land for the support of advanced learning.

No general law was passed by Congress concerning the granting of land for seminaries of learning, but the precedent of the celebrated Ordinance of 1787 became a national policy. After the year 1800 each 1 Bancroft, II, III.

2 Bancroft, II, 433, appendix.

3 Poore: Constitutions and Charters, 429.

4 These two townships were given to endow the State University at Athens, called the Ohio University.

This township was used to endow Miami University.

State admitted into the Union, with the exceptions of Maine, Texas, and West Virginia, received two or more townships of land for the purpose of founding a university.

This national educational policy was inaugurated almost by accident. Congress was very desirous of disposing of the lands and to turn them to financial account at once, On the other hand, there were a few men like Pickering, Putnam, and Cutler, who were intensely earnest on the subject of education, and doubtless there was a majority of the members of Congress who favored the plan on account of its educational policy as well as the means which it afforded of facilitating the disposal of the public lands; but no one at that time could apprehend the far-reaching results of such a measure. And, as the matter stood, it is doubtful whether such a measure would have been carried in Congress at that time on the basis of national aid to education alone.1 Nevertheless it was a great measure, and if all were not fully alive to its importance as an educational movement, let us remember that the Constitution of the United States was at this period undergoing a narrow escape from defeat by those who did not understand its greatness.


Daniel Webster recognized the greatness of the Ordinance when he said: "I doubt whether one single law of any lawgiver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of more distinct, marked, and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787." And again: "It set forth and de clared it to be a high and binding duty of Government to support schools and advance the means of education." 993


In 1803 Congress extended the privileges of the Ordinance of 1787 to the States in the Mississippi territory, granting the sixteenth section of every township for the purposes of common-school education, and one entire township for the support of a seminary of learning. In 1806, by a special act of Congress, one hundred thousand acres were granted to Tennessee for two colleges, onè to be established in East and one in West Tennessee, and one hundred thousand acres to establish an academy in each county. Thus, through the national policy inaugu rated in 1787, 1,082,880 acres of land have been granted for seminaries of learning in the United States. The actual results of this grant will be discussed in connection with the policy of each separate State. It is

1Cf. Knight, 17.

2 Webster's Works, III, 263.

3 See Appendix B.

*In the admission of the States each received at least two townships. Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, and Minnesota received, respectively, 69,120, 92,120, 92,120, and 82,640 acres.

sufficient to say at this point that the Ordinance has been the means of creating many of the foremost universities in the United States.1


Under an act of Congress passed in 1836, the surplus in the national treasury on hand at the beginning of the next year was ordered to be distributed, after deducting the sum of five million dollars, among the several States according to their respective numbers of Representatives in Congress. The money was to be distributed in four instalments, all during the year 1837. The States were to bind themselves to pay back the money when called upon, provided that not more than ten thousand dollars be demanded at any one time from a single State without thirty days' notice, and that all States were to be called upon at the same time for their pro rata.3

This can be called an educational measure on the part of the Federal Government only in so far as it presented opportunities for the States to use the funds for the promotion of education, and as such it is worthy of notice. As far as the National Government was concerned, its chief aim was financial and not educational. It was desired to remove the surplus revenue which had accumulated by means of unprecedented land sales and revenues arising from a protective tariff. Mr. Webster in introducing the measure made a long and able argument in support of the bill, in which he estimated that at the beginning of the year 1837 there would be at least forty million dollars of surplus in the Treasury, and it was supposed at the beginning of the distribution that the amount to be thus disposed of would be $37,468,859.47. But the first three quarterly instalments exhausted the Treasury, and there was consequently only the amount of $28,101,645 paid to twenty-seven States.



Mr. Murray, secretary of the board of regents, has prepared a table showing the amounts given to each State, and the purpose to which it was devoted. The table will be given here, although it does not show the amounts devoted to the support of higher education. As far as this can be ascertained it will be given in the discussion of the respective States.

See Appendix B.

2 U. S. Statutes at Large, V, 55.

3 This fund has been held by the several States subject to call from the Federal Government. During the late war New York signified her readiness to discharge the obligations.

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6 New York devoted the whole amount to education, and as it yields an annual interest of $236,000 the total income and its interest amount, for forty-three years, to about eleven million dollars,

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Next to the Ordinance of 1787, the Congressional grant of 1862 is the most important educational enactment in America.

Though less than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the acceptance of this gift by the majority of the States, far-reaching results have already been attained from this well-timed donation. With proper treatment the donation itself was a magnificent aid for the actual support of higher learning; but its chief excellence consists in the stimulation which it gave to State and local enterprise. By this gift fortyeight colleges and universities have received aid, at least to the extent of the Congressional grant; thirty-three of these, at least, have been called into existence by means of this act. In thirteen States the proceeds of the land scrip were devoted to institutions already in existence. The amount received from the sales of land scrip from twenty-four of these States aggregates the sum of $13,930,456, with land remaining unsold estimated at nearly two millions of dollars. These same institutions have received State endowments amounting to over eight million dollars.

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