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orders and by-laws shall be alterable by, the overseers according to their discretion.”

This charter, as amended, remained the fundamental authority of col. lege government, and “hath been conformed to ever since."2 Many attempts were made to sever the connection of the college and the State, but without avail.



The Constitution of 1780 confirmed the rights, privileges, and powers of the officers as held under the old charter. It also provided for the transmission of the powers of the old board of overseers to their successors, composed of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council, and Senate of the Commonwealth, " who, with the president of Harvard College, for the time being, together with the ministers of the Congregational churches in the towns of Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, mentioned in the said act, shall be, and hereby are, vested with all the powers and authority belonging or in any way appertaining to the overseers of Harvard College; pro. vided, that nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the Legislature of this Commonwealth from making such alterations in the government of the said university as shall be conducive to its advantage and the interest of the republic of letters, in as full a manner as might have been done by the Legislature of the late province of the Massachusetts Bay."

The attitude of the State toward education at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in 1780 is clearly set forth in section 2 of the same chapter, as follows:

6 Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties, and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of Legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, especially the University at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar-schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, [by] rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country, etc." 4

The State government continued to exercise its functions of control, and through various statutes of the Commonwealth it has been represented on the board of overseers by the chief State officers until 1865, when an act was passed severing the relation of the government to the college and providing for the election of its overseers by the alumni, that is, “such persons as have received from the college the degree of bachelor of arts or master of arts or any ordinary degree, voting on commencement day in the city of Cambridge." I

Peirce : History of Harvard, 150. 2 Hutchinson, I, 175 (1764).

3 Constitution, Chap V, sec. 1, art. 2. *Ibid., Chap. V, sec. 2.

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The generous sentiments of the State have been attested by repeated appropriations for the support of Harvard College and the respective academies throughout the State. In the course of the colonial and provincial periods, the Legislature of Massachusetts made no less than one hundred and three distinct grants to the college, although a number of these grants were unproductive. It is held by Quincy? that the first four hundred pounds were only paid in part. It seems highly probable that the court paid them for current expenses, and that the transaction was never entered upon the college records.

The ferry heretofore mentioned yielded an avergage of fifty pounds 3 per annum, and in 1777 the annual rental was one hundred pounds. At this date the general court divested the college of the control of the ferry, but granted in lieu of said revenue the sum of two hundred pounds per annum for forty years. The reason for this change was that projects were under consideration for bridging the river. In 1785 the sum of two hundred pounds was ordered to be paid by the Charles River bridge corporation as a compensation for the loss of the ferry, and in 1792 a like sum was taxed on the West Boston Bridge Company."

The earliest direct tax on record for the support of common or pub. lic schools was established by an act of the General Court in 1644, which ordered that one peck of corn, or its equivalent (12d), should be paid by each family for the support of the college. Three years later the court again showed its favor by ordering that the professors and students should be exempt from "general training,"? and the charter of 1650 provided that the property of the president and college, not exceeding five huudred pounds per annum, should be exempt from all. taxes or rates; also the estates of the president, fellows, and scholars, not exceeding one hundred pounds to each person; and the officers and servants, to the number of ten, were exempt from all taxes and rates whatsoever.

It is not possible in the scope of this paper to follow carefully all the details of legislation, but we shall endeavor to show how a zealous peo. ple, acting through their representatives, drew upon every available resource for the support of higher education, and a few of the numerous grants of the Court and the town will be mentioned.


i Laws of 1865.
2 History of Harvard, 460.
3 Quincy, I, 453.
*Ibid, II, 271.

Report Mass. Board Ed., XL, 49, appendix.
6 Court Records, II, 86.
7 Ibid, 222.
Bush, Harvard University, 91.


In 1638 the town of Cambridge gave two and three-fourths acres of land for building sites, and in 1652 granted an additional tract of one hundred acres. In 1644 the court granted the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds to build the president's house, and in 1655 a grant of thirty pounds was made for the relief of President Chauncy, to whom five hundred acres of land were also given, on condition that he remain three years in his place.

In 1652 the court granted eight hundred acres of land to the college; in 1653, two thousand acres; and in 1683, one thousand acres.

In 1657 the court also granted two thousand acres in Pequot County, and subsequently, in 1682, granted a large tract on Merriconeag Neck. Unfortunately neither of these latter grants were ever available.2

In 1683 the town of Cambridge gave three and one-half acres to the college.

The General Court of 1718 voted to devote three thousand five hun. dred pounds to build Massachusetts Hall. The hall was completed and occupied two years after the act of appropriation. In 1725 this was followed by another money grant of one thousand pounds, for building the president's house, and subsequently, in 1763, four thousand eight hundred and thirteen pounds seven shillings were given to build Hollis Hall. In the following year the General Court voted two thousand pounds for the rebuilding of Harvard Hall. Meanwhile the gifts of land continued, the principal ones being as follows:

In 1715, province lands within the bounds of Hopkinton.

In 1719, two hundred and fifty acres in Lunenburg and two hundred and fifty acres in Townsend.

In 1762, one sixty-fourth of each of twelve townships lying between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers, and of one township lying between the Great Ossipee and the mountains.

In 1764, one sixty-fourth part of each of the townships lying east of the Saco River.

In 1768, one eighty-third part of a township lying north of the Androscoggin River.

In 1770, one eighty-fourth part of a township lying at Eastern Bay.

In 1771, one eighty-fourth of each of five townships lying east of Saco River.

In 1774, a tract of land lying east of the Saco River, containing eleven thousand acres.

In 1725 the Legislature fixed the salary of the president at four hun. dred pounds per annum, and granted to him, in addition, the future rents and incomes of Massachusetts Hall.3

The General Court also authorized lotteries as follows: The first in 1765, of three thousand two hundred pounds, for the purpose of building; another in 1794, of eight thousand pounds, and a third in 1806, of thirty thousand dollars, for the same purpose.

1 Court Records, III, 299.

? Quiney, I, 512.

3 Ibid., 378.

In 1809 the Legislature granted a township of land in what is now the State of Maine for the support of the professorship in natural history.

But the largest grant of the Legislature was made by an act of 1814, which provided that tep-sixteenths' of the bank tax, amounting to ten thousand dollars, should be paid annually to the college for a term of ten years, yielding in all the sum of one hundred thousand dollars.


Upon taking the professorship of zoology in the scientific school of Harvard, Professor Agassiz found that there were no collections for illustration, and no funds set apart for the purchase of the same. Professor Agassiz provided specimens at his own expense, which he afterward sold to the school in 1852. Six years later, Mr. Francis E. Gray left by will the sum of fifty thousand dollars for maintaining a Museum of Comparative Zoology.?

In 1859, at the recommendation of Governor Banks, the Legislature voted to aid the museum to the extent of one hundred thousand dollars, while private donations continued. The State appropriated ten thousand dollars in 1863 to publish an Illustrated Catalogue of the Museum, and five years later the Legislature passed an act granting the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars a year for three years, provided that a similar sum should be raised each year by subscription.

In 1874 it was determined to raise an “ Agassiz Memorial Fund;" two hundred and sixty thousand dollars were soon subscribed, and the State added to the amount the sum of fifty thousand dollars.

In regard to the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the whole property of which was transferred to the president and fellows of Harvard College, we find that the State has contributed to its aid the amount of two hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars.

Until the establishment of the National Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, this institution was without a rival in the United States ; and “as to the illustration of natural science the one collection in the United States that has an acknowledged rank throughout the world, is the one fostered by the wise and careful bounty of the State of Massachusetts at Cambridge.93


The whole amount of grants made by the Legislature of Massachusetts to Harvard College from the date of its founding until 1786, the principal part of which was expended in the erection of buildings and the payment of salaries to the president and the professors, was in sterling £5,556 128 8d, and in lawful currency £27,330 98 64d, respectively equal to $24,696.14 and $91,101.51.

1 Laws of Massachusetts, IV, 388. 2 Mass Rep., XL, 62, appendix. 3 President White in Am. Jour. Soc. Sci., VII, 304.

The records of the first half-century of the existence of the college, that is from 1636 to 1686, show that the court granted only £550 sterling and £2,870 currency, exclusive of the ferry grant, and during the same time the donations of individuals amounted to £5,091 sterling and £4,640 currency. During this period the ferry paid, as it is estimated, about £50 per annum, or the total sum of £2,300 in currency.

Approximating a general summary, we have as follows:

Aid by the Legislature.
Grants from 1636 to 1786 ....
West Boston Bridge Company at £200 per annum.
Charles River Bridge Company at £300 per annum
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Raised by lotteries (about)
Bank tax from 1814 to 1824..

$115, 797.73

20,000.00 10,000.00 235,000.00

69,000.00 100,000.00

Total amount of money grants
Total amount of land grants (about)

549, 793, 73 46,000.00

Private donations.

The amount of private donations during the period from 1638 to 1848 is estimated at

.... $1,228, 069.74 In addition to this, real estate, granted by the city of Cambridge between the years 1638 and 1641, amounted to......

4,857 acres. It is seen that in the earlier part of the existence of the college, as in the more recent times, the private donations were always greater than the public grants.

« Let not,” says Quincy, “these statements lead to the conclusion that the degree of patronage extended by the General Court was of little worth, or is intended to be undervalued. Notwithstanding the deficiency in direct donatives the college is largely indebted to them for the actual prosperity to which, during the period in question, it attained." 3

Harvard has apparently attained a position where it no longer needs the aid and supervision of the State, receiving, as it does, support from magnificent individual endowments; but the aid of the State in supporting the institution when struggling as the foremost college in a new country can not be easily over estimated in its importance.


Perhaps a close classification would exclude the academies and high schools of Massachusetts from the range of higher education; but these schools have borne such an intimate relation with all the interests of higher education that they ought not to be passed unnoticed. Considered historically, it is quite impossible to draw a line defining higher education by the names that institutions bear. The terms "univer.

3 History of Harvard, I, 41.

i Mass. Rep., XL, 49, appendix.
Ibid., 44.


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