Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors]

insist that it is a duty of society to itself, a duty in the highest sense, a duty which it cannot throw off, to see that the stock of genius and talent of each generation shall have opportunity for development, that it may increase the world's stock and aid in the world's work.” 1

Granted that it is the duty of the State to maintain institutions of superior instruction, there is no reason why the institution endowed by private benefaction, as the so-called sectarian schools are, should be antagonized. The duty of the State is no less plain in the fostering care and protection of the latter, than in the creation and support of the former. And, on the other hand, it is just as idle for a group of private and denominational colleges to combine against a State university, as it is for the centralizing power of the university to ignore either the existence or the great service of the colleges. Mr. Mill has well said, "that all education should be in the bands of a centralized authority, whether composed of clergy or of philosophers, and be, consequently, all framed on the same model and directed to the perpetuation of the same type, is · a state of things which, instead of becoming more acceptable, will assuredly be more repugnant to mankind, with every step of their progress in the unfettered exercise of their highest faculties." History will bear out this assertion, and it might be applied to the State with equal force.

No doubt we need centralization in education to-day more than any. thing else, but we do not need imperialism. Mr. Mill favored the exercise of the function of the State in education, but at the same time held that one thing must be strenuously insisted on; that the Government must claim no monopoly for its education, either in the lower or in the higher branches." Though localisin and diverse organizations have brought into existence many institutions which, perhaps, on the whole would have better been combined into one, offering superior advantages, yet these same local institutions have educated scores of young men and women in the neighborhood, who otherwise would never have found their way into a large centralized university., Facts show us plainly that we have none too much of the higher education, even when the varied forces are all in the field. The State should see to it that no burdens are laid upon educational institutions supported by and representing any class of citizens.

It is estimated that in 1810 the proportion of college students to the entire population in the United States was 1 to 1,510; in 1860, 1 to 2,012; in 1870, 1 to 2,546; in 1880,1 to 1840; and in 1886, 1 to about 1,400. Estimating all our combined efforts in favor of higher education, we fall far short of some of the countries of the Old World. “How many of our people,” says President C. K. Adams, “know that one of the minor uni. versities of Great Britain has recently completed a collegiate building at a cost of more than £500,000 ($2,430,000)—not to speak of the four millions that were put into the Polytechnicum at Charlottenburg. How

'This quotation represents only an outline of the argument as presented.
2 Cf. Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, 92.
3 Political Economy, book V, chapter XI, V 2.

many have had their attention called to the fact that the little republic of Switzerland, with a territory not a third as large as the State of New York, has recently from its public treasury built a chemical laboratory for the Polytechnic School at Zurich at a cost of 1,337,000 francs ($267,400), and that it has more recently contracted for the building of of a physical laboratory at a cost of 994,000 francs! And of those who suppose that needless sums are expended by Harvard, Yale, and Cor

nell, how many know that the little Kingdom of Saxony, only half as - large as Vermont, gives from its public treasury annually $400,000 to 'its university, although the institution itself has great wealth and the professors are supported mainly by the fees of students? Let us indulge in no extravagances and no illusions; let us realize that we are young and vigorous, and that we are growing at a rapid rate; but let us not cherish the erroneous supposition that there is a single wellendowed university in America. Let us remember that the richest of our institutions has an income not much larger than that of a single one of the twenty-four colleges at Oxford. Above all, let us never forget that so long as it is necessary for our institutions to depend upon the fees of students, it will be impossible for them to put themselves into the condition of real universities. Until individual endowments aru in one way or another very largely increased, the greater part of the work of education must be of the rank of preparatory schools; and consequently, until that day arrives, our young men will continue to flock to Germany for the completion of their training."

This statement ends with the old complaint of Washington, uttered a hundred years ago—the need of a great university that would suffice to educate young men on this side of the Atlantic and a central insti. tution which would create homogeneity of sentiment. Whether these great ideals are ever to be realized or not, it is highly proper that the States and the nation sce to the education of their own citizens. The great universities of England, though largely supported by private enđowments, are national in their life, and are rapidly returning to the interests of the masses of the people. It would be impossible to esti. mate the infiuence that these universities have had on the British Gov. ernment.

Although American colleges and universities have not universally exercised such a direct influence upon national affairs, indirectly their usefulness has been immeasurably great,' while from colonial times they have ever been near to the masses of the people.

Thirty-nine of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence were college-breil men; the percentage of known college graduates in three Congresses is: Fortieth, Senate, 47; House, 32: Forty-first, Senate, 46; House, 31: Forty-second, Senate, 46; House, 32. In other offices we find that the percentage of college graduates is as follows: Presidents, 65; Secretaries of War, 61; Postmaster-Generals, 53 ; * Vice-Presidents, 50 ; Secretaries of the Navy, 47; Speakers of the House, 61; Secretaries of State, 65; Secretaries of the Interior, 50; Associate Judges of the Supreme Court, 73; Secretaries of the Treasury, 48; Attoruey-Generals, 53; Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, 83.


Ex-President White in the Forum (February, 1889) presents strong arguments in favor of a national university at the seat of government for the encouragement of advanced learning. It is not urged that this should necessarily be supported or controlled by the Government. Whether endowed and supported by private benevolence, or supported and controlled by the State, it could not fail, with the advantages and surroundings of Washington to render a great service to the nation at large and to the United States Government in particular. At least, the Government might make the way plain for a better education of its civil servants. " What is needed, however,” says Professor H.B. Adams, “ in all our States and in the Nation's capital is the promotion of the higher political education in practical ways. * There is in these times as great need of special knowledge in civil science as in military or nayal science. A civil academy for the training of representative American youth would be as great a boon to the American people as the Military and Naval Academies have already proved.” 1

Returning from this subject, upon which scores of far-sighted men have uttered powerful and convincing arguments, let us take a final survey of the subject of State education, as presented in this paper, Let us first notice that the facts before us show a vast amount of weak and misdirected legislation in the management of the funds granted by the Federal Government and the several States for carrying on institutions of learning. There are exceptions to this generalization, but they are not abundant. There is no need to look further for a plea for better civil education in affairs of administration. There is one redeeming feature; the great majority of legislators of the States, seeing the profligate waste of school funds hitherto, are now rallying to the support of State institutions, and are seemingly determined to redeem the errors of the past by careful legislation in the present and future.

By the first grant of the General Government of lands for seminaries of learning (1787), the new Territories and States of the South and West were suddenly impelled to plant universities in the wilderness. There was accompanying this idea a sentiment held by the early and later colonists that a university is necessary for the proper support of primary and secondary schools; or, as Charles Francis Adams says, “Educational science teaches that educational improvements work from the top downward, not from the bottom upward.” However true this

, " may be, it is impossible to have a higher institution of learning without first having suitable preparatory schools. The common schools in the United States have always produced the best results when the means of higher education have been most efficient, and the schools of lower grade have been inefficient and feeble where academies, colleges and universities have been wanting. But these feeble beginnings must first be made in new countries.

For the two reasons mentioned above, the lawgivers of new States

College of William and Mary, 75, 76.

hastened to plant universities, which had to pass through long periods
of inactivity and meager support (from twenty to fifty years), during
which the handling of the funds, in many instances, was a wild experi.
ment. It will be noticed, further, that the last twenty years have
wrought great changes in the treatment of the subject of State educa-

Wholesome improvements are now being made. This impetus to
education is partly due to the light of experience, and partly to the in-
fluence of the Congressional grant in 1862. There is also to be taken into
account the fact that all of the schools, both private and public, of the
South and West are crowded beyond their capacity; that is, beyond
their capacity to furnish a liberal education, or even to give students
what they demand. With all of their endowments and support, but few
institutious are able, for want of resources, to come up to the full meas-
ure of education as laid down in their catalogues and registers.

The influence of German education is to be noticed in many of the Western universities. It entered first into Michigan University, and has been copied by other institutions. The Michigan system consists of a central university, supported by a series of high schools through

out the Commonwealth, all under the supervision of the State. This A system can never be perfectly developed in the United States, owing

to the facts that the State does not control all education, and that there
is a tendency to throw upon local administration the responsibility of
supporting secondary education. Yet much is being accomplished, and
that university which attends best to the development of academies and
colleges throughout the State will soonest realize the ideal of a true
university. The influence of the German education is also to be ob-
served in the practical” tendency of American universities in wideo:
ing the curriculum so as to embrace branches more directly bearing
upon modern industries. Upon the whole, this policy seems to be estab-
lished in the majority of the States. Huxley's well known dictum may
be here recalled : “ No system of public education is worth the name
of national unless it creates a great educational ladder, with one end in
the gutter and the other in the university.” Let the State see to it that
the zealous climber of that ladder finds a real university when he arrives
at the top.

? French

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


* The ideas of Washington respecting a national university at the capital lingered long in the minds of statesmen after his plan was finally rejected. Doubtless it was through his influence that in 1796 a proposition was before Congress in the form of a memorial praying for the foundation of a university. No action was taken in favor of the proposed institution.1

Again in 1811 a committee was appointed by Congress to report on

[ocr errors]

Ex. Doc., 4th Congress, 2d session.

the question of the establishment of a seminary of learning by the national legislature. The committee reported unfavorably, deeming it unconstitutional for the Government to found, endow, and control the proposed seminary.

In 1816 another committee was appointed to consider the same subject, and again the scheme failed. From this time on the subject seemed practically settled, and we hear little more of it in legislative circles until the discussion of the disposal of the Smithsonian bequest. At this time there were many warm advocates of the proposal to devote the Smithsonian fund toward the founding of a national university. The subject at this time received free discussion, and the result ended in the defeat of the university plan. While the plan for a national university has not yet succeeded, Congress has established and supported the National Museum, the Congressional Library, the National Observ. atory, an the Bureau of Education, for the promotion of education and science.

An attempt to found a national university was made in 1873, soon after the circulation of the reports of the Paris Exposition.

The comparative results of the Exposition were the chief cause of the revival of the old university idea. The Exposition had revealed this fact to the commissioners, that the poorly-endowed, half-equipped American universities compared very unfavorably with the well-endowed, fully-equipped European universities. The American spirit was aroused, and there was a determination on the part of those interested in the affair to build a great American university that would equal those of Europe.

"Others besides the commissioners felt the need of an institution of this nature. Dr. Thomas Hill, on retiring from Harvard in 1868, had said that “a true American university is a national want.” The rise of Cornell and other universities, and the free discussion of the subject, showed a dissatisfaction in the condition of affairs at that time.

Commissioner John W. Hoyt reported on the Paris Exposition to Congress, in part, as follows: “To tell the plain truth, the very best of our many universities are but sorry skeletons of the well-developed and sbapely institutions they ought to be, and must become, before they will be fairly entitled to rank among the foremost universities of even this present day. And if we are not always to suffer the contempt of European scholars, who properly enough regard us as a clever but also a very uncultured people, it is time that all true lovers of learning, as well as all who desire the highest prosperity and glory of our country, should awake to the importance of at once providing the means of a profounder, broader, and higher culture in every department of human learning.

1 Ex. Doc., 11th Congress, 3d session. · Ex Doc., 14th Congress, 2d session.

3 'The National Naval Observatory now stands on “University Square,” the location fixed upon by Washington for the national university,

« ПредишнаНапред »