Изображения страниц


that reported a bill with the provision setting apart a certain portion of land in each township of the western territory for school purposes.

On the 17th of May, 1784, Mr. Jefferson, as Chairman of a committee for that purpose, presented to the Congress of the Confederation an ordinance respecting the disposition of public lands. This draft contained no reference to schools or education. On the 4th of March, 1785, another bill for the sale of western lands was introduced, by whom not stated, and on the 16th was recommitted by Congress to a committee of twelve.*

This committee on the fourteenth of April reported “ An ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of lands in the western territory," which contained the followiug paragraph :

There shall be reserved the central section of every township for the maintenance of public schools, and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward for the support of religion. The profits arising therefrom in both in. stances to be applied forever according to the will of the majority of the male residents of full age within the same.

On the twenty-third of the same month, Mr. Pinckney, of South Carolina, seconded by Mr. Grayson, of Virginia, moved to strike out " for the support of religion," and insert" for religious and charitable uses.” Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, seconded by Mr. Smith, of New York, moved to amend the amendment by striking out the words “religious and.” On the question, Shall the words moved to be struck out stand ?

[ocr errors]

The committee were Pierce Long, of New Hampshire, Rufus King, of Massachusetts, David Howell, of Rhode Island, Wm, S. Johnson, of Connecticut, R. R. Livingston, of New York, Charles Stewart, of New Jersey, Joseph Gardner, of Pennsylvania, John Henry, of Maryland, Wm. Grayson, of Virginia, Hugh Wil. Jiamson, of North Carolina, John Bull, of South Carolina, and Wm. Houstoan, of Georgia.

Rufus King graduated at Harvard, in 1777.

David Howell, born in New Jersey, graduated at Princeton, in 1766, and was at one time Professor of Mathematics in Brown University.

Wm. S. Johnson, son of Dr. Samuel Johnson, graduated at Yale, 1744, a fellow of the Royal Society, and received the degree of LL.D. from Oxford, and at a later period President of Columbia College, New York city.

John Henry graduated at Princeton, in 1769.

Hugh Williamson graduated at College of Philadelphia, now University of Pennsylvania, in 1757, and had been Professor of Mathematics therein.

R. R. Livingston graduated at King's (now Columbia) College, New York city, in 1765, and in after life encouraged Fulton in propelling boats by steam, and was President of the Academy of Fine Arts.

The vote was as follows :*
States roting Aye.

States voting N.
New Hampshire.... Mr. Foster. Rhode Island... Mr. Ellery.
New Hampsbire.... Mr Long.

Rhode Island.. Mr. Howell. Massachusetts Mr. Hoiton.

Maryland Mr. McHenry. Massachusetts. Mr. King

Maryland Mr. Henry. Connecticut.. Mr. Johnson. Maryland Mr. Hindman (aye.) Pransylvania Mr. Gardner. Pennsylvania

Mr. Henry.

Mr. Vining
Mr Bedford.

States divided.

Mr. Monroe.
Mr. Lee.

New York... Mr. Smith (no.)

Mr. Grayson. New York.. Mr. Haring (aye.) Suaib Carolina... Mr. Pinckney. North Carolina.. Mr. Williamson ayo.) Georgia.

Mr. Houstoun. North Carolina.. Mr. Sitgreaves no.) So the question was lost and the words were stricken out.

Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, seconded by Mr. Smith, of New York, now moved to strike out all that which related to setting apart a section for the support of religion. On the question, Shall the words, " and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward. for the support of religion," stand ? The vote was as follows: States voting Aye.

States doting No. New Hampshire.... Mr. Foster.

Rhode Island... Mr. Ellery. New Hampshire....Mr. Long.

Rhode Island... Mr. Howell. Massachusetts. Mr. Hoiton.

Maryland Mr. McHenry. Massachusetts. Mr. King

Maryland Mr. J. Henry Connecticut. Mr Johnson. Maryland... Mr. Hindman (aye.) Pennsy vania Mr. Gardner Pennsylvania

Mr. W. Henry.
De sware.

Mr. Vining
Mr. Bedford,

States divided.
Mr. Monroe.
Mr. Lee.

New York...... Mr. Smith (no.)
Virg nia.
Mr. Grayson.

New York.. Mr. Haring (aye.) South Carolina. ...Mr. Pinckney. North Carolina.. Mr. Williamson (aye.) Georgia..

Mr. Houstoun. North Carolina.. Mr. Sitgreaves no.) So the question was lost and the words were stricken out.

A motion was then made by Mr. Johnson, of Connecticut, and seconded by Mr. King, of Massachusetts, further to amend the paragraph by inserting after the word "schools” the following: "and the section immediately adjoining the same to the northward, for charitable uses ;" which amendment was lost.


Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, voted by States. To adopt a measure the vote of seven States was required, and in certain cases nine. The vote of a State was not counted unless at least two members were present

The vote was as follows:

States roting Aye.

New Hampshire.... Mr. Foster.
New Hampshire. Mr Long
Massachusetts. Mr. Holton.

-Mr. King
Connecticut.. Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Viring: Delaware

Mr. Bedford. Virginia

Mr. Monroe. Virginia

Mr. Lee. Virginia

Mr. Grayson. South Carolina. Mr. Pinckney. Georgia....

Mr. Houstoun.

States voting No.
New York... . Mr. Smith.
New York. Mr. Haring.
Maryland Mr. McHenry.
Maryland Mr. J. Henry.
Maryland ......Mr. Hindman (ayc.)

States dirided.
North Carolina.. Mr. Williamson (ayo.)
North Carolina.. Mr. Sitgreaves (no.)
Rhode Island... Mr. Ellery (no.)
Rhode Island... Mr. Howell (aye.)
Pennsylvania ...Mr. Gardner (aye.)
Pennsylvania ...Mr. W. Henry (no.)

On May 20, 1785, the ordinance as finally amended was passed with the following provision for education :

There shall be reserved the lot No. 16 of every township for the maintenanco of public schools.

The Ordinance of 1787 " for the government of the Territory northwest of the river Ohio" confirmed the provision of 1785, and declared that “religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” A few days after the passage of the Ordinance, regulations were made for the sale of the western territory, and in these it was provided that lot No. 16 in each township should bu given perpetually for schools, and that “ lot No. 29 in each township, or fractional part of a township, to be given perpetually for the purposes of religion;" and, further, that “not more than two complete townships to be given perpetually for the purposes of a university."

The grant of lot No. 29 for the purposes of religion has only been made in two instances—in the case of the Ohio Company, and what is known as the Symmes Purchase. Ohio, and the other western States admitted into the Union during the first half of the present century, received the sixteenth section of every township for the use of schools, in addition to the grant of two townships for universities.

The Commissioner of the Land Office, in 1846, and the Secretary of the Treasury, (R. J. Walker,) in 1847, recommended an increased grant of lands for school purposes to the new States and Territories.

In the first session of the Thirtieth Congress, February 15, 1848, as the question was about being put on the passage of the bill admitting Wisconsin as a State of the Union, the Hon. John A. Rockwell, member of the House of Representatives from Connecticut, moved an amendment giving the thirty-sixth in addition to the sixteenth section in each

township for educational uses, which was rejected, fifty-eight voting in the atlirmative, and eighty in the negative.

In the acts establishing territorial governments for Oregon, in August, 1948, and for Minnesota, approved March 2, 1849, it was provided that sections numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each township should be reserved for the use of schools.


[ocr errors]

As Minnesota was the first State in the valley of the Mississippi to receive twelve hundred and eighty acres in each township, to be employed in training her children for intelligent suffrage, the only safeguard for the perpetuity of a republican form of government, it is desirable to trace the steps she has taken in husbanding this precions gift from the nation, and the results of her supervision.

When, in 1857, a Convention assembled to form a constitution, preparatory to its admission into the Union, an interesting discussion arose as to the wisest course to be pursued in disposing and guarding the school lands.

The Committee on Education reported a provision that for the next ten years after the ratification of the constitution, the public school lands should not be disposed of otherwise than by lease."

The Hon. A. E. Ames said : “I deem it proper to state what governed me as Chairman of the Committee having this subject under consideration, in inserting that clause. In my opinion, this gift of the General Government to the future State of Minnesota for the support of public schools is a sacred gift, which should be taken care of and husbanded in the best manner possible. Looking to the past, I saw how many of the western States having similar grants have disposed of them almost immediately after assuming the form of State governments, without realizing but a small portion of the amount which they might, with a little care, have realized as a perpetual fund for the support of schools hereafter.

I have said that it is a sacred gift, intrusted to us for our children and our children's children ; if we husband it well, they will rise up and called us blessed.' we squander it away, we shall receive only their curses.” Delegates as intelligent and public-spirited as the committee, advocated a different policy and opposed the incorporation of the clause as to leasing lands, into the constitution. Hon. H. H. Sibley, who became the first Governor under the State organization, advocated what he thought would be carrying out the great democratic idea of bringing down, as near as






[ocr errors]

possible, to the people, the disposal of these lands." He desired that “ the people who live in a particular township should be able to say for themselves what disposition shall be made of the lands donated to them within their own limits.” After considerable time had been passed in considering the report of the committee, a former Territorial Governor, Hon. Willis A. Gorman, moved to strike out the sentence that “the school lands for ten years should not be disposed of otherwise than by lease," and insert, “ and not more than one-third of said lands

may be sold in two years, one-third in five years, and one-third in ten years,” which amendment was adopted as a compromise.

Article eight of the Constitution of Minnesota is as follows:

Sec. 1. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools.

SEC. 2. The proceeds of such lands as aro or hereafter may be granted by the United States for the use of schools within each township in this State, shall remain a perpetual school fund to the State, and not more than one-third of said lands may be sold in two years, one-third in five years, and one-third in ten years ; but the lands of the greatest valuation shall be sold first: Provided, That no portion of said lands shall be sold otherwise than at public sale.

The principal of all funds arising from sales or other disposition of lands or other property granted to this State in each township for educational purposes, shall forever be preserved inviolate and undiminished; and the income arising from the lease or sale of said school lands shall be distributed to the different townships throughout the State, in proportion to the number of scholars in each township between the ages of five and twenty-one years, and shall be faithfully applied to the specific objects of the original grants or appropriations.

Sec. 3. The legislature shall make such provisions, by taxation or otherwise, as with the income arising from the school fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools in each township of the State..

SEC. 4. The location of the University of Minnesota, as established by existing laws, is hereby confirmed, and suid institution is hereby declared to be the University of the State of Minnesota.

All the rights, immunities, franchises, and endowments heretofore granted or conferred, are hereby perpetuated unto the said university, and all lands which may be granted hereafter by Congress, or other donations for said university purposes, shall vest in the institution referred to in this section."

An act of the Legislature, approved March 10, 1860, made the Chancellor of the State University ex officio Superintendent of Public Instruction, but failed to provide a salary for the performance of the duties of either office. Notwithstanding this inconvenience, the Chancellor immediately proceeded to attend to the interests of public schools. In his first report, dated January 14, 1861, under the head of school lands, he says:

During the month of June, 1860, the capital of Wisconsin was visited, and several days passed in interviews with the officers of the State in relation to their land system, its defects, and a better way of conducting the sale of lands. In order that a general idea might be obtained of the present value of our school lands, the following questions were addressed to the Superintendent of Schools in each town.

Is there timber on the school sections ?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »