WASHINGTON, D. C., August 3, 1892.

To the Honorable the Senate of the United States:

Responding to the request of the chairman of the Select Committee to Establish the University of the United States, for an account of what has been done hitherto in support of the proposition to found a national university in this country, together with a statement of what is now deemed desirable in this behalf from the standpoint of such eminent citizens and national organizations as are committed to that enterprise, I have the honor to submit the accompanying paper, and pray that the same may be printed in the usual number and referred to the aforesaid committee.

Very respectfully,




The subject of a national university has received much attention among thoughtful and patriotic citizens in all periods of our national history.

Thus far, the main hindrances to the enterprise have been, less than a just appreciation of its importance by the masses of the people, coupled with the early prevalence of provincial ideas and local jealousies, besides more or less doubt concerning the constitutional powers of the Government and a supreme devotion to the work of material development, on the one hand, and on the other a misapprehension of the relation that would be sustained by a central and truly national university to existing institutions of the university class.

The first of these embarrassments, though somewhat slow to disappear, is now rapidly passing away. With the spread of educational facilities, the growth of institutions for the higher culture, the marvelous progress of science and learning, and the consequent increase of those discoveries, practical inventions, and literary achievements, which have greatly added to the pleasures, security, and dignity of life, there has also come a new recognition of the high value of learn. ing; so that intelligent citizens everywhere now vie with each other in their efforts to promote its advancement. Even the uncultured have learned the theory of a necessary connection between science and progress in the useful arts, and hence, for their own immediate good, as well as for the advantage of their children and for the general welfare, willingly bear a share of the light burden necessary to the upbuilding and maintenance of the higher institutions.

So, too, with the construction of numberless railways and the constant intermingling of the people of all sections, provincialism has died a natural death. Each community has learned not only to respect every other, but to find pleasure in the prosperity of all as portions of a common country.

Moreover, as a result of what has been done by the Federal Government for the safety, convenience, and progress of all, those larger views now prevail which have made us one people, more loyal than ever to the Constitution, yet wisely regarding it, as did the framers themselves, an instrument formed with a view to national development and to high rank among the nations as well as to the preservation of our liberties.

Finally, there is reason to believe that the hindrance last mentioned will yet more quickly vanish when it comes to be understood at the educational centers that the real purpose of the friends of the proposed university is not to build up a powerful rival to existing institutions, but rather, first, to supplement the instruction the college now gives in its graduate courses with the highest and fullest postgraduate teaching the world can furnish, and, secondly, to supply such facilities for original work under the guidance of master minds as are still so greatly needed, and as would enable it incidentally to supply all the collegiate institutions of the land with persons most competent to fill their chairs of instruction, in return for the multitude of bachelors of arts, letters, science, and philosophy that would flock to the national standard.

One can hardly conceive of a more powerful and effective agency than such an institution would be, whether for the uplifting of the schools of the whole country of every class and grade, for the advancement of science and learning in the world, or for giving to the United States a true intellectual supremacy among the nations of the earth.

In view of all these facts and considerations the general question of establishing some such central university should now find an easy and ready solution. Hence this new revival of it, and this further appeal to the Congress of the United States, with a statement of what should be deemed requisite in this regard, of what has been attempted in that direction heretofore, and of what may reasonably be expected of both people and Government in the interest of science and learning, and as a crowning act of this first full century of the national life.


While the term university has had so great a variety of applications that it is practically without definiteness of meaning, it is nevertheless manifest that it has a proper signification as well as application. Stating these as simply as possible by defining the offices which such an institution may be expected to fulfil, it is hardly necessary to say, first of all, that it ranks above and beyond the academic and collegiate institutions, those stepping stones by which it is conveniently reached, or that its applicants for admission should have completed the courses of instruction which those classes of schools offer, and have fully gained both the priceless discipline and the very moderate attainments in knowledge which they represent.

The studies therein mastered are supposed to have simply furnished a key with which, if intellectually capable and of resolute purpose, they who have been certificated by them may enter those vastly broader and higher fields of science, art, and philosophy which themselves border on infinity.

As the common schools of this country, broadly viewed, represent what is elementary in the processes of development and acquisition, so the college properly stands for what is secondary, leaving all beyond as the realm of the true university. This is well understood by those who stand at the head of the multitude of so-called universities in America. They do not need to be told of the deficiencies they represent. They are simply willing to let their growing schools for the present bear the high title of which they anxiously hope to make them some day worthy. Following the example of the German universities, several of our greater institutions have bravely thrown their forces across the line and are doing a large amount of the very best of university work; but the bulk of work still done in the majority of such as bear the university name is the work of the college-the preparation of youth for the degree of bachelor.

The university proposed will open its doors for regular courses with graduation to such only as are at least bachelors already-eventually to multitudes of such as have been honored with even the doctor's degree, since it will be able to furnish to each and to all the very ultimate of what has been achieved in every realm and department of learning.

It will be not simply one more of the vast number of schools of academic rank, but the crown and culmination of the now incomplete American system of education-a flowering of the magnificent growth we have been nursing through sunshine and storm these more than a hundred years.

S. Mis, 222-2


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