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It was found expedient likewise to appoint a sub-master, whose salary should be higher, and whose situation should be more permanent than that of the assistants. The whole school-house in School-street, is now appropriated to this school. The last catalogue contains two hundred and Ucenlij fire scholars.
SCHOOL FUND FOR THE SEVERAL STATES.
[The measure recommended in the subjoined Report is one of vast national importance: its results will probably affect, in the most favorable manner, not the actual state of education merely, but the condition and character of our whole population. That a deep interest in this subject will be felt throughout the country we have no doubt; and we earnestly hope that the proposed Act will be unanimously and speedily passed. We have transferred to our pages the whole Report; as we think this course is due equally to the value of that document itself, to a full exhibition of the progress of the public mind with regard to education, and to the satisfaction of our readers, who we have no doubt are desirous of possessing all the information on such subjects which it is in our power to furnish.] In the House of Representatives, February 24, 1826, Mr. Strong, from the Committee on the Public Lands, to uhich the subject had been referred, made the following REPORT. The Committee on the Public lands, to whom was referred the resolution of December 21st, 1825, instructing them 'to inquire into the expediency of appropriating a portion of the nett annual proceeds of the sales and entries of the public lands exclusively for the support of Common Schools, and of apportioning the same among the several States, in proportion to the representation of each in the House of Representatives,' report:
That the subject referred to the consideration of the committee fs manifestly of great interest. It has directly in view the improvement of the minds and morals of the present generation, and of generations to come. It contemplates giving additional stability to the government, and drawing round the republic new and stronger bonds of union. We are, indeed, a peculiar people. None enjoy more freedom than we do; and, though it be the price of blood, yet it is not founded in usurpation, nor sustained by the sword. The most casual observer of human institutions at once perceives that our political, as well as civil condition, in some essential particulars, differs fundamentally from that of every other nation. The constitution under which we live is the only one, beyond the limits of this republic, which secures religious toleration, and leaves the tongue and the conscience free. This was chiefly the result of education. Chastened liberty lives in the voluntary choice of an enlightened people, while arbitrary power depends for its existence upon the slavish fear of an ignorant multitude. Hence, a government like ours, which guaranties equal representation and taxation, trial by jury, the freedom of speech and of the press, of religious opinion and profession, not only depends for its energy and action, but for its very existence, upon the Will of the feople. They, and they only, can alter, or change, or abolish it. And are the rights of mankind, and the obligations of civil society, generally understood or respected by the ignorant? Has property, or reputation, or life, when left to depend upon the wisdom of ignorance, or the forbearance of passion, ever been accounted safe? And where is the human character usually found the most degraded and debased? Is it where schools and the means of education abound, or is it where the light of knowledge never illumined the hnman intellect? If, then, the habits, notions, and actions of men, which naturally result from the ignorance of letters, from the force of superstition, and the blind impulses of passion, are utterly incompatible with rational liberty, and every way hostile to the political institutions of freedom, how high and imperious is the duty upon us, living under a government the freest of the free, a government whose action and being depend upon popular will, to seek every constitutional means to enlighten, and chasten, and purify that will? How shall we justify it to ourselves, and to the world, if we do not employ the means in our power in order to free it from the severe bondage of ignorance and passion, and place it under the mild control of wisdom and reason? As large as the opportunities of acquiring knowledge are, and as much of common learning as the American People have, there are some, growing into manhood around us, who have neither learning nor the opportunity of acquiring it. The resolution under consideration proposes to appropriate a portion of the proceeds of the public lands to a new and specific object—to convert it into a permanent fund for the sole use and support of common schools in the several States, and to divide this fund among the several States, in proportion to the representation of each in this House.
Of appropriating a portion of these proceeds to a new and specific object.—A part of the public domain was acquired by the fortune of war, and a part by purchase. The whole constitutes a common fund for the joint benefit of the States and the People. This domain amounted to some hundred millions of acres, and, of it, probably some two hundred millions of acres of good land yet remain unsold. It is true, that the proceeds of these lands, together with those of the internal duties, and the duties on merchandise and the tonnage of vessels, to the amount of ten millions of dollars annually, are appropriated and pledged to the 'Sinking Fund.' But, is this a valid objection to the appropriation of the whole or of any part of the proceeds of these lands to any other proper object? Since the act of March, 1817, making this appropriation and pledge to the sinking fund, the annual average amount ofthe public revenue has been about twenty millions of dollars. So long, therefore, as ten millions of dollars are left to the sinking fund, the appropriation is answered and the pledge redeemed; and the surplus revenue, from whatever source derived, not having been appropriated or pledged, remains to be disposed of in such way and for such purposes as the Congress may direct. But, are the public lands a source of revenue upon which a wise and prudent government ought to risk its credit? Will capitalists lend their money upon such vague and uncertain security? The land may be offered for sale, but no man can be compelled to buy. The purchase is wholly voluntary. The promised revenue to be derived from it is altogether contingent. It depends not at all upon the power or the necessities of the government, but upon the will of the purchaser Besides, the faith ofthe government does not consist in the intrinsic value ofthe thing pledged. This is not enough. No prudent man, for example, would lend his money to the government to be reimbursed out of4he proceeds which may or may not accrue from the lead mines and salt springs belonging to the United States. The value of the pledge is the credit it secures. And the thing pledged is valued in proportion to its peculiar fitness and proper adaptcdness to the end for which it was pledged. So that the faith of the government necessarily depends upon its ability to coerce the possession—to touch and turn the thing pledged into money. This the government cannot do with the public lands. They are indeed, tangible; but neither the wishes, the will, nor the power of the government, can change them into money. They are, therefore, not a proper source of revenue, upon which the faith or the credit of the nation should be hazarded. Congress seems to have raneidered them so. A township of land has been given to the ' Nation's Guest.' Large portions of land have, from time to time, been given to other individuals, and to public institutions. Now, if it be good faith to give away the lands, from which tho revenue pledged to the sinking fund is derived, it cannot be bad faith to appropriate a portion at least of their proceeds for the support of common schools. Of concerting it into a permanent fund for the sole use and support of common schools iu the several States.—Unless children are taught how to govern themselves, and how to be governed, by law, they will rarely make good citizens. It may be objected that the Constitution does not give to Congress the power to appropriate the proceeds of these lands for the purposes of Education. The question is not whether Congress can superintend and control the private schools in the several States, but whether Congress can appropriate the proceeds of these lands for the use and support of those private schools, to be applied by and under the exclusive authority of the several States. The only clause in the Constitution, which, perhaps, can in any way restrain the general right of appropriating money, is that which declares that the Congress shall have power ' to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.' Can the proceeds of the public lands, in any sense, be considered a tax, duty, impost, or excise? A tax must be levied, and the obligation to pay it, created by the authority of law. The money derived from the public lands is not levied, nor is the obligation to pay it created by law. Both the purchase and the obligation are voluntary. The Constitution gives Congress the power of disposing of the territory and other property of the United States, but it no where considers the proceeds of these lands as a revenue to be applied as the proceeds of taxes are directed to be applied. The Military Academy at West Point is an invaluable institution. If Congress has the constitutional power (and we believe no one denies it) to establish such a school; to draw money directly from the public treasury for its support; to pay for teaching a boy mathematics and engineering; it may be difficult to show that Congress has not the power to employ a few acres of the public domain to teach a poor man's son how to read. But did any doubt remain, that doubt would appear to be removed, by referring to the facts, that a portion of these lands has, from the beginning, been set apart for the purposes of common education, and that other portions of them have been given, from time to time, for the use of colleges, and of deaf and dumb asylums, and for the construction of roads and canals. Of apportioning thh furd among the srrcral Stairs.—Equality of
rights and privileges, both as it regards citizens and States, is the fundamental principle of our Government. Hence, the People, so far as the integrity and independence of the States will permit, are equally represented in the popular branch of the National legislature. Guided by this rule the Committee have no doubt that the apportionment should be made among the several States according to the representation of each in the House of Representatives. This will distribute the fund, and dispense the blessings resulting from it, upon the strictest principles of equality. The ordinary disbursement of the public money does not directly benefit all alike. This apparently partial distribution of the money of the nation, depends upon the nature of the objects to which it is applied. An army is stationed where its services are required; a fortress erected where it is wanted; a navy constructed where it can be done the safest and the best; and the money to pay for objects of this sort, necessarily goes to those portions of the country only, in which the services and labour have been performed. These great objects, which enter so largely into the defence of the nation, are local in their character; and hence it is that some of the States, and many portions of the country, receive no direct benefit from the annual expenditure of millions of the public money. But the proposed appropriation for the support of common schools, is for an object general in its nature and benefits. It is an appropriation, in which every American citizen has a deep interest, and by the operation and influence of which, the ignorant and the wise, the rich and the poor, the government and the governed, will receive direct and lasting benefits. The ignorant and the poor will be aided and enlightened ; the wise and the rich estimated and protected; and the Government appreciated and defended. Common schools are the nurseries of youth; they are the most universal, as they are the most effectual means of opening the mind; of giving reason the mastery, and of fixing, in habits of sober industry, the rising generations of men. Can, then, a portion of the proceeds of the national domain, be expended in any way which will more directly or forcibly come home to the wants and wishes, the business and bosoms, of the People?The resolution before the committee, does not indicate, in terms, whether the principal, annually apportioned, or the interest of the principal only, shall be paid over to the States. Nor does it point out any mode, in case the interest only is to be applied, of investing the principal. This part of the subject merits some examination. It seems to be manifest, that the more certain and permanent the fund, the greater and more lasting will be the benefits flowing from it. To apportion and pay the principal annually to the seve.