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REASONS FOR RENEWED EFFORT AT THIS TIME.
The chief reasons for reviving the question at this time are these:
First. The general education bill, so long before Congress, having been disposed of, there is no longer any obligation on the part of the friends of the national university proposition to remain quiescent, as they were willing to do while they who were committed to that measure were still hopeful of victory.
Second. The failure of the general education bill should but consti. tute a new reason for the passage of a bill to establish a great university. Not alone because, having failed to pass one measure in the interest of education, Congress should be all the more ready, and find it the more easy, to favor another of equal or greater importance, but also because the chief objection to that measure in no manner applies to this one. For, if it be true that the people in the several States, districts, and neighborhoods are abundantly able to provide schools of the lower grade for the youth of the land, the same is certainly not true of the people in their local and individual capacity in relation to a central university of the highest type. No one man, no one community, no one State is equal to the establishment of such an institution. And if that were possible, in so far as means are concerned, still it is manifest that neither community nor State, nor even the most powerful of the religious organizations, could possibly establish and maintain a national university. That is a sole prerogative of the whole people in their legislative capacity. On Congress alone that great obligation rests.
Third. The present condition of the country, now fairly recovered from the industrial and commercial depression of recent years, with new buoyancy of spirit, and with hopes well founded on census returns that astonish the world and establish our superiority among the nations, is exceedingly favorable. It is now beyond question that the Government of the United States could henceforth pay at least a million a year as interest on a registered certificate and not feel the draft in any degree.
Fourth. It is no less true that the public mind, which in recent years has been slowly but surely coming to the opinion that President Hill, of Harvard, was right when in his last official report he said “a true university is a leading want of American education," is now ready to undertake the supply of that want.
As we have seen, prominent educators, leading scholars, and scientists, distinguished statesmen, and great organizations of men, educa
tional, scientific, literary, patriotic, and philanthropic, have strongly confirmed the truth of this declaration; while powerful organizations of the church, both Catholic and Protestant, have also considered the question, resolved, and begun to act. It is seen that the rapid growth and present enormous value of university facilities at Washington are now so well known as to constitute a great attraction for students, scholars, and scientists the world over when brought into relations with a national university.
Fifth. This circumstance of a movement for a university at Washington, by two powerful church organizations is highly favorable to the early establishment of a national university. They are both of them effective agitators of great questions, and will be preëminently influential with the masses, who alone of all the people may need to be convinced. Both because of their philanthropic aims and of the helpful pioneer work they will of necessity do, we may bid such organized efforts Godspeed. There is room enough for all. Should they each succeed in founding an important institution they will simply swell the grand chorus and contribute yet more to make of the national capital the intellectual center of the world.
And if, on the other hand, seeing that the nation itself is to found the American university, they and the multitude of like organizations should each see fit to concentrate their efforts upon great schools of theology to be clustered about the national university as a high central source of general instruction and of inspiration for all, then this grand unity of all in the cause of pure learning and of progress in science and the arts would only yet more enhance the dignity of the university itself, yet further promote the great interests of American education, and contribute yet more to brighten the halo which already encircles the brow of the Republic.
Sixth. The present is also a favorable time from a political point of view, since with the present constitution of the national legislature the honor of founding the proposed institution may and must be equally shared by the two great political parties; since, moreover, there is reason to believe that of late there have been important accessions in both Houses of Congress to the very considerable body of members known to have been favorable to this enterprise from the beginning of its agitation in recent years.
Seventh. The present time is auspicious for the reason that numbers of men of vast fortunes and of honorable ambitions are now in the spirit of making large contributions to education. The Hopkinses, Vanderbilts, Drexels, Clarks, Tulanes, Rockefellers, Stanfords, Carnegies, and Fayrweathers have only set examples which a much larger number are preparing to follow. And hence it is again urged that if Congress should now establish and liberally endow the national university, gifts of many millions for the founding of fellowships, professorships, faculties, and departments, would flow into its treasury as contributions to the vast aggregate sum that will thus constitute its final endowment.
Eighth. Now is the appointed time for historic reasons. Action by the present Congress would enable us to make the beginnings of the national university a part of the great Columbian celebration in 1893, and its proper inauguration a most fitting centennial commemoration of Washington's last earnest appeal in its behalf to the people and Congress of the United States, in 1796. It was with the help of science that Christopher Columbus found these wonderful new continents, and hence America could not more truly honor him than by inaugurating on the four hundredth anniversary of his discovery an institution of learning sublimely dedicated not alone to the diffusion of knowledge, but also to the discovery of unnumbered continents of truth in the coming centuries. The Colunbian Exposition will of itself be a grand but a vanishing monument. Let us also, in commemoration of the achievements of 1492, found here an institution that shall lead the world in its grand career of progress, and proudly endure through all future time.
And what of Washington, with all his eloquent pleadings and his dying bequest, added to achievements in behalf of his country and of universal freedom which have made him immortal? The Centennial Exposition of 1876 was a worthy commemoration of those heroic beginnings which led to American independence and the founding of a great nation, but it was for the honoring of all alike who had part in the grand drama of the Revolution. Do not the hearts of the American people prompt to some centennial recognition of the supreme services and example of him whom the world delights to call the Father of His Country! True, on that beautiful swell of ground near the Potomac he loved stands a proud shaft of marble whose whiteness symbolizes his purity and whose towering summit suggests that stateliness and that loftiness of character for which he was so incomparable that he has seemed to be unapproachable—a shaft that plainly shows the place he holds in the affections of the people, and which also honors the multitudes out of whose contributions it was erected.
But is that enough? There was One who said, “If a man ask bread, will ye give him a stone?” And yet is not this what we have literally done? Twelve times in formal utterance, and times untold in familiar speech and silent prayer, he who had rescued his country from the grasp of tyranny and laid for it the deep foundations on which this great Republic was reared asked for a university that should supply to this people the bread of knowledge, and we have builded for him a monument of stone! Shall we not at last redeem ourselves from his just reproach and the reproach of succeeding generations by such granting of his request as shall fittingly atone for the neglect of a hundred years?
Finally, there is a reason broader and more far-reaching than all of these, one in which a genuine patriotism mingles with a pure philanthropy in equal measure. During the past several years the American people have celebrated many great and stirring events in American history,
It is well. Such celebrations serye at once to keep in remembrance the heroic deeds of a noble ancestry, and to deepen in the hearts of the people their love of country and their appreciation of free institutions; but they will have failed of their highest use after all if they do not arouse in us a like zeal in the interest of country and human kind. We need not wait for occasions precisely theirs. The opportunity is ever present. It is not by glorying in the deeds of our sires, but by great and honorable deeds of our own that we are to stand approved. We must continue to rear upon the foundations they laid such superstructures as will make at once for the further prosperity and security of our country and for the peace and progress of the world. Having fitly celebrated the past, shall we not now face about and begin anew the great work of the coming century? Was it not in this spirit that were formed the many patriotic organizations we now see on every hand, with their efforts not alone for general progress but also for the perfect cementing of all sections of the American Union and for peace and concord among the nations? And what better beginning on the intellectual side of so beneficent and glorious a mission than the founding of a great university, comprehensive not only of all present knowledge, with competent agencies for its diffusion among men, but also of wisely directed efforts for the discovery of new truth as well as for new applications of knowledge in the common interest of mankind-an institution so supreme, toto cælo, so consecrated to the highest good of humanity, and so truly a guiding star in the intellectual firmament as to be gladly recognized and accepted of all the nations of the world?
THE DEMAND OF THE PRESENT.
What the friends of education now ask is this: That the Government of the United States, after more than a hundred years since the earnest appeals and final bequest of Washington, at length extend the needed “fostering hand” to that great enterprise of which he fondly believed he had made a worthy beginning; that Congress now begin the establishment of a true national university in harmony with the general principles already set forth by what may be regarded as the highest authorities on this subject
A university, whose board of regents, representing all sections, shall be so chosen and so limited when chosen as not only to insure the promotion of its general interests, but also to avoid the dangers of partisan interference, religious or political;
Whose provision for internal management shall duly protect the interests of learning and the rights of all members;
Whose conditions of admission shall relate to character and competency only;
The doors of whose regular courses of study, looking to graduation, shall be open to such only as have already received the bachelor's degree from recognized institutions;
Whose students of every class shall be permitted to utilize the vast facilities and forces in the many Departments of the Government so far as this can be accorded without detriment to the public service;
Whose system of scholarships shall supply at once a reward of merit and a stimulus to the youth of the country in every grade of schools, shall hold the schools themselves to proper standards, and insure the highest character of the university membership;
Whose fellowships shall be open to all the nations and so endowed as to fill its places for original work with aspirants of superior genius from every quarter of the globe;
Whose professoriate, like that of the German universities, shall by its system of gradations and promotions supply its professorships and lectureships with the best talent and proficiency the world can afford;
Whose graduates, receiving none but the higher degrees, shall be to all the schools, colleges, and universities of the land a means of reënforcement from the highest possible source;
Whose high faculties of letters, science, and philosophy shall be the center of a grand constellation of ranking schools for all the professions save theology, with surrounding of such independent religious institutions as the hundreds of denominations may choose to set up;