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Thirty-two of these colleges possess farms amounting in the aggregate to nine thousand six hundred and seventy-nine acres, or, an average of three hundred and two acres each; and twentytwo of them have one thousand four hundred and twenty-three acres under cultivation in plowed crops—an average of nearly sixty-five acres each. The value of the farms reported by twenty-six institutions is $799,608—an average of $30,754 each.
Twenty-two institutions report the value of their buildings at $2,037,200, or an average of $92,600 each; and seven others report $1,142,000 as the value of the buildings, the use of which they share with other departments of institutions with which they are connected, and which are, to all practical intents and purposes, equivalent to that amount of value appropriated to the use of the so-called agricultural colleges.
Nineteen institutions possess apparatus valued at $121,400, or an average of $6,389.47 each. Three others have apparatus valued at $29,000, in connection with other departments of institutions associated with them.
Twenty-four institutions reported last year, in the agricultural and mechanical departments, an aggregate of two thousand six hundred and four students, with three hundred and twentyone professors and assistants—an average of one hundred and nine students and thirteen and three-tenths instructors, while returns made for the same year to the United States Commissioner of Education, from two hundred and seventeen of the colleges in the country, show a total of twenty thousand eight hundred and sixty-six collegiate and past-graduate students, with three thousand and eighteen instructors-an average of ninety-six students and thirteen and eight-tenths instructors.
Perhaps the most interesting fact connected with the history of the institutions founded on the land-grant of 1862, is the extent to which they have awakened the enthusiasm and called forth the benevolence of individuals and communities in their behalf. It is a favorite theory in some quarters that governmental aid to education, and especially to higher education, tends to check individual effort; but the experience of the national colleges, so far as it goes, points directly to an opposite conclusion. It shows that the aid of Government, wisely bestowed, stimulates and encourages private benevolence, by giving it a central rallying-point, and an adequate guaranty of security.
Facts have been collected illustrating this point in the case of fifteen institutions, which have received donations, in addition to the Congressional endowment, either from the State, the county, the town, or from individuals, or from two or more of these sources. Of these, eight have received contributions, or grants, from the State, amounting to $1,292,550; and fourteen of the number have received gifts from sources other than the State (such as county or town authorities, or private individuals) to the amount of $3,630,649.86; making a grand total of $4,923,199.86. This entire sum, except $571,545, was given to these institutions solely in consequence of the Congressional land-grant. Besides these enumerated money values, also, one or two old institutions have turned over their grounds and buildings to the State to increase the resources of the new college. Eighteen institutions possess funds and property to the amount of $8,272,382, not including Cornell University or the Sheffield Scientific School. Bearing in mind that the facts just presented are such as have been collected respecting only fifteen of the institutions referred to, and that the oldest of them has been established only about ten years (the average being considerably less than five years), it is safe to say, not merely that this is the most profitable disposition that the United States Government has ever yet made of any equal portion of its public lands, but that no government in the world can point to an educational trust that has been, on the whole, administered with more wisdom and fidelity, or with larger results, than this.*
A feature in the work of these institutions which is worthy of special notice, is that their students belong almost wholly to the great “industrial” classes, and are the graduates of the public schools. They are furnishing free tuition to many hundred young men, a great portion of whom, especially in the South and West, could never have entered college without the aid that has been rendered by the Congressional grant, directly and by way of promoting other contributions to the same object; and many an aspiring youth has had grateful occasion
* Some of the facts here stated in regard to the so-called Agricultural Colleges, are taken, with the writer's permission, from a paper read by Prof. G. W. Atherton, before the National Educational Association, at Elmira, New York, in 1873.
to bless the wisdom of the Congress of 1862, by whose act he has been enabled to obtain a “liberal and practical education" which he could not otherwise have received.
These colleges are thus the natural outgrowth and completion of the free common school system of the country. They are the colleges of the people ; and whatever may be said of the wisdom of other grants of public lands made by Congress, there can be no doubt that this one has proved to be, as it was originally intended all should be, “ for the common benefit."
As to the future policy of the Government, it is to be hoped that it will hereafter take a more rather than less active interest than it has hitherto done in the promotion of public education. It need not, for this end, depart from the strict sphere of its constitutional functions ; it need not depart from our traditional policy of leaving each State to manage its common school system in its own way ; but it should hold an attitude of watchful interest towards this as one of the great objects of its concern ; it should extend aid to the common schools, so far as that can be done without unequal discriminations or the too heavy increase of taxation ; it should place the national scientific schools upon such a footing as will make them creditable to the people and the Government of the United States; it should see that the Territories, as they become organized, are not only encouraged but required to maintain good public schools, and help them to do it, not forgetting, in this, those forlorn “wards of the nation,” the Indian tribes. .
The justifying principle of such a policy may be found in those weighty words of Washington: “In proportion as the structure of a Government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”
The following resolution was unanimously adopted at the meeting of the National Educational Association, held at Elmira, New York, in 1873:
" Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Association, the proceeds of the sales of public lands should be hereafter set apart by Congress, under such conditions as it may deem wise, as a perpetual fund for the support of public education in the States and Territories."
STATE SCHOOL SYSTEMS.
JOSEPH H. SPEED, Superintendent of Public Instruction in Alabama, was born in the county of Mecklenburg, Virginia, in 1834. He graduated with the highest
Orange county, North Carolina, establishing a flourishing High School there. In 1858 he declined the Greek Professorship in Trinity College. In 1858, he was induced by Governor Moore and others to establish a select High School in Marion, Perry county, Alabama. At the breaking out of the war, he became an officer in the Confederate Army, and was appointed Salt Commissioner for Alabama, which position he held until peace was declared. In 1867, he was elected a delegate to the Alabama Constitutional Convention. In 1870, he was elected by the people of the Fourth Congressional District to represent them on the State Board of Education. He served in this capacity until elected in November, 1872, State Superintendent of Public Instruction for two years. He has likewise been President of the State Board of Regents since 1870, and very active in developing the Free School System of Alabama, and securing the enactment of the present liberal code of laws relating to the free public schools.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST. ALABAMA was admitted into the Union, as a State, in 1819. Her Constitution provided that schools and the means of education should be forever encouraged, and directed the Legislature to conserve the United States land-grants for the use of schools within each township, and the seminary lands “for a State Uni. versity for the promotion of the arts, literature, and science.” In 1823, an ineffectual effort was made to establish an efficient Public School System. Subsequent movements in this direction were crowned with little better success. Finally, in 1854, the first State Superintendent was appointed. A direct appropriation of $100,000 was made out of the annual State tax for educational purposes. The income of the United States surplus revenue fund deposited with the State, and the avails of certain swamp lands, were set aside for the same purpose. All over the State an interest in education was being awakened, when the war came on and arrested it.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM. The new Constitution, prepared in 1867 and ratified by the people, February 4, 1868, expressly stipulated that all children be
tween the ages of five and twenty-one years should be educated free of charge, and made other provisions for universal education. The State Superintendent, in his annual report for 1869, said: “If there be a single feature in the Constitution of Alabama which, above all others, should entitle the members of the Convention framing our Constitution to the rare merit of statesmen and sages, it is the section on education.” The injunction of the new Constitution was carried out by the people, and the
are the main features:
The Superintendent of Public Instruction is elected every four years. He has the personal supervision of the public schools of the State, and performs such other duties as may be imposed upon him by the Board of Education, of which he is President.
The Board of Education exercises full legislative powers in reference to the public educational institutions of the State, and its acts, when approved by the Governor, or when re-enacted by two-thirds of the Board in case of his disapproval, have the force and effect of law, unless repealed by the Legislature. It is made by the Constitution the duty of this Board (exercising powers which are enjoyed by no similar body in any other State) to establish in each township or school district one or more schools which all children between five and twenty-one years old may attend free of charge. The Board meets annually at the State Capitol to enact school laws at the same time as the General Assembly. The members receive the same pay and mileage as the members of the Legislature, but they are not permitted by the Constitution to protract their session longer than twenty days. During that time they pass all the general and local educational acts which they may deem necessary, and the Governor signs or disapproves of them just as if they were legislative bills. The Board of Education consists of the State Superintendent and two members from each Congressional District, elected for four years at the same time and in the same manner as the members of Congress.
The Board is likewise a Board of Regents of the State University, and has power to appoint the President and faculty thereof. The President of the University is, ex officio, a member of the Board of Regents, but has no vote in its proceedings.
The County Superintendents, of which there are sixty-seven,