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On the 16th of March, 1795, Washington addressed the following letter to Gov. Brooke of Virginia:—
SIR:—Ever since the General Assembly of Virginia were pleased to submit to my disposal fifty shares in the Potomac, and one hundred in the James River Company, it has been my anxious desire to appropriate them to an object most worthy of public regard. It is with indescribable regret, that I have seen the youth of the United States migrating to foreign countries, in order to acquire the higher branches of erudition, and to obtain a knowledge of the sciences. Although it would be injustice to many to pronounce the certainty of their imbibing maxims not congenial with republicanism, it must nevertheless be admitted, that a serious danger is encountered by sending abroad among other political systems those who have not well learned the value of their own. The time is therefore come, when a plan of universal education ought to be adopted in the United States. Not only do the exigencies of public and private life demand it, but, if it should ever be apprehended, that prejudice would be entertained in one part of the Union against another, an efficacious remedy will be, to assemble the youth of every part under such circumstances as will, by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation. It has been represented, that a university corresponding with these ideas is contemplated to be built in the Federal City, and that it will receive considerable endowments. This position is so eligible from its centrality, so convenient to Virginia, by whose legislature the shares were granted and in which part of the Federal District stands, and combines so many other conveniences, that I have determined to vest the Potomac shares in that university. Presuming it to be more agreeable to the General Assembly of Virginia, that the shares in the James River Company should be reserved for a similar object in some part of that State, I intend to allot them for a seminary to be erected at such place as they shall deem most proper. I am disposed to believe, that a seminary of learning upon an enlarged plan, but yet not coming up to the full idea of a university, is an institution to be preferred for the position which is to be chosen. The students, who wish to pursue the whole range of science, may pass with advantage from the seminary to the university, and the former by a due relation may be rendered coöperative with the latter. I can not however dissemble my opinion, that if all the shares were conferred on a university, it would become far more important, than when they are divided; and I have been constrained from concentering them in the same place, merely by my anxiety to reconcile a particular attention to Virginia with a great good, in which she will abundantly share in common with the rest of the United States. I must beg the favor of your Excellency to lay this letter before that honorable body, at their next session, in order that I may appropriate the James River shares to the place which they may prefer. They will at the same time again accept my acknowledgments for the opportunity, with which they have favored me, of attempting to supply so important a desideratum in the United States as a university adequate to our necessity, and a preparatory seminary.
This letter was accordingly communicated to the Assembly at their next session, when the following resolves were passed:—
IN THE House of DELEGATEs, December 1st, 1795.
Whereas the migration of American youth to foreign countries, for the completion of their education, exposes them to the danger of imbibing political prejudices disadvantageous to their own republican forms of government, and ought therefore to be rendered unnecessary and avoided;
Resolved, that the plan contemplated of erecting a university in the Federal City, where the youth of the several States may be assembled, and their course of education finished, deserves the countenance and support of each State.
And whereas, when the General Assembly presented sundry shares in the James River and Potomac Companies to George Washington, as a small token of their gratitude for the great, eminent, and unrivaled services he had rendered to this Commonwealth, to the United States, and the world at large, in support of the principles of liberty and equal government, it was their wish and desire that he should appropriate them as he might think best; and whereas, the present General Assembly retain the same high sense of his virtues, wisdom, and patriotism; Resolved, therefore, that the appropriation by the said George Washington of the aforesaid shares in the Potomac Company to the university, intended to be erected in the Federal City, is made in a manner most worthy of public regard, and of the approbation of this Commonwealth. Resolved, also, that he be requested to appropriate the aforesaid shares in the James River Company to a seminary at such place in the upper country, as he may deem most convenient to a majority of the inhabitants thereof.
The following are provisions of Washington's last Will:—
—As it has always been a source of serious regret with me to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign countries for the purposes of education, often before their minds were formed, or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own; contracting, too frequently, not only habits of dissipation and extravagance, but principles unfriendly to republican government, and to the true and genuine liberties of mankind, which thereafter are rarely overcome; for these reasons it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to spread systematic ideas through all parts of this rising empire, thereby to do away local attachments and State prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our national councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation), my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to affect the measure, than the establishment of a University in a central part of the United States, to which youths of fortune and talents from all parts thereof may be sent for the completion of their education in all branches of polite literature, in arts and sciences, in acquiring knowledge in the principles of politics and good government; and, as a matter of infinite importance in my judgment, by associating with each other, and forming friendships in juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitual jealousies, which have just been mentioned, and which, when carried to excess, are never-failing sources of disquietude to the public mind, and pregnant with mischievous consequences to the country. Under these impressions,
I give and bequeath in perpetuity the fifty shares which I hold in the Potomac Company (under the aforesaid acts of the Legislature of Virginia,) towards the endowment of a university to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the general government, if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it; and until such seminary is established, and the funds arising on these shares be required for its support, my further will and desire is, that the profit accruing therefrom shall, whenever the dividends are made, be laid out in purchasing stock in the bank of Columbia, or some other bank, at the discretion of my executors, or by the treasurer of the United States for the time being, under the direction of Congress, provided that honorable body should patronize the measure; and the dividends proceeding therefrom are to be vested in more stock, and so on until a sum adequate to the accomplishment of the object is obtained, of which I have not the smallest doubt before many years pass away, even if no aid or encouragement is given by legislative authority, or from any other source.
The hundred shares, which I hold in the James River Company, I have given, and now confirm, in perpetuity, to and for the use and benefit of Liberty Hall Academy, in the county of Rockbridge, in the commonwealth of Virginia.
We shall continue this Historical Development of the National Aspects of Education through successive administrations, down to the action of Congress at its last session,
I. THE STATE AND EDUCATION.
AN ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE of New JERSEY IN 1838.*
Fellow Citizens:—We were appointed by the Convention of your own delegates to address you on the subject of Common Schools. We approach you with solicitude, as deeply sensible of the great importance of the interest intrusted to us; yet, as freemen speaking to freemen, with prevailing confidence.
The points which we propose for your attention, and, if we might, would press into every heart, are few, simple and practical; the necessary consequences, it seems to us, from principles which all admit. We say that knowledge is the universal right of man :) and we need bring no clearer demonstration than that intellectual nature, capable of it, thirsting for it, expanding and aspiring with it, which is God's own argument in every living soul. We say that the assertion for himself of this inherent right, to the full measure of his abilities and opportunities, is the universal duty of man ; and | that whoever fails of it, thwarts the design of his Creator; and, in proportion as he neglects the gift of God, dwarfs and enslaves and brutifies the high capacity for truth and liberty which he inherits. And all experience, and every page of history confirm the assertion, in the close kindred, which has everywhere been proved, of ignorance and vice with wretchedness and slavery. And we say farther, that the security of this inherent fight to every individual, and its extension, in the fullest measure, to the greatest number, is the univer sal interest of man; so that they who deny or abridge it to their fellows, or who encourage, or, from want of proper influence, permit them to neglect it, are undermining the foundations of government, weakening the hold of society, and preparing the way for that unsettling and dissolving of all human institutions, which must result in anarchy and ruin, and in which they who have the greatest stake must be the greatest sufferers. A lesson, clearly taught by
* The Convention assembled in Trenton on the 27th and 28th of January, 1838, Chief Jus tice Hornblower presiding. The address was prepared by the Rt Rev. George W. Doane, in behalf of a Committee consisting of Bishop Doane, Chairman, L. Q. C. Flmer, M J Rhees, T. Frelinghuysen, J. S. Green, D. B. Ryall, A. B. Dod, A. Atwood, and S. R. Gummere.
that divine philosophy, in which the Maker of mankind becomes
the law, with iron hand, comes in between the parent and his offspring, and takes charge of the offender. And shall there be provision to punish only, and none to prevent? Shall the only offices in which the State is known be those of jailor and of executioner? Shall she content herself with the stern attribute of justice, and discard the gentler ministries of mercy It was said of Draco's laws that they were writ with blood. Is it less true of any State which makes provision for the whipping-post, the penitentiary, the scaffold, and leaves the education of her children to individual effort or precarious charity ? It was well said by the distinguished head of our Judiciary,” even more distinguished as the President of the late convention for Common Schools, “the State has an interest in every child within her limits.” May not still more than this with equal truth be said, the welfare, nay, the being of the State is bound up in the character of every child? Think of the blessings which Washington, and Franklin, and Fulton, and Marshall, have brought down upon our land 1 Think of the scorn and execration which the name of Arnold brings with it, the single name in our whole history at which the nation needs to blush | If the positions be maintained, that the education of the people is indispensable to the preservation of free institutions, and that it is therefore the duty of every free State to provide for the education of her children, we are prepared, fellow citizens, for the inquiry, how far has provision been made for the discharge of this duty in the State with which we are most intimately connected, the State of New Jersey That the duty of making some provision for this end has long been recognized, the twenty-one years which have elapsed since the passage of the first act “to create a fund for the support of free schools” sufficiently attest. That what has been done is insufficient you have yourselves borne witness in the general impulse which, in December and January last, originated so many of those primary assemblies—in our republic the true sources of power and influence—for the consideration of this subject; and in that large, intelligent, and most respectable convention, composed of delegates, chosen by yourselves, to express your own views on the provisions for the public instruction, by which it was resolved with singular unanimity, that “the general laws of this State on the subject of Common Schools are essentially defective and ought to be repealed.” Into the question, “What shall be substituted for the present law Ż" the convention did not enter. It was for them to de
* Chief Justice Hornblower, by his deportment as the presiding officer of the Convention, aldea new dignity to his office, and to himself.