especially when we consider the enormous funds now expended for public education and the magnificent endowments of private institutions. But at that time there were less than four thousand people in the colony, and the per-capita tax must have been half a dollar, a rate which at the present day would yield in the State of Massachusetts the enormous sum of over one million dollars. It must also be considered in estimating the value of donations and grants to education at this early period that “These sums in reality represent values ten or even fifty fold greater than the same amounts would to-day.”

But the Legislature, or General Court as it was called, did not stop here, but granted in 1640 the ferry between Boston and Charlestown for the support of the college,” and ordered an annual rate of one hundred pounds for the same purpose.” A committee was appointed by the court to proceed with the erection of buildings, and Mr. Eaton was appointed to take charge of the institution and superintend the erection of the first building. The court also granted five hundred acres of land to Mr. Eaton for his support, provided that he would devote his life to the college work. Subsequently Mr. Eaton was accused of tyrannizing over his students; he was tried, and dismissed, and his successor was appointed.


“Thus,” says Prof. C. K. Adams," “we find the Legislature exercising supreme authority in six different acts: (1) In making a special grant for a college; (2) in laying an annual tax for its support; (3) in determining where the college should be located; (4) in appointing a committee for the erection of buildings; (5) in appointing an officer to the general charge of the institution and providing for his support at the expense of the State, and finally (6) in putting the officer so appointed on trial, removing him, and appointing his successor.” But this was not a State institution in the fullest sense, according to the modern usage of the term, for private benevolence was constantly solicited and as constantly given for its support.

While the State controlled it and assisted it constantly in its days of feebleness, the permanent endowments came largely from private sources. The first private gift was made by John Harvard, after whom the college was named (1639), who in 1638 gave his library and half of his estate. There is a discrepancy in the statement of authors concerning the amount of the donation. It is generally stated to be eight hundred pounds. According to the records the amount was £779 17s. 2d., from which only £395 3s. were realized.” The sacrifices of individ

| George Gary Bush : Harvard the first American university, 116. * Court Records, I, 304.

* Ibid., II, 231.

* New Eng., XXXVII, 71.
* Quincy: History of Harvard University, I, 460–62.


uals constantly went hand in hand with the generosity and patronage of the State, and upon this basis the first schools of Massachusetts were built. Individuals who could not give even a small subscription in ready money contributed to the support of the college by farm produce or by household articles and books. Among other donations are mentioned “a great silver salt; ” “a silver beer-bowl; ” “one fruit-dish, one silver sugar spoon, and one silver-tipped jug ;” “a silver tankard; ” “a pewter flagon; ” “corn and meat; ” “thirty ewe sheep and their lambs;” “lumber;” “horses,” etc. These small beginnings rapidly increased in amount until private donations far exceeded in amount the aid of the State. But the function of the State that seems ever since to have been exercised in the United States is that of fostering and protecting education and encouraging and stimulating private benevolence in this direction. The Legislature took the initiative in founding the college, gave by right in perpetuity the Boston Ferry for its support, and came to its timely assistance whenever there was need, at the same time encouraging and protecting to the fullest extent private benevolence toward the institution. In 1640 an act of the Legislature established a board of overseers of Harvard College, and made provision for control and management as follows: “It is, therefore, ordered by this Court, and the authority thereof, that the Governor and Deputy Governor for the time being and all the magistrates of this jurisdiction together with the teaching elders of the six next adjoining towns; viz: Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, and the president of the said college for the time being shall from time to time have full power to make and establish all such orders, statutes, and constitutions as they shall see necessary for the institution, guiding, and furthering of the said college and the several members thereof from time to time, in piety, morality, and learning; and also to dispose, order, and manage to the use and behoof of the said college and the members thereof, all gifts, legacies, bequeaths, revenues, lands, and donations as either have been, are, or shall be conferred, bestowed, or any ways shall fall or come to the said college.” During the first six years, before the creation of the board of overseers, the General Court controlled the college by direct enactments; afterward its internal working was given over to the control of the overseers. It was not until 1650° that a charter was granted and the governing body assumed corporate form. But the corporate body was subordinate to the overseers appointed by the Legislature. The appendix to the charter in 1657 gave the corporation independent action. “Provided, always, that the corporation shall be responsible unto, and those

1 Report of the Board of Education, XL, 49. *Ibid., III, 195.
* Court Records, I. -

orders and by-laws shall be alterable by, the overseers according to their discretion.”

This charter, as amended, remained the fundamental authority of college government, and “ hath been conformed to ever since.” Many attempts were made to sever the connection of the college and the State, but without avail.


The Constitution of 1780 confirmed the rights, privileges, and powers of the officers as held under the old charter. It also provided for the transmission of the powers of the old board of overseers to their successors, composed of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council, and Senate of the Commonwealth, “who, with the president of Harvard College, for the time being, together with the ministers of the Congregational churches in the towns of Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, mentioned in the said act, shall be, and hereby are, vested with all the powers and authority belonging or in any way appertaining to the overseers of Harvard College; provided, that nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the Legislature of this Commonwealth from making such alterations in the government of the said university as shall be conducive to its advantage and the interest of the republic of letters, in as full a manner as might have been done by the Legislature of the late province of the Massachusetts Bay.” The attitude of the State toward education at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in 1780 is clearly set forth in section 2 of the same chapter, as follows: “Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties, and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of Legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, especially the University at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar-schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, [by] rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country, etc.” The State government continued to exercise its functions of control, and through various statutes of the Commonwealth it has been represented on the board of overseers by the chief State officers until 1865, when an act was passed severing the relation of the government to the

Peirce : History of Harvard, 150. * Constitution, Chap W, sec. 1, art. 2. * Hutchinson, I, 175 (1764). *Ibid., Chap. W, sec. 2.


college and providing for the election of its overseers by the alumni, that is, “such persons as have received from the college the degree of bachelor of arts or master of arts or any ordinary degree, voting on commencement day in the city of Cambridge.”


The generous sentiments of the State have been attested by repeated appropriations for the support of Harvard College and the respective academies throughout the State. In the course of the colonial and provincial periods, the Legislature of Massachusetts made no less than one hundred and three distinct grants to the college, although a number of these grants were unproductive. It is held by Quincy” that the first four hundred pounds were only paid in part. It seems highly probable that the court paid them for current expenses, and that the transaction was never entered upon the college records. The ferry heretofore mentioned yielded an avergage of fifty pounds” per annum, and in 1777 the annual rental was one hundred pounds. At this date the general court divested the college of the control of the ferry, but granted in lieu of said revenue the sum of two hundred pounds per annum for forty years.” The reason for this change was that projects were under consideration for bridging the river. In 1785 the sum of two hundred pounds was ordered to be paid by the Charles River bridge corporation as a compensation for the loss of the ferry, and in 1792 a like sum was taxed on the West Boston Bridge Company.” - The earliest direct tax on record for the support of common or pub. lic schools was established by an act of the General Court in 1644, which ordered that one peck of corn, or its equivalent (12d), should be paid by each family for the support of the college.” Three years later the court again showed its favor by ordering that the professors and students should be exempt from “general training,” and the charter of 1650 provided that the property of the president and college, not exceeding five hundred pounds per annum, should be exempt from all: taxes or rates; also the estates of the president, fellows, and scholars, not exceeding one hundred pounds to each person; and the officers and servants, to the number of ten, were exempt from all taxes and rates whatsoever.” It is not possible in the scope of this paper to follow carefully all the details of legislation, but we shall endeavor to show how a zealous people, acting through their representatives, drew upon every available resource for the support of higher education, and a few of the numerous grants of the Court and the town will be mentioned.

1 Laws of 1865. . * Report Mass. Board Ed., XL, 49, appendix. *History of Harvard, 460. * Court Records, II, 86. *Quincy, I, 453. 7 Ibid, 222.

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In 1638 the town of Cambridge gave two and three-fourths acres of land for building sites, and in 1652 granted an additional tract of one hundred acres. In 1644 the court granted the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds to build the president’s house, and in 1655 a grant of thirty pounds was made for the relief of President Chauncy, to whom five hundred acres of land were also given, on condition that he remain three years in his place. In 1652 the court granted eight hundred acres of land to the college; in 1653, two thousand acres; and in 1683, one thousand acres." In 1657 the court also granted two thousand acres in Pequot County, and subsequently, in 1682, granted a large tract on Merriconeag Neck. Unfortunately neither of these latter grants were ever available.” In 1683 the town of Cambridge gave three and one-half acres to the college. r The General Court of 1718 voted to devote three thousand five hundred pounds to build Massachusetts Hall. The hall was completed and occupied two years after the act of appropriation. In 1725 this was followed by another money grant of one thousand pounds, for building the president's house, and subsequently, in 1763, four thousand eight,

hundred and thirteen pounds seven shillings were given to build Hol

lis Hall. In the following year the General Court voted two thousand pounds for the rebuilding of Harvard Hall. Meanwhile the gifts of land continued, the principal ones being as follows: In 1715, province lands within the bounds of Hopkinton. In 1719, two hundred and fifty acres in Lunenburg and two hundred and fifty acres in Townsend. In 1762, one sixty-fourth of each of twelve townships lying between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers, and of one township lying between the Great Ossipee and the mountains. In 1764, one sixty-fourth part of each of the townships lying east of the Saco River. In 1768, one eighty-third part of a township lying north of the Androscoggin River. In 1770, one eighty-fourth part of a township lying at Eastern Bay. In 1771, one eighty-fourth of each of five townships lying east of Saco River. In 1774, a tract of land lying east of the Saco River, containing eleven thousand acres. In 1725 the Legislature fixed the salary of the president at four hundred pounds per annum, and granted to him, in addition, the future rents and incomes of Massachusetts Hall.”

The General Court also authorized lotteries as follows: The first in

1765, of three thousand two hundred pounds, for the purpose of building; another in 1794, of eight thousand pounds, and a third in 1806, of thirty thousand dollars, for the same purpose.

Court Records, III, 299. * Quincy, I, 512. 3 Ibid., 378.

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