« PreviousContinue »
the same time, was founded upon an endowment of $40,000, given by the Lawrences, who, being interested in factories, caused this school to direct its attention more to the applications of chemistry to manufactures. Francis Wayland, president of Brown university, became greatly interested at this time in scientific and technical education, and took a prominent part in the discussion of the reforms needed to adapt the institutions of America to the requirements of the time. In his little book on the Present collegiate system of the United States he argued earnestly in favor of the introduction of scientific subjects into the college curriculum and the adoption of a system of electives. A science hall and a museum of geology were erected at Brown in 1840; but means failed to support the scientific work, and Dr. Wayland was constrained to resign in 1855, when the old classical course was re-established. These changes were all parts of a general movement for the modification of the classical curriculum, and the introduction of scientific and technical study. Wherever this was done the sciences pertaining to agriculture were sure to be introduced.
THE LAND-GRANT COLLEGES
As the plans for the new college education won supportin these states, the friends of the cause took courage to conquer new fields. Their activity was soon extended from the halls of state legislation to those of the government at Washington. The agitation first voiced itself there in petitions to congress for national aid for agricultural colleges. After several years the friends of the movement secured the interest and co-operation of Justin S. Morrill, then a member of the house of representatives from the state of Vermont, who was destined to be known as the father of the agricultural colleges and to live to see them firmly established in all the states and territories in the union and well supported by congressional appropriations, made in three acts, secured largely by his efforts extending over thirty years. Mr. Morrill introduced the first bill in the lower house on December 14, 1857, and saw the last one approved on August 30, 1890. His first bill authorized the establishment of colleges in all the states and provided 20,000 acres of public land for each member of congress for their maintenance. The committee on public lands, to which it was referred, brought in an adverse report on April 15, 1858. The bill however passed both houses at the following session, but was vetoed by President Buchanan. Nothing daunted by this defeat, Mr. Morrill introduced a new bill in the house in December, 1861, bestowing 30,000 acres of land for each member of congress upon the several states for the establishment of industrial colleges. Ben Wade of Ohio introduced the bill in the senate on May 2. It passed both houses in spite of an adverse report by the house committee on public lands, and was approved by President Lincoln July 2, 1862, the day of McClellan's retreat after the battle of Malvern Hill in Virginia. We have shown how President Lincoln approved the bill for the department of agriculture on May 15 preceding. In the midst of the excitement of the great war little attention was paid to this most remarkable gift of about 13,000,000 acres of land to promote the cause of education. Having been passed during a war, it is not surprising that the act provided that every college receiving the benefits of the land-grant should give its students instruction in military science. This great grant, the greatest ever made to education, which was the foundation of industrial education in America, and represented the consummation of a great revolution in the syster, of higher instruction in this country, demands somewhat careful study. The act was entitled “An Act donating public lands to the several states and territories who may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.” It granted to each state an amount of public land equal to 30,000 acres for each senator and representative in congress to which the states were entitled by the apportionment of the census of 1860. The object of the grant is expressed in remarkably broad terms, as follows: “The endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the states may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.” This paragraph has been the subject of a vast deal of discussion which must be briefly noticed. First, let us hear what Senator Morrill himself has said with regard to its meaning. Says he “It is perhaps needless to say that these colleges were not established or endowed for the sole purpose of teaching agriculture. Their object was to give an opportunity for those engaged in industrial pursuits to obtain some knowledge of the practical sciences related to agriculture and the mechanic arts; such as they could not then obtain at most of our institutions called classical colleges, where the languages, Greek and Latin, French and German, absorbed perhaps two-thirds of all of the time of the students while in college. But it was never intended to force the boys of farmers going into these institutions so to study that they should all come out farmers. It was merely intended to give them an opportunity to do so and to do so with advantage if they saw fit. Obviously not manual but intellectual instruction was the paramount object. It was not provided that agricultural labor in the field should be practically taught, any more than that the mechanical trade of a carpenter or blacksmith should be taught. Secondly, it was a liberal education that was proposed. Classical studies were not to be excluded, and therefore, must be included. The act of 1862 proposed a system of broad education by colleges, not limited to superficial and dwarfed training such as might be supplied by a foreman of a workshop or by a foreman of an experimental farm. If any would have only a school with equal scraps of labor and of instruction, or something other than a college, they would not obey the national law. Experience in manual labor, in the handling of tools and implements, is not to be disparaged; in the proper time and place it is most essential, and generally something of this may be obtained either before or after the college term, but should not largely interfere with the precious time required for a definite amount of scientific and literary culture, which all earnest students are apt to find far too limited.” The chief contention with regard to the meaning of the act has always and everywhere been over the question whether these colleges should be mere schools of practical agriculture and mechanic arts, or institutions for liberal education as well. This utterance of Senator Morrill, made many years after the bill was passed, should settle this question forever. In the first place, we learn that the general object of the act was to provide for the scientific and liberal education of industrial classes, who were not sufficiently provided for in the old-fashioned classical colleges. The new institution was to be a college, that is, an institution of higher education. It was not to be a mere farm or shop, or even a manual labor school; but an institution where the sons of farmers and mechanics and of other members of the industrial classes could get, at a moderate cost, both a “liberal and practical education.” By “liberal" education was always meant in those times a literary and classical education. The act recognized fully the correlation of all knowledge and the necessity of subordinating all to the great objects of the law, by forbidding the exclusion of “other scientific and classical studies." But it was to be “a college where the leading object should be to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts"—not practical agriculture merely, or practical mechanics merely, but the branches of learning related thereto. . In the second place, these institutions were to educate, not exclusively, but especially, as has been said, the industrial classes. At the time they were founded almost the only institutions for higher education were classical colleges patronized by the sons of the wealthy, who usually became literary men, teachers, preachers, lawyers, and physicians. For years the great demand had been for instruction in the branches of learning which qualify men in the industrial pursuits. Therefore these colleges were designed especially to fill this great gap in our educational system and to give the sons of the industrial classes the opportunity to get any kind of an education they wanted. The sons of these industrial classes, however, were not to be limited to agriculture and the mechanic arts, for the law says, they shall receive “a liberal and practical education,” which would qualify them for “the several pursuits and professions of life.”
These colleges established another new principle in education in America, the principle of free tuition in the highest schools of learning. Liberal education is a necessity in a free government; heretofore only the sons of the rich were able to get it. A government of the people, for the people, and by the people can be perpetuated only by educating all the people. It is not sufficient that we have in America a magnificent system of common schools. The highest education must be within the reach of all the worthy poor. As Butler has said, “The attempt to feed elementary education on itself alone is perpetual motion transformed. Strike at the human heart effectually, and the listless fingers close in death; strike at the source of scholarship and supply, and every remotest part of this body politic falls back stricken or weak." Or as Atherton has said, “Higher education is as the ocean to the mountain spring, continually sending back the dew and the rain to supply them. It is as the tree to the fruit, continually imparting vitality and substance. It is as the sun to the planets, holding all in their appointed course. From the higher institutions come not only teachers to lead and guide the lower, but that great body of learning and intelligence which creates, molds, and enriches public sentiment, which supports the common school.” These national colleges first gave all the people, rich and poor alike, the opportunities for getting the best education.