« PreviousContinue »
Without unnecessary delay it came before the House, able and eloquent advocates sprang to its defense, opposition quickly yielded, and in due time, to their everlasting honor, that body unanimously passed the following resolutions. Thugh not strictly necessary to my present purpose, they are not irrelevant, and standing as they do at the very gateway of the great national movements that followed, I cannot resist the desire to cite them:
“WHEREAS, the spirit and progress of this age and country demand the culture of the highest order of intellectual attainment in theoretic and industrial science : And, whereas, it is impossible that our commerce and prosperity will continue to increase without calling into requisition all the elements of internal thrift arising from the labors of the farmer, the mechanic, and the manufacturer, by every fostering effort within the reach of the Government: And, whereas, a system of Industrial Universities, liberally endowed, in each State of the Union, co-operative with each other, and the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, would develop a more liberal and practical education among the people, tend the more to intellectualize the rising generation, and eminently conduce to the virtue, intelligence, and true glory of our common country: therefore be it
“Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring herein, That our Senators in Congress be instructed, and our Representatives be requested, to use their best exertions to procure the passage of a law by Congress donating to each State in the Union an amount of public lands, not less in value than five hundred thousand dollars, for the liberal endowment of a system of Industrial Universities, one in each State of the Union, to co-operate with each other, and with the Smithsonian Insti. tution at Washington, for the more liberal and practical education of our industrial classes and their teachers; a liberal and varied education, adapted to the manifold wants of a practical and enterprising people, and a provision for such educational facilities, being in manifest concurrence with the intimations of the popular will, it urgently demands the united efforts of our national strength.
“ Resolved, that the Governor is hereby authorized to forward a copy of the foregoing resolutions to our Senators and Representatives in Congress, and to the Executive and Legislature of each of our sister States, inviting them to co-operate with us in this meritorious enterprise." These resolutions were promptly, heartily, and as the records show, un
unanimously concurred in by the Senate, and, on the 8th day of February, 1858, received the approval of the Governor, who lost no time in forwarding authenticated copies, as requested in the last resolution; thus completing the glorious and unbroken record of Illinois, more than fifteen years ago, upon this great public measure.
The past at least is secure, and I will not disguise the pride I feel in thus adducing the irrefragable testimony of history to the fact that this Empire State of the West has the high and unchallenged honor of being the first to conceive and advance this idea and form of Industrial Education by national appropriation, and the first also to petition Congress, by a formal and unanimous vote of her Legislature, to grant the endowment.
Those ringing resolutions of our General Assembly not only elicited approving responses from all quarters, but seemed also to kindle the slumbering thoughts and sympathies of the people into a blaze of enthusiasm, and to inaugurate, at once and with resistless power, that decade of splendid efforts throughout the Union, which received their triumpbant culmination in the Act of Congress of July 2, 1862.
A leading paper of New York City, Feb. 26, 1853, in an eloquent editorial upon our joint resolutions, declared: “Here is the principle contended for by the friends of practical education abundantly confirmed, with a plan for its immediate realization. And it is worthy of note, that one of the most extensive of public land States (Illinois), proposes a magnificent donation of public lands to each of the States, in furtherance of this idea. The Legislature of Illinois has taken a noble step forward, in a most liberal and patriotic spirit, for which its members will be heartily thanked by thousands throughout the Union. We feel that this step has materially hastened the coming of scientific and practical education for all who desire and are willing to work for it. It cannot come too soon.”
Similar opinions were expressed by the leading newspapers of the whole North and East, and by all the principal agricultural journals and periodicals then extant, (as I could prove by copious extracts did time permit), while from the far South responses no less emphatic and cordial, swelled the accumulating volume of public opinion. The key-lote struck by Illinois, was echoed by the Governors of other States in quick succession, in their annual messages—while orators, statesmen, authors, with College Presidents and Professors, the ablest and most gifted and honored men of the nation, entered the lists and mightily contributed to arouse, instruct and guide the public mind. Edward Everett, Marshal P. Wilder, Henry W. Cushman, John W. Lincoln, and others of like eminence, headed a movement in behalf of the liberal education of the industrial masses, in Massachusetts; while upon a single committee appointed by a convention held in the State of New York, in furtherance of the same cause, appear the illustrious names of Francis Wayland, Bishop Potter, Washington Irving, President Hitchcock, and Professors Pierce, Henry, Bache, Mitchell, Dewey, and others.
But enough; the columns of the people were in motion, their Representatives Fere already in Congrese, the great battle was fought and won, and it only remained to embody the popular will in the forms of law.
Accordingly, the Congress of the United States recognized and gave effect to these great principles by the passage of an act entitled,
“As Act donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts."
This act was approved on the 2d day of July, 1862. Its most important sections are the first, which makes the endowment, and the fourth, which declares to what objects and uses the fund shall be devoted. The first section reads as follows:
"That there be granted to the several States, for the purpose hereinafter mentioned, an amount of public land, to be apportioned to each State, in quantity equal to thirty thousand acres for each Senator and Representative in Congress, to which the States are respectively entitled by the apportionment under the census of 1860.” The fourth section reads as follows:
"That all moneys derived from the sale of lands aforesaid, by the States to which the lands are apportioned, and from the sales of land scrip hereinbefore provided for, shall be invested in stocks of the United States, or of the States, or some other safe stocks, yielding not less than five per cent. upon the par value of said stocks ; and that the money so invested shall constitute a perpetual fund, the capital of which shall remain forever undiminished, and the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated by each State, which may take and claim the benefit of this act, to the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college, where the lead
ing 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 provide, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.”
The Legislature of Illinois promptly signified its acceptance of the grant, upon the conditions imposed by the act of Congress, and, at its last session, consummated the whole transaction by passing, 1st, “ An Act in relation to the location of the Industrial University," approved January 25th, 1867. 2d. “An Act to provide for the organization and maintenance of the Illinois Industrial University," approved February 28, 1867. 8d. An Act supplemental to the before-mentioned act, approved March 8, 1867.
In obedience to the requirements of the first section of the act, the Governor appointed twenty-eight trustees, who, with the members ex-officio, thirty-two in all, met on Tuesday, the 12th day of March, 1867, in compliance with the law, and the summons of the Governor, and, after being solemnly sworn into office, proceeded in due form, to organize as " The Board of Trustees of the Illinois Industrial University."
Having thus briefly traced the history of this Institution from its dim foreshadowing in 1861, through the successive periods of its individual, organized, legislative, and congressional struggles, down to its formal organization, just one year ago, it is fit now to examine for a moment the essential nature and objects of the Institution which has thus been created. This I shall endeavor to do in the blended light both of law and of reason-of statutory provisions and common sense; for we cannot pregume that these, in any of the acts concerned, are contrary the one to the other.
The act of Congress of July 2, 1862, is the fundamental law, the magna charla from which the whole system of Universities not only derives its life, but in which its essential objects are defined, and the sphere of its legitimate operations clearly and comprehensively marked out. To the provisions of that act we must therefore look, primarily, to ascertain the province within which this University may legally and appropriately act.
And since each State, in accepting the proffered endow. ment, did so with a full knowledge of all its accompanying conditions, and a solemn covenant with the National Government to stand to, abide by, and in good faith carry them out, it might be safely presumed that the legislation of each State on the subject would be in strict accord with the fundamental law. And this, upon examination and comparison, we find to be the fact. Indeed, the language of the two acts in relation to the fundamental purpose and scope of the University, is nearly identical. In section four of the act of July 2, 1862, Congress declares that “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 order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life." While in section 7, of the act of February 28, 1867, our State Legislature declares that the Board of Trustees shall have power to do whatever “may be required to teach in the most thorough manner such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, and military tactics, without excluding other scien. tific and classical studies." The two sections are identical in meaning, upon these points, and nearly so in language-the only difference worthy of note being that
our State law emphasizes the broad terms of the Congressional act, by the signifi. cant phrase "in the most thorough manner."
The purposes for which this University was established, the work which it must do and may do, are here stated and defined, by the supreme and authoritative laws of Congress and of Ilinois, in a manner so plain that only the most hopeless ignorance or willful perversity can misconstrue or misunderstand them.
It will be seen that the law in respect to the instruction to be given in the University is two-fold, mandatory and permissive-certain things must be taught, certain other things are not excluded. Respecting the latter the Trustees seem to have discretion; they may provide for them or not, as they see fit; in respect to the former, they have no choice or discretion whatevor, they must provide for them, or violate their oaths and the laws.
The departments of instruction for wbich the Trustees are positively and peremptorily required to provide, and that “in the most thorough manner,” are two:
1. “Such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts," and
2. “ Military tactics."
Instruction in these is a sine qua non, a condition precedent, default in which would work the forfeiture of the endowment.
Those branches of learning which are "not excluded," and for which the Trustees may, therefore, provide, at their discretion, are embraced in the comprehensive phrase, “other scientific and classical studies."
The boundaries of the present inquiry are thus sharply defined, both inclusively and exclusively. If the Trustees have arranged a course of study embracing "such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts," and also, “military tactics,” they bave strictly complied with the law; and if in addition to these they have also provided for some "other scientific and classicalstudies,” they have therein done precisely what the law, in so many words, allows and empowers them to do. Indeed, a much stronger interpretation of the clause, “without excluding other scientific and classical studies,” is held by many eminent lawyers and jurists to b. legitimate, if not even obligatory. In their view it would be by no means an unwarrantable construction to regard the italicized words in the above quotation as but another form of requirement—as coupling the duty of not excluding certain studies, with that of including certain other studies, and embracing both alike in the positive injunctions of the statute. But while this view is not without much force, and is strenuously maintained by many, I have preferred to adopt the permissive or optional theory, because it is the one about which there cannot be the semblauce of cloud or doubt.
What then, are those “ branches of learning which are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts," and which are necessary in order to teach the same "in the most thorough manner ?”
The answer to this question involves answers to two others, viz: What is agri. culture? What are the mechanic arts ?
I shall not consume the precious time of this occasion by any attempt at mere definitions—to do so would be alike idle and unnecessary. Suffice it to say that no man can take the terms, elements and ideas commonly and necessarily embraced in any tolerably complete definitions of those words, and undertake to trace their logical and necessary connections and relations, without finding the courses of study prescribed by the Trustees in those departments, utterly exhausted long before even
the beginning of the end is reached. In comparison with the hights and depths of research and investigation—the immensities and infinitudes of thought and study into the realms of Nature, comprehended in “ those branches of learning" which are elosely and inseparably related to "agriculture and the mechanic arts"-in comparison with these, the scheme of study and culture proposed in this University, comprehensive and excellent as it is, seems meagre indeed.
Agriculture and the mechanic arts! Whither do they not reach ? Into what corner of the physical universe do they not lead us ? What law of the terrestrial, solar, or sidereal worlds, do they not lay under contribution ? What principle of life, or growth, or matter, or force, is not grasped by their ubiquitous hands? It is no rhetorical extravagance, but an undoubted and easily demonstrated truth, that there is naught of material life, or form, or being, force or motion, in the heavens above, the earth beneath, or the waters under the earth, into which, and through which, and around which, the laws and principles of those two sciences, in their myriad ramifications, relations and dependencies, do not pour and penetrate with an all-pervading, divine universality, even as the atmospheric ocean envelops the globe.
The student of agricultural science encounters, at the very threshold of his investigations, problems among the nicest and most abstruse that can engage the scrutiny of the human intellect. He may indeed handle the implements of husbandry, and stir the clods of his ancestral acres, with as little sense of the tremendous forces and eternal harmonies that slumber beneath and about him, ready to spring into quick, responsive, co-operative action, re-enforcing and completing his labors—36 the savage who stares at the rings of Saturn through a telescope has of the immutable laws and everlasting symphonies of the spheres.
But let him attempt to leave the beaten track-let him, leaving his mere handicraft, undertake to interrogate Nature herself—let him endeavor to “make two blades of grass grow where but one grew before"_let him try to improve the quality or increase the productiveness of his fruits and vegetables and soils and animals—let him essay to produce new varieties of trees, plants, or flowers—or to revitalize exhausted soils; or to reclaim barren and worthless lands; or to discover the hidden manna upon which each plant delights to feed, with its peculiar and almost spiritual affinities for certain elements of atmosphere and soil-let him try to add one new flush of beauty to the queenly rose, or a daintier aroma to its fragranceor an additional tint to the brilliant verbena-or another grace to the bending beauty of the elm, or the dark majesty of the pine : let him attempt to do any one of these, or a thousand other similar things, and he finds himself at once confronted by the jasper walls of science, through not one of whose beautiful gates can he pass without the counter sign, known only to the polished children of meditation and culture, Не finds Nature a sealed book, her oracles dumb, and her shrines guarded by inexor3ble sentinels, who pitilessly reply to his entreaties: “ We know you not.”
There is no recourse for him but to begin with the a, b, c, of scientific principles, and laboriously work his way up to the sun-lit hights of Universal truths, as at have done who have gone before; or dismiss forever his new-born inspirations, se be content merely to hold the plow and swing the scythe till he dies.
He can no more deal with the profound questionings that assail him on every side, without knowledge of the tle principles and exact scientific facts and truths upon whicl the problems of animal and vegetable life and growth and change depend, than b can make a book without an alphabet, or a house without tools and materials if he is really intent upon being a thinker, as well as a plowman, an explorer