« PreviousContinue »
It may not be unprofitable for us to devote a few moments to an impartial examination of this much misrepresented Congressional law, so that each of us may not only understand the true meaning of the letter of the law itself, but that we may have some clear comprehension of the aims and purposes of Congress in the passage of said law.
After stating 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," Congress proceeds to state in most unmistakable language the reasons which induced the passage of such a law; to give the ends, the purposes sought to be accomplished, and specifies with perfect clearness that this teaching is to be given "in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life."
And is it not marvelously strange that among men of fair intentions, and of even ordinary intelligence, that there should be any difference of opinion--any misconception of the high aims and noble purposes of said law? The intent of the law is expressed in as lucid and unambiguous terms as the English language will permit. That purpose is to promote the liberal education—not a narrow, not a contracted, not a meagre, nor a mean education, but a liberal education, one bestowed with a liberal hand; and a practical education, capable of being turned to use, so that the fortunate recipients of such a boon may be, as Judge Morrill has happily expressed it, able to rise somewhat higher as men; not as farmers merely, not as mechanics, nor of others, however employed, but as men liberally, practically educated; made thereby competent to engage in any of the many varied and inviting pursuits and professions of life, as duty, necessity, or taste may incline or constrain them to pursue.
And yet, notwithstanding all the fullness, completeness, and force of the language quoted, there are some who persist in insisting that, because the teaching of "the branches of learning relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts is to be a leading object" in said colleges; that, therefore, no other scientific or classical studies shall be introduced; and that military tactics shall be utterly ignored. And this profound conclusion is announced, while the law positively and specifically provides that other scientific and classical studies shall not be excluded," and that "military tactics shall be included"
There is no denial from any quarter as to the requirements of the law to teach the branches relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts. Upon this point the law is not only specific, but imperative. While this is conceded, the law is equally clear and peremptory in requiring that "other scientific and classical studies shall not be excluded." This negative, pregnant with an affirmative, is equally positive and equally imperative in forbidding the exclusion of other scientific and classical studies. For when the law says you shall not exclude, it commands that you shall include. There is no possible way of escaping from this legitimate, logical, inevitable conclusion. There is no devise among men, no mystifying, special pleading, no cunningly concocted sophism, pretext, or excuse that can be suggested, which can release those in authority from the clearly and well defined obligations imposed by said law, to include the teaching of those branches of learning which Congress expressly declares shall not be excluded.
And yet there are those who officially resist, disregard, and contemu the plain commands of this law, and refuse to have taught "other scientific and classical studies." Nay more, in two States, possibly in more, military tactics are not taught in these colleges, notwithstanding the law requires that they shall be taught! A mandamus from some high judicial authority, might be wisely invoked to teach men submission to the laws that be.
Such stubborn perverseness in the open violation of official duty, such ignorance and judicial blindness in reference to the simplest and plainest provisions of law, furnish the most convincing evidence possible of the necessity of affording to all classes a more liberal education, so that they might be able to rightly comprehend the meaning of language which "a wayfaring man" ought not to misunderstand.
The class of gentlemen to whom I refer, seem to be apprehensive that the rights of farmers (for no man is to be found clamorously advocating the rights of the mechanic), are to be ruthlessly invaded, and hence they must insist upon excluding every branch of learning which, in their enlightened judgment, do not have an immediate relation to agriculture. Surely there is no ground for such an apprehension. So far as I am advised, no man who has taken any interest in this educational movement, has ever intimated that the law did not require the teaching, fully and thoroughly, of all the branches of learning relating not only to agriculture, but to the mechanic arts. There has been not only no complaint, but no ground of complaint in any part of the country, so far as I have ever heard, that these branches have not been liberally, carefully, and thoroughly taught to the extent of the wants, the wishes, or demands of all students seeking instruction in any department of agricultural learning. If, therefore, students of agriculture are receiving adequate, acceptable instruction, why should any mischief-maker be so illiberal, so much the dog in the manger, as to.complain that instruction is given to other persons in other branches of learning, especially when the law of Congress positively requires that it shall be given? Can it be possible that any portion of our people desire to have an exclusive monopoly of governmental munificence? Especially so when their privileges, their opportunities, are not in any manner interfered with, disturbed, or abridged by any attentions or benefits bestowed upon others?
If the proscriptive views of these exclusives are to prevail, most manifest injustice will be done to all classes of our people who are neither farmers nor mechanics. While I frankly concede that legislative bodies are not always wise in their proceedings, nor always governed by the highest or purest sense of justice, yet, fully realizing all their manifold deficiencies and imperfections, I cannot bring myself to the very disparaging conclusion that Congress, on such a measure, could possibly be guilty of such stupidity and such gross injustice as to pass a law appropriating, with a profuse liberality, millions of dollars worth of public property for the endowment of institutions for the special, exclusive education of only two classes of our people, while all other classes, of equal worth and possessing equal claims upon governmental benificence, were to be practically excluded from all the benefits resulting from such legislation.
That is precisely the unenviable position in which these exclusives desire to place all persons seeking intellectual culture who belong to neither favored class. Such unjust, unwarrantable favoritism, such odious discrimination in favor of two classes of our population, and against all others, could receive no endorsement from men of enlightened understandings, and with a proper appreciation of either public rights or public justice. Such a law would be in open, flagrant violation of the equality of rights which our citizens are supposed to possess. It is not to be presumed that any member of Congress, in voting for this law, ever supposed that he was about to deny to any citizen the common claims, the common rights of all our citizens to participate in the benefits purchased with the common property of our whole people. Such odious class legislation would have been at once denounced as being in opposition to the true spirit of our democraticrepublican institutions. Such legislation was never contemplated, was never consummated. Congress would not presume to make grants of land to endow colleges for Methodists and Presbyterians, to the exclusion of all other denominations or classes of people.
Neither has she conferred superior privileges or advantages upon farmers or mechanics, and excluded all persons engaged in other pursuits or professions.
There are also some economical and prudential considerations which cannot be overlooked, in addition to those indicated, why no one seeking instruction of any kind should be excluded from the benefits of our congressional colleges. To teach scientific and classical studies in connection with agriculture and other branches, will add but little to the current expenses of a college. So, too, the increased number of students, consequent upon teaching "other branches of science and literature," will increase the expenditures to a very limited extent. Two hundred students in the various departments of a well organized and properly equipped college, can be taught for within a fraction of the same amount of money that would be required to instruct half that number.
These considerations, and others of like character and significance, demonstrate the wisdom as well as justice of Congress in providing amply for the liberal and practical education of all our young people, in whatever department of learning they may desire to obtain instruction, and to what extent soever they may be able to pursue their studies. For I desire to repeat, with emphasis, that the law of Congress gave no superior privileges, no exclusive rights to any class or classes. It created no monopoly, no privileged classes, but by its broad, catholic, comprehensive, just provisions, secured equal rights of instruction to all classes of our people.
There are, however, some well-intentioned gentlemen who, without giving a careful, critical examination of the precise language of the law; who, with amazing facility, have jumped to the happy conclusion: First, that the intention of Congress was not to increase the number of scientific, classical, or literary colleges; and, second, that to permit "other scientific and classical studies" to be taught in the congressional colleges, would increase the number of such institutions; therefore, Congress did not authorize the teaching of other scientific and classical studies in said new institutions!
Now the foregoing is a literal, exact specimen of the nonsequiter syllogistic arguments used, which are supposed to be entirely conclusive. That which was to have been proven, that Congress did not intend to increase the number of colleges for teaching the sciences and general literature, our logical friends have taken for their first predicate, and their second predicate they have not proven, for the reason that it was not true. The colleges existing anterior to 1862, did not even pretend to teach the branches of learning specially relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts. Those organized under the congressional grant are required to make the teaching of those branches a leading object. Hence there is neither truth nor logical conclusion in this supposed argument, sometimes made to support the idea, the violent presumption, that Congress did not intend to provide for teaching scientific and classical studies in said colleges.
While the gentlemen, to whom I have referred, have assumed to be very strict in their construction of said law of Congress, so as to exclude not only studies, but students from said colleges, yet they have been driven, in order to carry out their peculiar views of a purely agricultural college, to become exceedingly latitudinous in interpreting said law. Let ns give heed, briefly, to the novel schemes of education which they have inaugurated, so that we may see in what absurdities and inconsistencies men become involved while prosecuting impracticable schemes.
In the first place, we are struck with the remarkable ability manifested by these learned gentlemen in organizing-in establishing "departments" and sub-departments in their purely agricutural colleges. They have, in addition to the common departments, established a "musical department" and a "sewing department." Then instruction is given in "domestic economy," in "household chemistry," in "household econo
my." Then a course of instruction is provided, which is purely agricultural and mechanical, to be taught in a "kitchen laboratory." This laboratory, let it be well understood, is no common, plebian kitchen; it is an agricultural, mechanical "laboratory," where unscientific, common scullions are not permitted to ply their menial vocations. This laboratory is redolent with the fragrant exhalations given off while interesting processes are being conducted by the professor of "household chemistry." In all these several departments instruction is furnished liberally. In the "musical department' instruction is given on the piano, on the organ, on the guitar, and in vocal music; the fiddle and the banjo, I am sorry to say, are excluded. The intimate connection between the study of these branches of an accomplished agricultural education and horny-handed agriculture, I have no doubt, will be readily perceived.
In the department of "domestic economy," the female farmers and mechanics receive very full instruction in said "kitchen laboratory" in the most modern chemical processes used in "dish washing" and the most artistic mode of "potato peeling." As an encouragement for pupils to diligently apply their whole minds to the study of these branches of learning, it is authoritatively announced by the president that, "after a girl has learned to wash dishes and pare potatoes, she will not be kept everlastingly at either.' Afterward, by way of variety and to relieve the mental exhaustion of the fair pupils, they recreate by engaging in “scroll sawing" and in “fancy wood and ivory turning,” evidently for the additional and very kindly purpose of enabling them to saw out and turn out interesting toys to keep restless or unruly children quiet. In the "sewing depart ment" we are informed that the instruction is full and complete, and includes all the "work of the dress-maker and the milliner." Superadded to the foregoing interesting branches of agricultural learning, the young ladies are to be taught the hidden, mysterious ways of "poultry raising" and "bee keeping."
In another purely agricultural college, where "the other scientific and classical studies" mentioned are indignantly rejected as having not even a remote connection with agriculture or mechanic arts, young women are taught "house furnishing," the mysteries of "cooking," "the management of help," "care of the sick," and, finally, "the training of children!"
And here I must be permitted to say that there is a very embarrassing omission on the part of the officials connected with the last college referred to. They have not informed the interested public how or where the dear children to be trained are to be provided. We understand perfectly how subjects for the surgeon's dissecting-knife are obtained; but where these tender, living subjects are to come from, and which are to be medicated and nursed, and then put through a course of training in conformity with agricultural science, we are left wholly in the dark.
The introduction of such alien, incongruous, inappropriate matters into an agricultural college reminds me of what transpired some fifteen years ago in an agricultural convention held in this chamber. The acceptance of this congressional grant and the question of the speedy establishment of an agricultural college were the subjects under discussion. A very worthy and enthusiastic friend of agriculture earnestly insisted that we greatly needed an agricultural college, for, said he, there is not one man out of ten that knows how to pail a cow!
But seriously, gentlemen, is it not a reflection upon the intelligence, the common sense of those who prescribe and enforce such teachings of inappropriate things, when the law is so plain in its language and so clear in its meaning. Nothing but an intense narrow-mindedness, a selfish and illiberal spirit, and a total want of any proper understanding and appreciation of the "great boon" secured by this law, have caused
such puerilities to be perpetrated in the name of agriculture and the mechanic arts, and against the conceded equal rights of others who may have an ambition, an aspiration for such a higher education as wil elevate their standing and promote their usefulness as men.
I have already given you the words of Judge Morrill, uttered some eleven years after the passage of said law, and I wish to supplement it with another extract from the same address: "Allow me to say that it has been my ambition, in the little that I have been enabled to do, to give to a large number of men an opportunity to develop their full intellectual vigor and strength, and thus become of greater value to themselves and the nation."
From this, the wide difference between these broad, liberal, and statesman-like views upon this educational measure, and the illiberal opinions of a small class of exclusives, is easily seen. He is for the education of all men as men; they would instruct the few solely to make farmers and mechanics. He is for the fullest development of all the vigor and strength of the intellectual man; they would not develop by enlarged culture, but they would dwarf, repress, and limit his capabilities. He would provide such an education as would make men not only of value to themselves, but to the nation; they would give a special, a restricted education, not to exalt, not to make men useful as men, competent to adorn public and private stations, but to fit them solely for doing the work of the farmer or the mechanic.
I repeat, Congress never contemplated such an insufficient and limited education as these men delight to press on public attention. To prove this, I have already given you the more recent statements of Judge Morrill as to the intentions of Congress. If any man, who had any agency in the enactment of this fundamental, organic law, from its conception to its final passage, became thoroughly familiar with the controlling considerations for its enactment, it was Judge Morrill. Therefore, I beg the privilege of strengthening-of fortifying-the view of the law which I have presented, by quoting from his speech, made in the House of Representatives on the 6th of June, 1862, when this Congressional measure was under discussion:
"This bill proposes to establish at least one college in every State, upon a sure and perpetual foundation, accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil, where all the needful sciences for the practical avocations of life shall be taught; where neither the higher graces of classical studies, nor that military drill our country now so appreciates, will be entirely ignored, and where agriculture, the foundation of all present and future prosperity, may look for troops of earnest friends, studying its familiar and recondite economies, and at last elevating it to that high level where it may fearlessly invoke comparison with the most advanced standards of the world."
These words, from an authority so eminent and so reliable, uttered on the floor of Congress but a few days before the passage of the bill, considered in connection with his subsequent statements, fully prove the purposes of Congress in the enactment of said law. They settle indisputably all controversy as to the full scope and comprehensiveness of the instruction which was p.escribed, and which was to be accessible to all. Not only were all entitled to the advantages of the instruction, but that instruction was to include "all needful sciences," and all the "higher graces of classical studies." How admirably does this setting forth of the purposes of the bill, when under discussion, harmonize with the obvious, natural meaning of the language of the law itself, and which has been recognized in most of the States of the Union by those in authority.
And now, the question has doubtless already arisen in the minds of many gentlemen, what necessary connection is there between the proper meaning of said law of Congress and the question as to the requisite education of farmers' sons? I have not apparently