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have authority to appoint one chief clerk of his department, who shall receive a salary of two thousand dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of eighteen hundred dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which said clerks shall be subject to the appointing and removing power of the commissioner of education.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the commissioner of education to present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which the department is established. In the first report made by the commissioner of education under this act there shall be presented a statement of the several grants of land made by Congress to promote education, and the manner in which these several trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Commissioner of Public Buildings is hereby authorized and directed to furnish proper offices for the use of the department herein established.1


The following year this Department was reduced to the rank of a Bureau. These are the sections of the Revised Statutes under which the Bureau is now carried on:

SEC. 516. There shall be in the Department of the Interior a Bureau called the Office of Education, the purpose and duties of which shall be to collect statistics and facts showing the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and to diffuse such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.

SEC. 517. The management of the Office of Education shall, subject to the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, be intrusted to a Commissioner of Education, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and shall be entitled to a salary of $3,000 a year.

SEC. 518. The Commissioner of Education shall present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which the office is established.

SEC. 519. The Chief of Engineers shall furnish proper offices for the use of the Office of Education.2

Stat. L., Thirty-ninth Congress, p. 434. Approved March 2, 1867.

* See Answers to Inquiries about the United States Bureau of Education, Its Work and History, a Circular of Information by Charles Warren, issued by the Bureau in 1883.


I. The Federal Convention.-II. President Washington.-III. Letters of Dr. Rush.-IV. The first President Adams.-F. President Jefferson.-VI. Joel Barlow's plans.— VII. President Madison.-VIII. President Monroe.-IX. The second President Adams.


Several attempts were made in the Federal Convention of 1787 to give Congress educational powers. The "Plan of a Federal constitution" submitted by Mr. Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, May 29,1 included the following among other legislative powers: "To establish and provide for a national university at the seat of government of the United States." August 18 these propositions were referred to the committee of detail, on motion of Mr. Pinckney: "To establish seminaries of learning for the promotion of literature and the arts and sciences;" "To establish public institutions, rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, trades, and manufactures." Neither one of these propositions, nor any reference to them, is contained in any report made by the committee to the Convention that is found in the Journal. Under date of September 14 we find the following in Mr. Madison's report of the debates:

Mr. Madison and Mr. Pinckney then moved to insert in the list of powers vested in Congress a power "to establish a university in which no preferences or distinctions should be allowed on account of religion."

Mr. Wilson supported the motion.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. It is not necessary. The exclusive power at the seat of government will reach the object.

On the question:

Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, aye-4; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, no-6. Connecticut, divided; Dr. Johnson, aye; Mr. Sherman, no.

Morris's argument is the only one reported on either side, but it would be strange indeed, considering the state of opinion in the Convention concerning the relative spheres of the Federal and State gov ernments, if the stronger objection, although it may not have been expressed, was not that the proposition was an invasion of the proper jurisdiction of the State authority. But however this may be, the

'It is well known to students of the history of the Federal Convention that the so-called "Pinckne plan" is a document of little authority. See "The Madison Papers," III, Appendix 2, and "The Writings of James Madison," IV, 172, 173, 181, 182, 338, 339, 378, 379. Still, it is proper to cite the passage in relation to the university, since Mr. Pinckney alone certainly brought the subject forward, August 18, and again in connection with Mr. Madison, September 14. Dr. Goode does not mention Pinckney, but gives the whole credit to Madison.

2 Elliot's Debates, Vols. I, p. 147; V, 440, 544.

Dr. Henry Barnard, commenting on this history, says Pinckney's motion was lost, as reported by Madison, expressly on the ground that the power to establish such a university was included in the grant of exclusive legislation over the district in which the Government should be located (Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1868, p. 41). Dr. Barnard's statement is stronger than the record will justify. The fact that Mr. Madison reports only this argument is no proof that such was the accepted view of the subject. Action in the Federal Convention was often influenced by arguments that were not stated at all. Nor is Mr. Madison's report of the discussions by any means a full one.

practical result of the Convention's action on the whole subject, or rather inaction, was that education was left where it always had been, in the hands of the States or of the people. Still, two of its foremost members, and one of them its president, in after years strove to persuade Congress to establish a national university. The history of their efforts in that direction not only shows what were their views of the constitutional question, but is also extremely interesting in itself. It is, moreover, not improbable that Washington was associated with Pinckney and Madison in their efforts in the Convention.

The attempt to give education a status in the National Constitution was renewed in 1875-76, but in quite a new form. In his annual message, read December 7, 1875, President Grant urged upon Congress certain matters of legislation that he deemed of "vital importance," of which these are two:

First. That the States shall be required to afford the opportunity of a good common school education to every child within their limits.

Second. No sectarian tenets shall ever be taught in any school supported in whole or in part by the State, nation, or by the proceeds of any tax levied upon any community. Make education compulsory so far as to deprive all persons who can not read and write from becoming voters after the year 1890, disfranchising none, however, on grounds of illiteracy, who may be voters at the time this amendment takes effect.

On the 14th of the same month Hon. J. G. Blaine, in the House of Representatives, introduced a resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution, which, as slightly modified by the Judiciary Committee, passed August 4, 1876, by a vote of 180 yeas to 7 nays, as follows:

ARTICLE XVI. No State shall make any law respecting ar establishment of religion or prohibiting the free evercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect or denomination; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations. This article shall not vest, enlarge, or diminish legislative power in Congress.1

Three days later the Senate adopted a substitute for this resolution that had been recommended by the Judiciary Committee. The vote stood 28 yeas, 16 nays. As two-thirds did not vote in the affirmative, the resolution was lost. The substitute adopted by the Senate read as follows:

ARTICLE XVI, No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under any State. No public property and no public revenue of, nor any loan of credit by or under the authority of the United States, or any State, Territory, District, or municipal corporation shall be appropriated to or made or used for the support of any school, educational or other institution under the control of any religious or antireligious sect, organization, or denomination, or wherein the particular creed or tenets of any religious or antireligious sect, organization, or denomination shall be taught. And no such particular

McPherson's Handbook of Politics, 1876, p. 240.

creed or tenets shall be read or tanght in any school or institution supported in whole or in part by such revenue or loan of credit, and no such appropriation or loan of credit shall be made to any religious or antireligious sect, organization, or denomination, or to promote its interests or tenets. This article shall not be construed to prohibit the reading of the Bible in any school or institution; and it shall not have the effect to impair rights of property already vested.

SEC. 2. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to provide for the prevention and punishment of violations of this article.1


The first voice pleading for a national university is heard amid the tumult of the patriot soldiery that flocked to the beleaguer of Boston after Lexington and Concord. Samuel Blodget tells the story in a passage of his Economica, the great interest of which does not permit either mutilation or abridgment:

As the most minute circumstances are sometimes instructing for their relation to great events, we relate the first we ever heard of a national university: It was in the camp at Cambridge, in October, 1775, when Maj. William Blodget went to the quarters of General Washington to complain of the ruinous state of the colleges from the conduct of the militia quartered therein. The writer of this being in company with his friend and relation, and hearing General Greene join in lamenting the then ruinous state of the eldest seminary of Massachusetts, observed, merely to console the company of friends, that to make amends for these injuries, after our war, he hoped we should erect a noble national university, at which the youth of all the world might be proud to receive instructions. What was thus pleasantly said, Washington immediately replied to, with that inimitably expressive and truly interesting look for which he was sometimes so remarkable: "Young man, you are a prophet, inspired to speak what I am confident will one day be realized." He then detailed to the company his impressions, that all North America would one day become united; he said that a Colonel Byrd, of Virginia, was the first man who had pointed out the best central seat for the capital city, near to the present spot, or about the falls of the Potomac. General Washington further said that a Mr. Evans had expressed the same opinion with many other gentlemen, who, from a cursory view of a chart of North America, received this natural and truly correct impression. The look of General Washington, the energy of his mind, his noble and irresistible eloquence, all conspired so far to impress the writer with these subjects, that if ever he should unfortunately become insane it will be from his anxiety for the Federal city and national university.

It is well known that Washington's interest in the site on which the city which bears his name stands dates from the time when he was encamped there with the Virginia troops in 1755. The above extract

1 McPherson's Handbook of Politics, 1876, p. 241.

2 Blodget's Economica, the alternative title of which is A Statesman's Manual for the United States of America, said to be the first work on political economy published in America, was pub lished in Washington in 1806. The author copyrighted it "for the benefit, in trust, for the free education fund of the university founded by George Washington in his last years." Two mottoes appear on the title-page: "The legislature ought to make the people happy" (Aristotle on Government), and "Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas." I am indebted to Dr. G. Brown Goode, of the National Museum, for the quotations made above, and also for my information of Blodget. See Dr. Goode's instructive monograph, The Origin of the National Scientific and Educational Institu tions of the United States, published by the American Historical Association, report for 1889. See also memorial in regard to a national university, by John W. Hoyt, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1892, and the Special Report of the Commissioner of Education on the Condition and Improvement of Public Schools in the District of Columbia, Washington, 1871, pp. 145 et seq.

shows very plainly that in his mind a firm union of the States, a national capital, and a national university were intimately associated. These were favorite ideas with which he never parted. It is also interesting to note that this first suggestion of a national university is immediately prompted by the desecration and havoc that war was making in the college buildings at Cambridge. The idea next comes to the surface in a place far better adapted to its consideration than Washington's camp, viz, in the Federal Convention at Philadelphia, as shown above.

In his "Speech delivered to both Houses of Congress," January 8, 1790-which we should now call his first annual message-President Washington recommended certain interesting objects to their attention. After mentioning "uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures," "the advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures," and the "expediency of giving effectual encouragement, as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home," and of "facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads"-all subjects in which he took a deep interest-he thus treats another subject that lay still nearer his heart:

Nor am I less persuaded, that you will agree with me in opinion, that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the community, as in ours, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways; by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority, between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first and avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.

Whether this desirable object will be the best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients, will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature.1

Washington was not a strict construction statesman. His subsequent action shows that his mind never encountered any constitutional difficulties on the university question. He no doubt fully concurred in the view held by Mr. Morris; moreover, his practical mind found abundant authority for his favorite educational ideas in the generalwelfare clause.

Beyond a general expression of concurrence in his views respecting the promotion of education and literature made by the House of Rep.

1 Sparks's, The Writings of George Washington, Vol. XII, p. 9.

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