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convention submitted to Congress the following propositions in relation to educational funds:
First. That section numbered sixteen in every township of the public lands, and where such section has been sold or otherwise disposed of, other lands equivalent thereto, and as contiguous as may be, shall be granted to the State for the use of schools.
Second. That the seventy-two sections of land set apart and reserved for the use and support of a university by an act of Congress approved on the twentieth day of May. eighteen hundred and twentysix, entitled "an act concerning a seminary of learning in the Territory of Michigan,” are hereby granted and conveyed to the State, to be appropriated solely to the use and support of such university, in such manner as the Legislature may prescribe: And provided also, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to impair or affect in any way the rights of any person or persons claiming any of said seventy-two sections of land, under contract or grant from said university
These propositions became subsequently a part of the ordinance admitting Michigan into the Union and form the basis upon which rests the educational system of the State. Previous to the admission of Michigan, the other States of the Northwest Territory took the grant of the school section to each township respectively in the State for the use of schools,” or “to the State for the use of the inhabitants of the township for the use of schools.” The difficulties under which these states had labored in making the fund available and effective for educational purposes, were avoided in the ordinance admitting Michigan into the Union as a State, and the foundation was laid for a better order of things, the results of which have been witnessed with abundant satisfaction during the sixteen years of its existence. In no other State of the Union, under all circumstances, has education been so amply and abundantly sustained by a sure and steadily increasing fund. This great advantage has been secured, as facts will demonstrate, from two causes: the taking of the grant to the State to be appropriated to the use of all the schools of the State, and to the constitutional provision subsequently adopted, creating a distinct and separate department of public instruction.
A question involving a claim of great magnitude, however, has been raised as to the subsequent and existing rights of the inhabitants of townships under the ordinance of Congress, in consequence of the alleged departure from its original terms. During the
senatorial term of Gov. Woodbridge in the Congress of the United States, he eloquently and ably maintained the right and justice of a further claim on Congress in behalf of the individual inhabitants of townships, and at three different sessions introduced and got successfully through the Senate a bill granting a million and a half of acres of land to the State, sustaining it before that body on the ground of a want of fạir equivalent for the rights of taxation which the State had given up in the adoption of the ordinance of admission, still leaving untouched all question of compensation to the inhabitants respectively of the several townships. The question may yet in the view of many, become important to Michigan and other States, which have been admitted under similar provisions. Should it become so or not, it is a subject which deserves to be generally understood, or at all events not lost sight of, as a part of the history of our legislation. The substance of the ground thus assumed is, that the provision of the ordinance of the Congress of 1785, amounts to a solemn covenant with each purchaser and settler that he should be forever entitled to the usufruct of that fund, with the other settlers in the township, as a means of educating their children weilhin such township; that every man who buys a lot of land and pays for it, buys with it the right to his proportion of the use of section 16 within his township, establishing thereby a claim of great magnitude in behalf of the inhabitants of each surveyed township; that the right to taxation is a right which no State may surrender or abrogate; that if the right may be commuted for or surrendered for an equivalent, no just equivalent has been rendered, and nothing gained but what was before guaranteed to the inhabitants of the townships; that the equitable and available right—the use-the beneficiary interest in it had passed from Congress; that in the case of Michigan, Congress had resumed that which it had before sold, to the purchasers of its wild lands, as if it were an equivalent for the surrender by the State of the brightest jewel of its sovereignty-the right of taxation--no matter how the State may have been required to dispose of these lands; in short that the resulting rights of the people of the townships were the same, as if it were a case between two individuals, where either the second conveyance by the trustee would be pronounced void, or an adequate indemnity for the right
taken, would be decreed. The considerations however, which in duced the action of the convintion which gave its assent to th ordin ince of a!mission embra:ing the grant of the school la ads 1 the State, were based upon the light of experience afforded in th educational history of the other States of the North West. T States of Ohio, Igdiana and Illinois had reserved the grant to th inhabitants of the township; such inhabitants exercising over th section 16 the duties and powers of a landlord, and disposing of by vote; such management requiring a multiplicity of officers with out any identity of purpose, and without the authority or means consolidate their action to produce an equal amount of benefit to a the citizens. The history of the educational affairs of these State afforded practical evidence, [even if it was a doubtful assumptio that these States possessed the right to take the grant to the State that the management and disposition of these sections by the inhab tants of the townships was a source of difficulty, embarrassment an expense, fatal to the success of any educational achievement worth of the people, or productive to them of the greatest amount of good.
Such considerations afford satisfactory grounds for the action our own Convention, in submitting aifferent terms to Congress for i assent, and to the people for their sanction. In taking the grant the State, it avoided a multiplicity of officers otherwise located i different counties; it contributed and is still contributing in a unexampled manner to the education of all the youth of the whol State; it has saved many townships from asking legislative aic where the school section was unavailable, either from prior location by actual settlers, as was the case in the counties of Wayne, Macom and Monroe, or where the section was covered with heavy timber which prolonged the event of its being cleared for a series of year! and in many instances, saving not only time, labor and expense, bu the means of education itself, to the inhabitants of those township where the section was entirely unavailable from natural causes, an relieving the inhabitants in such cases from the management o equivalent sections, at a distance from their townships.
In taking the grant to the State, there was a higher principle a equity involved in relation to the whole people, than would have ob tained, had Congress refused its assent to the terms demanded in thi ordinance of the Convention. If the original faith of Congress might be considered as pledged to the townships, previous to the adoption of our constitution, the inhabitants by their votes in adopting that instrument, decided in favor of a consolidation of the fund and its management by the legislature, for the common benefit of all the townships. Nor was such policy rendered less sound by the adoption of a system which avoided the repeated applications to Congress which have arisen in other States, and which left all questions connected with these lands, to be settled by Congress and the State, in its sovereign capacity, rather than by township jurisdictions, subordinate in their will and power, to the higher and more general interests of the whole people.
The step thus early taken by the Old Congress, which so materially aided in increasing the settlement of the western country, and providing it with the permanent means of education, has been followed by Congress in later days, in providing for territorial governments. For the government of Oregon, two sections were set apart for school purposes. The grant of an additional school section to the new territories was recommended by Mr. Robert J. Walker, while Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and his comprehensive and liberal views of the subject, are worthy of a place upon the record of the future educational history of the United States.
" This grant to each of the new States,” says Mr. Walker in his report 10 Congress, “of one section of the public lands in each township, was designed to secure the benefit of education to all the children of that township. This object has failed to a great extent, because one section in the centre of a township, six miles square, is too distant from many of the sections to furnish a school to which all can resort, and because as a pecuniary provision it is inadequate. The grant of one section for every section in such quarter township would be sufficient, whilst the central location would be adjacent to every other section in such quarter township, bringing the school house within the immediate vicinage of every child within its limits. Congress, to some extent, adopted the recommendation of granting two school sections instead of one, for education in Oregon, but even thus extended, the grant is still inadequate in amount, whilst the location is too remote for a school which ‘all can attend. This subject is again presented to Congress, with the recommendation that it shall be extended to California and New Mexico, and also to the other new states and territories composing the public domain. Even as a subject of revenue, such grants would more than refund their value to the government, as each quarter township is composed of nine sections, of which the central section would be granted for schools, and each of the remaining eight sections would be adjacent to that granted. The eight sections thus located, and each adjoining a school section would be of greater value than when separated by many miles from such opportunities, and the thirty-two sections of one entire township wolud bring a larger price to the government than thirty-five sections out of thirty-six, when one section only, so remote from the rest, was granted for such a purpose. The public domain would then be settled at an earlier period, and yielding larger products, thus soon augment our exports and imports, with a correspondent increase of revenue from duties.
"The greater diffusion of education would increase the power of mind and knowledge applied to our industrial pursuits, and augment in this way also, the products and wealth of the nation. Each State is deeply interested in the welfare of every other, for the representatives of the whole, regulate by their votes, the Measures of the Union, which must be happy and prosperous in proportion as its councils are guided by more enlightened views, resulting from the more universal diffusion of Light, and KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION.”
These are the sentiments of a great Statesman, speaking of education, and the means of its permanent support and spread, as the main spring of national progress and greatness in its intimate connection not only with the intellectual power, but with the wealth of the country applied to its industrial pursuits. But the failure in the object of the grant” is attributable in a great degree to other causes than to those assigned by Mr. Walker. These causes have consisted in the manner of taking the grant and in the want of a separate officer of public instruction, with general supervision of the subject of education. Whatever may have been the failure in other States, the arguments of Mr. Walker do not apply in this respect, to our condition of things, but furnish a strong argument in support of the action of our own State in taking the grant to itself, whatever claim may be supposed to arise in favor of the inhabitants of the townships.
Facts demonstrate that there has been no such thing as failure in Michigan, in the object of the grant, either as a pecuniary provision or as a means of affording the blessings of general education. On the other hand, comparison may be challenged in this respect, with the educational system and progress of any other State in the Union. Our fund for the support of primary schools, after a lapse of