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ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT CONDITION
PUBLIC INSTRUCTION IN MICHIGAN.
CONGRESSIONAL AND TERRITORIAL LEGISLATION FROM 1785 To 1836.
The foundation upon which the educational superstructure of Michigan, and the other States comprised in that section of our country, known as the north-west territory, has been raised, was laid in an ordinance of the Congress of the Confederation, in the year 1785, entitled an ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of the lands in the western territory. By its provisions, lot numbered sixteen, of every township, was reserved for the maintenance of the public schools within such township.
The greatest division of land, according to the uniform method of survey of the public lands, contains the quantity of 23,040 acres. This is called a township, and is six English or American miles square, and is subdivided into thirty-six equal divisions, or square miles by lines crossing each other, called sections. The section contains 640 acres, and is subdivided into four parts, called quarter sections, each of which contains 160 acres. The quarter sections are subdivided into two equal parts, containing 80 acres, each called half quarter sections, or eighths of sections, which is the smallest subdivision. Every sixteenth section of land as here described, was reserved by the ordinance, for the support of schools, amounting to the one thirty-sixth part of the public lands.
"The plan," says the venerable Gov. Woodbridge, late Senator in Congress from Michigan, in a letter to this department, "in its application to the Western Country,' had doubtless been predetermined, though of course not authoritatively disclosed before the treaty of peace, and before the cessions from the States. After these events, and when the title of the General Government was no longer disputed. a more definite form was given to it. The application of the one thirty-sixth part of each surveyed township for the support of common schools within such township, first appears in a formal ordinance of the old Congress of May, 1785. All subsequent acts of general legislation. both before and after the adoption of the constitution, affirm the plan, and indicate a scrupulous adherence to the principles of it, as indeed every sentiment of common honesty, as well as sound public policy, required. The United States were deeply in debt, and it was an enquiry of the greatest solicitude among all public men in those days, by what possible means that debt could be paid. After the treaty of peace, and especially after the cessions from the States, the immense public domain, which, without further doubt, was then by common consent, admitted to be subject to the disposition of the United States, was regarded as one certain, and perhaps the most productive, of all the means, applicable to that object, in their power. In these circumstances it was expedient to adopt a system which should hold out strong inducements to purchasers, in order to realize any revenue from its sale. Such policy was also enforced, by the consideration that no adequate protection could be given to the then frontier States, until extended settlements in that western country should have first dislodged from it permanently, the hostile savages. Influenced by such considerations, the old Congress passed its ordinance of 1785. This was in fact, an invitation to all the world to buy; and among other inducements held out, it was therein promised to all who should go out and settle there, that one thirty-sixth part of the whole country should be applied forever, as a fund for the advancement of EDUCATION. It contained a promise to all who should buy there-it amounted to a solemn covenant with each purchaser and settler in every township, that he and his posterity forever, should in all future time, in common with the other settlers in the township, be entitled to the usufruct of that fund, as a means of educating his children. What an inducement was this with the father of a family, to go out and settle there!"
In 1787 the ordinance was passed, establishing rules and regulations for the government of the Territory. The provisions of the prior ordinance were respected; and it was further declared that "RELIGION, MORALITY and KNOWLEDGE, being necessary to good government, and the happiness of mankind, SCHOOLS, and the means of EDUCATION Shall forever be encouraged."
The negotiations which led to the first appropriations for University purposes in the Northwest Territory were commenced in the
year 1786 by the Ohio company, and concluded the following year by a contract for the purchase of one and a half millions of acres of the public lands. In this contract, in addition to a reservation for schools and religious purposes, was a provision for the grant of two entire townships as an endowment for a University. These two townships were selected together at Athens, in Ohio, and the University located upon them. The year after, John Cleves Symmes, of New Jersey, and his associates, made application for the purchase of another large tract of land, which comprehended what is now Cincinnati. In this contract provision was also made, besides every section 16 for school and every section 29 for religious purposes, for an appropriation of one entire township for a University. It was a condition of the contract between the government and the purchasers of the tract that within seven years from the completion of the survey, unless Indian irruptions rendered it impracticable, they should lay off the whole contract at their own expense, into townships and fractional parts of townships and divide the same into lots according to the land ordinance of 1785. Lot numbered 16 in each township, or fractional part of a township, was given perpetually for the purposes of EDUCATION. Lot No. 29 in each township was granted perpetually for the purposes of RELIGION. Lots No. 8, 11 and 26, were reserved for the future disposition of Congress. One entire township was granted perpetually for the purpose of an academy or college.
In 1788 the quantity of land first applied for by Judge Symmes, was reduced by a subsequent contract, to one million of acres and the right to a college township thereby lost.
The provisions for seminaries of learning and for the other new States and Territories, are found in an act of Congress of 1804, one entire township being reserved for that purpose. In this act provision is made for such a reservation in that portion of the Western Territory which is now Michigan.
In 1817 the administration of the territorial government being vested in a Governor and Judges, the following law which may be viewed as a curiosity in the history of education, both on account of its peculiarity of language and the means provided for its support, was adopted. It was, however, no unusual thing at that early day,
and is not so now, in many of the States, to provide for the establishment of literary institutions, schools and colleges, and for benevolent and religious enterprises and purposes, by the organization of lotteries. The law was adopted and published from the laws of the seven original States mentioned in the last clause, by reason of a provision of the Ordinance of 1787, that the laws which the Governor and Judges made and published, both civil and criminal, were to be so taken, and suited to the circumstances of the Territory, and reported to and sanctioned by Congress, until the people were entitled to the organization of a General Assembly.
AN ACT to establish the Catholepistemind, or University of Michigania.
Be it enacted by the Governor and the Judges of the Territory of Michigan, That there shall be in the said Territory a Catholepistemiad, or University, denominated the Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania. The Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania shall be composed of thirteen Didaxum, or Professorships; first, a Didaxia, or Professorship of Catholepistemia, or universal science, the Didactor or professor of which shall be President of the Institution; second, a Didaxia or professorship of Anthropoglossica. or literature embracing all the Epistemum or sciences relative to language; third, a Didaxia or professorship of Mathematica, or Mathematics; fourth, a Didaxia or professorship of Physiognostica or Natural History; fifth, a Didaxia or professorship of Physiosophica or Natural Philosophy; sixth, a Didaxia or professorship of Astronomia or Astron. omy; seventh, a Didaxia or professorship of Chymia, or Chemistry; eigh h, a Didaxia or professorship latuc, or Medieal Sciences; ninth, a Didaxia or professorship of economia, or economical sciences; tenth, a Didaxia or professorship of Ethica, or Ethical Sciences; eleventh, a Didaxia or professorship of Polemitactica, or Military Sciences; twelfth, a Didaxia or professorship of Diegetica, or Historical Sciences, and thirteenth, a Didaxia or professorship of Ennceica, or Intellectual Sciences, embracing all the Epistemum or sciences relative to the minds of animals, to the human mind, to spiritual existence, to the Deity, and to Religion; the Didactor or professor of which shall be Vice President of the Institution. The Didactors or professors shall be appointed and commissioned by the Governor. There shall be paid from the Treasury of Michigan, in quarterly payments, to the President of the Institution, and to each Didactor or Professor, an annual salary to be from time to time ascertained by law. More than one Didaxia or professorship may be conferred upon the same person. The President and Didactors, or professors, or a majority of them assembled, shall have power to regulate all the concerns of the Institution to enact laws for that purpose, to sue, to be sued, to acquire, to hold and to aliene property, real, mixed and personal, to make, to use and to alter a seal, to estab