ticians will do."
September 20th, 1878, he again writes, "Your proposi-
tion for volunteer work, without pay, will undoubtedly be
In order to appreciate Dr. Burleson's interest in educa-
tion in its broadest sense the above offer of gratuitous service
must not be forgotten. It not only shows his love for educa-
tion in general, but it shows his wisdom at the same time.
College Presidents and Principals of private schools all over
Texas were crying "away with free schools, they will absorb
our patronage, and thus destroy our institutions."
Dr. Burleson argued, with the University worthy of
existence this would not be the case. That a system of public
education among the masses would stimulate the desire for
high scholarship, and that the common schools would act as
feeders to these Universities. After thirty years' experience,
this has been demonstrated to be the result.
He therefore stands out as perhaps the only example in
history, of the President of a denominational University, can-
vassing, without pay to induce the people to adopt a. system of
free education, and when it was adopted, he rendered valuable
and active service in perfecting it.
360 The Life and Writings of
Bkief Review of the Administrations of Governors
Coke and Hubbard, with Eeference to Education â€”
Governor Roberts' First Administration â€” State
Teachers' Convention at Austin â€” Dr. Sears' Proposi-
tion FOR A ^N'ORMAL INSTITUTE Dr. BuRLESOn's LeTTER
to Governor Roberts on Free Schools â€” The Public
ON Governor Roberts, and Dr. Burleson Because of
THE Veto â€” Dr. Burleson's Reply to a jSTewspaper
Attack, on His Letter to Governor Roberts.
Â¥ T XDER the administration of Governors Coke and Hiib-
^ - bard embracing a period of five years, wonderful im-
^^1 provement was manifested in all the departments
and functions of the State government, and a good foundation
laid for continuous development. Under their influence a
splendid prosperity dawned upon the country, and the people
of the State were inspired with general gratification at the
restoration of good government finally established.
During Governor Coke's administration the Legislature
adopted a resolution November 1st, 1876, accepting the pro-
visions of the Federal grant for the creation of the Agricul-
tural and Mechanical College, and they also made especial pro-
visions for this institution. The Federal grant was a permanent
endowment of $209,000 from the proceeds of the Federal land
grant which produces an annual interest of $14,280.00.
Brazos county voted a donation of land valued at $18,000.00
to secure the location of the College at Bryan.
The constitution of 1876 made the college a branch of
the State University. The first Board of Directors met July
Dr. Kufus C. Bukleson. 361
26th, 1875, and it was formally opened for the reception of
students October 4th, 1876.
On January 21st, 1879, O. M. Koberts was inaugurated
Governor of Texas. Two of the requirements in the Demo-
cratic platform stipulated that the annual expenses of the
State government must not exceed the annual income; and
that a system of public free schools must be maintained. Before
the meeting of the Legislature as we have seen, the Governor
invoked the aid of Dr. Burleson, and the teachers to improve
the school law. This forsight resulted in great improvements
in the schools, as well as reducing the expenses of them
through the adoption of the measures recommended by the
Dr. Sears, General Financial Agent of the Peabody
Eund, who was present, acted with the committee and made
the following proposition :
To His Excellency, 0. M. Boherts, Governor of Texas :
Sik: â€” I beg leave to address, and through you to the
General Assembly of the State, the following proposition, to-
wit: If the legislature shall see fit to establish a first class
l^ormal School, and to appropriate for its expenses $6,000 per
annum, the Trustees of the Peabody Education Fimd will
duplicate that sum for tlie same purpose, for a period of two
years, with the expectation of renewing the arrangement from
year to year after that period, during the pleasure of both
Your obedient servant,
B. SEAES, General Agent.
The governor advocated the measure in a special message,
and a law to that effect was accordingly passed making an
annual appropriation of $14,000. A large school building and
surrounding grounds were donated by the citizens of Hunts-
ville for the proposed ]N'ormal School, and it was established
and the school opened October 10, 1879, with Professor Ber-
nard Mallon as Principal.
It is a living monument to the hero of Texas and wag
named in his honor, Sam Houston ISTormal Institute. The
Houston Memorial Hall in the new building, is one of the
362 The Life and Writings of
largest and best audience halls in tlie State. It is ninety-eight
feet long, seventy-one feet wide, and will seat comfortably
In August, 1892, Professor H. C. Pritchett resigned the
office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to accept the
principalship of the Institution. Under his able management
the school has continued to prosper, and is in the highest sense
a State school for educating and training teachers for our pub-
The following letter from Dr. Burleson to Governor
Roberts, and published in circular form sets forth his views
on the subject of free schools :
Waco University, Waco, Texas, April 29, 1879.
Governor 0. M. Roberts, Austin, Texas:
Dear Sir : â€” Your telegram requesting the public use of
my letter on free schools was received yesterday at Dallas.
You are fully authorized to use any letter of mine which you
think will inure to the public good. I never write anything
I am not ready to avow and defend semper et ubiqur. But as
that letter is a mere outline or summary of conclusions reached
in our protracted interview, it may be liable to misconstruc-
tion; hence I send you a fuller statement of my %dews on this
First â€” I am profoundly concerned for our educational
interest, and as free schools lie at the foundation of practical
and universal education, as well as the prosperity of our col-
leges and universities, I am their friend and advocate. The
history, constitution and laws of Texas for forty years demand
free schools; the highest interests of Texas, socially, politically
and financially all demand an efficient system of public edu-
Second â€” But the present system of free schools is not
what the interests and the constitution of Texas demand. It
is a failure and a prodigal waste of at least $800,000 of the
peoples' money; and if continued, will, in a few years, dis-
grace the Democratic party and destroy our hopes of making
Texas the banner State between the oceans.
Third â€” Some of us, at your request, have strained every
nerve and spent days and nights of toil to remodel the system
Dr. Kufus C. Burleson. 363
and make it economical, efficient and a blessing to Texas.
Such a system as your Excellency could approve, and the peo-
ple gladly sustain. But, alas ! Many of our people, and some
of our officials, have no higher idea of free schools than a cheap
charity school, paid for by other peoples' money. They seem
not to know that the only system of Free Schools a State can
sustain in law or justice, must have these four essential ele-
ments. 1. Thorough combination or association. 2. Eigid
economy. 3. Strict supervision. 4. Great efficiency.
Another great aim of Free Schools must be to improve
teachers in the science and art of teaching and elevating the
profession of teaching. All these great ends I find fully at-
tained in the Public Schools of St. Louis, Cincinnati, Charles-
ton, Richmond, Philadelphia, Newark, New York and
But who will dare claim that a single one is attained in
our system? Our system has no combination, no adaptation,
no economy, no supervision, and consequently no efficiency;
and instead of elevating the character and profession of teach-
ing, is drawing from the State and profession our best teachers,
and raising up an army of "pedagoging tramps," as numerous
and as hungry as the locusts of Egypt. Our people do not
comprehend what that great and good man, Dr. B. Sears, who
traveled 1,000 miles to help us renovate our system, said:
"Have good Free Schools or none. Poor Free Schools destroy
private schools and supply nothing in their place."
I feel personally sensitive in the failure of our Free
School system. For on the accession of the Democrats to
power by the election of our friend. Governor Coke, I found
the people chafing and maddened under the Davis-DeGress
system, and ready to proclaim an elimination of the whole
system as an off-shoot of radical misrule.
Wishing to remove such false views and utilize the grand
fund which our hero founders and fathers had provided for
the youth of Texas, I consented to leave my home and my life
work in Waco University. I pled for Free Schools in the
county seats, and in the Colleges and Universities of over 100
counties in Texas. I everywhere pledged the people that the
party in power would remodel the whole system and so adapt
364 The Life and Writings of
it to Texas, as to make it a blessing to tlie 360,000 children of
Texas within the scholastic age.
But these pledges have not been redeemed, yet I never
despair of the Eepiiblic or any good cause. Rome was not
built in a day, nor have our majestic live oaks grown up like
Jonah's gourd in a night. It took centuries to develop their
giant girth. We must, with God-like patience, learn to labor
and to wait.
But I utterly despair of any legislative body in Texas,
in the next twenty-five years, giving us just the school system
adapted to our diversified wants.
This work can only be done by selecting a committee of at
least three of our greatest practical educators, three of our most
eminent jurists, three of our most eminent bankers or finan-
ciers, and give them time and power to remodel the whole
system from turret to foundation stone; give them means to
procure books and school reports, and visit, if need be, the most
successful free schools in the United States, especially the
West, where the sparseness and diversity of population is sim-
ilar to ours.
Such a committee, if wisely selected can, with one-tenth
of the State revenue, and with provision for local taxation,
inaugurate a system of free schools adapted to Texas, and
capable of enlargement as our population becomes denser.
Such, a system in five years will be the pride of all Texas
and repay the expenses of such a committee even in the item
IvTeither the present, nor the Davis-DeGress system, is so
well adapted to Texas as the old system prior to 1861.
That was wholly inexpensive and did educate every
oiiDhan and every indigent child in a good private school ten
months in the year. Yet our present wants demand some-
thing more than that system. But what to do in the present
attitude of affairs is the vexed problem.
If you veto the present school appropriation bill a wild
clamor will be raised against you, and the "Oemocratic party.
And besides, it would be a real public calamity to withdraw
all aid from such cities as Denison, Brenham, Houston, San
Antonio and others, where the free schools by local legislation
have become the blessing and pride of the people. But still
Dk. Rufus C. Burleson. 365
the stern old maxim confronts us, that "It is a robbery and
fraud to tax a man and take away his money for any other
purpose than the public good."
ISTo man can defend public schools sustained by taxation
except on the ground that they increase the virtue and intelli-
gence of the people, and thereby give greater security to life,
liberty and the pursuits of happiness, and that it is cheaper to
build school houses to restrain crime than it is to build jails
and gallows for criminals. I advocated free schools solely as
a police force to prevent crime and thus protect the lives,
property and liberties of the people. And I hold it evident,
that the history of Germany, France, England and America
demonstrates the great fact, that the schools, if properly con-
ducted, afford a cheaper and safer protection against crime
than sheriffs, standing armies, jails and penitentiaries.
The State has no right to tax one man to bestow a charity
on another man's child, nor to waste it on a doubtful scheme.
But the State has "a divine right" to tax every man to so
educate the rising generation â€” to insure every man's property,
person and liberties, to protect them more securely. This is
old-fashioned democracy as taught by Jefferson himself. But
the sentimental cant about "the State owing to every child
an education" savors of agrarianism and would plunge this
nation into the vortex of communism in twenty-five years.
And it is high time to eliminate from government all these
The logical question then remains, does the $100,000
expended annually on our free schools so educate the rising
generation as to protect the life, liberty and property of the
it is confessed on all hands, that three-fourths to nine-
tenths are wasted on a defective system. Then it ought on
every principle of logic and good government to cease. It
may not be good "party policy" to veto the bill. It may be
dangerous to arouse the prejudices of the three great classes :
Eirst. The demagogue; second, the unthinking, and lastly,
the sincere but mistaken advocates of Eree Schools. But in a
public life of nearly forty years I have found it safe to ask
but one question : Is it right ? And then do right and leave
the consequences to God.
366 The Life and Wettings of
Trusting you will be able to do all that will promote tbe
good of the State we love so well and have served so long.
I am, as ever, yours truly,
KUFUS C. BUKLESON.
A great amount of undoubted proof is in existence that
the closest relationship existed between Governor Roberts and
Dr. Burleson, and that they consulted freely on the subject of
Free Schools and labored together with great earnestness for
On account of their opposition to the adoption of the
proposed defective school law, which partially perhaps through
Dr. Burleson's advice the Governor vetoed, both were roundly
abused by many persons in public life as well as numbers
To one of these papers (The Waco Telephone) he replied
as follows :
Waco University, May 27, 1879.
"In an editorial in your issue of May 20th, you pro-
nounce my letter to Governor Roberts on Free Schools * *
* * "one of the most inconsistent documents that ever
emenated from the pen of an intelligent, practical man," The
article denounces my plan as "Utopian and dreamy," and
finally prays, "God forbid that Texas should ever be forced
to adopt the views of Dr. Burleson." All this you call "frank
criticism." I would modestly suggest that the whole editorial
is a medley of blunders and hasty, illogical conclusions, the
work of a short-sighted young man. But I will not do this, for
I learned, probably long before the writer of the editorial in
question was born, that hard words and strong arguments are
two very different things. That a newspaper, in the Gem City
of Texas, should denounce my views as inconsistent, dreamy
and Utopian, might have mortified me greatly, but for this
consolation: The Galveston Neivs, the prince of Southern
journals, and many of the finest legal and losrical minds of this
State have praised my letter highly. Others declare it the
finest argument they ever read in favor of free schools. But
you say : "Analyze his long letter, and what are his deduc-
tions ? Dr. Burleson is opposed to the present system of free
schools and yet what does he offer in its stead? A Utopian
Dk. RuFUS C. BtJELESON. 367
scheme, that may be practicable when Texas has five or ten
million inhabitants. When Galveston, Houston, Austin, Sau
Antonio and Waco rival his ideal cities of ISTew York, Philadel-
phia, Boston and St. Louis in v^ealth and population."
"l^ow, if the writer of the above will put on a pair of
magnifying glasses, he will see he has misconstrued my whole
letter. Where did he learn that N'ew York, etc., were my
"ideal cities?" I have ever regarded them as very real and
not at all ''ideal." I found the free schools, too, not "ideal,"
like ours, but real blessings, and the pride of all the people.
And my plan can be inaugurated on the 1st of September next,
and as I told Governor Roberts, in a few years, it will be the
pride of all Texans.
"It is true I have despaired of any legislative body devis-
ing in the next twenty-five years, such a school law as will
meet all the diversified wants of this Empire State. I do not
believe this work can be done by any legislative body on the
continent. Hence, I propose a special committee composed of
eminent, practical teachers, jurists and financiers. I propose
this, not because I doubt the patriotism and general intelli-
gence of Texas legislators, for I have praised them in 100
speeches, from San Antonio, Texas, to Tremont Temple, Bos-
ton. No man has a higher opinion of the morality, patriotism
and general intelligence of the last legislature than I have.
But the wisdom of managing a fund soon to reach $30,000,-
000; and nicely adjusting a common school system to our
densely populated towns and sparsely settled pastoral settle-
ments; and to our African, Bohemian, Spanish, French, iN'or-
wegian, German, Southern and Yankee population, is a her-
culean task; and it can never be wisely done by any legislative
body assembled to legislate on 1,000 other pressing interests.
Such a work, I repeat, can only be wisely and safely done by
such a committee as 1 suggest. However you denounce my
scheme as "Utopian." But the Hon. Richard Coke, who is a
grand embodiment of common sense, integrity and statesman-
ship has pronounced my plan as eminently practical, and just
the thing we need. But, lest Governor Coke, Governor Rob-
erts and myself should be deemed old fogys, I will state that
Texas has really twice adopted this very plan.
368 The Life axd WKITI^'GS of
By an act of the legislature of Texas, February 11, 1854.
John W. Harris, O. C. Hartly and James Willie were ap-
pointed commissioners to prepare a code amending, revising,
digesting, supph-ing and arranging the laws, civil and crimi-
nal, of the State of Texas.
"By an act of the legislature July 28, 187 â€” , Messrs. Ben
H. Bassett, C. S. West, George Clark, J. W. Ferris and S. A.
Wilson were appointed to digest the laws, and for this great
work $25,000 was appropriated.
So it seems, if I am "Utopian" and a "dreamer," I have
blundered into good company, for I propose just such com-
missioners to revise, amend -and adjust our school laws. The
"TelepJwne" tries to convict me of being illogical and incon-
sistent, because in one sentence I say : "The State has no right
to tax one man to bestow a charity upon another man's child,"
and in the very next I say, "But the State has a divine right to
tax every man to so educate the rising generation that every
man's person, property and liberty will be protected more se-
curely." If you cannot see the sound logic and true statesman-
ship of these postulates, I would advise you to study Whately's
logic and Wayland's political economy before you ever perpe-
trate another "frank criticism." If you contend that the State
has a right to tax one man to bestow a charity on another man's
child, you yield the whole controversy to the Communists and
Nihilists, and must advocate their damnable theory of dividing
out the property of the rich among the poor. But the most
hopeful sign I see in your whole editorial is, that you have
betaken yourself to prayer. It is a good sign to see a news-
paper man engaged occasionally in '^a season of prayer." But
I predict that with a little more experience in prayer, you
.will be less dictatorial in your devotions, and will add some
such adjunct as: "Oh God forbid (if consistent mth Thy
will) that Texas should ever be forced to adopt Dr. Burleson's
views." But what are my views, against which you clamor
and invoke the interposition of Heaven ? My views are the
result of forty years' study and reading. I have studied the
histor^^ of school systems from the days of Plato, Aristotle
and Socrates, down through all the nations of Europe and
every State in America. My views are not merely the result
of my reading and reflections, but the most illustrious gov-
Dr. Eufus C. Burleson. 3Gi)
ernors of Texas, for the last thirty years, have honored me with
their confidence and asked my views on education. I have
made two long and expensive tours of observation to the older
States to see the practical working of all the great free schools
and Universities in America. The President and Professors
of Harvard, and Brown, and Madison, and Vassar and West
Point, and the Superintendent of Free Schools and Normal
Institutes of all the great cities and states offered me the
most ample means of studying profoundly the organization
and worldngs of their institutions. In 1872 I spent three
months in this work, so that my views are but the views of
such great free school men as Dr. B. Sears, Dr. Wickerman,
Dr. Hovey, Professor Stoddard and others, moulded and
adapted to Texas. My views and theirs are in perfect har-
mony, I do not differ from them a single iota. We all believe
a free school system should have combination, adoption, super-
vision, economy and efficiency. They all warned me to have
"good schools or none," and never to waste a dollar of the
public money, otherwise we will destroy the whole system in a
few years. We want an efficient system of free schools,
and we want never to waste one dollar of the peoples'
money. In conclusion, I can only say my views and plans
may not, after all, be correct. I claim no infallibility, but
certainly no man has greater reason to love Texas than I have.
My family have been identified with Texas for fifty years.
My kindreds' blood has crimsoned every battlefield in Texas.
My blood flows to-day in the veins of 1,200 Texas voters. I
have given thirty-one years of unremunerated toil to Texas,
and am sad because I have not thirty-one more to give to a
State I love more than life.
EUFUS C. BURLESON".
He adds: "Lest your allusion to our conversation on
Mr. Hurst's letter may do Governor Roberts injustice, allow
me to say that the only reasons for my belief were these :
First â€” Governor Roberts for the last thirty years has
done his own writing and thinking.
Second â€” He is a stern old Jackson Democrat, and b(;-
lieves in the doctrine pay as you go.
The Life axd Wkitixgs of
Third â€” He has always contended the constitution de-
manded an efficient system of free schools. This is not effi-
cient, and is therefore, unconstitutional. It wastes prodigally
the peoples' money, which I would never allow, if I had the
power to prevent it.
KUFUS C. BUKLESON."
Dk. Rufus C. Burleson. 371
Texas State Educational Associationâ€” Texas Teachees'
Convention Organized at Mexiaâ€” An Important
Called Meeting at Mexia August 9th, 1879â€” A Con-
vention of Teachers at Austinâ€” Dr. Burleson's
Statement of Convention's Workâ€” The Teachers'
Recommendations to the Legislatureâ€” Committee
Report on University of Texas, Dr. Burleson Chair-
manâ€”Last Meeting of Texas Teachers' Convention
â€”Ceased to Exist Where it was Organized June
30th, 1880â€” Merged into the Texas State Educa-
tional Associationâ€” Gov. O. M. Roberts Addressed
THE Meetingâ€” Organization of the T. S. E. A., July
1st 1880 â€” Its Continued Success.
T a meeting of the State Teachers' Convention held
in Galveston in 1890, Dr. Burleson was requested
by that body to write a history of the Texas State
Educational Association, but there is no evidence among his
papers that he ever commenced the work, except m fragmen-
tary form. The following letter from Professor W. H. Cole-
man dated Julv 16th, 1890, leads to the inference that Dr.
Burleson made an effort to collect data for the purpose :
"I have been trying to recall to my memory the events
connected with first meeting of the State Teachers Associa-
tion, and find my recollection is very dim. I can not even
determine the year mthout my diary which is now m Ken-
372 The Life axd Wkitixgs of
"If my memorv serves me correctly, the first meeting oi
the Association was held in Mexia, some time in the '70s. You