were the first President. A Teachers' Convention was held
the same year at Dallas, called, perhaps, the J^orth Teachers'
Convention. I was the only person who attended both of these
conventions. I remember your inaugural address was quite
lengthy and that you took severely to task the "godless in-
fluence exerted by some of the Colleges and Universities of the
country," which aroused the indignation of Gathright and
Hogg and they expressed themselves quite vigorously concern-
ing the matter.
Another prominent event was that Governor-elect O. M.
Roberts sent a communication, which was read, in which
he requested the association to take action for the improvement
of the Public School system of the State and promising his
co-operation in regard to such measures as they might adopt.
I think a committee was appointed to meet at Austin the fol-
lowing winter in the interest of education.
"Subsequently, the ITorth Texas Teachers' Association,
Dr. Malone, President, and the State Association, Dr. Crain,
President, met at Mexia and consolidated." In conclusion he
says : "I regret my inability to give you fuller data."
With this imperfect outline to follow we shall attempt to
fill in the "missing links," and endeavor to preserve the pro-
ceedings of this influential body which labored so earnestly
to improve the educational interests of the State. Their zeal-
ous work was manifested a little later on in moulding the
legislation which hastened the present public school system
The earliest proceedings at hand show that a Teachers'
Convention was held at Mexia, August 9, 1878. Rev. R.
C. Burleson being President, and Professor M. Park, Sec-
retary. After a song by the church choir and prayer by the
Rev. H. Bishop, its labors were inaugurated by an address
from the President, which lasted an hour and twenty minutes.
The substance of the address, and also a list of those who
enrolled as members is badly mutilated and can not be given.
A committee reported in favor of an address to be issued
to the teachers of Texas, requesting them to meet in conven-
Dr. Kufus C. Burlesoiv. 373
tion at Austin on the second Tuesday after the assembling of
the Legislature, for the purpose of organizing a State Educa-
tional Convention, and the President appointed a committee
of eleven to issue such an address.
Professor Smith delivered an address upon Public Free
Schools and their relation to Colleges and Universities, after
other questions had been discussed. The convention tendered
the President its thanks for his able address, and requested
The following day after the usual proceedings, Professor
Gathright spoke on a question of privilege in reply to certain
points in the President's address, and a number of important
subjects were discussed at length and some pertinent resolu-
tions were passed.
After a learned address from Dr. Crane, that ripe scholar,
and hero of Texas education whose efforts in behalf of the
cause deserve a better fate, than the ruins at Independence,
a letter from Judge O. M. Roberts to the convention, through
Dr. Burleson, was read in which he suggested that the associa-
tion should take active steps towards influencing State legisla-
tion in behalf of education.
The following committee of eleven were appointed to
meet in Austin : H. H. Smith, of Houston; J. T. S. Park, of
Mexia; W. H. Coleman, of Dallas; W. F. Packard, of Mil-
ford; C. P. Estill, of Mexia; A. J. Roberts, of Belton; Geo.
Hogue, of Brownwood; R. C. Burleson, of Waco; J. J. James,
of Bryan; J. A. Craig, of Mexia; W. C. Crane, of Inde-
The convention adjourned to meet at the Agricultural
and Mechanical College in Brazos county, the second Tuesday
in July, 1879.
To unearth the truth of its proceedings at Austin, we
must quote from an unpublished defense of Governor Roberts,
written by Dr. Burleson, after that statesman's death, in which
he refers to his own work as State Lecturer for the Peabody
Fund : ''After the most painful and laborious efforts of my
long life of toil for Texas, I was almost in despair of correcting
the terrible abuses and saving the school lands; but Judge
Roberts, then a candidate for Governor, came nobly to the
front. He suggested that as President of the Association, I
374 The Life and Weitings of
might call an extra session to meet in Austin during the sit-
tings of the legislature so that the teachers and politicians
might confer freely and wisely together and devise the best
plan possible for the great question so universally discussed.
I saw the profound wisdom of the suggestion. I presented the
subject before the Texas Educational Association at Mexia,
and a called session to meet at Austin during the session of the
legislature was agreed upon. "SVe so arranged to have the oldest
and wisest educators of Texas, with a few from elsewhere and
also the great Dr. Sears, to meet and consult with us. We were
invited to go before the legislature and deliver addresses on
the great subjects dear to the hearts of all true Texans. We
were also invited to embody our views in regard to school
laws, which we did after hours and I may say days of intense
toil. But alas, we found that the Constitution adopted to cor-
rect the evils of the Davis, or radical Constitution, was so
framed that no efficient law for Free Schools could be enacted,
and that the only hope for correcting those evils was through
amendments to the Constitution. The addresses of the teach-
ers before the legislature had profoundly impressed that body
of man that the Constitution should be so amended, but that
would require time and it was utterly impossible to have any
system of Free Schools until the Constitution could be re-
modeled. Dr. Sears was the saddest man I have ever seen in
Texas. He said, "This is my third trip to Texas, at great
labor and expense, and yet it is an utter failure, and I shall
die without accomplishing the last request of the great G-eorge
Peabody, which was to use his funds freely to lay the grand
foundation for a Texas system of Free Schools, for Mr. Pea-
body believed, that Texas was destined to become one of the
gTandest States in the Union, and he wanted to see a splendid
system of Free Schools established here." After he and I had
discussed the matter until midnight, I suggested that there
never was a grand thing to be done, but what there was at
least seven ways to do it, and that there was a way in which
we could use the Peabody Fund at once in the grand work
of establishing Free Schools in Texas. I said, if we had
$5,000,000 in the Texas treasury to-day, we would have no
teachers who understood the system of successfully organizing
and conducting Free Schools. The grand thing is, if we wish
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 375
to make Free Schools iu Texas a success, we want a JSTormal
College to prepare our teachers, and if you will give us as
much as you gave Tennessee, $25,000, our governor will
recommend to the legislature to appropriate an equal amount
and we will establish a ISTormal School and name it for our
grand old hero, Sam Houston, and then, by the time we get our
Constitution changed and ready for work, we will have a
splendid corps of teachers. The grand old man's eyes were
radiant, and he said, "Bless God for the light of that sug-
gestion;" and then asked, "AVTll your governor recommend
to the legislature to appropriate $25,000? I am afraid he is
not as much in favor of Free Schools as you think he is."
I said, he may not be, but he is a grand old and conscientious
judge, and the Constitution says, "It shall be the duty of the
legislature to establish as early as practicable a system of Pub-
lic Free Schools," and he will carry out his oath to support
that Constitution to the letter, and you may be perfectly cer-
tain that he will issue a special message to the legislature to
appropriate at least $25,000 for a ISTormal College." ISText
morning, as soon ps breakfast was over, I hurried away to
meet Governor Roberts at the governor's mansion before he
became engaged with the politicians. I met him as he was
leaving and I laid the plan before him. His eyes brightened
with joy as he said, "Certainly, certainly, there is glory in that
thought, and I will not only recommend the legislature to ap-
propriate $25,000, but I will also recommend, that they add
a sum sufficient to pay the board and all necessary expenses
for a certain number of students from each county, and I will
be glad to see Dr. Sears in person and confer with him." The
two grand old men met together and it was a feast to hear their
deliberations on this great question. Through the statesman-
ship of Governor Roberts a plan was formulated which was
intended to correct all the terrible evils which had been
brought on our system of Free Schools, and to recover the
county school lands from the railroads and the speculators,
and which would lay the grandest foundation for Free
Schools of any nation on this j)lanet."
The convention of teachers met in Austin January 28th,
1879, and continued in session three days. These teachers
376 The Life axd AVkitings of
1. That the State accept the proposition, that $6,000
be accepted from the Peabody Fund with as much, to be added
by the State, to establish a first class Normal School.
2. That $20,000 be appropriated by the State to estab-
lish a practical course in Agriculture.
3. That not more than two school communities be es-
tablished in any city taking charge of its own schools, and
that one of these be white and the other for colored children.
4. That three grades of certificates be given to teachers.
o. That pupils under the instructions of a teacher hold-
ing a third grade certificate receive $1; second grade, $1.50;
and first grade, $2 per month.
6. That six district superintendents be appointed with a
salary each of $2,300.
There were other recommendations made by the teachers
referring to the duties of the superintendents, and to the
manner in which teachers should be paid by the county
treasury. The legislature complied with these suggestions in
all their essential features. We have every reason for believ-
ing that it was a wise suggestion which brought the Teachers'
Convention together as an advisory board and that they ac-
complished a great deal of good in suggesting legislation on
the subject of education which eradicated existing evils and
provided future benefits.
All of the proceedings of the Teachers' Convention are
not available, but it is presumed that the following report of
a committee submitted to the Teachers' Convention in Jan-
uary, 1879, relative to the University of Texas was adopted.
"Your committee believe the time has came to take measures
to inaugurate the Texas State University. Texans have felt
for forty years, a deep interest in this question, and that desire
was never more intense than at this moment.
The Constitution of the Republic requires a first class
University. The Congress of 1836, set apart fifty leagues
(221,400 acres) of land for two colleges or Universities. The
present value of this land is $3.50 per acre, or $777,760. Of
this sum $222,125 is now in the state treasury drawing inter-
est, and nearly $40,000 is ready for investment.
All of this $262,000 could be used at once to inaugurate
"The Texas State University." The legislature of 1876 set
Dk. Rufus C. Bukleson. 377
apart 1,000,000 acres of land additional, and also set apart
every tenth section of land surveyed by railroads for school
purposes for "The Texas State University." This whole fund
is at least $1,500,000. The annual interest at 8 per cent, will
be $120,000. The same Constitution made the ''Agricultural
and Mechanical College, a branch of the University, for in-
struction in agriculture and mechanical arts, and natural
sciences conducted therewith." Over 300 young men are sent
out of Texas annually, thus losing to Texas $250,000, besides
the loss of that State pride and affection so necessary for the
future, glory and greatness of Texas. The State, to attain to
the highest greatness and glory, must be controlled and guided
by sons ''to the manor educated," as well as to "the manor
But how shall we organize our State University so as to
combine the greatest economy, the greatest harmony and the
greatest efficiency? It is a melancholy but well established
fact, that the majority of State Universities, have proved sad
and expensive failures. Texas cannot afford to waste $1,500,-
000, and sacrifice the previous and undying interests of her
sons in following the unsuccessful methods of other States.
But fortunately the State of A^ew York and the City of Lou-
don present us with a general outline of a plan which will
utilize every dollar of the vast fund and make "The University
of Texas," the pride and glory of every Texan and a rich bless-
ing to generations to come.
Your committee would therefore respectfully suggest,
that the "Texas State University" be organized on the general
plan given by the Empire State of America, and by the great-
est city on the globe.
First â€” That every chartered College and University in
the State having $100,000 in cash invested in endowments for
professorships, and library apparatus and buildings, shall be a
branch of the State University, provided nothing sectarian in
religion or any skepticism shall be taught in connection with
any of said branches.
g,econd â€” That a "Board of Eegents," with a chancellor,
eminent for learning, shall be appointed by the governor and
confirmed by the Senate, who shall sacredly and wisely dis-
tribute the annual interest of the University Fund to all the
378 The Life A^^D Weitings of
branches of the University for the payment of professors ac-
cording to the actual capital owned and employed by them
in education. The chancellor and regents shall discharge such
other duties as the Legislature may direct.
Third â€” There shall be erected at the capital a suitable
Fourith â€” The chancellor and regents shall provide a
course of lectures, etc.
The adoption of these general outlines, with such addi-
tions as the T\4sdora of the legislature may suggest, will have
the following great advantages :
First â€” Its great economy; It never cost the State a
dollar for building and supervision.
Second â€” It will bind all sections and all denominations
in love and sympathy and enthusiasm for "The State Uni-
Third â€” It will banish from higher education and culture
all sectarianism and skepticism.
Fourth â€” It will arouse the hopes and stimulate the zeal
of all sections and denominations, so that in twenty-five years,
Texas will have facilities for higher education, unsurpassed by
any State in America, or the world.
Fifth â€” It will avoid all jealousies and wrangling of the
sections and denominations and institutions which have ruined
so many splendidly endowed State Universitiea,
These reasons are so great and so self-evident, they must
commend themselves to every candid man who can lift him-
self out of the grooves and currents in which so many State
Universities have run to ruin and failure. All of which is
EUFUS C. BUKLESON, Chairman.
There is no evidence at hand to show that these sugges-
tions met with legislative action at the tune, but there is no
doubt of its influence in hastening the establishment of the
University or that many of the views were embodied in the
laws regulating the institution.
The last meeting pf the State Teachers' Convention was
held at Mexia June 30, 1880, when the following repor]t was
Dk. Kufus C. Burleson. 379
"The committee appointed by Dr. Grain, President of the
Texas Teachers' Association and this association, would re-
spectfully report that the association which met at Austin
January, 1879, be invited to participate in the discussions of
this convention until the progi-am, as previously arranged,
be carried out, and then, that this association be merged in the
State Association and that then a new set of officers be elected
for the ensuing year."
K. C. BUKLESOK, Chairman.
Previous to this, Eev. Wm. Gary Crane, stated the object
of the convention and Kev. K. C. Burleson made the intro-
ductory address. His Excellency, 0. M. Koberts, was present
by special invitation and delivered an address in which he
dwelt long on the importance to the State of a thorough system
of public education. He represented their condition, Kis
course towards them and the policy which the State should
sustain. He advocated the policy of liberally supporting them
as far as the means of the State would allow, after defraying
other needful expenses.
The two conventions having united, an election was held
jointly. Dr. Anderson of Trinity University was elected
President, Professor Hammond of Mexia, Secretary, Professor
Park of Mexia, Treasurer, and six Vice-Presidents residing in
different portions of the State. Dr. Oscar H. Cooper, that ac-
complished scholar, successful educator, and learned gentle-
man who succeeded Dr. Burleson in the Presidency of Baylor
University, fixed himself in the educational history of Texas,
as a wise friend of public education by strongly recommending
in the consolidated convention, that the next legislature be
urged to take the steps necessary to organize the University of
Texas, which induced the passage of a ringing resolution to
that effect. A committee of nine distinguished teachers was
appointed by the convention, of which Dr. Cooper was made
chairman to prepare a plan of organization. The report of Dr.
Cooper's committee in 1881 was instrumental in the passage
of the act introduced in the seventeenth legislature by Col. J.
C. Hutchinson of Harris county, approved March 30th, 1881,
providing for the establishment of the University of Texas, the
success of which has exceeded perhaps the expectations of its
friends. This bill passed the house with only seven dissenting
380 The Life and Writings of
votes, and in the same hall where twenty years before seven
votes har been cast against the secession ordinance.
It is thus seen, that Baylor University having passed
through all the successive stages of birth, growth and develop-
ment, and having became one of the fixed educational institu-
tions of the world, was not so selfish as to desire to occupy the
field alone, but reached out through Dr. R. C. Burleson, its
renowned President, who devoted his ^visdom and experience
in establishing this institution for the State.
It will also be observed as an historical fact, no less re-
markable, important and interesting, that Dr. Oscar H. Cooper,
who twenty years later was to succeed Dr. Burleson in the
Presidency of Baylor University, was his valuable co-laborer
in this great w^ork, and though not much more than a boy,
divided the honor and glory with him. Dr. Burleson and Dr.
â€¢Cooper being the only men who have ever filled the Presi-
dential chair of the University at Waco, it may be justly
claimed, that in a sense, among other distinctions, Baylor
University has also the honor of being the mother of the Uni-
versity of Texas. This is unparalleled by any known scrap of
At the night session of the convention Governor Roberts
again took the floor to develop his views, and to show his
interest in public education. He stated in his address, the only
reason why he had not endeavored to render greater assistance
to public schools was because he doubted the ability of the
State to do so without violating its duties to creditors or crip-
pling the machinery of government. The meeting closed with
a benediction by Dr. Burleson.
The next day, July 1, 1880, the first meeting of the Texas
State Teachers' Association convened. The following resolu-
tions were adopted. To memorialize the legislature in favor
of the State University. On change of school law. On gov-
ernor's address. On validity of claim on treasurer for Univer-
sity fund. On appropriation of land to chartered colleges.
The Executive Committee announced that the next meet-
ing would be at Corsicana the last Tuesday in June, 1881, and
a called meeting M'ould be held at Austin, during the session
of the next legislature. The meeting held at Corsicana was
Dr. RuFUS C.Burleson. 381
one of much importance, but not more so perhaps than those
It would be pleasant to record more detail of this conven-
tion, but we refrain from doing so except to show Dr. Burle-
son's active participation in tlie movement designed solely to
promote the cause of public education in Texas.
The personnel of this convention was a high standard of
manhood. In fact these are few, if any higher callings than
the profession of teaching; and those who are engaged in it,
if qualified to properly discharge its duties, represent the most
cultured class of the country's citizenship. They are the
guides who awaken intellects, latent powers of mind, and
direct them toward the pure light of knowledge, and only turn
to do battle against the hosts of ignorance and indifference.
382 The Life aisd Writings of
Dr. R. C. Burleson's Address Before the Texas Teachers'
Convention in Gal^teston June 30th, 1890 â€” Pithy
AND Pointed â€” Breezy and Bright â€” Witty and Wise
â€” Learned and Logical â€” Education, Public and Pri-
vate â€” The Sam Houston jSTormal Institute Suggested
for the First Time â€” Other Matters.
(Ml^ PRESIDENT, Ladies and Gentlemen, and
i r*3!ra Teachers of Texas:
\*^'^f A good man has said, "not to know what has hap-
pened before I was born, is to remain always a child." A
greater man has said, "History is Philosophy teaching by ex-
ample." A gi-eat Philosopher and Theologian has said, "His-
tory is God teaching by example." Then if we would not all
be babes, and listen to the teachings of History, and God Him-
self, we ought to Mnderstand History â€” not only history
in general, but as teachers, and leaders of thought, we
ought to know the history of higher education in our
State. I know there is a thought, a general impression,
that old Texans were a wild, semi-savage people, who
had no grand thought, no grand purpose, and that they
did nothing, planned nothing that is worthy for us to re-
member. That only shows that we have fallen into the second
division ; for not to know the men, the grandeur of their souls,
the sublimity of their purpose, the wisdom of their plans â€” not
to know this, is to show that in thought we are children. I
am here to show, to demonstrate that of the men who formed
the Constitution of the old Republic of Texas, there were more
college men, men educated in colleges, college graduates, than
Dr. Kufus C. Bukleson. 383
ever assembled in any similar convention on this continent.
'Not even Massachusetts excepted. I repeat it â€” the men who
formed the constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and
the Constitution of the old Kepublic of Texas were more of
them college men, college graduates, than ever assembled for
any similar purpose on this continent. The man that wrote
the Declaration of Independence and mapped out the Con-
stitution, George C. Childress, was a graduate of the Uni-
versity of North Carolina. That grand man who founded the
first colony and was the I^Testor, the path-finder that opened the
way for civilization in this country, Stephen F. Austin, was a
student of Transylvania University. Even though he prided
himself in letting people believe, and though it was believed
that Sam Houston himself, was a rought, wild, untutored, half-
savage man, without any means of knowledge or means of ctij-
ture, yet the men who knew him, who knew his secret thougHts,
knew that for three years he was intimately associated with Dr.
Anderson, President of College, Tennessee, and at
night after the duties of his clerkship were over, he would go
and sit down by that grand old man, that grand thinker, who
knew how to interpret thought, how to guide thought, and any
man who was intimate with Houston long, in all the great pur-
poses of life would hear him quote Dr. Anderson; and while
he was not in the college list he had really a better college
education than probably nine-tenths of the graduates of our
country. Anson Jones is another, and Henry Smith, the first
governor, a school teacher by profession, was a college grad-
When teachers go into politics they generally make a bad
failure, but Henry Smith, that teacher, wrote the first declara-
tion of purposes declaring the duty of Texas to form a Kepub-