Indiana. General Assembly.

Documentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) online

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of Education, of the number of members and period of office


aforesaid, could take charge of the Educational interests of the
commonwealth, in all their ramifications, aid the Superintendent in
his work, supervise the Normal Schools, and visit the colleges. The
entire expense of their labors would not exceed the sum appropri-
ated to pay the per diem and traveling expenses of the Trustees
of the State University.


It is desirable in the annual exhibit of our school funds, that their
character, as well as the amount, should be apparent at the first
glance. Wrong impressions have often been made, and hopes
awakened, that distant years will hardly realize, by a general state-
ment, without explanation or classification into productive and un-
productive, special and common, real and prospective. Swamp land
expectations have vanished Hike the baseless fabric of a vision, 1 '
and our children have been too long educated on bank fund hopes
in advance. These magnificent funds have stood in the way of
more substantial provision for current wants, in years that are past,
and many of our youth have found themselves pusiied out on the sea
of active life, while gazing on the glories of "the good time coming."
Let us be no longer beguiled with such future blessedness, to the
neglect of the present and pressing necessities of our children.

The provisions of the statute of 1855, requiring the County Audi-
tors to separate the school funds, previously consolidated, in. accord-,
ance with the decision of the Supreme Court, were not carried into
execution, in all the counties, in season to place it in the power of
the Superintendent to incorporate the result in the lust Report. A,
tabular exhibit of each of these funds will be found in the Appendix,
showing the amount of each, the sum refunded, the portion deemed
unsafe, or lost, and the interest received. This will enable any one
interested in the investigation of our educational funds, to ascertain
the precise amount of these auxiliaries. The great disparity in the
amount of interest reported from counties, possessing nearly the
same amount of funds, discloses the fact that there is great irregular-
ity in the annual collection of interest, and consequently a corres-
ponding inflation or contraction of the disposable amount to each
township, from the special fund, as well as a corresponding fluctua-
ation in, the receipts of interest on the common fund. The interest
on common fund reported as collected in 1855, was $45,843,74, in
1856 it was $51,779,89. That tabular exhibit will also suggest the
wisdom of adopting some mode of investment that vyill obviate these
glaring defects of the present method. Here we see great irregular-
ity ia tne receipt of interest, a large amount lost, or deemed unsafe,
great expense and trouble connected with the care and custody of
the funds, and no small amount of labor and vexation incident to
ID. J.— 35


obtaining annual reports. The Executive recommendation to invest
these funds, as fast as they are refunded, in State bonds, and thereby
save the present expense of their custody, remove all risk of loss,
and secure a full and prompt payment of interest, is certainly worthy
of the highest consideration. Ohio converted her school funds into
an "Inextinguishable Debt," several years since. It could all be
withdrawn, even at the present rate of refunding, in a few years
without oppressing any one of its present borrowers.

Perhaps it may be said by some, that the people would not consent
to have these County Loan Offices closed, and their assets convert-
ed into State bonds, or an inextinguishable debt, on which the State
would pay the annual interest. They are, to be sure, a great accom-
modation to the money-borrowing portion of the community, and
afford bank facilities of a very peculiar and favorable character to
those in want of small sums. This side of the picture appears very
well, but the reverse is quite a different thing. The counties are
held responsible for the safety of the school funds loaned by their
officers. What else is this loaning scheme, than a County Bank,
with an individual liability clause on constructive stockholders with a
vengeance 1 Why should unborrowing tax payers be made the un-
willing endorsers of the paper of their borrowing neighbors ? If the
counties are responsible for the integrity of the funds, then the
losses must be made up by a county tax. Let the people look at
the amount reported as lost, or unsafe, and then enquire whether
they wish the masses to be taxed to make good the insolvency
of any of the unfortunate borrowers of school funds ? It is time
that these County Banks, with the people's names constructively
attached to their notes for security, should be closed. There would
be an economy, security, and a prompt and uniform payment of in-
terest on school funds, on the plan suggested of investment in State
bonds, or an inextinguishable debt, that can never be realized by the
present method of loaning. The amount of interest on the common
fund reported as paid by borrowers in 1856, was $61,398,54, while
the amount paid into the State Treasury in 1856, is only $51,779,89.

The school system would be relieved of no inconsiderable amount
of prejudice and opposition, that it now encounters, if the expenses
of the collection of the school taxes and interest were paid out of
the general fund, and their entire proceeds, undiminished by any col-
lection charge whatever, could be appropriated to educational pur-
poses. It would cost the people no more than it now does, and they
would have the satisfaction of knowing that these funds, at least,
reached their ultimate destination, unimpaired by any deduction on
their passage from the pockets of the people to the tuition of their
children. It would disarm prejudice of much of its power, leave
selfishness without a shelter, and strip opposition of one of its most
potent weapons.

One step in that direction, most cordially approved by the people,
was taken by your predecessors in the incorporation into the'statute
of the following clause: "the income of which, together with the
taxes mentioned and specified in the first section of this act, shall be


applied exclusively to furnish tuition in the common schools of the
State." That amendment compelled the Townships to provide the
means for the payment of the Trustees' educational services. —
Another step of similar character would complete the work, and
reach a result that would assure the tax payers that every dime, that
reached the county treasury, would be converted into tuition. Let
the counties pay the expense of collection and disbursement. Such
a requisition would be but a consistent finale of the policy, whose
inception is embodied in the aforesaid clause of the Revised School
Law of 1855. Even a fair and legitimate construction of said clause
would be as fatal to county officers claims, as to township trustees
demands, for the statute does not say the net proceeds, but "the in-
come of which together with the taxes shall be applied exclusively to
furnish tuition in the common schools of the State."

Our Educational Funds, duly classified, presents the following
exhibit :


Special Fund $1,874,430 04 $151,590 00

Common Fund 910,928 83 1,955,461 59

Common Fund loaned from State

Treasury ' 37,455 78

Total $2,822,814 65 $2,107,051 59

The details, from which the above summary is deduced, may be
presented in the following exhibit :

Special Fund $'1,874,430 04

Common Fund on loan in the counties 910,928 83

Common Fund on loan at the State Treasury 37,455 78

Estimated value of unsold School Sections 151,590 00

Estimated value of Sinking Fund in the State Bank,

January 7, 1857 1,955,461 59

Grand aggregate $4,929,866 24

The custody and distribution of the income of the special funds
are committed to the county Auditors and Treasurers. The amount
of interest reported this year, after deducting the officers fees, is
equivalent to twenty-seven cents to each of our 453,581 children, be-
tween five and twenty-one years of age. The common fund is an aggre-
gate of the interest of the common fund above specified, and the tax
of ten cents on the one hundred dollars, and a fifty cents poll tax.
"The proceeds of the said taxes and interest, reported to the Superin-
tendent by the second Monday of April, shall be distributed by him
to the counties, and by their treasurers apportioned among the sev-
eral townships of said counties." Such are the requisitions of the
statute, and in carrying them out, last Spring, it was found, at the
very latest day that could be given, eleven counties were unreported
at this department, and their Treasurers had not made their settle-


ments with the State Treasurer, and therefore nothing definite waa
known relative to the available amount ol either interest or taxes
collected and in their hands.

One of two courses must be adopted, either act on the basis of
the funds actually reported by eighty counties, and run the risk of
having a large surplus on hand again, for the third time, al the close
of the fiscal year, or add, to the aggregate of the reported amounts, the
probable sums that would be paid before the close of said year.
Guided by the experience of the previous year, the Superintendent
chose the latter, and fixed on an apportionment that would have left
$'7,902.34 in the treasury on final settlement, and given ninety-two
cents to each child of school age. He deemed it but just and equita-
ble, that the treasury, having had the benefit of large school fund
surplus for two successive years, should assume the responsibility of
advancing the temporary deficit for a few months, with the assurance
of being reimbursed within the fiscal year. The Treasurer favored
the first method. A conference, composed of the Governor, Treas-
urer and Auditor, decided adversely to the aforesaid views of the
Superintendent, and an apportionment of seventy-Jive cents per scholar,
with the pledge of a subseqent distribution at the close of the fiscal
year, should there be a large surplus on hand, was adopted. When the
time for the redemption of the pledge, by a supplementary apportion-
ment, arrived, there being no statute authorizing the distribution, and
the county treasurers declining to take the trouble of a second ap-
portionment, the purpose was abandoned. This is the simple history
of that large surplus of school fund reported in the treasury Novem-
ber 1, 1856. Statutory provisions should be made for its immediate
apportionment to the counties.

Such results, substantially, must characterize the close of every
fiscal year, under the present statute. There can be no avoiding
them, while such dilatoriness in settling with the State Treasurer
exists, and is tolerated, and while large sums are paid on the second
settlement, unless there be a second apportionment required at the
end of the fiscal year. It could be easily done, and the money paid
to the townships the first day of December, without any expense of
travel on the part of the county treasurer, or the cost of a single
dollar. There is money in their hands at that date subject to draft,
and the amount of the second apportionment to each county could
be adjusted without the transfer of a single dime from the County to
the State Treasbry, and then back again to the county. This ar-
rangement would remove the temptation to rely on this fund for aid
and comfort in the payment of the semi-annual interest on the State
debt. It is time that such methods of compensation and accommo-
dation were abandoned, and that no part of our children's educational
patrimony should be subject even to such temporary appropriation.



The constitutionality of the apportionment of the school funds to
the townships, required by section 101, of the revised school law, was
questioned immediately after its enactment, and a suit to test its
validity was commenced in the Franklin county court, in 1855, and
carried thence to the Supreme Court. The decision on that case was
rendered at the May term of 1856, affirming the constitutional
power of the Legislature to require an apportionment of the common
funds, so as to equalize the inequalities of the special funds, as far as
possible, without diverting any of said funds from the use of the citi-
zens of each congressional township. This decision of the Supreme
Court settles that vexed question, and relieves the Legislature from
all doubt on the point of its constitutional power to remedy evils
incident to the great inequality of the proceeds of the sale of the
school sections. This decision will be found in the appendix, and
also ;i tabular exhibit of said sales in one half of the counties. The
one-half reported will probably be a fair specimen of the unreported
portion, and therefore we may consider the extremes set forth in
that exhibit, as an average sample of the extremes of the sales.
It will be seen from that condensed view, that school section sales
have ranged from $389 to §18,084. If anything would justify a
State in an effort to correct infelicities, arising from a want of a fore-
sight of sufficient length and clearness, on the paft of herself or
others, this would seem to be one calling for the exercise of a wise
and equitable discretion. In doing this, the State is only carrying
out the modified policy of the general government, in this matter.
Such a gross and palpable inequality in the enjoyment of what was
intended as a common educational benefaction to the new States,
was evidently not foreseen nor contemplated by Congress, as has
resulted from, perhaps, the natural and legitimate construction of the
language of the grant to both Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. This infelic-
ity has been completely obviated in subsequent educational dona-
tion to the States entering the Union since the admission of the last
named member of the confederacy. The phraseology, employed in
the recent compacts, clearly indicates a consciousness of the exist-
ence of the evil under which we are laboring, and the terms of the
grants are so changed, that like results cannot occur hereafter. The
State therefore, acting in her parental capacity, has wisely intro-
duced this corrective feature into her school code, and effectually
remedied an evil, that had unwittingly become so completely en-
trenched behind the rampart oi seemingly vested rights, that neither
constitution nor Congress could legally dislodge it from its adventi-
tious position. This accidental plethora will be so effectually de-
pleted by the present provision of the statute, that there will be but
little danger of the subject requiring legislative counsel or treatment


No intelligent friend of popular education will ever ignore the
relations of the higher institutions to the more humble literary nurse-
ries of the masses; nor will a wise and discriminating zeal for the
common schools ever depreciate or underrate the elevating influence
of the former on the interests and vigorous growth of the latter.
They are emphatically co-laborers, and their general mission and
purpose is one and identical. Though they occupy different positions
in the educational series, yet they both belong to it, and are compo-
nent parts of the chain that draws the race from the degradation of
ignorance and vice to communion and sympathy with intelligence
and virtue. Nor should a commonwealth, in its endeavors to elevate
and improve its common schools, overlook, or treat with silent
neglect the efforts of its citizens in the more elevated departments
of education. They certainly have claims on its countenance,
recognition and sympathy, and it will be most suicidal policy to
ignore or deny those claims.

If educated mind be the most reliable and productive capital that
a commonwealth can possess, then whatever agency increases such
capital within her limit's, is worthy of her most profound regard and
most liberal patronage. Changes, in the routes of commerce and
methods of conveyance, may render millions of invested capital not
merely unproductive, but worse than a dead loss, by entailing the
obligation of repair, without furnishing a dime to defray the expense.
Revolutions in the mercantile world often beggar thousands, and not
only strip them of their wealth, but leave their prostrate victims
without recuperative energy enough to repair the disaster. Derange-
ment of the currency has not unfrequently bankrupted the semi-
millionaire, and reduced families from affluence to abject poverty.
Disciplined intellects and cultivated hearts, while they are the best
paliatives of such disasters, and most fruitful in devices to repair such
losses, are a more substantial basis for national greatness, prosperity
and glory, than the millions of California. A State, whose mental
development will convert the solid ice into bank notes, transmute
the ever enduring granite into gold, and convert the banks of New
Foundland into banks of discount and circulation, whose dividends
will be more remunerative and reliable than the promises to pay of
many a lordly scheme of rascality and fraud, will have no lack of
wisdom and resources to conduct her enterprises to a successful issue.

As a State, Indiana can as yet claim no merit for fostering her
higher institutions, or extending to them a helping hand, or a word of
maternal cheer and encouragement. Even her ward has had to rely,
till recently, on the proceeds of her paternal estate, and whether,
even in her recent peril, her wants would have been supplied, had
not the guardian been seemingly conscious of a culpable negligence
in her custodial duties, is a question of doubtful issue. It is time
that a more genial spirit was cultivated, and more liberal views
were entertained towards the colleges of the commonwealth. A


more appropriate period could not be selected for the inauguration of
a new era, the introduction of a more liberal feature into her educa-
tional policy. Perfecting her school system by the light of a four
year's experience, she will be able to see more clearly the vital union
that exists between the various departments of education and their
mutual dependence on each other.

The substantial aid and comfort rendered the State University,
two years since, is an omen for good. There is the appropriate
place to begin. Let that Institution be, in every respect, worthy of
the name she has given it. She could not well do less for the orphan
committed to her care. She has received the estate, assumed the
guardianship, and her honor is pledged to a faithful administration of
the trust. No intelligent friend of the other Institutions would wish
the State to have done less than she did, in the premises. Such
signs of appreciation of the true character and mutual relation of
Colleges and subordinate institutions, are indicative of progress, and
awaken the hope that the day is not far distant, when Indiana will
manifest an interest in those Colleges, which have been established
and sustained by the enterprise and liberality of her citizens, beyond the
mere biennial congratulations of her Chief Magistrate, which, however
honorable to him, have never yet provoked a response from the
Bodies to which they have been addressed. May she, by her kind
and cordial regard, give them as much cause to be proud of her sym-
pathy and favor, as they have furnished her with occasion and oppor-
tunity to plume herself on their increasing prosperity and extending
fame. These Colleges, and those connected with them, have done an
hundred fold more to give reputation, stability and permanent re-
nown to the commonwealth, than she has ever done for them. She
has, indeed, given them chartered rights and protection, but she also
bestowed like favors on steam mills, and cotton factories. That she
has ever bestowed anything more substantial on any of them, than
good wishes, is unknown to fame. As a money lender, she had the
grace to accept from one of them, when in her power, in addition
to the full amount of her claim, a tuition bonus larger than the orig-
inal loan.

Would her colleges decline such an affiliation under her maternal
oversight, as would not curtail their freedom of action in the slight-
est degree, nor involve any restraint in the exercise of their legiti-
mate power, but merely impose the obligation to furnish an annual
report to be spread before the public in connection with the annual
document from the Department of Public Instruction? These asso-
ciated Institutions, in connection with the State college, might be
termed the University of Indiana, under a Board of Regents whose
appropriate functions should be to preside over the educational inte-
rests of the commonwealth, and act in relation to the common
schools, as a Board of Education, and in relation to the colleges, as a
Board of Regents, entitled only to the right of visiting said institu-
tions. Whenever the State shall see fit to establish, in each of them,
a Professorship of English Literature, or in other words provide the
salaries of said Professors, on condition that she shall have the right


to send to each of them, a given number of students from each
county, free of tuition, until the aggregate of said free tuition shall
amount, at the usual rates, to the sum paid by the State, as the
salary of said Professor, she could easily arrange it, so that her in-
vestment would all be converted into tuition of worthy young men,
to serve the commonwealth in some useful capacity, while, at the
same time, it would be a very appropriate and significant expression
of her sympathy in those enterprises, that have taxed, in no slight de-
gree the zeal, energies and funds of their projectors. With such
sympathy and aid, they would be nerved to more generous endeavors
in the rivalry of their heavenly mission, and feel that the common-
wealth was something more to them than a mere step-mother.

It will be seen, by reference to the tabular exhibit of the colleges
of Indiana, in the appendix, that there have been invested in these
private educational enterprises by their friends $183,530 in college
buildings, and that no less than $258,800 have been paid for instruc-
tion since their establishment. The number of students connected
with them at different periods, from their origin to the present year,
is 7,922. The number of graduates of each college, the number of
classes that have completed the course, and the average number of
said classes will be found in said tabular expose. The aggregate of
their perma nent endowments, as there shown, is $325,000. The
number of volumes in these college libraries, as reported, is 15,134,
while the student's societies have on their library shelves no less
than 8,950 volumes.

Hundreds of youth, who have received more or less training in
these institutions, in some one or more of their departments, have
been engaged in teaching, or are now employed in that calling. Not
a few of them may be found at the Bar, in the Pulpit, on the Bench,'
in the Halls of Legislation, both State and National, in College Fac-
ulties, in the Medical Profession, in the walks of Literature and
Science, engaged in Agricultural or Mercantile pursuits; more or less
of them, the sons of Indiana, born on her soil, reared under her skies,
and educated at her Institutions, her glory and pride. Are not these
results worthy of a formal enumeration, and do they not furnish just
cause of congratulation? Let it not be forgotton that most of these
enterprizes, yielding such rich and abundant fruits, had their origin
anterior to the existence of anything that deserves the name of a
school system in Indiana. By their fruits they shall be known, and
by their fruits let their claims to consideration be tested by cotempo-
raries and posterity.


The present statute devolves on the State Board of Education the
duty of filling all vacancies in the Board of Trustees of said Institu-


tion, occasioned by resignation, decease or expiration of the term
of service. It is a singular provision, and awakens the enquiry, why
was such responsibility super-added to the already multifarious duties
of said Board? What peculiar facilities, or pre-eminent qualifica-
tions for filling such vacancies, does the Board of Education possess ?
It would seem more natural to suppose that a Board of Trustees
would be more competent to fill their own vacancies. Acquainted

Online LibraryIndiana. General AssemblyDocumentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) → online text (page 38 of 53)