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Seminary notes published by the Seminary of historical and political science online

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four hundred years of progressive life, wx
shall not wonder that the nations of the
earth have responded with so much inter-
est to the call of the United States to
spend a year in celebrating the four hun-
dredth anniversary of the discovery. We



SEMINARY NOTES.



29



shall not wonder that following the procla-
mation of governors, the schools of the
land are marching and singing and speak-
ing on this eventful day.

The discovery of America was in itself
an evolution of which Columbus was the
chief factor. It took more than one hun-
dred years to complete it after it was
fairly started by the great- voyager, and it
had occupied the minds of philosophers
centuries before. It took another 100
years to explore it, 200 more to settle it,
and we may coimt 1,000 for the develop-
ment of its resources. Columbus touched
upon its islands, but it remained for oth-
ers to explore it, others to settle it and
still others to master it.

A fairer land the sun never shone upon.
It has served in a measure to fulfil the
dreams of the ideal philosophers. They
dreamed of glorious countries, with fertile
soil, where men would build up ideal sys-
tems of government. There, freed from
the evil effect of an old civilization, the
best of the race would begin anew the
upbuilding of humanity. Men turned
instinctively to the new world as the place
where their dreams were to be realized;
to the country on which the hope of the
future rested.

In the Elizabethan age, when man v^as
drinking deep intellectual draughts, when,
English nationality was rising, when colo-
nization was freely talked of, the poets
and philosophers were writing and plan-
ning for the building of a better civiliza-
tion and they looked toward the newly
made country as the seat of a new life.
Half hopeful, half prophetic are the con-
jectural lines of Samuel Daniel:

"And who (iu time) knows whither we may vent
The treasure of our tongue? To what strange shores

This gain of our best glory shall be sent
T' enrich tmknowing nations with our stores?

What worlds in the j^et uuforined Occident
Jfay come refined with accents that are ours?"

None hoped more keenly for the future
of America nor held in higher esteem its
possibilities than those who were connected
with plans for colonization in the new
world. Only one who had felt the possi-



bilities of the development of a better life
in a new land could have penned these
memorable lines "On the Prospect of
Planting Arts and Learning in America:"

" "Westward the course of Empire takes its way,

The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day;

Tirae's noblest offspring is the last."'

— Bishop Berkeley.

The eyes of the whole world are turned
toward the fifth and last act of the drama
of the day, now being acted in Amer-
ica. In a measure the dreams of sages
and poets and the plans of philosophers
have been realized. A better civilization
and a nobler life has been created here
than exists elsewhere on the face of the
earth. In many respects America is yet
the hope of the world, "Time's noblest
offspring." We who live in and for this
republic, who feel the force of its life
and know its possibilities, blessings and
danger, are necessarily impressed with the
idea that there is to be lived here the
noblest act in the drama of life, and we
are among the actors in this drama; the
youngest group of the followers of Colum-
bu's.

The great exposition will enable us to
compare the achievements of this nation
with those of the world, in arts, industries,
sciences, education and material resources.
We shall catch something of the phases of
government of different ■ countries but we
shall turn from all we see and our hearts
will respond to those lines of our national
hymn:

'• My country 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing."

'Tis the country for which the early
settlers toiled in the foundation. 'Tis the
country which our forefathers fought to
protect from the tyranny and oppression of
the old world; 'tis the liberty which our
brothers and fathers fought to preserve:

That foundation period is past, and the
constitutional struggles are at an end, but
the evils of the full grown nation appear.
The social groups of our nation are far
from being contented. There are prob-
lems of government and social life which



SEMINARY NOTES.



are causes for care and anxiety. These
are not the days in which to sound the
alarm, but days for patient, sober thought.
Even now many people are advocating
modern Utopias. They have no newly
discovered countries in which to try new
experiments. Affairs must be adjusted
here, and this country must yet yield the
ideal republic with justice and equal rights
to all. But we can say of our nation:

"Our hearts, our hopes are aU with thee;
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triiimphant o'er our fears,
Are aU with thee; are all with thee."

Evils must be met and corrected, and
there is no means more potent for this
than the schools of our country. The
doctrine advanced by Washington, Jeffer-
son and Adams concerning the only safe-
guard to the republic is verified every day
in the work of our public schools, colleges
and universities. It is worthy of note that
throughout this land thousands of children
are to-day marching to the sound of
national music, carrying the flag of our
nation, and singing and speaking of the
achievements of . our land. Truly the
schools are the bulwark of American life.

When the Romans wanted to insure the
safety of the country they built fortresses
and garrisoned them. When the state of
Nebraska desires to provide a common
defense it builds a university, more potent
to us than forts and standing armies. The
solution of questions pertaining to the
improvement and welfare of the people
are at times perplexing and difficult, but
be assured that under the light of proper
and continued education they will eventu-
ally solve themselves. When it comes
that each individual does his duty to soci-
ety under the guidance of a superior
intelligence there need be no fears for the
safety of the country and the prosperity
of its best institutions.

This civilization is ours, "ours to enjoy,
ours to transmit." We of the new west
are the followers of Columbus. We are
a part of the great empire moving west-
ward. ' ' What worlds in the new unformed
Occident" yet remain for us to discover?



We ought to take courage from Columbus,
not only from his persistent courageous
character, but on account of the mighty
results that have followed from a single
persons poring over maps and charts and
planning great things with the conviction
that activity will bring success. Undis-
covered truth still invites you. New
worlds in science, politics and social de-
velopment are to be discovered. Within
the walls of this magnificent institution
some scholar, studiously following his
investigations, and having faith in himself
and his work, will make discoveries that
will be a credit to the new west and the
new world.

While we hold that the education of
the many and the general diffusion of
intelligence is the safeguard of the repub-
lic, we must not forget that the work of
the investigator and the scholar in his
laboratory is the most valuable of all.
He, "Who, through long days of labor,
and nights, devoid of ease," with self-
denial and patient study, has wrought out
some. new truth which shall in its applica-
tion be a benefit to common humanity, has
served his duty and generation best.

At the Columbian fair there will be
exhibited the fruits and the grains and the
minerals of the new west. There will be
the industrial products of all kinds, but
doubtless the greatest exhibit, and that
which we shall, be most proud of, is the
educational. Our broad acres may yield
their increase and furnish means for a
higher development, but without this
higher development and culture the people
of the western part of the Mississippi
valley must remain mere toilers to feed
the populace of the east and of Europe.
How essential, then, that education in all
correct forms be cherished and advanced.
If we, among the last of the followers of
Columbus here in the far west, are to
build up ideal institutions, ideal govern-
ments and ideal liberty, how essential that
we shall advance the cause of education.
The ideal is not yet fulfilled. What will
the new west contribute to ideal society ?



SEMINARY NOTES.



31



What new worlds are to be discovered
here? I can respond in the general words
of the poet that

"New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient

good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep

abreast of truth ;
Lo! Before us gleam her camp fires; we ourselves

must pilgrims be."

While we have some sharp critics over
the ocean who may be justified in pointing
out the weak points of American politics
and American society, yet our national
life is growing in favor among European
nations. Oqr industrial arts are compet-
ing with the world; our educational insti-
tutions are unequalled anywhere; the
advancement of learning and the fine arts
grows with the nation. Our national re-
sources are marvelous in their bounty.
Our social life is an advance on the old
world, and our political institutions are, if
maintained in their purity, superior to
those of the monarchies of Europe. All
these points are recognized by the thinkers
of the day. The Columbian exposition



will serve to make us more illustrious in
the eyes of the world.

Some times a conjecture arises as to
whether this magnificent civilization can
be supported and developed under the
present weakness of human nature; whether
the evils that already exist in the political
and social life shall gnaw like a vulture at
the heart of the republic until its best life
is gone? In answer we may say, upon the
whole, the signs are hopeful. But, a pre-
mium must be placed upon virtue, morality,
justice, equality and sound learning, and
these qualities must manifest themselves
in all of our social and political institu-
tions. With these conditions fulfilled, with
the hopefulness and faith of our people,
with calm reflective intelligence, the foun-
dations of this nation will remain unshaken,
its superstructure will be reared, and its
actual life will yet fulfill, in all practical
bearings, the dreams of the ancient philos-
ophers and the hopes of modern educators
and statesmen. F. W. Blackmar.



SPECIAL CHARTERS IN CHICAGO.



■^nPHE municipal government of Chicago
^^ passed through the several stages
usual in the history of American cities.
First came the town government and after
that a special city charter secured from
the state legislature. As this government
proved to be unable to meet the demands
made upon it by a rapidly growing city,
special boards were added from time to
time. The system of government by
boards, acting independently and without
responsibility to any central authority,
proved to be extravagant and unsatisfac-
tory in the extreme, and the whole was
swept away and a general charter, adopted
by the legislature for the government of
all cities in the state, was substituted.

A previous article in the SejiIinary
Notes has given a sketch of the town
period, ending with the adoption of the



first city charter, March 4th, 1837. This
charter was a mere extension of the town
government, vesting the powers before
exercised by the town board, in the com-
mon council. The elective officers were
the mayor and, after 1839, twelve alder-
men, two from each of the six wards into
which the city was divided. The act also
provided for the election of an assessor in
each ward, but this provision was repealed
by act of Feb. 27, 1841, and the council
was empowered to appoint one or three
assessors instead. All other municipal
officers: clerk, treasurer, city attorney,
street commissioner, police constables,
inspectors of elections, etc., were appoint-
ed by the council. All officers held for
the term of one year. Elections took place
on the first Tuesday in March. Voters
were required to be householders or to



32



SEMINARY NOTES.



have paid a city tax of not less than three
dollars within the twelve months preceding
the election, and the mayor, aldermen and
assessors were required to be freeholders,
but both requirements were repealed by
the act of 1841. The same act added the
office of marshal, to be filled by election
in the same manner as the office of mayor.
The charter provided for a board of health,
consisting of three commissioners, appoint-
ed by the council. The council retained
control of the schools, but their manage-
ment was entrusted to a board consisting
of three trustees elected in each school
district. Additional power to maintain
schools was granted the council by the act
of March 9, 1839. It is thus apparent
that almost all power was vested in the
council. The appointment of the treas-
urer, assessors and collectors gave them
entire control of the finances. The only
limitation of their power in this direc-
tion was the restriction of the annual tax
to one-half of one per cent, of the assessed
valuation of real and personal property,-
and of the amount that could be borrowed
in any one year to ^100,000.

At the first city election 709 votes were
polled. The first state census, taken July
ist, 1837, gave the total population of
Chicago as 4,170. The town government
had contracted no permanent debt and
the city treasurer received from the town
treasurer a balance of $2,814.29 in cash.
The tax levy for the first year of city gov-
ernment amounted to 15,905.15, which
has been estimated as a per capita tax of
about $1.41. The financial crash of 1837
bore heavily upon the people and taxes
were difficult to collect. At the very out-
set the aldermen resorted to an expedient
which played an important part in the
subsequent financial history of the city.
June I St, they ordered the issue of $5,000
in scrip in denominations of one, two and
three dollars, bearing interest at one per
cent, a month and receivable for taxes.

This part of the municipal history of
Chicago is interesting merely as the begin-
ning of great things. It is important for



the reason that this first charter, with
occasional changes, continued to be the
government of the city for over twenty
years. From time to time, as the popula-
tion increased, the limits of the city were
extended and the number of wards and
consequently the number of aldermen was
increased. The experience of Chicago
was similar to the experience of other
American cities. Too much power was
given to the council. Executive duties
were assigned to what should have been a
purely legislative body. The city charter
was in reality an overgrown town govern-
ment.

In 1847 some changes were made look-
ing toward a separation of legislative and
executive functions, by decreasing the
number of officers appointed by the coun-
cil. Thereafter the city attorney, treas-
urer, collector and surveyor, a street
commissioner and assessor for each divi-
sion, and a police constable for each ward
were to be elected by the people. Greater
permanence was given to the city govern-
ment by extending the term of office of
the aldermen to two years, one-half of
them to be elected annually. In 1851 the
various measures, relating to Chicago,
passed by the legislature were consolidated
into "An Act to reduce the Law incor-
porating the City of Chicago, and the sev-
eral Acts amendatory thereof, into one
x\ct, and to amend the same"; but no
very important changes were made.

The various demands upon the munici-
pal government, that resulted from the
growth of the city, were met by the estab-
lishment of independent executive boards.
An "Act to incorporate the Chicago City
Hydraulic Company," passed in 185 1,
entrusted the control of the new water
system to a "Board of Water Commis-
sioners" of three members. The first
commissioners were named in the act but
subsequent ones were to be elected, one
each year, to serve for a term of three
years. An amendment to the act, passed
before the first election took place, required
them to be representatives of the three



SEMINARY NOTES.



33



districts of the city. They were authorized
to borrow ^250,000 for the construction
of the new works, and the next year, 1852,
the loan, the first large loan in the finan-
cial history of the city, was negotiated, at
six per cent., payable in twenty years.
An act of June 15, 1852, authorized an
additional loan of ^150,000, and the act
of February 28, 1854, authorized another
loan of ^100,000 for the same purpose.
At the same time provision was made for
a tax not to exceed one mill on the dollar,
to meet the interest accruing on the bonded
debt. From this time the municipal debt
of the city increased rapidly.

A second board was added to the city
government in 1855. It was felt to be
absolutely necessary to provide some sys-
tem of sewerage and a "Board of Sewer-
age Commissioners " was incorporated to
supervise the work. The first board was
elected by the council, but the commis-
sioners afterwards were to be elected by
the people, their number, term of office
and ftianner of election being the same as
for the Board of Water Commissioners.
The sewerage commissioners were empow-
ered to borrow ^500,000 for the construc-
tion of the sewerage system and again in
1859 were authorized to borrow another
J^5oo,ooo. It is to be noted that these
boards were thus given the power of
incurring debt independently of the city
government.

In 1857 an important step in the devel-
opment of the municipal government was
taken by creating an independent treasury
department. Dissatisfaction with the
council was general and it was sought to
lessen their power and to fix responsibility
more definitely. The department con-
sisted of the comptroller, treasurer and
collector. The head of the department
was a comptroller, appointed by the
mayor, with the advice and consent of the
council, and holding office until removed.
The treasurer was elected by the people
as before. A city collector, also elective
and choosing his own assistants, was sub-
stituted for the special collectors appointed



by the council. The establishment of the
treasury department introduced needed
checks upon the expenditure of money.
Before this, city officers incurred expenses
almost at will and charged them to the
city, but now bills could be paid only
upon a warrant drawn by the comptroller
upon the treasurer. At the same time the
fee system, under which several officers
had received a large income in addition
to their salaries, was abolished.

In i860 the mayor of the city advised
the establishment of a "Board of Public
Works" in order to systematize and econ-
omize the public improvements. " In the
legitimate discharge of their respective
duties," he said, "the street commissioner,
the sewerage commissioner, the water
commissioner and the city superintendent
had been found opening and filling the
same ground in a single week." To bring
order out of chaos and to save expense, a
consolidation of these offices was necessary
and the only obstacle in the way was the
dislike of the incumbents of the various
positions to be legislated out of office.
Upon this suggestion the act of February
18, 1861, creating a new executive depart-
ment to be known as the "Board of Pub-
lic Works," was secured from the state
legislature.

• To this board were transferred the du-
ties of the water commissioner, the sewer-
age commissioner, the city superintendent,
the street commissioners elected in each
district in accordance with the act of 185 1,
and the special commissioners for the
making of assessments. These duties
comprised the building of sidewalks and
bridges, the dredging of the river, the
opening, cleaning, paving and lighting of
the streets and the control of the water,
sewerage and all other public works. The
board consisted of three commissioners,
one from each division of the city. The
term of office was six years and one com-
missioner was to be elected biennially.
The first board was elected on the third
Tuesday in April and organized on the
first Monday in May, 1861.



34



SEMINARY NOTES.



The same act that created the board of
public works abolished the office of city
marshal and an act passed a few days
later established instead a board of police.
The number of commissioners, their term
of office and manner of election were the
same as for the board of public works.
The first board was appointed by the
Governor and in accordance with the act
assumed entire control of the police of
the city.

In 1863 the various acts relating to the
city were a second time consolidated into
"An Act to reduce the Charter of the
City of Chicago, and the several acts
amendatory thereof, into one act, and to
revise the same." The charter included
the acts that had established separate
boards. The principal change that it
made was the extension of the term of the
offices of mayor, city attorney, treasurer
and collector to two years. The term of
the commissioners of police was shortened
to three years. One provision of this
charter, copied from a similar one in the
charter of Boston, may be mentione das a
matter of curiosity. It gave to the com-
mon council the power to regulate the
sale of bread and to prescribe the weight
and quality of the loaves. After the great
fire in 187 1 this power was exercised by
the passage of an ordinance fixing the
price of bread for a period of ten days
;at the rate of eight cents per loaf of twelve
ounces, and at the same rate for all loaves
of less or greater weight. As a price reg-
ulation in recent times in this country,
this ordinance is unique.

The charter of J 863 was the work of
the Democratic party, at that time in con-
trol of the municipal government and the
state legislature. In 1865 the Republican
party was again in power both in the city
and the state. They secured the passage
of the act of February 16, 1865, changing



the term of the commissioners of police
back to six years, and providing that they
should thereafter be elected by the quali-
fied voters of Cook county. The motive
of this legislation was purely political and
throws considerable light upon the man-
ner of managing the city government.
The Democratic party had carried the
preceding election for mayor and seemed
to be increasing in strength in the city.
The Republicans thought that if they
could retain control of the police they
could retain their hold on the city, and
accordingly as the county was Republican
they secured the passage of an act placing
the election of the police commissioners
in the hands of the county although the
duties of the police were still confined to
the city. To increase the power of the
board of police, the control of the fire
department and the appointment of the
officers and firemen was given to them.
To give some color to the change the
chief of fire department was called a fire
marshal and the firemen were called fire
police. This is believed to be the first
use of these terms since incorporated into
the general charter. By these changes
the Republicans gained the patronage of
the police and fire departments, one of
the principal factors in city politics. It
is not to be supposed that the Republicans
were any worse than their opponents. If
the situation had been reversed, the Dem-
ocrats would in all probability have taken
the same step, if it had occurred to them
to do so. The offices are what the ward
workers in all parties want and they care
little how they get them. Under the act
of 1863, as above amended, the city gov-
ernment was carried on until the adoption
in 1875 o^ ^^ general law for the incor-
poration of cities put an end to the era of
special charters.

F. H. HODDER.



SEMINARY NOTES.



35



SEMINARY REPORTS.



Universities of the Thirteenth
Century.

■gnPHE subject for discussion in the Sem-
^l inary of October 7, was "Univer-
sities of the Thirteenth Century." The
following papers were read: Paris, Mr.
Hill; Cordova and Bologna, Mr. Horton;
Oxford, Mr. Bisholf ; General effect of
University life and teaching on civiliza-
tion, Mr. Elting.

The origin of the University of Paris
may be traced to the schools which were
established by Charlemagne and in which
he took so great a personal interest. These
schools continued in existence under suc-
ceeding monarchs, but there was no regu-



Online LibraryKansas. UniversitySeminary notes published by the Seminary of historical and political science → online text (page 39 of 62)