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The Relations of the National and State Gov-
ernments TO Advanced Education.



A Paper read before the National Educational Association, at Detroit,

Aug. 5, 1874.


143 Washington Street.




^ -

Rev, James Martineau, L.L.D., the distin-
guished metaphysician and theologian, has en-
gaged to furnish exclusively to '' Old and
New" a series of papers on


%llt ^ummi mi 'ftmmit\i m |(if%io)|/'













Readers who wish, can subscribe for the
whole series, sent to one address, for $4.00.

Office of OLD AND NEW,

No. 143 Washington Sireet, Boston.


\ ^^ OF THE




A Paper read before th.e ITational Educational Association at Detroit, Aug. 6, 1874.



Reprinted frotn the October Kumher of Old and New.

[This address, which was read at Detroit, attracted the attention and
cordial thanks of the large assembly there of gentlemen connected with
public education. The body of men who are engaged in State universities,
in normal schools, and other institutions supported by States, is now con-
siderable. These men do not care to be set aside by an epigram, as being
the mere tools of political parties, and as of no account except as political
make-weights. They were, therefore, especially glad to hear a defence of
public education in the higher walks of education.

- On the other hand, the address, even as partially reported, has been
challenged almost, of course, by the sectarian jom'nals. For these reasons
we are glad to publish, for consideration now and for preservation, from
the author's manuscript, a much fuller report than any which has yet ap-
peared. The demand for it among all persons interested in the subject is
so large, that this special edition is reprinted in pamphlet form. — Eds.
Old and New.]

Among all the modern nations, two aroused the world's wonder by its

stand pre-eminent for faith in public political and social triumphs,
education, and for energy in providing Next I name the United States,

it. where, in sight of all mankind, pop-

Of these, I name first the German iilar education is lifting a nation above

nation. In the midst of great calami- all the efforts of demagogues in the

ties and trials, and long years of hard field, in the senate-house, and in the

work, and under administrations eco- press.

nomical to parsimony, she has devel- In one thing these two nations have

oped a system, which, for half a adopted the same policy, and obtained

century, has won the admiration of the same results. Each has made

the world by its intellectual triumphs, abundant . provision for primary and

and which, in the past ten years, has secondary education in public schools,


The National and State Governments

aud both have found in this a source
of triumphs both in peace and war,
which have phaced them in the fore-
most rank among modern nations.

But in the other half of the sys-
tem, — ' in provision for advanced edu-
cation^ in high scientific and industrial
scliools and universities, — they have
followed courses directly opposite, and
with directly opposite results.

Germany has carried out her fun-
damental principle logically. Having
started witli the idea that the people
of a nation should provide for the
education of the nation, it has stopped
at no imaginary line : it has provided
for the education of the whole peo-
ple, — for the young, in primary and
secondary schools ; for those more
advanced, in technical schools and
universities. The result is now before
the world.

Forth from these institutions have
come a majority of the greatest
leaders of modern thought and prac-
tice, — not only great theologians
and lawyers and physicians and his-
torians, and general scholars, but
great engineers, pliysicists, chemists,
and naturalists, — strong in develop-
ing the material resources of the
nation. Nor have thej done less for
liberty than for civilization.

In a State whose central adminis-
tration is thoroughly orthodox, and
exercises strong political control, *,hese
universities are strongholds of free-
dom in politics and religion. In the
halls of the University of Berlin,
within a stone's-throw of the palace
of the rigidly orthodox Frederick
William IV., might be heard during
his entire reign the free utterances of
men opposed to every religious or
political doctrine which the king
thought essential. Fi-om the palace
window, where the Emperor William
loves to stand, can be seen in the

university lecture-rooms, on the oppo-
site side of the street, professors put-
ting forth ideas fatal to absolute mon-

Bear in mind, too, that this is not
the result of centuries of work, — a
result impossible in a new country.

Though some of the German uni-
versities are on very old foundations,
they have been remodelled to suit
modern needs, and are in reality new:
the greatest of all, the University of
Berlin, is younger than the majority
of our American colleges which have
most reputation ; and the greatest of
her institutions for advanced instruc-
tion in the applied sciences have
grown up within twenty years.

The result has been great, politically,
intellectually, and morally. These
universities, supported by the whole
people, and for the whole people,
stand far above any others in the

The United States, agreeing with
Germany in the general line of her
public school policy and primary edu-
cation, has pursued an entirel}' diifer-
ent path in regard to university policy
and advanced education.

While making primary and second-
a.vy education a matter of National and
State concern, it has left its advanced
education, in the main, to various
religious sects. It has allowed an
utterly illogical imaginary line to be
drawn, below which the State pro-
vides for education gladly and fully,
above which she turns the whole
matter over to the sectarian spirit of
the country. While the United States
has pushed the roots of its public
school system down into the needs and
feelings of the whole people, and thus
obtained a deep rich soil, which has
given sturdy growth^ it has pushed
the roots of advanced education down
into the multitude of scattered sects,

1. f. ^)Wjr

and Advanced Education.


and lias obtained a soil wretchedly
thin, and a growth miserably scant.

For the first result of this policy as
to advanced education was, that, as
sects multiplied, the so-called colleges
and universities multiplied. Now,
while the main condition of primary
education is diffusion of resources, the
main condition of advanced education
is concentration of resources. Eng-
land sees this, and has but four uni-
versities ; imperial Prussia sees it, and
has eight; the United States has not
seen it, and the last Report of the
Bureau of Education shows that we
have over three hundred and sixty in-
stitutions bearing the name of "col-
lege " and " university."

The most evident result has been
the impoverishment of the whole sys-
\ tem. With very few exceptions, these
colleges and universities are without
any thing approaching complete facul-
ties, without libraries giving any idea
of the present condition of knowl-
edge, without illustrative collections
for study, without laboratories for ex-
periment, with next to no modern
apparatus and instruments. This is
true of the whole country ; but it is
more sadly true of those States out-
side of the original thirteen.

The next striking result has been a
lasting injury to those engaged in the
work of advanced instruction. IMany
noble men stand in the faculties of
those colleges and universities, — men
who would do honor to any institution
of advanced learning in the world.
After much intercourse with univer-
sity professors of various nations, I
feel assured that I have never seen
any who surpass in natural strength
and earnestness very many in our own
country ; and I have heard this re-
marked more than once by thoughtful
American fellow-students, while sit-
ting, in foreign university lecture-

rooms. These men of ours would,
under a better system, develop admi-
rably the intellectual treasures of our
people and the material resources of
our country ; but cramped by want
of books, want of apparatus, want of
every thing needed in advanced in-
struction, cramped, above all, by the
spirit of the sectarian college system,
very many of them have been par-

I know whereof T speak. Within
the last twenty years I have seen
mucli of these institutions, and within
the last seven years I have made it a
duty to watch them closely ; and I
freely confess that my observations
have saddened me. Go from one
great State to another, in every one
3'ou shall find that this unfortunate
sj'stem has produced the same miser-
able results, — in the vast majority of
our States not a single college or uni-
versity worthy of the name ; only a
multitude of little sectarian schools
with pompous names and poor equip-
ments, each doing its best to prevent
the establishment of any institution
broader and better.

The traveller arriving in our great
cities generally lands in a railway
station costing more than all the
university edifices of the State ; and
he sleeps in a hotel in which there is
embarked more capital than in the
entire university endowment for mil-
lions of people.

He visits asylums for lunatics, idiots,
deaf, dumb, and blind, nay, even for the
pauper and criminal, and he finds them
palaces : he visits the college buildings
for young men of sound mind and ear-
nest purpose, the dearest treasures of
the State, and he generally finds them
in vile barracks. He inspects those
asylums for men and women who are
never more to be useful, and finds
them provided with most perfect sys-


The National and State Governments

tems of ventilation : he visits the
dormitories, recitation and lecture
rooms, where live and move the young
men who are to make or mar the
State, and he finds them Avith sys-
tems of heating which vitiate the air,
and with no ventilation. Examining
still further, he finds that the inmates
of the asylums have good food well
prepared ; he finds the inmates of
colleges generally supplied with poor
food badly prepared ; he finds young
men of sedentary and scholarly pur-
suits living in families where vinegar
and grease are combined by the worst
cookery in the world to form a diet
vi^hich would destroy the stomachs of
■wood-choppers. Insufficient as intel-
lectual training at most of these places
is, the physical training is much worse,
for it tends to make the great body of
students sickly and weak and morbid,
rather than strong pioneers of good
thoughts, and sturdy bulwarks against
political folly.

And, finally, there has come by the
prevailing system a cramping of the
intellectual development more unfor-
tunate than that produced by poverty ;
for, as these institutions drew their
nutriment mainly from sectarian effort,
the controlling idea became sect growth,
and not individual growth. As a result,
each young man heard only professoi's
of his own sect, or those affiliated with
it. His philosophy, his history, his
literature, was cast in the sect mould.
The main result was not so much to
educate the young man's mind as to
"warp it.

This was all the more natural be-
cause the various sects sometimes
found their colleges convenient asy-
lums for their unsatisfactory pastors,
and their professorships comfortable
shelves for men not successful in their
pulpits. This was rendered all the
more easy by the current superstition,

that muddiness betokens depth, and
that, if a clei-gj'man be a dull preacher,
he is probably a profound scholar. The
result of this was, that the really strong
men holding professorships were some-
times hampered by incompetent men,
whose main function was tohear young
men " parrot " text-books by rote in
the recitation-room, and to denounce
" science, falsely so called " in the
chapel, varying these avocations by
going around the country, denouncing
every attempt at a better system as
godless, and passing around the con-
tribution-boxes in behalf of the bad
system they represented.

Such is the main outline of the de-
velopment of the American system of
college instruction ; and, if its result is
in the main unsatisfactory, its present
condition is mortifying.

■This system of advanced education
is now an old one. The time has ar-
rived when it may be fully and fairly
judged. It is not a new or young
plant, as many fondly suppose : it
has been developing more than two
hundred years. By this time, if ever,
we may expect a great, strong growth,
a luxuriance in bloom and fruitage.
But Avhat do we see? Let me sum
up with a few facts universally ac-
knowledged. As to universities, our
prevailing sect system has failed in
two hundred and fifty j'ears to de-
velop one which raidis with institu-
tions bearing that name in the other
great civilized nations, some of them
of far more recent creation than our
own. The University of Berlin is
younger than a multitude of our
American colleges : it was brought
up to its highest pinnacle by a nation
crushed by military disaster and by
financial burdens ; yet no one will
claim that we have an institution to
compare with it.

As to schools of mechanical and

and advanced Education.


civil engineering, we are developing
some which are doing excellent work;
but we have not as yet one which will
take rank with the multitude of such
schools on the continent. To say
nothing of such institutions as the
French "ficole Polytechnique, we have
no advanced schools to compare with
recent creations at Stuttgart, Carls-
ruhe, and Zurich.

As to laboratories, all these years
of work in America, mainly shaped
by the prevailing sj'stem, have failed
to give us one to compare for a mo-
ment with several recently erected at
Leipsic, Berlin, Heidelberg, Munich,
and elsewhere, by government aid.

As to museums of the mechanic arts,
all our collections combined would be
as the small dust in the balance, when
compared to the Conservatoire des
Arts et Metiers.

As to art collections bearing on the
various industries, if we were to add
together all that our American system
has accumulated, and multiply the sum
by thousands, we should have nothing
to approach the schools recently created
bj' the English Government at South
Kensington. As to various branches
of instruction, we have many men in
all departments equal to the best in
Europe ; but, for want of a university
system to give scope to their ambi-
tion, they have almost entirely lacked
opportunit3^ American students have
been forced to pursue their most ad-
vanced studies abroad. Even as to
that which is nearest us, — no full
professorship of American history
exists in our land. To study this
history, young men have gone to sit
at the feet of Laboulaye at Paris,
Neumann at Berlin, and Kingsley
at English Cambridge. It is in view
of such a meagre growth in over two
hundred years, under the prevailing
system, that I present the following,

as the fundamental proposition of
this paper: —

The main provision for advanced
education in the United States must
be made by the people at large, act-
ing through their National and State
legislatures, to endow and maintain
institutions for the higher instruc-
tion, fully equipped, and free from
sectarian control.

And. first, I argue that the past his-
iory and present condition of the higher
education in the United States arouse
a^trong presumption in favor of mak-
ing it a matter of public civil action,
rather than leaving it to the prevail-
ing system of private sectarian action.

The history already given certainly
arouses a presumption against the ex-
isting system; but that presumption is
greatly strengthened by noticing what
has been done, under the beginning of
the plan I now advocate, — the plan
under which the citizens of the various
States of the United States have taken
advanced education into their con-

Look briefly over this history of a
better effort. The first good attempt
to give to this country a true universi-
ty, as distinguished from the Ameri-
can deterioration of the English col-
lege, was made by State action in the
creation of the University of Vir-

The prevailing sectarian system
profited not at all by this example.
The great universities of Germany
grew into their modern state, nur-
series of the love of learning and the
love of freedom ; but the sectarian
college sj^stem of America went on
multiplying the usual poor imitations
of English colleges, when public civil
action was again resorted to, and gave
the beginning of another university:
the combined bounty of the National
and State Government, wisely admin-


The National and State Governments

istered, gave to the country the Uni-
versity of Michigan.

As to scientific and technological
instruction, our country waited for
years after such advanced instruction
was given in Europe: but there
came only scattered and feeble efforts;
and the first great and comprehensive
system which gave a college for ap-
plied science to every State in the
Union was established by the con-
gressional act of 1862, supplemented
by the various acts of the State legis-

As to the illustration of natural
science, the one collection in the
United States that has acknowledged
rank throughout the world is the one
fostered by the wise and careful boun-
ty of the State of Massachusetts at

And as to education in morals,
that very education of what is best
in man, which is claimed as the es-
pecial raison d'etre of the prevailing
sectarian system, the only institution
which is generally recognized as
strong enough to iinj^ress upon its
whole teaching a sense of duty suffi-
ciently deep to hold its own against
the immoral tides of these times, the
only one, which, when graduates of all
other institutions fail, is, by common
consent, appealed to, to give mana-
gers to our railways who will not
plunder, investigators of our mines
who will not lie, negotiators with our
Indians who will not cheat, is the
Government College at West Point.

But I argue next, that careful pub-
lic 2))'ovision hij t]i,e people for their
own system of advanced instructioyi
is the only repnhliran and the only
democratic 'method.

While I hail with joy supplemen-
tary private gifts when not used as
fetters, I maintain that there can be
no system more unrepublican than

that by which a nation or a state, in
consideration of a few hundreds of
thousands of dollars, delivers over its
system of advanced instruction to be
controlled and limited by the dogmas
and wl,iimseys of living donors or dead
testators. In more than one nation,
dead hands, stretching out from graves
closed generations gone, have lain
with a deadly chill upon institutions
for advanced instruction during cen-
turies. More than one institution in
our own country has felt this grip
and chill. The progress of civiliza-
tion in the Old World since the
French Revolution of 1789 has
tended more and more to the building-
up of its education in accordance with
the needs of living men rather than
the anticipations of dead men. My
position is simply, that, if we ought
to govern ourselves in any thing, we
ought to govern ourselves in this;
and that if, in matters of far less im-
portance, we will not allow our rights,
duties, and wants to be decided upon
by this or that living man, we cer-
tainly ought not, in a matter of such
vast importance as the higher edu-
cation of our children, to allow our
rights, duties, and wants to be decided
upon by this or that dead man.

Again: I argue that ^Jti^iC provis-
ion, that is the decision and provision
ly each generation as to its own ad-
vanced education, is alone worthy of
our dignity as citizens.

What would be thought of a State
which refused to build its State-house
from its State treasury, and on the
ostensible ground that private giving
is good for the donor, and honorable
to the State, begged individuals to
build it ? Sliould we not have a re-
sult exactly typical of what is exhib-
ited in the prevailing system for
advanced instruction ? We should
probably, if fortunate enough to get

and Advanced Education.


any tiling at all, find, after a century,
an edifice perfectly typical of what
has been given us under our similar
system in advanced education, — a
Roman tower of brick here ; a Gothic
spire of stone there ; a Greek pedi-
ment of wood here; a Renaissance
cupola of iron there ; a Doric column
of porphyry next a Corinthian column
of sandstone; no fitting approaches,
because no one had given any thing
so humble ; halls too small, and door-
ways too narrow, and windows askew
in accordance with this or that dead
man's whimsey.

But this is the least. Suppose
that we really get our building thus
constructed, what would be thought
of the policy which should leave the
State building thus erected to be con-
trolled forever, as to its occupancy
and use, by living and dead donors,
ancient and modern, and by their
medley of ideas, religious and secular,
forcible and feeble, crude and thought-
ful, shrewd and absurd ? And, if this
system is incompatible with State
and National dignity as regards a
mere pile of stone and mortar, how
much more so, when there is con-
cerned the building of an edifice
made of the best brains and hearts of
living men, and the control of a great
system of advanced education, in all
its branches, for the entire nation,
for all generations !

Again : I argue ili^t hy public pro-
vision can private gifts he best stim-

We have had in our country many
noble examples of munificence to-
ward institutions for advanced in-
struction ; but no one thing seems to
have stimulated them so much as
the public endowments, which have
aroused discussion, and afforded ob-
jects to which citizens of all creeds
could contriljute as a patriotic duty.

Take, as an example, the congres-
sional grant of 1862, to national col-
leges, for scientific and industrial in-
struction. The recent reports of the
United States Commissioner of Edu-
cation show that gifts have been aggre-
gated about these nuclei to the amount
of over eight million dollars. Let ma
refer to an example within the Stat*
of New York. The national grant
was concentrated upon one institution,
the Cornell University. This en-
couraged thoughtful and liberal men
to hope that something worthy of the
State might be built upon that foun-
dation ; and the result is, that in eight
years there have been added to that
original endowment private gifts to
the value of over a million, five hun-
dred thousand dollars ; and, so far as
I can learn, none of these gifts would
have been made but for the nucleus
afforded by the national grant.

I argue next, that by liberal public
grants alone can our private endow-
ments be wisely directed or economi-
cally aggregated.

No one conversant with the history
of advanced instruction in this coun-
try can Ijave failed to note the inef-
fably absurd way in which large gifts
for advanced instruction have been
frittered away under the prevailing
' system.

There is hardly a State in the
Union where the sums, large and
small, that have been scattered
among a multitude of petty sectarian
institutions called colleges and uni-
versities, would not have produced
one institution of great public value,
had these gifts been directed to one
object, and aggregated about ono

Compare two Western States lying
near each other, — Ohio and Michi-
gan. The State of Ohio has had
every advantage over its northern


The National and State Governments

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Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAdvanced education → online text (page 1 of 3)