Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 95
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GALES & SEATGN'S REGISTER
[Dec. 30, 1824.
or as a State Legislature legislating for a State. We
are now on the subject of, the education of a people
over whom we have supreme control—they are in want
of $ 25,000; and the questison is, shall we give it to
them or not ?
Mr. MILLS, of Massachusetts, observed that, before
this bill was passed, it would be well to consider the
character of the corporation for whose relief the bill was
reported. If it is allowed to be a national institution,
said Mr. 5>I. then they have a right to appeal to the na-
tional legislature. The question whether there should
be a national university at the seat of Government, has
been agitated at different periods, and has been, from
time to time, recommended by the distinguished indi-
viduals who have presided over the nation.
I recollect very well the history and origin of this in-
stitution. When their application for a charter came
before the Senate, all intention of asking pecuniary aid
from Congress was disavowed. They came forward and
prayed that an act of Congress might pass for their in-
corporation, for the better management of the funds
that had been raised by individual subscription in the
different parts of the Union, for erecting a college here.
It is purely an eleemosynary institution, and Govern-
ment has no control over it except the power to modify
or change, or, if necessary, repeal their charter. It
possesses no visitorial power, or any control over the
funds. They selected the spot themselves for its erec-
tion in the District of Columbia, and their locating it in-
tliis District, by their own will, no more entitles them
to aid from Government, than if they had located it in
Illinois or Maryland. Therefore, this is not a national
institution. If the time comes when we shall see a na-
tional university established, I hope, said Mr. M. to 9ee
it endowed with a liberality and munificence commen-
surate with the means and resources of the country.
This institution disclaims every idea of the kind, and is
on the same footing with every similar institution through-
out the country.
The honorable gentleman from Virginia, ( Mr. l?An.
noun) had stated the manner in which the debt origin,
ated. The college assumed this debt voluntarily, but
have they, said Mr. M. received nothing for it ? Why
did they guaranty it ? What business had they to med-
dle with it ? I hope they were not so incautious as to
assume a debt without receiving a quid pro quo. If, in
speculation, they have involved themselves,they stand on
the same footing with other individuals or corporations
who have met with a similar misfortune. I have not yet
seen any reason why Government should extend its li-
berality to them by giving up this debt. Any individual
who is a debtor '.o the Gpveriiment, may as well say he
cannot carry on his business unless the Government will
give up the dr.it. 1 wish to know how they became
responsible, and what value they have received for it.
Mr. MACO 1 observed, that claims oil Congress were
something like wine and spirits; they improved by age.
He agreed to every word the honorable gentleman from
Kentucky had said on the subject of education, and the
freedom with which students of all religious persuasions
were admitted in this college. But that had nothing to
, do with the question. It appeared to him that, by some
bargain or other, the college was indebted to the United
States. This bargain was made between the Secretary
of the Treasury and the Trustees of the college, and was
like all other bargains. They thought they had made a
profitable one, but they were mistaken. Congress might
lay a tax on the District (or the purposes of education,
lii all the states there were taxes laid for the purpose
of education; and there was not a college in the Union
but received students of every denomination of religion.
They never asked what was his creed; but, if he was
Moral and studious, he was admitted. Although this
District had no representative, Mr. M.said, it was in a
better situation than any other part of the Union, from
the quantity of public money expended in it; and the
I people of it were as able to pay for the education of
their own children as any state in the Union. Their ad-
vantages were immense. This bill did not go so far as
it did last session: it asked now only for 25,000 dollars ;
but, if it were for only 25 cents, his objections to it would
be the same.
Mr. BARBOUR again rose. He begged leave to ob-
serve, that this was not considered a national institution.
If, said he, I had presented it to the notie<? of the Senate
as such, I should have been ashamed to have made a be-
ginning with a bad debt of $25,000 for its endowment }
surely any man would be ashamed of such a thing. It
is only an institution diffusing benefit throughout the na«
tion, but not the child of national patronage. If gentle-
men will give themselves the trouble to refer to the re-
port, they will perceive that it is an institution which
draws after it the advantages of a national university,
although not created by the Government, or making
any claim upon it. A homogeneous people is produced
by being educated in a similar manner; and every one
is aware what effect similarity of feeling produces. Its
effects are most evidently calculated to guaranty the
continuance of our Government. If we had a national
institution, equal to that suggested by Washington and
Madison, the youth of the country would resort to it
from all parts of the Union; they would there form those
fine feelings of friendship, which are the strongest tie
between man and man throughout life ; and these good
feehngs would have the most salutary influence on the
councils of the nation. I do not speak of this institution
as created by the nation; but, from its locality, it pre-:
sents itself favorably to Congress, and that is the whole
extent of the view I have taken.
But, said Mr, B. there is a scarecrow placed here.
You must not do right now, lest you do wrong hereafter.
The gentleman (Mr. Mills) has stated that there was an
intimation or promise, at the time of the incorporation,
that no aid should be asked for. At that time they
thought none would be necessary; they had received
$50,000, and they thought they could accomplish their
object from individual assistance alone. The success
which had thus attended the exertions of the friends of
this establishment, arising from voluntary grants, justi-
fied the opinion they had formed of being able to stand
alone. But we all know that great pecuniary distress
had fallen upon the land, of which thousands had been
the victims. Instead, therefore, of finding the same li-
beral aid which they had experienced in the commence-
ment, they found every hand closed, and to be opened
only by their own imperious necessities.
It is said, if we give in this instance, we shall be oblig-
ed to give to every state establishment of the kind; but
where is the r'esemblance between this District and any
other place! Here we have entire control; here is pro.
perty belonging to the territory, which we obtained by
accepting the territory; they have no legislature to
which they can resort but to Congress. In the new
states, I repeat again, one 36th part of the public lands
lias been allotted to the purpose of education; but is
that^the case here ? Out of lots owned by the Govern--
ment in this city, to the amount of two millions, not a
cent has been devoted,
, llus college, said Mr. B. differs from similar institu-
tions, in other parts of the Union, inasmuch as its bene-
fits, from the centrality of its position, will extend to the
remotest parts ot the United States—and what do they
ask > Although my friend is not governed by dollars
and cents, others may be, and it is frequently* a weighty
argument. The honorable gentleman says, he considers
it as a grant of $25,000; but this is not the case ; it is the
mere release of a debt, which is never to be recovered
by the United States ; it is of no advantage to the states,
but lies like an incubus on the college. There is a vast
difference between, paying away $25,000, and releasing
a bad debt to that amount.
Some remarks have been made with respect to the
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/52/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.