Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

tent, and upon the false supposition, that it must necessarily exist at all.

Again, the Committee of the Senate of the United States observe,

“The lands, therefore, granted to some of the new states for the purposes of education, though distinguished in common parlance by the name of donations, were in fact sales bottomed upon valuable considerations; in which the new states surrendered their right of sovereignty over the remaining public lands, and gave up the whole amount, which might have been received in taxes, before such lands were sold, and for five years thereafter.”

The fallacy of this notion will immediately be discovered on reflecting, that the new states never had any right of sovereignty over the public lands, and consequently could surrender none. It has been justly observed by an able writer, that “as Congress possesses, in absolute dominion, the whole territory, before the creation of the new states, and makes those states, it is not to be understood how any right of sovereignty is relinquished by them.” The new state becomes such on conditions; one of which is, that it shall not tax the public lands within its limits. Nothing is given up, for nothing was held in possession. After the state is formed, then its rights are commensurate with the conditions, which it has accepted. But these conditions exclude all control over the public lands, and absolutely forbid any demands of an equivalent for what might have been derived from them, had the privilege of taxation been allowed. It is furthermore to be observed, that in no public act, relating to the new states, has it ever been intimated, that they received the grants for schools, as an equivalent for any thing. No other motives have been assigned, or even implied, than the benevolent and disinterested ones of promoting education, morals, religion, civil order, and good government. Had any right existed on the

part of the states, in the estimation of the general government, is it credible, that it would never have been recognized, or even alluded to, in the acts relating to the public lands, and especially the grants to the states?

We have thus adduced some of the general reasons, for an equal distribution of the public property for the encouragement and support of schools and colleges in all the United States; and endeavored to obviate, as we hope successfully, the principal objections, which have been started. It is hardly to be accounted for, that any objections should seriously be urged in a case of so much interest, importance, and obvious justice. If difficulties are thought to lie in the way, let them be removed by Congress, in such a manner as shall be conceived most judicious and effectual. But let not the apprehension of these difficulties blind our eyes to the perception of justice, tie up our hands, shut up our hearts, and disable us from making those efforts, which the cause of learning, and our national welfare, dignity, and honor, demand. It is at least a duty, which all the states, that have not received appropriations, owe to themselves and to future generations, to press the subject on Congress, and have their claims fairly and thoroughly investigated. Let this be done, and for ourselves we can have no doubt of the result.

Nor do we discover, that the view we have taken can operate in any degree against the best interests of the western states. To suppose them unwilling to allow the other states equal privileges with themselves, would be a reflection on their magnanimity, generosity, and good principles, which is not to be admitted. They have, it is true, a proportional interest in the public property, out of which any grants to the old states must be made; but it is equally true, that these states once had an interest in the lands, which have already been granted to them. The committee of public lands propose, that a certain portion of the amount of sales shall be allowed to the several states, which have received no aid for schools. Now this fund belongs to all the states collectively, and whatsoever is taken out for the east will consequently be drawing something from the west. But there is no inequality in this. All the appropriations, which have been, or may be granted, once belonged to the common fund. They were to be distributed equally to all parts of the union. Some of the states have already received their portion, while it yet remains for the others to receive theirs. To us this appears a fair statement of the case. But should it be found, on a closer examination, that the proposed appropriations to the old states will give the new ones a claim to something more, let it be granted. We plead only for an equitable adjustment, on the inost feasible terms.

Much might be said to enforce the policy of the measures, which we have been endeavoring to defend on the ground of equity. It was an admonition of the illustrious Washington, springing not more from wisdom and foresight, than the purest benevolence, that the states should vigilantly guard against any step, which should "furnish ground for characterizing parties by geographical distinctions.” Is it not obvious, that the course thus far pursued by Congress must have this tendeney? To favor one part of the union more than

another will necessarily excite sectional jealousies, sow the seeds of discord, and nourish a root of bitterness and discontent, inimical to peace, harmony and good government. The safety and happiness of the nation depend on the moral as well as the political union of the parts, a union of sentiment, feeling, and affection, founded on equal rights, privileges, and enjoyments. To preserve this union, every state must have the fullest confidence, that all its rights are respected, and all its just privileges granted.

There are, also, other considerations of great weight springing out of the importance of learning, especially in a government like ours, where the supreme control depends on the opinion of the people. Under such circumstances, how important is it, that this opinion should be enlightened? The representative body of the nation is drawn together from every part. Hence, it is requisite that the means of knowledge should be equally scattered, that the balance of advantages derived from this source may be preserved. "Without question,” says Bacon, “there is no power on earth which sets up its throne in the spirit and souls of men, and in their hearts and imaginations, their assent also and belief, equal to learning and knowledge;" and again, "there is scarce one instance brought of a disastrous government, where learned men have been seated at the helm.” Now the most certain mode of making learned rulers, is to extend as far as possible the influence of learning to the people from whom the rulers are taken.

But intelligence not only makes good rulers, it makes peaceable citizens. It causes men to have just views of the nature, value, and relations of things, the purposes of life, the tendency of actions, to be guided by purer motives, to form nobler resolutions, and press forward to more desirable attainments. Knowledge smooths down the roughness, and tames the native ferocity of men. The maxim of the poet is true;

Scilicet ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes,
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.

Laws will be obeyed, because they are understood and rightly estimated. Men will submit cheerfully to good government, and consult the peace of society, in proportion as they learn to respect themselves, and value their own character. These things are the fruit of knowledge. But ignorance is a soil, which gives exuberant growth to discords, delusions, and the dark treacheries of faction. Ignorance in the people, in fact, takes all security from the government. While ignorant, they are perpetually subject to false alarms and violent prejudices, ready to give a loose rein to the wild storms of their passions, and prepared to yield themselves willing victims to the seductions of every ambitious, turbulent, treacherous, and faithless spirit, who may choose to enlist them in his cause. Knowledge will work upon this charm with a potent efficacy, lay the hideous spectres which it calls up, and preserve the soundness and growing strength of the social and political fabric.

It should, furthermore, be considered the glory and the duty of our national legislature to aid in establishing morals and religion, both as a means of safety to the government, and happiness to the people. The first step in accomplishing this purpose, is to fix the principles of virtue, and impress the importance of religious practice, by enlarging the sphere of mental light, touching the springs of curiosity, opening the

« НазадПродовжити »