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John L. Graham, Amasa J. Parker, John M‘Lean, Joseph Russell, John C. Spencer, Gideon Hawley, and David Buel.
Union College, at Schenectady, was established by the regents in 1795, after striking out a provision in the plan submitted, which declared that a majority of the trustees of the college should not, at any time, be composed of persons of the same religious sector denomination.* The charter contained the singular provision that the clear annual value of the real property of the institution should not exceed thirteen thousand three hundred and thirty-three dollars; and declared that the trustees should not exclude any person on account of his particular tenets or religion, from admission into the college. In 1797, the trustees of the college, as appears from the report of the condition of the institution, gave instruction concerning the constitution of the United States, and the several state constitutions, and proposed to substitute tuition in the French language for the Greek. In 1828, the trustees of the college reported that they had prescribed two distinct courses, the one embracing such classical studies as were usually pursued; and the other called the scientific course, substituting modern in the place of ancient languages, and including instruction in mathematics, anatomy, physiology, law, &c. Similar arrangements were about the same time made in the other collegiate institutions, but the classical course has nevertheless continued to be the chief form of instruction in these seminaries. The first president of Union College was the Reverend John B. Smith, D.D. He was succeeded, in 1799, by the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, D.D., who died in 1801; when the Reverend Jonathan Maxcy, D.D., was appointed, who retained the place until 1804. In that year the Reverend Eliphalet Nott, LL.D., succeeded to that office, which he yet retains. Among the patrons of this institution were Robert Yates, Abraham Ten-Broeck, John Glenn, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Henry Walton, Joseph C. Yates, John Fry, Jonas Platt, Stephen N. Bayard, Theodore Romeyn, John V. Henry, Philip Van Rensselaer, Guert Van Schoonhoven, James Emott, James Duane, Samuel Blatchford, Jonas Coe, William James, and Henry Yates.
Hamilton College, at Clinton, was founded by the regents of the university in 1812, under the care of the Reverend. Asahel Backus, D.D., as president. His successors have been the Rev
* Proceedings of the Regents of the University.
. erend Henry Davis, D.D., 1817; the Reverend Sereno E. Dwight, D.D., 1833; the Reverend Joseph Penny, D.D., 1835; and the Reverend Simeon A. North, A. M., who assumed that office in 1839. Among the names of the distinguished patrons of the college are those of Simon Newton Dexter, and William H. Maynard.
Geneva College was incorporated in 1825. Its first president was the Reverend Jasper Adams, D.D. He was succeeded by the Reverend Richard Sharp Mason, in 1830; upon whose resignation, in 1835, the Reverend Benjamin Hale, D.D., was appointed to that office. Among the prominent patrons of the institution have been James Reese, Herman H. Bogart, William L. Dezeng, John C. Spencer, Abraham Dox, Francis Dwight, Bowen Whiting, David Hudson, Thomas D. Burrill, James Carter, Elijah Miller, Jesse Clarke, John C. Rudd, George Hosmer, David E. Evans, Joseph Fellows, Jonathan Childs, Abraham M. Schermerhorn, Samuel Clark, the Right Reverend B. T. Onderdonk, and the Right Reverend William H. De Lancey.
The University of the city of New York was established in 1830, under the care of the Reverend J. M. Mathews, D.D., as its chancellor. The success and usefulness of the institution were for several years impaired by internal controversies which were not terminated until 1839, and by pecuniary embarrassments. Doctor Mathews having resigned, Theodore Frelingnuysen, LL.D., was appointed his successor, and he yet remains chancellor of the institution.
All these institutions have received liberal endowments from the state, and they educate annually about six hundred and fifty pupils. The colleges give instruction in moral, intellectual, and political philosophy; in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and modern languages and literature; in natural and experimental philosophy and chemistry; in mathematics, analytical mechanics, and physical astronomy; in law, civil polity and history, and political economy.*
* Complaints are often made that the standard of university education has been lowered since its introduction among us; yet it can not be admitted as in any sense true, that the amount of knowledge communicated is less now than at any former period. On the contrary, the assiduity of both instructors and pupils, as well as the facility of instruction, have been continually increased. The change which has taken place consists in a diminution of classical learning, and of mental science and logie, and, perhaps, of moral and political science, and a substitution of more extensive ina sand dollars. A law of 1827, increasing the literature fund and extending to scholars in the higher branches of English education the advantages before enjoyed exclusively by those pursuing classical studies, resulted in admitting to a participation in the benefits of that fund, institutions devoted either entirely or in struction in physical science and practical mathematics. This change has resulted from the operation of our social system. Collegiate education, instead of being reserved for the few, who, favored by fortune, might desire to prosecute recondite and classical studies during and after their course, and to enter at leisure upon the duties of active life, or refrain from them altogether, is now attainable by persons in almost every class, and is sought not so much for the sake of knowledge itself, as because it is among the means of preparation to enter the professional pursuits. Perhaps, therefore, our system of collegiate education produces proportionably a smaller number of finished scholars, while it secures to the country a larger body of useful citizens. Nevertheless, beneficent as the general flow of knowledge is, those who have the care of its fountains deserve well of the country for every effort to preserve them full of pure learning. The labors of the Rev. Dr. Hale. president of Geneva College, and his associates; of the Rev. Dr Alonzo Potter, of Union College, and generally of the faculty and trustees of Columbia College, in this respect, merit especial commendation.
Clinton Academy in Suffolk county, and Erasmus Hall Academy in Kings' county, incorporated in 1787, were the first academical institutions established by the regents of the university. Farmer's Hall Academy in Orange county, and North Salem Academy in Westchester, were established in 1790. Montgomery Academy, then in Ulster but now in Orange county, was incorporated in 1791. Dutchess Academy at Poughkeepsie, and Union Hall in Queens county, received their charters in 1792. In 1820, the number of academies subject to the visitation of the regents had risen to 30; in 1830, to 55; in 1841, to 127; and the number at this time is 131. In 1820, the number of pupils in all the academic institutions was 2,218; in 1830, 3,735; in 1840, 10,881; and the present number is 11,306.* The income of the public literature fund, distributed to the several academies in 1820, was two thousand five hundred dollars, being in the proportion of three dollars and ninety-three cents to each pupil pursuing classical studies; in 1830, it was ten thousand dollars, or five dollars to every such pupil; and the amount now annually distributed is forty thousand dollars, being about three dollars and seventy-eight cents for every such pupil.t
No especal public patronage was bestowed upon female education until 1821, when the legislature incorporated the Albany Female Academy, and conferred upon it a donation of one thou
* Minutes of the Regents of the University. | Notes concerning colleges and academies were received from Gideon Hawley, LL. D.
part to the education of females. The number of female pupils who, at the time that law was passed, enjoyed the benefits of academic instruction under the sanction of the regents, was one hundred and fifteen; the number at the present time is fifteen hundred and seventy. Institutions exclusively devoted to female education, and subject to the visitation of the regents, have been founded in Albany, Canandaigua, Poughkeepsie, Troy, Schenectady, Utica, Batavia, Rochester, New York, Auburn, Le Roy, Fulton, and Albion. In these institutions, instruction is given in arithmetic, algebra, botany, biblical antiquities, calisthenics, chemistry, composition, conic sections, criticism, drawing, embroidery, ecclesiastical history, the French language, geography, geology, history, logic, music, mechanics, mineralogy, natural history, natural philosophy, moral and intellectual philosophy, painting, rhetoric, and technology.
For the impulse which the public mind has received in favor of female education, it is only just to acknowledge obligations to Mrs. Emma Willard of Troy, the founder of the first successful institution on a scale commensurate with the importance of the object; and to James Kent, John N. Campbell, and their associates, the founders and patrons of a similar institution at the
It is also due to the conductors and patrons of the female academies, to acknowledge, that with far less pretension and more limited public aid than our colleges, they are successful in maintaining a high standard of pure education; and that their pupils exhibit proficiency and acquirements comparing favorably with the best results of collegiate education. The female academies have very careful public examinations and annual celebrations, in which essays written by pupils are read by persons appointed for that purpose, and medals and other testimonials of merit are awarded. The benign influences of these institutions are already observable in the more frequent employment of women as instructors of youth, in the increasing respect which the sex receives, and in the greater refinement of society.
The tendency, however, of a popular government, is to favor rather the diffusion of general knowledge, and that which is immediately useful, than the advancement of pure science, and the cultivation of liberal and ornamental arts.
* Notes concerning female education were furnished by A. Crittendon, principal of the Albany Female Academy.
In a community where each individual shares the responsibilities of government, there is an obvious necessity for universal education. This principle may be discerned in the earliest legislation at the close of the revolution. In 1789, two lots were set apart in each township of public lands, to constitute a local fund for the support of religious instruction and popular education. The regents of the university, in 1793, submitted to the legislature the importance of “instituting schools for the purpose of instructing children in the lower branches of education.” The recommendation was renewed in 1795, with the sanction of George Clinton, then governor. The legislature in the same year appropriated twenty thousand pounds ($50,000) annually for five years, out of the public revenue, to encourage and maintain, in the several cities and towns, schools, in which the children of the inhabitants residing in the state should " be instructed in the English language, or be taught English grammar, arithmetic, mathematics, and such other branches of knowledge as are most useful and necessary to complete a good English education." The boards of supervisors were required to raise by tax in each town, a sum equal to one half of its proportion of the moneys appropriated by the state; and commissioners and trustees were directed to be appointed, and required to make annual reports to the secretary of state.
The returns made in 1798, showed that 1,352 schools had been established, and 59,660 children had been instructed therein in sixteen of the twenty-three counties into which the state was then divided. Mr. Comstock, a representative from Saratoga in the assembly of 1800, made an unsuccessful motion that the then expiring law of 1795 should be continued. The law therefore was suffered to expire; and notwithstanding the earnest and repeated representations of Gov. George Clinton, the legislature omitted to adopt any measure for the re-establishment of common schools until 1805, when a law was passed, declaring that the net proceeds of five hundred thousand acres of public lands should be devoted to the creation of a permanent fund for the support of common schools. The act directed that the lands should be sold, and the moneys derived therefrom loaned and suffered to accumulate, until the interest arising thereon should amount to fifty thousand dollars annually; after which period, the annual interest should be distributed for the support of common schools.