Page images

27th. I have thus in a very imperfect way, and in the midst of other pressing duties, given to the Court my views upon this important question, a question as important as any other upon which your honorable body has ever been called to act, touching the present and prospective interests of all the people of Boone County. I can only hope that your action in the premises may be liberal, firm, deliberate, and wise, and that it may redound not only to your personal and official honor but to the common good of our people and the advancement of the cause of popular education.

Desiring that this letter may be filed for preservation, I have the honor to be, with high regard, your friend and obedient servant,

JAMES S. Rollins.



Mr. President: This is a most important measure. It is one in which the working-men of Missouri ought to feel the profoundest interest, because it is intended to elevate them, and to make some provision for the education of their children.

I have from early manhood been in the habit of addressing, in my poor way, public assemblies, both primary and representative; yet I declare to you, sir, I have never before in my life felt the solicitude I now feel in attempting to address myself to the consideration of the Bill before the Senate. I am almost overwhelmed with the conviction that, do the best I can, I shall utterly fail to give expression to my conceptions of the importance of the measure that is now pending, and which the votes of the General Assembly, the Senate, and the House of Representatives must soon pass upon.


I trust the Senate will at least do me the justice to believe that in what I shall say I am not bound down by narrow, or partizan, or local considerations. No, sir; I rise above all such. I say, with solemn emphasis, that in my advocacy of measures “to maintain " the University and make it worthy of the State, and especially in advocating this Bill, the very object of which is to benefit the industrial and practical departments of the institution, and to give them the necessary means of teaching that experimental science which in the enlarged domain of human knowledge has become so important - I had almost said essential — to the agriculturist, the mechanic, the miner, the engineer, the architect, and the practical chemist, I am looking in the broadest manner to the honor, to the interests, to the respectability, at home and abroad, of this our great State of Missouri, this grand commonwealth possessing such capabilities of wealth and power as I verily believe belong to no other State in this our wide-spread Union. Yes, sir, I am speaking for the whole State, and especially for the elevation and welfare of its industrial interests; and I feel that, with my convictions, were I now to withhold my voice or my efforts, humble as they may be, I should be an unworthy and unfaithful representative of the people of Missouri.



We are ever to remember, Mr. President, that our possibilities and capabilities as a State do not lie merely in our rivers, though they afford more miles of navigation than those of any other State; nor in our commanding central position, nor in our soil, though it be richer than that washed by the Nile itself; nor in our mountains of iron, our fields of coal, our mines of lead, our quarries of marble, nor in any other natural advantage however great and wonderful. They do consist, sir, far more in the people we are to have, in our children and youth; those who in fact are soon to make up and constitute the State itself (for let it be ever remembered that the people are the State, and nothing else is); those who are to use and possess all its vast and untold resources and means of enjoyment, who are to develop its civilization, and to create for it the name and glory it is to have as a commonwealth.

What constitutes a State ?
Not high-raised battlements or labored mound,

Thick wall or moated gate ;
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crowned ;

Not bays and broad-armed ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;

Nor starred and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride.

No! men, high-minded men,

Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain.

These constitute a State !


In a word, it is our system of education, embracing both the elementary and the higher, that is to make us a great and intelligent people; that is to awaken our own self-respect, and command the respect of the world at large; that is to put it in our power to subsidize the forces of nature, and make them servants and workmen in behalf of our common civilization.

WHAT SCIENCE IN ITS APPLICATIONS HAS DONE AND IS TO DO. It is by no means my purpose to dwell upon what science has done for our age and generation; hardly, indeed, shall I touch upon this grand and fruitful topic. We see its achievements everywhere, and in all departments of life, the very greatest as well as the humblest and most minute. It has accomplished and made realities of what you, sir, and I would but a few years ago have regarded as the wildest dreams of the imagination, if not, in the nature of things, utter impossibilities. I stand amazed at its results whenever I think of them. Steam, and lightning, and air, and all the agencies of nature as now subdued to the dominion of man by the simplest principles of science have changed our whole earthly condition. It is practical science — science applied to the arts of life — that has enabled men to understand and use the powers and agencies of nature that exist everywhere around us. But the same science is to do yet more; she has but begun her triumphs. Think of all the wonderful discoveries of the past few decades. Far more will they be in the few years to come, because one discovery makes way for another, each step prepares for the succeeding one. I sometimes almost wish with Franklin, the great American philosopher, that I could lie torpid for a hundred years, and then walk forth upon the earth and see what improvements had been made among men. But, sir, I must not proceed in this line of thought, nor dwell upon the blessings that science is conferring on our race.

Allow me here to say, that I am now pleading before this honorable body, not for classical studies nor the elegancies and refinements of literature, however valuable and delightful they may be. I am pleading for science as applied to all the varied arts of life. In this I am pleading for the farmer, the mechanic, the miner, the worker in all the industries where science is needed; and can any man tell me where it is not needed, whether in the pursuits of war or of peace, whether in navigation, or manufactures, or agriculture, or mining, or even in the kitchen itself?


[ocr errors]

We have been amazed at the progress of one nation, which above every other of ancient or modern times has made education the very fundamental principle of her government. The whole statecraft of Prussia is comprised in the simple word education, education, education — first, second, lastthe very highest scientific education, and the very best elementary education. She has given us the great lesson of the age: she has pointed out the true method of national development and greatness. By this simple ruling idea she has risen from the rank of a third-rate or fourth-rate power to be the great central power of Europe, and she has risen to this rank with unparalleled rapidity. There is not a department of industrial life for which her wonderful people have not their schools: their agricultural schools, their normal schools, their mining schools, their polytechnic schools - I can hardly enumerate them.


say must

Mr. President, we must have in this, our commonwealth of Missouri yes, I

we must have our scientific industrial institutions. The necessities of the State, the progress of opinion throughout the country absolutely demand institutions such as we are laboring to build up in connection with our State University. The constitution, the laws, and the true policy of the State demand them. Shall untold riches, such as no dream of oriental imagination ever pictured, lie all around us on the earth and under the earth, and shall we as a State make no provision for their use or distribution ? We cannot afford it. We cannot as an economic measure, looking simply at the development of wealth, afford it. With our varied ores and minerals, worth a thousand times all the sparkling diamond-fields of South Africa, we need the practical knowledge of the world to bring them up from the earth and reduce them to the uses of man. We need the applied power of science beyond any other State. Shall the present Legislature of Illinois give her hundreds of thousands to her industrial university — as she has actually done, and with far less need than Missouri — and shall we refuse a far less amount, a mere pittance, compared with the greatness of the object ? We must have these institutions of science. If we do not establish and maintain them, other States will do it for us and send their men to do our work. We must have them equipped and furnished in the best manner. It is too late in the day to deny their value. Why, sir, there is not a month in the year that we do not lose and waste more for the want of proper science than we are now asking by this Bill, both for the School of Mines at Rolla, and the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Columbia.

[ocr errors]


No man can say I have ever halted or held back as to our common schools. I have been at all times, and everywhere, according to the full measure of my feeble abilities, in favor of the widest diffusion of elementary knowledge. Sir, I would make it universal; as free as the air that we breathe, and as the light of heaven. I would extend it to every human being, no matter what complexion an Indian, an American, or an African sun may have burnt upon him. I would, to the utmost of my power, perfect our scheme of universal popular education. I would plant the school-house in every neighborhood; I would bring it to the door of the humblest peasant; I would, to use the words of the great American historian, Bancroft, have the genius of the State take every child as it is born, no matter in what poverty or degradation, and lifting it from its lowly origin throw around it the arms of protection, and endow it with the heritage of knowledge as its

« PreviousContinue »