« PreviousContinue »
The darkest period of the war was the summer of 1862. The credit of the government was impaired, and a complete system of taxation had not been devised; yet such was the confidence of the Republican party in the ultimate triumph of the North, and such its interest in general education, and especially in agricultural education, that an appropriation was made which has absorbed more than nine million acres of public land.
In the year 1859, Congress passed a similar bill, which was vetoed by Mr. Buchanan. His objections were based in part upon the Constitution. He claimed that Congress had no power to make a grant of the public lands as a gift, and yet he admitted that the concessions to the new States of one or two sections in each township in aid of public schools was within the constitutional power of Congress, inasmuch as a wise landholder, who had large bodies of land for sale, would make a similar donation.
This concession was fatal to his argument. If the authority given to Congress "to dispose of the territory" of the United States could be so construed as to justify a free grant for education, then the theory that Congress had only power to sell the lands was a false theory. If Congress might in its judgment grant a section of land in each township for the use of schools, and the act be justified upon the ground that the concession was beneficial indirectly to the grantor, might not Congress make a similar grant for any other purpose that in its judgment would inure to the benefit of the United States?
A charter was granted for the city of Washington in 1802, but no provision was made nor powers given for establishing public schools, nor did Congress grant any aid to the struggling city for educational purposes. When the charter was amended in 1820, the corporation was authorized "to provide for the establishment and superintendence of public schools," but no endowment or other help was given. 1848, Congress again amended the charter, allowing the corporation to collect a tax of one dollar per annum from free, white, male, adult citizens for the support of common schools.
Mr. Jefferson, President of the United States, was a member of the school board for three years (1805–1808), and although much private and some public spirit was manifested occasionally in behalf of public education, all municipal action related to schools for whites only. When the war began in 1861, there were eleven flourishing schools in the District of Columbia, for the education of colored children, but they were private enterprises. It was under the Repub
lican party, that the acts of Congress, approved May 20th, May 21st, and July 11, 1862, were passed, whereby public instruction for youth of both races was provided. Under the rule of the Republican party new and spacious school buildings have been provided, capable teachers are employed, and such appropriations are made as warrant the prediction that the city is to take rank with the most advanced cities of the country in whatever relates to public education. The emancipation of the colored people in the South was followed in 1865, by the Act of Congress establishing the Freedmen's Bureau, designed to supply an agency which should discharge the moral obligations incurred by the National Government to the refugees and freedmen of the disorganized Southern States, till such time as returning peace and civil order should permit the formation of new governments and institutions, state and local, adjusted to the conditions of the new era. Hundreds and thousands of schools were opened or assisted by the Freedmen's Bureau; and during the seven years of its existence it expended about $5,000,000 for educational purposes. At the close of the war the States that had been engaged in the Rebellion were reorganized under the direction and subject to the control of the Republican party.
In the new constitution of each State, provision was made for a system of public instruction.
In March, 1867, a law was enacted which authorized the establishment of a Department of Education at Washington for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as would show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and also for the purpose of diffusing information respecting the organization and management of schools, school systems, and methods of teaching.
The Department of Education has been in operation for a period of sixteen years. The work it has done has removed all doubts as to the wisdom of the undertaking.
It would not be just to claim for the Republican party exclusive merit for the educational systems of the country; but its policy in the South during the period of reconstruction has given to the old Slave States a system of public schools, and imposed upon them a constitutional obligation to maintain them.
THE INCREASE OF THE COUNTRY IN POPULATION AND WEALTH SINCE 1860, AND THE POLICY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN RELATION TO THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS AT HOME AND ABROAD.
Y the census report for 1860, the property of the country was estimated at more than sixteen thousand million dollars. The valuation, as made in 1880, shows a total of less than seventeen thousand million dollars.
Manifestly, the estimates made in 1860 were erroneous to the extent of thousands of millions. Their erroneous character is ad
mitted by the superintendent of the census. In his preliminary report, he says; "The marshals of the United States were directed to obtain from the records of the States and Territories, respectively, an account of the value of real and personal estate as assessed for taxation. Instructions were given these officers to add the proper amount to the assessment, so that the return should represent as well the true or intrinsic value as the inadequate sum generally attached to property for taxable purposes.'
Under these instructions there could have been no uniformity of action by the marshals and their numerous deputies, and, consequently, the results were of no importance whatsoever. The value of statistics depends usually upon their accuracy and completeness. Statistics in regard to property cannot be accurate, however, in the sense that statistics of mortality may be accurate; but if they are gathered upon a basis that is systematic, and of record, the results of one period are valuable for comparison with the results of other periods. As the imagination or the opinions of the marshals and deputy marshals were the guides in the valuation of property in 1860, the results reached were then of no importance nor can they now be quoted for the purposes of comparison.
Slave property was then included and it has now disappeared.
The population of the country, in 1860, was hardly more than three-fifths of what it was in 1880.
Common observation demonstrates the fact that the average condition of the people, as to property, was less favorable in 1860 than it now is. If the estimated value of slaves be excluded from this calculation the statement is as true of the old Slave States as of the Free States. The productive power of the Slave States was never, previous to the year 1860, equal to what it is at present.
In 1860, the property of Massachusetts was estimated, for the purposes of taxation, at eight hundred and ninety-seven million dollars; in 1880, it was estimated for the same purpose at one thousand five hundred and eighty-four million dollars.
The gain in Massachusetts was about seventy-six per cent. for the entire period of twenty years.
If the same ratio of gain be accepted for the whole country the true valuation, in 1860, could not have exceeded nine thousand and five hundred million dollars.
It thus appears that the gains of the country in wealth during the first twenty years of Republican administration were equal to more than three-fourths of the total accumulations in the previous period of nearly two and a half centuries.
An administration whose policy is so wise that such results are possible is entitled justly to public support. This would be true if that policy were wholly negative. The faculty in government which allows the people to so use their capacities and capital as to secure the largest results may well be dignified as a political virtue. To do this when an expensive war was waged and heavy taxes were levied was the fortune of the Republican party.
Its management of the finances, its system of protection to labor, by which agriculture, the mechanic arts, and manufactures were stimulated, and the field of their operations extended, and the homestead act which induced multitudes of intelligent Europeans to transfer their allegiance to the United States, were among the chief material agencies by which the general prosperity was promoted and the wealth of the nation augmented.
Until recently the public law of Europe did not recognize the right of the individual to choose the government to which he would render allegiance; and it was only upon the passage of the law of the 27th of July, 1868, that the doctrine of expatriation was accepted as the fixed policy of the United States. Previous to that event
jurists, statesmen, and diplomatists, had entertained differing opinions and the authorities were in conflict with each other.
Manifestly, there could be no legal nor logical basis for national interference in behalf of a naturalized citizen of the United States, who, in his native country, might be required to perform military service, unless the right of expatriation were first asserted as well as recognized.
The right was asserted in the statute of 1868, and the consequent duty of the United States Government was also set forth in these words: " Whereas the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and, whereas, in the recognition of this principle, this Government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship; and whereas it is claimed that such American citizens, with their descendants, are subjects of foreign States, owing allegiance to the governments thereof; and, whereas, it is necessary to the maintenance of public peace that this claim of foreign allegiance should be promptly and finally disavowed; therefore, any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officer of the United States which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is declared inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the Republic."
"All naturalized citizens of the United States, while in foreign countries, are entitled to and shall receive from this government the same protection of persons and property which is accorded to nativeborn citizens."
There is no evidence that, previous to the year 1868, either Great Britain or any of the principal continental nations of Europe, with the exception of France, recognized the right of expatriation as a personal right. Two theories and two rules of action existed. Great Britain and Austria maintained the doctrine that subjects could not assume any of the obligations of citizenship in another government without the consent of the mother country, first obtained. On this theory expatriation could not be asserted as a right, but it might be obtained as a grant. In other States it was admitted that the subject could assume the duties of citizenship in a foreign government, but that upon his return to his native land all his obligations as a subject would be revived. In this theory there can be found no quality of the doctrine of expatriation as a right.