« AnteriorContinuar »
take up the heritage of the poor man, cheap lands in a new
Of the local causes for migration, curiosity drove many of the New Englanders up the rivers of their own states in the earlier times and later, the desires for better land sent many of their descendants across the mountains to Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. The soil of New England was no match for the fertile plains of the West. A number of the younger men, desiring a higher standard of living went West. Finally, New England increased rapidly as an industrial section from 1840 to 1850. Wages were good and prices were high, but the foreign immigrant who began to come at that time made economic and social conditions more unbearable to the American laborer. Large numbers of the latter went West to escape, if possible, the increased limitations placed on life.
Extremely hard times were experienced in the Middle States from 1834 to 1840, as the result of high prices, low wages, and the closing of factories. Taxes were high at the same time, especially among the farmers in New York, due to the construction of the Erie Canal. The margin of profit was partly erased by the competition of western farmers. Morover, property was being concentrated in the hands of large land-owners, which made rents higher than the cost of land in Illinois.
One of the greatest causes_in sending the southern emigrant North was slavery. Free labor in the South received 121/2 cents per day in 1832;' hence the white man was unable to compete with black labor. Cotton, which took much of the substance from the soil, was continually demanding new land. Moreover a growing slave population crowded out the small land owners and the landless.
Moreover some of the southern states had a complaint against the tariff legislation of 1824 and 1828. Because of it he said that merchants were ruined, laborers were out of work, grass was growing in the streets, houses were falling, the price of real estate was low, rents were nothing, fields were abandoned and interest rates were high.10
8 Yale Review, v. 1, p. 99, quoted by Pooley, p. 335. • House Doc.—Debates-22 Cong. I. Sess., p. 3154.
10 Senate Debates-22 Cong. I. Sess., p. 80, which was the beginning of the nullification disputes.
Finally, Ohio and Indiana, states that had been members of the Union for a generation or more, sent settlers to eastern Illinois from 1840 to 1860 because there was not enough good land to divide with the sons in the family who desired to establish homes of their own. These youths moved West to the rich plains of Illinois where they were content to stop to make their fortune.11
Economically, the settlement of Illinois has been characterized, therefore, as an attempt chiefly on the part of the American farmer and laborer to widen the market and raise the standard of living by taking advantage of the free western lands.
Railroads and lake traffic made Northern Illinois feel itself a part of the North Atlantic States. Wagon roads and river routes created the same feeling in Southern Illinois for the South. Consequently, the institutions in the two sections closely resembled, in origin, those with which the settlers were acquainted in their home states. Northern Illinois developed the free, common school system; Southern Illinois clung to the academy and select school. Secondary education in the North, like the East, began to become democratic; in the South it was aristocratic. Sectionalism, then, from the transportation period on, changed from East and West to North and South.
The Northwest Ordinances. The ordinances of 1785 and 1787, besides being instruments of government, constituted the first charters of the public school system of the United States. The former reserved the sixteenth section of every township of public land, “for the maintenance of public schools within the township. third article of the latter said that “religion,” morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
11 Niles Register, v. 52, p. 114. Some names of towns in the prairie district of eastern Illinois are like the same in Indiana and Ohio. Earlier prairie settlers frequently gave Ohio and Indiana as the state of their birth.
12 After the cession of Virginia's claims to the northwestern territory was executed various plans of government were drawn up the next three years. July 11, 1787, a committee of which Nathan Dane of Massachusetts was chairman, reported a plan of government for the territory northwest of the Ohio River. A slavery clause was added and the bill became a law July 13, 1787. Congress accepted the mode of government in 1789.
April 18, 1818, Congress offered to Illinois for acceptance or rejection.
“1. That section numbered sixteen in every township, and when such section has been sold, or otherwise disposed of, other lands equivalent thereto, and as contiguous as may be, shall be granted to the state for the use of the inhabitants of such township for the use of schools."
2. “That all salt springs within such state and the lands reserved for the use of the same shall be granted to the said state, and the same to be used under such terms and conditions and regulations as the legislature of said state shall direct; provided the legislature shall never sell nor lease the same for a longer period than ten years at any one time.”
3. “That five per cent of the net proceeds of the lands lying within such state, and which shall be sold by congress from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, after deducting all expenses incident to the same, shall be reserved for the purposes following, viz: Two-fifths to be distributed under the direction of congress in making roads leading to the state; the residue to be appropriated by the legislature of the state for the encouragement of learning, of which one-sixth part shall be exclusively bestowed on a college or university.”
4. "That thirty-six sections or one entire township, which shall be designated by the President of the United States, together with the one reserved for that purpose, shall be reserved for the use of a seminary of learning, and vested in the legislature of the said state, to be appropriated solely to the use of such seminary by the said legislature." 18
These provisions laid down by congress were accepted by Illinois, August 26, 1818, in a convention assembled at Kaskaskia.
The first three sections of the compact were carried out and a resolution, “that a select committee be appointed to draft a memorial to the President of the United States, requesting him to designate 36 sections of land in the State of Illinois, to be reserved for the use of a Seminary of Learning in said state, in pursuance of the fourth article of the compact between the United States and the state of Illinois,” was sent to the President in 1822.
* Constitution of Illinois, 1818, p. 22.
Although land grants were made on the basis of townships or subdivisions of them, local government was managed by a county commissioners' court of three which resembled that of Virginia except that the Illinois commissioners in each county were elected at large by the people. “The commissioners had a narrow range of discretionary power; but there was no power given to communities to control local affairs or to enact by-laws in promotion of neighborhood interests." 14
However, there was the germ in these congressional grants of land for school purposes, capable of becoming a highly organized township system under proper conditions. Deeds to land were given by the authority of the township. The government of the United States had set aside for the people of every township a section of land, the proceeds from which were to constitute a permanent township school fund. The State, moreover, made the township a body corporate and politic for school purposes, and gave the inhabitants of each township the right to maintain free schools near the middle of the nineteenth century. But the first school districts of the state followed boundaries that were laid out to meet the needs of a locality rather than following the lines of the surveyed township. The first attempts for the education of the children of Illinois are illustrated in the following chapter.
The President authorized Gov. Coles to select the 36 sections. The latter reported to the legislature, Dec. 4, 1826, that he had chosen 26, and would soon designate the other 10 sections.
14 Illinois Intelligencer, Sat., Dec. 14, 1822.
Early Education in Illinois. Frontier settlements in the United States generally have had two classes of people: the one, made up of the strong, the honest and the adventurous; the other, made up of the weak, the shiftless and the vicious. The former were always desirous of providing those opportunities for their children which the parents had missed themselves; the latter were the parasites who tried to exist with the least possible exertion. Nowhere does this contrast stand out so sharply, as it does in relation to education. In the absence of established school systems, individual leaders provided what education they could for the youth. Very often the parasitic, itinerant individuals thought that teaching was the easiest means of existence. Accordingly, bombastic speeches and alluring advertisements were made by the soldier-of-fortune teachers to attract tuition pupils to their high-sounding, fashionable schools. A made to order education could be given to any child so long as the tuition was paid. Quick of growth, popular in name, entertaining in methods of teaching, these institutions preyed on the frontier communities.
Nevertheless, the indomitable, thoroughly honest, intelligent and far-sighted missionary preachers and political leaders planned to start aright a system of education. It is true that their ideal, usually, was the academy, an institution in practice, primarily, for the education of leaders. But in theory, at least, its advantages should be such that the ideal government created by the constitution could be maintained by educating every child. From 1806, when the Vincennes Academy was established, to the time when the free public high school was established, the great argument advanced for the education of the people was that the government of the people, for the people, and by the people might not perish