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ended in failure because it was planted in a wilderness where protection from Indians, clearing the land, and earning a living, were the prime considerations of the emigrants. But Illinois legislatures continued to encourage education by enacting legislation favorable to the academy, which is the subject of the next chapter.
Administrative Organization and Support. The academy arose as an institution partly to meet the demands of a constantly growing republican society. While it was a school under the control of either public or private incorporation of trustees, it was recognized throughout the country in theory, as a semi-public institution. Most of the eastern, southern and middle states recognized its public function by assisting in its foundation and support. Public lands, as in Georgia, by the act of 1783, was one of the bases of endowment, while New York, in 1813, established a literary fund the income from which was distributed to the academies.
Illinois, likewise, recognized the public function of the academies by giving legislative sanction to groups of individuals to establish such schools. The poor should always be taken care of; boys and girls of all classes should be educated free when the funds of the local institutions permitted; religious freedom was insisted upon; occasionally, the trustees were elected by the public at large, and the legislature regarded its own action, public. Moreover, the state allowed and sanctioned, in some instances, the use of the income from the school lands for the support of academies; distributed to the academies their share of the common school fund, and allowed communities to tax themselves for the support of such institutions.
In fact, the academy was permitted to do almost anything. The legislature assumed no continuous policy in the charters that it granted. The powers, duties and organization were left to the will of the incorporators generally. The laissez faire policy of the government followed the conscious democratic ideal of individual liberty after chartering the institution. The administrators had particular purposes in view which they wanted executed. Girls who had had little To Yo
opportunity in the colonial Latin grammar schools of the East were here admitted on almost equal terms. Boys were educated in separate institutions or with the girls in the same institution. Intellectual, moral or physical aims were emphasized as the educational ideal according to the bias of the organizers. The whole country, however, was agreed that the academy should supply teachers for the common schools, so that it was in reality the forerunner of the normal schools. A closer examination of the administrative organization, purposes, and the financial support of the academy, follows:
From 1818 to 1848, the legislature of Illinois granted charters to 125 educational corporations by special act, rather than by general law. Although a corporation law was enacted in 1848, the general assembly continued to charter schools by special legislation until the adoption of the constitution of 1870, which forbade specific laws for corporations of learning except those under the control of the state.
The first general assembly chartered Belleville, Madison and Washington Academies, the first and last of which were soon in operation. The semi-public character of the chartered and some of the private academies was shown in these ways:
1. A group of the community undertook to educate its youth: “Whereas several inhabitants of the town of Edwardsville and county of Madison, have entered into arrangements, to build, by subscription amongst themselves, an academy for the education of youth; and whereas so laudable and useful an undertaking is deserving of legislative sanction, therefore, be it enacted * * *992
2. The trustees of Belleville, Madison and Washington Academies were trustees of the towns in which the academies were located. In fact, suffrage was defined in these charters, and those who voted for town trustees elected academic trustees.?
3. Many of the charters carried provision for the free education of the poor, and a few, for the free education of the Indian: “And, whereas, the establishment of an institution of this kind in the neighborhood of the aboriginees of the country may tend to the gradual civilization of the rising generation, and, if properly conducted, be of essential service to themselves, and contribute greatly to the cause of humanity and brotherly love, which all men ought to bear to each other, of whatever colour, and tend also to preserve that friendship and harmony which ought to exist between the government and the Indians. Be it, therefore, enacted, and it is hereby enjoined on the said Trustees to use their utmost endeavors to induce the said aboriginees to send their children to the university for education, who, when sent, shall be maintained, clothed and educated at the expense of the said institution."2 Also, “The trustees shall be enjoined to cause the children of the poor people, in the said county, to be instructed gratis." Even, it was contemplated, when the funds of the institution should permit that all the youth were to be instructed free, "in all or any of the branches of education which they may require."2
1 Harker, III. Ed. Cor. under Special Charter. ? Session Laws, I. Sess., p. 48.
4. In other than academies for female education, it was provided that girls as well as boys were to be educated, when sufficient money was at hand: “That it shall be the duty of the trustees, as soon as the funds of the academy will admit of it, to establish an institution for the education of females; and to make such by-laws and ordinances for the government thereof, as they shall deem proper and necessary." :
5. In practically every charter that was granted, religious freedom was recognized as a public duty. “No preference shall be given, nor any discrimination be made in the choice of trustees, professors, teachers or students, on account of religious sentiments; nor shall the trustees, professors, or teachers, at any time make by-laws, or ordinances, or regulations, that may in any wise interfere with, or in any manner, control the right of conscience or the free exercise of religious worship."'*
6. Public election of the trustees in several of the chartered academies was required; “And, be it further enacted, that all free white male inhabitants of the age of twenty-one years who have resided for six months immediately preceding the election within the following limit...... shall be, and hereby authorized to elect seven trustees on the forenoon of the day appointed for the election of members to the next general assembly of this state, and on such election day forever thereafter. :)
2 Session Laws, I. Sess., p. 48.
• In 1841, the legislature repealed the clause of the law which had forbidden the establishment of theological departments in Academies and Colleges.
7. The legislature, itself, specifically stated that it regarded such charters as public acts: “Be it, further enacted, that this act shall be deemed to be a public act, and as such shall be construed benignly and favorably, in all courts and places for every beneficial purpose therein mentioned."
Ordinarily, the preambles of the charters, or the charters themselves, or constitutions of school societies, explained the purpose for which the organizations were made.
1. The most usual statement of the purpose of these associations was that, “the dissemination of useful knowledge should be the only object contemplated."'
2. The preamble of the Jacksonville Academy stated that the high, intellectual and moral culture of women was its object: “Whereas, the vast importance and urgent necessity of extending the blessings of Education to all classes of American Citizens are felt and acknowledged by all enlightened patriots and Christians; and, whereas, the power of female influence over the intellectual and moral character of the community must ever be too great for any or all other causes entirely to counteract. Commencing as it does with the first dawn of infant intelligence and forming perhaps the most important and certainly, the most desirable part of that character, before any other cause can begin to act upon it, and accompanying it through all the subsequent stages of its development; considering, too, that in the present important crisis of our beloved Republic, no one effort ought to be withheld which can tend to give permanency to its foundations, the intelligence and virtue of the people; therefore, Resolved, that an academy ought to be immediately established in this state, to be devoted exclusively to female education; and that Jacksonville, in Morgan county, is, in our opinion, a situation highly favorable for the successful operation of such an institution.''5
* Session Laws, T. Sess., p. 48. Session Laws, 1834-5, State Rep. 1867, p. 264.