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should have been ready for apportionment in March, 1858 ; but from failures to pay the interest promptly, it fell short some $70,000, leaving barely $169,185 28 to apportion, which yielded 65 cents to each child of school age in the State. It may well be doubted if there will be a much larger amount for apportionment next March, than there was last March. If the Legislature should firmly resist all appeals for an extension of the time for the payment of interest, then we might perhaps count on fully $200,000, or possibly $210,000, for apportionment. Estimating it at $200,000, and deducting from this 10 per cent. for Town School Libraries, we should have $180,000 for apportionment among some 278,871 children, which might give very nearly 65 cents, the same as last year, to each child. But if the bad policy of extending the time for the payment of interest is continued, we could expect no larger proportion of the amount due to be paid in, than was paid in last year; which would, in round numbers, amount, with what is on hand, to $174,000—and deducting one-tenth for Town Libraries, we should have $156,400 for apportioning, or about 56 cents to a scholar.
We find the School Fund proper $69,039 29 less this year than last. The large amount of School and Swamp lands forfeited to the State, which will this year reach very nearly 400,000 acres, admonish us, that the School Fund, upon which so many of the children of the State rely for all the education they will ever receive, should be guarded with unusual care.There is great danger of this gacred Fund becoming much farther reduced, from forfeitures of School and Swamp lands. It seems to me, that it behooves the Legislature to examine into the subject, and see if some additional legislation is not demanded, to restrain the counties from imposing excessive taxation on non-resident School, Swamp and University lands. Many, very many, of the forfeitures which occur, result, I am persuaded, from this cause; and thus hundreds of thousands of acres are being thrown back upon the State, after the purchasers have paid the interest for several years, and thus the School, University, Normal and Drainage Funds are diminished, and the annual accruing interest lessened. While I would make no plea designed to benefit the speculator alone, I do feel that any violation, in letter or spirit, of that part of our Constitution which requires that “the rule of taxation shall be uniform," is unjust towards those who have purchased these lands in good faith, and are annually paying their seven per cent, interest for the maintenance of Free Schools; and permitting counties to impose exorbitant taxes upon non-resident lands of this class, is inflicting a real injury upon the whole
State, and especially upon the poor, by causing the forfeiture of the lands, and the diminution of the several funds, and their respective incomes, set apart for State educational purposes.
I will venture to cite a case in point. In the State Journal, of February last, "an unfortunate land-owner," as he termed himself, stated that he held a school section in the town of Bovina, Outagamie county, town 24, range 16, section 16; that it was understood, at that time, there was only one settler in the entire township of 36 miles square, and with little probability of the land being required for settlement or cultivation for many years. That the taxes for the year 1857, returned to the County Treasurer, amounted to the sum of $148 65, and for the year 1858, to the sum of $85. The first mentioned tax was returned by the County Treasurer to the State Treasurer; and under Chapter 82 of the General Laws of 1856, he added 25 per cent., amounting to $37 23 — making the tax of 1857, $185 88. The same course, it was stated, would be followed with the tax of 1858, to which, on the 1st of June, 1859, would be added $21 25. Assuming these taxes to have been paid on the first of June, 1859, the amount of tax was $233 65, and the 25 per cent. added, $68 48, making together $302 13– being a charge of $68 48 on the non-payment of $148 65 for one year, and $85 for one day. The aggrieved writer closes his case with this pertinent inquiry: “May I be allowed to ask, if a charge exceeding 12 per cent. per annum, on the loan of money, is designated as usury, what is the proper name of a transaction, such as the above, to which the State is a party ?” · I have cited this case as one of a large class, as giving a clue to the causes why so large an amount of School, University and Swamp lands are forfeited; and then the excessive county taxes are paid by the State, which eventually comes out of the sacred Funds dedicated to the education of our children. I appeal to the Legislature to give to this subject their careful consideration, and see if a proper remedy cannot be applied, and our educational funds protected from these unjust forays upon them.
By Chapter 201, of the General Laws of 1859, certain penalties imposed for neglect to pay interest when due, were to be remitted; by the operation of which, some fifteen thousand dollars, as was estimated by the Secretary of State, would have been taken from the School and University funds, had not the Commissioners of the School and University lands, for certain reasons which seemed conclusive to them, as they did also to me, declined remitting any penalties under the law in question. It would seem, from the investigations of the Commissioners, that the law was not passed according to the constitutional re
quirements. It appears to me, that this law, if not null and void, should be promptly repealed. Thousands of contracts are annually made in our State with teachers, relying in good faith upon the punctuality of the State in making the apportionment; but when penalties are freely remitted, we shall find a growing laxity in paying school interest, calculating upon bad precedents for either extension of time, or remission of penalties—and then the consequence is, either a comparatively small amount to apportion, or a postponement of the time of apportionment, either of which works a sad disappointment to the over four thousand school districts in the State, and, if postponed, often causes a failure on the part of the districts to pay their teachers according to contract at the close of their term of service.
In my last year's Report, I took occasion to enter somewhat minutely into the condition of the School Fund, and the sources for its augmentation. Nothing has since occurred that materially affects those statements and conclusions. If our legislators could but fully realize the importance of our Common School educational interests, they would, I am sure, labor more earnestly for the preservation of the School Fund intact, and seek diligently how to increase it. When we bear in mind, that for teachers' wages, libraries, school houses and fixtures, we are annually paying nearly seven hundred thousand dollars, or, upon an average, two and a half dollars annually for the education of every child of school age in the State, we begin to comprehend something of the vastness of the educational interests we have at stake. And great as it really is, this, after all, is but a sordid view of the matter, and bears no comparison to that higher view we should all take, of the intellectual advancement and future well-being of nearly three hundred thousand children, whose chief, if not only, reliance is on the Common Schools provided for them.
. Whatever tends to permanently increase the School Fund, will, of course, prove a lasting blessing to the educational interests of the State. I think no map can make a candid examination into the condition of our School Fund, which is now actually diminishing in amount, and, in this connection, observe the steady annual increase of children of school age, but must be impressed with the stern, unpleasant fact, that the amount per scholar to be annually apportioned by the State must gradually decrease, unless provision is speedily made for the augmentation of the School Fund.
I doubt not that proper efforts will continue to be made to obtain from the General Government the five per cent. fund so long withheld from the State, and the 140,000 acres withheld
at whicblicy, to meter sale for a ands when spleyond the produca
of the original 500,000 acre school tract. These would make quite an addition to the School Fund. The policy of hurrying the school and swamp lands into market at the low prices at which they now rule, is questionable. Might it not be the wiser policy, to materially increase their price, even if it should postpone their sale for a few years? It would be better, it seems to me, that these lands when sold, should be sold only to actual settlers, and whatever excess beyond the present low price is paid for them, should go directly into the educational funds of the State, rather than into the pockets of speculators.
I urged in my former Report, that the 25 per cent. of the net proceeds of the sale of the swamp lands taken from the School Fund and added to the Drainage Fund, be restored to the School Fund. If this could be done—and I think it could, and still leave, as I endeavored last year to show, amply enough for all reasonable drainage purposes—and the swamp lands should be judiciously disposed of, we might safely calculate on an addition of fully one million of dollars to the School Fund, from this source alone-and such an addition, with the present number of children of school age in the State, would add over 20 cents to the present annual apportionment to each scholar.Once more, and for the last time, do I earnestly plead for its restoration.
It will be remembered, that upon the recommendation of Hon. ROBERT J. WALKER, while Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, during President Polk's administration, an additional section of land, in each township, was granted to the newly organized States and Territories; so that California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska, have received two sections in each township, double the proportional amount of other Western and SouthWestern States. I would respectfully suggest to the Legislature, the propriety of memorializing Congress for an additional school land grant, to such of the Western and South-Western States as have received only one section to each townshipeither an additional section for each township, or such other amount as may be deemed just and proper, provided the General Government has a sufficiency of unsold lands remaining in those several States to meet the object sought to be obtained. I could wish our Legislature would not only send in a single memorial, but continue to memorialize Congress each successive year, until the great purpose should be gained ; and also memorialize the Legislatures of other Western and SouthWestern States, interested in the movement, to invite them to unite in memorializing Congress, and securing concert of action on the part of the Western and South Western members in Congress in laboring for this noble object. And such a measure should also include a new land grant to each of our Western and South-Western State Universities—not one of which, possesses scarcely a pittance of the fund it should have, in order to accomplish the great work expected of a live and progressive University. Could such additional grants be secured for the Common School and University Funds of our Western and South-Western States, I feel quite certain that the General Government would eventually be amply remunerated in the improved education and more general intelligence of the thousands and hundreds of thousands of pioneers which these States will yet send forth to settle the plains and valleys of the unnumbered States that are destined soon to spring into existence between our western borders and the Pacific coast.
TOWN SCHOOL LIBRARIES.
On the 8th of April last, I issued a Circular explaining the provisions of the new School Library Law, with my views and hopes of the new system which that law inaugurated. As some additional legislation is required before that law can go fully into effect, it seems necessary to a proper understanding of what has been enacted, and what yet in addition is needed, that some notice of the law itself should be briefly given. I cannot do this to better purpose, than by citing the Circular issued last spring. It is as follows:
“The new School Library Law, recently enacted by our State Legislature, has four prominent provisions, namely:
“1. It provides a permanent Town School Library Fund, by setting apart for this purpose ten per cent. of the School Fund Income, subject to apportionment in 1860, and annually thereafter, together with the proceeds of a special State tax, to be levied each year, of one-tenth of one mill on the dollar valuation of taxable property.
"2. It provides that this Fund shall be set apart specifically for establishing and replenishing Town School Libraries...
“3. It provides that the books for these Libraries shall be purchased by public authority, and not by the local School Boards as heretofore.
"4. It provides that an extra number of the State Laws, Journals and Documents, sufficient to supply each Town and City School Library with a set, shall be printed by the State Printer, and delivered to the State Superintendent, and these shall be substantially bound, under the direction of the State