Page images

mies, thongh under the grade of Colleges, are highly beneficial, but owing their establishment to private benevolences, labor under disadvantages which ought to be removed; their property can only be effectually preserved and secured by vesting them in incorporated trustees. This act of justice to the benefactors and to the county town wherein any such institution may have taken place, by fixing a permanent superintendence, would greatly contribute to the introduction of able teachers and the preservation of the morals of the students as well as their progress in learning: Your committee also conceive that privileges may be granted to such Academies, which will render them more respectable, and be a strong incitement to emulation and diligence both in the teachers and scholars.

Your committee beg leave to submit the draft of a bill for the purposes they have suggested, to the consideration of the Regents; the provision which it details so fully explains the views and sentiments of your committee, that it is needless to be more explicit in this report. But before your committee conclude, they feel themselves bound in faithfulness to add that the erecting public schools for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic is an object of very great importance, which ought not to be left to the discretion of private men, but be promoted by public authority. Of so much knowledge no citizen ought to be destitute, and yet it is a reflection, as true as it is painful, that but too many of our youth are brought up in utter ignorance. This is a reproach under which we have long labored, unmoved by the example of our neighbors, who, not leaving the education of their children to chance, have widely diffused throughout their State a public provision for such instruction.

Your committee are sensible that the Regents are invested with no funds of which they have the disposal, but nevertheless conceive it to be their duty to bring the subject in view before the honorable the Legislature, who can alone provide a remedy. By order of the commitee,


Chairman. This report was adopted, and the President of the Board was requested to present it to the Legislature, with the draft of a bill accompanying the same.

A report was introduced the next day in the Senate by Ezra L'Hominedien, of Suffolk county, from the committee to which a petition for the incorporation of an Academy at East Hampton had been referred, in which this committee expressed an opinion that it would be proper to bring in a bill “for erecting an University and for granting certain privileges to Colleges and Academies within this State, and for repealing the acts therein mentioned.” This was allowed, and Mr. L'Hommedieu was ordered to prepare and bring in a bill for that purpose. A bill was at once presented, and read the first time on that day.' On the next day it was read the second time, and sent to the committee of the whole.

It does not appear froin the record whether this bill was the same one that had been prepared by the Regents or another one, but there is ground for supposing it to have been different, from the following proceedings had by the Regents on the 8th of March - more than a week afterward :

Ordered, That the Secretary affix the University seal to the report of the committee of the Regency to be presented to the Legislature.

Resolved, That a committee of ex-members of the Regency be appointed to consider the most proper means for procuring an act of the Legislature for amending the charter of the University either in conformity to the bill directed to be presented by the resolution of the Board of the 15th of February last, or with such alterations as may be found necessary, and that they report to the Regency at the next meeting, and that the Speaker of the Assembly (Richard Varick, of New York), the Mayor of New York (James Duane), Col. Hainilton, Mr. Williams, Mr. L'Hommedieu and Mr. Jay be a committee for that purpose.

On the 12th of March another meeting was held, and the committee reported that they had made some progress in the business, and requested leave to sit again, which was agreed to.

At another meeting of the Regents, held March 15th, Colonel * The promptness with which this order was complied with, seems to indicate that a bill had already been prepared, and that it was in readiness for use. Was it the same bill that had been in course of preparation in the first Board of Regents ? Upon this depends the question of the claims that have been urged in behalf of Mr. L'Hommedieu as the ginator of the law of 1787. It is evident that the subject was under active discussion among many persons, and there does not ap. pear to have been any controversy over the law then enacted, which appears to have been the one prepared by the Board itself. In saying this, we do not wish to detract from the reputation of Mr. L'Hommedieu, who was one of the foremost men of his day in the active promotion of measures for the public good.

EZRA L'HOMMEDIEU was born in Southold, Suffolk county, N. Y., August 30, 1734, and graduated at Yale College in 1754, studied law, and became eminent in his profession. He was a member of the Provincial Congress through its whole period ; a member of Assembly from 1777 to 1783, and of the State Senate from 1784 1809, excepting in 1793. While a member of the Legislature, he was appointed a Delegate in the Continental Congress in 1779, '80, '81, '82 and '88, and he held the office of County Clerk of Suffolk county, with the exception of one year, from 1784 to 1811. He was appointed one of the Regents in the act of 1784, and again in 1787, and held this office till his death, September 27, 1811. In fact, his whole life, from the beginning of the Revolution till the day of his death, was devoted to the public service. He was much interested in agricultural. pursuits, and, by precept and example, did much to advance this interest.

IIamilton, from the committee appointed to consider the most proper means for procuring an act of the Legislature for amending the charter of the University, reported a bill to be laid before the Legislature, which, being read once, was again read by paragraphs, and on coming to the clause wherein the names of a number of persons were inserted as Trustees for Columbia College, some changes were proposed, but not adopted. These proposed to omit the name of George Clinton, and to leave out of the new Board of Regents the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor.

The question was then put upon the bill and amendments, and carried in the afirmative.

A bill entitled “An act to institute an University within this State, and for other purposes therein mentioned," was reported from the Committee of the Whole in the Senate March 19th, and passed by that body upon that day. It appeared in the Assembly the next day, and after discussion and amendments,' was passed on the 11th of April. It was accepted by the Senate with the amendments on the 12th, and became a law by approval of the Council of Revision on the 13th, as follows: An act to institute an University within this State, and for other purposes therein mentioned.'

PASSED the 13th of April, 1787. [Chap. LXXXII, Laws of 10th Session (folio), p. 156.] WHEREAS, By two acts of the Legislature of the State of New York, the one passed the first day of May, and the other the

1 Among the amendments offered but not accepted was one directing the Com. missioners of the Land Office to grant letters patent to the Regents for the literature lots reserved in the law of May 5, 1786, for the sale of unappropriated lands.

Another amendment proposed but not adopted would have allowed the Regents to grant their approbation of proposed Colleges, allowing a convenient time for completing the same. If, at the expiration of this time, the conditions were ful. filled, full charters of incorporation were to be granted, with all the corporate rights and privileges enjoyed by Columbia College.

This rejected clause was reconsidered April 6th, and then adopted. Alexander Hamilton, then in Assembly, voted in favor of this amendment upon both occasions. The motion made for reconsideration in Committee of the Whole was offered by the Speaker, Mr. Varick, and the amendment was passed by a vote of 27 to 12.

An engrossed copy of the records of the Regents from 1784 to 1787 was made in 1857, by order of the Trustees of Columbia College, from the original in their possession, and presented to the Regents of the University. The Hon. Erastus C. Benedict, one of the Regents, was particularly instrumental in procuring this copy. It was printed entire, in connection with Mr. Pratt's “Annals of Public • Education," in the Regents' Report of 1876.

See “ Legislative Papers,” Nos. 382, 383, 381, State Library.

[ocr errors]

twenty-sixth day of November, 1784, an University is instituted within this State, in the manner and with the powers therein specified; And,

WHEREAS, From the representation of the Regents of the said University, it appears that there are defects in the constitution of the said University, which call for alterations and amendments; And,

WHEREAS, A number of acts on the same subject, amending, correcting and altering former ones, tend to render the same less intelligible and easy to be understood. Wherefore, to the end that the constitution of the said University may be properly annended, and appear entire in one law, it will be expedient to delineate and establish the same in this, and repeal all former acts relative thereto:

I. Be it enacted, by the People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That an University be and is hereby instituted within this State, to be called and known by the name or style of The Regents of the University of the State of New York. That the said Regents shall always be twenty-one in number, of which the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of the State for the time being shall always, in virtue of their offices, be two; that the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, and John Rodgers, Egbert Benson, Philip Schuyler, Ezra L'Hommedieu, Nathan Carr, Peter Sylvester, John Jay, Dirck Romneyn, James Livingston, Ebenezer Russell , Lewis Morris

, Matthew Clarkson, Benjamin Moore, Eilardus Westerlo, Andrew King, William Lynn, Jonathan G. Tompkins, John McDonald, and Frederick William de Steuben, shall be, and hereby are appointed the present Regents; and they, and all the future Regents, shall continue in place during the pleasure of the Legislature; that all vacancies in the Regency which may happen by death, or removal, or resignation, shall from time to time be supplied by the Legislature, in the manner in which delegates to Congress are appointed. That the said Regents, as soon as may be after the passing of this act, shall convene at such time and place as the Governor shall appoint, and by plurality of voices, by ballot, choose a Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, to continue in office during the pleasure of the said Regents. That the said Chancellor, or in his absence from the said meeting, the Vice-Chancellor, or in case both be absent, then the senior Regent present (whose seniority shall be decided by the order in which the Regents are named or appointed), shall preside; and in case of division, having a casting voice at all Dieetings of the said Regents.

That all meetings of the said Regents, after the first, shall be held at such time and place as the Chancellor, or in case of his death, absence from the State, the Vice-Chancellor, or in case of the death, absence from the State, or resignation of both of them, then at such time and place as the senior Regent present in the State shall appoint. And it shall be the duty of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor or senior Regent, as the case in virtue of the above contingencies may be, to order and call a meeting of the said Regents, whenever and as often as three Regents shall in writing apply for and request the same; such order or call to be published in one or more of the public newspapers in the city of New York, at least ten days prior to such meeting.

And further, that any eight of the said Regents, meeting at the time and place so ordered, shall be a quorum, and be enabled to transact and do the business which by this act shall be authorized or directed to do and transact.

That the said University shall be and herehy is incorporated, and shall be known by the name of The Regents of the University of the State of New York, and by that name shall have perpetual succession and power to sue and be sued; to hold property, real and personal, to the amount of the annual income of forty thousand bushels of wheat; to buy and sell, and otherwise lawfully dispose of lands and chattels; to make and use a common seal, and to alter the same at pleasure.

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said corporation shall appoint by ballot a Treasurer and Secretary, to continue in office during the pleasure of the corporation. That the Treasurer shall keep fair and true accounts of all moneys by him received and paid out; and that the Secretary shall keep a fair journal of the meetings and proceedings of the corporation, in which the yeas and nays on all questions shall be entered, if required by any one of the Regents present. And to all the books and papers of the corporation every Regent shall always have access, and be permitted to take copies of them.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Regents, and they are hereby authorized and required to visit and inspect all the Colleges, Academies and Schools which are or may be established in this State, examine into the state and system of education and discipline therein, and make a yearly report thereof to the Legislature; and also to visit every College in this State once a year by themselves or by their committees; and yearly to report the state of the same to the Legislature; and to make such by-laws and ordinances, not inconsistent with the Constitution and Laws of the State, as they may judge most expedient for the accomplishment of the trust hereby reposed in them.

And in case the Trustees of the said Colleges, or any of them, shall leave the office of President of the College, or the Trustees of any Academy shall leave the office or place of Principal of the Academy vacant for the space of one year, it shall in all such cases be lawful for the Regents, unless a reasonable cause shall be assigned for such delay, to their satisfaction, to fill up such vacancies; and the persons by them appointed shall continue in office during the pleasure of the Regents, and shall respectively be received by the College or Academy to which they may be appointed, and shall have all the powers, and exactly the same salary, emoluments and privileges as his next imme

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »