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“That the Trustees of some of the incorporated Academies bave solicited pecuniary aid for the purpose of erecting buildings for the accommodation of teachers and scholars, or for furnishing such as have been erected, but not completed, stating their inability to accomplish either from the paucity of their funds.
- The committee conceive that if appropriations were made for such purposes, much embarrassment would result from persons, who, though they had not secured funds adequate to the support of such institutions, would nevertheless be induced to solicit incorporation, in the hope of assistance from the Regents, and support their request by a plea of precedent. The committee are, therefore, of opinion, that every such application ought to be discountenanced, and pecuniary aid extended only for the following purposes, to-wit: For the support of an additional teacher or teachers, where requisite, and where the Trustees have not the means to provide an adequate salary, or to augment the compensation of the teachers in such Seminaries. To purchase such philosophical apparatus and books as are indispensably necessary to conduct a course of academical education. To enable Trustees to take into the Academies committed to their superintendence, such youth of genius whose parents are too indigent to pay the expense of tuition.
“ That the inspecting committees should be directed to apply the money, which may be appropriated by the Regents, to one or all of the objects herein above stated; or, if the money is to be paid into the hands of the Trustees of the several Academies, that they should stipulate the particular purposes to which it is to be applied'; and if applied to the purchaae of a philosophical apparatus and books, that the apparatus and books be specitied, and that the property thereof be continued in the Regents and the Trustees of the Academies respectively, to take measures that it be not converted to other than the purposes intended by the Regents.”
The policy foreshadowed in this report has in the main been ever since maintained. It aims to assist those who are willing to help themselves, and by stimulating to effort by sometimes stipulating, as in later years, that grants for libraries and apparatus should be conditioned to the raising of an equal amount for the same object from other sources, it doubles the benefit secured, where without this motive, nothing might have been done or attempted. There have been many instances of direct appropriations by the Legislature, for building purposes and the like to particular institutions, but none where the funds were distributed under an apportionment made by the Regents.
The appropriation of 1792 was divided as follows:
To Erasmus Hall, £150; to Union Academy, £86; to Union Hall, £124 ; to North Salem Academy, £176; to Dutchess County Academy, £206; to Farmers' Hall, £176 ; to Montgomery Academy, £176; to Washington Academy, £156; to the Academy of the town of Schenectady, £124; to Hamilton-Oneida Academy, £126.
The committee in making this first distribution state, that they had been governed by existing circumstances, and that this was not to be considered as a precedent for future distributions.
The apportionment of 1794 was as follows:
To Schenectady and Washington Academies, each £160 ; to Clinton, Erasmus Hall and Johnstown Academies, each £130; to Dutchess, Farmers' Hall, Hamilton-Oneida, Montgomery, North Salem and Union Hall Academies, each £110. Total, £1,500 ($3,750).
When this aid to Academies began, there was no Common School system in the State, and they were obliged to give the elementary instruction which the Public Schools should supply. The grade of many of the early Academies was very low, and was scarcely equal to the average Common Schools of the present day.
But the Academies needed aid, and it was quite proper to assist them in proportion to the work done. There accordingly arose a plan of appropriating moneys upon the basis of attendance, as re ported by the Trustees of Academies, without reference to the studies pursued, or the attainments of scholars. The report prepared in April, 1817, contains the first distinction made between common and classical students, the information being compiled from the returns, made upon printed blanks in use since 1804. It showed a total attendance of 2,887 students in the twenty-five Academies reporting, of whom 1,104 were in classical or higher English studies.
On the 7th of April, 1817, Mr. Jenkins, from the committee that had made the apportionment for that year, submitted the following resolution, which was adopted :
“ Resolved, That all future distributions of the funds of the Regents shall be made among the several incorporated Academies in this State, in proportion to the number of students who during the preceding year, have received that course of instruction in the classics, and the higher branches of learning in the said Academies respectively, which are usually deemed necessary as preparatory to the admission of students to well-regulated Colleges, and upon this condition that the reports of the Trustees shall contain a satisfactory assurance that the said Academies are respectively endowed with funds producing the annual revenue required by the Regents, at the time of their respective incorporations.
Resolved, That the Secretary cause a copy of the preceding resolution, together with a printed copy of the forms of reports which are to be used hereafter, to be transmitted to the several Academies in the State."
On the 10th of March, 1818, a committee composed of Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Young and Mr. Cochran, was appointed to consider and revise the former rule, and on the 24th of that month, Mr. Cochran, from this committee, reported :
“ That they have had the same under consideration, and that in their opinion, the rule now in force as a general rule, distributing among the several Academies of the State the funds appropriated for that purpose according to the number of students studying classics, is more safe and salutary than any which can be devised. Inasmuch, however, as the particular situation and circumstances of some Academies may require some additional appropriation beyond the sum limited by the existing rule:
Your committee recommend the adoption of a rule which shall leave one-fifth of the whole sum annually given to the Academies, to be given to those under such particular circumstances, in such proportions as the Regents may see fit and proper.
Resolved, therefore, That the rule of distribution for the future be, that four-fifths of the sum annually distributed among the Academies of the State, be distributed in proportion to the number of students studying in the classics, in the respective Academies, and that the residue be distributed in proportion as the Regents may deem proper, among such of the Academies whose particular situation or wants may entitle them to any part of such residue."
This rule was adopted, but as might be foreseen, it gave opportunities for urgent solicitation, and as a necessary result for dissatisfaction, in cases where the petitions were not allowed. The Academies of low grade were the first to complain, while the change was regarded with approbation by others that found their revenues increased, and a strong motive presented for raising them still more.
As academic students in the lower English branches got no benefit from the Literature Fund, and lost what they might have got by attending the Common Schools, this measure had a tendency to turn back to the latter, a certain class of pupils, to the manifest advantage of both systems.
Still, the dissatisfied class found a way for a hearing of their complaints in the Legislature, and by concurrent resolutions, passed in March, 1819, the Regents were called upon to report annually the state of their funds, the mode of investment, the revenue derived and the mode of distribution for the preceding year.
The Regents, in a reply dated March 2, 1819, in speaking of the apportionment of moneys among the Academies, said:
“The rule formerly practiced by the Regents in the distribution of their revenue was, to apportion the same according to the total number of pupils instructed in the several Academies, agreeable to the returns made by their respective Trustees. The course of instruction pursued by many of the teachers, consisting chiefly of the first rudiments of an English education, gave a character to their institution more consonant to that of a Common School than of an Academy, where more advanced studies should be attended to. The liberal endowments which the Legislature have wisely bestowed upon Common Schools are calculated to afford to every section of the State, an opportunity of instructing youth in those branches of an English education which it is essential should be attainable by all. The fund placed at the disposal of the Regents, is destined to support a course of instruction in the higher branches of learning than those taught in Common Schools, and with a view of preserving this distinctive characteristic, a rule has recently been adopted by the Regents,' for distributing their revenue in proportion to the number of scholars in the several Academies, who, during the preceding year, have received a course of classical instruction, usually pursued as preparatory to admission to a collegiate course. The adoption of this rule, the Regents conceive, was essentially necessary, to raise the reputation of the Academies, several of whichi, in their system of instruction, had sunk to the level of Common Schools. But the operation of the rule has been, to lessen the amount formerly distributed to some of the Academies and to auginent it to the others. The Regents have great pleasure in stating, that from the reports of the present year, it appears that the system of instruction is rapidly improving in many of the Academies, and they entertain a well-founded expectation of continued advances in perfecting the academical instruction, to the attainment whereof it is essential that the present mode of distribution be rigidly adhered to.”
This remained as a rule of the Regents, and upon their authority only, until April 13, 1827, when the Legislature defined by law, the terms upon which the apportionment should be made, as follows: "The Regents shall distribute the whole income
in proportion to the number of pupils instructed in each Academy or Seminary, for six months during the preceding year, who shall have
1 Referring to a resolution offered by Mr. Cochran and adopted, repealing the rule of 1818, and reviving that of 1817. This was on the same day as that on which the report, above cited, was made.
pursued classical studies, or the higher branches of English education, or both, and that no pupil shall be deemed to have pursued classical studies, unless he shall have advanced as far at least as to have read the first book of the Æneid of Virgil in Latin; and no student shall be deemed to have pursued the higher branches of an English education, unless he shall have advanced beyond such knowledge of common, vulgar and decimal arithmetic, and such proficiency in English grammar and Geography, as are usually obtained in Common Schools."
This requirement passed into the Revised Statutes of 1830, and remained in force until the substitution of the written examinations of the Regents in recent times."
The ages of students claimed as pursuing classical or higher English studies, were not limited either by the act of 1828, nor by the ordinance of the Regents.
In 1834, the committee on apportionment, in speaking upon this point, said:
“ Where such students have been under the age of ten years, the practice has been heretofore to make every presumption against them, so as to require the most rigorous proof that they had pursued all the preliminary studies, and acquired all the preliminary knowledge required to make them such students, and the result of such practice has been that very few under the age of ten years, have been allowed as classical scholars. But as claims to have them so allowed are presented every year, the committee make a final decision on the subject; and they respectfully suggest that that decision be against allowing children under the age of ten years, to be ranked among classical scholars, or scholars in the higher branches of English education.”
Chap. 228, p. 237, Laws of 1827. ? On the 18th of March, 1818, an ordinance was passed by the Regents defining at large and more precisely, the studies required in a classical and in a higher English course, entitling Academies to a share of the moneys distributed from the income of the Literature Fund. In classics, they were to be equal to half of Corderius, half of Historia Sacra, a third of Viri Romæ, and two books of Cæsar's Commentaries in Latin prose, and the first book of the Æneid of Virgil. In higher English, besides reading and writing, they were to have acquired such knowl. edge of the elementary rules, compound numbers, fractions, reduction, practice, single rule of three and simple interest, as is commonly taught in District Schools. In grammar, they were to be able to parse correctly any common prose sentence, and correct examples of bad grammar. In geography, they must have studied to the extent of the duodecimo edition of Morse's, Cummings', Woodbridge's or Willett's geography. They must have attended at least four months during the year, with exercises in composition and declamation, at convenient and ordinary intervals.