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The fall of 1871 is noted for the many destructive conflagrations in the Northwest, including the great Chicago fire. Several villages in this State were either wholly or partially consumed, and much property was burned up nearly all over the country. This was due to the excessive dryness of the season. In this State alone nearly 3,000 families, or about 18,000 persons, were rendered houseless and deprived of the necessaries of life. Relief committees were organized at Detroit, Grand Rapids and elsewhere, and in a short time $462,106 in money and about $250,000 worth of clothing were forwarded to the sufferers. Indeed, so generous were the people that they would have given more than was necessary had they not been informed by the Governor in a proclamation that a sufficiency had been raised.
The dedication of the soldiers' and sailors' monument at Detroit, April 9, 1872, was a notable event in Gov. Baldwin's time. This grand structure was designed by Randolph Rogers, formerly of Michigan, and one of the most eminent of American sculptors now living. The money to defray the expenses of this undertaking was raised by subscription, and persons in all parts of the State were most liberal in their contributions. The business was managed by an association incorporated in 1868. The monument is 46 feet high, and is surmounted by a colossal statue of Michigan in bronze, 10 feet in height. She is represented as a semi-civilized Indian queen, with a sword in her right hand and a shield in her left. The dedicatory lines in front are: “ Erected by the people of Michigan, in honor of the martyrs who fell and the heroes who fought in defense of liberty and union.' On the monument are many beautiful designs. At the unveiling there was a large concourse of people from all parts of the State, and the address was delivered by ex-Governor Blair.
John J. Bagley succeeded to the governorship Jan. 1, 1873, and served two terms. During his administration the new capitol was principally built, which is a larger and better structure for the money than perhaps any other public building in the United States. Under Gov. Bagley's counsel and administration the State prospered in all its departments. The Legislature of 1873 made it the duty of the Governor to appoint a commission to revise the State constitution, which duty he performed to the satisfaction of all parties, and the commission made thorough work in revising the fundamental laws of this commonwealth.
Charles M. Croswell was next the chief executive of this State, exercising the functions of the office for two successive terms, 1877-'81. During his administration the public debt was greatly reduced, a policy adopted requiring State institutions to keep within the limit of appropriations, laws enacted to provide more effectually for the punishment of corruption and bribery in elections, the State House of Correction at Ionia and the Eastern Asylum for the Insane at Pontiac were opened, and the new capitol at Lansing was completed and occupied. The first act of his
second term was to preside at the dedication of this building. The great riot of 1877 centered at Jackson. During those two or three fearful days Gov. Croswell was in his office at Lansing, in correspondence with members of the military department in different parts of the State, and within 48 hours from the moment when the danger became imminent the rioters found themselves surrounded by a military force ready with ball and cartridge for their annihilation. Were it not for this promptness of the Governor there would probably have been a great destruction of property, if not also of life.
At this date (February, 1881), Hon. David H. Jerome has just assumed the duties of the executive chair, while all the machinery of the Government is in good running order and the people gener. ally are prosperous.
WAR OF THE REBELLION.
As soon as the President called for troops to suppress the Rebel. lion in April, 1861, the loyal people of the Peninsular State promptly responded and furnished the quota assigned. Austin Blair, a man peculiarly fitted for the place during the emergency, was Governor, and John Robertson, Adjutant General. The people of Michigan have ever since been proud of the record of these two men during the war, but this does not exclude the honor due all the humble soldiery who obediently exposed their lives in defense of the common country. Michigan has her full share of the buried dead in obscure and forgotten places all over the Sonth as well as in decent cemeteries throughout the North. It was Michigan men that captured Jeff. Davis, namely: the 4th Cavalry, under Col. B. F. Pritchard; and it was Michigan men that materially aided in the successful capture of Wilkes Booth, the assassin of the martyred Lincoln
The census of this State for 1860 showed a population of 751,110. The number of able-bodied men capable of military service was estimated in official documents of that date at 110,000. At the same time the financial embarrassment of the State was somewhat serious, and the annual tax of $226,250 was deemed a grievous burden. But such was the patriotism of the people that by Dec. 23, 1862, an aggregate of 45,569 had gone to battle, besides 1,400 who had gone into other States and recruited. By the end of the war Michigan had sent to the front 90,747, or more than four-fifths the estimated number of able-bodied men at the beginning!
Michigan has as good a public-school system as can be found anywhere in the Union. Ever since 1785 the acts of Congress, as well as the acts of this State since its organization, have encouraged popular education by land grants and liberal appropriations of money. The 16th section of each township was early placed in the custody of the State for common-school purposes, and all the proceeds of the sale of school lands go into the perpetual fund. In 1842 the superintendent of public instruction reported a discrepancy of over $22,000 in the funds, owing to imperfect records, probably, rather than dishonesty of officials. Sept. 30, 1878, the primary-school fund amounted to $2,890,090.73, and the swampland school fund to $361,237.20.
The qualification of teachers and the supervision of schools were for many years in the hands of a board of three inspectors, then the county superintendency system was adopted for many years, and since 1875 the township system has been in vogue. The township Board of School Inspectors now consists of the township
rk, one elected inspector and a township superintendent of schools. The latter officer licenses the teachers and visits the schools.
In 1877 the school children (5 to 20 years of age) numbered 469,504; the average number of inonths of school, 7.4; number of graded schools, 295; number of school-houses, 6,078, valued at $9,190,175; amount of two-mill tax, $492,646.94; district taxes, $2,217,961; total resources for the year, $3,792,129.59; total expenditures, $3,179,976.06.
By an act of Congress in 1804, a township of land was to be reserved in the territory now constituting the lower peninsula “ for the use of seminaries of learning;” but the most of this reservation in 1841 went to a Catholic institution at Detroit. In 1824, through the exertions of Austin E. Wing, delegate to Congress, Gov. Woodbridge and others, a second township was granted, with permission to select the sections in detached localities, and about this time Judge Woodward devised that novel and extensive scheme for the catholepistemiad,” elsewhere referred to in this volume. In 1837 the Legislature established the University at Ann Arbor, and appropriated the 72 sections to its benefit; 9116 acres of this land were located in what is now the richest part of Toledo, O., from which the University finally realized less than $18,000!
But the State in subsequent years made inany liberal appropriations to this favorite institution, until it has become the greatest seat of learning west of New England, if not in all America. part of the public-school system of the State, as tuition is free, and pupils graduating at the high schools are permitted to enter the freshman class of the collegiate department. It now has an average attendance of 1,200 to 1,400 students, 450 of whom are in the college proper. In 1879 there were 406 in the law department, 329 in the medical, 71 in pharmacy, 62 in den tal surgery and 63 in the homeopathic department. There are over 50 professors and teachers. The University is under the control of eight regents, elected by the
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people, two every second year. Rev. Henry B. Tappan, D. D., was president from 1852 to 1863, then Erastus 0. Haven, D. D., LL. D., to 1869, then Prof. H. S. Frieze (acting) until 1871, since which time the reins have been held by Hon. James B. Angell, LL. D.
The value of the buildings and grounds was estimated in 1879 at $319,000, and the personal property at $250,000.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL.
John D. Pierce, the first superintendent of public instruction, in his first report to the Legislature, urged the importance of a normal school. In this enterprise he was followed by his successors in office until 1849, when Ira Mayhew was State Superintendent, and the Legislature appropriated 72 sections of land for the purpose; and among the points competing for the location of the school, Ypsilanti won, and in that place the institution was permanently located. The building was completed and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies Oct. 5, 1852; next year the Legislature appropriated $7,000 in money, for expenses. Prof. A. S. Welch, now President of Iowa Agricultural College, was elected the first principal. In October, 1859, the building with contents was burned, and a new building was immediately erected. In 1878 the main building was enlarged at an expense of $43,347. This enlargement was 88x90 feet, and has a hall capable of seating 1,200 persons. The value of buildings and other property at the present time is estimated at $111,100. Number of students, 616, including 144 in the primary department.
Each member of the Legislature is authorized by the Board of Education to appoint two students from his district who may attend one year
free of tuition; other students pay $10 per annum. Graduates of this school are entitled to teach in this State without re-examination by any school officer.
The Michigan Agricultural College owes its establishment to a provision of the State constitution of 1850. Article 13 says, “The Legislature shall, as soon as practicable, provide for the establishment of an agricultural school.” For the purpose of carrying into practice this provision, legislation was commenced in 1855, and the act required that the school should be within 10 miles of Lansing, and that not more than $15 an acre should be paid for the farm and college grounds. The college was opened to students in May, 1857, the first of existing agricultural colleges in the United States. Until the spring of 1861 it was under the control of the State Board of Education; since that time it has been under the management of the State Board of Agriculture, created for the purpose. .