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OF PRESIDENT ABBOT OF THE STATE AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE BEFORE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MICHIGAN
LEGISLATURE, MARCH 4, 1875.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, For a long time, says Sallust, a Roman historian, the discussion prevailed among men wbether military success depends more on the energies of the mind or of the body. In bis opinion history had rendered a verdict in favor of the mind, and he adds that through mental energy must architecture, navigation and agriculture hope for any triumpbs.
Tbe world was for many ages coming up to this opinion of the ancient Roman, until at last Lord Bacon supplied these later ages with its watchword in the short sentence" Knowledge is power.
Bo far as physical science is concerned, these words were in Bacon's day more a prophesy than the statement of a fact. It is no longer so. In water changed into steam we possess a powerful agent for all work. We transform dark earths and oils into the brilliant lights of our cities, and make electrical agents speed with our news, and plate our wares.
“Now, more than ever before,' says Dr. Ray, in his work on "Mental Hygiene" (p. 16) " the fortunes of men, the welfare and happiness of the race are determined by mental effi. ciency. The time has been when the mass of the people bad but little use for their minds. They had no occasion to think. A few favored mortals did their thinking for them. It was enough for them to do as they were bid. Stout limbs, stalwart frames, robust bealth were wbat the times demanded and what the times admired. A man was valued by the force of his blows, by the swiftness of foot, by his capacity for hardship. Now, these qualities will give him but a low place in the social scale, and secure for him but a small share of those privileges which constitute the highest kind of human happiness. Never before did so large a portion of mankind think. Never before did so large a portion of the race strive together for the prizes of life, in a contest of mind with mind."
War will be one of the first of arts to seek the aid of science. Whatever mechanics and chemistry can do to aid her murderous work will be sought out and pressed into service. Commerce also will ransack all the records of science for the means of competing in the supply of whatever comfort, vanity or appetite makes valuable in her markets.
BACKWARDNESS OF FARMERS. Have the farmers) as a class shared as largely as others in this course of improvement! Are they equally with others using mind in the operations of their calling, and 80 keeping abreast of the age in its advance? No class of men are of more importance to the State : DO interest is so large as theirs. The statistics of Michigan for 1870, table 14, gives the occupaţion of 379,764 persons, of whom 187,211, or almost one-half, are agriculturists. The same proportion holds true of the country at large. On agriculture the wealth of nations must in the main depend, with all their commercial and manufacturing interests.
“ Towns that are dotting ocean's shore,
The mountain slope, the inland vale,
If thy full granaries should fail.' One department of agriculture alone advances with the progress of science,- its macbinery; this is because it is less a part of agriculture proper than of mechanics, whose principles are known.
*ode by Wm. H. C. Hosmer of Avon, N, Y., read by him at the Michigan Agricultural College Commerce ment, 1864.
As a matter of fact, farmers as a class bave but begun the discussion of the question of Sallust. A few in each community think and read, a few either know the sciences on which agriculture depends or deplore their ignorance, a few are worthy successors of those Roman farmers of the soil, to wbom the glehe, glad to be worked by men wearing civic or military crowns, yielded a large return.
But ihe prevalent opinion is that farming requires little of the knowledge to be bad in the schools. Only a Farmer' expresses with all sufficient accuracy the relative position of farmers,-not tbeir necessary, but their actual position. The occupation which should be a liberal profession is a most illiberal labor."'*
ESPECIAL NEED OF EDUCATION. There is especial need of educational work for farmers. Little comparatively bas been done for them. A young man may choose out of hundreds of schools in wbich to study law or medicine, or the bigher mathematics, or Greek and Latin. In these branches teacbers and text books abound. Schools of civil engineering, even of mechanical engineering and mining abound, if we take account of the comparative fewness of the classes for which they exist. In agriculture here and there a school or a professorship struggles against deep-seitled prejudices of community, and the inherited axioms of liberal education.
Again, farmers are isolated, there is not that sharp action of mind upon mind which disciplines to quick perception and logical thought the artisans of a manufacturing city. Information, improvements, reach them more slowly than other industrial classes. Again, mecbanical works, making of railways, mining, manntactures, employ the masses of laborers under a skilled master, whose education in a sense suffices for all, while in agriculture, the advance depends upon the general progress of the masses themselves.
Besid es, the business of a farmer is bigbly complicated as compared with trat of a carpenter, a miller, a manufacturer. An apprenticeship tbat would fit a young man to compete with co-laborers in most trades would go but little way in fitting bim to be a good farmer. Machinery is made according to fixed principles of action, that are simple and to a great extent known. Mechanics is so exact as to go by the pame of applied mathematics. It is not so with the farmer's business. Quite a body of empirical rules exist; but underlying prin. ciples tbat would enable one to vary bis practice from a knowledge of the relations of cause and effect are to a great extent wanting. Until these principles are ascertained, agriculture will be among the arts that have no fixed foundations in science. “ To know well,” says Lord Bacon, " is to understand causes.” Liebig says “There is no profession which for its successful practice requires a larger extent of knowledge than agriculiure, and none in which the actual ignorance is greater." Of all the pursuits of man, says Carey in his “ Social Science,” vol. 2, p. 26, “ agriculture is the one requiring the highest degree of knowledge. The processes of nature in the production of planis and animals are bidden; plans cannot be made, giving in their execution exact predicted results, as a machinist can do. The routine found good in one place requires modification with the variations of many circumstances in another. It would certainly seem, therefore, that in no business would knowledge and mental discipline be of more service.
When a farmer understands the breeding and care of his cattle and the raising of his crops, there is other knowledge needful still. His business bas wide relations to the affairs of other men. These be needs to understand. He should be acquainted with the laws of transportation, of trade, and of money. Ex-Gov. Seymour, of New York, in a late visit to the Agricultural College, told me that the Cheese Association of his place find it to their profit to have bulletins regarding the markets direct from London. In respect 10 this needed know. ledge of political economy, farmers as a class are lacking. They are 100 apt to rest content with what they are told when they come to market, and too apt to plan with reference to the last year's profits only—to rest content in intellectual isolation.
Farmers as a class do not take the social and political rank tbat their numbers and importance entitle them to. There are about 6,000,000 persons engaged in agriculture in the United States. The census gives 41,106 lawyers. And yet Mr. Perry, the able professor of political economy of Williams' College, is reported in the papers to have said publicly that he could point out one hundred of those lawyers who bave exerted more political influence in the State and nation than all the 6,000,000 farmers have done.
Consideration cannot be forced; it must be the outcome of geuuine respect. Legislation cannot reach this case of social and political standing ; education can.
There is another drawback to the farmers' business wbich education only can reach. The sons of farmers wbo acquire an education forsake the calling. The olber occupations of life present more alluring prizes, great wealtb, honor, and influence.
Were it pot tbat education has generally meant abandonment of the farm, tbat an education which does not lead to other business is generally regarded, and by farmers themselves
Hamilton's "Glorying in the Goad," Atlantic Monthly, July, 1964.
also, as wasted; were it not that farming is often devoid of what gives it pleasantness and dignity, we might hope that many would seek an education in order the better to be farmers.
Professor Andrew P. Peabody, of Harvard University, says with truth: “ To restore the deranged balance to society, its old honor must be rendered back to labor. Industrial pursuits must be raised in respectability and dignity above the lower walks of commerce, and fully to a level with its higher departments and functions. Both agriculture and handicraft must be made liberal professions. This can be effected only by stocking them with men of liberal culture, for it is not the profession that gives character and standing to the man, but the man to the profession. Our agricultural colleges and our industrial institutes," he goes on to say, “ are supplying the needed culture, and are going to replenish the field and ihe workshop with a new order of large and bighi-minded operatives, men of liberal tastes, pursuits and aims, who will do honor to their respective callings, and make them seem wortby the noblest ambition of the aspiring youth of the coming generation."*
Who, looking over this fair peninsula, noting how largely farmers exceed any other class in numbers, and that agriculture is the mother of arts, can bear to believe that its ranks of farmers must continue to be depleted of the educated ones of their sons, that a social and political distance between farmers and those in professions shall grow up and widen, that the greater discipline and knowledge is to be usurped by the capitalists, and that agriculture is to remain longer stationary while all other trades are moving on.
The wide public domain, the facility afforded in a new country for acquiring ownership in land, the unexbausted riches of our soil, all put far off the evil day when large estates shall eat up the smaller, and the tiller, become the slave, of the soil. But without education among farmers, the processes of the old world will be renewed here. Out of their ranks the lawyers, capitalists, soldiers, are both raised and fed, only to look back upon farming as something happily escaped ; to be praised and shunned.
NEWSPAPERS AND CLUBS. No means of education can compare with the newspapers and periodicals. In the Western Farmer for Dec. 17, 1871, it is stated that there were but six agricultural papers in the United States in 1833. Now about one hundred agricultural papers, or an increase more than thirty times as great as that of our population, and well edited columns in other papers, spread amongst bundreds of thousands of readers their weekly, or monthly records of agricultural progress and experiments. So there were in 1833, but four agricultural societies in the United States. In June, 1872, 1,980 such societies and clubs, reported to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, and Michigan alone sent in the names of 58; and one has only to read the annual programme of such a club as the Volinia, ask after the discussions and experiments of one like the Romeo, or secure a list of the lectures and papers presented to one like the Mason club, to be aware of their great educating influence. The grangers also, by discussing in their meetings, a still wider range of topics, embracing not only practical farming, but the relation of the business to the other industries of the world cannot but prompt its members and the communities they are in to set a high value on education. My purpose, however, does not lead me to dwell on these means of agricultural education, great although they be. The history of education shows us that the college is also needed. The scientific schools of the world, although the students in them form but a small proportion of the army of laborers in the business they teach, mining, engineering, designing, manufactures, still have had immense influence in furthering the arts. They are the head quarters of that scientific grounding and systematic presentation of principles and practice that must be found somewhere in every art and profession. Into this field, agricultural colleges are but lately entered, in this country at least, and I turn your attention to our own.
MICHIGAN AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE. The Micbigan Agricultural College does not stand alone. It is a part of an educational gystem, having as its head the University, especially in its bighest sphere, as a school of literary, philological, philosophical, and scientific knowledge, in their purest forms and bighest elements. Below this stand, the professional schools, law, medicine, and, as I conceive, no way inferior in rank, the Normal School, the Agricultural College, the schools of en. gineering, mining, pharmacy, and whatever else may either at Ann Arbor or elsewhere edacate chiefly for some designated business in life. Then comes our Union Schools and our primary schools, in the popular sense. The system is one. Jealousies are nowhere more out of place than in the members of such a household, and, I believe, have no existence. Each one bas a deep educational interest in the bighest prosperity of all the others.
Happily, therefore, we in this State are relieved of many of the questions that perplexed other States in managing the national grant of lands. In this State ibe existence of the best university of the West, affording a variety of courses of study to the choice of students, classical, scientific, scientific with Latin, or with Greek, or with modern languages, with schools of law, medicine, pharmacy, civil engineering, mining,-this narrowed at once the field that the Agricultural College had to occupy.
*Smithsonian Report, 1872, p. 194.
SCHOOLS OF TECHNOLOGY. Incidentally I give it as my opinion, that aside from the labor system there was no occasion for an institution separate from the university ; but that the education of farmers im. peratively requires manual labor, and such separation. If this be a correct view, I would suppliment it by saying that no branches of a Technological School, which cannot barmonize with this labor system, ought to be connected with the Agricultural College. I should deem the interests of agricultural education imperilled by such extension.
I am strongly in favor of adding a department for women, and can see no reason why such a one should not be useful and successful. Our limited experience has been in favor of the plan. Several other institutions report classes of ladies in horticulture and other branches. Could we accommodate the ladies who apply for admission, they might receive technological training in the application of chemistry to common bousehold arts. Such applications are cooking, preserving of fruits, utilization of materials usually wasted, cleansing by acids and soaps, bleaching, dyeing, manufacture of soaps of different kinds, disinfection, fermentation, neutralization of poisons. A course of lectures on dairying is already given each year by the professor of agricultural chemistry.
AGRICULTURAL. But whatever departments may hereafter find a place here, the college has endeavored to be truly and emphatically agricultural. With its limited means, any additional school would have been poorly provided for. Besides, as a school of agriculture, it is yet far from perfect. A wide spread distrust of it as a probable center of book-farming, a disbelief amongst a wide class of the better educated in all attempts to return a man from a college to a farm, the annual appeal for assistance from the State, all together, bave compelled to a system of be. stowing on the college an amount insufficient to carry on any technological school of bigh merit. The intention of successive legislatures, that of 1873 excepted, has been to help it simply to live until its fund should support it. Estimates for the purchase of stock, or implements, or books, or for a professorsbip of chemical physics, of mathematics, or of me. chanics, and surveying, and rural engineering, or of political economy and history, or of geology, or veterinary, are reduced to a minimum or generally stricken out altogether before applying for aid.
I do not complain of this, I only state it. But it was hardly worth while to enter on new fields before the one we cultivate has put on the comeliness of vigor and healthy growth. In every vote in the House in previous years, more farmers have voted for the college than against it, and the college hopes through the efforts of farmers and all interested in education, to become just what is needed as a professional school of agriculture, and then to have their hearty confidence and support.
GROWTH SLOW. The growth has doubtless been slow. Professors of agriculture, agricultural chemistry, and horticulture bad to be made, or rather in the face of adverse criticism, with every failure through inexperience open to the world to make themselves. Text book's were not. The schools were filled with teachers who, coming from other institutions, turned their pupils' ambition to the balls they had left. The course, devoid of classics, crowded with science, compelling to manual labor, and long, was repulsive to many. And I have known students coming to college in the spring, hearing of doubts as to whether appropriations would be nade, to determine that they could not afford the considerable expenses of starting out in such uncertainties, pack their goods and return to their homes.
COURSE OF STUDY. The course of instruction at our Agricultural College should be such as to make good farmers, or at least put the students and graduates in the way of becoming such. Let us turn our attention first to the indoor course of instruction, I believe the law is right in its requirements for admission. This is as follows: “No student shall be admitted to the institution who is not fifteen years of age, and who does not pass a satisfactory examination in arithmetic, geography, grammar, reading, spelling, and penmanship.” These branches are not taught at the college. The common schools of the State can carry forward the education of young men so far. To put the standard for admission higher would be to exclude many from the halls of the college who have no means of carrying their preparatory education any higher. As a matter of fact, the average age at admission was (1874) 184 years, and the larger part of the freshmen bad some knowledge of algebra and other branches. The requirements for admission might be increased with the increased efficiency of our common schools.
PURELY PROFESSIONAL, Shall the course of study be purely professional? Such courses seldom exist in any school. Take a medical course of study, and its chemistry belongs to manufactures as well as medi. cine; its anatomy and physiology are no part of medicine. Huxley studies them not to practice, but to classify the animal kingdom, and Spencer and Bain make physiology the introduction to mental science. Tecbpological schools usually teach sciences as well as their applications, and the modern languages.
But it may be thought that while cbemistry, botany and the like lie closely enough to the proper fields of an agricultural education, literature, political economy and the like are too remote from its objects to bave a place in such an institution as ours. Let me quote to you the eloquent words of Mr. Williams, the first president of this institution: “A farmer is a citizen, obliged to bear his portion of public burdens, amenable to the laws, and in a bumbler or a wider range, may become an exponent of society. He should be able to execute, therefore, the duties of even bigbly responsible stations, with self-reliance and intelligence. The constitution of the Union, and of bis State, he should comprehend, and the laws and forms relative to townsbip and county officers and their duties. He should be qualified to keep farm accounts, draught ordinary instruments, survey bis farm, and level for drains and bighways. His native language should be a flexible instrument at his command, which he should speak and write with ease and vigor, that he may instruct and impress others, avert mischief, or inculcate truth. A man moved by earnest reflection or deep emotion, should have capacity to give them utterance and force in bis mother tongue."
If these studies then are bigbly desirable, if the awakening of a taste for history and other reading, the elements of political economy, correctness and facility of speech are requisite to the education, why should they not be taught at the Agricultural College, if they are given their proper place as subordinate to the special studies that are peculiarly appropriate to the course? They cannot be taught much more cheaply anywhere else, for our classes could be joined to no classes in other colleges without an increase of instructors.
Unless these studies are taught at the college, its students will not have them at all. It is useless to talk of their going to other schools to learn these things. Young men, unwise. ly, as I believe, take the shortest road to entrance on their life-business. You have only to open catalogues of law and medical schools to see how few are marked as having completed any course of study preparatory to their professional course. Taken altogether, it is scarcely more than one in ten. If, then, students will not take a preparatory course for a short curriculum into the learned professions, all whose traditions favor erudition, they are hardly likely to do so for our longer course, in order to reach a business where an education is commonly thought to be thrown away.
THE LAW. This wider range of study is in accordance with general desire and the law. The ipaugural address of President Williams, the law organizing the college, the law of re-organization, the various addresses and reports of similar institutions in the country, all agree in recommending this wide range of study.
LAW OF CONGRESS. The law of Congress "donating public lands to the several States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts,” provides that the interest of the fund“sball be inviolably appropriated to the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college, where the leading object sball be without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mecbanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”
LAW REGARDING STUDIER, The law of this state-submitted by a farmer to the Senate in 1861—is still more full. Its provisions are as follows:
“The State Agricultural School * * shall be known by the name and style of The State Agricultural College;' the design of the institution, in fulfilment of the injunction of the constitution, is to afford thorough instruction in agriculture and the natural sciences connected therewith : to effect tbat object most completely the institution shall combine