By George W. Knight, PH. D.,

Professor of History and Political Science in Ohio State University.



GEORGE WELLS KNIGHT was born June 25, 1858, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, of New York and New England parentage, and through his mother is a lineal descendant of William Bradford, second Governor of the Plymouth colony. He as educated in the public schools of Ann Arbor, being graduated from the high school in 1874, and at the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated in 1878 in the classical course. After studying law for a year at the university he was for two years principal of the high school at Lansing, Michigan. He was married in January, 1882, to Mariette A. Barnes, of Lansing, a graduate of Vassar College. Having had from his youth a special fondness for history arid political science he returned to Ann Arbor and continued his studies in those lines at the university, receiving, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1884. After teaching history for a year in Ann Arbor he was elected professor of history and English literature in the Ohio State University at Columbus, and in 1887, by a rearrangement of the teaching force, became professor of history and political science in the same institution. In 1885 he published the American Historical Association a work on “The History and Management of Land.” Grants for Education in the Northwest Territory. In 1887 he was made managing editor of the Ohio Archeological and Historical Quarterly the official publication of the State Historical Society.





IN few regions into which civilization has advanced have the educational beginnings been made before settlements were planted and the children actually needed school facilities. The history of education, or of the provisions for it, in Ohio commenced, however, before there was an American settlement northwest of the Ohio river or any wave of migration was rolling towards the wilderness between the great lakes and the beautiful river.”


In an ordinance passed by Congress in 1785 for the survey and sale of the western lands, it was provided that section sixteen, or one thirty-sixth, of every township included under the ordinance should be reserved from sale for the maintenance of public schools within the township. This reservation was made not because Congress especially desired to foster education at public expense, but rather as an inducement to migration and the purchase of land by settlers. In 1787 the famous ordinance for the government of the Northwest Territory declared that “schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” thus pledging both the general government and the future States to provide in some manner for public schools. In the same year, in the contract between the Board of Treasury and the Ohio Company, it was specified that one section in each township of the purchase should be reserved for common schools and “not more than two complete townships” should be given perpetually for the purposes of a university. A little later, by the contract for the Symmes purchase along the Little Miami, one township, in addition to the usual school sections,


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was set aside for the benefit of “an academy and other public schools and sem­inaries of learning.” Two things should be noted in this connection: First, the foregoing provisions were all made before any settlement was planted within the territory to which they applied; second, whatever the original intention of Congress may have been, these grants established, once for all, the idea that it is the duty of the American State to provide schools for its children and that it is the part of wisdom for Congress, both as a land-owner and a governing body, to “take measures which shall ensure the establishment and assist in the maintenance by the States of public schools and colleges.


As these lands were at first merely reserved from sale and settlement, no steps were taken by the territorial Legislation to apply them to the intended purpose. When Ohio became a State the school lands already reserved were granted to the State to be disposed of by the Legislature. Provision was also made whereby in the Western Reserve, the United States and the Virginia Military Districts, not included in the earlier legislation, one thirty-sixth of the land should be devoted to schools. This act terminated the direct relations of the United States to the schools of Ohio and left in the hands of the Legislature a splendid school endowment of 704,000 acres of land.


The Constitution of 1802, repeating the famous educational clause of the ordinance of 1787, made it the duty of the Legislature to carry out its intent. It also provided that all schools, academies and colleges founded upon or supported by revenues from the land-grants should be open “for the reception of scholars, students and teachers of every grade without any distinction or preference whatever.” The Constitution of 1851 was far more specific and shows by its provisions that there had grown up by that time a positive demand for public schools. In plain terms it declares the duty of the General Assembly to provide by taxation or otherwise” a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the State.”


Such have been the organic provisions and constitutional obligations assumed by the people of Ohio in regard to public education. What has the State done in fulfilling these duties? As Ohio was the first State coming into possession of an extensive land endowment for education, she had no precedents to follow and could look to no older State for ideas concerning its management. Only the income arising from the proceeds of the lands could be expended. The fund itself must remain intact forever. The policy of leasing the lands was first adopted, and all laws on the subject until 1827 provided for leases of various periods and terms, the rents” to be impartially applied to the education of the youths” in the several townships. The character of the leases, the low appraisals of the lands and the terms of payment authorized show conclusively that during the greater part of this time the interests of the lessees were more carefully guarded by the Legislature than were those-of the schools. Several special legislative committees were appointed between 1820 and 1825 to investigate abuses in the management of the school lands, and as a result the policy of leasing was abandoned and provision made for selling the lands and investing the proceeds. It was expected that by this change the school fund would be benefited and the income increased. The statute-books and executive reports from this time con­tain a curious mixture of wise and unwise suggestion and legislation and many complicated transactions concerning this trust fund. Without stopping to recount these measures, not all of them creditable to the wisdom and honor of the General Assembly, it may be said that nearly all of the school lands have long since been sold, and that those unsold are under perpetual lease at an extremely low rental. As fast as the lands were sold the proceeds were paid into the State treasury, and the State has pledged itself to pay six per cent interest thereon forever, the interest being annually distributed among the various townships and districts for school purposes. As a matter of fact the fund itself has been borrowed and spent by the State and the annual interest is raised by taxation. The fund thus exists only on the books of the State and merely constitutes a legal and moral obligation on the part of the people to tax themselves a certain, amount annually for school purposes. That this disposition of the fund was never contemplated when the grant was made cannot be questioned. Of the original grant of 704,488 acres about 665,000 acres have been sold, producing a fund of $3, 829,-

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551.06, which yielded an income in 1887 of $229,392.90, to which should be added the rents of the unsold lands, making a total income from the Congressional land grant of about $240,000.


In the course of a careful study of this subject a few years since the writer of the present sketch reached the following conclusions: “That the possibilities of the grant have not been realized is acknowledged I and regretted by all. The great underlying cause was one by no means peculiar to Ohio or to the times the failure to appreciate the responsibility imposed upon the State in guarding this immense trust. It seems undeniable that many of her lands were forced into market in advance of any call for their sale. So long as the State was the guardian of the property it ought not to have sanctioned proceedings which sold land for five, ten or twenty per cent of what might have been realized.”


Yet, even though much has been wasted, the grants have been instrumental, in a degree that cannot be estimated in mere dollars and cents, in promoting the cause of education. Perhaps the greatest benefit rendered by the funds has been in fostering among the people a desire for good schools. The funds have made practicable a system of education which without them it would have been impossible to establish.”


For many years both before and after the land grant began to produce any income, whatever schools were in existence in Ohio were sustained wholly or principally by private subscription, and by rate bills paid by those whose children attended the schools. These were hardly public schools and certainly not free schools since, like academies or denominational colleges, they were open only to those who could afford to pay for the tuition.


In 1821 the first law was passed that authorized the levying of a tax for the support of schools. By this law authority was given for the division of townships into school districts, and for the election of district school committees, who might erect school-houses and lay a school tax not greater than one-half the State and county tax. While this law committed the State to the idea of taxation for the support of schools it was a permission, not a compulsory law, and was not designed to make” free public schools;” for the proceeds of the tax were to be used only for buying land, erecting buildings, and “making up the deficiency that may accrue by the schooling of children whose parents or guardians are unable to pay for the same.” The day of free schools had not yet arrived. But the idea of local taxation for the maintenance of schools has developed from 1821 to the present, and in 1887 the local taxes in Ohio for school purposes aggregated $7,445,399.02.


In 1838 a State Common School Fund of $200,000 was established, made up from various sources. This sum was to be annually raised and distributed among the various school districts, in addition to the income from the lands and to the local taxes for schools. This law marks the beginning of general State taxation for school purposes. In 1842 this fund was reduced to $150,000, in 1851 raised to $300,000 per annum, and in 1853 abolished.


In 1825 a law was passed levying in every county a uniform tax of one-half mill on the dollar for school purposes. This, too, was in addition to the local township and district taxes. The rate of this levy was modified at various times until 1853, when the whole system of general taxation for school purposes was revised. The township and district taxes were left unchanged, but all other laws providing revenue for schools by taxation were repealed, and in their place” for the purpose of affording the advantages of a free education to all the youth of this State” a “State Common School Fund” was established consisting of the proceeds of a tax of two mills upon the dollar on all taxable property. These proceeds were to be annually distributed to each county” in proportion to the enumeration of scholars.” This tax has since 1871 consisted of one mill on the dollar, but the valuation of taxable property has so increased that the proceeds have not diminished. In 1887 the fund from this source amounted to $1,678,561.12.


Since 1827 fines for many petty offences have, when collected, been paid over to the township treasury for the use of common schools. In 1887 these and certain local license fees devoted to the same purpose aggregated $372,685.62.

The following table shows the growth of the educational system of the State

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during the lat thirty years. Complete figures for earlier years are not accessible.








Number of School-houses




















Income from land grants..

Common School Funds

(State Tax)…………………….

Fines, licenses, etc……………

Sale of Bonds………………….

Local (township and

District Taxes………………….
































Total income (excluding

Balances from previous year).










Total youth between 6 and 21 Average fund

Per capita………………













Total Children enrolled in Schools…………………

Average fund per child















Few records of the primitive schools of Ohio have been preserved. Nearly everything else of interest, and much that is not, of the doings of the pioneers have been faithfully recorded in various places, while little has been said of the schools.


Ohio was made up of settlers from various parts of the East. They generally came in groups and located in groups, and the educational and religious character of each of these groups or villages depended mainly upon the previous training and habits of the pioneers. As this training had differed in different ones of the old States so the educational development of the settlements in Ohio differed widely, and these differences have not even to-day entirely disappeared. In settlements planted by New Englanders schools almost immediately sprang up, while in those made by pioneers from some of the central and southern States education received far less attention at the outset.


The records of the Ohio Company show that on March 5, 1788, a resolution was adopted by the directors to employ “for the education of the youth and the promotion of public worship among the first settlers,” “an instructor eminent for literary accomplishments and the virtue of his character, who shall also superintend the first scholastic institutions and direct the manner of instruction. “Under this resolution Rev. Daniel Story was employed, and began his services as preacher and teacher at Marietta in the spring of 1789. In July, 1790, the directors appro­priated $150 for the support of schools at Marietta, Belpre, and Waterford. Again in 1791 money was appropriated by the Ohio Company to assist in maintaining schools in the same places and “to engage teachers of such a character as shall be approved by the directors.”


Hildreth says that “notwithstanding the poverty and privations of the in habitants of the garrison, schools were kept up for the instruction of their children in reading, writing, and arithmetic nearly all the time during the Indian war.”


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The funds were provided partly by the Ohio Company and partly from the lank pockets of the settlers. Among the early teachers at Marietta were Jonathan BALDWIN, Mr. CURTIS, and Dr. Jabez TRUE. In Campus Martius, a school was kept “in winter of 1789, in the northwest block-house, by Anselm Tupper, and every winter after by different teachers.” Among them was Benjamin Slocomb.


At Belpre, one of the first things done was to provide for teaching the children reading, writing, and arithmetic. Bathsheba ROUSE, in the summer of 1789, and probably the first person, who taught a school of white children in Ohio. In the winters a man was hired to teach the school. Among the first teachers at Belpre were Daniel MAYO and Jonathan BALDWIN, the former a Harvard graduate, the latter “a liberally educated man.” These schools like those at Marietta were supported chiefly by the contributions of the settlers.


In 1793, and thereafter schools especially in winter, were “kept” in Waterford. In 1792, at Columbia, the first settlement in Hamilton county, a few miles above the present site of Cincinnati, a school was opened by Francis DUNLEVY, BURNET tells of a frame school-house, on the north side of Fourth street in Cincinnati, as occupied, though unfinished, in 1794, in 1795. In the Western Reserve the first permanent settlement was made in 1796 and schools were probably started very soon, though the writer can fin no record of any prior to 1802, when one was opened in Harpersfield. Among its first teachers were Abraham TAPPAN and Elizabeth HARPER. In Athens, where the first pioneer built his cabin in 1797, a school was started in 1801 with John GOLDTHWAITE as teacher. The school building was of logs and was used for many years. Walker relates the following incidents of Henry BARTLETT, the second teacher of this school. “On one occasion, when the scholars undertook, according to as custom then prevalent, to bar the master out, and had made a very fast, Mr. BARTLETT procured a roll of brimstone from the nearest house, climbed to the top of the school-house and dropped the brimstone down the open chimney in the fire; then placing something over the chimney, he soon smoked the boys into an unconditional surrender.”


The foregoing cases serve to show that in most of the communities a school followed close upon the beginning of the settlement. The pioneers in general lived up to the full spirit of the famous ordinance, not simply because it was law, but because they knew the benefits of schools and desired their children to enjoy them.


Those schools were not public schools in any true sense, and not free schools in any sense. The land grants were not yet available and school taxes were unknown. The teacher made an agreement to “keep school” a certain length of time, and those who sent children agreed to pay from one to three dollars for each child sent. The school was in reality a private. The building in which a pioneer school was conducted, if a separate building was used, was extremely simple and uncomfortable. It was generally from fifteen to eighteen feet wide and twenty-four to twenty-eight feet long and the eves were about ten feet from the ground. Built of logs, its architecture was similar to that of the log-cabin of that day even to the “latch-string.” The floor was of earth of puncheons or smooth slabs. In the more elegant buildings the inside walls were covered with boards, but the more common coating was clay mortar. The furniture consisted principally of crude benches without backs made of splitting logs lengthwise into halves and mounting them, flat side up, on four legs or pins driven into the ground. Desks similarly though less clumsily made were sometimes furnished to the “big boys and girls.” The room, or at least one end of it, was heated from an immense fireplace. There was no blackboard, no apparatus or even the rudest description to assist the teacher in expounding the lessons.


Reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic constituted the course of study, and in some distracts as late as 1825 a rule was in force prohibiting the teaching of any braches. Text-books were few. Murray’s “Reader,” Dillworth’s or Webster’s “Speller,” Pike’s “Arithmetic” and the “Columbian Orator” were the usual outfit of the teacher, and each of the pupils generally had one or more of the books in the list. Reading and spelling were the great tests of learning, and to have mastered arithmetic was to have “acquired an education,” at least in the smaller districts.


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While all honor should be paid to those who maintained and those who attended these schools, and all credit given for the results achieved, it has been truly said that” schools worthy of remembrance between 1802 and 1820 were known only in the most enterprising towns. The mass of the people had privi­leges in such ‘common’ institutions as might be expected among communities in which school-teachers were tolerated but were neither examined for qualifica­tion nor encouraged for merit.”


In 1821 the law was passed, already referred to as the first one authorizing, taxation for the support of schools. This law was, however, simply permissive, and not until 1825 was any law adopted requiring the levying of taxes for school purposes, and providing for the appointment of school examiners. With these laws the schools began to improve. Still, in 1837, twelve years later, there were few public schools in Ohio. Fortunately in the latter year provision was made for a state superintendent of schools, and Hon. Samuel Lewis was appointed to the office. His three years of service produced an immediate and permanent effect upon the schools. In 1838, as a result of his suggestions, a law was framed that placed the schools of Ohio on a sure footing. It provided for a uniform system of schools, with county superintendents and township inspectors, and the state superintendent While all honor should be paid to those who maintained and those who attended these schools, and all credit given for the results achieved, it has been truly said that” schools worthy of remembrance between 1802 and 1820 were known only in the most enterprising towns. The mass of the people had privi­leges in such’ common’ institutions as might be expected among communities in which school-teachers were tolerated but were neither examined for qualifica­tion nor encouraged for merit.”


In 1821 the law was passed, already referred to as the first one authorizing, taxation for the support of schools. This law was, however, simply permissive, and not until 1825 was any law adopted requiring the levying of taxes for school purposes, and providing for the appointment of school examiners. With these laws the schools began to improve. Still, in 1837, twelve years later, there were few public schools in Ohio. Fortunately in the latter year provision was made for a state superintendent of schools, and Hon. Samuel Lewis was appointed to the office. His three years of service produced an immediate and permanent effect upon the schools. In 1838, as a result of his suggestions, a law was framed that placed the schools of Ohio on a sure footing. It provided for a uniform system of schools, with county superintendents and township inspectors, and the state superintendent at the head to enforce the law and look after the general interests of the schools. Other laws were adopted in later years that supple­mented and amplified this, and made possible the present efficient schools.


In 1825 began the system of examining teachers before they were, employed, but as late as 1838 the law only required that they should be examined in read­ing, writing and arithmetic. These requirements have been raised from time to time by the addition of other subjects, but while the great majority of the teach­ers in the State to-day are thoroughly competent, the requirements and the methods of examination still permit many poorly-equipped teachers to practice upon the boys and girls in the rural districts.


In 1845 the-first teachers’ institute was held and in 1848 a law was passed pro­viding for the appropriation of money in each county for the purpose of having such institutes conducted. They are now held annually in’ most of the counties and are a great help to the teachers and hence to the schools. A long and per­sistent attempt, beginning in 1817, has been made to have the State establish one or more normal schools for the training of teachers. For various reasons all attempts have thus far failed, though nearly if not quite every other State in the Union has found such schools not merely helpful but necessary to the proper equipment of teachers for the public schools. There are in the State several private normal schools which seek to give training to teachers. The majority of them are in reality academies affording a general academic education and paying more or less subordinate attention to the normal department.


In December, 1847, was organized the State Teachers’ Association, which has held annual meetings from then to the present time. While a purely voluntary association of teachers, it has in many ways been influential in improving the tone of education in Ohio and. in bringing about wise school legislation. Among its officers and members have been enrolled the best-known names in Ohio educational circles.




In the early schools of Ohio, as of every other State, all the pupils sat and recited in one room and to a single teacher and any systematic gradation or classification was impossible even if proposed. The chief impediment was the lack of suitable and sufficient school-buildings. Where two or more schools existed within a village or city the pupils were divided geographically, not by ­grades, among the several schools. Pupils of all ages and degrees of advancement, sat in the same room. The first systematic gradation and classification of pupils in Ohio was in Cincinnati, between 1836 and 1840, by virtue of a special law, dividing the city into districts and providing for a building in each district. In each building the pupils, were separated into two grades, studying different subjects and grades of work. This was followed in a few years by the establish­ment of a Central High School. In Cleveland the first free school was estab­lished in 1834, and in 1840 the schools were graded. Portsmouth, Dayton,


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Columbus; Maumee, Perrysburg and Zanesville soon, by special acts of the Legis­lature, organized graded schools. In each of these places provision was made for from two to four grades of pupils; but, except in Cincinnati, no definite course of study, such as exists everywhere to-day, was adopted for any of the grades until about 1850.


No sketch of the educational progress of Ohio would be worthy of notice that did not describe the Akron law, which when extended to the whole State estab­lished the present system of free graded schools. The Akron law, passed in 1847, organized the town of Akron into a single district and provided for the election of one board of six-directors, who should have full control over all the schools in the town. It authorized the board to establish a number of primary schools and one central grammar school; to fix the terms of transfer from one to another; to make and enforce all necessary rules; to employ and pay teachers; to purchase apparatus; to determine and certify annually to the town council the amount of money necessary for school purposes; to provide for the examina­tion of teachers. In 1848 the provisions of this law were extended to other incorporated towns and cities. In 1849 a general law was passed enabling any town of two hundred inhabitants to organize as under the Akron law; this last law provided far the establishment of “an adequate number” of primary schools “conveniently located;” a school or schools of higher grade or grades; for the free admission of all white children; and that the schools must be kept open not less than thirty-six weeks in each year. .


Thus was the State provided with a system of free graded schools, under which there should be uniformity in grading and unity in management. “By the close of the year 1855,” says Superintendent R. W. STEVENSON, “the free graded system was permanently established, met with hearty approval, and received high com­mendation and support from an influential class of citizens who had been the enemies of any system of popular education supported at the expense of the State and by local taxation.”




Public high schools were not known in Ohio before the middle of the century. Long before that, however, many private academies had been founded to furnish an education superior to that given by the district school. The few colleges founded in the first half of the century also maintained preparatory schools, which, doing work similar to that of the academy, bridged aver the chasm between the ungraded school and the college proper.


The Constitution of 1802 provided for the establishment of academies and col­leges by corporations of individuals, and from that time until 1838 public sentiment appears to have crystallized into the idea that private seminaries were the proper and only necessary means for attaining an education higher than that of the common school. There was apparently felt no public obligation to afford educational facilities, beyond instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, and later, grammar and geography.


Accordingly in many places academies were started, either as private enter­prises or under the general sanction and control of religious sects. In these academies, many of which did excellent work and furnished superior advantages for those days, most of the men who for the past generation have been prominent in Ohio either finished their “schooling” or obtained their preparation for college. With the rise of the public high school most of these academies closed their doors, though; few broadened their courses of study and entered upon collegiate instruction. The history of these academies and an account of the good done by them is one of the most interesting as well as the most neglected chapters of Ohio’s educational growth. Without them and without the influence of the graduates they sent out, the establishment of a State system of education­ would have been long delayed.


According to the best accounts Burton Academy, incorporated in 1803, was the pioneer among these institutions. Close upon it followed the Dayton Academy, which enjoyed a useful and prosperous career until the establishment of the high school in that city. In Cincinnati Kinmont’s Academy, Madison Institute


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Locke’s Academy’, Pickets’ Young Ladies’ Academy and others flourished. At Chillicothe, Salem, Springfield, Gallipolis, Circleville, Steubenville, Columbus, Norwalk and other places successful academies were maintained. Few of them are to-day in existence, though about two hundred are known to have been founded within the State. In the latest report of the State Commissioner of Schools but fourteen academies are listed, and of these two are connected with colleges as preparatory schools. Thus thoroughly has the public high school supplanted the private academy.


From an early date in the history of the State the governors were far in advance of public sentiment on educational matters. Some of them recom­mended the seminaries to a more hearty popular support, while others with a truer conception of the duty of the State advocated the establishment of high schools, in which instruction should be free, in place of or in addition to these pri­vate seminaries which were obliged to charge large tuition fees in order to maintain themselves. It was not until the years from 1845 to 1850, however, that the first high schools were opened in Cincinnati and Columbus. The experiment was so immediately successful that such schools became, in the language of a close observer, “a recognized necessity to the existence of the common school sys­tem.” Even before 1845 a few “higher” schools had been started in smaller places, under authority implied in the law of 1838. Among these, and probably the first high school in the State, was one at Maumee, started in 1843-4.


To-day a high school, supported by public funds as a part of the common school system, is to be found in nearly every town and village in the State. While many children are unwisely withdrawn from school by their parents just when they are ready to take up this broadening high-school work, still a large percentage of the youth of Ohio avail themselves of the advantages offered. Late reports of the educational department of the, State show the existence of about three hundred high schools, and the number is yearly increasing.




Ohio is pre-eminently a community of many colleges, the reports showing that it possesses more institutions claiming the title of college or university than are contained within any other State of the Union. While abundant opportunities for obtaining a higher education are thus afforded, there is little doubt that this almost abnormal prolificness has been at the expense of strength and high de­velopment of many of the colleges. A sketch, first of the colleges supported by national endowment and State aid, and then of the older of the private and de­nominational colleges follows.


OHIO UNIVERSITY.—The Ohio Company, in its contract with the government, obtained a gift of two townships for the endowment of a university, “to be applied to the intended object by the Legislature of the State.” The townships of Alex­ander and Athens, in Athens county, were selected for that purpose. In 1802 the Territorial Legislature chartered the American Western University, located it in the town of Athens and gave it the two townships. No steps were taken dur­ing the territorial days to organize the university, and in 1804 the charter was repealed and provision made for the establishment of Ohio University at Athens.


The lands were appraised and many of them immediately leased on ninety-year leases. A revaluation was to be made once in about every thirty years, and a rental of six per cent of each valuation was to be paid annually. The next year the law was modified in some parts, but the revaluation clause was not touched. When the time for the first revaluation came the Legislature was prevailed upon by a strenuous lobby of the lessees to declare that the intention had been to repeal the revaluation clause. As a consequence of this unfortunately legal action of the General Assembly, two townships of land are to-day under perpetual lease at an average rental of about ten cents an acre, the total income from rents amounting to about $4,500 per year. The annual income of Michigan University from a grant of the same size and kind is over $38,000.


The university was opened for students in 1809 and the first class was grad­uated in 1815, consisting of Thomas EWING and John HUNTER. These men bore the first collegiate degrees ever conferred in the Northwest Territory. In 1822 a

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full faculty was organized, consisting of five men. At the outset the old time classical course was the only one laid down, with a preparatory department or academy to fit students to enter the freshman class. Within recent years a sci­entific course (a course without Greek or Latin) and a normal course have been added. The latter is, so far as known, the only provision ever made by the State for training teachers. The university has once been obliged to close its doors for a few years on account of financial embarrassment, but now seems destined to continue its long and honorable career of usefulness. It is a State University in that its trustees are appointed by the Governor, and its scanty income is occa­sionally increased by all-too-slender appropriations from the State treasury.


MIAMI UNIVERSITY.—Under the contract between John Cleves SYMMES and Congress one township of land was donated by the latter for “an academy and other public schools and seminaries of learning.” Knowing that but one insti­tution of learning at the most could be maintained by the income from a single township, the Legislature chartered Miami University in 1809 and made it the beneficiary of the grant. The same unwise policy, as in the case of Ohio Uni­versity, was adopted in disposing of the lands, and the institution has received an annual income of but $5,600 from the grant. The college was located at Oxford, Butler county, and was opened for students in 1824. While it has always been crippled by lack of funds and has twice been obliged to suspend for periods of ten to twelve years, its influence has been great and its history notable. Taking into account its size and its misfortunes, “few institutions have done better work or sent forth so large a proportion of graduates who have become eminent in the various walks of life.” Probably, however, no other college in America has ever been obliged to print in any of its catalogues a notice similar to the fol­lowing: “Tuition and room-rent must invariably be paid in advance and no deduction or drawback is allowed; and if not paid by the student it is charged to the faculty, who are made responsible to the Board for it.” Like Ohio Uni­versity, it is a semi-State institution, its trustees being selected by: the Governor and its starving treasury receives occasional pittances from the State. The Uni­versity was reopened in 1885 after a lapse of twelve years, and whether it will once more regain the position it once held among Ohio’s colleges is a question not yet easily answered.


OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.—In 1862 a grant of lands was made by Congress to each of the States and Territories for “the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall 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 mechanic arts, in such manner as the Legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe.” Under this act Ohio received land scrip for 630,000 acres, An institution, first known as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, and later as Ohio State University, was chartered by the Legislature and received the scrip as an endowment, sub­ject to the conditions imposed by Congress. This scrip was sold at an extremely low price, like the previous college land endowments in Ohio, and produced a fund now something more than a half million of dollars, from which the univer­sity receives an annual income of six per cent. The university was located at Columbus upon a fine farm of three hundred acres, upon which substantial buildings were soon erected. The site was purchased and the first buildings erected and equipped by a gift of $300,000 from the county of Franklin and city of Columbus. The college, now within the city limits of Columbus, was opened for students in 1873 and the first class was graduated in 1878. In accordance with the terms of the land grant the chief attention is given to instruction in agricultural, mechanical, and technical branches, but full collegiate courses are given, and pursued by many students in classical and literary lines of work. For the last few years the General Assembly has annually appropriated moderate sums for carrying on the work so well begun.


The three foregoing universities are State institutions, amenable to State con­trol and obtaining their support from the land endowment of the general govern­ment and from State appropriations. Ohio differs from most States in having three higher institutions which are in reality a part of the public educational system of the State. Whether the interests of education are best conserved by

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the maintenance of three institutions, or whether a union of the three into one stronger than either to-day, or a fusion or co-operation of the three under one general management would be wiser, are questions that have been discussed for some years. In any case the sentiment of the State has definitely crystallized into the idea that the State ought to provide at public expense for the higher education of its citizens by maintaining one or more public colleges.


There are also many denominational or private colleges within the State, some of them strong and prosperous, and all of them doing to the extent of their ability the work of higher education. The limits of this sketch will not permit a de­scription of all, but the more prominent of those founded before 18.50 may be briefly mentioned.

. .

KENYON COLLEGE.— Through the efforts of Bishop Philander CHASE, Kenyon College was established in 1824, at Gambier, as a college and theological seminary, under the control of the Protestant Episcopal Church. The lands were purchased and the buildings erected with funds raised in this country and in England. The town – which is to-day one of the most beautiful college sites in America - the college, and the principal edifices are named respectively after three English noblemen. The college was soon opened with a strong faculty and a goodly number of students. Financial troubles beset the college, however, and the next fifteen years found an emissary of the institution almost constantly in the East or in Europe seeking aid for the starving college. In 1841 the college and the theological seminary were separated so far as their faculties were concerned. The college has done excellent work, and has afforded good facilities for the pursuit of the old-time classical course. It drew many of its students from the South, and hence suffered severely upon the outbreak of the rebellion. Though not large in membership, it has always had a fine body of students, and has main­tained a good reputation. In 1886-87 its corps of instructors numbered nine, and there were fifty-five students in the collegiate department.


WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.—This institution, now better known as Adel­bert College, was chartered in 1826, and opened for students in the same year at Hudson, Summit (then Portage) county, in the Connecticut Western Reserve. It was designed by the education-loving settlers of the Western Reserve to be an independent college, free from ecclesiastical control, but from the outset and until the removal of the college to Cleveland the members of the board of trustees were all ministers or members of the Presbyterian or Congregational churches, and its general policy has been affected by this fact. The objects of the college were “to educate pious young men as pastors for our destitute churches,” “to preserve the present literary and religious character of the State,” and” to prepare competent men to fill the cabinet, the bench, the bar, and the pulpit.” Drawing most of its students from the Reserve, the college soon entered upon a prosperous career in both the theological and collegiate departments and in its preparatory school. In 1859, however, the theological department was closed, and definitely aban­doned. The institution has been sustained entirely by donations and students’ fees. In 1881 a magnificent bequest was made to the collegiate department suffi­cient to erect new and elegant buildings and to increase largely its endowment fund, on condition that the collegiate department should be transferred to Cleve­land, and called Adelbert College of Western Reserve University. The conditions were accepted, and the removal made upon the completion of the new buildings. The preparatory school is still maintained at Hudson, and a medical department has been united to the University at Cleveland. Like the greater number of Ohio colleges, this institution was for some time open to students of either sex, but in 1888 the trustees decided that hereafter women should not be admitted. The attendance in 1886-87 was seventy-eight, when there were ten members of the faculty.


DENNISON UNIVERSITY.—This institution, located at Granville, Licking county, was chartered in 1832 as the Granville Literary and Theological Institution; in 1856 it assumed its, present name, in commemoration of a gift from William Dennison, of Adamsville, Ohio. Its board of trustees constitute a close corporation, under the control of the Baptist denomination, and all of its trustees must belong to that church. The college itself is unsectarian in its teachings, the theological department having been given up some years ago. The classical and scientific


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offered to students, the former - as in most colleges originally literary alone - having the better equipment. In 1886-87 there were eleven instructors and eighty students.


OBERLIN COLLEGE.—This was chartered in 1834 as the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, at Oberlin, Lorain county, and in 1850 assumed its present name. The institution is under the direction of the Congregational Church, and a theological seminary was early established as a part of the college.The board of trustees is a close corporation. From the outset, but especially in later years, the college has assumed a prominent place among Ohio colleges, indeed, among American colleges. Both sexes have always been admitted to its classes, and for some time alone among colleges-it almost from its foundation admitted colored students. As it was the pioneer in that regard, its name ms soon widespread, and it became a strong promoter of anti-slavery principles. It has from time to time extended its range, and to-day sustains theological, collegiate, musical, art, and preparatory departments: In its collegiate department in 1886-87 were enrolled 400 students under a faculty of eighteen members.


MARIETTA COLLEGE.— The Marietta Collegiate Institute, located at Marietta, was chartered in 1832. This charter, however, gave the institution no authority to confer degrees, and was defective in other particulars. A new charter free from these defects was accordingly obtained in 1835, from which year the existence of Marietta College dates The college was founded by some of the men, or their immediate descendants, who were instrumental in obtaining the grant of two townships for a university in the Ohio Company’s purchase. Just why they did not lend their energies solely towards building up the institution (Ohio University, at Athens) founded on that land-grant it is difficult after this lapse of time to determine, unless it is that the growth and development of that institution did not accord with the ideas brought to Marietta from New England. The following, believed to be from the pen of the late President I. W. ANDREWS, partially explains the matter: “After spending forty years or more in removing the forest, they (the settlers of Marietta) could no longer postpone the establishment of an institution of learning, embodying those principles and methods which had made the old colleges of New England so efficient and prosperous. There was a deep conviction on the part of man of the most intelligent men in Southeastern Ohio that a literary institution of high order was essential to the educational and religious interests of a large region, of which Marietta was the centre. “The board of trustees has always been a close corporation, but there are no restrictions as to religious belief of the members. As a fact, the majority of the trustees have usually been members of the Presbyterian or Congregational churches. The college has been unsectarian in its teachings, but distinctly Christian in both theory and practice. It has been a remarkably successful, though never a large institution; and the proportion of graduates to freshmen has probably been larger than that of any other Ohio college. Pleasantly located and comfortably equipped for classical and literary study, it has closely resembled in its staid dignity the older, New England college In 1887 its collegiate students numbered eighty-seven, its instructors ten.


OHIO WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY.—This institution, located at Delaware, under the control of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was chartered in 1842. The alumni; and four Conferences of the church are each represented by five members in the; board of twenty-five trustees. The endowment of the institution has been contributed chiefly in small amounts by adherents of the church. The college has advanced in its requirements and increased in attendance until it is one of the largest colleges in the State. With the possible exception of Oberlin College, the Ohio Wesleyan University has been more thoroughly permeated with religious sentiment and zeal than any other of the Ohio colleges. The majority of its students belong to families adhering to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and it has sent out a large body of graduates. In 1886 there were 336 collegiate students and twenty-five instructors.


WITTENBERG COLLEGE. – This is college is located at Springfield, Clark county, was chartered in 1845. It is under the control of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and its trustees are chosen by various local Synods that denomination. The institution was founded to meet the religious and

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educational wants of the Lutheran denomination in that vicinity. A theological department has always been a prominent part of the college. The institution has never been large, but, with a moderate endowment and comfortable buildings and equipment, it has always prospered. In 1886 it had sixty-five students in the collegiate department and eleven instructors.


OTTERBEIN UNIVERSITY.-This, institution, located at Westerville, Franklin county, was chartered in 1849, under the, auspices of the United Brethren in Christ, and received its name from the founder of that church. Like Wittenberg College, and many others in the West, it was established to meet the educational needs of a religious denomination, and has drawn its financial support almost solely from them. It has always ranked among the smaller colleges of the State, and has not always been liberally supported by the church. It was unfortunate in losing its main building, including the library and much apparatus, by fire in 1870. A new building was soon erected, and the institution has continued its career, its pathway often beset with the rocks of financial embarrassment that are encountered by most small denominational colleges. In 1886 there were seven instructors and fifty students in the collegiate department.


Many other colleges exist in Ohio, some of them strong and prosperous, and several professional institutions have been established, while the number of com­mercial and business “colleges” is very large. The foregoing are, however, the leading colleges or universities, properly so called, founded before the middle of the present century, and the limits of this sketch permit mention only of the names and a few statistics concerning the others. The figures given below, as well as those that have preceded, are based mainly upon the official report of the State Commissioner of Schools.

















No. of




No. of





Buchtel College






Ashland College






Baldwin University



Meth. Episcopal



German Wallace College



Meth. Episcopal



St. Joseph’s College



Roman Catholic



St. Xavier’s College



Roman Catholic



University of Cincinnati






Belmont College

College Hill





Capital University



Evangel. Lutheran



Findlay College






Hiram College






Mt. Union College

Mt. Union





Franklin College

New Athens





Muskingum College

New Concord


United Presbyteri’n



Rio Grande College

Rio Grand


Free Will Baptist



Scio College



Meth. Episcopal



Heidelberg College






Urbana University



New Church



Wilberforce University



African Meth. Epis.



University of Wooster






Antioch College

Yellow Sp’ngs






In conclusion, we may quote the words of Prof. E. B. ANDREWS, uttered after a careful study and discriminating praise of the good results accomplished by many of the Ohio colleges: “It is unfortunate that there are in Ohio so many colleges of denominational origin, when, with a broader view of the subject of higher learning, combinations could have been effected which, without any sacrifices of religious influence, would have given us institutions of greater strength and dig-

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nity, and of ampler facilities for affording a broad and generous culture. This entire misconception of the true function of the college has led to such a multiplication of colleges in Ohio that all are hindered and many are dwarfed.”


Authorities consulted in preparing this sketch: Hildreth’s “Pioneer History; “Walker’s History of Athens County; “American Journal of Education; Knight’s “Land Grants for Education in the Northwest Territory;” “A History of Education in the State of Ohio “ (Columbus, 1876); “Historical Sketches of Higher Educational Institutions in Ohio” (1876); Ohio School Commissioners’ Reports; Reports of United States Commissioner of Education; Ohio Executive Documents; Ohio Laws.


In addition to the foregoing, and with a view to supply what seems to be an inadvertent omission, we subjoin the following statement in reference to the efficiency and progress of educational legislation in Ohio. We allude to the “Act to provide for the reorganization, supervision, and maintenance of Com­mon Schools, passed March 14, 1853.” Prior to the passage of this act the common schools had become inefficient in their character, and the laws so often amended as to render them incapable of being understood, or receiving a consistent judicial construction. It was for this reason that the first General Assembly, under the new constitution of 1851, revised the school laws and passed the reorganizing act of March 14, 1853. This act introduced radical changes in the school system-changes which have given the common schools a deservedly high character for their excellence. The provisions of the act, with slight amendments, remained in force for twenty years, where most of its provisions were embraced in the codification of the school laws in 1873, and are still operative.


It will be readily seen by a reference to James W. Taylor’s “History of the Ohio School System,” published in 1857, that Harvey RICE, the Senator from Cuyahoga, and chairman of the standing committee on schools, was the author of the bill, now known as the Act of March 14, 1853. Soon after the act came in force, and generally throughout the State since that time, he has been called the “father of the Ohio School System,” an honor to which his devotion to the welfare of public schools justly entitles him. We take the following reference to Mr. Rice and his educational labors from the “History of Education in the State of Ohio” a centennial volume-published by authority of the General Assembly in 1876.


“The school law passed by the General Assembly, March 14, 1853, was chiefly prepared by the Hon. Harvey Rice, of Cleveland, a member of the Ohio Senate and chairman of the committee on common schools. Mr. Rice was born in Massachusetts, June 11, 1800, and graduated at Williams College. He came to Ohio in 1824, and settled in Cleveland. For a short time he engaged in teaching while preparing for the practice of law, upon which he soon entered. Mr. Rice’s abilities and worth were soon recognized by his fellow-townsmen, who manifested their appreciation by electing him to various important offices in the county, and to a seat in the lower House of the General Assembly.


“In 1851 Mr. Rice was elected to the Senate. The session which followed was a very important one. Ohio had outgrown her old constitution, and this was the first meeting of her Legislature under the provisions of the new. It was evident to all, who had watched the growing educational needs of the State, that the school system needed a thorough revision. Since the passage of the act of 1838 the population of the State had more than doubled, and its resources had increased in a still greater ratio. Mr. Rice addressed himself to the work of procuring the passage of an act for the reorganization of the common schools, and providing for their supervision. The bill passed the Senate with two negative votes. He had previously taken a prominent part in the passage of an act providing for the establishment of two asylums for lunatics, and now advocated the establishment of a State Reform Farm School, at that time a novel idea. A few years saw it in successful operation.


“Mr. Rice still lives in Cleveland. He has lived to see the State of his adoption enjoy the fruits of his labors, and to see her in his own words ‘lead the column in the cause of popular education and human rights.’ His active life as politician and public-spirited citizen has not prevented the cultivation of his taste for literature. He is well known as a graceful writer both in prose and verse.”

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