* Governor Brown's Message *
Feb. 16, 1819

Abstract 773 - CR [Register] Feb. 16:1/2,3,4; 2/1


Governor Brown's Message


It is admitted almost without contradiction, as a general and abstract proposition, that education is of primary utility to individuals; and its general extension among the citizens in the utmost degree beneficial to the republic. It therefore follows, that we ought carefully to examine the means that yet remain for the dispensation of instruction, and investigate and bring into view the more latent and untried resources applicable to this purpose.

The general dissemination of the rudiments of instruction, in order to place the means of obtaining knowledge, as much as possible within the reach of every one demands first to be regarded. Happily for our state, there are few neighborhoods so poor as to be unable to support common schools; and those too thro' the increasing ability of the inhabitants, liberal plan than is usual, more particularly should the legislature continue to them the assistance heretofore granted; the means susceptible of much improvement. The cultivation of the higher grades of the arts and sciences, requires a: greater concentration of the disposable funds; and it must be admitted that competent instruction in these cannot be extended to every school.

As one step towards a system of amelioration, I would advise to arrest the further disposal upon perpetual leases of the school and college lands. It is only necessary to compare the present value of that fund, with the rate at which it has been so lately disposed of, to fill the mind with painful regret at the precipitancy of the measures, its increased and increasing value seems never likely to be made available, to the objects of the donations; and the institutions founded on that base, now languish for want of that pecuniary aid which might be extended to them, were these lands now at our disposal, and wholly uncultivated.-- The measure above proposed is the only one I can now advise, without in-justice, for present assistance to the endowment of the Athenian and Miami Universities, believing it improper to withdraw any of the funds appropriated to the support of other schools, which are principally maintained by the contribution of the inhabitants.

As a farther step in this commencement permit me to direct your enquiries, whether an efficient fund may not be formed to establish and endow schools, from a reasonable tax on sales at auction? If this idea be approved, I would venture to propose that the present tax be increased; and directed to be paid into the treasury of the corporation or township, within which the auction may be held: to be paid over to the trustees or managers of the University College, or whatever may be the highest incorporated seminary within such corporation or township; if none such exist within that jurisdiction, then that the proceeds of this tax be applied to the object intended, in such way as the corporation or trustees of the township may direct.

It is understood that a resolution is now before the legislature, for appointing two persons, one a mineralogist and chemist, and the other civil engineer, to be employed upon state establishments. I hope it may not be thought improper because the subject is under consideration. that should intimate some of my own ideas of the matter. This shall be done principally by a reference to circumstances within the knowledge of every member of the assembly: It need scarcely be premised, that much of our growing prosperity depends on bringing into light and activity the latent and dormant resources of the country.

With regard to the utility of employing a person of the first description, it need only be mentioned to be acknowledged, that a large share of our mineral wealth, such as earths, ores, &c. remains undetected or unwrought, from a deficiency of elementary knowledge in those sciences; and that the useless and sometimes ruinous expense, incurred by unskilful adventurers, seems almost prohibitory to the enterprise of all who are equally ignorant; an expense that might be saved; and an enterprise that would be encouraged by resorts to a test and essay, to be made by one theoretically and practically skilled. We should not then be oppressed with the tribute we now pay to our neighbors and foreigners, for an article of such prime necessity as Iron; nor witness its importation from the north of Europe, and sale on the Ohio for less than our own manufacture; our glass supplied from England or Bohemia, while the furnaces of our glass works are cold: nor be subjected at the rate we have been for that indispensable article, Salt, to the arbitrary exactions of monopolists.

In regard to the services of the engine of the benefits thence to be expected by the public are equally evident, when we take into view the difficulties and losses experienced by individuals, and the dely of improvements in mills, machinery, bridges, &c. occasioned by sad examples of failure, from the mere deficiency of scientific skill; and when we reflect how much ardour could be excited by that assurance which might be inspired from the opinion of an accomplished engineer. The foregoing circumstances, though they be items that deserve to enter into the calculations of the political economist, are trifling compacted to the grand object of internal navigation.

You will bear in mind that our production, which form our only great resource are generally of that bulky and ponderous description as to need every essement in conveyance that we can afford. Experience is a faithful monitor; and the millions expended for transportation during the late war, may teach an useful lesson: another may be learnt from the present differences between the price of salt on the lake shore and on the Ohio. I have already evinced an anxiety on this subject, excited by a strong sense of its vital importance. Roads and Canals are veins and arteries to the body politic, that diffuse supplies, health, vigor and animation in the whole system: Nor is this idea of their extensive and beneficial influence now. The evidence in the old world is ample—in the United States sufficient.

Massachusetts, Virginia, North and South Carolina, have proved the usefulness of artificial navigation. New York is making progress in a work, in grandeur not surpassed by the achievements of art that connect, by water the North Sea with the English channel; the Caspiah with the Baltick; or the Mediteranean with the bay of Biscay.

Nature strongly invites us to similar enterprise; the aspect of the face of this state announces capabilities for the grand object in question, exceeded, I presume, by few regions of the same extent; Yet with what exertions practicable, or how far within our means, cannot be ascertained without the assistance of an engineer. I appeal to each individual member, who has considered the bill introduced into the Senate for incorporating a company to cut a Canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio, whether he has not felt a difficulty in deciding, from want of that information which a skilful survey could have furnished;--Unwilling to act in the dark; yet fearful of discouraging a project so grand and magnificently fraught with an influence upon our relations commercial and fiscal, almost incalculable.

Unconscious on the one hand what privileges the company might be justly entitled to, as their reward--what other encouragement they might deserve—and what sacrifices, public and private, justifiable for completing a work so immense; yet sensible, on the other hand, that the resources at present within your control, may be inadequate to the construction and formation of great commercial roads, and extensive Canals; and for the latter purpose dependent in a great degree upon individual enterprise and private capital. Your acquaintance with mankind and with the condition of the country, forbidding the expectation that individuals will embark an immense capital in an arduous undertaking, and incur the risk and incident delay before their stock shall become productive, unless induced by the ultimate prospect, of great advantages. The report of your engineer would relieve you from much hesitation.

Some of these observations may be tho't digressive from the main purpose of this communication, namely, education; but they are connected in this—that it appears practicable, should the legislature think proper to employ there two characters, to render them doubly useful by making them professors and principal instructors in a polytechnick school, under the immediate patronage and care of the state; for instruction in the theoretical and scientific principles of the most useful arts.

Without wishing to derogate from the pleasure and real utility of classical and polite literature; or prevent the study of the works of the ancients in their own language, which the taste of the student shall prompt, or his means enable him to pursue; permit me to observe, that there is a description of science constantly required by persons in the industrious walks of life, who cannot afford the time and expense of what is usually called a liberal education.

The proposed institution may be viewed as a fountain, where the young artist may imbibe a higher relish for his trade, and up energy in practice, resulting from a conscious safety in his experiments, tested by a familiar acquaintance with the natural laws and principles that govern the object of his pursuits. This idea is suggested not only for the assistance of the aspiring workman laboring under a lamentable ignorance of this part of his profession, but with a further view to the discovery and use of many sources of individuals and public advantage.

There is some reason to hope that such an establishment would be influential in causing agriculture and the most necessary arts to be followed with more skill and assiduity, by rendering them more safe and lucrative; and you would manifestly increase the disposition of our inhabitants to embrace those beneficial occupations, by giving them the consideration justly their due in a republic, where the most useful ought to be considered the most honorable employments. This I presume would be effected in no small degree, by causing them, to be considered the objects, of scientifick as well ass laborious pursuit.

To add incentives to the virtue of industry by giving dignity to its exertion, and yielding safety to meritorious and useful enterprise, would be a work worthy of your labors.

If the public revenue after defraying other necessary expenses, shall be deemed insufficient to cover the additional charge of the professor- ships, it is thought that a light tax, specifically applicable to those objects, and fairly graduated on iron-works mills, canals and locks, without being burdensome would produce an immediate income of several thousand dollars, and with the continal addition to these works, would be of increasing productiveness. It is also presumed, that as the effect is likely to operate to the most immediate benefit to those now, or hereafter engaged in those establishment, it would be paid with cheerfulness.

It would be a reasonable hope that Congress, in consideration of procuring an enhanced price for the public lands, be reason of the formation of Canals; may be induced to yield assistance in furthering the design.

I must intreat your patience if my remarks concerning education and internal improvements shall appear too diffuse, or rediously circumstantial. My excuse must be, that having these subjects much at heart I wish to impress on you my own convictions of their momentous importance. The eyes of the people of the U. States, and of foreigners, are upon Ohio; and it may require our best efforts to justify the expectations entertained of the young state, risen into importance with a rapidity beyond precedent.

I cannot, nor do I wish to, conceal my desire of participating with the legislature, in the glory of laying the foundation of a permanent establishment, that shall give additional prosperity to our state and lustre to its name: and could they now be undertaken, as I hope I should reflect with pride that they were commenced during my administration.


(From Annals of Cleveland - 1818-1935, Volume I (1819), pages 348 through 352. Cleveland: Cleveland WPA. 1937.)

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