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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Chapel Talk by Dr. Tefft

Chapel Talk by Dr. Tefft.

One morning last week during the sojourn in Columbia of Dr. J. E. Tefft, of Springfield, Mo., he attended a chapel exercise in the State University, and, [unclear: in] response to a call for a speech, delivered a short address remarkable for the [unclear: clearness] I and force with which it defined the legal relation sustained by the State to the [unclear: University], as follows:

When I visited the chapel last week, I was much interested in a [unclear: proposition] I brought forward by Dr. Laws, respecting the constitutional position of the [unclear: State] University. Since then, I have thought about the subject, and will now give [unclear: you] the result of my cogitations:

If the proposition be conceded that the allotment of lands by the United States [unclear: to] the several States for literary purposes, was not a free gift which the States [unclear: might] use at will, or not use at all, but that the donation was in the nature of a trust [unclear: for] specified purposes, then, from that proposition, certain others depend, which [unclear: are] equally true and equally demonstrable. The United States in admitting a new [unclear: territory] into the Federal Union, and in conferring upon it all the high privileges and prerogatives of the original States, desiring to make it certain that the citizens of the new States shall be moral, intelligent and capable of governing themselves in local affairs, and of participating in the government of the whole, creates a trust to secure these ends.

The new State is the trustee. Funds are supplied by the allotment of lands for the maintenance of a university, and placed in charge of the trustee. Now the legal and moral duties of the trustee have been thoroughly demonstrated by Dr. Laws. But I propose to introduce a proposition which seems to be fairly a corollary to the main idea.

For whose benefit is this trust created? Who is the cestuy que trust? Who are the beneficiaries? The last question is the one to which I particularly ask your attention, and I have formulated the proposition made by your honored president for the sole purpose of arriving at this point. To answer this question, we must keep steadily in view the purpose of the United States in creating the trust.

Obviously it was not for the sake of favoring or benefiting any particular persons or class of persons. Nor was it for the advantage of the inhabitants of only the particular State. It was for the purpose of making it sure that the people of the new State should be sufficiently moral, intelligent and capable to be safe, not only to govern themselves, but to assist in governing the whole country. Who, then, is to be benefited by the proper administration of this trust? Not you alone who are here. Not the citizens of this State alone. The benefit is to accrue to the whole people of the United States. Your advantage is quite incidental. You are the recipients this advantage in order that the State may be benefited through you. The advantage to the State is incidental. It is made a recipient, in order that through the State the whole people of the whole country may be preserved and made secure.

This, then, is the state of the case. The United States creates a trust, the State being trustee for its own benefit.

What relation do you sustain to this great trust?

Just this: The State, in the administration of the trust, has created subordinate ones, and you are the trustees of these subordinate trusts.

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The subject matter is the moral integrity, mental capacity, mental power, discipline, knowledge, skill and general culture which are to be acquired at this great seat of learning. The creator of these subordinate trusts is the State, and to it you are responsible for their faithful administration. Who is the cestuy que trust here? Who are the beneficiaries? Not yourselves, it is the State, the whole people of the State. What duties then are imposed upon you? Several:
1.In the first place it is your duty to accept the trusts, fully, freely and in good faith". That is, you accept the advantages here offered for improvement in morals, learning, arts and culture, to the full extent of your capacities of acquisition and cultivation. With the subject matter of a trust comes the duties and responsibilities which properly attach to it and which are a part of the very idea of trusteeship and must be assumed in good honest purpose and faith and with a full sense of obligation.
2.These acquisitions are to be preserved, nursed and cared for that there be no waste.
3.He who accepts a trust, of lands or flocks is responsible for the natural increase. So here, these acquisitions should increase. They must be as good seed which is cast into good ground, which will germinate, increase, grow and fructify and bring forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty, some one hundred fold.
4.The moral and intellectual culture here acquired is to distinguish you from the test of mankind (not possessing it) and to mark your consequences among your fellows. It is not to be concealed. It is not to be trodden. It is not to be enjoyed or used in seclusion. The example and influence must not be lost. You should be as a city which is set upon a hill.
5.These capacities are to be actively and affirmatively employed for the common benefit.

All the great questions which agitate and interest society, and upon the solution of which the progress of cultivation and the welfare of the people depend, are to be discussed, considered and finally decided by thinking men and women, by educated men and women. In a few years you are to control the destinies of this people. One hundred graduates of the University of Missouri will have more influence upon the course of public thought and action and bear a weightier responsibility than ten thousand of the lowest order of intelligences.

6.Finally: These subordinate trusts of yours differ from those which are under the control of our Chancery Courts in this—that you give no bond, and are subject to no legal control. Yet do not over-estimate your freedom. The Almighty God is the Supreme Chancellor who will watch your administration, and if you are active and faithful, will award you your just fees and discharge you from responsibilty, and if you are not, do not believe that you will escape his process, or his merited disapprobation and condemnation—[Mo. Statesman, April 22, 1881.]

It was claimed in the debates of Congress in 1821 and 1829, that the grants to the States for educational purposes were "pure donations." This doctrine did not prevail. Mr. Benton, the distinguished senator from Missouri, and others, successfully maintained that "these grants were not donations, but that they were a part of the compacts by which the new States were received into the Union." Judge Campbell, in his Political History, p. 221, sets forth the same doctrine in the following words: "This early recognition of the necessity of schools and colleges, enforced in the form of a perpetual compact between the government and the people and the States in the Territory has been a source and stimulus of intelligence, the importance of which cannot be estimated. The duty of the State to educate her children generously and page 12 thoroughly can never be diregarded without violating the pledge on which the rising of the State and Territory were created."

This fundamental doctrine which underlies our organized school work as a has been too long overlooked.

Selecting the Site for the State University.

By an act of the Legislature of Missouri, approved February 8, 1839, five commissioners were appointed to select a site for the State University. The act provide that the site should contain at least fifty acres of land, in a compact form, within miles of the county seat of the county of Cole, Cooper, Saline, Howard, Boon Callaway.

It was made the duty of the commissioners to meet in the City of Jefferson on first Monday of June, 1839, and thereafter at such times as they might appoint, a county seat of each county mentioned, to receive conveyances of land and substations of money—to be void if the University was not located at the county seat o county in which they were made.

After visiting all the county seats, and receiving bids as aforesaid, the commissioners were to return to the seat of government and open the bids, "and the presenting the most advantages to be derived to said University, keeping in view amount subscribed, and locality and general advantages, shall be entitled to its location.

On the 24th of June, 1839, the commissioners met in Jefferson City, opened the bids, and located the University of Missouri at Columbia, Boone county, following is the language of the award.

"The commissioners, appointed by law to select a site for the University, have are unanimously in the choice of Boone county for its location. Given under our hands at City of 'Jefferson, this 24th day of June, in the year 1839.


John Gano Bryan


Ch. Durkee


Archibald Gamble


John S. Phelps


Peter H. Burnett."

The organization of the State University and the erection of the main [unclear: edu] (plate 1) followed close upon this act of location. It is still a matter of some [unclear: importance], to notice that, in pursuance of the purpose of the land grant of 1820 location of the University was accomplished by the authority of the State, in most formal, open and public manner, after a free and extensive competition.

The Board of Curators endorses most fully the well expressed views and [unclear: lib] sentiments of Governor Crittenden, in his excellent inaugural address, in [unclear: which] find the following pointed language:

"The educational interests of the State are fixed upon a firm foundation, should be sacredly guarded ami wisely fostered. Parsimony towards [unclear: education] liberality towards crime. Let us preserve the University of the State, the Non page 13 Schools, that also of Metallurgy and the common schools, * with vigilance, and if prodigal at all in expenditure of the people's money, let it be in the interest of education. Education is contagious, and every facility should be given for its diffusion. Crime as inevitably gives away before the march of education, as the Indian, the Wolf and buffalo do before the tread of civilization. No State is great until its educational facilities are great, and at the door of the poor boy in the cabin, as well as within the reach of the spoiled child of fortune. There is no cheaper defense to a community or a commonwealth than education. It is a stronger and safer bulwark, more unfailing and vigilant than the most powerful armaments of wood, iron and steel, and it makes its recipients the boldest defenders of the right and the most uncompromising enemies of the wrong. I repeat again an earnest recommendation of this subject to this honorable body. Let no efforts be too great, no patience too exhausting, and no means too arduous to extend it to all classes of society. Let us exhibit to the nation the noble spectacle of Missouri educated as she should be, her sons and daughters adding the grace, and powers, and virtues of cultivated minds to their fine natural qualities, and those who have contributed to bring about the results will be entitled to the lasting gratitude of posterity."

* The common school law provides for the separate education of the colored people, and the provisions of the law are the same for both classes, excepting some clauses favoring the colored people. The higher education is also provided for them by the State. The XXXth General Assembly passed an appropriation bill which not only provided for the current expenses of the Normal Department of the Lincoln Institute, but also for the payment of the debt resting on that institution. However, as up to that time the Lincoln Institute had been a private property, and as our present Constitution forbids appropriations to private enterprises, Governor Phelps very properly withheld his signature from the bill till the Lincoln Institute was conveyed to the State. This was done, and the State now owns and has entire control of this property. The Lincoln Institute, therefore, now stands as an institution of the higher education, crowning the provisions of law in this State for the separate education of the colored people. This completes, in a very satisfactory manner, the solution of this educational problem which has vexed so many of the States.