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Wisconsin Education

The bounty of congress has set apart the 16th section of every township in the State for the support and maintenance of common schools. From this source, nearly 1,000,000 acres will accrue to the State, the proceeds of the sales of which are to constitute a permanent fund, the income of which is to be annually devoted to the great purpose of the grant.

This magnificent foundation has been widely enlarged by constitutional provisions, giving the same direction to the donation of five hundred thousand acres, under the act of 1841, and the five per cent, reserved on all sales of Government lands within the State. The donations for educational purposes to the State have now reached 1,004,728 acres. A still larger addition will accrue from the grant of the swamp and overflowed lands, which the settlement of the country, the lapse of time, and easy processes of reclamation, will convert into the best meadow land in the world, and a large portion, ultimately, into arable. It is estimated that this grant will amount to 5,000,000 acres, of which the selection of 1,259,269 acres has already been approved.

For the support of a State University, seventy-two sections of choice land, comprising 46,080 acres, have been already granted, and it is not improbable that this provision may be also enlarged by subsequent grants. If these trusts are administered with ordinary wisdom, the educational funds of Wisconsin, cannot be less, ultimately, than $3,000,000, and may reach $5,000,000.

The University is already chartered and in successful operation. The school system has been wisely designed, and the progress of organization, under the law, keeps pace with the progress of settlement. There are already not far from 3,000 school districts in the State.

The system contemplates, by the introduction of union schools, to extend academic instruction to each town in the State.

In addition to this munificent public provision for common and liberal education, there are, in different parts of the State, educational incorporations, both academic and collegiate, founded on private subscriptions. The most promising of these are the College at Beloit, well endowed, and in successful operation: and similar Institutions at Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha in Eastern Wisconsin, and at Appleton, in the North.

Indeed, in none of the new States, even in the Northwest, will the means of education be more ample; and in none is there a more rational appreciation of the importance of this paramount public interest.

In Wisconsin, as in the other States of the Union, there is, and ever will be, an entire freedom of ecclesiastical organization, and an equal protection of every religious institution and arrangement, conservative of good morals, and protective of the highest and most enduring interests of man.

In consideration of all these elements of prosperity, economical and social, such, as have never, till now, gathered around the opening career of a new political community, there is little ground for wonder that the early growth of Wisconsin has been without a parallel in the history of States; and it may be very safely assumed, that the advent of men and capital to that favored portion of the Northwest, will continue, in increasing volume, for many years to come.

Source: Wisconsin Gazetteer,  By John Warren Hunt. Madison: Beriah Brown, Printer, 1853

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