One of the first objects to which the State of Pennsylvania turned its attention on emerging from the revolutionary struggle was public education. In fact, the first constitution, adopted in 1776, contained a declaration that " A school or schools shall be established in each county by the legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters paid by the public as may enable them to instruct youth at low prices: And all useful learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more universities. " *13 Nothing could be accomplished, however, during the turbulent years of the war, and even after independence was gained the load of debt resulting from the war precluded any attempt on the part of the state to assist financially in building up a school system. But the state was rich in one kind of wealth, namely, land. This it could use freely in subsidizing proposed and existing institutions of learning.

13 Thorpe's Constitutions, vol. V, p. 3091.

The first grant came in 1779 when the University of Pennsylvania was given the proceeds of certain tory estates which had been declared forfeited to the state. *14 Seven years later, 60,000 acres of land, belonging to the state, were set aside for the benefit of educational institutions, but no grants were specifically made from this tract to particular institutions by that act. *15 In other sections of the same act Dickinson College was granted 10,000 acres of land and 500 from the state treasury. In the following year academies were incorporated in Pittsburgh, *16 in Washington County, *17 and in Philadelphia, *18 and each was granted a tract of land for an endowment. The acts incoporating and endowing Pittsburgh Academy (in Allegheny County) are typical of the others that were passed during the next forty years for the endowment of academies and seminaries. The board of trustees was created a corporation with full power over the academy, including the right to receive, manage, and expend the proceeds of gifts and donations to the institution. They were not subject to supervision by any public authority. Vacancies in the board were to be filled by the vote of the surviving members. The acts making the grant of land were absolute and unconditional. For example, one such act simply stated "That the quantity of five thousand acres of land to be located, set out, and surveyed within the unappropriated lands belonging to this state be, and are hereby granted to the trustees of Pittsburgh Academy, to have and to hold the same to them and their successors forever. *19 Within the next twenty-five years, grants of land were made to many other academies and colleges as is shown by the following table:

14 Senate Committee on Education (1822), Report, pp. 4-5. This report was printed separately and may also be found in the Senate Journal for 1821-22.

15 Act 7 April, 1786, XII Stat. At Large, pp. 221-224.

16Act 28 Feb., 1787, XII Stat. At Large, pp. 357-359, and Act 10 Sept., 1787, idem., pp. 489-490.

17 Act 24 Sept., 1787, idem, pp. 527-531.

18 Act 29 Mar., 1787, idem, pp. 479-483.

19 Act 28 Feb., 1787, idem, pp. 357-359.

Academies To Which The State Made Grants Of Land Or Money 1786-18341

 

Date of Incorporation

County

Land Grants

Money Grants

Name of Institution

Amount (acres)

Date

Amount

Date

Public Schools of German-town ...............................

1784

1787

1787

1787 1788

1789 1789

1790

1797

1799

1802

1806

1811

1803

1813

1804

1805

(1794)

1806

Philadelphia Allegheny

Philadelphia Washington Berks

Philadelphia Philadelphia

Bucks

Franklin

York

Crawford

Beaver

Montgomery

Center

Northampton

Beaver

Washington

Luzerne

Bucks

Bucks Northum'ld Fayette Dauphin

Westmoreland

Somerset

Adams

Bedford

Greene

Butler

   

$2,000 5,000

1821

*Pittsburg Academy..............

5,000

10,000

5,000

5,000

488

5,000 5,000

1787

1787 1787 1788 1818

1789 1789

1798

Acad. Protestant Episcopal Church, Philadelphia........

 

*Washington Academy..........

*Reading Academy................

3,000 2,000 3,000

1797 1807

Ger. Luth'n Charity School of Philadelphia..................

1832

Reform'd Cong.,Philadelphia

   

*Academy & Free School of Bucks County..................

4,000 2,000 2,000

1,000

1798

*Chambersburg Academy.... *York Academy.....................

   

1799

   

1798

*Meadville Academy............

   

1806

Beaver Academy....................

500

1803

 

Norristown Academy........

2,000 2,000 2,000 600 1,000 2,000

1805

Bellefonte Academy..............

(a)

 

1806

Easton Academy....................

1805

Greersburg Academy............

   

1806

Canonsburg Academy............

   

1800

Wilkesbarre Academy........

1807 1807

1805 1804 1808 1809

1810 1810 1810 1810 1810 1810

   

1807

Fall Township Free School..

(b)

   

*Union Academy of Doyles-town....................................

 

800 2,000 2,000 1,000 1,800

500 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000

1806

Northumberland Academy.. Uniontown Academy............

(c)

 

1808

 

1808

Harrisburg Academy..............

(d)

 

1809

*Greensburg Academy..........

*Somerset Academy..............

 

1818 1832 1810

   

1810

*Gettysburg Academy............

   

1810

*Bedford Academy...........

   

1810

*Greene Academy..............

   

1810

*Butler Academy....................

(e)

 

1810

             

Acadamies To Which The State Made Gifts Of Lands Or Money 1786-1834

 

t

Date of Incorporation

County

Land Grants

Money Grants

Name of Institution

Amount (acres)

Date

Amount

Date

Chester Co. Academy............

1811 1811 1811 1811 1811 1812 1812 1812 1813

1803 1813 1813 1814 1814 1815 1816 1816 1816 1811

1819 1819 1821 1822 1827 1827 1827 1827 1829

Chester Mercer Lycoming Erie....................

   

2,000 2,000 2,000

1811

     

1811

     

1811

Waterford Academy..............

500 (f) 500(g)

1811 1811

 

Erie Academy..........................

Erie

Montgomery

Venango

Wayne

Wayne

Philadelphia

Bradford

Schuylkill

Lehigh

Indiana

Mifflin

Lebanon

Huntingdon

Susquehanna

Chester

Cambria

Tioga

Armstrong

Warren

Clearfield

Pike

Union

Lancaster

McKean

2,000 2,000 2,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 5,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 1,000 2,500 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000

1820

Loller Academy......................

1812

*Venango Academy................

(h)

 

1812

Delaware Academy................

1812

     

1813

Bustletown Academy............

   

1828 1813

*Athens Academy..................

   

1813

*Orwigsburg Academy..........

   

1813

*Allentown Academy............

   

1814

*Indiana Academy..................

   

1814

*Lewistown Academy............

   

1815

*Lebanon Academy................

   

1816

*Huntingdon Academy..........

   

1816

*Susquehanna Academy........

   

1816

* Westchester Academy..........

   

1817

     

1834 1819

*Wellsborough Academy......

   

1819

Kittanning Academy..............

   

1821

*Warren Academy..................

500

1822

1832

*Clearfield Academy..............

1827

     

1827

Mifflinburg Academy............

   

1827

*Lancaster Co. Academy......

   

1827

*Smethport Academy............

   

1829

1 Report, of Senate Committee on Education, read in the Senate March 1, 1822, Mr. Wurts, Chairman. Wickersham's History of Education in Pennsylvania, pp. 379-380, and Pamphlet Laws for years in which appropriations were made are authorities used in construction of this table. In only one or two particulars where it has been made more complete does it vary from the data given by Wickersham.

* These academies were required to admit gratis a certain number of poor students for a limited time.