This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
Judged by the criteria of public finance, the subvention to the Farmer's High school was the best that was made during this period. The service aided was of state-wide importance; it was one from which benefits were derived by only one class of citizens, it is true, but they were distributed in every part of the Commonwealth and represented the most important industrial interest of the state. In the second place, the state did not bestow its aid lavishly and it required assurances that the money appropriated would be used for the purpose for which it was granted. Finally, the state placed two of its own officers on the board of trustees.
It may properly be objected that in the long run it would have been better had the college been established by and entirely controlled by the state. Under present-day conditions scarcely any one would question the advisability of state control. But at the time the college was begun the practical value of technical education in agriculture had not been demonstrated, and it was probably impossible to secure sufficient support from the legislature to maintain the school. Since state ownership and operation was practically impossible at that time, because the people of the state failed to appreciate the importance of agricultural education, the plan of state assistance to a semi-public institution was as good as any that could have been devised. The total amount of the state's payments from the establishment of the school until 1873 is shown in Table II in the Appendix.
Several other small grants to educational institutions made their appearance during this period. In 1862 the legislature appropriated $2,000 unconditionally for the benefit of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women to be paid out of Philadelphia's quota in the common school subvention. *106 In 1864 the amount of the grant was increased to $5,000. *107 But it was now provided that the citizens of Philadelphia should contribute $10,000 for the alteration and extension of the buildings of the institution. The trustees of the school were required to expend one-fifth of the state grant in procuring, from European schools of science and art, standard examples of architecture and ornament as applied to manufactures, copies of which were to be distributed to the manufacturing centers of the state. *108 At this time the state appropriation was made payable directly from the treasury and not from Philadelphia's share in the state grant to common schools. In 1865 a school of design for women at Pittsburg also received a grant from the state. *109 In 1868 a school of design appeared at Wilkes-Barre and received $1,000. *110 From 1869 to 1873 no appropriations were made to these institutions.
106 Act 11 April, 1862, P.L. p. 461.
107 Act 5 May, 1864, P.L. p. 225.
108 Idem, p. 256.
109 See Table II Appendix. For a short history of these two schools see Wicker-sham, pp. 439-440.
The grants to these three schools are in no way peculiar, or different from those made at this time to other private institutions for charity and for education. It should be noted, however, that at the time the legislature was proclaiming the inability of the state to contribute more liberally to the support of the common schools and to provide normal schools, from $2,000 to $5,000 annually could be found for institutions that were yet hardly more than doubtful experiments.
Another educational subvention during this period was a grant of $5,000 to the Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania, in 1867, for the purpose of establishing five free scholarships. *111 A general subvention to colleges and academies did not develop, but the advisability of reviving the policy embodied in the act of 1838 seems to have been under consideration. In his annual message in 1861 Governor Packer disposes of the matter by saying, "The present is not the proper time to renew grants to institutions of these classes which heretofore have received state aid. If it were, the public authorities do not possess the requisite data for a safe and just extension of liberality. *112