The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

re first rwelt/y-fke /ears of
re llUHiersity of rexas
GEORGE PIERCE GARRISON*
N the historical sketch of the University of Texas which
I am about to give on this occasion, I shall deal mainly
with the facts of which I have personal knowledge. Most,
therefore, of what I shall say will concern the actual organized
life of the institution since it opened its doors to students in
September, 1882. But the potential existence of the University
dates from 1839; and it is necessary to begin with a brief survey
of this forty-four-year interval of hope deferred.
So far as I have been able to learn, the idea of a University
of Texas originated in the mind of President [Mirabeau B.] La-
mar. It is true that the first constitution of the republic, which
was adopted in September, 1836, laid on congress the duty of
providing by law, as soon as circumstances should permit, a
general system of education; but it was not specified that the
system should include a university. The earliest reference to
such an institution that I have found is in Lamar's message of
December 2o, 1838, at the opening of the third Texas congress,
where he asserts with sanguine enthusiasm that the endowment
of a good system of elementary education and the establishment
of a university in which the highest branches of science may be
taught can be at once effected without the expenditure of a
single dollar. This it is, by the way, that contains the famous
educational apothegm adopted as the motto of the University,
"Cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy."
In obedience to the recommendation of President Lamar and
the mandate of the constitution of 1836, the house committee on
education, through its chairman, E. W. Cullen, on January 4,
*This address is reproduced from the Austin Daily Statesman, November 26,
19o8, which carried the following note: "At the anniversary celebration in the
auditorium yesterday morning, the following address was delivered by Dr. George
Pierce Garrison, professor of history in the University and the oldest member of
the faculty in point of service."

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed September 23, 2014.