The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 136
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
American communities that had sprung up in Texas since Stephen F.
Austin had founded his first colony in 1821, frontier conditions and
political unrest had discouraged educational efforts.2
The establishment of Texan independence did not bring immedi-
ate change. The majority of Texans were rural folk who, like their
counterparts in the United States, were suspicious of learning for learn-
ing's sake and favored a rudimentary practical education instead. Even
the political leaders, most of whom appreciated the need for formal
education, disagreed about whether to commit public funds to schools
and colleges. The Republic's first president, Sam Houston, favored a
private system of elementary education and doubted the need for insti-
tutions of higher learning in Texas at the time. His successor, Mira-
beau B. Lamar, held contrary views. In December of 1838 Lamar ad-
dressed the Texan Congress. Declaring that a "cultivated mind is the
guardian genius of democracy," the president called on the lawmakers
to set aside a generous land endowment to support a system of general
education and to provide for "the establishment of a university where
the highest branches of science may be taught."3
Houston, Lamar, and others in Texas were but reflecting widely
held but diverse views about higher education in the land of their
birth. Since late in the eighteenth century there had been a growing
sentiment favoring the establishment of state-supported institutions
of higher learning, with curricula including the sciences and even agri-
culture. Its first notable success was the founding of the University of
Virginia in 1825. Though many publicly supported colleges and uni-
versities had come into being in the South and the New West early in
the nineteenth-century, most were plagued by underfinancing, a lack
of an adequate supporting system of primary and secondary schools,
and the strong opposition of the supporters of private, especially sec-
President Lamar's call brought forth a positive, albeit inadequate,
2H. P. N. Gammel (comp.), The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 . . . (io vols.; Austin, 1898),
I, 451, 823, 1,078-1,079 (quotation); Max Berger, "Education in Texas During the Spanish
and Mexican Periods," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, LI (July, 1947), 49.
SMichael Allen White, "History of Education in Texas, 186o-1884" (Ed.D. diss., Baylor
University, 1969), 68-70o; Texas (Republic), Legislature, House of Representatives, Journal
of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, Regular Session of the Third
Congress . . . (Houston, 1839), 167-168, 169 (first quotation), 170 (second quotation).
4John Seiler Brubacher and Willis Rudy, Higher Education in Transition: A History
of American Colleges and Universities, 1636-1968 (2nd ed.; New York, 1968), 143-147,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/172/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.