The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 278
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
area, meanwhile dedicating a million or so to the public school fund.3
The apparent worthlessness of this two-million-acre consolation
prize would be hard to exaggerate. It consisted entirely of parcels con-
centrated in arid, sandy, or rocky sections of nineteen counties in the
Trans-Pecos and east of the Pecos. None of these parcels seemed suited
to anything but grazing and perhaps some scattered dry farming. The
parcels were thought so valueless that many of them had already been
rejected as a grant by the Texas and Pacific Railroad.4
Worthless or not, the University had to be content with them. When
the lands were finally accurately surveyed, they totalled 2,103,650 acres,
or 3,281.3 square miles.6
To the bad luck of this land shuffle was added the bad luck of a re-
strictive constitutional directive. The University was forbidden to
touch any of the income from the land. This was to go into a "Perma-
nent University Fund," which would be invested. Income from the in-
vested funds was to be deposited in an "Available Fund," which could
be spent, but only for buildings. If this construction money was inade-
quate, the University would have no recourse, because legislative ap-
propriations for buildings were expressly denied it. It must have
seemed a cruel joke at the time: to force the University to rely on
almost valueless properties for many of its funds, then to restrict the
use even of those.'
Nevertheless, the University began functioning in 1883, and strug-
gled along for nearly five decades in a financially crippled condition.
The Permanent Fund consisted almost entirely of money garnered from
grazing leases. This was but $40,000 in 1900, and still only $225,000 in
1925, hardly enough to provide a financial foundation for a respectable
university. As a consequence, for decades most of the buildings on the
campus in Austin were miserable shacks. Everyone agreed that these
aIbid., 121, 124; Ed Clark, "The Permanent University Fund: A Foundation For Great-
ness," The Addendum, VII (Nov., 1976), 2; Samuel D. Myres, The Permian Basin, Petrole-
um Empire of the Southwest: Era of Discovery, From the Beginning to the Depression (El
Paso, Tex., 1973), 269; Texas Almanac, 1978-i979 (Dallas, 1979), 577.
4Harry Y. Benedict, press release, Nov. 1o, 1935, Harry Y. Benedict Collection (Eugene
C. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin; cited hereafter as BTHC);
Miller, Public Lands, 124, Tom Smith, University Land Office, to D. F. P., May 20, 1982,
5Miller, Public Lands, 124; San Angelo Standard-Times, May 28, 1933, copy in scrapbook
titled "Oil Lands-UT, 1938-1961," Clippings File (BTHC); Berte R. Haigh to D. F. P.,
Feb. 1, 1982.
6H[arry] Y. Benedict (comp.), A Source Book Relating to the History of the University
of Texas: Legislative, Legal, Bibliographical, and Statistical, University of Texas Bulletin
no. 1757 (Austin, 1917), 233-234.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/314/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.