The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 446
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas appealed to the government for a
system of schools. Their solicitations were answered by a decree specifying
that a "school of mutual instruction . . . be established in each depart-
ment of the State."' Although some schools were opened, they were poorly
supported, and finally, as is well known, the failure of Mexico to establish
a system of education was listed among the grievances in the Declaration
of Independence of the Republic of Texas.2
In the decades following independence, law provided not only for a gen-
eral system of public elementary and secondary education but also for higher
learning. In 1839 the young republic set aside fifty leagues of land (over
200,000 acres) to finance "two Colleges or Universities." After statehood,
in the 1850s fifty leagues of land were again set aside and $ioo,ooo was
appropriated for establishment and maintenance.3 For a state university
which was still unrealized, the State Constitution of 1876 reserved one mil-
lion acres of land.4
Other evidence of the devotion to higher education had been apparent in
the specifications for locating and planning the new capital of the fledgling
republic. The 1839 act providing for the permanent location of the seat of
government required that a site for a university be included among the lots
which were to be set aside for public buildings.5 Hiram Walker, with the
Capital Commission, who had been appointed to select a site for the capital
city, designated a prominence at the head of present University Avenue as
a location for a school of higher learning and named it "College Hill."6
This pedestal, however, would wait several decades for its monument; pub-
lic aspiration exceeded capability in those early years; hence state-supported
institutions of higher learning would not be realized until after the Civil War.
As had been the case earlier with the Atlantic seaboard colonies, the first
1Laws and Decrees of the State of Coahuila and Texas, trans. by J P. Kimball (Hous-
ton, 839), 127, Decree No. 92. As a result of difficulties encountered in establishing
these schools, other decrees dealing with education were passed in subsequent years. For
the most part, however, all went unfulfilled.
2The Texas Declaration of Independence proclaims that "it is an axiom, in political
science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened it is idle to expect the contin-
uance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self-government." Texas Almanac and State
Industrial Guide, 1970-1971 ([Dallas], 1969), 98.
sH. P. N. Gammel (comp.), Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 (Io vols.; Austin, 1898), II,
134-136; IV, 1020-1023.
4Texas, Constitution (1876), Art. VII, Sect. 15.
5Gammel (comp.), Laws of Texas, II, 161-165; Houston Telegraph and Texas Regis-
ter, January I6, 1839.
6Speech of Governor John Ireland, September 15, 1883, in San Antonio Daily Express,
September 16, 1883.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/508/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.