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active. They are in the army and in the navy—in universities and colleges—in the halls of our legislatures, both State and National—in the laboratories of the analytical chemist —in the pulpit, in the law and in medicine—in agriculture, giving to it an elevation and a charm of intelligence which the merely plodding practical farmer never knew—in the varied and ever-varying manufacturing and mechanic arts— in intricate and careful surveys, geographical and topograpical,—and in the construction of our railroads, canals and other works. Indeed so varied and polytechnic are their acquirements, .that it would be difficult to find any field of practical usefulness or human enterprise where they are not found conspicuous as workers. Decided in their convictions, because thorough and practical in their deductions, they win their way to the confidence and esteem of all with whom they come in contact.
It was a graduate of this Institute who laid the first T or heavy rail, on any railroad in this State. It was a graduate of this Institute who superintended the construction of the first long, or eight wheels car which ever ran in this State. It was a graduate of this Institute who demonstrated by survey that there was no necessity for the cumbersome and tedious inclined plane on the Albany railroad, at Schenectady, and who ran a line of levels within sight of that inclined plane, establishing a grade of about fifty feet to the mile, and on which line the present track, easily traversed by an ordinary locomotive, is located. All the vast improvements in the means of intercommunication in this country with their manifold blessings and benefits to all, have been prosecuted, to a greater or less extent by our graduates. To the practical minds of our graduates we are indebted for improvements in labor-saving machinery and in instruments and apparatus of various kinds. When I entered the profession, very few of the instruments then in use were manufactured in our country, and those which were, were not considered as accurate and reliable as those imported. Our theodolites, transits, levels and drawing instruments, were all from England. Since then, intelligence, skill and enterprise have worked a complete revolution. Our home productions of these instruments have not only been augmented, but have been so improved and perfected that they excel, in finish and accuracy, those of foreign manufacture, once considered indispensable. And while I would not be invidious in naming any one particularly, to the disparagement of others, I cannot refrain from saying that this country is indebted to a graduate of this Institute, an honored citizen of this city, my valued friend, one who from boyhood has possessed a character without guile, for the establishment in this city of an extensive manufactory for the construction of implements for engineering, mathematical and philosophical purposes, which is not only a credit to this city, but to our state and nation.
All these results are natural, and not arbitrary, or by chance. These practical developments have grown out of the methods of training at this Institute. The carefully demonstrated analysis of every subject,—the knowledge of principles and their practical applications, rather than an artificial knowledge of a variety of things—even the habits of thought receiving an invaluable training,—these are the methods which have proved so successful in developing not only mind but character, giving to science some of its brightest ornaments, and to the nation many useful and valued citizens. And now a question very naturally interposes. If these methods are so correct and beneficial, and the results of the polytechnic plan so productive of good, why should not the number of such schools be increased all over our land; and why should its superior advantages and benefits be exclusively for one sex? The fact that many of our colleges have added to their ordinary course of instruction some of the branches of the course pursued at this Institute, is proof of the wants of the people in this respect, and shows a careful foresight on the part of such colleges, to endeavor to provide for and satisfy such wants. As to the other question, it is enough to say that the growing grace and justice of men will yet cause old prejudices, chronic and stubborn as they have been, to give way,Jand the time is not far distant when every school, every profession, every enterprise, will have all gates and bars removed, and access thereto be open to all, without restriction to sex. I know of no harm that would come to this Institute by admitting ladies as students. I studied botany at this Institute under the teachings of a lady professor. I refer to Miss Johnson, whose love of that science enabled her to clothe her teachings with a beauty of expression which the lapse of time has been unable to efface.
I desire to call your attention to another favorable circumstance in the history of this school. I allude to the steady progress made from its small beginnings. Very few institutions of fifty years' standing but what have had periods of declension and retrogression. With us there has been steady progress from the first. No hesitation, no faltering, no backward step. There is no time in its history when it can be said it was better five years before, but on the contrary, every five years has added to its efficiency and value. I cannot but contrast its present condition with what it was when I graduated; and more especially as regards your laboratory. I readily bring to mind our old, roughly-made wooden one, with its cheap and rude appliances, standing in Walnut Grove, on the bank of a ravine, the site of which is now occupied by the Church of the Holy Cross. You now have a laboratory of which you may justly be proud. I have never seen one more complete in all its arrangements and appliances. The contrast is equally striking in all the other departments; so that now this Institute occupies a commanding position among the institutions of learning in this country. Our graduates now excel in useful knowledge those of any college on the continent, and I might add that this knowledge is obtained at a less cost here than elsewhere, while the advantages of that knowledge, in its applications to the future of the graduate, cannot be made a subject of comparison with any school in this country. It requires a high standard of acquirements in order to gain a diploma here, and this is becoming so well-known that a diploma of this Institute is taken as conelusive evidence of the qualifications of its owner. I trust that no temptation will ever induce any lowering of the present standard.
The success of this Institute, and other institutions of learning in our country, is in my judgment solving a very important problem in relation to the schools of the general Government, supported wholly from the public treasury. The public mind is being already awakened to this subject. Nearly half a million of dollars is annually spent in their support, and an estimate shows that each graduated cadet costs the Government $15,000 for his education.
It is contended that these Government schools are wrong upon principle. It is claimed that the Government has no right to take the money of the people for the purpose of educating a select class of favored persons. Ours is a government of the people, and they should be able to provide schools for teaching every branch ^f knowledge needed for any department of the public service, be it army or navy, or what not.
Let the Government establish whatever qualifications' it pleases, even more rigid and exacting than any now required for admission into its service, and the enterprise of our people will be equal to the emergency. Schools and departments of schools, will be started to teach the things the Government will require in order to pass the necessary examination for admission into the service; and the supply will be ample in proper men fully qualified, by their knowledge, theoretical and practical, in nautical science and the manual of arms, and this supply will be furnished without one dollar of expenditure of the public money, and better than the Government could produce at any cost. ,This is no partisan question. It is a question of enlightened policy, whether vast sums of the public money should be expended every year for the benefit of the favored few, without an adequate return therefor, when the objects of these schools can be accomplished in a better way, and without any cost whatever to the Government.
So much for the past and the present. The inquiry now naturally forces itself upon us, "What of our future, and the future of this Institute?" Is that law of growth and progress, which has been so faithfully obeyed in the past, to be its leaven and its lever of power, or is that other law of deterioration and decay to govern its future? The world has made rapid strides in knowledge during the past fifty years, equal to any five hundred years of its previous history. In everything, development has followed development, in such rapid succession, while science has been unfolding new pages of her mysterious books, and throwing the light of intelligence on what was before obscure and uncertain. The heretofore inscrutable history of our race is being written in the light of scientific discoveries, not in conflict, as I believe, with the true interpretation and meaning of the Mosaic record, but in loving harmony therewith. These and kindred discoveries of science are yet to have a salutary influence upon the progress of humanity. The pernicious teachings of the past as to the utter worthlessness, vileness and depravity of man, is passing away, and as science unfolds to us the loving care of the great producing Cause, which has watched the progress of the race from its almost useless infancy to a vigorous and useful manhood, we cannot fail to feel that we have a destiny grand and glorious beyond anything we are now able to appreciate. But whatever may have been the origin of the race, whether it descended from a single pair, pure and happy in the innocence of an absence of knowledge of both good and evil, or whether it gradually evolved and developed from something lower to something higher, till through ages of intellectual chaos and twilight it at last, by almost imperceptible stages of advancement, came gradually into a clearer light,—are questions which may be named but not discussed at this time. For the present we may consider them as questions the exact solution of which is yet darkened by the clouds of mystery. But certain it is, that the race has made continual advancement from the earliest of its historical periods to the present hour; so that progress seems to be its normal condition and the most important