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Cornell University was incorporated by the legislature of the State of New York on the 27th of April, 1865, and opened on the 7th of October, 1868. The existence of the university is due to the combined wisdom and bounty of the United States, the State of New York, and Ezra Cornell.

By an act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862, it was provided that there should be granted to the several states public lands, "thirty thousand acres for each senator and representative of congress," from the sale of which there should be established a perpetual fund "the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated, by each state which may take and claim the benefit of this act, to the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one college, where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the states may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life." The act forbade the use of any portion of the aforesaid fund, or of the interest thereon, for the purchase, erection or maintenance of any building or buildings; but the several states claiming and taking the benefit of the provisions of the act were required, by legislative assent previously given, "to provide, within five years at least, not less than one college" for carrying out the purposes of the act.

The share of the State of New York was nine hundred and ninety thousand acres. The scrip was delivered to the comptroller, who was authorized, by the act passed May 5, 1863, to receive it and with the approval and concurrence of other state officers to dispose of the whole or any portion of it for cash, or for stocks of the United States or of the states, or some other safe stocks yielding not less than five per cent. Under this act eight thousand acres were sold at eighty-three cents and sixty-eight thousand acres at eighty-five cents, producing together sixty-four thousand four hundred and forty dollars. But as other states were offering their scrip at a much lower rate, sales soon ceased. Furthermore there was the greatest uncertainty in regard to the disposition which the legislature might ultimately make of the fund that was expected to accrue from the sale of the land scrip.

Meantime Ezra Cornell was dreaming of a project which he had

come to formulate in the memorable words: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." By a union of his own resources with the proceeds of the land grant he saw a way to a realization of his purpose. This union was effected by the act of April 27, 1865, establishing Cornell University, and appropriating to it the income of the sale of public lands granted by congress to the State of New York; and the founder's broad conception of a university was reconciled with the narrower purpose of the act of congress donating public lands to the states establishing colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, by providing in the charter that " such other branches of science and knowledge may be embraced in the plan of instruction and investigation pertaining to the university, as the trustees may deem useful and proper." In the same liberal spirit it was provided in regard to the board of trustees, that "at no time shall a majority of the board be of one religious sect, or of no religious sect ; " in regard to professors and other officers, that " persons of every religious denomination, or of no religious denominations shall be equally eligible to all offices and appointments;" and in regard to students, that the university should admit them "at the lowest rates of expense consistent with its welfare and efficiency," and more particularly that it should nually receive students, one from each assembly district of the state free of any tuition fee . . . . in consideration of their superior ability, and as a reward for superior scholarship in the academies and public schools of this state."


Ezra Cornell's direct donation to the university was five hundred thousand dollars, two hundred acres of land with useful buildings, and several smaller gifts for special purposes. His largest contribution, however, came in the shape of profits eventually made by the university on the land scrip which he purchased from the state. Of the New York scrip no further sales had been made by the comptroller prior to the autumn of 1865, when Ezra Cornell purchased one hundred thousand acres for fifty thousand dollars upon condition that all the profits which should accrue from the sale of the land should be paid to Cornell University. By act of the legislature passed April 10, 1866, the state had authorized the comptroller to sell the scrip remaining unsold, that is to say, scrip for eight hundred and thirteen thousand nine hundred and twenty acres, to the trustees of Cornell University at a price of not less than thirty cents per acre; and in case the trustees should not agree to make the purchase, the legislature had further authorized the sale "to any person or persons,' on the terms above named, provided that proper security should be given that "the whole

net avails and profits from the sale of scrip" should be paid over and devoted to the purposes of Cornell University. The trustees were not in condition to make the purchase. After some delay Mr. Cornell agreed to take the scrip at thirty cents an acre, with an addition of thirty cents if he should realize that sum on the sale of the land, making the following stipulation in a letter to the comptroller regarding any profits that might accrue in excess of the purchase money :

"I shall most cheerfully accept your views so far as to consent to place the entire profits to be derived from the sale of the lands to be located with the college land scrip in the treasury of the state, if the state will receive the money as a separate fund from that which may be derived from the sale of the scrip, and will keep it permanently invested, and appropriate the proceeds from the income thereof annually to the Cornell University, subject to the direction of the trustees thereof for the general purposes of said institution, and not to hold it subject to the restrictions which the act of congress places upon the funds derived from the sale of college land scrip, or as a donation from the government of the United States, but as a donation from Ezra Cornell to the Cornell University."

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The terms proposed by Mr. Cornell were accepted, and the agreement with the state was made August 4, 1866. The sixth paragraph of the agreement distinguishes clearly between the College Land Scrip Fund"-being the receipts from the state's sale of the land scrip—and the "Cornell Endowment Fund," which was to be constituted by the profits made by Mr. Cornell in the management of the lands and by his other gifts to the university. Mr. Cornell sold scrip for three hundred and eighty-one thousand nine hundred and twenty acres, at prices varying from eighty-five cents to one dollar per acre, the total receipts being three hundred and fifty-seven thousand seven hundred and forty-eight dollars and sixty-one cents. With the remaining scrip for five hundred and thirty-two thousand acres he located five hundred and twelve thousand three hundred and forty-three and sixtyfive-hundredths acres; and of the land thus located he sold one hundred and eleven thousand and forty-six and eighty-six-hundredths acres for four hundred and seventy thousand three hundred and sixtyfour dollars and eighty-eight cents. The residue of the land he carried till October, 1874, when a new agreement was made, with the consent of the proper state officers, in virtue of which "the Cornell University was to take the place and assume the duties and obligations of Ezra Cornell, in his contracts with the state, of November, 1865, and August, 1866, accepting from him a conveyance of his entire interest, and all his rights under such contracts, and of all the lands located by

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him with college scrip, and paying at once in cash to the comptroller the full amount of Cornell's bonds to the state principal and interest, and henceforward assuming the burden of the care, management, and sale of such lands." The university thus took the place of Ezra Cornell in his contract with the state; but subsequently the legislature by an act passed May 18, 1880, directed the comptroller, upon the request of Cornell University, to assign, transfer, pay, and deliver to the latter "all money, security, stocks, bonds and contracts, constituting a part of or relating to the fund known as the Cornell Endowment Fund, now held by the state for the use of said university," and a short time thereafter such transfer was made. From the lands handed over by Mr. Cornell-four hundred and one thousand two hundred and ninetysix and seventy-nine-hundredths acres the Board of Trustees, through the agency of their Land Committee (of which Henry W. Sage was chairman), have already realized a net return of about four million dollars. The absolute ownership by the university of the Cornell Endowment Fund was, on May 19, 1890, established by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, affirming a similar decision of the New York Court of Appeals.

The College Land Scrip Fund amounts to six hundred and eightyeight thousand five hundred and seventy-six dollars and twelve cents. By chapter 78 of the laws of 1895 it was turned into the treasury of the state and a certificate of indebtedness for an interest thereupon of five per cent. annually was issued to Cornell University by the State, conformably to the conditions of the act of congress of July 2, 1862, under which the donation of public land was made.

The original charter of Cornell University set limits to the amount of property it could hold; but by an act passed May 12, 1882, the clause in the charter restricting the holdings of the university was amended so as to remove every limitation, the precise language of the amendment being as follows:

"The corporation hereby created ['Cornell University'] may take and hold real and personal property to such an amount as may be or become necessary for the proper conduct and support of the several departments of education heretofore established or hereafter to be established by its board of trustees, and such property, real and personal, as has been or may hereafter be given to said corporation by gift, grant, devise, or bequest in trust or otherwise, for the uses and purposes permitted by its charter, and in cases of trusts so created the several trust estates shall be kept distinct, and the interest or income shall be faithfully applied to the purposes of such trust in accordance with the provisions of the act or instrument by which the respective trusts were created."

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