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Remarks on Education in the District of Columbia
March 3, 1862, in Congress

     The bill referred to in these remarks would incorporate the Washington and Georgetown Railway Company. Section 3 of this bill stipulated that 3 percent of the company’s net receipts would be “applied exclusively to the support of free public schools in the District of Columbia.”

    Mr. Stevens. I rise merely to say that one great reason why I support such a bill as this because it does contribute to educate the children of this District. It takes it not from the passenger who use the road, but from the net earnings and out of the pockets of the company. Now, I care not whether the people here are “worthless” or not; they have children who are to grow up and become men and women, and the more “worthless” the people here are, the greater the necessity for taking care that their children are properly educated. I admire the law in some of the eastern States which puts it in the power of certain officers to go about among the worthless portion of the population, pick up their children, and compel them to attend school at the public expense. Such, I believe, is the law in Massachusetts, and in nearly all the New England States; and it is an admirable law.

    Now, I know, to use a Yankee phrase, how “shiftless” the people of this District are, and how “shiftless” the people are in all great towns supported by government patronage. But that is all the more reason why we should take care of the rising generation, and give them an opportunity of being educated, whether their fathers and mothers are able to educate them or not.

    I will only say in regard to the bill, that I had the honor of presenting what I thought a very good bill in the early part of the session, which was referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia. I do not know that it was any better than this bill; but several of my friends were interested in it, and named as incorporators, and I should have been glad if the committee had selected it. But I have been here long enough to know that unless we take the bill which has been matured by the committee, rival interests will come in, and we never shall get a railroad here. I understand that the committee overruled the bill which I introduced, and have unanimously introduced another. I have read the bill in its printed form, and see nothing objectionable in it. It is not quite as good as my bill, and I wonder the committee did not discover that. But they thought otherwise; and I have made up my mind to sacrifice me predilection for my own bill, and support this one. I am under an obligation to call the previous question, which I now do.



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