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Tax-Exemption Privileges for Professors of Brown University

  • William W. Brickman (a1)


It is common knowledge that the history of education is regarded by many who direct the destiny of the curriculum in teacher-education institutions as a very impractical, antiquarian, and uninteresting subject which has managed to hang on by sufferance and which is now either being fused with the more functional foundation fields, forced out entirely, or taught by scholars in general history. No attempt will be made to assess all these allegations; rather, it will be shown that the charge of impracticality has been grossly overstated. The following case study will illustrate how the historical method of research was recently applied to a problem in the very practical area of finance.



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1. Guild, Reuben A., History of Brown University, with Illustrative Documents (Providence: Brown University, 1867), p. 138. The full text of the charter, which was granted in February 1764 appears on pp. 132-39. Guild was the librarian of Brown University.

2. Ibid. , p. 139.

3. Quoted, , ibid. , pp. 139–40.

4. Ibid. , p. 140.

5. Loc. cit.

6. Letter to the Rev. John Ryland, May 27, 1744, in Guild, Reuben A., Life, Times, and Correspondence of fames Manning, and the Early History of Brown University (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1864), p. 233.

7. Quoted, Guild, , “History of Brown University …”, op. cit. , p. 140.

8. Loc. cit.

9. Report of Senator Elisha R. Potter of South Kingstown, Committee on the Judiciary, to the Senate, Rhode Island, “Right of a Legislature to Grant a Perpetual Exemption from Taxation.” August 26, 1862. Appendix to “Acts and Resolves of the General Assembly, of the State of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, Passed at the Special Session, August 1862” (Providence: Anthony, 1862), p. 1. Hereafter to be cited as Potter Report.

10. For biographical data on Potter, see Henry Barnard's essay in Potter, Charles E. (ed.), Genealogies of the Potter Families and Their Descendants in America (Boston: Mudge, 1888), pp. 3437; Rider, Sidney S., Historical Research and Educational Labor Illustrated in the Work of Elisha Reynolds Potter (Providence: Franklin, 1901); “Elisha Reynolds Potter [Jr.]”, in Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography, V (New York: Appleton, 1888), 89; Monroe, Will S., “Elisha Reynolds Potter,” in Monroe, Paul (ed.), A Cyclopedia of Education, V (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913), 19; Biographical Directory of the American Congress: 1774-1927 (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1928), p. 1425; and Blanchard, Edith R., “Elisha Reynolds Potter,” in Dictionary of American Biography, XV (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935), 126-27.

11. “Commissioner Potter proved to be an excellent official.” Carroll, Charles, Public Education in Rhode Island (Providence: State Board of Education, 1918), p. 173.

12. “Reports and Documents upon Public Schools and Education in the State of Rhode Island” (Providence: Knowles, Anthony, 1855). Of special interest is his report, “The Bible and Prayer in Public Schools” (1854), a 200-page study that “worked out the whole question and established it so thoroughly with quotations of argument and illustration that it is difficult to see how the subject can be, even at this day, more perfectly illumined, or more fairly considered.” Stockwell, Thomas B., “Report of the Commissioner of Public Schools of Rhode Island, 1894,” in Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the State Board of Education (Providence: Freeman, 1895), p. 245. Barnard recommended this report to the readers of his American Journal of Education and in 1874 suggested to “his intimate friend” that it be reprinted in the Journal. Nothing came of this proposal, however. Thursfield, Richard E., “Henry Barnard's American Journal of Education (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1945), pp. 219-20.

13. Here were published Potter's annual reports for 1851 and 1852. He was the founder, editor, and chief contributor, 1852-1853.

14. According to Barnard, Potter originally favored Brown University as the institution to offer professional teacher training, because the state could expect cooperation “on account of the corporate privileges and exemptions accorded to the institution and its professors.” Potter, Charles E., op. cit. , p. 35.

15. Blanchard, , op. cit. , p. 127.

16. Potter Report, p. 2.

17. Loc. cit.

18. Ibid. , p. 3.

19. Ibid. , p. 4.

20. Ibid. , p. 7.

21. Ibid. , pp. 143–44.

22. Ibid. , p. 143.

23. Loc. cit.

24. Loc. cit.

25. Ibid. , p. 144.

26. Ibid. , p. 145. In view of the United States Supreme Court Decision in the Dartmouth College Case, it is an open question whether the legislative act of 1863 was constitutional.

27. Good, Carter V. (ed.), Dictionary of Education (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1945).

28. Ibid. , p. 310.

29. Craigie, W. A. and Hulbert, J. R. (ed.), Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles , III, 1942, 1839.

30. Forcellinus, Aegidius, Totius Latinitatis Lexicon (3d ed., 1833), p. 507. This definition seems to stem from the codes of Theodosius and Justinian.

31. Freeman, Kenneth J., Schools of Hellas (3d ed.; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1922), p. 50.

32. Nyström, Solmu, Die deutsche Schulterminologie in der Periode 1300-1400, I. Schulanstalten, Lehrer und Schüler: Wortgeschichtliche Studie (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finnische Literaturgesellschaft, 1915), pp. 121–24.

33. Tertullian, , “De Idolatria,” 10, quoted in Ibid., p. 121 n.

34. “Ludimagister,” in Monroe, Paul (ed.), A Cyclopedia of Education , IV (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1913), 92. Cf., Eby, Frederick and Arrowood, Charles F., The History and Philosophy of Education: Ancient and Medieval (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1940), p. 536.

35. Nyström, , op. cit. , pp. 121–22. He cites a thirteenth-century document pertaining to the Bebenhausen monastery (from Pfaff's Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichtswesens in Württemberg, p. 4), in which two monks who taught youths undergoing monastic training are referred to as “professores monasterii” (p. 122 n.).

36. Ibid. , p. 122.

37. Ibid. , pp. 123–24.

38. Oberle, W., “Professor,” in Roloff, Ernst M., Lexikon der Pädagogik , IV (Freiburg i. Br.: Herder, 1915), p. 75.

39. Loc. cit. The exact words of the ordinance are: “Alle Lehrer an den höheren Schulen werden Professoren genannt.” It should be noted that höhere Schulen is the German expression for secondary schools. Cf., Kandel, I. L., Comparative Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1933), p. 723.

40. See Elliott, Edward C. and Chambers, M. M., “The Colleges and the Courts” (New York: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1936), and its sequelsChambers, M. M. “The Colleges and the Courts, 1936-40” and “The Colleges and the Courts, 1941-45” (1946).

41. “Catalogus Senatus Academici—in Universitate Brunensi Providentias …” (Boston: Dutton & Wentworth, 1842), p. 5.

42. Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764-1904 (Providence: The University, 1905), p. 38.

43. Guild, Reuben A., Early History of Brown University (Providence: The Author, 1896), p. 544.

44. Morgan, Edmund S. to the writer, February 27, 1950.

45. Tanner, Harold B. to the writer, May 17, 1950.

46. Providence Journal , March 21, 1950.

47. Ibid.

48. Keeney, Barnaby C., Dean, Graduate School, Brown University, to the writer, October 23, 1950. Providence Journal, October 22, 1950.

49. Keeney, Barnaby C. to the writer, November 17, 1950. According to the Providence Journal, loc. cit., the Brown Corporation “viewed the proposed change in favor of the state as a gesture of good will.”


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