In force March 4, I837.
AN ACT to amend the several acts in relation to common schools.1
Moneys to be added to school fund
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That all monies which may be received into the State Treasury under the pro-
<Page 2>visions of any act of Congress, directing or authorizing any part of the revenue of the United States to be deposited in the State Treasury, except that which has been appropriated to purposes of internal improvement, shall be added to and form a part of the Common School Fund of the State, and shall be loaned to the State on the same terms upon which the Seminary and School Funds have heretofore been loaned.2
To be distributed
Sec. 2. Hereafter the interest accruing upon the School College and Seminary funds shall be distributed among the several counties in the State as heretofore required by law.
To be deposited
Sec. 3. The money which may be received from the United States as aforesaid, shall be deposited by the State Treasurer in the State Bank of Illinois, and Bank of Illinois in equal amounts, in proportion to the amount of stock paid into each bank, subject to such deposition as may be made of the same by the General Assembly.
Trustees to give notice
Time of notice before election
Trustees to act as judges
To open poll books, & cause an election to be held
Sec. 4. For the purpose of carrying into effect the foregoing provisions of this act, and to establish a system of common schools throughout the State, it shall be the duties of the trustees of school lands in every township in the State, to notify the inhabitants of their respective townships, to meet at a time to be appointed by said trustees, at some convenient place in the said townships, and to vote for or against becoming incorporated as hereinafter provided, for the purpose of establishing and supporting common schools; the notice shall be given by posting up at least six advertisements at six of the most public places in the township, at least twenty days before the day of election; and if there be a newspaper published in the township, the notice shall also be published in such newspaper for the length of time aforesaid. When the election is held, two of the trustees shall act as judges, and one as clerk of the same; and all persons residing in the township, who, at the time of election, may be eligible to vote for representative of the General Assembly, shall be permitted to vote; the vote shall be taken “viva voce;” each voter shall vote for or against being incorporated; and if it shall appear that two thirds of the votes taken are in favor of being incorporated, the said trustees shall immediately on the same day, or within ten days thereafter, open one or more poll books, and cause an election to be held for five trustees, residents and freeholders within the township, who shall be styled “Trustees of Schools,” in said township, to superintend the business and affairs of the township in relation to education and schools generally, and they shall be the suc-
<Page 3>cessors of the former trustees of school lands in the township.
Trustees to have perpetual succession
Sec. 5. “Trustees of Schools” in townships shall have perpetual succession, and by their corporate name have the right to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered unto, in all courts and places where judicial proceeding is or may be had or allowed; and upon the election of trustees as aforesaid, the inhabitants of townships shall be deemed and considered for all the purposes and objects mentioned in this act, incorporated by the name and style of “Trustees of Schools,” in the township and range according to the numbers thereof, and the said corporation shall have perpetual succession.
To deliver books & issue a certificate of election
Sec. 6. The trustees of townships shall immediately after any election of trustees as aforesaid, deliver the poll books of both elections to the school commissioners of their respective counties, with a certificate signed by them, or a majority of them, of the election of trustees; said poll book and certificate to be filed and preserved by the school commissioners.
When elections to be held
To have superintendance of schools, lay off districts, &c
Sec. 7. The elections provided for in the fourth section of this act may be holden at any time after the first Monday of July next, and the trustees elected shall continue to be trustees for the term of two years, and until others are elected; and an election shall be held biennially in any township for trustees of schools in said townships; the place of election and the mode of conducting the same shall be fixed by the trustees. Trustees of schools in townships shall have a general superintendance over all schools kept in the township, they shall have power, under the rules and regulations herein prescribed, to lay off their townships in school districts; to call meetings of the voters of the township for the purpose of considering of, and devising ways and means for promoting the cause of education in their township; to make contracts for building school houses; to employ teachers when necessary; to adopt by-laws, regulating the mode of conducting schools, and defining and regulating the duties of all officers of the corporation; to purchase libraries for the use of schools in their townships; and to provide for the protection and safe-keeping of all funds and property of the township.
To keep a journal of their proceedings, appoint officers, &c[etc.]
Sec. 8. The said trustees shall keep a journal of their proceedings, and cause a record to be made and kept of all their acts as trustees; they shall hold meetings quarterly, or oftener if necessary: they shall appoint a treasurer who shall perform the duties of secretary, and keep the journal and record of their proceedings; he
<Page 4>shall also receive and pay out all money of the township, give all notices of public meetings, act as clerk of such meetings, loan the funds of the township, collect all moneys due the township, and pay teachers under the directions of the trustees, and shall continue to be treasurer during the time for which the trustees making the appointment were elected.
Treasurer to give bond
Condition of bond.
Sec. 9. Every treasurer, appointed as aforesaid, shall, before entering upon the duties of treasurer, execute a bond with two or more freeholders as security in a penalty sufficient to cover all moneys, which he may receive for the use of the township, conditioned as follows:— “The condition of this bond is such, that, if the above bound A. B. shall well and truly perform all the duties now, or which may at any time hereafter be required of him, as treasurer of the trustees of schools in township No. ——, Range No. ——, in the county of ——, during the time of his continuance in office, and shall, when he ceases to be treasurer, deliver over to his successor, all moneys, bonds, notes, books, accounts, papers, records, vouchers, and all property of every description, in his hands, belonging to the said township, or placed in his hands for the use of the township, or any school therein, then the obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force.” The security shall be approved of by the trustees of the township, and the bond shall be filed with the school commissioner of the county.
School commissioners to pay over money
Sec. 10. Whenever the inhabitants of any township shall have become incorporated as provided for in the foregoing sections of this act, and the treasurer’s bond shall be filed with the school commissioner of the county, it shall be the duty of the said school commissioner to pay over to said treasurer all moneys in his hands, belonging to the township, and deliver over all bonds, notes, and mortgages taken for money due said township, and take a receipt for the same; and such treasurer shall have the right, and it is hereby made his duty, to collect all monies due the township, as the same becomes due and payable, and to loan and appropriate the same as herein directed.
Treasurers to procure books, &c
Sec. 11. Treasurers of townships shall be required to provide themselves with two well bound books, one to be called a Cash Book; and the other a Loan Book. They shall charge themselves in the cash book with all money received, shall show from whom received and on what account, and the credit shall show to whom and on what account the money was paid. They shall enter in the loan book, the name of any person to whom money is loaned; the amount loaned; the date of the loan; the rate
<Page 5>of interest; the time when payable the names of securities; or if real estate be taken, the description of the same.
Books to be examined by trustees
Sec. 12. At every quarterly meeting of the trustees they shall examine the books and accounts of the treasurer, and see that they are properly kept; and the funds of the township secured as required by this act. The treasurer shall exhibit his books to the said trustees, and all notes, mortgages, vouchers and other papers which the trustees may desire to examine, touching the situation and management of the funds of the township.
Funds how paid out
Sec. 13. No township funds shall be paid out for any purpose whatever, except upon an order of the trustees, previously made.
Schedule to be returned
Sec. 14. Schedules of schools kept in townships, incorporated under the provisions of this act, shall be returned to the treasurers of townships, instead of school commissioners of counties.
Treasurer to make abstracts
Sec. 15. Treasurers of townships shall, during the first week in the months of July and January, make abstracts from all schedules of schools returned to them, showing the name of each teacher; the total number of scholars attending each school; and the total number of days taught; to be submitted to the trustees of the townships.
Trustees to examine abstracts
Sec. 16. On the second Mondays in July and January of each year, the trustees of schools shall meet at their usual place of meeting in the township, and shall examine the schedules of schools deliverd to their treasurer, and also the abstract made by him as aforesaid; and after correcting all errors which they may discover, or ascertain to exist, if there be any, they shall apportion the interest accruing upon the township funds among the several teachers, in proportion to the number of scholars, and number of days taught, and require the treasurer to pay the teachers their respective proportions.
To make certificate on the abstracts
Sec. 17. The apportionment of money shall be equalized in each township by paying to every teacher the same rate of compensation: the trustees shall also make a certificate upon the abstract made by the treasurer, stating that they have compared the same with the original schedules of teachers, and find the same to be correct, that the schedules were made and certified in due form, and the township fund apportioned according to the same.
Treasurer to deliver abstracts &c
Sec. 18. Treasurers of townships shall deliver the abstracts of schools, made and certified as aforesaid, to school commissioners of counties, on or before the third Monday of January, annually, and shall receive from said school commissioners, annually, for the use of the teachers
<Page 6>the amount of interest due the township, upon the school, college and seminary funds.
Surplus to be added to township fund
Sec. 19. When the interest, subject to distribution in any township, shall amount to more than will pay the teachers therein for any year, the surplus shall be added to the township funds, and kept and loaned as principal. Inhabitants of townships, who do not become incorporated under the provisions of this act, shall be entitled to a distributive share of the interest on the school, college, and seminary funds, and to the interest on their township funds, as though they were incorporated; but the funds of such townships shall remain in the hands of school commissioners of counties, and shall be distributed upon schedules of schools, kept as heretofore provided by law.
Signing a schedule or certificate to defraud
Liable to indictment
Sec. 20. If any trustee of a school, or trustee of a township, or township treasurer, shall make or sign any schedule of a school, or certificate upon a schedule, with the intent to defraud any township, or any teacher of a school, or with intent to obtain a larger amount of interest than is legally due any township or any teacher of a school therein, such trustee or treasurer shall be liable to an indictment for the same, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisoned a time not exceeding twelve months, in the discretion of the court.
Certain acts applicable
Sec. 21. The provisions of the act entitled, “An act providing for the security of the school funds,” approved 12th February, 1835, shall be considered as applicable to township funds, loaned by treasurers of townships.
Punishment of treasurer
Sec. 22. If any treasurer of a township shall unlawfully convert any township, or other school funds, to his own use, or shall fail to account for and pay over all funds which he may have received as treasurer, as required by law, he shall be deemed guilty of larceny, and upon conviction, shall be fined and imprisoned, as in other cases of larceny.
Inhabitants may be incorporated
Sec. 23. The inhabitants of townships may at any time become incorporated under the provisions of this act, and trustees of schools in townships shall be personally responsible for the proper application of the funds of the township.
Trustees to make report to Auditor.
Sec. 24. In order that every General Assembly of the State may be in possession of information, showing the condition and state of the schools in the State, and the means of supporting those schools, trustees of schools in townships shall make annual reports to the school commissioners of counties, showing the following facts:
First. The amount of the principal of the township funds on hand at the commencement of the year.
Second. The amount of interest which has accrued on said fund, to the time of the report.
Third. The amount of interest appropriated for the support of schools.
Fourth. The number of schools which have been kept in the township, the number of scholars taught, and the length of time which each school was continued.
Fifth. The amount of all interest received from school commissioners of counties.
Auditor to report to General Assembly.
Sixth. A statement showing the amount of money expended for all other purposes, than in paying teachers of schools, and the purpose or object to which the same was applied; and school commissioners of counties shall make abstracts from said reports, and transmit the same to the Auditor of Public Accounts, together with similar abstracts from all townships, not incorporated, and the Auditor shall lay before each General Assembly, the information transmitted to him as aforesaid.
Trustees to call meetings of the inhabitants.
People have the right to adopt resolution &c.
Sec. 25. The trustees of schools in townships shall once in every year, call a meeting of the inhabitants of the township at some convenient place therein, and notice shall be given of such meeting, as is required in the case of meeting for the purpose of becoming incorporated; and at such meeting the trustees shall submit to the people a statement, showing the amount and situation of the township funds, and the previous application of interest, showing all the facts required to be shown in the annual report to the school commissioners of counties; and at such meeting the people shall have the right, and it is made their duty, to adopt such resolutions, and prescribe such rules for the conduct of the trustees, and for promoting the cause of education in the township, not inconsistent with the laws of the land, as they may deem proper.
Teachers not to receive pay.
Sec. 26. No teacher shall be paid out of the school funds, unless he or she shall have obtained a certificate from the township trustees, of his or her qualifications as a teacher of the branches of learning taught by said teacher.3
Approved, March 4, 1837.
1On January 6, 1837, John Dement introduced HB 53, originally titled “A Bill for Distributing of the School Funds of This State, among the Counties, According to the Number of Children in Each County under the Age of Twenty Years” in the House of Representatives, which then tabled the bill and ordered 200 copies to be printed. On January 12, the House referred it to the Committee of the Whole. On January 24, the House referred the bill to a select committee with instructions to propose amendments specifically focusing on the distribution of school funds among counties according to population. The Committee of the Whole approved the instructions by a vote of 59 yeas to 14 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. On January 27, the select committee reported the bill back with amendments. A movement was made to strike out the original language of the bill and replace it with eleven newly proposed sections. The bill was laid on the table, and the House adjourned before a vote could be taken on the new language. On January 28, the House voted against tabling the bill by a vote of 9 yeas to 61 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. The House then voted against adopting the substitute language proposed the previous day, by a vote of 9 yeas to 58 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. At this time, William Lane moved that the House adjourn, which was denied by a vote of 20 yeas to 43 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. John Hogan then tried to adjourn the House again, which was defeated by a vote of 27 yeas to 33 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. The House then voted against accepting substitute language for the first section of the bill, by a vote of 11 yeas to 47 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. William W. Happy next moved that the House adjourn, which was again denied by a vote of 23 yeas to 35 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. On February 7, the House voted against a substitute for Section 2 by a vote of 32 yeas to 36 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. They then voted against the deletion of everything after Section 11 by a vote of 14 yeas to 61 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. The House then voted against the addition of a Section 22, by a vote of 18 yeas to 52 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. Mr. Craig proposed to amend the bill by adding language to the first section, and Abraham Lincoln proposed amending Craig’s amendment with replacement language, but the House voted against both. On February 7, the House passed the bill by a vote of 67 yeas to 9 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. The House then changed the bill’s title to “A Bill for Distributing of the School Funds of This State, among the Counties, According to the Number of Children in Each County, under Twenty Years of Age.” On March 1, following several deliberations on the bill as a Committee of the Whole, and the addition of sundry amendments by a select committee, the Senate passed the bill as amended. The Senate amended the title so as to read “A Bill to Amend the Several Acts in Relation to Common Schools.” On March 2, the House approved the Senate amendments and amended title by a vote of 51 yeas to 21 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. On March 4, the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 184, 246-47, 284, 376-77, 408-11, 415-18, 502-04, 505-06, 796, 807; Illinois Senate Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1st sess., 364, 390, 396, 412, 413, 544, 554, 567, 571, 595, 626.
2When Ohio and Indiana became states, Congress earmarked five percent of the net proceeds of all future sales of government lands within those states for the construction of roads and canals. In 1818, when Congress passed the act enabling the Illinois Territory to become a state, Nathaniel Pope successfully argued that the proceeds from sales of government lands in Illinois should be earmarked for education rather than infrastructure. Upon statehood, Congress granted to Illinois three percent of the net proceeds of all federal land sales in the state to be used exclusively for education; this became known as the “three percent fund”. Congress additionally granted to every township in the state the proceeds of the sale of land in each township’s Section 16. This money became known as the common school fund. Congress specified that one-sixth of the three percent fund was to be used for the establishment of a college or university; this became known as the “college fund.” Congress furthermore specified that the proceeds from the sales of land in two entire townships would be reserved for a seminary of learning; this became known as the “seminary fund.” Since 1829, the state had been borrowing from the school and seminary funds in order to pay regular government expenses.
“An Act to Enable the People of the Illinois Territory to Form a Constitution and State Government, and for the Admission of Such State into the Union on an Equal Footing with the Original States,” 18 April 1818, Statutes at Large of the United States, 3:428-31; “An Act Authorizing the Commissioners of the School and Seminary Fund to Loan the Same to the State,” 17 January 1829, Revised Code of Laws, of Illinois (1829), 118-19; W. L. Pillsbury, “Early Education in Illinois,” in Sixteenth Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Illinois (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1886), 106-07.
3This law marks the first time that examination and certification of teachers became required by law in Illinois.
W. L. Pillsbury, “Early Education in Illinois,” in Sixteenth Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Illinois (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1886),132-33.
Printed Document, 7 page(s),
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Tenth General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1837), 314-20, GA Session: 10-1,