Quest for Public Funding for a Catholic Education in St. Augustine Petition to Congress
[Referred February 28, 1845] To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress, Assembled.
Your petitioners, inhabitants of the City of St. Augustine Florida, respectfully represent, that most of the youths of this ancient town are growing up without education and that their parents in many instances are too indigent to pay for their instruction. The government of Spain made no provision for any School or College in East Florida, and consequently many of our inhabitants are without that education so indispensable to a free people. Without education, neither our Constitution or laws will be understood or maintained. The rights and liberties of our Citizens, though Secured by the great Charter of our union, will serve but little purpose unless the principles on which it is founded shall be firmly and clearly impressed on the minds of our rising generation. The protection and blessings we have enjoyed under your patronage for more than twenty three years, has taught us the value of liberty, and inspired us with devoted attachment to the United States. The salubrity of St. Augustine is known throughout the United States, and a Site more advantageous for the establishment of a college, will not be found in all the South. The catholic congregation, represent that their Church covers most of the lot on which it Stands, and they have not ground Sufficient to erect a college thereon. That the grants to private persons made by the Spanish authorities, long Since, covers all the land in the vicinity of St. Augustine, so that for many miles around, no School Sections could be reserved, thus leaving the inhabitants of this City destitute of the donation which Congress has so liberally provided for the inhabitants of other Townships.
Your petitioners State that many of our citizens are descended from Spanish ancestors who Settled in this City, while this province was in possession of Great Britain and had been kept under the Military Government of Spain until the transfer of Florida to the United States. They have during that time enjoyed but few privileges of improvement or education.
Your petitioners therefore pray that fifteen Sections of land may be granted to the Catholic Congregation in this City to enable them to erect a Suitable Institution of learning, and that a lot in the said city known in the Plan and Survey of the Same, as the Custom House lot, adjoining the lot on which the Catholic Church Stands, may also be granted to said congregation, on which to found a college. Your petitioners state, that the Custom House was many years since destroyed by fire and has ever since remained unoccupied and is now a heap of ruins. That the United States will never need at this place a Custom house, and the said lot is in the middle of the City and cannot be built upon while owned by the United States: -- its condition renders it a nuisance.
The Catholic Clergy at their own and the congregation's expense, have now a common school and from their zeal and untiring energy they have under tuition about seventy five boys, many of whom are taught gratis and the other pay but a nominal Sum for the learning they receive. With the aid Solicited of Congress your petitioners entertain no doubt that the Catholic Congregation here will establish an institution that will do credit to our country. Youths from every quarter of the South will find it most advantageous to enter the College, not only for education, but for the security of health.
With these views and for a purpose so important and beneficial, we your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray &c
Pedro Benet ) Wardens of the Laurence Andreu Thomas Andrew ) R.C. Church of John Ponce John M. Fontane ) St Augustine Vancy Mel Manuel Crespo ) Gabriel Andrew W. H. Williams B. Oliveros Cristobal Bravo Gabriel Pacetty
[PETITION TO CONGRESS, CONTD.]
E. B. Usina Gabriel Pomar E. J. Medicis Andres Papy Joseph A. Strischka Juan Capo Jaime Hernandez Frederick Weedon Juan S. Pacetty John Ferreira Bartolo Pacetty Geronimo Alvarez Venancio Sanches Francis Gue Edward Garey Louis Coster Joseph Sanches Geo Center James R. Sanches Jos Hernandez Edw A. DeCottes Vesante Leonardy J. I. Papy Joseph F. Pappy Junior Roque Leonardy Joseph Masters H. L. P. Woolf Bernardo Segui Donato Bravo John Pellicer Felipe Gomez Emanl Solana Jose Papy John Manucy S. J. Segui Matias Leonardy Michael Neligan Enrique Tomas Anthony J. Noda Martin Canobas Joseph Noda John C. Canovas Andre Ximenes Martin Stevens Victorno Frey Ralph Bleanove G. N. Papy Robt. Martin C. Borcaudy Jose E. Pomar Antonio Canovas Sr Bartolo Pons Gabriel Marten Jose Benet Jose Canovas Rafael Oliveros
[Endorsed] Florida memorial of Trustees of Roman Catholic Church & citizens of St. Augustine for grant of land, & lot for school purposes -- 1845 Feby. 28. Refd to Com on Pub. Lands Levy