« PreviousContinue »
It is in no sense a commercial organization, but devoted entirely to dis. seminating education.
Mr. Shackleford-It has some regulations about contracts and also the right to sue and be sued.
Mr. Webb-Yes. We could not well incorporate it without granting this power, which every corporation whether State or national has.
Mr. Shackleford —And its property is to be exempt from taxation in certain places.
Mr. Webb-Yes; in the District of Columbia only.
Mr. Shackleford-Is it contemplated to hold property outside of the District of Columbia ?
Mr. Webb— They can hold it by donation or gift.
Mr. Shackleford—And wherever they do hold it it is to be absolutely exempt from any State or local taxes?
Mr. Webb-No; it is only free from taxation in the District of Columbia. We would have no right to attempt to exempt it from taxation elsewhere, and hence we do not in this bill. Its property in each State is subject to the tax laws of the States, but many States do not tax property held for educational purposes.
Mr. Shackleford—Why could they not become incorporated under the District laws as they now are ?
Mr. Webb-They could.
Mr. Sullivan of Massachusetts--If I may interrupt the gentleman, I will say for the information of the gentleman from Missouri that it is incorporated now under the laws of the District of Columbia.
Mr. Webb-Mr. Speaker, I can not yield my time to the gentleman from Massachusetts, who has twenty minutes of his own, when I have only five. "The gentleman from Massachusetts has twenty minutes, and he will make lhimself clearly understood in that time, I have no doubt.
Mr. Henry of Texas-What is the caption of this corporation ?
Mr. Henry of Texas-Is it authorized to do business outside of the District of Columbia—in other words, is it a District of Columbia corporation or a corporation intended to operate and be effective beyond the limits of the District of Columbia ?
Mr. Webb.-It is a corporation with the same rights and powers and duties as if it were incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia or any State.
Mr. Henry of Texas—Then it is authorized to go beyond the confines of the District of Columbia and do business outside of the District ?
Mr. Webb-Most assuredly so. State corporations have this power also. It is a corporation or association of about 2,000 educators from all over the United States.
Mr. Henry of Texas-We have had this question before us, and we have restricted corporations to the District of Columbia ; and looking up the precedents we found that that was the uniform practice, except with reference to two or three corporations which had slipped through without discovery.
Mr. Webb-Congress has passed a bill incorporating the Carnegie Institute, almost on all fours with this, and to incorporate a General Educational Association, almost similar in every respect to this. This was done in the Fifty-eighth Congress. Now, Mr. Speaker, we give to this association no more powers than any State would give or the District of Columbia would give. The only addition or advantage that our incorporation here gives is to add the prestige to it of having been incorporated by Congress. It is such a distinguished body of educators, composed of leading men all over the United States and thousands of teachers, it is simply an act of courtesy that Congress should pass this bill.
Mr. Gaines of Tennessee-Will the gentleman yield ?
Mr. Gaines of Tennessee—Will that deprive some other association of educators from being incorporated under the same name?
Mr. Webb—Not at all. Oh, they could not take the same name—that is, the identical name.
Mr. Gaines of Tennessee-Exactly; that is the objection to their taking the words “ United States." That is what I am getting at.
Mr. Webb—Who would want to take the same name? If you should incorporate under the laws of the District of Columbia, it would have the same effect so far as infringing on the name is concerned. No corporation can take another's name from it. You can have the same powers, but not the same naine; but this act does not prevent the use of the words “ United States" in connection with the name of any other educational organization or association.
Mr. Goldfogle-Will the gentleman yield for a question ?
Mr. Goldfogle-Why do you not incorporate under the general laws of the District of Columbia ?
Mr. Webb-Why did not the Carnegie Institute incorporate under the general law of the District ?
Mr. Goldfogle-What is the object of a special charter for this institu
Mr. Webb—Nothing except to give the association the added prestige which comes from Congressional incorporation. It is entitled to it. It is composed of educators throughout the United States, and it is a national association in the scope and character of its work and membership.
Mr. Goldfogle-What special powers are given to them ?
Mr. Webb—None. This body of 2,000 educators met two years ago and asked that this charter be given by this Congress. They want the charter from Congress in order to give them the added prestige.
Mr. Goldfogle-Wouldn't they get the prestige necessary if they incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia ; and wouldn't they stand just as well as any other corporation under the general laws ?
Mr. Webb-They do not think so; they would have the same power, but not the same prestige; and this is the only institution of its kind in America. The incorporators are leading educators from every State in the Union; its membership is composed of teachers in every State.
Mr. Shackleford-Mr. Speaker, a parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. Shackleford-Is it too late for me to raise the point of order against this bill, that it has been reported from the wrong committee ?
The Speaker-This is a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill. It would not be in order for the gentleman to make the point at this time.
Mr. Webb-Now, Mr. Speaker
The Speaker—The time of the gentleman from North Carolina has expired.
Mr. Southwick-I yield the gentleman from North Carolina two minutes
Mr. Webb-As I said, Mr. Speaker, this organization is composed of the heads of universities, North and South, East and West, and the heads of other great colleges, and thousands of earnest teachers, and every one of these members, excepting about fifteen, ask this Congress to pass this bill. There is one person, whose name will no doubt appear in this discussion later, who has caused most of the opposition and made the objection to this bill. They want to scare Democrats and mislead Republicans by saying that the name is something that does not sound vell, when, actually, there is no more power given in the charter than they could get from New Jersey, or North Carolina, or any other State.
Mr. Goldfogle-Is there not a special power given to acquire and dispose of property ?
Mr. Webb-No. I want to say that the Committee on Education considered this bill patiently for four days and considered it carefully. We amended it where we thought it ought to be amended, and we brought in a unanimous report. The committee heard all this opposition that is made to the bill, and had before it the person who is responsible for the fight that is now being made against the measure.
The bill is almost an exact copy of the charter under which this organization has operated and existed for twenty years, and we provide in this bill that it shall not be effective until the present association shall adopt it at an annual meeting. Can you suggest a fairer provision ? Here are some letters from distinguished educators of the South urging the passage of the bill. You have heard from the North. Here is one from the University of Virginia, President Alderman; from the University of North Carolina, President Venable ; from the Agricultural and Mechanical College at Raleigh, N. C., Doctor Winston, and a handful of other letters from other teachers and educators. This society is an educational institution purely national in its scope. All they ask is to give it the prestige of passing a bill for its incorporation by Congress.
Mr. Shackleford-Mr. Speaker, is it subject to amendment-that charter? Mr. Webb-Why, certainly. Congress can amend it any time.
Mr. Goldfogle-Will the gentleman from North Carolina kindly refer to the provision that authorizes a modification ?
The Speaker-The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. Southwick-Mr. Speaker, I will ask that the opposition consume some of its time now.
Mr. Goldfogle-Mr. Speaker-I would like to ask the gentleman from New York a question.
The Speaker-Does the gentleman yield ?
Mr. Sullivan of Massachusetts—Mr. Speaker, in ten minutes' debate I have not heard in Congress so much misinformation as I have heard in the last ten minutes. We have been told solemnly by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Southwick) and the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Webb) that there are no changes in the charter of this corporation from the provisions of the existing charter. Why, Mr. Speaker, if any Member of the House would take the pains to examine the old charter and compare it with this, he would not have the hardihood to get up on this floor and state that there are no changes. We have all received letters concerning this bill, and the letters which I received are based upon the ground that the charter should be changed in order to give to the board of trustees complete control over the investment of the permanent fund. There is a change that is admitted by the proponents of the bill. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely nothing that may be secured by this bill that can not be secured by an amendment of the existing articles of incorporation. The statements made by the gentlemen who are in charge of this bill, though made in good faith no doubt, are misleading in the extreme.
Mr. Webb-Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman permit an interruption ?
Mr. Sullivan of Massachusetts-Not just now; later on. Why, I had to smile when the gentleman from New York (Mr. Southwick] blandly stated that the primary object of this bill was to change the title, to give the association the prestige of the name of the National Education Association of the United States. There was no need to bring a bill before Congress in order to change that title. They could change that title under existing laws.
But let me give the House a little history of this bill. In the first place, there was a movement to prolong the life of the association. It was chartered as a corporation under the laws of the District of Columbia for twenty years. Those twenty years expired on the 26th day of February last. Therefore the members of the association, in meeting assembled, empowered the directors to recommend such changes as were necessary-now, mark the words “as were necessary "--and for what? To continue the life of the existing association. In the original authorization there was not the delegation of a single power beyond that one-namely, to prolong the life of this association. The bill was brought before this body. It was subjected to the usual delays. The 26th of February passed. The charter was not granted by Congress, and the corporation then did all that it needs for its protection -namely, filed with the District of Columbia a certificate extending their articles of incorporation. They may go on for twenty years longer. They may change their title so as to obtain the title which they have by this act of Congress. They may change their charter if they please. They may change their constitution. They may change their by-laws by calling a meeting of the members of this association in a democratic way and submitting proposed changes to those inembers and then allowing the majority to rule. But the object of this bill is to prevent a majority from ruling. Who are the members of the National Educational Association of the United States ? President Eliot alone? President Nicholas Murray Butler alone ? Not at all. They are made up of the rank and file of the teachers, male and female, of these United States, those who are charged with the responsible duty of educating the youth of the land. Who puts up the money for this corporation ?
Mr. Tawney-Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman permit an interruption ?
Mr. Sullivan of Massachusetts-Not now. Who puts up the money? The college presidents ? Not at all. The teachers of the United States put up practically every dollar that goes into the coffers of this association.
Mr. Tawney-Now will the gentleman yield ?
Mr. Sullivan of Massachusetts—I will not yield until later, when I will indicate a readiness to do so. Later on I will yield. Now, the money that furnishes the bone and sinew of the corporation is collected from the dues of the tens of thousands of teachers of the United States. It is true there are donations from philanthropic persons, but they do not make up the bulk of the money that is in the treasury of this corporation. Mr. Speaker, it is now proposed to vest in the board of trustees practically absolute power over the affairs of this corporation. They have practically absolute control over the expenditure of the permanent fund and of the current funds. They are directed to place all surplus funds, except $500 a year, in this permanent fund. The people who compose this association, if this charter goes through, will not have the power to direct the expenditure of one single dollar of the funds to which they contribute. The entire fund is placed in absolute control of the board of directors and the trustees of this national educational trust, for that is just exactly what this is, Mr. Speaker. Now, they say there are no changes. Why, the very body, the principal constituent of this corporation, was the National Council of Education. Now, under the old charter that National Council of Education was a department of the main body, subject to the rules of the main body, subject to the control of the voting members of that body in meeting assembled. This proposed charter takes the National Council of Education out of the control of the national body and practically makes it an independent body. It is no longer under this charter a department of the National Education Association.
Mr. Williams-Will the gentleman yield ?
Mr. Williams- I was going to add this : Not only an independent body but a self-perpetuating body.