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City Document — No. 7.
JOINT SPECIAL COMMITTEE
ON THE SUBJECT OF TUB
DONATION OF HON. LINUS B. COMINS
TO Q2IE OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF EOXBUSY.
R X B U R Y :
NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS.
18 5 6.
CITY OF ROXBURY.
In Common Council, Feb. 25, 1856.
Ordered, That Messrs. Nichols, Bumstead, and Perkins be a Com-
mittee, -with such as the Board of Aldermen may join, to ascertain
what sum of money, if any, may be in the hands of the Government,
or may have been expended in any manner, being the whole or a por-
tion of any donation from the Hon. Linus B. Comins.
Sent up for concurrence.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
In Board or Aldermen, March 17, 1856.
Concurred. And the Mayor and Alderman Robinson were joined.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
In Board of Aldermen, March 31, 1856.
Report read ; and it was ordered that it be laid upon the table, and
twelve hundred copies be printed for distribution.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
In Common Council, April 14th, 1856.
Mr. Bumstead, from the Minority of the Committee, submitted the
following Report, which was read, and, on motion of Mr. Williams,
laid on the table, and twelve hundred copies ordered to be printed for
JOSHUA SEAVER. Clerk.
The undersigned, a member of the Joint Special Commit-
tee, to whom was referred an order " to ascertain what
sum of money, if any, may be in the hands of the Gov-
ernment, or may have been expended in any manner,
being the whole or a portion of any donation from the
Hon. Linus B. Comins," would respectfully submit a
With the statement of facts, as submitted by the Com-
mittee, the undersigned has no serious objections ; and if
the committee had been willing that the mere facts in the
case should alone be presented, without giving their opinion
on the same, there would have arisen no necessity for a
minority report; for whilst they acknowledge the fact,
that the sum of one hundred and thirty dollars, being " a
portion of a donation from the Hon. Linus B. Comins," for
the benefit of " The Comins Grammar School for Girls,"
has been expended by the Board of School Committee and
Trustees, and the books thus purchased are now in posses-
sion of the school, and yet come to the conclusion, that
" whatever may have been the action of the School Com-
mittee, such action cannot affect the relation of the City
Council towards this donation," is a statement not war-
ranted by the facts in the case, nor is it in accordance
with that spirit of equity, that should at all times govern
the actions of the City Government in all their intercourse
with their fellow-citizens.
4 MINORITY REPORT.
It appears by the records of the School Committee, that
the Hon. Linus B. Comins made a donation of six hundred
dollars for the benefit of "The Comins Grammar School
for Girls," as an acknowledgment of his appreciation of a
" compliment, than which none other could be more grateful
to his feelings ;" and that the sum of one hundred dollars
was to be expended for Books of Reference, for the teach-
ers and pupils, and the sum of five hundred dollars, to
constitute a permanent fund, the interest accruing on the
same, to be expended on the library of the school ; and that
this sum of five hundred dollars was to be held in trust by
the Chairman of the Board of School Committee, the
Mayor of the city, and the President of the Common Coun-
cil as ex officio.
It appears by evidence submitted to the committee, that
the amount of five hundred dollars has never been in the
hands of either branch of the City Council, and conse-
quently, has never been invested by them, or have they
had any control over it ; but that the Board of Trustees
temporarily invested it, in the Sunday School Union So-
ciety, taking their note for the same, and depositing it
in the hands of the City Treasurer, subject to delivery,
at any time, on presentation of his receipt for the same.
It is thus apparent, the City Council has no control over
the five hundred dollars ; for when it becomes necessary
to return to the donor this portion of his donation, it can
be done without the action of the City Council.
But in regard to the sum of one hundred and thirty
dollars, being a portion of the donation, with interest on
the same, which has been expended for books by the
School Committee and Trustees, is now the property of
the City, and as such, is in the care of the Joint Standing
Committee on Public Property, and under the control of
the City Council, for the safe keeping of which, the city has
provided a suitable book-case, or shelves, and that these
books have been, and are, accessible to the teachers and
CITY DOCUMENT, — No. 7. 5
pupils of the public schools of this city, and they are now
enjoying' the advantages of this portion of a donation from
the Hon. Linus B. Comins.
It likewise appears by an ordinance of the City Council,
that the School Committee have no power to expend over
fifty dollars, at any one time, for expenditures on the
property of the city, and they have no power to dispose,
bargain, pledge, or give away any of the property in their
possession ; and, since it is very evident that the books thus
purchased from a portion of the donation has become the
property of the city, and as such, is under the control of
the City Council, that when it becomes necessary to return
this portion of the donation, it can only be done by the
joint action of the City Council, consequently, the action
of the School Committee does " affect the relation of the
City Council towards this donation for the Comins Gram-
mar School for Girls."
On the 10th of March, the City Council adopted an order,
giving the name of " Eliot School" to the building on Gore
Avenue, and by this act, jeopardise the benefit to be derived
from an annual appropriation to the library of the school ;
but before the donation is returned, it is important to
ascertain if the school has forfeited its claims to the dona-
tion, by the late action of the City Council ; if it should
appear there is no " Comins Grammar School for Girls
in the City " of Roxbury, it is very plain, that, as an act
of justice, the donation should be returned, since there
would cease to be an object for which the donation was
made. If the City Council take away the consideration
for which the donation was made, they are in duty bound,
on the grounds of equity, at least, to see that the money is
returned, at any rate, such portion of it as is under their
The cause of education is dear to the hearts of our
citizens, as is apparent by the fact, that for the past year
more than $43,000 was expended, being more than one-
6 MINORITY REPORT.
fourth part of the whole expenses of the City Govern-
ment during the year, and as the population of the city
increases, the annual appropriation for schools must be
enlarged, which will, no doubt, be as liberally provided
for in the future, as they have been willing in the past, to
meet the wants of the School Committee, well knowing
they are a body of men selected for their intelligence,
their talent, and their peculiar adaptedness to fill the sacred
and responsible station of "the care and superintendence
of the public schools,"— being elected to office by the
suffrages of their fellow citizens — responsible to their
constituents, and amenable to the laws of the Common-
wealth, especially provided for their guidance. From this
intelligent body of men, Mr. Comins received the com-
pliment of having his name given to one of the public
schools under their charge, and acknowledged his appreci-
ation of the compliment by a donation, especially made
for the benefit of the school thus bearing his name ; if,
then, the City Council take away, or substitute any other
name than that through which they can only receive the
benefit of this donation, it must be apparent, there is but
one course of action for the City Council to pursue, and it
should be, such as the claims of right and justice would
In order to ascertain what control the City Council
have over this donation, we have only to ask; — can the
donation, or any portion of it, be returned to the donor
without the action of the City Council ?
The note of five hundred dollars given by the Sunday
School Union Society, now in possession of the City
Treasurer, can be obtained, at any time, on presentation
of his receipt, now held by the chairman of the School
Committee, and can be returned to the donor without the
action of the City Council.
In regard to the one hundred and thirty dollars, it is
very evident that the School Committee have no power
CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 7. 7
to return this amount, and the only power that can be
called to exercise this act, is the joint action of the City
Council ; and " the conclusion is inevitable," that at least
the amount of one hundred and thirty dollars, being "a
portion of a donation from the Hon. Linus B. Comins," is
in possession of the City Government, and cannot be
returned except by the joint action of the City Council.
EBEN'R W. BUMSTEAD.
CITY OF BOSTON
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