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WILLIAM TORREY HARRIS (1835-1909)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 22 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM TORREY HARRIS (1835-1909), American educationist, was born in North Killingly, Connecticut, on the loth of September 1835. He studied at Phillips Andover Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and entered Yale, but left in his junior year (18J7) to accept a position as a teacher of shorthand in the St Louis, Missouri, public schools. Advancing through the grades of principal and assistant superintendent, he was city superintendent of schools from 1867 until 1880. In 1858, under the stimulus of Henry C. Brockmeyer, Harris became interested in modern German philosophy in general, and in particular in Hegel, whose works a small group, gathering about Harris and Brockmeyer, began to study in 1859. From 1867 to 1893 Harris edited The Journal of Speculative Philosophy (22 vols.), which was the quarterly organ of the Philosophical Society founded in 1866. The Philosophical Society died out before 1874, when Harris founded in St Louis a Kant Club, which lived for fifteen years. In 1873, with Miss Susan E. Blow, he established in St Louis the first permanent public-school kindergarten in America. He represented the United States Bureau of Education at the International Congress of Educators at Brussels in 1880. In 1889 he represented the United States Bureau of Education at the Paris Exposition, and from 1889 to 1906 was United States commissioner of education. In 1899 the university of Jena gave him the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy for his work on Hegel. In 1906 ' For this building the legislature in 1901 appropriated $4,000,000, stipulating that it should be completed before the 1st of January 1907. It was completed by that time, the net expenditure of the building commission being about $3,970,000. Although the legislature had made no provision for furniture and decoration, the state Board of Public Grounds and Buildings (governor, auditor-general and treasurer) undertook to complete the furnishing and decoration of the building within the stipulated time, and paid out for that purpose more than $8,600,000. In May 1906 a new treasurer entered office, who discovered that many items for furniture and decoration were charged twice, once at a normal and again at a remarkably high figure. In 1907 the legislature appointed a committee to investigate the charge of fraud. The committee's decision was that the Board of Grounds and Buildings was not authorized to let the decorating and furnishing of the state house; that it had illegally authorized certain expenditures; and that architect and contractors had made fraudulent invoices and certificates. Various indictments were found: in the first trial for conspiracy in the making and delivering of furniture the contractor and the former auditor-general, state treasurer and superintendent of public grounds and buildings were convicted and in December 1908 were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and fined $500 each; in 1910 a suit was brought for the recovery of about $5,000,000 from those responsible. 1868 to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the Mexican War; it has a column of Maryland marble 76 ft. high, which is surmounted by an Italian marble statue of Victory, executed in Rome. At the base of the monument are muskets used by United States soldiers in that war and guns captured at Cerro Gordo. In State Street is the Dauphin County Soldiers' monument, a shaft to ft. sq. at the base and Ito ft. high, with a pyramidal top. For several years prior to 1902 Harrisburg suffered much from impure water, a bad sewerage system, and poorly paved and dirty streets. In that year, however, a League for Municipal Improvements was formed; in February 1902 a loan of $1,000,000 for municipal improvements was voted, landscape gardeners and sewage engineers were consulted, and a non-partisan mayor was elected, under whom great advances were made in street cleaning and street paving, a new filtration plant was completed, the river front was beautified and protected from flood, sewage was diverted from Paxton Creek, and the development of an extensive park system was undertaken. Harrisburg's charitable institutions include a city hospital, a home for the friendless, a children's industrial home, and a state lunatic hospital (1845). The city is the seat of a Roman Catholic bishopric. Both coal and iron ore abound in the vicinity, and the city has numerous manufacturing establishments. The value of its factory products in 1905 was $17,146.338 (14.3% more than in 1900), the more import-ant being those of steel works and rolling mills ($4,528,907), blast furnaces, steam railway repair shops, cigar and cigarette factories ($1,258,498), foundries and machine shops ($953,627), boot and shoe factories ($922,568), flouring and grist mills, slaughtering and meat-packing establishments and silk mills. Harrisburg was named in honour of John Harris, who, upon coming into this region to trade early in the 18th century, was attracted to the site as an easy place at which to ford the Susquehanna, and about 1726 settled here. He was buried in what is now Harris Park, where he erected the first building, a small hut, within the present limits of Harrisburg. In 1753 his son established a ferry over the river, and the place was called Harris's Ferry until 1785, when the younger Harris laid out the town and named it Harrisburg. In the same year it was made the county-seat of the newly constituted county of Dauphin, and its name was changed to Louisburg; but when, in 1791, it was incorporated as a borough, the present name was again adopted. In 1812, after an effort begun twenty-five years before, it was made the capital of the state; and in 186o it was chartered as a city. In the summer of 1827, through the persistent efforts of persons most interested in the woollen manufactures of Massachusetts and other New England states to secure legislative aid for that industry, a convention of about too delegates—manufacturers, newspaper men and politicians—was held in Harrisburg, and the programme adopted by the convention did much to bring about the passage of the famous high tariff act of 1828.
End of Article: WILLIAM TORREY HARRIS (1835-1909)
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