To his Excellency, WILLIAM E. STEVENSON,
Governor of West Virginia:
The "Board of Regents of the West Virginia Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind" takes leave to submit the following as its first annual report:
In compliance with the provisions of an act of the West Virginia Legislature, passed March 3d, 1870, this Board was organized at a meeting of a majority of its members in the city of Wheeling, on April 20th, 1870, and at an adjourned meeting in Parkersburg, on June 23d, 1870, it was decided unanimously to accept the liberal proposition of "The Literary Society of Romney" and citizens thereof, for the establishment of the institution in the buildings known as the "Romney Classical Institute," which, together with fifteen acres of land, adjoining the buildings, have been generously conveyed to this Board for its sole and specific uses. This property is situated directly east of the town of Romney, Hampshire county, in the fertile valley of the South Branch of the Potomac. The building is commodious enough to meet the present requirements of the law, and the grounds adjacent well suited for the uses of the institution, and though beautiful now, capable of a high state of culture and improvement. It is the unanimous opinion of the Board that on the score of economy and healthiness as well as the moral and refining influences of the place, no more desirable location could have been selected.
The donation of this property, worth over $20,000, is ample assurance that the children committed to our charge are in a generous and enlightened community.
At an adjourned meeting of the Board held at Romney, July 20th, 1870, attended by every member, its grateful acknowledgement of the liberality manifested by the donors and citizens of Romney were expressed in resolutions recorded in our journal and communicated to your Excellency for preservation in the State archives. It is gratifying to recall the fact that you were present with us upon that occasion, warmly to unite in the expression of a common public gratitude, and in earnest wishes for the prosperity and usefulness of the great charity then inaugurated.
At the same meeting the Board proceeded to elect a principal and the officers and teachers provided for by law. The propriety and wisdom of the selections have been, as we believe and cheerfully acknowledge, completely vindicated by the present flourishing conditon [sic] of the institution.
For a fuller account of the repairs, changes and furnishings of the institution and other matters in reference to its management, you are respectfully referred to the able and interesting report of the Principal appended to this.
While the Board thoroughly endorses the appropriations so far made, we are compelled to report that the very moderate appropriation made by the Legislature proves entirely inadequate for the establishment of the institution and its just and reasonable requirements, and when compared with even the smallest appropriation made by any other sister State, is small, small indeed. Appropriations are needed to make up the deficiency referred to, also, for some additional repairs and furniture as set forth in the Principal's Report, and it seems to the Board that means should be at once provided for the enlargement of the building so as to receive all the unfortunate children of the State who have and may apply. Already the applicants are greatly in excess of the number which the law permits us to receive, and also of the present possible accommodation of our building. The expenditure of a few thousand dollars here will secure for us what has cost the other States hundreds of thousands.
Any recommendation upon this subject may be properly prefaced with this remark, that however commendable economy in the expenditure of public money may in general be, there is no case where a stinted parsimony can inflict a more abiding discredit upon a civilized, Christian commonwealth, than in that of inadequate provision for the afflicted and distressed, who become of right the objects of a generous public bounty, and for this solitary reason, that against misfortunes and deprivations which are of the act of God, and to which all are liable, men cannot of themselves provide, and thus those who suffer them become deservedly the wards and children of the State, peculiarly entitled to her all sufficient care. What heart is there, not utterly callous to the common demands and sympathies of humanity, that experiences no kind and generous pulsations for these deaf, dumb and blind? This Board then, with entire confidence in the liberality and humanity of the State, recommends the appropriation of $40,000 for the objects specified in the report of the Principal. This recommendation is made with the honest belief upon the part of this Board that the several sums named are absolutely needed for the interests of the unfortunates, and with the earnest hope that it will not be refused. Can it be that those now in the institution may suffer, and those who seek admission must be doomed to longer ignorance and darkness? It is very desirable that this matter should receive the immediate attention of the Legislature.
The Board has to express its entire satisfaction with the present flourishing condition of the institution. The discipline, the progress of the pupils in their studies, and their general improvement, deserve the highest commendation, and entitle our Deaf and Dumb and Blind Institution to the unstinted patronage of the State.
We are well satisfied that the blending of the two classes in a single common institution, is economical and highly conducive to the interests of both.
To this Report, the detailed and interesting report of H. H. Hollister, A. M., the Principal, addressed to this Board, is appended, containing information and suggestions of the highest importance.
For the financial condition of the institution you are referred to his report and to the report of our Executive Committee which also accompanies this.
A copy from the records.
Teste: ROBT. WHITE,
Secretary Board of Regents D. D. & B. Inst.