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sequence, laws are not respected, the government becomes inefficient; and the people are ground down by a rapid succession of Republican tyrants.
On the other hand, in the same degree that the people, in whom is the law-making power, are intelligent and virtuous, will the government be correct and permanent. These facts point out the cause of our success as a nation. The first settlers of this country, of New England in particular, those who had a controlling influence over the destinies of the people, were men of good education and of strong moral and religious principles. The much-derided Puritans, with their austere manners, their perhaps too great bigotry, brought with them and inculcated principles which have been as the life-blood to the nation. They came here that they might have religious freedom, that they might educate their children far from the contagious vices and bitter persecutions of the old world, that they might instil into their minds those lofty sentiments of religion, morality and freedom, with which their own spirits were so deeply imbued.
Look at their progress. Upon an inhospitable shore, under the shadows of the mighty forests, where never before had civilized man trod, with none of the comforts and few of the necessaries of life, they did not for a moment forget the great object of their labors. They raised their humble dwellings; and side by side, upon this barbarian shore, they erected their primitive church and school-house. Fit emblems of the two great conservative elements, which were destined to bless the nation they were founding! As early as 1647, they instituted, by statute, the great
system of Free Schools, which has characterized, and will, I trust, forever characterize the people of this nation. “It being,” says that law, "one chief project of Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, by persuading from the use of tongues, to the end that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors :
" It is therefore ordered by this Court," &c. Then follow provisions for the establishment of schools in every township, and of grammar schools, in which youth may be prepared for the University, in every town of over one hundred families.
This system, thus early adopted, was not without its effect upon the character of the American people, and was a powerful instrument in preparing the way for the adoption and success of our present form of government. But it must be acknowledged that there were other circumstances which conspired to promote the fortunes of the Republic. The people of the different States, though scattered, yet had counselled and acted together during the trying period of the Revolution. They were compelled, by the force of circumstances, to unite, and although the Continental Confederacy was temporary, and the enactments of the Congress under it were not binding upon the several States, yet the effect of all was to inculcate a deep-seated sentiment of unity of interest, long before we adopted the present Constitution. The historical recollections of the different States were the same, their citizens had fought upon the same battlefields in a common cause. They had suffered together and triumphed together, and an irresistible cordiality and nationality of feeling had been naturally excited. Besides this, the character and interests of the people were not dissimilar. It was not an agglomeration of distinct races. It was not a commingling of the conquerors and the conquered. There was no acknowledged or felt superiority of one class or section over another; and there existed no jealousies, except such as trivial conflicting interests must in a degree necessarily excite. These circumstances all undoubtedly conspired to favor the successful operation of the system; yet the intelligence and virtue of the people were the primary and principal causes. They constituted the great element of success in the inception of our government, as they have been the great bulwark of its safety and the guide to its prosperity to the present time.
Education of the people, then, has been the great cause of the success of our government thus far, and I venture little in predicting that it is popular education alone which can perpetuate that government to posterity. And, by education of the people, I mean the education of the masses of the people. The wealthy and favored, in other countries, have always had opportunities for education. Every age, and every civilized nation has had its men of learning and of science. But whilst we read with admiration the results of their intellectual labors, we are impressed with the great fact that the masses of the people about them had no opportunities for mental culture. They are the few bright stars, whose light only serves to make the surrounding darkness and gloom the more apparent. It is the plan for the general diffusion of knowledge--for the education of the
people—which has worked such wonderful effects in this country, and which, if properly continued and perfected, is destined to work still greater results in the future. The golden gates which enclose the vast granaries of learning, are here thrown wide open to the multitude. There are so poor, none humble, that they cannot participate in these privileges. There is no man who has been brought up under our institutions, however poor or unfortunately situated, who should not blush to acknowledge that he has never received the elements of a good educa-tion.
But whilst we acknowledge with admiration the great results which have been accomplished in this country by the system of popular education, it becomes extremely important that we should occasionally pause to study the history of the system, and ascertain whether its progress has been altogether healthy, and how far, if at all, it has been changed or perverted from its original design. It is important to go back to the primary source, and trace the system in its majestic progress through the lapse of years, and learn whether it has gathered up, in its course, any thing which will tend to destroy the original efficacy of its waters.
And upon such examination, I believe it will appear evident that some of the objects of education, which were deemed by the originators of the system as important and essential to its healthy progress, are overlooked and disregarded in the present operations of the system. By the term education, our fathers intended mental training and moral and religious culture. By education, as now understood, is intended,
almost exclusively, mental cultivation. Intellectual is, to a great extent, divorced from moral and religious training, in our present system of education. This result may be attributed to the increased jealousies of sectarianism, or to a prevalent opinion that moral and religious principles are to be taught only from the pulpit. But whatever are the causes of this separation, it requires no prophetic vision to foresee that the consequences of it, if it be persisted in, must eventually prevent the great and beneficent effects of the system. In the words of a close and philosophical observer, addressed to this Institution, several years since: "Instruction, intellectual instruction, is not of itself sufficient to assure the moral purity of society; and to compass this, we need to develop and follow out the principles of conjoined moral and intellectual education, descended to us from the Puritans." *
In every statute enacted by our fathers for the support of common schools, religious and moral training were provided for equally with intellectual. It is strongly expressed in the Colonial statute of 1647, which I have before referred to. In the statute of 1671, it is enacted as follows: "Forasmuch as it greatly concerns the welfare of this country, that the youth thereof be educated not only in good literature but in sound doctrine :
- This Court doth therefore commend it to the serious consideration and special care of our overseers of the College, and the selectmen in the several towns, not to admit or suffer any such to be continued in the
* From Address of Hon. C. Cushing, in 1836.