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(and I believe it is the spirit of the other States of the Confederacy), to any sect (Catholic or Protestant), which asks the establishment of separate sectarian schools, and the employment for their support of the public moneys! And this, it must appear, is exact justice! The State says to all alike, “ Here is the common school, it is for you, come and enjoy its advantages; within its walls we know no sects or denominations.”
Thus is the question of privilege met; and if this important ground can be sustained, no ecclesiastic power, never so well organized or subtle, can work us harm. Rightful and just concessions of a strong majority toward a weak minority will only strengthen the power of the common school, and endear it to the hearts of our entire people.
And, I ask you, thoughtful and liberal-minded men and women of New England, “ Can there be no common ground of moral instruction for our common schools, upon which both the great divisions of Christendom and each sect of Protestants can stand ? Can that church, which through the night of the dark ages preserved the Christian Scriptures, whose bosom nurtured Fenelon and prayerful Thomas à Kempis, and many another sainted name, which recognizes the same Great Head of the Church, and bears the same symbol of Christian faith upon its artpreserving cathedrals in foreign lands, or upon its simple chapels' on our Western frontier !- can it refuse to meet you, tolerantly, upon this subject ? While I do not pretend to indicate any specific means, by which this result can be accomplished, yet
I have faith that time and the tolerant spirit of the people will settle this difference.
Ladies and gentlemen, — To-day you are gathered here from all parts of our Union, to consult together for the interests and safety of popular education. Into your hands the State has given its most precious interest — that of educating its youth. It has been my wish to discuss this question as a practical one, for as such it has been forced upon me. So I have tried to urge upon your attention considerations (often urged, but none the less important still), of the “ Necessity of Education to the perpetuity of a Free State," and from this necessity, arguing the duty imposed upon the State to provide for the education of its whole people, as a measure of self-preservation ; and also to provide for the education, by public schools, of every child, removing and avoiding wellfounded grounds of offence or complaint against them, urged by any portion of those who support them. I have also hinted at the danger to our institutions, and to our system of public schools especially, from the foreign element, and from the conflict of religious opinions.
These are not imaginary dangers ; would they were so! “ The Greeks are at your doors, madam," said John Randolph to one anxious about the Greeks she had never seen. Unfortunately we are not left to speculate upon supposed influences. The uneducated foreigner is here. He has brought his language, customs and religion. By our declaration of rights, holding all men free; by our proclaimed toleration of all creeds and opinions; by our vast country need
ing development and asking labor, we have invited him to come. To his children, as well as to the native born, we must commit the future destinies of our country. May God give us wisdom in this hour of our peril. Remember, no desert is so arid, no desolation so complete, no waste so unrelieved, as the uncultured human soul. Well has the despairing poet sung:
There is a wilderness more dark
Than groves of fir on Huron's shore,
What serpents biss! what monsters roar!
Of vast Superior's stormy lake,
Nor footsteps pierce the tangled brake !
By education unrefined,
The frightful wilderness of mind !
PROVINCE OF LEGISLATION IN REGARD TO PUBLIC
BY REV. A. H. QUINT,
OF JAMAICA PLAIN, MASS.
The subject upon which I propose to occupy the time allotted to me, is The Province of Legislation in regard to Public Education. Though no legislator myself, nor addressing to any great extent actual legislators, yet certain homely, but honest thoughts have sometimes occurred to me. And the principles which make our School System a part, if not the most important part, of our State Institutions, deserve for their own sake to be well understood and frequently reviewed. Possibly there has been, to some extent, carelessness in taking for granted the propriety of the organic connection of schools with the State, and so an omission to command thoroughly the whole subject.
Nor is it indeed certain, that the true basis of legislation upon Education is universally approved. Because the battle has been fought - the victory won -in one generation, it is not safe to regard principles as established, and institutions safe. The old reasoners pass on. The new advance. They are ignorant of the causes of events and things. The lingering veterans of the din and smoke of past battle-fields may be impatient of doubt; but every new generation needs, nevertheless, to be indoctrinated. In fact, it is not evident that the work of the State, as regards education, is favorably viewed by all classes. There are States of our Union in which no such system is recognized. There are, in the more favored States, those who demand denominational schools, and call State schools “ Godless.” Even in New England even in Massachusetts, — there are murmurs at the supremacy of the State over schools, which I do not over-estimate, for I do not regard them as very 'important, yet actually existing. Angry objections arise in some quarters at the requirements of the State. Mutterings of discontent occasionally emerge into denunciation and abuse; some few deny in toto the right of the State to establish a system of education. The features of legislation which are objected to by those who go less extreme lengths, are the very ones essential to any broad and generous public system. Sometimes teachers are treated as mere dependents on the public treasury.
What makes Public Instruction public, is not that it is free to the public, but that it is instituted by the people in their organic capacity. It is a matter of mere legislation. It is not a sine qua non to society. Every teacher in a public school holds his place by virtue of State laws. A few pages on our book of General Statutes, repealable in a day, are the dyke