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bers of the Institute, have convened in your city. We deem it a privilege — an honor to meet here.
To be officially welcomed by a city pre-eminent for its moral and social culture, for its unsurpassed educational institutions, its munificent charities, and for the general intelligence and learning of its people, is, indeed, an honor which we cannot fail to appreciate, and the bestowal of which commands our profoundest gratitude.
In return for this honor we can only again offer you and your fellow-citizens our sincere thanks, and invite you and them to partake of such intellectual entertainment as shall be placed before us during our present convention.
The PRESIDENT then proceeded to give his Annual Address before the Institute:
Gentlemen of the Institute, Teachers and Friends of Education : — I congratulate you upon the return of our annual festival. I wish you happiness in the enjoyment of another opportunity of interchanging kindly greetings, of expressing mutual sympathies, of drawing fresh lessons of wisdom from the experiences of the past, and dropping new anchors of hope into the depths of the future. Another year of school labor has ended. But a few days ago, millions of American boys and girls rushed with noisy glee from school-house yard, their hearts bounding with the expected delights of a long vacation. With a calmer pleasure, a vast multitude of teachers each turned the key in the school-house door, and left the room, where just now was heard the hum of school life, to the droning tones of the summer fly, and the timid tread of the familiar mouse. Everywhere, in city and country, in the secluded valley, on the mountain side, the school-house is vacant. The mighty work of educating a nation is suspended. The
workmen are taking their allotted rest. In this season of respite from arduous toil, what can the laborers find more invigorating, what more delightful, what more profitable, than to assemble, as we have done to-day, and as thousands are doing throughout the land, to indulge in social and intellectual pleasures, to gain new knowledge, new encouragements, and new aspirations ?
As the Institute completes to-day the thirtieth year of its existence, and is now convened in the city of its origin, a brief sketch of its history may not prove inappropriate. To give a full account of the causes which led to its organization, and of its subsequent transactions, would require much more time than belongs to these opening remarks.
During the few years prior to 1830, the public attention had been earnestly called to the subject of popular education, by several State Governors, in their annual messages ; by the action of lyceums, which had been numerously established in New England, under the lead of our deceased friend, Josiah Holbrook; by the American Journal of Education, which was first issued in 1826, and by stirring appeals from individual pioneers in the great work of building up a grand system of Public Schools. Many conventions, of greater or less importance, were held in various parts of New England, to discuss the claims of Education, and the means of promoting the interests of schools. But in most cases, the efforts of these conventions resulted in nothing permanent; although they served to do a rough work, and, in a measure, to prepare the way for ultimately successful organizations.
In 1826, an effort was made in Boston to establish an Educational Society. Some fifty gentlemen, prominent friends of Education, united for the purpose of investigating the condition of Schools and Seminaries of learning, preparatory to the discussion of measures for their im
provement. It was proposed to select a competent person to visit and examine schools of all kinds, who should devote his whole energies to the investigation, and should make such recommendations as the results of his observations should seem to justify.
The Society progressed so far in their efforts as to agree upon a certain gentleman to undertake the proposed work. That gentleman, however, declined the appointment, and the Society, not being able to agree upon another person, soon ceased to exist. But the efforts, thus seemingly unfruitful, were not made in vain. The interest aroused by the discussions which were had during the existence of this temporary association, was not suffered to die out. It was still hoped that a society might be formed which should enter upon the great work contemplated, with prospects of a long and useful life. Accordingly, on the 15th of March, 1830, a meeting was held in Columbian Hall, on Tremont Street, Boston, called by gentlemen who had taken an active part in the establishment of lyceums. The call for this meeting states that its objects were “ to receive reports on the progress of lyceums, and the condition of common schools, and to acquire information as to the organization of infant schools, and the use of school and cheap scientific apparatus.” At this convention, committees were appointed to report on a great variety of subjects, and many important questions were earnestly discussed. The result of one of these discussions was the determination “to form a permanent association of persons engaged and interested in the business of instruction.” To prepare a constitution, and make the necessary preliminary arrangements, a committee was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Ebenezer Bailey, Benj. D. Emerson, Abraham Andrews, Geo. B. Emerson, and Gideon F. Thayer, of Boston ; Henry K. Oliver, of Salem; and J. Wilder, of Watertown. It is worthy of remark, that of this committee, but one, Mr. Bailey, has deceased ; and that three, at least, are still active members of the American Institute. After careful deliberation, the committee agreed upon a constitution, selected a corps of lecturers, and issued a call for a convention. In the Daily Advertiser, and in the Boston Patriot, of July 19, 1830, I find the call, which is signed by E. Bailey, Chairman, and George B. Emerson, Secretary.
In response to this call, over two hundred persons, chiefly teachers, from fifteen different States, assembled on the 19th of August, 1830, in the Representatives' Hall of the Massachusetts State House. When we consider the great expense and fatigue attending a long journey at that period, we may with some reason be filled with astonishment, that so many States were represented. At the present time, such are the facilities for travelling, that, in a few days, and at comparatively trifling outlay, we pass from one extreme of our great country to another. But, in 1830, not a railroad existed in the United States. True, there were so-called “ telegraphs,” and “expresses," and “swift-sure lines;” but they were horse-power establishments, moving at the wonderful speed of five or · six miles an hour, and never promising to do more than to get “ through by daylight.” Imagine, if you can, the horrors of riding in a crowded stage-coach, day after day, and night after night, for a week or a fortnight; of the frightful exhaustion of strength, patience, and purse ; of the uttered and unutterable anathemas against dusty roads, provoking drivers, and alarming break-downs; and remember that all this was boldly undertaken and bravely endured by men from fifteen States, — and for what? In search of fortune? To receive public honors ? To engage in the disinterested and philanthropic work of nom
inating a new President? Not at all! But simply to attend an educational meeting in Boston — then a city of sixty thousand inhabitants — and that, too, at a time when the public generally felt little or no interest in such gatherings, and when the compensation of teachers was but a moiety of what it now is. All honor, say'we, to the educational heroes and patriots of 1830! Bless we the Pilgrim Fathers of the American Institute!
The convention was called to order by Mr. Bailey. The Hon. Wm. B. Calhoun, of Springfield, was elected Chairman, and Mr. G. B. Emerson, Secretary. The Constitution presented by the Committee having been deliberately discussed, at intervals, during three days, was finally adopted by the convention on Saturday, Aug. 21st, — just thirty years ago to-day. The convention then formally dissolved, and the American Institute of Instruction commenced its career. On Monday, Aug. 23, President Wayland, of Brown University, was elected the first President of the Institute, and Gideon F. Thayer, the first Secretary.
After the election of officers, the first vote passed was to this effect: That all prefixes and affixes, excepting only such as designate the Presidents and Professors of Colleges, be removed from the list of officers chosen. This was certainly a democratic vote, and it at once caused the abscision of a great many Hon.'s, L. L. D.'s, and A. M.'s, and a few Esq.'s. Why the exception in favor of college officers was made, whether it was that they were supposed to need titles more than any body else, or that a professor's chair was deemed more venerable than the chair of a Governor, or a United States Senator, or a seat in the Great and General Court, the record does not state. The policy in regard to honorary titles, thus early adopted, has continued to this day; except that the exception just alluded to has ceased to be made ; so that now all the officers