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HON. JOHN SLAUGHTER, Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born in Virginia, in 1809, and removed with his parents to Ohio, when three years of age. He received a very limited education in a log school-house. In 1861, he emigrated to Colorado Territory, and from there proceeded to Wyoming Territory in 1868. He succeeded Dr. J. H. Hayford, of Laramie, when the new school law at the commencement of the year made the Territorial Librarian Superintendent of Instruction.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST. Wyoming was constituted a Territory by an Act of Congress approved July 25, 1868. Two years later, in 1870, it was the tenth Territory in population, having nine thousand one hundred and eighteen inhabitants with an area of ninety-seven thousand eight hundred and eighty-three square miles. Three hundred and sixty-four persons attended school, one hundred and seventy-eight males and one hundred and eighty-six females. The total number of educational institutions was nine, having fifteen teachers, seven males and eight females. The four public schools were attended by one hundred and seventy-five pupils. The five day and boarding-schools had eleven teachers, five males and six females, and were attended by one hundred and thirty pupils. There were eleven public libraries, with eleven hundred and three volumes, also twenty private libraries, with fifteen hundred volumes, making, in all, thirty-one libraries, containing two thousand six hundred and three volumes. Of the total population, eight hundred and fifty-six were from five to eighteen years old, of whom four hundred and forty-nine were males and four hundred and seven females. Eight thousand and fifty-nine were ten years old and over, of whom six thousand six hundred and fifty were males, and fourteen hundred and nine were females. There were six hundred and two inhabitants, of all races, ten years old and over, unable to write, and, of these, three hundred and thirty-six were foreign born. Since 1870 the population has not increased rapidly, as in other Territories, and it does not now exceed ten thousand. Furthermore, this population is very scattered, thereby operating as a check against combined educational movements. The Territorial Legislature has, however, from time to time, aimed to foster and develop the educational interests.
December 10, 1869, an act “providing for the organization of school districts and schools,” became a law. During December of the following year (1870) a bill was passed by the Territorial Legislature materially amending the act of 1869. December 12, 1873, both of these measures were repealed, and a new school law was passed, which went into effect immediately.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM. The following are its main features :
The Territorial Librarian is ex officio Superintendent of Public Instruction. He has the general supervision of all the district schools, grants teachers' certificates, good for all the Territory, regulates the grade of county certificates, and is allowed $4 per day for his services, for not to exceed, however, thirty days in any one year. The Territorial Librarian is appointed for two years.
County Superintendents, to the number of five, issue teachers' certificates, and perform the other duties of Superintendents. They receive annually $100 for their services.
School Directors, three for each school district, are elected yearly, employ teachers, and perform the other duties common to the office of director or trustee. In the employment of teachers no discrimination, the law says, shall be made in the question of pay on account of sex, when the persons are equally qualified.
The County Superintendent and District Board of Directors may determine whether a school of a higher grade shall be established in any district.
The Territorial Superintendent, together with the several County Superintendents of Instruction are required to hold a Teachers' Institute in the month of May of each year, which shall continue in session not less than four nor more than ten days. A uniform series of text-books for the whole Territory is decided upon by this Institute, and the series so adopted cannot be changed oftener than once in three years. The series now in use was adopted in May last, at Cheyenne city. School districts can vote a sum not exceeding $100 in any one year for a library.
The public schools are free to all children over seven and under twenty-one years of age. Separate schools must be provided for colored children when there are fifteen or more in any school district.
A two-mill tax is required to be annually levied in each county for school purposes. School districts assess themselves for additional amounts. The “School-house Fund” consists only of taxes collected in the district. All other school moneys belonging to the district go to the “ Teachers' Fund."
COMPULSORY EDUCATION. Parents and guardians are required to send all well children between seven and twenty-one years of age, under their control, to some school, three months every year.
EDUCATIONAL STATISTICS. The following statistics, which Hon. J. H. Hayford, the Auditor of the Territory, collated and furnished us July, 1874, give some idea of the present educational interests of the Territory : School Districts in the Territory ........... School-houses erected during the year......
3 Cost of the same..........
$22,000 00 Estimated total value of school-houses
$40,000 00 Pupils enrolled in the schools.
1,200 Average daily attendance.
800 Male teachers employed. ......
8 Average wages .......
$1,500 per annum. Female teachers employed............
About 20 Average wages......
$900 per annum. Amount of Territorial School Fund......... About $30,000 00 Legal school age........
5 to 21 Total receipts for school purposes.......
A SCHOOL-GIRL in Davenport, Iowa, was recently overheard trying to convince a school-fellow that she liked him better than she did some other urchin, of whom he seemed jealous. “Of course I like you better than I do Bill,” she said ; “for don't I miss words in my spelling lesson on purpose, so as to be down to the foot of the class, where you are ?'
GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERIES IN 1873 AND 1874.
The remaining field for the explorer comprises the Arctic and Antarctic regions, the greater part of Africa, Central Asia, the largest half of Australia, the islands of the East Indian Archipelago, a vast tract in South America, and a large portion of our Western Plains. We present a brief review of the work done in each of these sections during the eighteen months ending September, 1874.
The Arctic Ocean has been explored, through the intrepidity of American seamen, to a point beyond any ever reached by ship before. The “ Polaris," under Captain Hall, penetrated by way of Smith's Sound, the route advocated by American explorers, to latitude 82° 16'. Here she was stopped on the 30th of August, 1872, by floating ice, being a little more than four hundred miles from the Pole. There was some difference of opinion regarding the possibility of pushing farther north, some of the officers contending that it was possible, and others that it was not. Capt. Hall died on the 8th of November, 1872, from the effects of exposure, undergone in an attempt to penetrate farther north by sleigh. The ship was shortly after abandoned by the crew, which, after encountering great hardships, reached home in safety last spring. One of the most remarkable facts made known by the expedition was the greater abundance of animal life found to exist as the ship proceeded farther north. Willows of comparatively large size, sorrel and grasses of several kinds, as well as many flowers of different colors were also observed in abundance at Polaris Bay, latitude 82°. Garnets of unusual size were likewise found. In the summer of 1873, Mr. B. L. Smith, in the “ Diana," succeeded in reaching latitude 80° 56', longitude 70° E., and determined North Cape to be an island. The “Tegethof,” of the Austrian expedition for the exploration of the sea east of Nova Zembla, has not been heard of since August, 1872, and may have solved the mystery of the “open sea.” Nothing has been accomplished in the Antarctic regions.
Much has been contributed during the past year to our knowledge of the western part of our country. Some remarkable ruins on the Rio Chaco, in New Mexico, have been visited and described by General James H. Simpson, U.S. A. They consist of massive walls of gray sand-stone, in some places still standing at a height of four stories. The exterior face of the wall is composed of thin courses of sand-stone, with intervals which are filled with laminar stones of the minutest thinness, so placed as to present the appearance of a magnificent piece of mosaic work. The mortar shows no trace of lime, and appears to have been made of the common earth. The regular arch is wanting in these walls, horizontal slabs of wood or stone forming the lintels of windows and doors. The ground floor is divided into numerous small apartments connected by diminutive openings, many of which are not more than two and a half feet square. The interior of one of these ruins measures seven hundred feet in circumference, and the present height of wall twenty-five feet, while the débris at its base shows it to have been originally higher. These ruins are evidently the work of a people far superior to the Indians now surrounding them, who, in fact, know nothing of their origin. Humboldt has located near these ruins the first resting-place of the Aztecs in their migration southward.
Colonel E. C. Boudinot, a highly cultivated Cherokee Indian, in an address last winter before the American Geographical Society, gave some interesting information regarding the inhabitants of Indian Territory. These comprise the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Seminoles, and Chickasaws, known as the five civilized tribes. Each tribe has a written Constitution and code of laws, as well as a Legislature and civil government of its own. The lands, however, are held in common, and no one tribe can dispose of its portion without the consent of the others. They have a well-organized free school system, comprising six high and eighty-eight primary schools. Two high school buildings in the Cherokee nation cost $80,000 each. The Chickasaws send a number of their youth of both sexes to the best schools in the States, at an annual public expense of over $17,000. The Cherokees have an original alphabet of their own, consisting of seventyeight characters, invented in 1822, by one of them, a man named Sequoyah. Just after this invention a newspaper called the Cherokee Advocate was established, and printed one-half in