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For the purpose of promoting the happiness of the State, it is absolutely necessary that our Government, which unites into one all the minds of the State, should possess in an eminent degree not only the understanding, the passions, and the will, but above all, the moral faculty and the conscience of an individual. Nothing can be politically right that is morally wrong; and no necessity can ever sanctify a law that is contrary to equity. Virtue is the soul of a Republic. To promote this, laws for the suppression of vice and immorality will be as ineffectual as the increase and enlargement of goals. There is but one method of preventing crime and of rendering a republican form of government durable; and that is, by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge through every part of the State, by means of proper modes and places of education; and this can be done effectually only by the interference and aid of the legislature. I am so deeply impressed with this opinion, that were this the last evening of my life, I would not only say to the asylum of my ancestors and my beloved native country, with the patriot of Venice, “Esto perpetua,” but I would add, as the best proof of my affection for her, my parting advice to the guardians of her liberties, establish and support public schools in every part of the State. BENJAMIN RUsh.
There is one object which I earnestly recommend to your notice and patronage; I mean our institutions for the education of youth. The importance of common schools is best estimated by the good effects of them where they most abound, and are best regulated. Our ancestors have transmitted to us many excellent institutions, matured by the wisdom and experience of ages. Let them descend to posterity, accompanied with others, which by promoting useful knowledge, and multiplying the blessings of social order, diffusing the influence of moral obligations, may be reputable to us, and beneficial to them. John JAY.
The first duty of government, and the surest evidence of good government, is the encouragement of education. A general diffusion of knowledge is the precursor and protector of republican institutions, and in it we must confide as the conservative power that will watch over our liberties and guard them against fraud, intrigue, corruption and violence. I consider the system of our Common Schools as the palladium of our freedom, for no reasonable apprehension can be entertained of its subversion, as long as the great body of the people are enlightened by education. To increase the funds, to extend the benefits, and to remedy the defects of this excellent system, is worthy of your most deliberate attention. I can not recommend, in terms too strong and impressive, as munificent appropriations as the faculties of the State will authorize for all establishments connected with the interests of education, the exaltation of literature and science, and the improvement of the human mind.
DE WITT CLINToN. Message as Gorernor.
The parent who sends his son into the world uneducated, defrauds the community of a lawful citizen, and bequeathes to it a nuisance. CHANCELLOR KENT.
For augmenting the aggregate amount of intelligence and mental power, in any community, the grandest instrumentality ever yet devised is the institution of Common Schools. The Common School realizes all the facts, or fables, whichever they may be, of the Divining Rod. It tries its experiments over the whole surface of society, and wherever a buried fountain of genius is flowing in the darkness below, it brings it above, and pours out its waters to fertilize the earth. Among mankind, hitherto, hardly one person in a million has had any chance for the development of his higher faculties. Hence, whatever poets, orators, philosophers, divines, inventors or philanthropists, may have risen up to bless the world, they have all risen from not more than one millionth part of the race. The minds of the rest, though equally endowed with talent, genius and benevolence, have lain outside the scope of availibility for good. These millions, with the exception of the units, have been drudges, slaves, cattle; their bodies used, their souls unrecognized. Ah, nowhere else have there been such waste and loss of treasure, as in the waste and loss of the Human Faculties. All spendthrift profusions, all royal prodigalities, are parsimony and niggardliness, compared with the ungathered, abandoned treasures of the human soul. As civilization has advanced, perhaps one child in a hundred thousand, and, in more favored nations, one child in ten thousand, has been admitted to the opportunities of knowledge. Forthwith, the men capable of constructing the institutions or the engines of human improvement and adornment appeared; and in numbers, too, far beyond the proportionate share of the constituencies from which they sprang. But if, instead of striking the fetters of prohibition from one in a hundred thousand, or from one in ten thousand, those fetters are stricken from all, and incitements to exertion and aids to self-development are supplied to all; then, immediately, quick as water gushes from unsealed fountains, Shermans rise up from the shoemaker's bench, Beechers come from the blacksmith's anvil, and Bowditches and Franklins from the ship-chandler's and the tallow-chandler's shop, and a new galaxy shines forth over all the firmament of genius. These are truths which the uneducated nations do not understand;—truths too, which the caste-men, whether of birth or of wealth, do not wish to understand. HoRAce MANN. Inaugural at Antioch College.
The theory of our government is, not that all men, however unfit, shall be voters, but that every man, by the power of reason and the sense of duty, shall become fit to be a voter. Education must bring the practice as near as possible to the theory. As the children now are, so will the sovereigns soon be. How can we expect the fabric of the government to stand, if vicious materials are daily wrought into its framework? Education must prepare our citizens to become municipal officers, intelligent jurors, honest witnesses, legislators, or competent judges of legislation,-in fine, to fill all the manifold relations of life. For this end, it must be universal. The whole land must be watered with the streams of knowledge. HoRAce MANN.
THE STATE AND EDUCATION.
WHAT constitutional right has the government to impose the burthen of taxation on individual property, or to employ the public funds, however obtained, for the furtherance of any such object as that of popular instruction ? Is not education a personal advantage, accruing to the individual instructed, as much as the possession of property, or any other good—and by what right does the government undertake to bestow personal benefits at all, much more to compel one class of men, because they are men of substance, to bear the expense of benefits gratuitously bestowed on another class?
In the first place, the power over education is one of the powers of public police, belonging essentially to government. It is one of those powers, the exercise of which, is indispensable to the preservation of so*iety—to its integrity, and its healthy action. It rests on the same foundation as that which is employed in defining and taking cognizance of crime, in erecting courts, both of civil and of criminal jurisdiction, in establishing jails and penitentiaries, and in compelling the performance of contracts, and the reparation of injuries. In this point of view, it is one among a number of means to the same end, either of which, or all of which, may be freely used, according to the wisdom and discretion of the public authorities. All are lawful, and equally lawful and constitutional modes of action. In the present case, however, the choice is not a question of expediency or economy only—though certainly important in the latter point of view; but it becomes a question of humanity also. For while it will always be necessary to provide for the punishment of offences against society, when committed, and for the compulsory observance of personal obligations, and redress of personal grievances, yet it is vastly preferable, undoubtedly, that, if such a thing were possible, there should be no grievances to be redressed, no broken promises, and no committed crimes. It is the aim, and the undoubted tendency of education, properly understood and conducted, to accomplish this object—an object of incalulable benefit to human society. As a measure, designed to operate only as a law of police, the public support of education goes behind all crime, and all injurious and disturbing action in society, and seeks to occupy the intellect and the affections of men, and simply by informing the mind and molding the temper, by demonstrating that it is the interest and the happiness of each to be just and generous towards all, by letting a little light in on the understanding, and touching the heart, either to take from them the disposition to offend one another, or to injure society, or to arm them with strength of purpose to resist every temptation to do so. But there is another and broader ground, still, on which to rest the power and duty of the state, in regard to education. That which we have already noticed, is enough for the authority, if the state choose to exercise it, and in the opinion of your committee, enough for the duty also. But the consideration which we now approach, is not only sufficient for the abundant justification of authoritative action—it demands action, and the state could not justify itself to the people without it. The people of this state, having united themselves together in a civil society, have agreed to secure to themselves, or to attempt to secure to themselves, the highest advantages of the social compact, through the agency of certain forms of government and administration. We have adopted the representative system ; and we start from the position, that the whole political power of the country, much of it for immediate exercise, and all of it by ultimate reference, is in the hands of the people. And, on this grand position, as a basis, do all our constitutional forms absolutely rest. But just as children are unfit to govern themselves, so are uneducated men, being still children, though of huge growth, unfit to govern themselves. In one mode or another, associations of such men always have had, and always will have, protectors and masters; and we hardly need add, that a people with masters of any sort, as the basis of a free representative system, is a contradiction in terms. It is evident, therefore, that popular cultivation, as diffusive and general as the numbers composing the republic, is indispensable to the preservation of our republican forms—and hence arises the great constitutional duty of the government. It is the duty of self-preservation, according to its actual mode of eristence, for the sake of the common good. The highest good of the whole, as a body, is the object in view; that good is to be attained only, according to the very terms of the original compact, through our adopted forms; and the duty of preserving and maintaining those forms, in their vigor and purity, becomes, at once, the very highest duty and obligation of those who are intrusted with the administration. It is a duty, every instant, and perpetually, in force. No change of administration can affect it; and the moment it is denied or neglected, that moment is the cause of the republic repudiated and betrayed. It is easy, we think, to know when this duty of maintaining our constitutional forms, by the care which is taken of the structure on which they rest, is in the way of being faithfully performed. The duty is not well provided for, unless some rational plan of public instruction shall have been devised and adopted, the object and the probable effect of which shall be, to lead to the cultivation of every child in the community, at least so far as to fit them all, without exception to the extent of their capabilities, for an intelligent discharge of the common and ordinary duties and responsibilities of social and political life, to which all, or nearly all, are called by the very conditions of our social and political forms. The future mother must be educated in every female child—a matter not to be neglected if we would have men in the republic; and in every male child, must be educated the future elector, juror, and local administrator. The duty of being educated is, undoubtedly, one of positive obligation, resting on every citizen, as part of the original compact between every citizen and the whole body of citizens; and as far as instruction is attainable in youth, the obligation rests on parents and guardians. It is a duty which by no means concerns the individual only; it is one in which every other individual, and the whole community have a deep interest. The verdict of jurors, and the decision of a contested election, perhaps by the casting vote of a single person, are matters of vast concernment to others, besides those who render the verdict, or turn the election. But while there can be no doubt about this personal duty, and the claims which the community has on every member in regard to it, it is clearly one which could not, especially with us, be enforced by any direct and arbitrary exercise of power. Happily, we think, nothing of this sort is necessary, any more than it would be desirable. There are evidently two difficulties in the case to contend with. One of them is, that so long as men differ in endowment and in the allotments of Providence, and so long as the rights of property shall be respected, there will always be a considerable portion of the community unable, for want of the necessary means, to sustain the expenses of education. Whenever this is the case, we hold it to be the duty of the state to supply the necessary means; and on this principle the state has long acted. The other difficulty in the case is the more serious one of the two. It is, that perhaps a large majority of those who have the means of meeting the necessary outlays for the proper education of their children, are not disposed to use them for any such purpose. The burthen in many cases is undoubtedly a heavy one, and it is difficult to convince parents of the unquestionable truth, that they can make no provision for their offspring by pecuniary aids, which can in any degree compensate for the want of adequate mental and moral cultivation. This is a difficulty to be met by the state, with measures of a delicate character -measures calculated to induce and to persuade—measures aiming to bring in public opinion to its aid, and appealing at once to the good sense, the pride, and the interest of the parties concerned. Whatever compulsory action is resorted to, must be of a gentle and paternal character, and be surrounded and accompanied with every circumstance of kindness, and with whatever is best adapted to move and to interest. Such, in a great measure, has been and is the nature of the system of public instruction long in operation in this state, so far as designed to meet the difficulty here suggested ; and your committee propose some important measures, regarded by them as worthy of great consideration, not certainly to change materially the features of the system in this respect, but to modify them, and if possible to give them efficiency. There is one other test to which your committee would refer, as one by which we may know whether the state has performed, or is performing,