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its great constitutional duty of self-preservation for the common good, by
In this particular, New England may be allowed to claim, I think, a merit of a peculiar character. She early adopted and has constantly maintained the principle, that it is the undoubted right, and the bounden duty of government, to provide for the instruction of all youth. That which is elsewhere left to chance, or to charity, we secure by law. For the purpose of public instruction, we hold every man subject to taxation in proportion to his property, and we look not to the question, whether he himself have, or have not, children to be benefited by the education for which he pays. We regard it as a wise and liberal system of police, by which property, and life, and the peace of society are secured. We seek to prevent, in some measure, the extension of the penal code, by inspiring a salutary and conservative principle of virtue and of knowledge in an early age. We hope to excite a feeling of respectability, and a sense of character, by enlarging the capacity, and increasing the sphere of intellectual enjoyment. By general instruction, we seek, as far as possible, to purify the whole moral atmosphere; to keep good sentiments uppermost, and to turn the strong current of feeling and opinion, as well as the censures of the law, and the denunciations of religion, against immorality and crime. We hope for a security, beyond the law, and above the law, in the prevalence of enlightened and well-principled moral sentiment. We hope to continue and prolong the time, when, in the villages and farm-houses of New England, there may be undisturbed sleep within unbarred doors. And knowing that our government rests directly on the public will, that we may preserve it, we endeavor to give a safe and proper direction to that public will. We do not, indeed, expect all men to be philosophers or statesmen; but we confidently trust, and our expectation of the duration of our system of government rests on that trust, that by the diffusion of general knowledge and good and virtuous sentiments, the political fabric may be secure, as well against open violence and overthrow, as against the slow but sure undermining of licentiousncSS. DANIEL WEBSTER. Discourse at Plymouth, 1822.
colony of Massachusetts.
It being one chief project of the old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded by false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers; that learning may not be buried in the grave of our fathers in the church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors—
It is therefore ordered, that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall then forth with appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read; whose wages shall be paid, either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply, as the major part of those that order the R. of the town shall appoint; provided, those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns; and it is further ordered, that when any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, the shall set up a Grammar School, the master thereof being able to instruct yout so far as they may be fitted for the University; provided, that if any town neglect the performance hereof above one year, that every such town shall pay £5 to the next school till they shall perform this order.
Order of General Court, 1647.
In 1647, when a few scattered and feeble settlements, almost buried in the depths of the forest, were all that constituted the Colony of Massachusetts; when the entire population consisted of twenty-one thousand souls; when the external means of the people were small, their dwellings humble, and their raiment and subsistence scanty and homely; when the whole valuation of all the colonial estates, both public and private, would hardly equal the inventory of many a private individual at the present day; when the fierce eye of the savage was nightly seen glaring from the edge of the surrounding wilderness, and no defense or succor was at hand; it was then, amid all these privations and dangers, that the Pilgrim Fathers conceived the magnificent idea of a Free” and Universal Education for the People; and, amid all their poverty, they stinted themselves to a still scantier pittance; amid all their, toils they imposed upon themselves still more burdensome labors; amid all their perils they braved still greater dangers, that they might find the time and the means to reduce their grand conception to practice. Two divine ideas filled their great hearts—their duty to God and to posterity. For the one they built the church; for the other they opened the school. Religion and Knowledge —two attributes of the same glorious and eternal truth—and that truth the only one on which immortal or mortal happiness can be securely founded,
As an innovation upon all prečxisting policy and usages, the establishment of Free Schools was the boldest ever promulgated since the commencement of the Christian era. As a theory, it could have been refuted and silenced by a more formidable array of argument and experience than was ever marshaled against any other opinion of human origin. But time has ratified its soundness. Two centuries now proclaim it to be as wise as it was courageous, as beneficent as it was disinterested. It was one of those grand mental and moral experiments whose effects can not be determined in a single generation. But now, according to the manner in which human life is computed, we are the sixth generation from its founders, and have we not reason to be grateful both to God and man for its unnumbered blessings? The sincerity of our gratitude must be tested by our efforts to perpetuate and improve what they established. The gratitude of the lips only is an unholy offering.
HoRAcE MANN. Tenth Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.
* Was the Public School of Mnssachusetts at first free? Was Massachusetts the first to estab lish such a system as is ordained in the law of 1647?–Ed. of Amer. Jour. of Education.
The three following propositions describe the broad and everduring foundation on which the Common School system of Massachusetts reposes: The successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great Commonwealth. The property of this Commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties. The successive holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; because embezzlement and pillage from children and descendants are as criminal as the same offenses when perpetrated against contemporaries. Recognizing these eternal principles of natural ethics, the Constitution of Massachusetts—the fundamental law of the State—after declaring, (among other things,) in the preamble to the first section of the fifth chapter, that “the encouragement of arts and sciences and all good literature tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America,” proceeds, in the second section of the same chapter, to set forth the duties of all future Legislators and Magistrates, in the following noble and impressive language:– “Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the University of Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humor, and all social affections and generous sentiments among the people.” HoRAcE MANs. Tenth Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.
The outline and most of the essential features of the present system of common, or public schools in Connecticut, will be found in the practice of the first settlers of the several towns which composed the two original colonies of Connecticut and New Haven, before any express provision was made by general law for the regulation and support of schools or the bringing up of children. The first law on the subject did but little more than declare the motive, and make obligatory the practice which had grown up out of the character of the founders of these colonies, and the circumstances in which they were placed. They did not come here as isolated individuals, drawn together from widely separated homes, entertaining broad differences of opinion on all matters of civil and religious concernment, and kept together by the necessity of self-defense in the cager prosecution of some temporary but profitable adventure. They came after God had set them in families, and they brought with them the best pledges of good behavior, in the relations which father and mother, husband and wife, parents and children, neighbors and friends, establish. They came, with a foregone conclusion of permanence, and with all the elements of the social state combined in vigorous activity—every inan, expecting to find or make occupation in the way in which he had been trained. They came with earnest religious convictions, made more earnest by the trials of persecution ; and the enjoyment of these convictions was a leading motive in their emigration hither. The fundamental articles of their religious creed, that the Bible was the only authoritative expression of the divine will, and that every man was able to judge for himself in its interpretation, made schools necessary to bring all persons ‘to a knowledge of the Scriptures,' and an understanding ‘of the main grounds and principles of the Christian religion necessary to salvation.” The constitution of civil government, which they adopted from the outset, which declared all civil officers elective, and gave to every inhabitant who would take the oath of allegiance the right to vote and to be voted for, and which practically converted political society into a partnership, in which each member had the right to bind the whole firm, made universal education identical with self-preservation. But aside from these considerations, the natural and acknowledged leaders in this enterprise—the men who, by their religious character, wealth, social position, and previous experience in conducting large business operations, commanded public confidence in church and commonwealth, were educated men—as highly and thoroughly educated as the best endowed grammar schools in England could educate them at that period, and not a few of them had enjoyed the advantages of her great universities. These men would naturally seek for their own children the best opportunities of education which could be provided; and it is the crowning glory of these men, that, instead of sending their own children back to England to be educated in grammar schools and universities, they labored to establish free grammar schools and a college, here amid the stumps of the primeval forests; that, instead of setting