Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

up ‘family schools' and ‘select schools' for the ministers' sons and the magistrates' sons, the ministers and magistrates were sound,+not only in town meeting, pleading sor an allowance out of the common treasury for the support of a public or common school, and in some instances for a ‘free (endowed grammar) school,'—but among the families, entreating parents of all classes to send their children to the same school with their own. All this was done in advance of any colonial legislation, and was begun in anticipation of any formal town action. The first permanent settlement of Hartford was made by the religious friends and congregation of Rev. Thomas Hooker, in 1636, and in 1637 John Higginson, before he became chaplain of the fort at Saybrook, was a resident and ‘schoolmaster' at Hartford; and Winthrop mentions ‘one Mr. Collins, a young scholar who came from Barbadoes, and had been a preacher, who was established at Hartford to teach a school in 1640." These masters taught before the first formal vote of the town, so far as the records now show, in April, 1643—and the engagement with Mr. Andrews was not to set up a school, but ‘to teach the children in the school,' as an institution already in existence. This first public school was maintained, as all the early common schools of Connecticut were, by the joint contributions of parents and the town—which secured parental and public interest in the management, and did accomplish, what no other mode of supporting public schools has yet effected elsewhere, the universal elementary instruction of the people. The first settlement in the colony of New Haven was made at Quinnipiac (New Haven) in 1638; and within a year “Thomas Fugill is required by the court to keep Charles Higinson, an indented apprentice, at school one year, or else advantage him as much in his education as a year's learning comes to.' This transaction proclaims at once the existence of a school in the first year of this infant commonwealth, and the protection which the first settlers extended to those who could not help themselves, and their desire to make elementary education universal. In 1641 it is ordered by the General Court ‘that a free school be set up in this town, and our pastor, Mr. Davenport, together with the magistrates shall consider what yearly allowance is meet to be given to it out of the common stock of the town, and also what rules and orders are meet to be observed in and about the same." Over this school presided master Ezekiel Cheever, one of the principal men of the colony, and who subsequently taught the ‘Free School at Ipswich,' and still later the Town Free School at Charlestown, closing his career at Boston, as ‘sole master' of the still famous Latin school. To this school, or its successor, was assigned in 1667, a portion of the legacy left by Edward Hopkins, that excellent magistrate and beneficent citizen, “to give some encouragement for the breeding up of hopeful youth for the public service of the country in future times.’ The strength of the school system of Connecticut lies in the habits of her people of always looking after the education of their children. HENRY BARNARD, History of Common Schools in Connecticut.

colony OF CoNNECTICUT.

Forasmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoof and benefit to any commonwealth; and whereas many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent of their duty in that kind—

It is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof, That the selectmen of every town in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors, to see, first, that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families, as not to endeavor to teach by themselves or others, their children and apprentices so much learning, as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue, and knowledge of the capital laws, upon penalty of twenty shillings for each neglect therein; also, that all masters of families, do, once a week at least, catechise their children and servants, in the grounds and principles of religion, and if any be unable to do so much, that then, at the least, they procure such children or apprentices to learn some short orthodox catechism, without book, that they may be able to answer to the questions that shall be propounded to them out of such catechisms by their parents or masters, or any of the sclectmen, when they shall call them to a trial of what they have learned in this kind; and further, that all parents and masters do breed and bring up their children and apprentices in some honest lawful calling, labor or employment, either in husbandry or some other trade profitable for themselves and the commonwealth, if they will not nor can not train them up in learning, to fit them for higher employments; and if any of the selectmen, after admonition by them given to such masters of families, shall find them still negligent of their ‘. in the particulars aforementioned, whereby children and servants become rude, stubborn and unruly, the said selectmen, with the help of two magistrates, shall take such children or apprentices from them, and lo them with some masters—boys till they come to twenty-one, and girls to eighteen years of age complete—which will more strictly look unto and force them to submit unto government, according to the rules of this order, if by fair means and former instructions they will not be drawn unto it. Code of 1650.

COLONY OF NEW HAVEN.

Whereas, too many parents and masters, either through an over tender respect to their own occasions and business, or not duly considering the good of their children and apprentices, have too much neglected duty in their education while they are young and capable of learning—It is ordered that the deputies for the particular court in each plantation within this jurisdiction for the time being ; or where there are no such deputies, the constable, or other officer or officers in public, trust, shall from time to time, have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors within the limits of the said plantation, that all parents and masters, do duly endeavor, either by their own ability and labor, or by improving such schoolmaster, or other helps and means as the plantation doth afford, or the family may o provide, that all their children and apprentices, as they §§ capable, may through God's blessing attain at least so much as to be able

uly to read the Scriptures and other good and profitable printed books in the English tongue, being their native language, and in some competent measure to understand the main grounds and principles of Christian religion necessary to salyation. And to give a due answer to such plain and ordinary questions as may by the said deputies, officer or officers be propounded concerning the same. ...And when such deputies, or officers, whether by information or examination shall find any parent or master one or more negligent, he or they shall first give warning, and if thereupon due reformation follow, if the said parents or masters shall thenceforth seriously and constantly apply themselves to their duty in manner before expressed, the former neglect may be passed by ; but if not, then the said deputies and other officer or officers, shall three months after such warning, present each such negligent person or persons to the next plantation court, where every such delinquent, upon proof, shall be fined ten ift. to the plantation, to be levied as other fines. And if in any plantation there be no such court kept for the present, in such case the constable, or other officer or officers warning such person or |. before the freemen or so many of them as upon notice shall meet together and proving the neglect after warning, shall have power to levy the fine as aforesaid. But if in three months after that, there be no due care taken and continued for the education of such children or apprentices as aforesaid, the delinquent (without any further private warning,) shall be proceeded against as before, but the fine doubled. And lastly, if after the said warning and fines paid or levied, the said deputies, officer or officers, shall still find a continuance of the former negligence, if it be not obstimacy, so that such children or servants may be in danger to grow barbarous, rude, and stubborn, through ignorance, they shall give due and seasonable notice that every such parent and master be summoned to the next court of magistrates, who are to proceed as they find cause, either to a greater fine, taking security for due conformity to the scope and intent of this law, or may take such children or apprentices from such parents or masters, and place them for years, boys till they come to the age of one and twenty, and girls till they come to the age of eighteen years, with such others who shall better educate and govern them, both for the public conveniency and for the particular good of the said children or apprentices. When the rich man is called from the possession of his treasures, he divides them, as he will, among his children and heirs. But an equal Providence deals not so with the living treasures of the mind. There are children just growing up in the bosom of obscurity, in town and in country, who have inherited nothing but poverty and health, who will, in a few years, be striving in generous contention with the great intellects of the land. Our system of free schools has opened a straight way from the threshold of every abode, however humble, in the village or in the city, to the high places of usefulness, influence and honor. And it is left for each, by the cultivation of every talent; by watching with an eagle's eye, for every chance of improvement; by bounding forward, like a greyhound, at the most distant glimpse of honorable opportunity; by redeeming time, defying temptation, and scorning pleasure to make himself useful, honored, and happy. Edward EveRETT.

[graphic]

Colony Law. 1655.

Colony of PLYMouth.

Forasmuch as the maintenance of good literature doth much tend to the advancement of the weal, and flourishing state of societies and republics, this court doth therefore order, that in whatever township in this government, consisting of fifty families or upwards, any meet man o be obtained to teach a grammar school, such township shall allow at least twelve pounds, to be raised by rate on all the inhabitants. Order of Legislature. 1669.

In the early history of almost every town in every state of New England, a portion of the public land was reserved, or special grants were made by individuals for “gospel” and school purposes.

On the 17th of May, 1784, Mr. Jefferson, as chairman of a committee for that purpose, introduced into the old Congress an ordinance respecting the disposition of the public lands, but this contained no reference to schools or education. On the 4th of March, 1785, another ordinance was introduced—by whom does not appear on the Journal, and on the 16th of the same month was recommitted to a committee consisting of Pierce Long, of New Hampshire, Rufus King, of Massachusetts, David Howell, of Rhode Island, Wm. S. Johnson, of Connecticut, R. R. Livingston, of New York, Charles Stewart, of New Jersey, Joseph Gardner, of Pennsylvania, John Henry, of Maryland, William Grayson, of Virginia, Hugh Williamson, of North Carolina, John Bull, of South Carolina, and William Houston, of Georgia. On the 14th of April following, this committee reported the ordinance—by whom reported, no clue is given; which after being perfected, was passed the 20th of May following, and became the foundation of the existing land system of the United States.

By one of its provisions, the 16th section of every township was reserved “for the maintenance of public schools;” or, in other words, one section out of every thirty-six composing each township. This same provision was incorporated in the large land sale, in 1786, to the Ohio Company; and, the following year, in Judge Symmes' purchase. The celebrated ordinance of 1787, for the government of the Territory Northwest of the river Ohio, and which confirmed the provisions of the land ordinance of 1785, further declared, that, “Religiox, MoRALITY and KNowledge, being necessary to good government, and the happiness of mankind, Schools, AND THE MEANs of Education, shAll BE Forever ENcouraged.” From that day to the present, this noble policy has been confirmed and extended, till its blessings now reach even the distant shores of the Pacific, and FIFTY Millions of ACREs of the public domain have been set apart and consecrated to the high and ennobling purposes of education; together with five per cent of the net proceeds of the sales of all public lands in each of the States and Territories in which they are situated.

LYMAN DRAPER. Report of Supt. of Public Instruction, 1858.

[ocr errors]

It is a noble and beautiful idea of providing wise institutions for the unborn millions of the West; of anticipating their good by a sort of parental providence; and of associating together the social and the territorial development of the people, by incorporating these provisions with the land titles derived from the public domain, and making school reservations and road reservations essential parts of that policy. CALEB Cushing.

Doubtless it will be urged that a general tax on property, for this object, (Public Schools,) would fall on many who have no children, and is therefore unjust. Carry out the principle of this objection, and it would overthrow the whole system of taxation. One would say that he never uses the public roads, and therefore he must not be taxed for them. Another never goes out in the evening, and therefore must not be taxed for lighting the streets. Another denies the right of all government and prefers to be without any protection but that of virtue, he must not be taxed for courts and legislatures. But taxation, we apprehend, is never based on the principle that the individual wants it for his direct benefit, but that the public wants it; for the public has a right in all property as truly as the individual, and may draw upon it for its own uses. And one of these uses is the education of the youth; for there is a very important sense in which children belong to the State, as they do to the family organization. Indeed, if we revert to the Jewish, Persian, Lacedemonian, and Roman States—all those ancient fabrics that rose in the youth time of nature—we see the State to be naturally endowed with a real instinct of civil maternity, making it the first care of her founders and constitutions, to direct the education of the youth. And why should she not? These are her heroes of the future day, her pillars of state and justice, her voters on whose shoulders she rests her constitution, her productive hands, her sentinels of order, her reliance for the security of life, liberty, and property.

DR. H. Bush.NELL.

I know not to what else we can better liken the strong appetence of the mind for improvement, than to a hunger and thirst after knowledge and truth; nor how we can better describe the province of education, than to say, it does that for the intellect, which is done for the body, when it receives the care and nourishment which are necessary for its growth, health and strength. From this comparison, I think I derive new views of the importance of education. It is now a solemn duty, a tender, sacred trust. What! sir, feed a child's body, and let his soul hunger! pamper his limbs, and starve his faculties! Plant the earth, cover a thousand hills with your droves of cattle, pursue the fish to their hiding places in the sea, and spread out your wheat fields across the plain, in order to supply the wants of that body, which will soon be as cold and as senseless as their poorest clod, and let the pure spiritual essence within you, with all its glorious capacities for improvement, languish and pine! What! build factories, turn in rivers upon the waterwheels, unchain the imprisoned spirits of steam, to weave a garment for the body, and let the soul remain unadorned and naked! What! send out your vessels to the farthest ocean, and make battle with the monsters of the deep, in order to obtain the means of lighting up your dwellings and workshops, and prolonging the hours of labor for the meat that perisheth, and permit that vital spark, which God has kindled, which He has intrusted to our care, to be fanned into a bright and heavenly flame;

permit it, I say, to languish and go out!
Edward EveRETT.

If I were asked by an intelligent stranger to point out to him our most valued possessions, I would show to him—not our railroads, our warehouses filled with the wealth of all the earth, our ships, our busy wharves and marts, where the car of commerce is ever “thundering loud with her ten thousand wheels;” but I would carry him to one of our public schools, would show him its happy and intelligent children, hushed into reverent silence at their teacher's word, or humming over their tasks with a sound like that of bees in June. I would tell him that here was the soundation on which our material prosperity was reared, that here were the elements from which we constructed the State. Here are the fountains from which flow those streams which make glad our land. The schools of Boston are dear to my heart. Though I can have no personal and immediate interest in them ; though no child on earth calls me father; yet most gladly do I contribute to their support, according to my substance; and when I see a father's eye filled with pleasant tears as he hears the music of his child's voice linked to some strain of poetry or burst of eloquence, I can sympathize in the feeling in which I can not share. May the blessing of Heaven rest upon our schools. They are an object worthy of all efforts and sacrifices. We should leave nothing undone which may tend to make them more excellent and more useful. For this we should gather into our own stores all the harvests of expe

rience which have been reaped from other soils.
George S. Hill ARD.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »