« PreviousContinue »
Missouri (1865).-A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence, and then apparently copies Maine constitution (q. v., 1820, above).
Nebraska (1867).-Copied Ohio constitution of 1851, which was practically the same as the preamble of the constitution of 1803.
Arkansas (1868).—A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence, etc. (Of Missouri, above.)
Mississippi (1868).-Same as Minnesota, adding "virtue" to "intelligence." Arkansas (1874).-Intelligence and virtue being the safeguards of liberty and the bulwark of a free and good government, the State, etc.
North Carolina (1876).-Follows ordinance of 1787.
California (1879).—Similar to Missouri constitution of 1865.
South Dakota (1889).- Follows Minnesota constitution of 1858.
North Dakota (1889).-A high degree of intelligence, patriotism, integrity, and morality on the part of every voter in a government by the people being necessary in order to insure the continuance of that government and the prosperity and happiness of the people, the legislature shall, etc.
Idaho (1890).-Copies Minnesota constitution of 1858.
The declaration of Maryland in 1864 is unique: “The legislature ought to encourage the diffusion of knowledge and virtue, the extension of a judicious system of general education, and the promotion of literature, the arts, science, agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, and the general melioration of the condition of the people."
The declaration of the North Carolina constitution of 1868 is still more remarkable: The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right."
THE FIRST COMMON SCHOOLS OF NEW ENGLAND.1
By GEORGE GARY BUSH, Ph. D.
"The education of the people ought to be the first concern of a State."-Macaulay.
New England was most fortunate in the character of her colonists. Doubtless the first projects of emigration to the New World had their origin in commercial adventure and the expectation of a higher political liberty, yet nothing can be clearer than that the actual settlers, who fled hither from the ecclesiastical and political tyranny of Europe, were filled with thoughts of establishing a Commonwealth based upon religion and learning. In their adventurous spirit they might perhaps be compared to the Greeks who colonized the lands bordering the Mediterranean, but they differed widely from them in most respects, and especially in the measure of their religious faith, and in the intellectuality of the objects which they sought to attain. According to the testimony they have left us, they had become weary of the corruptions in the church in which they had been born and nurtured, and went out to the new England "to practice the positive part of the church reformation, and to propagate the gospel in America." But this determination to seek a new land was aided much by the great reform movement which was then agitating all Europe, and quickening the desires and ambitions of men for new fields of activity, wealth, and honor. To the Puritans, accordingly, America seemed to offer a proper theater for the development of that “master principle,” a religious reformation. Exiles from the country they loved, they asked only that, "in quiet insignificance," they might lay the foundations of civil and religious liberty. But these men of such strong convictions who, for principle, were willing to pay the price of banishment, were alike worthy of honor for the nobility of their lineage and for their high intellectual acquirements. A New England writer says that they "were the most highly educated men that ever led colonies." We shall not then be surprised to find that they devoted themselves with such earnestness to the cause of education, being fully aware that without the schoolmaster and the schoolhouse nothing could save them from sinking into barbarism. Such was their conviction on this point, that scarcely a lustrum was allowed to pass before they placed the schoolhouse beside the church, determined that upon these two-education and religion-they would lay the foundation of
1 From the New Englander, No. VIII, March and May, 1885.
2 G. B. Emerson, Education in Massachusetts, p. 17 (Lowell Institute Lectures for 1869), who also says that of the ministers of the first fifteen or sixteen towns in Massachusetts, the greater part had been educated at Oxford or Cambridge, many of them being men of eloquence and famous preachers. Had it not been so, they would scarcely have been persecuted and driven from England.
*"Educational Progress" in the First Century of the Republic, p. 279.-The spirit of these early times is well expressed in the prayer of the Apostle Eliot, "Lord, for schools everywhere among us! That our schools may flourish! * * ** That before we die we may be so happy as to see a good school encouraged in every plantation of the country." (Mather's Magnalia, Vol. I, book 3, p. 498; ed. 1820.)
the new government. This was before they had any body of laws, and when the people, living in a few score log huts, were only numbered by hundreds. Naturally the first thought of the founders was to so educate the young that they might be able to maintain and strengthen the Christian Commonwealth which they had established. As often happens, they builded better than they knew. They came to establish a theocracy; they established it. They came to establish free schools; they established them, but in doing so they laid the corner stones of a great Republic. They sowed the fruitful seeds of liberty, in whose abundant harvest we are all sharers.
The Pilgrims, the earliest settlers on the Massachusetts coast, after many vicissitudes and much poverty and suffering, made for themselves a home, and established the first civic community in New England. The idea of this community was not an outgrowth of their circumstances or necessities, but it was the Old World idea of a community of interests based upon land; and this was "older than Saxon England, older than the primitive church, and older than the classic states of antiquity." Though the Pilgrims have received and justly hold a high place in our early history, still they ought not to be honored as the progenitors of the dominant New England race. This honor belongs rather to our Puritan ancestry, to "those men illustrious forever in history"—who first in 1630 in the Arabella sailed from England, and in the next ten years were followed by 300 ships and over 20,000 people. These landed at the mouth of the Charles River, and settling on its banks or in the vicinity, soon formed themselves into separate townships which they named Charlestown, Boston, Newtown (afterwards Cambridge), Watertown, Roxbury, and Dorchester.
In 1833 a happy accession was made to the little colony in the person of the Rev. John Cotton. After the coming of Governor Winthrop and his associates with the first charter, in 1630, probably the arrival of no other person caused so great felicitation, or had a more important bearing upon the future welfare of the new colony. One has said that "in all its generations of worth and refinement, Boston has never seen an assembly more illustrious for generous qualities * than when the magistrates of the young colony welcomed Cotton and his fellow-voyagers at Winthrop's table."3 These were men and women who were indeed "fit to be concerned in the founding of a State. To Mr. Cotton,5 who was chosen pastor of the First Church, the praise has been given (justly as it would seem) of establishing the first school in Boston. Certain it is that in April, 1635, one year and five months after his landing, the free Latin school was opened on the north side of School street, on the southeasterly portion of ground
1 The Germanic Origin of Now England Towns, p. 21. By H. B. Adams, Ph. D., Baltimore, 1882. 2 Macaulay's Speeches.
3 Palfrey's History of New England, Vol. I, p. 367.
4 Ibid. Many of them brought their libraries, consisting of standard theological and classical works, such as still hold an honored place in our schools and universities. (Emerson's Education in Massachusetts, p. 18.)
Cotton came from Boston in Lincolnshire, England, where, as rector of the "most stately parish church" in the land, he had taken great interest in education. It is known that in the English Boston school, Latin and Greek were taught, and it is probable that the American school was formed, as far as circumstances would permit, after the English model. Though we have no positive knowledge that Mr. Cotton was the founder of the Latin school (see R. C. Waterston on Boston Schools, etc., Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., February, 1873), it would seem natural to a man of his ardent temperament, to surround himself with institutions and observances, reminding him of his English home; and besides, we do know that the famous Thursday Lectures and accompanying Market Day originated with him, and that these had their counterparts in the English Boston.
The record that assures us of the existence of this Boston school, dated "13th of ye 2nd month," says "it was generally agreed upon that our brother Philemon Permont shall be entreated to become schoolmaster." (Mass. Rec. as quoted by R. C. Waterston, Ibid.) There is no notice of a school among the regular entries of Boston records until 1642. But on the last leaf of the first volume is a list, dated 1636, of subscribers and their donations towards a
now covered by King's Chapel. Probably from the beginning the elementary branches were taught, yet it is not a little remarkable, that as designed by the founder, it was to be a high school; that is, principally for the study of Latin and Greek.
This design was happily carried out, for it became the principal classical school not only of the Massachusetts Bay, but, according to the Rev. Dr. Prince, "of the British colonies, if not of all America." For its support it depended partly upon the donations of liberal friends of education and partly upon the income of a tract of land. Barnard, in his life of Ezekiel Cheever,' says that a tract of 30 acres at Muddy Brook, now a part of Brookline, was given in 1635 to the first teacher, Mr. Permont; and that, besides donations and legacies, the income from Deer Island was received for the maintenance of the Boston school. For two centuries and a half this school has enrolled among its members many who were destined to occupy high places in the State and nation. Such during the first century and a half were President Leverett, of Harvard College, Dr. Cotton Mather, Judge Hutchinson, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and others whose eminent public services form no unimportant part of New England history. As one small meetinghouse sufficed for many years for all Boston, so one school met all the needs of public instruction until 1682, when other schools for writing and arithmetic were established. Whether it was thought an unusual thing to establish a free school or a school of any kind, and whether the leading men of the colony were interested in the first Boston school, we have no certain knowledge. Governor Winthrop's journal, which gives minute accounts of nearly every circumstance affecting the welfare of the colony, makes no allusion to it, nor do we find from the same authority any reference to free-school education until some years later. At first, both in the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies, the children were doubtless educated at their homes in the elementary branches, while a few of the brighter boys were sent to the village pastor to receive from him instruction in Latin and Greek.
In studying the origin of the first American schools a very interesting question arises, namely, whether in essentials they originated in America or were largely modeled after the schools which had long existed in England. The author of The Germanic Origin of New England Towns, tells us that one of the most curious and suggestive phenomena of American history is the reproduction under colonial conditions of the town and parish systems of Old England. These little communes 'were the germs of our State and national life. They gave the colonies all the strength which they ever enjoyed. It was the towns, parishes, and counties that furnished lifeblood for church and state, for school and college, for war and peace. In New England especially, towns were the primordial cells of the body politic." "The town and village life of New England is as truly the reproduction of old English types as those again are reproductions of the village community system of the ancient Germans." "In the customs of the court leet and of the old English parish meeting, which is but the ecclesiastical outcome of the old school of this kind. Had this leaf been lost "Boston would have been deprived of its best evidence to prove the honor of having preceded every settlement of the colony in so honorable an enterprise." (Felt's Annals of Salem, Vol. I, p. 429.) In the Ninth Annual Report of the New Hampshire Board of Education, page 15, I find this reference: "The next year  they attempted to maintain a free school, Mr. Daniel Maud being now also chosen thereunto as teacher. He was to receive a salary of £40, of which Governor Vane subscribed £10. They also assigned a 'garden plot to Mr. Daniel Maud, schoolmaster, upon the condition of building thereon, if need be.'" In 1638 Permont settled in Exeter, N. H., and in 1642 Maud came from his duties as schoolmaster in Boston to Dover, N. H., both being settled as pastors.
1 American Journal of Education, 1855, p. 301.
This was in 1641. In 1649 they began to give the rents also from Long Island and Spectacle Island to the school.
3 Prof. H. B. Adams, pp. 5, 8, 21.
Saxon self-governing assemblies, is to be found the prototype of the New England town meeting.' Now, if this be true of the town systems, may not the same be said of the New England school system? We are told that the idea of popular instruction was brought to the New World by our ancestors in the seventeenth century, and has here found its appropriate home." A free school-that is, a school for gratuitous instruction of poor children (and in that sense alone were the early schools in this country free) 3 can be traced back to the early ages of the Christian Church. The monasteries were originally seats of learning, as well as places of religious retirement, and their cloister schools, which were free, were "the hearthstones of classical education in every country of Europe, and were the germs of the great universities." In the cathedrals a master was appointed whose duty it was to give free instruction both to clerks and poor scholars.
Admitting that the first Latin school was modeled after the English, it is reasonable to suppose that the other early schools of New England were formed in a similar way, though whatever model was followed it should be remembered that the common schools of America originated among the people, and did not, as in Germany and elsewhere, owe their establishment to the forethought and liberality of some princely ruler. We know that in a few years they were established in each town about Boston and in New Haven and Hartford-the latter place having been settled by Massachusetts colonists. These schools varied in efficiency according to the sums appropriated for their support, the competency of the instructors, and the measure of public interest they awakened. The idea of these schools was compulsory education, and the liberality with which they were generally sustained shows that we have no reason to claim for ourselves a deeper interest in educational matters than was taken by our ancestors. This liberality found expression in grants of land, in gifts and bequests of individuals, and by payments of tuition or rates by parents, or in allowances made out of the common stock of the town, which were designed especially for instruction in Latin
1 Baylies, in his History of Plymouth, Vol. I, p. 241, as quoted by Richard Frothingham, says that "the origin of town governments in New England is involved in some obscurity. The system does not prevail in England. Nothing analogous to it is known in the Southern States." Frothingham further says that "Baylies traces their origin to the independent churches," and that "the nearest precedents for the New England towns were those little independent nations, the free cities of the twelfth century, or the towns of the Anglo-Saxons, where every office was elective. Webster, in his Plymouth oration of 1820, says that it was the division of lands that "fixed the future frame and form of this Government."
2 Educational Progress in the First Century of the Republic, p. 279.
3 Originally in England the term free school meant not a school in which instruction was to be given without fee or reward, but a public school free from the jurisdiction of any superior institution, open to the public of the realm, and in some instances a school of liberal education. So at first here in New England, as appears by the records of the towns and of the general court, both in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and also in the early acts of Virginia and other States, the term was used much as in England, "to characterize a grammar school, unrestricted as to a class of children or scholars specified in the instruments by which it was founded, and so supported as not to depend on the fluctuating attendance and tuition of scholars for the maintenance of a master." (Barnard's "Ezekiel Cheever" in Amer. Jour. of Educ., 1855.) It had then not only no reference to a charity school, but meant something quite different from "the common or public school as afterwards developed, particularly in Massachusetts, supported by tax and free of all charge to all scholars, rich and poor." (Ibid.) The term "public school" also had a different meaning in those days from what prevails now. The endowed schools of Eaton and Harrow and Rugby, in England, were public schools, but this term was never intended to convey the idea that the parent patronizing it was exempt from paying tuition. It is absolutely necessary, in order to a proper understanding of the schools of the early colonial days, to recognize the exact meaning of these terms. (Dr. W. A. Mowry, at the Dorchester celebration, June 22, 1889.)
4 Barnard's National Education in Europe.
New Haven was settled by a party of the most wealthy colonists, who came to New England during these early years. But Hartford, Windsor, Wethersfield, and Springfield were settled respectively by parties which went out in 1635 from Cambridge, Dorchester, Watertown, and Roxbury.-Mather's Magnalia, Book I, p. 75, ed. 1820.