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and Greek. Thus gradually was developed a system upon which the later schools have been established, namely, “that the property of all, without distinction, shall be applied to the education of all,"? the successful operation of which has undoubtedly contributed more than all other causes to bring happiness and prosperity to the people of New England.




To Boston apparently belongs the honor of establishing the first school in New England, though there seems to be no sure evidence that it received the support of the town till 1641. It was, like all the schools of that period, a boys' school, and the studies were principally the ancient languages, as the chief object in view was to train up a learned ministry. Besides the annual allowance of £50 to the master and £30 to the usher—who was to teach the children to read, write, and cipher-an excellent custom was introduced of attaching a house to the school, with a few acres of land for a garden, orchard, and for feeding a cow.

This custom became general in the early history of New England, and had a most salutary influence, as it tended to make the schoolmaster's tenure of office permanent.

Under the lead of the Apostle Eliot divers free schools were erected, as at Rox. bury, for the maintenance of which “every inhabitant bound some house or land for a yearly allowance forever.” The Indian children were to have free tuition, the expense to be defrayed by a yearly contribution, voluntary or by rate if any refused, and the order was confirmed by the general court. Besides the income from some of the islands, Thomas Bell, one of the early settlers of Roxbury, left by will, in 1671, lands and other property for the maintenance of a “free school." This property, under the able management of a board of trustees (who, by act of incorporation, were never to number more than 13 nor less than 9), became of great value. With the large income derived from it the best teachers were employed, so that this school early acquired a foremost position among the schools of New England. Cotton Mather says, “ that Roxbury has afforded more scholars, first for the college and then for the public, than any town of its bigness, or, if I mistake not, of twice its bigness, in all New England."5

Of the appearance of the Roxbury schoolroom we are told that it was fitted up with "benches and formes for the scholars to rite" on, and that in 1652 " a desk to put the dictionary on" was provided.

The grammar school at Cambridge, in which young men were fitted for college by the famous Master Corlett “seems to have been nearly coeval with the town, and to have been an object of great care and attention.” ? The precise date when

1 J. G. Carter, Letters on the Free Schools of New England, p. 48.

? The first free school in America was founded in 1621, through subscriptions raised by Rev. Patrick Copeland, and located in Charles City, Va. In 1633 a school was opened in New York by Adam Roelandsen, the schoolmaster, and the school which he taught, it is claimed, is still in existence in connection with the Dutch Reformed Church.

3 Winthrop's Journal, under date of 1645. All who refused to bind themselves, as above stated, were not to "have any further benefit thereby than other strangers shall have who are not in habitants."

* Efforts were also made by the Apostle Eliot to plant schools among the converted Indians, and some of their brightest lads he sent to the English schools to learn not only English, but also Latin and Greek.

5 Mather's Magnalia, Vol. I., book 3, p. 498, ed. 1820.

8"And by the side of the college a faire grammar school * that still, as they are judged ripe, they may be received into the college; of this school Master Corlett is the Mr. who has been well approved himself for his abilities,” etc. (New England First Fruits.)

The expression “grammar school" was common also in England. By it was “meant a school for the study of the Latin and Greek language and literature. It was so called because grammatira (the study of language and linguistic literature) formed the leading feature of the course of all liberal study." (American Jour. of Educ., 1857, p. 591.) 7 Holmes' History of Cambridge, as quoted in Pierce's History of Harvard University, p. 6.

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this school was establishel is not known, but it must have been some years previous to 1643, as Corlett had then acquired a wide reputation as a skillful and wise teacher. It was not made a free school until 1737, ' and even after this date the scholars were not wholly exempted from the payment of tuition. One-fourth the income derived from the Edward Hopkins Fund? was given to the master of the grammar school at Cambridge, the condition in the will being that he should instruct five boys in the studies of the school, the boys to be nominated by the president and fellows of Harvard College and the minister at Cambridge. This was apparently the first beneficiary fund in America for the education of boys. Among other sources of income was the rent from Thompsons Island, which, as early as 1639, was appropriated for the benefit of this school. There has been preserved a contract, made in 1655 by President Dunster, of the college, and a certain Edward Goife, with some builders of Cambrige, for a schoolhouse to be built at the expense, as it would seem, of the former two, or at least upon their assuming the responsibility.

The school in Charlestown must have been opened at about the same time, or, at least, not long subsequent to the school in Boston, for in June, 1636, a certain Mr. Witherell “was agreed with to keep a school for a twelveinonth, to begin the eighth of August, and to have $10 this year.” This is evidence that a public school, and, judging from the agreement as to salary, a free school for at least a year, was thus early established, being based upon the principle of voluntary taxation, though the whole number of inhabitants who had wives and children was only seventy-two. This was eleven years before the enactment of the Massachusetts law compelling towns to maintain schools. Lovells Island, which had been granted to the town by the general court of 1636, “ provided they employ it for fishing," etc., was rented, and after a short time the income therefrom was regularly applied to the support of the school. This school continued to be maintained, though there is no mention of a schoolhouse until 1618, when one was ordered to be built on “Windmill Hill" and paid for by a “general rate.” Oldmixon in his history calls Charlestown the mother of Boston.

We have no account of any school in Salem until after the arrival of the Rev. John Fiske in 1637, who, distinguished alike for wealth and learning, continued to teach until January, 1640. Among the pupils he prepared for Harvard College was the afterwards famous Sir George Downing, who was in high favor both with Cromwell and Charles II. In March, 1641, a town meeting was called to see about establishing “a free school," and this, according to the historian of Salem, 4 was "the first written intimation that we have of instruction without price among our

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1 Paige's History of Cambridge, p. 379.

2 Edward Hopkins, who had been governor of the Connecticut colony, dying in 1657, bequeathed a large sum for the furtherance of education in the colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven. (See again under “Education in Connecticut.")

3 Frothingham's History of Charlestown, p. 77. Dr. Mowry (in the address already referred to) takes the ground that the agreement with Mr. Witherell is not conclusive evidence that the school was opened in that year. He says that “so far as I know there is no evidence that the town supported the school by taxation till long after 1610."

4 Felt's Annals of Salem, Vol. I, p. 426.

6 In the History of Dorchester, published in 1859 by the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, it is claimed (p. 420) that the first public provision "for a free school in the world by a direct tax or assessment on the inhabitants' was made in that town on the 30th of May, 1839.

"On the 4th of March, 16:35, the general court of the Massachusetts colony granted to the inhabitants of the town of Dorchester Thompson's Island 'to enjoy to them, their heirs and succes. sors woh shall inhabite there forever,'on condition that they pay to the treasury 12d. yearly as rent. In May, 1639, at the date above named, the town voted to lay a tax on the proprietors of said island for the maintenance of a school in Dorchester.' The writer of the History of Dorchester has the following explanation of the word 'proprietors:' 'It is supposed that under the term “proprietors,' in this connection, was included the principal part of the adult male inhabitants of the town.' This explanation is further confirmed by the wording of a subse.

settlers." For more than a hundred years from its establishment this school was presided over by graduates of Harvard College. In 1677 the income from Bakers Island, the two Misery Islands, and from the Beverly Ferry was applied toward the support of a grammar school in Salem, and in the years 1680 and 1682 we find it recorded that the master was allowed a salary of £15. In 1699 the children who attended the grammar school, then numbering only twenty, were required to pay each an annual tuition of 12 shillings. Soon after this a writing school was provided, and a few years later a master was employed to teach mathematics. During the first half of the eighteenth century many donations were made to the grammar and writing schools, and one of “ £60 to a woman's school.” Not the least among the innovations of the time was a bell which in 1723 was sent from England. In connection with the story of this bell we learn the length of the school day, for it is said that the bell rang at 7 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon from March to November, and at 8 and 4 from November to March, "the school to begin and end accordingly;” and the afternoon session was ordered to begin “at 1 o'clock all the year round.” It is worthy of notice that the school committee was not chosen as a board separate from the selectmen until 1753. In the history of Salem we find an illustration of the difference of meaning in the expression “ free school” as applied to the earlier and later schools. The earlier idea is expressed by an order of 1644, that such as have children to be kept at school, “bring in their names and what they will give for one whole year, and also that if any poor body hath children or a child to be put to school and not able to pay for their schooling that the town will pay it by a rate;” and the later one by the enactment of 1768,1 that the teachers be “entirely paid by a town tax where no funds existed, and not as before, partly by a tax and partly by the pupils.?

The town of Newbury, in 1639, granted 10 acres of land to Anthony Somerby “ for his encouragement to keep school one year;" but the first notice of the town's intention to build a schoolhouse and support a teacher at their expense was in 1652. In 1653 it was ordered “ that the town should pay £24 by the year to maintain a free school at the meetinghouse,” against which vote seventeen persons " desired to have their dissents recorded.”

Duxbury established a school in 1655.

In the records of Ipswich we find, under date of 1636, this item: “A grammar school is set up but does not succeed.” Some years later the historian Hubbard, who was pastor of the church at Ipswich, founded and endowed the first public school, but its period of prosperity did not begin until 1650, when he introduced as its master the patriarch of New England teachers, Ezekiel Cheever. In 1651 a grant of land was made by the town to the school, and in the January following


quent vote concerning this rental: Whereas the inhabitants of Dorchester have formally ordered, Consented and agreed that a Rente of Twentie pounds pr ann. shall issue & be payd by the sayd Inhabitants & their heires from & out of a Certaine porcon of land in Dorchester called Thomson's Iland for & towards the maintenance of the schoole in Dorchester aforesayd,' etc. It appears certain from this wording that this tax upon Thompson's Island was in reality a town tax or a tax upon the town. The probability would seem to be that when the island was made over by the general court to the town of Dorchester the land was apportioned among the principal inhabitants, or .freemen', of the town resident upon the mainland. At allevents, this was a tax levied by the town as a direct provision for the school.” (Address by William A. Mowry, Ph.D., at the Dorchester celebration.)

But the newly created proprietors did not evidently relish the imposed tax, and they therefore soon after made a conveyance of the island to the town for the special support and estab. lishment of a free school.

Francis Adams, in The Free School System of the United States, p. 46, says that Hartford, Conn., appears to be the first town which established a free school, but there can be little doubt that Massachusetts was the first State to make laws providing for a regular system of free schools.

1 Previous to 1768 the laws of Massachusetts required that schools should be sustained by the inhabitants, but they were left free as to the manner in which tuition should be paid.

Felt's Annals of Salem, Vol. I, p. 429.

a committee was chosen “to receive all such sums of money as have and shall be given toward the building and maintaining of a grammar school and schoolmaster, and to disburse and dispose such sums as are given to provide a schoolhouse and schoolmaster's house," etc. They were also to receive such sums of money, parcels of land, rents, or annunities as are or shall be given toward the maintenance of a schoolmaster, and to regulate all matters pertaining to the master and the scholars. In the following years grants of land were made either by private citizens or by the town at a general town meeting, with the stipulation that the income from it should be devoted to the support of the school. The towns we have thus named were among the first in the Massachusetts colony to establish prosperous free schools.” Many others were also active in the establishment of schools, and are therefore deserving of equal recognition for their services in the cause of education during the seventeenth century. 1



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An important fact connected with the history of the school at Dorchester was the appointment of a special school committee, whose members were charged with the entire oversight of the school. This committee, consisting of three men, who were termed “wardens or overseers of the schoole,” was established at the “March meeting” in 1645, and is believed to have been the first school committee appointed by any municipality in this country." The article required that they should be residents of Dorchester and hold their office for life, though the town reserved the right to displace any one of them for “weighty reasons."

“ Here was the beginning of the public management of schools by the municipality, and here is the essential beginning of the American public-school system,” which “is unquestionably the most distinctively American institution which this country has produced." ** Here the example was set, which is to-day followed by all America, of the local citizens, qualified by law to vote in local affairs, selecting men to have the control and ordering of all matters pertaining to the local public schools. We have now all over this country a system of public schools, established and controlled by law and under the management of school committees or directors of the local towns or cities, city school boards, or county school boards, or officers of equivalent power, whatever their local appellation may be.” At the outset our system of schools had a gradual growth, and it is yet but a few years since this great system became absolutely free. To this we have added in liassachusetts a compulsory law to oblige all the children to attend either these or other schools."

“ Till the free text-book law went into effect, in 1885, there had always been something for the parent to pay. At first there was a 'rate bill;' then the teacher

boarded round;' the wood was sometimes contributed by the parents sending the children, and in proportion to the number of children sent. Even after these customs were abolished, and all these things were paid for out of the public money, it still remained that the books were furnished only at the expense of the parent. Now, however, the schools of the Old Bay State are absolutely free, and she was the first of all the States to make them so."

At the time of creating the school “ wardens” the inhabitants of Dorchester at their March meeting established "rules and orders concerning the school.” These were for the guidance of the wardens, and among them may be found the following, which would not wholly meet with public favor to-day:

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* In August, 1640, Newport, R. I., voted "that 100 acres should be laid forth and appropriated” for the establishment of a “public school.” As appears from subsequent entries in the town records this was a “ Latin school" or " grammar school," in the English sense of the term.

? The following facts and excerpts are taken from Dr. Mowry's address at the Dorchester celebration, June 22, 1889.

“2y. That from the begining of the first moneth vntill the end of the 7th, hee [the master) shall eu'y day beginn to teach at seaven of the Clock in the morning and dismisse his schollers at fyue in the afternoon. And fo” the othe" fyue months, that is, from the beginn of the 8th month vntill the end of the 12th month he shall eury day beginn at 8 of the clock in the morning, & (end) at 4 in the afternoon.

“3ly. Eury day in the yeere the vsuall tyme of dismissing at noone shalbe at 11, and to beginn agayne at one, except that

** 4ly. Eu’y second day in the weeke he shall call his schollers togeither betweene 12 & one of the Clock to examin them what they haue learned on the saboath day p'eding, at wch tyme also he shall take notice of any misdemeanor or outrage that any of his Schollers shall haue Committed on the saboath, to the end that at some convenient tyme due Admonition and Correction may bee administered by him according as the nature and qualitie of the offence shall require, at weh sayd examination any of the Elders or other Inhabitants that please may bee present, to behold his religious care herein, and to giue there Countenance and approbation of the same.”

The fifth article very emphatically hints at that democratic principle which tolerated no caste, or class, or social distinction which should abridge the legal and political rights of any. It provided that the schoolmaster should receive “equally and impartially such as shall be presented and committed to him for that end, whether theer parents bee poore or rich, not refusing any who have right or interest in the schoole."

The sixth is also an article of interest to us at this day:

“Such as shall be Committed to him he shall diligently instruct, as they shalbe able to learne, both in humane learning and good litterature, & likewyse in poynt of good manners and dutifull behauviou" towards all, specially there supiors as they shall haue occasion to bee in there presence, whithe" by meeting them in the streete or otherwyse."

Among the “rules and orders " then put in operation is one requiring the wardens “from tyme to tyme to see that the schoole house be kept in good and sufficient repaire," and if necessary to “repayre to the 7 men of the towne for the tymo being, who shall have power to tax the towne with such some or sommes as shall be requested for the repayering of the schoole house as aforesayed."

Another provision was “that every year at or before the end of the 9th month there bee brought to the schoole house 12 sufficient cart or wayne loads of wood for fewell

the cost and charge of which sayd wood to bee borne by the schollers for the tyme being who shalbe taxed for the purpose at the discretion of the sayd wardens.”

The placing of the public school in the hands of three prominent citizens was certainly a wise provision, and proved in the years to come a most helpful aid to the development of our free-school system. It had in mind simply the proper nurturing of their own children, but it resulted in laying the foundations “ on which future ages should build a temple at once large and grand and beautiful, for here was established the principle of representation." Horace Mann says: “As an innovation upon all preexisting 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 arguments 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 effect 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 numberless blessings?


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