« PreviousContinue »
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE SOUTH;
CALVIN HENDERSON WILEY AND THE ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMON SCHOOLS OF NORTH CAROLINA.1
I. INTRODUCTION: Scope and character of the work..
II. THE FIRST EFFORTS FOR POPULAR EDUCATION, 1695-1728.
III. THE ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION, 1729-1776.
Governor Johnston and education; The Edenton school law;
IV. PRIVATE INCORPORATED ACADEMIES, 1760-1825.
Presbyterian influence and academies in the West; Queen's Col
lege; Education and the Constitution of 1776; Davidson Acad-
V. THE AGITATION FOR THE COMMON SCHOOLS, 1815-1825.
Messages of Governors Turner, Alexander, Hawkins, and Miller;
VI. THE LITERARY BOARD AND ITS WORK, 1825-1840.
The act of 1825; Joseph Caldwell and his monitorial system; The
VII. THE EXPERIMENTAL PERIOD, 1840-1852.
The act of 1810; Summary of educational facilities and expendi-
VIII, REORGANIZATION AND GROWTH, 1852-1861.
The evils of the law of 1840; The act of 1852; Resources in 1852;
IX. THE CIVIL WAR AND THE END OF THE OLD RÉGIME, 1861-1866.
X. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CALVIN H. WILEY, 1847-1886
1 Prepared by Stephen B. Weeks, Ph. D.
I. INTRODUCTION: SCOPE AND CHARACTER OF THE WORK.
North Carolina was the first of the Southern States to work out a good system of common schools.
The Rev. A. D. Mayo, in his chapter on the "Early common schools in the Southern States," in the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1895-96 (p. 282), says:
"As it was during the half century now under consideration-1790-1840-this State did make an educational record, if not in some respects so brilliant as Virginia, yet beyond the Old Dominion, more decided at first, more steady in the upbuilding of the secondary education, and, at the close, 1835-1840, was able to place on the ground, beyond dispute, the best system of public instruction in the fourteen Southern States east of the Mississippi previous to the outbreak of the civil war."
The purpose of this paper is to trace the development and growth of this form of education in North Carolina; to present a summary of all the efforts made by the government to aid the work of primary and secondary schools, ranging in character from a mere act of incorporation to an actual grant from the school fund. In a word, to present, so far as the meager materials at command will allow, a history of the schools devoted to primary and secondary education whose existence has been brought about by the State. This scheme will leave out of view a number of academies in the middle and western counties in colonial and Revolutionary times, which represented the sole educational resources of their sections. These furnished all the grades of education from the primary school to the college and theological seminary, but were purely private institutions. They neither asked nor received aid or recognition from the State, and consequently can not be brought within range of the present inquiry. On the other hand, some schools of this very class were chartered by the State and given special privileges. These have been treated. Further, there is less need to consider the purely private schools and academies of the eighteenth century for the reason that they and their influence and the influence of the Presbyterians and of the College of New Jersey, to which their organization is due, were but recently studied in part by Dr. Charles Lee Smith in his History of Education in North Carolina (Washington, 1888, 89, pp. 180), and more recently and with more detail by Prof. Charles Lee Raper, of Greensboro, N. C., in his work on the Private Schools of North Carolina (in the College Message, Greensboro, N. C., September, 1897, to May, 1898).
The purely private school, with no charter and no recognition from the State, was largely an eighteenth century product. As schools increased they found it more and more to their interest to secure charters and the privileges which were thus conferred. All schools chartered prior to 1825, when the literary board was created and the State's share in education began to be more apparent, have been mentioned by name, with date of incorporation.
The great leader in the development of North Carolina common schools-primary and secondary schools organized and supported by the State-was Calvin Henderson Wiley (1819-1887), their first and only superintendent before the war. Hence this chapter in the history of Southern education has taken, to a certain extent, the form of a biography.
II. THE FIRST EFFORTS FOR POPULAR EDUCATION, 1695-1728.
The development along educational lines in North Carolina was very slow and was due mainly to the slow growth of population. The reasons for this are to be found in the bad government and neglect of the proprietors, who devoted themselves to building up the colony on Ashley River and allowed that of Albemarle (from which grew the colony of North Carolina) to get along the best it could; to the persistent hostility of the Crown and its agents and of the British merchants
to the proprietary government, for the Carolinas were "private property that the British Crown had heedlessly parted with and was constantly seeking to regain possession of by purchase, quo warranto or otherwise;" to the difficulty of access because of the lack of good harbors, the dangers of the coast, and the consequent loss of trade; to the lack of mills and other manufactures, and to the persistent hostility and jealousy of Virginia.1 On the other hand, the mildness of the climate, the fertility of the soil, the abundance of game, the presence of slaves, and the comparative peaceableness of the Indians all invited to a country life, while the lack of harbors, then as now, caused many products to be sent out of the colony to markets with better facilities, and thus took support from the home towns. All of these things worked directly against the developinent of the intellectual life. Further, the English idea of the seventeenth century was that the great body of the people were to obey and not to govern, and that the social status of unborn generations was already fixed. Hence the need of education was not felt by the leaders. Moreover, there were no professional teachers; and had there been, there were not enough children within an accessible radius to support a school. There were antagonisms of race and religion, and dissensions, caused largely by religious differences, weakened the colony. But as early as 1635 we find an effort to foster education. In that year, when William Pead, an orphan boy, was bound to the governor to serve him until he was 21 years of age, a requirement was made by the general court that he be taught to read.? In 1693 we have a similar instance; Elizabeth Gardner appeared before the precinct court of Perquimans and bound her son William to the governor, he or his heirs, "Ingagen to Learn him to Reed. "3 With the eighteenth century there came improvement. The established church, despite the ecclesiastical evils that followed in its train, was a great help to the intellectual life. Its missionaries brought with them the first parish or public libraries and its lay readers were the first teachers. Perhaps the first professional teacher in North Carolina was Charles Griffin, who came from some part of the West Indies about 1705 and settled in Pasquotank County. He was appointed reader by the vestry, and opened a school. By his "diligent and devout example" he so far improved the people of Pasquotank "beyond their neighbors" that Missionary Gordon "was surprised to see with what order, decency, and seriousness they performed the public worship;" by his "discreet behavior" he “gained such a good character and esteem that the Quakers themselves send their children to his school." Griffin taught in Pasquotank about three years; but in 1708 Rev. James Adams was directed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to settle in that precinct, and the school was transferred to him. Griffin, on the recommendation of Gordon, was elected reader and clerk of the vestry of Chowan at £20 per annum, and he," notwithstanding the large offers they made him if he would continue," consented to go to Chowan. He opened school in that precinct, and Gordon "gave some books for the use of scholars.”*
In 1712 there was a school kept at Sarum, "on the frontiers of Virginia, between the two governments," by a Mr. Mashburn. Rev. Giles Rainsford wrote that his work was highly deserving of encouragement and that he should be allowed a salary by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. "What children he has under his care can both write and read very distinctly, and gave before me such
1 Prefatory notes to Colonial Records of North Carolina, II, xii-xiv. Colonial Records of North Carolina, I, 448.
* Ibid., I, 495. Cf. also, II, 241, 266. In 1713 the court released two apprentices from service "by reason that they could not perfectly read and write."—Ibid., II, 172.
'Brickell, Natural History of North Carolina, p. 35.
Colonial Records of North Carolina, I, 714.
Ibid., I, 681.
7 Ibid., I, 684.
Ibid., 1, 712.
an account of the grounds and principles of the Christian religion that strangely surprised me to hear it."1
There were also a number of parish libraries in the province during this period, sent over by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for the use of its missionaries. The first of these had been sent as early as 1700 at the instance of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray, who had come out as commissary of the Bishop of London in Maryland. It was established at Bath, and was worth £100. The law of 1715 made for the protection of this library is one of the earliest specimens of library legislation within the limits of the present United States.?
Other missionaries, Adams, Urmstone, and Rainsford, had libraries, and these served, no doubt, as a nucleus around which was gathered the literary and educational life of the colony, for we have already seen that these missionaries served also as school-teachers.
A notable effort to encourage popular education was made by Edward Moseley in 1723. In 1720 he sent a letter to the secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, with £10 for buying religious books to be loaned to the parishioners of Chowan County. In 1723 he sent to the secretary "a catalogue of such books as he had purchased, desiring the honorable society would be pleased to accept them toward a provincial library for the government of North Carolina, to be kept at Edenton." This catalogue has been preserved. It mentions 26 folio, 12 quarto, and 38 octavo volumes. The books were largely theological and scholastic in character and mostly in Latin and Greek. They had probably been gathered together in America and seem to have come from some of the parish libraries that were scattered from time to time. There is, unfortunately, no evidence that the library was accepted by the society, or that it was ever opened in Edenton. But the size of the library and the value of its books indicate that Moseley was a broadminded and liberal man.
This is all the information we have regarding schools and libraries under the proprietors. This side of colonial life was shamefully neglected by them. They cared neither for the spiritual nor the intellectual man. They reckoned the lives of the colonists only in quitrents and taxes. With the neglect of education went the higher intellectual elements depending upon it.3
III. THE ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION, 1729-1776.
There was little change in matters of education during the first twenty years of royal rule. In his address to the legislature in 1736 Governor Johnston urged the establishment of schools. That body made a fair reply, but nothing was done. The colony did not at that time have either a printing press or a printed revisal of its laws.5
In 1745 some progress was made in school legislation. On April 15, Mr. Craven brought in a bill "to Impower the Commissioners for the town of Edenton to keep in repair the Town fence, & to erect and build a Pound Bridges Public Wherf and to erect and build a school house in the said Town and other purposes' "6 This bill became a law. As this is the first law on the statute book of North Carolina relating to schools, that section may be quoted in full:
1 Colonial Records of North Carolina, I, 859
This law is printed in full in the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1895-96, pages 576-578, and in the Report of the American Historical Association for 1895, pages 180-183. For an account of the work of Dr. Bray in establishing libraries in America, see Dr. Bernard C. Steiner's article in the American Historical Review, October, 1896, pages 59–75.
For a full account of these libraries see my Libraries and Literature in North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century, Washington, 1896.
4 Colonial Records of North Carolina, IV, 227, 228, 231, 239, 271.
See my Press in North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century, Brooklyn, 1891.
Col. Rec., IV, 783, 786, 787, 788, 790.
"VI. And be it further Enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That the Commissioners of Edenton may receive Donations and Subscriptions, towards defraying the Expenses of building the School-house in the said Town and apply the same accordingly; and may, in their Names, or in the Names of the Commissioners for the time being, commence Suits or Actions for the Recovery of any Sums given or subscribed to be paid, for the Purpose aforesaid by any Person or Persons whosoever."1
It will be noticed that this act is merely permissive. Donations are leisurely made and more leisurely collected, even when threatened with the law as in this There is no evidence, and no probability, that this schoolhouse ever got further than the statute book.
In 1749 a bill for an act for founding, erecting, governing, ordering, and visiting a free school at for the inhabitants of this province," was reported to the
assembly, but it failed to pass. 3
The question was again agitated in 1752, and a bill was introduced for the better establishing the church, for erecting of schools," etc., but it met the usual fate of such matters. 1
In 1754 a liberal proposition came from George Vaughan, a London merchant trading to Lisbon, looking to the foundation of a school in North Carolina. Vaughan wrote Governor Dobbs that his purpose was to donate "one thousand pounds yearly forever" to the propagation of the Gospel among the Indians in and near North Carolina. Of this the governor, council, and assembly were to be perpetual trustees. The fund was to begin after the death of John Sampson, the nephew of Vaughan. This offer was met by a counter proposition from the assembly, that if the gift "was not confined to the Indians only, but made to extend as an academy or seminary for religion and learning to all His Majesty's subjects in North Carolina" they would enlarge the donation by a reasonable tax on each negro" in the province.
Deeds were accordingly drawn by Vaughan to that effect, but their execution was suspended until the proper law had been enacted by the legislature. A law making an appropriation for the schools had been made already. This had been done in the spring of 1754, and stands as section 12 of an act granting an aid to the King. This act, made, however, subject to approval by the King, appropriated £5,000, to be issued in bills, for the endowment of a public school for the province. After the passage of the bill the committee on propositions and grievances formally resolved:
"That under a sense of the many advantages that will arise to the province from giving our youth a liberal education (whether considered in a moral, religious, or political light) a public school or seminary of learning be erected and properly endowed. And that for effecting the same the sum of £6,000 already appropriated for that purpose be properly applied. "s
But after the school had been legally established it was found necessary to use the funds for the French and Indian war, and when the borrowed fund had been returned from taxes it was used again for similar purposes. In 1759 it went to In 1761 it went to pay the judges and
support troops in the Cherokee campaign."
1 Swann's Revisal of the Laws of North Carolina, 1751, 203-204.
2 Moir mentions a school at Brunswick in 1745. Col. Rec., IV, 755.
Col. Rec., IV, 977, 979, 980, 990, 993, 994. Dr. Smith states on page 22 of his Education in North Carolina that this bill was passed. This is incorrect, for it appears in none of the revisals, not even by title.
4 Col. Rec., IV, 1321, 1322, 1332, 1335, 1337.
Col. Rec., V, 144b-144c.
Davis's Revisal of 1773, p. 158, and Col. Rec., VII, 279.
Col. Rec., V., 949.
8 Col. Rec., V, xxv, 298-299, 547.
Col. Rec., V, 267, 268, 288, 289, 573, 640, 749.
10 Col. Rec., VI, 150, 151, 153, 207, 219.