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CHARLES 0. FLAGG....
. Abbott Run, R. I. ... Pres. and Director, pro. tem. Newport, R. I ... ... Secretary and Treasurer.
To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island,
at its January Session, 1889.
In making this, the first annual report of the Board of Managers of the Rhode Island State Agricultural School, we trust it may not be inappropriate to very briefly review the influences which have brought about the passage of the Act of the General Assembly of this State, March 23d, 1888.
GOVERNMENT AID TO EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
The idea of the higher education came to American soil with the Pilgrim Fathers, for hardly had their feet pressed Plymouth Rock when out of their poverty a year's rate of the Colony was levied, that the germ of a college should be planted in the new world. The solicitous care of the colony is ever manifest through the vicissitudes of those early days, and the pages of legislative record up to the memorable days of Independence bear evidence by more than a hundred different statutes of its nurture and guidance.
What is true of Harvard is essentially true of Yale, for the General Court of Connecticut had carefully considered the founding of such an institution long before Elihu Yale gave the final impulse which resulted in the establishment of the college which bears his name, some sixty years after the planting of Harvard.
The support of Yale college previous to the present century was largely due to the bounty of the legislature of Connecticut, says the first President Dwight in his history. The second college established in the Colonies, the William and Mary of Virginia, was founded and supported through colonial days from the public treasury.
In our own State the fear that in some way educational institutions might interfere with that perfect individual religious freedom of thought and action which was the central motive that brought Roger Williams to settle Providence Plantations, seems to have caused division of opinion among the early settlers and time passed on till 1762, when James Manning was instrumental in an effort to procure a charter for the establishment of a University in Rhode Island, upon a broad basis of religious freedom.
This effort was doomed to defeat through religious jealousy; but two years later, in February, 1764, a charter was granted, but we find no record of educational work until 1766, when eight students were instructed in the town of Warren, and the first commencement dates from September 7, 1769. A proposition to build in Warren led to an agreement to locate in the county which might raise the most money in support of it, and February 7, 1770, it was voted to build the college edifice “ in the town of Providence, and there to be continued forever.”
GRADUATES, PROFESSIONAL MEN.
The minister, the lawyer, the doctor, the scholar and perhaps the merchant were graduates of these colleges. The sons of farmers, merchants and professional men entered their balls to go forth into the socalled professions. The idea that the son of the farmer intending to follow his father's vocation, the youth whose ambition was to become a builder, a blacksmith, a wheelwright or cabinet maker, required any other training than a smattering of the “ three R.'s" and a thorough seven years' apprenticeship in the manual labor of the field or workshop bad not been advanced by even the most liberal educationalists on this or the other side of the water.
It remained for the Father of his Country—and is it not an additional evidence of the far-seeing wisdom of this remarkable statesman and