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CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL PROVISIONS RESPECTING SCHOOLS.

MASSACHUSETTS. The State of Massachusetts is composed of the original Colony of Plymouth, founded by a small body of English Puritansor Independents who first took refuge in Holland in 1608, and made their first permanent settlement at Plymouth, December 22, 1620, and the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. The latter was begun in 1628, under a grant of lands from the Plymouth Company, by individuals who were incorporated in 1629 by Charles I., as the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay and New England. Under this grant and charter, settlement was made at Salem in 1628, and Charlestown and Boston in 1630. The two colonies were united under the Provincial Charter granted by William and Mary, in October, 1691, and the government organized in June, 1692, as the Province of Massachusetts.

The documents of the Company under which the Colony of Plymouth was settled, the articles of agreement formed by the first company of settlers on the deck of the Mayflower, and the Provincial Charter of Massachusetts, contain no notice of schools or the education of children. The first public movement in this direction was inspired by the necessities of the educated families who gave character and form to the infant settlements. The fathers, educated in the endowed grammar or free schools and universities of England, made early and earnest efforts to provide similar opportunities for their own children, in advance of any colonial or even any town action on the subject. In 1636, six

years after the first settlement of Boston, the General Court of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, which met in Boston on the 8th of September, passed an act appropriating £400 toward the establishment of a college. The sum thus appropriated was more than the whole tax levied on the colony at that time in a single year, and the population scattered through ten or twelve villages did not exceed five thousand persons.

In 1638 John Harvard left by will the sum of £779 in money, and a library of over three hundred books. In 1640, the General Court granted to the college the income of the Charlestown ferry; and in 1642, the Governor, with the magistrates and teachers and

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In June (14th), 1642, we find in the Records of Massachusetts Bay the following Order:

This Court, taking into consideration the great neglect of many parents and masters in training up their children in learning, and labor, and other employ. ments which may be profitable to the Commonwealth, do hereupon order and decree that in every town the chosen men appointed for managing the pru. dential affairs of the same, shall henceforth stand charged with the care of the redress of this evil, so as they shall be sufficiently punished by fines for the neglect thereof, upon presentment of the grand jury or other information or complaint in any Court within this jurisdiction; and for this end, they, or the greater number of them, shall have power to take account from time to time of all parents and masters, and of their children, concerning their calling, and employment of their children, especially of their ability to read and understand the principles of religion and capital laws of this county, and to impose fines upon such as shall refuse to render such account to them when they shall be required, and they shall have power, with consent of any Court or the magistrate, to put forth apprentices the children of such as they shall find not to be able and fit to employ and bring them up.

The following order is found under date of November 11, 1647:

It being one chiefe project of yi ould deluder, Sathan, to keepe men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures, as in form' times by keeping y in an unknown tongue, so in these latt: times by perswading from yo use of tongues y so at least ye true sence and meaning of ye originall might be clouded by false glosses of saint seeming deceivers, ye learning may not be buried in ye grave of or fath" in ye church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting or endeavors.

It is therefore ord'ed, ye ev'ry township in this jurisdiction, ast' ye Lord hath increased y to ye number of 50 household", shall then forthwth appoint one wth in their towne to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and reade, whose wages shall be paid eith" by ye parents or mast's of such children, or by ye inhabitants in gen" all, by way of supply, as ye major p of those yt ord' ye prudentials of ye towne shall appoint; provided, those ye send their children be not oppressed by paying much more yo they can have ym taught for in oth' townes; and it is furth' ordered, ye where any towne shall increase to yo numb of 100 families or househould's they shall set up a grainer schoole, ye master thereof being able to instruct youth so farr as they may be fited for ye university ; provided, y. if any towne neglect ye performance hereof above one yeare, ye every such towne

shall pay 5 to ye next schoole till they shall performe this order.

At the May session, 1654, the following law was passed in addition to the foregoing, and in the digest of 1658 is annexed to it as the 3d section.

Forasmuch as it greatly concerns the welfare of this country that the youth thereof be educated not only in good literature but in sound doctrine:

This Court doth therefore commend it to the serious consideration and special care of our overseers of the college, and the selectmen in the several towns not to admit or suffer any such to be continued in the office or place of teaching, educating, or instructing youth or children in the college or schools that have manifested themselves unsound in the faith, or scandalous in their lives, and have not given satisfaction according to the rules of Christ.'

At the October session, 1683, the following was enacted:

As an addition to the law, title schools, this Court doth order and enact, That every town consisting of more than five hundred families or householders sball set up and maintain two grammar schools and two writing schools, the masters whereof shall be fit and able to instruct youth as said law directs; and whereas the said law makes the penalty for such towns as provide not schools as the law directs, to pay to the next school ten pounds, this Court hereby enacts that the penalty shall be twenty pounds where there are two hundred families or householders.'

The earliest notice in schools in the records of the Colony of New Plymouth, is under date of 1663, as follows:

'It is proposed by the Court unto the several townships of this jurisdiction, as a thing that they ought to take into their serious consideration, that some course may be taken that in every town there may be a schoolmaster set up to train up children to reading and writing.'

At a General Court held March 4, 1670, a grant was made of all such proffetts as might or should annually accrew or grow dew to this collonie from time to time, for fishing with netts or saines att Cape Cod for mackerell, basse, or herrings, to be imployed and improved for and towards a free school in some town in this jurisdiction, for the training up of youth in littrature, for the good and benefitt of posteritie, provided a beginning were made within one year;' and committed the ordering and managing of said affaire to the Governor and assistants, or any four of them.' In 1667, at the General Court held at Plymouth, the following order was passed :

Forasmuch as the maintainance of good literature doth much tend to the advancement of the weal and flourishing estate of societies and republicks,

This Court doth therefore order: That in whatsoever township in this government, consisting of fifty families or upwards, any meet man shall be obtained to teach a Grammar School, such township shall allow at least twelve pounds in current merchantable pay to be raised by rate on all the inhabitants of such town; and those that have the more immediate benefit thereof, by their children's going to school, with what others may voluntarily give to promote so good a work and general good, shall make up the residue necessary to maintain the same; and the profits arising of the Cape Cod fishing, heretofore ordered to maintain a Grammar School in this colony, be distributed to such towns as have such Grammar Schools, for the maintainance thereof, not exceeding five pounds per annum to any such town, unless the Court Treasurer, or other appointed to manage that affair, see good cause to add thereunto to any respective town, not exceeding five pounds more per annum. And further this Court orders: That every such town as consists of seventy families or upwards, and hath not a Grammar School therein, shall allow and pay unto the next town, which hath such Grammar School kept up amongst them, the sum of five pounds per annum in current merchantable pay, to be levied on the inhabitants of such defective towns by rate, and gathered and delivered by the constables of such towns, as by warrant from any magistrate of this jurisdiction shall be required.

The provincial charter granted by William and Mary in October, 1691, which united the two colonies of New Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, went into effect by the organization of the government in June, 1692. The first business of the legislature was the re-enactment of the principal colonial laws in a revised and amended form, to suit the altered circumstances of the time. Among the earliest acts, was one for the Settlement and Support of Ministers and Schoolmasters.' The third section of the act read as follows:

* And be it further enacted, &c. That every town within this province, having the number of fifty householders or upwards, shall be constantly provided of a schoolmaster to teach children and youth to read and write. And where any town or towns have the number of one hundred families or householders, there shall also be a grammar school set up in every such town, and some discreet person of good conversation, well instructed in the tongues, procured to keep such school. Every such schoolmaster to be suitably encouraged and paid by the inhabitants.'

And the selectmen and inhabitants of such towns respectively, shall take effectual care, and make due provision, for the settlement and maintenance of such schoolmaster and masters.'

* And if any town qualified as before expressed, shall neglect the due observance of this act, for the procuring and settling of any such schoolmaster as aforesaid, by the space of one year; every such defective town shall incur the penalty of ten pounds, for every conviction of such neglect, upon complaint made unto their Majesties Justices in Quarter Sessions for the same couuty in which such defective town lieth; which penalty shall be towards the support of such school or schools within the same county, where there may be the most need, at the discretion of the Justices in Quarter Sessions; to be levied by warrant from the said court of sessions, in proportion upon the inhabitants of such defective town, as other public charges, and to be paid unto the county treasurer.'

In 1701 an act was passed, which, after setting forth the previous act in a preamble, and saying "That the observance of which wholesome and necessary law is shamefully neglected by divers towns, and the penalty thereof not required, tending greatly to the nourishment of ignorance and irreligion, whereof grievous complaint is made. For the redress of the same' declared That the penalty or forfeiture for the non-observance of the said law shall henceforth be twenty pounds per annum.' The following new provisions were added:

Ist. That every grammar Schoolmaster be approved by the minister of the town and the ministers of the two next adjacent towns, or any two of them, by cer. tificate under their hands.'

2d. "That no minister of any town shall be deemed, held or accepted to be the schoolmaster of such town within the intent of law.'

3d. “And the justices of the peace in each respective county are hereby directed to take effectual care that the laws respecting schools and school. masters be duly observed and put in execution. And all grand jurors within their respective counties, shall diligently inquire and make presentment of all breaches and neglect of the said laws, so that due prosecution may be made against the offenders.'

In 1768, an act relating to schools was passed, which authorized the division of the towns into school districts.

"Whereas it may happen that when towns and districts consist of several precincts, some of such precincts may be disposed to expend more for the instruction of children and youth in useful learning, within their own bounds, than as parts of such towns or districts they are by law held to do; and no provision has hitherto been made to enable precincts to raise money for that purpose. And whereas the encouragement of learning tends to the promotion of religion and good morals, and the establishment of liberty, civil and religious:'

' Be it therefore enacted, &c. That when and so often as the major part of the inhabitants of any precinct, at their annual meeting legally warned, shall agree on the building, finishing or repairing any school-house, or the defraying any other charge for the support of schools and schoolmasters, and shall also agree on any sum or sums of money for such purpose or purposes, the assessors of such precinct are hereby empowered and required to assess the same on the polls and estates within the said precinct, and all such rates and assessments shall be paid to the constable or collector, to whom the same shall be committed, with a warrant from said assessors, in form as by law is prescribed for collecting town assessments.'

To prevent misconception it may be proper to state that the term district used in the foregoing preamble, was the legal designation of an incorporated community, precisely similar to a town in respect to territory, and to all rights duties, privileges, and powers, except of being represented in the general court.

The term precinct was used to denote a settlement in a township, remote from the centre, and for that reason clothed by the general court with the power of selecting a minister and supporting public worship by taxation, in the same manner that the town might do. In a word, a precinct was a parish, or, more properly, an incipient town, having power in ecclesiastical matters only. To this power was now added that of supporting schools. Many existing towns have been created out of these ancient precincts.

In 1647, when a few scattered and feeble settlements, almost ouried in the depths of the forest, were all that constituted the Colony of Massachusetts; when the entire population consisted of twenty-one thousand souls; when the external means of the people were small, their dwellings humble, and their raiment and subsistence scanty and homely; when the whole valuation of all the colonial estates, both public and private, would hardly equal the inventory of many a private individual at the present day; when the fierce eye of the savage was nightly seen glaring from the edge of the surrounding wilderness, and no defense or succor was at hand; it was then, amid all these privations and dangers, that the Pilgrim Fathers conceived the magnificent idea of a Free* and Universal Education for the People; and, amid all their poverty, they stinted theinselves to a still scantier pittance; amid all their toils they imposed upon themselves still more burdensome labors; amid all their perils they braved still greater dangers, that they might find the time and the means to reduce their grand conception to practice. Two divine ideas filled their great hearts—their duty to God and to posterity. For the one they built the church; for the other they opened the school. Religion and Knowledge !-two attri: butes of the same glorious and eternal truth—and that truth the only one on which immortal or mortal happiness can be securely founded.

As an innovation upon all preëxisting 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

argument 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 as wise as it was courageous, as beneficent as it was disinterested. It was one of those grand mental and moral experiments whose effects 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 unnumbered blessings ? The sincerity of our gratitude must be tested by our efforts to perpetuate and improve what they established. The gratitude of the lips only is an unholy offering.

HORACE MANN. Tenth Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.

• Was the Public School of Massachusetrs at first free? Was Massachusetts the first to estab sish such a system as is ordained in the law of 1647?– Ed. of Amer. Jour. of Education.

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