« PreviousContinue »
sity," " college," academy," " grammar school," and "high school" are misleading in regard to the past as well as to the present. While the modern classification of public schools as “superior," " secondary," and "primary" is gaining uniformity, yet it is difficult to reduce all of the early schools to this gradation.
The school system of colonial Massachusetts comprised common schools, academies, and a university. But this term “common” frequently signitied a school open to the admission of all classes, and the academies were frequently called grammar schools, while the academies proper bore much the same relation to the university that the modern college does to the modern university. The term “free school” also signified a school "free" or open to all comers, although tuition was frequently charged. The earliest school laws made it a duty of the towns to provide - free schools,” supported in part by taxation in the towns where they were located and in part by the tuition of the pupils.
Rev. Charles Hammond, in his excellent paper on “ New England Academies and Classical Schools," offers the opinion that the early designation of the term “free,” as applied to grammar schools and academies, had respect neither to cost or privileges, but to the nature and tendency of learning in its effect on the mind of the student and on the state of society. The schools were “free” because the education in them was liberal. As to their nature and aims and their respective courses of study, the ancient grammar school is to be considered as equivalent to the modern high school, and the old academy as approximating the position of the modern college.
In the year 1642 the General Court passed an act relating to family education, and imposing fines upon parents who neglected the proper instruction of their children. The court also, in the same year, en. larged upon this idea by a brief educational code, which shows the solemnity with which they viewed the subject of education :
" It being the chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures as in former times keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times, by persuading from the use of tongues so at least that the true sense of the original might be clouded and corrupted with the false glosses of deceivers, and to the end that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors :
“It is therefore ordered by this court and authority thereof that every township within this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty house holders, shall then forth with appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general by way of supply as the major part of those who order the prudentials of the town shall appoint, provided that those who send their children be not op
1 Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1868, 412.
pressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns.
“And it is further enacted, that when any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families as house-holders they shall set up a grammar school, the masters thereof being able to instruct youths so far as they may be fitted for the university; and if any town neglect the performance thereof above one year, then every such town shall pay five pounds per annum to the next such school till they shall perform this order."
The last? clause has been the fundamental law for the organization of the system of high schools and academies. The revised statutes of Massachusetts still provide that high schools shall be established in every town having five hundred inhabitants, and may be established in any town by the vote of the people; the said schools are to be supported by local taxation.
Many of the early grammar schools were of very excellent grade, sufficient to prepare students for Harvard College. Mather says of them: “When scholars had so far profited at the grammar schools that they could read any classical author into English and readily make and speak true Latin, and write it in verse as well as in prose, and perfectly decline the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue, they were judged capable of admission to Harvard College."
These grammar schools for a long time supplied the demands of the people for training schools for the university. But in towns where they were not required by law, and in country places, academies sprang up to supply the needs of the people.
The academies were usually aided by the State by way of land endowments or by appropriations.
A joint committee of both houses reporting before the Massachusetts Legislature, February 27, 1797, fully stated the position of academies at large, and recommended that the State authorize certain grants of land to academies about to be formed.
The court accepted the report of the committee and ordered the grants of land as recommended.
The grants were “ to be made to trustees of any association within the respective counties mentioned where there was no academy at present instituted, who shall first make application to the General Court.” It was provided that a sum be securell for the use of said institution, and that the situation selected for the academy be approved by the Legislature. In the general report of the committee it was urged that every portion of the Commonwealth ought to be entitled to these appropriations in aid of private donations;" that no academy should be established near one already existing; that the institutions should first be secured with funds and private endowments, and that the lands 80 granted should be in aid of the permanent fund.
| Massachusetts Records, II, 203.
2 Magnalia, Vol. II, Book IV, 4.
The committee further report that there are already fifteen academies, besides the Derby School, but that the academy at Marblehead will probably serve only the purposes of a town school. The colleges already chartered would serve the purposes of academies, and including these it was proposed that there should be one academy for every twenty-five thousand inhabitants. “Of the fifteen academies already incorporated, seven have had grants of State lands, that at Fryeburg fifteen thousand acres, and the other six, at Machias, Hallowell, Ber. wick, Marblehead, Taunton, and Leicester, one township each.” It was recommended in the future that one-half of a township, instead of a whole one, be granted to each academy.
Of the eight academies not endowed by the Commonwealth, nearly all were endowed either by towns or by individuals ; but four, at Portland, Westfield, New Salem, and Plymouth, were to be each endowed with a half of a township.
The report of the committee adopted by the General Court shows conclusively that the Commonwealth, recognizing private endowments, proposed to supplement their work, and that the school system at this date was in the hands of the Legislature.
In another report of a similar committee, dated March 3, 1859, Hon. Charles W.Upham, chairman, after reciting the above report, concludes: “The following principles appear to have been established as determining the relations of academies to the Commonwealth. They were to be regarded as in many respects and to a considerable extent public schools; as a part of an organized system of universal education; as opening the way of all the people to a higher order of instruction than the common schools can supply, and as a complement to them, towns, as well as the Commonwealth, were to share with individuals the character of founders or legal visitors of them. They were to be distributed as nearly as might be so as to accommodate the different districts or localities of the State according to a measure of population, that is, twenty-five thousand individuals. In this way they were to be placed within the reach of the whole people, and their advantages secured as equally and as effectively as possible, for the common benefit.”
These early academies were carried on with varying success. One of the earliest academies in the province of Massachusetts was that of Byfield, taught for nineteen years by the celebrated Master Moody, and here were prepared for Harvard many students who afterward became eminent men. It was the success of this institution that led to the founding of the famous Phillips Academies at Andover and Exeter and that at Leicester.
The schools were modeled as nearly as possible after the “English great public schools, such as Harrow, Rugby, and Eton. They did not succeed in always furnishing a uniformly good curriculum, and in obtaining the heavy endowments that characterized the schools of
Report 1468, 432.
England. We find them drawing their support chiefly from four sources: (1) private subscriptions and endowments, (2) town appropriations, (3) tuition of scholars, and (4) State grants. Notwithstanding that the income from all these sources was utilized, their early support was but meagre. Much to our surprise, too, we find the good people indulging in lotteries, as in case of Leicester Academy. An act of the General Court of June, 1785, granted a lottery to the trustees, not to exceed six hundred pounds; also an act of the General Court of 1791 granted to the trustees the privilege of a second lottery, which yielded $1,419.22.
There are many of these early institutions, such as the Phillips Academy, the Boston Latin School, and others, which still retain much of their original character; but the greater number of academies and grammar schools have passed into the modern high sehool system. By an act of the Legislature in 1826 the high schools were more thoroughly provided for, the present system being then inaugurated. The establishment of a school fund in 1834, and of a Board of Education three years later, belped to strengthen and develop the system. By the law now in force every town of five hundred inhabitants is obliged to provide for a public high scbool supported by taxation. Any town that neglects to comply with the law must forfeit a sum equal to twice the highest sum ever before voted for schools in that place.
Mr. Boutwell, Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, in his report of 1860 says: “In many of these schools better training is furnished than was given at Harvard College at the time of the adoption of the Constitution."
In 1838 there were only fourteen high schools in Massachusetts; in 1852, sixty-four; in 1856, eighty ; in 1860, one hundred and two; in 1865, one hundred and twenty; in 1868, one hundred and sixty-four; in 1866, one hundred and seventy-five; in 1871, one hundred and eighty.one; in 1873, one hundred and ninety; in 1874, two hundred and eight; in 1875, two hundred and twelve; in 1888, two hundred and thirty. This constant increase has been caused by new creation or by the absorption of the older institutions. As the older institutions gave way before the new régime, there has been needless prejudice against the former.
Among the older institutions of Massachusetts, Williams College received at first considerable assistance from the State. In the year 1750 the General Court granted to Col. Ephraim Williams, the founder of the college, “ two hundred acres of land in East Hoosac, now Adams, on condition of his erecting and keeping in repair for twenty years a grist-mill and saw-mill for the use of the settlers."2 Subsequently Fort Massachusetts was planted here, and Colonel Williams was appointed
1 Chap. 28, Revised Statutes (1871) sec. 2. % Mass. Rep., XL, Appendix, 64.
commander of the line of forts west of the Connecticut. He was killed in 1755, but in his will he gave the greater part of his property for the support of a free school in West Hoosac, to be called after his name. Under the charge of the executors the funds increased until the year 1785, when a board of trust was incorporated on their application to establish a free school in Williamstown.
The executors paid over to this board of trust nearly eleven thou. sand dollars. In 1788 the trustees ordered the erection of a building, which was completed in 1790 and opened for the purpose of a school in 1791, thirty-six years after the death of the founder.
The Legislature incorporated Williams College and transferred to the trustees all the property of the free school. The enterprise well started, the Legislature began to give the growing institution needed assistance. In 1804 it granted a strip of land of no great value, to Williams and Bowdoin Colleges, which was followed in 1805 by the grant of a township to Williams College, which sold for $4,500, and also the grant of a township in 1809, which sold for $5,000. In February, 1811, the Legislature granted, from the proceeds of the tax on banks, the sum of $3,000 annually for ten years. The Legislature continued from time to time its assistance to the college. The whole sum granted by the State previ. ous to 1860 amounted to $157,500.1
The assistance given to Amherst College by the State has been comparatively small. The early life of the institution was one of vicissitudes, and its struggle for existence was opposed by Harvard College and by the citizens of the eastern part of the State as well.
A memorial was presented to the General Court as early as January :20, 1762, setting forth that there are a great number of people in the couạty of Hampshire and places adjacent, disposed to promote learning, and by reason of their great distance from other colleges and the great expense of their education there, many of good natural genius are prevented a liberal education, and a large country filling up at the north-west of them which will send a great number of men of letters.”2
But the aspirations of the men in the western part of the State were not to be realized for many years. A bill establishing an academy in the western part of the State was lost, and the subsequent charter incorporating Queens College was never granted, owing to the opposition of Harvard and its friends, although the charter was made out by the Governor of the State and had a strong following in the west.
Amherst Academy, opened in 1814, formally dedicated in the following year, and incorporated in 1816, was the nucleus of Amherst College. In 1815 the Franklin County Association of Ministers took action to. ward the founding of a college, recommending that it be established at
2 Mass. Rep., XL., appendix, 67.
Mass. Rep., XL, appendix, 69.