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office. He found that the capital consisted chiefly of the debts due from the original purchasers of the Western Reserve, and the substituted securities which had been accepted in their stead. These securities had in the course of twenty years, by death, insolvency and otherwise, become involved in complicated difficulties. The interest had fallen greatly in arrears, and in many cases nearly equaled the principal. The debtors were dispersed in different States. Without a single litigated suit, or a dollar paid for counsel, he reduced the disorded management to an efficient system, disentangled its affairs from loose and embarrassed connections with personal securities and indebted estates, rendered it productive of a large, regular, and increasing dividend, and converted its doub:ful claims into well secured and solid capital. During the fifteen
ears of his administration, the annual dividend averaged $52,061 35, and the capital was augmented to $1,719,434 24. The amount of interest divided by the first Commissioner was $780,
ments of Washington, undertook the ungracious task of the British treaty-he flung up his third term in the Senate of the United States, then just commencing, and entered on a series or exertions, in which he displayed a sortitude, a perseverance, and a practical sagacity, that have never failed to excite surprise. The power of bodily endurance would have been nothie ing without the infinite tact in business; skill would have fallen short of its objects, without miraculous patience and perseverance; and nothing could have disarmed opposition, but that natural spring of sweetness in his disposition, which perpetually welled out in midst of appalling labors, and converted in many, many instances, the suspicious and intractable, into sincere and zealous friends. The astonishing little animal he drove for six or eight of the first years, sometimes took the Sacheni seventy miles in a day. On one occasion, he pushed her thirty miles after iwilight without simpping ; having been dogged by two ruffians, in a desolate part of the country, who attempted to deprive him of his trunk It contained, unknown to them, twenty thousand dollars of the public money. After putting them to flight, he thonght it prudent to make as many tracks as possible. Her subsequent blindness he ascribed to the severe drive of that memorable evening,
The result of his labors in behalf of the Connecticut School Fund, alluded 10 in some of the foregoing lines, may be taken in the words of a scrupulous and well-informed narrator, it having been previously stated that its affairs had fallen into an entangled condition. “The best friends of that fund, and those most acquainted with its history, have said that they would have been happy to have realized from it, at that time, eight hundred thousand dollars. Aster fifteen years' management, he left it increased to one million seven hundred thousand dollars of solid property. The difference was to be ascribed to his skill, his fidelity, his accu. racy, his patience, and his wonderful and indefatigable industry. While that fund shall be perpetuated, and shall continue to carry through all the streets of our cities, and every rude, secluded hamlet among our hills, the blessings of instruction, it will stand a monument to his faithful and disinterested patriotiem.” The toils he underwent, (for the property consisted chiefly in lands scattered in five states, some parts of them, then, very difficult of access,) and the expedients he resorted to, in accomplishing his great objects, can not even be shadowed here. They were highly curious and interesting. He was literally " in journeyings often
: watchings often-in hunger and thirst—in perils from robbers-in perils in the wilder. ness"—to say nothing of the perils nearer home, “among false brethren." Once, he was frost bitten; losing, in consequence, during the greater part of a winter, and far from his family, the use of one eye: but I have been assured that he did not, even then, spare the other. Once he was arrested as a criminal, by an enraged debtor, who, in his own neighborhood, exercised a party influence, and but just escaped the indignity of a prison. Twice he was brought to death's door by fevers taken in the unsettled and unwholesome regions he was obliged 10 visit.
920 24, which added to the sum of $456,757 44, divided by the Committee and Board of Managers, make an aggregate of $1,237,677 68-a sum exceeding the original capital.
To this capital Mr. Hillhouse contributed the sum of $10,000,which had been allowed to him by three individuals from the circumstance of their supposing themselves peculiarly benefitted by his management and services as Commissioner, in settling the various and complicated concerns of the fund with their estates. This allowance, with the interest on the same, amounted at the close of his administration to a larger sum than he received from the State for fifteen years of such labor, as, but few public officers of even the same ability have the constitution to endure, under such combinations of hardship and peril, as can never happen again in the history of the fund. Of this fund, Mr. Hillhouse richly deserves the appellation bestowed by Eliot, the spiritual friend of the Indians, on Sir Robert Boyle, for his care and liberality in their behalf—“ The right- honorable, charitable, indefaligable, nursing father."
In 1810 the expense of keeping a district school over the amount of public money was apportioned among the proprietors of the school according to the number of days each had sent a scholar or scholars to the same, and in 1811 this was altered so as to authorize the apportionment according to the number of persons sent.
In 1813 the proprietors of factories and manufacturing establishments were compelled to see that the children in their employ were taught to read, write, and cipher, and that due attention is paid to the preservation of their morals. To secure its observance, the selectmen and civil authority are constituted a board of visitors, to ascertain annually, in the month of January, or some other time by them appointed, the facts in the case, and to report any neglect to the next county court, which is authorized to impose such fine or forfeiture as may be deemed just.
In 1816, at the commencement exercises of Yale College, Denison Olmsted. then principal of the Union School in New London, in an oration “ On the state of education in Connecticut,” delivered by him on the occasion of taking the degree of Master of Arts, speaks of the operation of the school fund, and the condition of the common schools as follows :
The amount of the fund at the present time, is $1,500,000—a provision for common schools, to which, it is presumed, the world affords no parallel. But while this system has brought signal blessings to the poor, it has also accustomed the wealthiest ranks to extreme frugality in the expenses of education; and as the public money has rendered it unnecessary to pay largely, many have acquired a habit of grudging to pay any thing. In such a state of things, who can but wish that better measures were adopted to secure the benefit of that system
which the wisdom of our legislature has devised, lest the liberal provision be wasted on ignorance, and only afford a hiding-place for parsimony. In the pursuit of cheap instructors many districts rest satistied with such as are grossly ignorant; and this brings us to the whole secret, to the great defect in our school education-the ignorance and incompetency of schoolmasters.
I do not say that here we are to expect men of liberal education to keep all our village schools; but, with private resources so ample, and a public provision so liberal, we ought not to rest satisfied with teachers whose attainments terminate with a simple round of elements, which many of the pupils know as well as themselves. Now it is a notorious fact, (though a fact which we may well blush to announce,) that a great part of our public school money is expended on such teachers as these : teachers, whose geography scarcely transcends the mountains that bound their own horizon ; whose science is the multiplication table; and wbose languages, history, and belles-lettres, are all comprised in the American Preceptor and Webster's Spelling-book.
Many, it is feared, will not listen to any proposals for raising the standard of school education, from a dread of enhancing the expense. Let it be observed then, that most of our village schoolmasters are furnished by the schools themselves, and were the standard once raised, even in only part of the schools, a sufficient number of instructors would be produced, who would be competent to teach in the same studies; and thus the standard, when once gained, would maintain itself. But, in most cases, the plea of being unable to pay for good schoolmasters is unfounded: it is the plea of avarice; of one who knows not, or feels not, the benefits of education, but considers land a better heritage than learning. To him whose family is numerous, and whose income is small, I will say, is there no superfluity in dress—no luxury of the table—no article of furniture, which may be retrenched, in order to accomplish so desirable an object! If not, make the saving on the child himself; and again imitating the highland peasant, clothe him in the humblest garb, and feed him on oatmeal, and let the saving be applied to enlarge his capacity and enrich his mind.
To supply the defect of “ignorant and incompetent teachers," Prof. Olmsted devised the “ Plan of an Academy for schoolmasters," the earliest suggestion and plan, in this country, of an institution for the professional training of teachers.*
In 1818, a Constitution was adopted as the fundamental law of the State, in which the following provisions respecting education and religion are introduced.
Article I.—Declaration of Rights. Sec. 3. The exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be free to all persons in this State; provided, that the rights hereby declared and established, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or to justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the State.
Sec. 4. No preference shall be given by law to any Christian sect, or mode of worship.
Article VIII.-Of Education. Sec. 1. The Charter of Yale College as modified by agreement, with the corporation thereof, in pursuance of an act of the General Assembly, passed in May 1792, is hereby confirmed.
Sec. 2. The fund, called the School Fund, shall remain a perpetual fund, the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated to the support and encouragement of the public or common schools throughout the State, and for the equal benefit of all the people thereof. The value and amount of said fund shall, as soon as practicable, be ascertained, in such manner as the General Assembly may prescribe, published and recorded in the Comptroller's office, and no law shall ever be made authorizing said fund to be diverted to any other use than the encourage
* Letter of Prof. Olmsted, in Connecticut Common School Journal. Vol. v. p. 70.
ment and support of common schools, among the several school societies, as justice and equity shall require.
In 1820, the appropriation of $2 on every $2000 of the avails of the State tax for the use of schools, was to cease as soon as the income of the school fund exceeded $62,000, which it did the next year. From this date the income of the fund was apportioned to the several school societies and districts, according to the number of persons over 4 and under 16, in each, on the first Monday of August of each year.
In 1822, Governor Wolcott in his annual message, reminds the General Assembly of its duty "to observe with vigilant attention whether the system (of common schools] which their wisdom has forined, is duly executed, to supply such deficiences as time may discover, and to aid such improvements adapted to our circumstances as the experience of this, or any other country may recommend to our adoption."
Without intending to intimate that any defects, either in the system or in the management have yet been discovered, I can not deem it useless to suggest, that the efficiency of our system of education will always depend upon the capacity and skill of the instructors who are from time to time employed in the primary schools. It was never intended that the contributions from the school fund should be a full substitute for those which the districts may raise by taxing their members. In every district such instructors only ought to be employed as are capable of raising the grade of education to such a point as the minds of the pupils are generally capable of sustaining. The difference between what is passable, and what is excellent is immense, while economy is always a noble virtue, parsimony is frequently a degrading vice; and mediocrity ought to command as little respect in a school as in a college ; it will every where, and at all times evince an ascendency of feeble view's, or a "withholding of more than is meet, tending to poverty," of the most abject nature, the poverty of intellect.
In conformity with the laws of nature, which are always wise, provision is made in our system for instituting schools of a higher order than those which may be established by the districts. These are precious institutions, well adapted to encourage the higher advances in science. A third grade might be introduced, or perhaps engrafted on some of our existing academies with great benefit to the State, and with as high a probability of profit as any instrument of capital within my knowledge. In such institutions, the indispensable attention to religion and morality might be united with instruction in all those branches of physical science and knowledge which impart to youth intelligence, vigor, and energy, in all those concerns of active life to which they may be devoted.
About this time the impression began to prevail, that the improvement of the schools had not kept pace with the increase of the revenues of the school fund. A writer in the North American Review for April, 1823, in an article on the Report of the Commissioner of the School Fund, submitted May, 1822, after giving a history of the legislation of the State on the subject of schools, and noticing the change made by the Act of 1795, in the mode of supporting schools, says
Our readers no doubt are now prepared to ask, what great advantage has tho State of Connectiout derived from its school fund, and how far has this fund con
tributed to promote the particular object to which it is devoted, the general diffusion of elementary learning? According to the old laws, as we have already seen, schools were maintained in the several districts; and one school at least was supported through the year in each town containing seventy householders, and six months were the number of householders was less than seventy. By the present system we do not find that there is any obligation on the school societies or districts to support schools any longer, than the public money affords the requisite aliment; and the consequence must be, what we are informed is extensively true, that the continuance of schools is determined by a very obvious and convenient rule. Taxation for schools being infrequent, must be borne with impatience; and if some school societies increase the school money by a tax, the practice is gradually discontinued, and will soon entirely cease. As to time then, we do not find that any thing has been gained by the schools from the operation of the fund. If some schools continue longer, each year, others are brought sooner to a close, the amount of time, through the whole, being not materially varied.
It does not appear from the laws of Connecticut, nor do we learn from such inquiries as we have made, that the qualifications of instructors have been increased, or the branches of instruction multiplied through any influence of the fund. If education in common schools has assumed a higher character within the last thirty years, it is owing rather to the more elevated standard of instruction through the country; and the improvements, probably, are no greater, than they would have been, if the school fund had never existed. The great advantage, then, of the Connecticut school fund, appears, on investigation, to be this,-it relieves the several school societies from taxation, an advantage, no doubt, which is duly appreciated. Admitting, however, that it is a privilege, and we are not disposed to deny it to be such, for an inhabitant of Connecticut to be able to say, that schools formerly paid for by those who enjoyed their advantages, are now supported by a fund, and so cost nothing; would it not be a privilege far greater, to be able to designate the particular improvements, which the school fund has been the means of introducing into the system of school education ? Where means so ample and imposing are provided, we look, of course, for some unusual and splendid result. To be informed that a fund which enables a community no larger than Connecticut to expend more than sixty thousand dollars a year on schools, and which will soon afford ninety or one hundred thousand dollars a year for the same object, produces no visible effect, except in diminishing taxation, and that the whole benefit is limited to the pocket, much as we admire thrift and good management, leaves on our minds, to say the least, a strong feeling of disappointment. A school fund, according to the common rules of judging, ought to profit the schools, as well as their supporters.
We would not be understood to disapprove of legislative aid to common schools, but to aim at having it so regulated as to produce its full and proper effect. If it were possible, we would take from the common schools of Connecticut nothing which they now enjoy, and would merely apply a portion of the additional income, which will soon be realized to the encouragement of the higher branches of education. Nothing which could be done would, more directly than this, benefit the common schools themselves. Let a superior school, intermediate between the common schools and the university, be maintained in each county of the State, where all of those, who aspire to teach in common schools, may be themselves thoroughly instructed. Such a measure would give new vigor to the whole system of education. The board of visitors, which now decides on the qualifications of instructors, must be, in most instances, a very imperfect check on the intrusion of ignorance. The teachers, it is understood, have now very seldom any other preparation, than they receive in the very school, where they afterwards instruct, or in the school of some neighboring district, where the advantages for improvement are no better. If this, however, can not be done, and the whole income of the school fund must be appropriated directly to common schools, we see no reason why teachers in these schools should not be obliged to qualify themselves for their employment, in such higher schools or academies as now exist.
There is, indeed, in the present law of Connecticut respecting schools, a provision, which might seem at first view to answer, in part, the end proposed. The provision is to this effect : that any school society shall have liberty, by a vote of two thirds of the inhabitants present, to institute a school of a higher order to