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Very early in the history of the Connecticut colonies an appeal came from Harvard College to all the people to contribute toward the maintenance of poor scholars at the college. In response to this the general court of the New Haven colony “ordered that two men shall be appointed in every town within this jurisdiction who shall demand what every family will give, and the same to be gathered and brought into some room in March; and this to continue yearly,' as it shall be considered by the commissioners.” It was determined that about a “peck of wheat,” or the value of it, 12 pence, should be contributed by every family that was willing, and in 1644 one of the commissioners“ reported that he had sent 40 bushels of wheat, the gift of New Haven to the college” at Cambridge. Soon after, that is, as early as 1647, they were seriously considering the expediency of having a college of their own, to “be set up as soon as their ability will reach thereunto.” But at a general court, held at Guilford June 28, 1652, it was voted that “the matter about a college at New Haven was thought to be too great a charge for us of this jurisdiction to undergo alone."
The earliest legislation in Connecticut respecting the education of the Indians is found in the code of 1650, wherein the court orders that the teaching elders shall go among the Indians and endeavor to give them religious instruction. Schools were also established among them, the most successful one being at Farmington. This was taught from 1648 to 1697 by the minister of the parish, and as late as 1736 notices of this school are found in the colonial records, which show that it was still in existence. Some very promising boys were educated at this school, and among them one Samson Occum, who afterwards became quite famous.
In 1665 the colony of New Haven formed the union with the Connecticut under tbe charter of Charles II. In 1671 county grammar schools were established and the foriner town grammar schools discontinued. These new schools were accordingly located at Hartford, New Haven, New London, and Fairfield, there being at the time but four counties in Connecticut. To aid in endowing these schools the general court appropriated 600 acres of land to each of the four county towns forever, the same to be improved in the best manner and the income applied for the benefit of the grammar schools. Of these schools two, namely, those of Hartford and New Haven, the court decreed should be of a higher grade and also free. They were to teach “reading (but pupils before entering must be able to read distinctly the psalter), writing, arithmetic, the Latin and English languages," and were to have “the more extensive and special enjoyment" of the income derived from the legacy left by Governor Hopkins. From that time theymostly as free and always as public schools-have provided facilities for preparing young men for college. The one at New Haven, called the Hopkins Grammar School, has, however, kept the more nearly up to the high ideal of its early patrons. The Hartford school, having in time lost its character of a public grammar or Latin school, became “the main reliance of the town for the education of all its children," and so continued until 1798, when the general assembly restored it to a grammar school, in accordance with "the original intent of the donor." The
1 This gift to the college at Cambridge continued to be annually made until 1671. ? Quoted in President Dwight's Travels in New England, p. 200.
3 The will of Mr. Hopkins was made in 1657, shortly before his death. In 1664 the two sur. viving trustees signed an instrument allotting £400 to Hartford for the support of a grammar school and appointing that the rest of the estate " be all of it equally divided between the towns of New Haven and Hadley, to be managed and improved for the erecting and maintaining a school in each of the said towns.” President Dwight, in Travels in New England, p. 206, says, in regard to the distribution of this legacy, that about £2,000 intended by Hopkins for Yale College "fell through a series of accidents partly into the hands of her sister seminary [H. C.] and partly into the hands of trustees of three grammar schools-one at New Haven, one at Hartford, and one at Hadley, in Massachusetts."
grammar school established at Hadley by the allotment from the Hopkins fund was assisted by donations from individuals or the town, and has ever since been continued either under the name of grammar school or academy. Soon after the union of the colonies other public schools were " set up" and efficiently supported, as also a few private schools to fit young men for college or carry them forward in the higher branches of an English education.
From the testimony of men who were educated in the common schools prior to 1800, it appears that the course of instruction was limited to spelling, reading, writing, and the elements of arithmetic. These studies, however, were attended to by all the children, so that it was rare to find a native of Connecticut “who could not read the holy word of God and the good laws of the State.”] The supervision of the schools was shared alike by the selectmen, who considered it a part of their town office, and by the clergy, who had come to look upon
it regular part of their parochial duty."
By such men and measures were common schools established in all the New England colonies, thus gradually forming a system of public education such as at that time had no “parallel in any part of the world.”
EARLY LEGISLATION WITH REFERENCE TO SCHOOLS,
Lord Macaulay says? of the Puritans that they believed “the State should take upon itself the charge of the education of the people;" and another " declares, “It has always been a characteristic of New England that she adopted and maintained the principle that it is the right and duty of government to provide for the support of free schools; that every man should be taxed therefor, whether he have children or not." The first legislative act with reference to schools was passed by the general court of the Massachusetts colony in 1642, and enjoined the universal education of children, but it neither made the schools free nor attached any penalty for neglecting to establish them. November 11, 1617, another act was passed making the support of the schools compulsory. In this act, then, we have the origin of the free schools of New England. It reads as follows: “It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to 59 householders, shall then forthwith 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 that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint, provided those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have thein taught for in other towns."9 It was further ordered that, when any town increased to the number of a hundred families or householders, a grammar school should be established, and a master employed who could "instruct the youth so far as they may be fitted for the university;" ! " if any town neglect the performance hereof above one year, that every such town shall pay £5 to the next school till they shall perform this order." + In 1683 the court ordered " that whenever a town has 500 families it shall support two grammar schools and two writing schools.” By the law of 1612 parents and masters were to look to the profitable employment of their children, and it was made a “ barbarism" not to teach or have others teach their children or apprentices not only reading, but also a knowledge of the laws, and a penalty of 20 shillings was attached for the neglect to do so.5
1 Mr. Barnard says (American Journal of Education, 1855, p. 302) that “Connecticut soired
2 Macaulay's Spooches, vol. ii., pp. 334, 335, ed. 1853.
In the Connecticut code of 1650 the provision for the care and instruction of children was, as already stated, like that of Massachusetts. In this it was made the duty of selectmen to watch over the children and apprentices and see that they were taught to read and also well instructed in the capital laws of the colony. For every neglect therein a fine of 20 shillings was laid, and masters of families were required to "catechise their children and servants in the grounds and principles of religion," and also bring them up to “honest, lawful calling, labor, or employment.” In case of failure to comply with the law in any of these particulars, the selectmen, with the help of the magistrates, were required to tako such children away and place them with masters who should agree to instruct them in conformity with the law.
In 1677 it was ordered that “if any county town shall neglect to keep a Latin school according to order,' there shall be paid a fine of £10 by the said county towns to the next town in that county that will engage and keep a Latin school in it," and this fine was to be paid annually until they should comply with the law.”
In 1701, after a full revision of the school laws of Connecticut, we have the following legal provisions for the education of children:3
First. An obligation on the part of every parent and guardian to teach children to read, and, besides, “ bring them up to some lawful calling or employment," under a penalty for each offense.
Second. A tax of 40 shillings on every £1,000 on the lists of estates, to be collected in every town with the annual State tax and payable proportionately only to those towns which should keep their schools according to law. If, however, this levy proved insufficient to maintain a suitable schoolmaster, the inhabitants were to pay half and the parents or masters of the children the other half,“ unless any town agree otherwise."
Third. A common school in every town having over 70+ families to be kept for eleven months of the year, and in towns of less than 70 families to be kept for at least half the year.
Fourth. A grammar school in each of the four head county towns to fit youth for college, two of which grammar schools must be free.
Fifth. A collegiate school, toward which the general court shall make an annual appropriation of £120.
Sixth. “Provision for the religious instruction of the Indians."
We see, then, that in the early legislation, more especially of the New Haven, Connecticut, and Massachusetts colonies, provision was made for the “honorable employment of children as well as for their intellectual training. This was a most wise provision, and had it continued in force, the criminal and pauper record of New England would have been radically different from what it is to-day. If we look closely into these laws, and especially into the provisions for the protection of children and apprentices from the cupidity of parents and masters, we shall doubtless see the first manifestation of that republican sentiment which afterwards spread through the land and proclaimed it free.
THE EARLY SCHOOLJLISTERS. We can scarcely place too high an estimate upon the service rendered to New England by her early teachers. Among these we must include many of her best educated clergymen who, in towns where there were no free or grammar schools, "fitted young men of piety and talent for college and for higher usefulness in
1 This refers to the revised laws 1671, creating county grammar schools in place of grammar schools for every town having 100 families.
? American Journal of Education, 1857, vol. iv., p. 607. * Ibid., p. 695.
4 Originally 50 families, but in 1678 a law had been passed that every town of 30 families should maintain a school and teach the children to read and write.
church and state.”! They were chiefly instrumental in keeping alive" the fires of classical learning brought here from the public schools and universiries of England.” Even with all their sympathy and help and the faithful labors of the pioneer teachers, the second, third, and fourth generations of the New England colonists, where schools were not specially encouraged, “ seemed destined to fall into barbarism.” 2
Among the most noted of these early schoolmasters were Ezekiel Cheever and Elijah Corlett, of whom Cotton Mather wrote:
“'Tis Corlett's pains and Cheever's we must own,
That thou, New Eugland, art not Scythia grown." Master Corlett died February 25, 1686-7, at the age of 78, after having been for nearly half a century a notable figure in Cambridge. He was, to quote Dr. Mather again, " that memorable old schoolmaster in Cambridge from whose education our college and country have received so many of its worthy men that he is himself worthy to have his name celebrated
in our church history." Still, though he was able to teach both the English and Indian children, his school seems never to have been large-numbering in 1680 but nine pupils—nor were the fees he received for tuition at all adequate to his support. To enable him to gain a bare subsistence occasional special grants were made by the town and colony, and an annual appropriation of about £7 10s. from the Hopkins charity fund. For a century or more following his time, his successers at Cambridge fared, it is said, but little better.
Ezekiel Cheever gained a much wider and more enduring reputation. Born in England in 1614 and landing at Boston in 1637, he was for the long period of seventy years schoolmaster without an equal at New Haven, Ipswich, Charlestown, and Boston. He is described as “a scholar, learned, accurate, judicious, a severe and unsparing master, tall, dignified, and stern."5 Dr. Mather says of him, “ we generally concur in acknowledging that New England has never known a better teacher. I am sure I have as much reason to appear for him as ever Crito for his master Socrates.” 6 The early excellence of the Latin school at Boston, over which he presided for thirty-eight years, was due to his care. He was evidently a master whom the pupils “delighted to honor,” for he is spoken of by them with great affection, though one of them, the Rev. John Barnard,' of Marblehead, tells us that he did not spare the rod, and cites his own experience, how, on one occasion, the old master said to him, “You, Barnard, I know that you can do well enough if you will; but you are so full of play that you hinder your classmates from getting their lessons, and, therefore, if any of them can not perform their duty I shall correct you for it.” One of his classmates, he adds, taking advantage of this, continued for some days to fail in his recitations, until he, Barnard, concluded that there was no way to escape from his daily punishment except by flogging his tormentor.
Mr. Cheever was the author of the Accidence, "A short introduction to the Latin tongue," which passed through more than twenty editions, and continued for over a century and a half the text-book of most of the Latin scholars of New
1 American Journal of Education, 1855, p. 296. 2 Ibid., p. 296.
3 Also Richard Norris, of Salem, 1640 to 1670 ; and later Noah Clap, of Dorchester, who “taught the school at various times between 1735 and 1769, eighteen or twenty years in all.”
* Mather's Magnalia, vol. i., book 3, p. 318.
? In his autobiography Mr. Barnard throws some light upon the conduct of schools at that early day-one noteworthy fact being that in his sixth year the schoolmistress made him an usher or monitor, and appointed him to teach children both older and younger than himself. This was more than a hundred years before Bell or Lancaster introduced their newly discovered monitorial system.
England. Dr. Samuel Bentley, of Salem, an antiquarian and collector of schoolbooks, says of this Accidence, that it was " the wonder of the age.'
Eminent teachers during the present century, and among them President Quincy, of Harvard College, have highly commended Cheever's Accidence, and expressed the hope that it might be restored to its former place in the schools. Besides several Latin dissertations and poems, he was also the author of a small treatise upon “Scripture prophecies explained,” in three short essays. This patriarch of New England schoolmasters continued his work with almost youthful vigor up to the time of his death, which occurred in Boston in August, 1708.1
From the very first, the founders of the young commonwealth thought it necessary to guard most jealously against the employment of unworthy teachers. In the records of the court, May 3, 1654, we find that it was made the special care of the officers of Harvard College and the selectmen of the several towns not to suffer any to instruct the youth or children who “have manifested themselves unsound in the faith or scandalous in their lives."
Much in every way was expected of the grammar-school teachers, and the candidate for this office must be a man of cultivation and refinement, which, as it was then supposed, could only be obtained by an acquaintance with the learned languages. The schoolmaster was an important personage in the eyes of the community, being treated with the respect that was accorded to the minister and magistrates. As an illustration of this, it is recorded that “his wife was to be accommodated with a pew next the wives of the magistrates."?
In the eighteenth century there seems to have been a lack of teachers who were capable of fitting young men for college, and thus the necessity arose of establishing what were afterwards called academies. Governor Dummer, who died in 1761, having founded a flourishing academy at Byfield, Mass., was the pioneer in this enterprise. His example stimulated the Phillipses-uncle and nephewto found the two noble academies at Andover and Exeter, which still bear their
In those early days there were no spelling books nor English grammars. The letters were learned from the Bible, and this book and the Testament and Psalter were the only reading books. The catechism, as in the parochial schools of the present time, which they resembled, received great attention. Besides this, reading, writing, and arithmetic were the chief, if not the only branches taught. For a century still there were no printed copy books and no slates in use, the ciphering and writing being done on paper. In 1691 there appears in the Boston Almanac an interesting notice of the New England Primer, the second edition being then in press. This new and enlarged edition had fuller directions for spelling, also the Prayer of Edward VI, and the verses said to have been written by the martyred John Rogers. This primer contained the catechism of John Cotton, printed in 1656, and also that of the Westminster Assembly. It probably resembled the primer of Great Britain which existed before the Puritans came to America. Locke, the philosopher, mentions a book of this name, and in 1759 one called the Royal Primer was common in New England. This, or one similar to it, continued in use until about the beginning of the present century.
There was a little book called the “Horn-book” (named from the horn covers), which seems to have been of simpler plan than the Primer, and of which Shakespeare speaks as the teacher of boys” in his day. It was so used also in Massachusetts at the first, and even up to a century ago, and out of its supposed indispensa
For further particulars of the life of Ezekiel Cheever, see Journal of Education for December, 1883, pp. 391, 405-6.
a Emerson, Education in Massachusetts, p. 22. *See Felt's Annals of Salem, p. 436.