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coarser kinds, on the wharves and in some of the handicrafts. (6) In many towns and several States; a large variety. (c)Principally as laborers in cotton, and almost entirely negroes.
Question 3. Do those who can read and write, and who merely possess these rudiments of education, other things being equal, show any greater skill and fidelity as laborers, skilled or unskilled, or as artisans, than do those who are not able to read or write; and, if so, how much would such additional skill tend to increase the productiveness of their services and consequently their wages —Answers. (a) It is impossible for me to fix the precise difference in the value to employer of the labor of eancated persons as against that of uneducated persons, but I have no doubt that the difference is largely in favor of the labor of educated persons, while to the persons themselves the difference is vastly in favor of those who are educated. They do their work more easily, with less bodily exertion, and are generally in better condition for work. I have noticed that educated men know better how to dispose of their energies, make fewer false motions, and otherwise economize their strength. (b) The condition of laborers is governed by circumstances, of course; but, “other circumstances being equal,” the laborers who can read and write certainly have a decided advantage. (c) Among negroes there seems to be no advantage of education, as thus far it has been used, when possessed by a few individuals in the community, to acquire influence over their fellows for vicious purposes. I may also add that there is little desire among them now for education, parents preferring to use the services of their children in cultivating crops rather than sending them to school.
Question 4. What increase of ability would a still higher degree of education, a knowledge of the arts and sciences that underlie his occupation, such as a good practical knowledge of arithmetic, bookkeeping, algebra, drawing, &c., give the laborer in the power of producing wealth, and how much would it increase his wages? Answers. (a) As a matter of course, the more thought a man can bring to tho aid of labor the better for himself and for his employer. He who labors by practice does well, but he who combines theory with practice does better. The more knowledge a man has the greater will be his mastery over both theory and practice. I might venture to sea with a man knowing the theory of navigation, but never with one destitute of such knowledge, though he were a good practical sailor. (b) All depends on the individual. If his organization is right, education will help him in all he undertakes; but if not, all the education you can give, if a person lacks system and energy, does not make him produce more, or of more value. (c) With a superior degree of education, doubtless there would be great improvement; but without moral culture, which is entirely wanting with the black race, but little advantage can be gained from such education as they now have or will acquire.
Question 5. Does this and still further acquisitions of knowledge increase the capacity of the workingman to meet the exigency of his labor by new methods, or in improvements in implements or machinery; and if so, how much does this inventive skill add to the power of producing wealth ?-Answers. (a) My answers to this question is more or less implied in all I have said above. Ignorance clings steadily to the old way of doing things, however clumsy or awkward; while intelligence more easily discovers a better way, and more readily adopts the new against the old. (6) Answered in the preceding question. (c) No experience in this respect.
Question 6. Would a person who had been trained in the common school be generally preferred for the ordinary uses for which labor might be employed over one who had not enjoyed that advantage? - Answers. (a) I think he would. If an educated man could find no better employment than digging a ditch, I should expect to find that work better done than by an uneducated person. (b) I think not, as a general thing. (c) Yes; provided he had industry. But our experience is, that with the negro, the more ignorant the better laborer.
Question 7. From observations you have made, whom do you consider best fitted for positions of trust, such as foremen or superintendents, persons unable to read and write, or those having the rudiments of education, or those possessing a superior education, all other things, such as skill, strength, and fidelity, being equal ?- Answers. (a) Everything that tends to increase the dignity and self-respect of a man tends to increase his fitness to fill important stations of trust. An educated. man may, despite his education, be a rogue; but the natural tendency of education is to make men honest and faithful in their dealings. (b) Skill, strength, and fidelity might be equal, but to do business as a superintendent, or foreman, or an agent, a person should have system and force of character; and if he has not those qualifications, superior education has an advantage. (c) The state of morality among all classes in this country is such, that fidelity is more valuable than all other acquirements.
Question 8. What do you regard the effect of mental culture upon the personal and social habits of workingmen? Do they, as a class, live in better houses or with better surroundings? Are they more idle and dissipated than the untaught classes? How will they compare for character, for economy, morality, and social influence among their fellows ?--Answers. (a) In all that belongs to the social well-being of workingmen, the educated workingman has the advantage. His taste is higher and purer, his house is larger and cleaner, and the good effects of education are seen all around him. (6). I believe education elevates, and consequently carries with it a moral responsibility which untaught persons do not, as a general thing, possess. Therefore, I would say educate, educate the whole human family. (c) With respect to negroes, we have no experience, as they have no mental culture worthy of the name. Superficially educated white men are less valuable as laborers, and less responsible than negroes.
(P.cpublished from Special Report of Commissioner of Education on the Condition of Education in the
District of Columbia.]
ILLITERACY IN THE UNITED STATES.
Notwithstanding the number and variety of schools, public and private, eleinentary and of higher grades, and the consequent general education of our people, there are now, as there have been, vast numbers who cannot even read and write. The census tables of 1840, 1850, and 1860 bring to light facts on this subject which ought to arrest the earnest attention of every American citizen.
The first statistics upon this subject for the United States were gathered and published in the national census of 1810. It returns 549,850 white persons over twenty years of age unable to read and write. In 1850 this number had increased to 962,893; and in 1860 it had swelled to 1,126,575. To this number should be added 91,736 free colored illiterate adults, and 1,653,800 adult slaves, now free, and we have the alarming aggregate of 2,872,111, or nearly three millions of our adult population, reported as wholly unable to read and write.
But, as much more than half our population are under twenty-one, and as there has been no corresponding increase of educational facilities, there must be, and is, a still larger number, more than three millions, of young persons who are growing up in ignorance to fill the ranks of illiteracy as the older ones pass off the stage ; so that more than six millions of American people constitute a bookless class, shut out from direct access to this main source of knowledge. Not counting the million and a half of these under ten years of age, who cannot yet be said to be illiterate, (though they are on the high road to it, unless something more efficient is promptly done to save them,) we have one and a half millions of illiterate youths to add to the three millions of illiterate adults, or four and a half millions of youths and adults actually illiterate. They themselves can make no use of our Bibles, our printed constitutions and laws, our various instructive books, or our newspapers, the great agency of popular information, but must depend upon others. To their blind eyes the light from the printed page and the daily sheet is darkness. They have received no direct benefit from all our public and private schools, or from the large sums given or appropriated for school purposes. Those who have learned to read have been reached directly by these appropriations and benefactions. Cannot something effectual be done for these millions who have been, and still remain, unprovided for and out of reach?
It may be said, “A large proportion of these are negroes, recently slaves.” But they are men, ignorant men, women, and children; and they themselves, and we all of us with them, must suffer the evil consequences of this ignorance, if it cannot be, if it is not removed. But, besides them, there are more than a million and a half (1,700,000) illiterate white youths and adults, and another half million of children under ten, growing up to (must it be?) hopeless ignorance.
But some say, “They are mostly foreigners, from countries where, in the interests of despotism, the people are kept in ignorance." This is true of only a small portion of the emigrants from Europe, nearly all the European states from which most of them come having efficient systems of public schools. Besides, our illiterate are, most of them, native-born. In 1860, according to the census, there were, of our illiterate adults, but 346,893 of foreign birth, while there were 871,418 vative-born. The foreign-born illiterate are found chiefly in the States containing our great commercial cities, (as Massachusetts, 45,000; New York, 96,000; Pennsylvania, 37,000 ;) especially in the East. In the West and many western cities the immigrants, being chiefly Germans, can read and write their own language. In California the Chinese are not to be included in the number of those who cannot read and write. A writer in one of our leading magazines has recently said that “the first Chinaman unable to read his own lan. guage has yet to make his appearance in California.” The superintendent of public instruction of the State of New York, in his special report in 1867, says, “ travelers and missionaries, and men connected with foreign embassies, are agreed in saying that about all the male population of China can read and write. But the women are neither sent to school nor educated at home.” It is well known that, by law, all the offices of government, the greatest civil advantages, and the highest honors, are given only to those who excel in the schools and in the national literary examinations. These are open to all, and it would seem that all, or nearly all, the boys in the empire start in the race to obtain these prizes, and that they.acquire some rudiments of an education before they give up the attempt. But all over our country we have vast numbers of native-born citizens who cannot read-over 1,300,000 adults and youths, and nearly 500,000 children growing up untaught. It is to be remembered, too, that the freedmen, now citizens, are also native-born.
But it has been said, “They are chiefly in those States where there are no common schools, in the South-poor whites,' kept down by institutions and influences which have now been swept away." There are, indeed, thousands of illiterate “poor whites in the South, as shown by the census. In 1860 there were in South Carolina 15,000 adult native whites who could not read; in Georgia, 43,000 ; in Alabama, 37,000; in Mississippi, 15,000. And in the next tier of States north it was worse ; in North Carolina, 68,000; in Virginia, 72,000; in Tennessee, 67,000 ; in Kentucky, 63,000; in Missouri, 50,000. But still further north, where the influences of slavery were not directly felt, and where systems of education, public and private, have been long in operation, there are still many thousands of this unfortunate class; in Pennsylvania, 36,000; in New York, 20,000, in Ohio, 41,000; in Indiana, 54,000; in Illinois, 38,000; 'in Iowa, 13,000; in California, 11,000; and even in the oldest section of the country, where common schools have been in operation from its earliest settlement, there are one or two thousand in each State, too many to be accounted for by the incapacity of certain classes to be taught. Such a fact forces the inquiry as to the sufficiency and efficiency of the means, facilities, and methods of instruction employed.
Thus it appears that this immense evil, our weakness and our disgrace, extends among our native population as well as among those of foreign birth; in the North as well as in the South, both in the East and in the West; in the old States and in the new, from Maine to Georgia, as well as from Maine to California. It is a wide-spread national calamity.
It has been also a growing evil; it has grown with the growth of the population. Indeed, from 1840 to 1850 it grew faster than the population. Not only did the gross numbers increase from 550,000 to nearly a million, but the per cent. of illiterate increased from 9 per cent. in 1840 to 11 per cent. in 1850. And, although in 1860 it was reduced again to 9 per cent., where it was in 1840, so that, apparently, taking the whole twenty years together, illiteracy has not grown faster than the population, still it has Lield its own; the numbers have increased from 550,000 adult white illiterate, to 1,127,000; the per cent. remains the same. is probablc that the return to 9 per cent. in 1860 is due to real progress by earnest Sunday-school or similar efforts to teach the illiterate to read, or by the improving condition of some of our States, and is not due, as some have feared, to preconcerted and combined plans to reduce the numbers returned from some States to a minimum, and thus wipe off the stigma of ignorance exposed by previous census retums, and that the country is not taking such fearful backward strides in the direction of proportional, as well as absolute, illiteracy.
The facts above stated come down only to 1860. Now, in 1870, the absolute numbers, the great army of the illiterate, must have greatly increased. Whether the per cent. has diminished or increased we have yet to learn. The effect of the late war in aggravating and extending the sources of illiteracy will appear in the census of 1870 and 1880, and must be severly felt in its dire influence in this direction upon our social and political life. The opportunity and the stimulus given to the education of the freedinan cannot compensate, in one generation, for so much evil. The grand, heroic, and eminently successful efforts of the teachers of the freedman and their liberal supporters have accomplished wonders. But what are these among so many! Taking all who are reported as taught to read, the number is hardly enough to keep up with the natural increase of the population. But even this is better than was done for the illiterate whites in the whole country from 1840 to 1850 and 1860. If the increasing illiteracy of the blacks has been arrested, that of the whites has not yet been checked. Such an evil demands all our wisdom to devise ways and means to arrest and remove it, and all our zeal and energies to put them in execution.
So far the facts have been given simply as they stand in the census. But it is well known, to those who have investigated the subject, that these are far below the truth. Hardly any cho can read and write will report themselves, or be reported, as unable to do so, while many who cannot read would not like to be so set down in the census. This is natural, and must too often be the fact. Horace Mann judged himself within bounds when he added to the figures of the census on this point, "only 30 per cent. for its undoubted under-estimates," and be raised the number 550,000 for 1840 to 700,000. Iu corroboration of this he quotes from the message of Governor Campbell, of Virginia, in 1839, statements derived from the most reliable sources, the court records of five city and borough courts, and ninety-three county courts, (out of one hundred and twenty-five counties in the State,) to the effect that “almost one-quarter part of the men applying for marriage licenses were unable to write their naines." The census report for 1840 gavo 58,787 illiterate white adults in Virginia ; Governor Campbell's proportion would raise the number to 82,489, or 40 per cent. more. From such facts as. this, and from careful comparisons of the census reports for the several States, and for the several years 1840, 1850, and 1860, there can be no doubt that the figures of the census may be relied on as much below the painful truth.
But there is a further view to be taken of this question. There are large numbers of persons who can read a little, but who read so imperfectly, and with such hesitation and difficulty, that they do not read at all. They are practically, if not absolutely, illiterate. There are many words that on account of our irregular and difficult spelling they cannot understand, and many more that they make out slowly and with great difficulty. The attempt to read is to them so profitless, so dull, and so laborious, that they give it up, and make little or no use of books and newspapers.
Altogether, this question of illiteracy in our country is a most serious one. The more closely we look at it the more serious it appears. If the reports of the census are over to be anything more than useless columns of figures, to be neglected and cast aside as rubbish, if the great facts so laboriously accumulated and extensively published are ever to become living and operative, it would seem that such statistics and such facts as these ought to arrest the most earnest attention of the nation, and to lead to the most determined and energetic efforts to remove so great and so dangerous an evil.
Twenty-eight years ago, when the fact, then just revealed by the census of 1840, that more than half a million, or 9 per cent. of our adult white population, could not read and write, was first published to the country, it produced a profound sensation. Those of us who then read it in the journals of the day, with any interest in the intelligence and welfare of our country, will remember the impression it made on our own minds, and the comments of the public press. We who had cherished our educational advantages as a precious inheritance from our fathers, and had been accustomed to regard this as a favored land of common schools, academies, and colleges-a land of Bibles, tracts, and Sunday-schools-a land of books and newspapers in the hands of an enlightened and free people, were startled by this unexpected announcement. More than half a million of our free citizens were utterly illiterate; in South Carolina, in Alabama, in Missouri, about 20,000 each ; in Georgia, in Illinois, in Pennsylvania, 30,000 ; in Ohio, 35,000; in Indiana, in Kentucky, 40,000; in New York, 45,000; and nearly 60,000 in North Carolina, in Tennessee, and in Virginia; in all, more than a twelfth part of our adult white population, and then there were all the slaves. It was a painful, a mortifying, and a dangerous state of things; how dangerous, we have since learned by terrible experience in our late destructive war, which would never have come upon us had we been a nation of readers.
In no State was this revelation more fitly and earnestly considered than in Virginia. Without looking at the motes in a brother's eye, without attempting to explain away or palliate so great an evil, without seeking a wretched comfort in the almost equal numbers and larger percentage of illiteracy in some other States, or the still greater ignorance in the inother country, she set herself earnestãy to consider her own condition and seek a remedy. An educational convention was called to meet in Richmond, December 9, 1841, and nothing that was said or published at the time is more worthy to be remembered than these words of James M. Garnet, in his address before that convention. After stating that “ long ago a few individuals had earnestly asked for such a convention," he adds :
“ But these efforts, few and far between, fell still-born from the press, and, if my memory fails me not, obtained no friendly response from any quarter whatever. This, I verily believe, would still be the case had it not been for the startling fact, disclosed by our late census, that there are nearly sixty thousand of our white population, over twenty years of age, who can neither read nor write. The publication of such á fact thronghout the United States—a fact so replete with reproach, degradation, and disgrace to Virginia-has effectually shamed and alarmed us all.” “ The excitement which has resulted in producing the present convention, has given rise to many suggestions in our public journals, which evince how sincerely and deeply their authors feel the political as well as the moral evils that are the necessary consequences of the totally unlettered state in which so large a portion of onr people have been found.”
Soon after this a public school system was established in Virginia, as was done about the same time in North Carolina. But, notwithstanding all that was done in these and other States, the evil of illiteracy seems not to have been remedied, or even materially arrested, though it must have been in a measure checked in some districts.
The alarming increase in the numbers and in the per cent of the unlettered class in 1850 produced little impression on the public mind, and led to no corresponding or adequate efforts. And when, in 1860, this dark cloud was spreading wider over the face of the country, if not deepening in gloom, hardly any public notice was taken of its threatening aspect. The quick feeling and prompt action of (at least a few States in) 1840 were gone. Why was there such apathy and inaction when there was so much more to do, and so much more need of it ?
The causes and remedies of this, and of our illiteracy itself, have been the subjects af long-ontinued and anxious attention, and will be considered in connection with the
several views which follow. These have been prepared in the hope of arresting public attention to these facts, and of leading to some effective course of action. To this end they are respectfully laid before the American people.
TABLE I.—White persons over twenty years of age who could not read and write in 1840. Alabama.. 22,592, Maine
3,241 | Pennsylvania 33, 940 Arkansas 6,567 | Maryland 11, 817 | Rhode Island
1, 614 Connecticut.
526 | Massachusetts. 4,448 South Carolina... 20,615 Delaware. 4,832 Michigan
2, 173 Tennessee
58,531 Florida 1,303 | Mississippi
2,270 Georgia. 30, 717 Missouri 19, 457 | Virginia...
58,732 Illinois 27,502 New Hampshire ... 942 | Wisconsin....
1, 701 Indiana.. 38, 100 New Jersey 6,385 | Dist. of Columbia
1,033 Iowa 1, 118 New York..
44, 452 Kentucky 40,018 | North Carolina...
Total........ 549,850 Louisiana. 4, 861 | Ohio...
35, 394 Table I is taken from the “Compendium of the Sixth Census," (1840,) p. 99. It presents but a single fact with regard to each State, (all that this census gives directly,) “the number of white persons over twenty years of age who cannot read and write; there are no distinctions of nativity, color, or sex. It needs no special explanation.
It is arranged on the page so as to be conveniently compared with the tables and views which follow.
In Table IV the numbers of illiterate whites at twenty years of age,“ aged twenty and under twenty-one," are given for 1840, as well as for 1850 and 1860.
In Table V the numbers of illiterate whites "aged twenty and over;" (that is, combining those at twenty with those over twenty,) are given for the year 1840. Tables I and V for 1810 correspond with tables II and III for 1850 and 1860, but conld not be incorporated with them withont needlessly extending them over more space than conld be given conveniently in these pages.
In View I the relative numbers of illiterate adults in the several States in 1840, as recorded, (in Table I,) are brought out to view so as to be seen and better appreciated.
TABLE ÎI is taken from the Compendium of the Seventh Census," (1850,) p. 145, and from the volume of the Eighth Census, (1860,) on “Mortality and Miscellaneous Statistics," p. 508. Those two pages furnish not only the numbers of illiterate whites over twenty years of age, but the numbers of male and female, of colored as well as white, of native and foreign, illiterate, and the figures have been taken and brought together, and arranged here in this table. In addition to this, the difference between the numbers of male and female illiterate has been computed, and set down in a column under the head of "Excess,” or “Ex.," (the numbers of female illiterate being generally in excess.) Where the number of females is less than the number of males, the sign (-) is placed before the figures. The number of illiterate females to every 100 males has also been computed, and set down in a column under the head of "R.” (ratio.)
EXPLANATION.—Opposite to the name of each State are two sets of figures, or numbers, in each column; the upper numbers are for 1850, the lower for 1860. Thus, in 1850 there were in Alabama 13,163 white male illiterate; 20,594 female; excess of females, 7,431; or 156 females to every 100 males. In 1860 there were 14,517 males; 23,083 females ; 8,571 more females than males; or 159 males to every 100 males. In California, in 1850 there were 3,356 less females than ma:es, or only 21 females to every 100 males. In 1860 there were 4,681 less females than males, or 60 females to every 100 males.
By this arrangement all the statistics on the two pages of the two volumes of the Census Reports for 1850 and 1860 are brought together on one page, and so combined and connected that the figures for the two years, for the several States, and for the different classes of illiterate, may be readily compared with each other.
Table III is derived from the “Compendium of the Seventh Census,” (1850,) pp. 151, 88, 89, 82; 145, 52, 104; 150, (152) 60, 45; from the volume of the Eighth Census, (1860,) on “Population," pp. 592-3, 594–5, 606-7, 624, 631, 639, 647; and from the volume of the same census on “Mortality and Miscellaneous Statistics," p. 508.
All the important facts and numbers relating to illiteracy recorded on the above pages are brought together, arranged, and set down in this table so as to be readily compared with each other. Additional numbers of importance are computed from them, and arranged in their proper places in the table. Finally, all the percentages (the chief object of this table) which seemed necessary have been carefully computed and arranged in the same way.
The table of percentages (CLV, p. 152, “Compendium,” 1850,) was first resorted to as furnishing a condensed view of the more important facts. But it appeared that the first four columns of that table give only ratios between the number of illiterate adults and the whole number of persons of all ages, ratios of very little value, and pot percentages; and that in columns 5, 6, and 8 the whole number of adults aged twenty and over (over 19) was compared with the number of illiterate aged twenty-one and over, (over