Page images



[blocks in formation]

American Authorities-Penn, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison,

.......... 320

Rush, Jay, De Witt Clinton, Kent, J. Q. Adams, Everett, Cushing, Bushnell, Mann,... 321 THE STATE AND EDUCATION, Second Article,.....


[blocks in formation]

English Authorities-Macaulay, Carlyle, Brougham, Smith, Mill,..


[blocks in formation]



FELLOW CITIZENS:-We were appointed by the Convention of your own delegates to address you on the subject of Common Schools. We approach you with solicitude, as deeply sensible of the great importance of the interest intrusted to us; yet, as freemen speaking to freemen, with prevailing confidence.

The points which we propose for your attention, and, if we might, would press into every heart, are few, simple and practical; the necessary consequences, it seems to us, from principles which all admit. We say that knowledge is the universal right of man: and we need bring no clearer demonstration than that intellectual nature, capable of it, thirsting for it, expanding and aspiring with it, which is God's own argument in every living soul. We say that the assertion for himself of this inherent right, to the full measure of his abilities and opportunities, is the universal duty of man and that whoever fails of it, thwarts the design of his Creator; and, in proportion as he neglects the gift of God, dwarfs and enslaves and brutifies the high capacity for truth and liberty which he inherits. And all experience, and every page of history confirm the assertion, in the close kindred, which has everywhere been proved, of ignorance and vice with wretchedness and slavery. And we say farther, that the security of this inherent right to every individual, and its extension, in the fullest measure, to the greatest number, is the universal interest of man; so that they who deny or abridge it to their fellows, or who encourage, or, from want of proper influence, permit them to neglect it, are undermining the foundations of government, weakening the hold of society, and preparing the way for that unsettling and dissolving of all human institutions, which must result in anarchy and ruin, and in which they who have the greatest stake must be the greatest sufferers. A lesson, clearly taught by

The Convention assembled in Trenton on the 27th and 28th of January, 1838, Chief Jus tice Hornblower presiding. The address was prepared by the Rt. Rev. George W. Doane, in behalf of a Committee consisting of Bishop Doane, Chairman, L. Q. C. Elmer, M. J Rhees, T. Frelinghuysen, J. S. Green, D. B. Ryall, A. B. Dod, A. Atwood, and S. R. Gummere.

that divine philosophy, in which the Maker of mankind becomes their Teacher; reveals the world as but one neighborhood, and men as brethren of one family; and writes upon all social institutions these golden truths, the fundamentals and essentials of the true political economy, which neither individuals nor nations have ever disregarded with impunity,-"all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them"-"none of us liveth to himself"" whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it"—"bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

If the truth of these positions be established, their application is self-evident. And there never was a nation, since the world was made, in which their obligation was so clear, or its application so important. In the theory of our constitution, the people are the governors. In practice, they ought to be. And is ignorance the qualification for good government? Would you select a man to make your laws who can not read? Or one who can not write to execute them? Yet the authority which they exercise, and the abuses of which they are capable, are nothing, in comparison with theirs, from whom all power proceeds, and without whose permission no wrong can be done. Fellow citizens, we are republicans. Our country is our common wealth. We have all an equal share in her. Her laws are alike for the protection of all. Her institutions are alike for the advantage of all. Her blessings are our common privilege. Her glory is our common pride. But common privileges impose a common responsibility. And equal rights can never be disjoined from equal duties. The constitution which, under God, secures our liberties, is in the keeping of us all. It is a sacred trust which no man can delegate. He holds it for himself, not only, but for his children, for posterity, and for the world. And he who can not read it, who does not understand its provisions, who could not on a just occasion, assert its principles, no more sustains the character of an American citizen, than the man who would not seal it with his blood.

It is in vain to say that education is a private matter, and that it is the duty of every parent to provide for the instruction of his own children. In theory, it is so. But there are some who can not, and there are more who will not, make provision. And the question then is, shall the State suffer from individual inability, or from individual neglect? When the child who has not been trained up in the way in which he ought to go, commits a crime against the State,

the law, with iron hand, comes in between the parent and his offspring, and takes charge of the offender. And shall there be provision to punish only, and none to prevent? Shall the only offices in which the State is known be those of jailor and of executioner? Shall she content herself with the stern attribute of justice, and discard the gentler ministries of mercy? It was said of Draco's laws that they were writ with blood. Is it less true of any State which makes provision for the whipping-post, the penitentiary, the scaffold, and leaves the education of her children to individual effort or precarious charity? It was well said by the distinguished head of our Judiciary,* even more distinguished as the President of the late convention for Common Schools, "the State has an interest in every child within her limits." May not still more than this with equal truth be said,—the welfare, nay, the being of the State is bound up in the character of every child? Think of the blessings which Washington, and Franklin, and Fulton, and Marshall, have brought down upon our land! Think of the scorn and execration which the name of Arnold brings with it, the single name in our whole history at which the nation needs to blush!

If the positions be maintained, that the education of the people is indispensable to the preservation of free institutions, and that it is therefore the duty of every free State to provide for the education of her children, we are prepared, fellow citizens, for the inquiry, how far has provision been made for the discharge of this duty in the State with which we are most intimately connected, the State of New Jersey? That the duty of making some provision for this end has long been recognized, the twenty-one years which have elapsed since the passage of the first act "to create a fund for the support of free schools sufficiently attest. That what has been done is insufficient you have yourselves borne witness in the general impulse which, in December and January last, originated so many of those primary assemblies-in our republic the true sources of power and influence-for the consideration of this subject; and in that large, intelligent, and most respectable convention, composed of delegates, chosen by yourselves, to express your own views on the provisions for the public instruction, by which it was resolved with singular unanimity, that "the general laws of this State on the subject of Common Schools are essentially defective and ought to be repealed." Into the question, "What shall be substituted for the present law?" the convention did not enter. It was for them to de

Chief Justice Hornblower, by his deportment as the presiding officer of the Convention, added new dignity to his office, and to himself.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »