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Massachusetts... 1780 1780 Cambridge University; duty to cherish

literature, arts, science...

Connecticut ........... 1818 1818
New Hampshire. 1784

Yale College; interest of school fund for
equal benefit of all....



Duty to promote literature, arts, and




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1820 1820

Town and county grammar schools
Towns at own expense to support
schools; colleges encouraged....

Rhode Island.... 1842 1842 Schools to be promoted; school fund not

New York....... 1777 1822

New Jersey




to be borrowed..

Common school fund; literature fund;
$25,000 of deposit fund annually ap-

1776 1844 School fund not to be borrowed; income

for equal benefit of all

1776 1790 Legislature to establish schools and pro-
mote arts and science..

1776 1831

Legislature to establish schools and pro-
mote arts and science..

Maryland....... 1776 1864 Superintendent; board of education;

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1802 1802 Louisiana....... 1812 1845

Indiana................... 1816 1816


Schools to be provided by interest of fund
and taxation


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1817 1817

Schools to be encouraged.


1818 none.


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Schools to be encouraged; university ..
Superintendent; board of education;
separate colored schools; university
and school fund; no township receives
money from school fund unless a school
has been taught three months; new
voters after 1866 to read and write....
Schools to be encouraged......
Superintendent; board of education;
public schools kept at least three
months annually; normal, agricultu
ral, university, and benevolent schools.
School fund to be kept inviolate......
Superintendent; board of education;
school and university fund; tax levied
on colored persons to be used for col-
ored schools..


108 110





1846 1846 Board of education; school funds and
school lands....



1848 1848 Superintendent; school fund; school li-
braries; towns to raise by taxation at
least one half the sum annually re-
ceived from school fund..

California...... 1849 1849 Superintendent; school and university

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funds; public schools to be kept three
months each year....

School fund and lands; university.
Superintendent; school land commis-
sioners; university.

Superintendent: common, normal, agri-
cultural, and university schools;
school lands to be sold by vote of

Superintendent; school fund
Superintendent; school fund; univer-
sity tax on property for schools...
School lands not to be sold for less than
$5 per acre....










The past and present constitutional provisions of the several States of the Union relative to education exhibit the growth of the national sentiment in favor of, and the present strong attachment to, the public school system. In the early reconstruction of political organizations, rendered imperative by a separation from Great Britain, only a few States recognized in their rganic law the necessity of providing for the diffusion of intelligence among the people, and this recognition is expressed in general terms. But within the last half century the constitutions of the States, admitted from time to time in the Union, have become more and more emphatic in the declaration, that it is the wisest economy and the highest duty to provide for an efficient and uniform system of public schools.

The New England States having incorporated a public school system with their earliest organizations, in emerging from their colonial condition, had no occasion to provide specially for it in their first State constitutions.

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In 1636, six years after the first settlement of Boston, the General Court of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, which met in Boston on the 8th of September, passed an act appropriating £400 toward the establishment of a college. The sum thus appropriated was more than the whole tax levied on the colony at that time in a single year, and the population scattered through ten or twelve villages did not exceed five thousand persons; but among them were eminent graduates of the University of Cambridge, in England, and all were here for purposes of permanent settlement. In 1638 John Harvard left by will the sum of £779 in money, and a library of over three hundred books. In 1640, the General Court granted to the college the income of the Charlestown ferry; and in 1642, the Governor, with the magistrates and teachers and

elders were empowered to establish statutes and constitutions for the infant institution; and in 1650 a charter was granted, which was protected by an article in the constitution of 1780 and still remains the fundamental law of the oldest literary institution in this country.

In 1642 the attention of the General Court was turned to the subject of family instruction in the following enactment:

Forasmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoof and benefit to any commonwealth; and whereas many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent of their duty in this kind:

It is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, That the selectmen of every town, in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors, to see, first, that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families, as not to endeavor to teach, by themselves or others, their children and apprentices so much learning as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue, and knowledge of the cap ital laws, upon penalty of twenty shillings for each neglect therein; also, that all masters of families do, once a week, at least, catechise their children and servants in the grounds and principles of religion, and if any be unable to do so much, that then, at the least, they procure such children or apprentices to learn some short orthodox catechism, without book, that they may be able to answer to the questions that shall be propounded to them out of such catechisms by their parents or masters, or any of the selectmen, where they shall call them to a trial of what they have learned in this kind; and further, that all parents and masters do breed and bring up their children and apprentices in some honest lawful calling, labor, or employment, either in husbandry or some other trade profitable for themselves and the commonwealth, if they will not nor cannot train them up in learning to fit them for higher employments; and if any of the selectmen, after admonition by them given to such masters of families, shall find them still negligent of their duty in the particulars aforementioned, whereby children and servants become rude, stubborn, and unruly, the said selectmen, with the help of two magistrates, shall take such children or apprentices from them, and place them with some masters for years, boys till they come to twenty-one, and girls eighteen years of age complete, which will more strictly look unto and force them to submit unto government, according to the rules of this order, if by fair means and former instructions they will not be drawn unto it.

In the same year the following brief School Code was enacted:

It being one 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 that at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with 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 fifth 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 who order the prudentials of the town shall appoint; provided that those who send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns.

And it is further ordered, That where any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, 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 other town neglect the performance hereof above one year, then every such town shall pay five pounds per annum to the next such school, till they shall perform this order.

With various modifications as to details, but with the same objects

steadily in view, viz., the exclusion of “barbarism" from every family by preventing its having even one untaught and idle child or apprentice, the maintenance of an elementary school in every neighborhood where there were children enough to constitute a school, and of a Latin school in every large town, and of a college for higher culture for the whole colony, the colonial legislature, and the people in the several towns in Massachusetts, maintained an educational system, which, although not as early or as thorough as the school code of Saxony and Wirtemburg, has expanded with the growth of the community in population, wealth, and industrial development, and stimulated and shaped the legislation of other States in behalf of universal education.

The article on education in the constitution of 1780 was one of the first ever incorporated into the organic law of a State. Section 2, making imperative on legislators and magistrates to encourage the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, was framed by John Adams, and has been retained until this day without the slightest alteration.

The University at Cambridge, and Encouragement of Literature, etc.


ART. 1. Whereas our wise and pious ancestors, so early as the year one thousand six hundred and thirty-six, laid the foundation of Harvard College, in which university many persons of great eminence have, by the blessing of God, been initiated into those arts and sciences which qualified them for public employments, both in church and state; and whereas the encouragement of the arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America; it is declared that the president and fellows of Harvard College, in their corporate capacity, and their successors in that capacity, their officers and servants, shall have, hold, use, exercise, and enjoy all the powers, authorities, rights, liberties, privileges, immunities, and franchises which they now have, or are entitled to have, hold, use, exercise, and enjoy; and the same are hereby ratified and confirmed unto them, the said president and fellows of Harvard College, and to their successors, and to their officers and servants, respectively, forever.

2. And whereas there have been, at sundry times, by divers persons, gifts, grants, devises of houses, lands, tenements, goods, chattels, legacies, and conveyances, heretofore made, either to Harvard College, in Cambridge, in New England, or to the president and fellows of Harvard College, or to the said college by some other description, under several charters successively-it is declared, that all the said gifts, grants, devises, legacies, and conveyances are hereby forever confirmed unto the president and fellows of Harvard College, and to their successors in the capacity aforesaid, according to the true intent and meaning of the donor or donors, grantor and grantors, devisor and devisors.

3. And whereas, by an act of the general court of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, passed in the year one thousand six hundred and forty-two, the governor and deputy governor for the time being, and all the magistrates of that jurisdiction, were, with the president and a number of the clergy in the said act described, constituted the overseers of Harvard College; and it being necessary in this new constitution of government to ascertain who shall be deemed successors to the said governor, deputy governor, and magistrates, it is declared that the governor, lieutenant governor, council, and senate of this commonwealth are and shall be deemed their successors; who, with the president of Harvard College for the time

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