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Governor DeWitt Clinton was one among a large number, who gave it a welcome support. As an officer in Public School Society of the city of New York, he had become much interested in it, and in his message to the Legislature in 1818, he said:
Having participated in the first establishment of the Lancasterian system in this country; having carefully observed its progress and witnessed its benefits, I can confidently recommend it as an invaluable improvement, which by a wonderful combination of economy in expense and rapidity of instruction, has created a new era in education. And I am desirous that all our Common Schools should be supplied with teachers of this description. As this system operates with the same efficiency in education, that labor-saving machinery does in the useful arts, it will readily be perceived that it is peculiarly adapted to this country. For, if by its means, one teacher can perform the functions of ten; and if a pupil can learn in one week as much as he would in one month in the common way, it is evident that more wealth, more labor, more time, and more industry can be devoted to the ordinary occupations of life without interfering with the dispensation of knowledge. Wherever it has been attempted it has succeeded, and several parts of the State have experienced its benefits. Competent teachers can be educated for this express purpose, and in sufficient number to supply all our Common Schools, by sending intelligent young men to the Lancasterian Seminaries in New York, where they will be instructed gratuitously, and where in a few months they will acquire a sufficient knowledge of the system. Appropriations for this purpose by the several Common Schools out of their portion of the General Fund, under the direction of the Superintendent, will defray the small expense attending the attainment of this object.'
In November, 1820, in referring to the educational system of the State, Governor Clinton again recurred to this favorite topic, and after remarking that six thousand Common Schools have been organized, and that the sum of $160,000 were annually paid for teachers' wages, he said:
"I am informed by the useful and able officer who presides over this department,' that the number of pupils at present taught in our schools is equal to nine-tenths of the whole number of children between the ages of nine and fifteen years, and which approximates to one-fourth of our whole population. There are probably twenty schools in the State conducted on the Lancasterian system exclusively, and several others, which follow it partially, but not so far as to assume a distinctive character. In some of these establishments sev
Then Gideon Hawley, who from the beginning had been Superintendent of Common Schools.
eral young men have been lately instructed as Lancasterian teachers, and it is to be hoped that this system will be carried into the most extensive operation.
There are now, upon an average, about fifty scholars for every schoolmaster under the present plan of the Common Schools, and whether the number be great or small, the introduction of the Lancasterian method is of importance, for admitting in all cases the competency of the teacher to attend to all his pupils, yet when we consider the rapidity of acquiring instruction under that system, and reflect on the useful habits it forms, and the favorable impressions which it makes on the minds and the morals of those who participate in its benefits, we cannot hesitate to give it a decided preference. The education of youth is an important trust and an honorable vocation, but it is too often committed to unskillful hands. Liberal encouragement ought unquestionably to be dispensed for increasing the number of competent teachers."
It is not a matter of wonder, that a system of education thus indorsed should attract the favorable attention of the Legislature. The privileges of the Common School fund had been applied with manifest benefit, and it was natural to infer, that Academic institutions might flourish equally well under this plan. Special acts had already been passed for the establishment of Lancasterian schools in all of the cities and in several of the large villages then existing in the State, and reports from these were in some cases made to the Superintendent of Common Schools. It was thought that the preliminary requirements for their organization might properly be placed under the direction of the Regents of the University, with powers for incorporation, wherever, in their opinion, they could be sustained.
An act was accordingly passed February 23, 1821,' for the incorporation of "Schools for the instruction of youth on the system of Lancaster or Bell, or according to any other improved plan of elementary education," in a mode analogous to that in use for the incorporation of Academies by the Regents, since their powers began.
They were, however, regarded as belonging to the Common School system; they were to share in the distribution of the Common School Fund, and were not required to report to the Regents, nor were they under their visitation.
In Governor Clinton's message to the Legislature in 1828, but a few months before his death, he recommended a law authorizing the Supervisors in each county, to raise a sum not exceeding $2,000, provided that an equal sum be subscribed by individuals, for the erec
1 Chap. 61, Laws of 1821.
tion of a suitable edifice for a Monitorial High School in the county
The result did not justify these expectations. No charters were granted under the act of 1821, until six years afterward, when a Lancasterian School was incorporated (July 2), at Henrietta, Monroe county. In 1828 (April 16), the Lewiston High School Academy was incorporated under the same law, and then the applications ceased altogether.
Special acts of incorporation of Lancasterian Schools were passed as follows:
ALBANY.- The" Albany Lancaster School Society," incorporated May 26, 1812 (chap. 55). Amended February 12, 1813 (chap. 29), by entitling each subscriber of $25 to the privilege of a member, and the education of one child free. Became a city institution, and in 1838 granted for the use of the. Albany Medical College.
CATSKILL. The "Catskill Lancaster School Society," incorporated March 14, 1817 (chap. 87). Repealed April 20, 1830 (chap. 284).
HUDSON.Trustees incorporated for the establishment of a Lancasterian School, April 15, 1817 (chap. 272). Allowed to establish a separate school for colored children, March 9, 1839 (chap. 63).
LANSINGBURGH. The " Monitorial School Society in the village of Lansingburgh," was incorporated April 14, 1827 (chap. 271). Relieved April 25, 1828 (chap. 158). Repealed May 26, 1841 (chap. 315).
NEW YORK. This system of instruction was adopted by the Public School Society; opened in May, 1806, by the New York High School Society, and by several of the schools maintained by religious denominations, but in a modified and improved form, and continued for many years. The success of the system being in a very great degree dependent upon the ability and character of the monitors employed, the Public School Society established a school for female monitors, which held one session of five hours on Saturday of each week. Monitors had been indentured to the Society, whenever practicable, as apprentices, and required to serve until twenty-one years old. A separate school for male monitors was afterward established. In 1818, Joseph Lancaster himself, then on a visit to the country, was permitted to use the school-rooms of the Public School Society, to lecture upon the Monitorial System. At different times he came personally in contact with the system with which his name had been so intimately associated, and to which his
life had been devoted, in the visits made to this city. On the 22d of October, 1838, having left a school at No. 7 Chrystie street, where an examination had been held, in crossing Grand street, he was thrown down by a horse and carriage and very seriously injured. He died two days after in Williamsburgh, and was buried in grounds belonging to the Society of Friends in Houston street, between the Bowery and Chrystie street.
These schools, under the patronage of the Public School Society, were scattered throughout the city, and shared in the School Fund. The receipts of the Society from its incorporation in 1805 till its dissolution in 1823, amounted to $3,509,755. 15, and its expenditures to $3,525,754.63. The aggregate of attendance was 488,589, and for many years toward the last from 20,000 to 25,000 a year.
POUGHKEEPSIE. The "Lancaster School Society," of this village. was incorporated March 11, 1814. We have no data concerning its operations.
SCHENECTADY.-A Lancaster School Society was authorized November 12, 1816, in this city, and continued more than twenty-five years. In an act passed April 17, 1822, it was required to report to the Superintendent of Common Schools.
In the enactment of the Revised Statutes in 1829, the main provisions of the law of 1821 were embodied, in an article entitled "Of the Foundation and Government of Lancasterian or Select Schools." The words "on the system of Lancaster-Bell, or according to any other improved plan of elementary education," were superseded by "on the system of Lancaster or Bell, or any other system of instruc tion approved by the Board of Regents," which was now defined by the Regents as including
The meaning of this term has never been officially defined. They have generally been schools taught upon private account by individual or associated enterprise, without incorporation, and usually without the buildings and endowments that give stability and permanence to Academies and Colleges. They have very seldom been continued under one management for a long series of years.
The first application that came before the Regents, under the powers vested in them by the Revised Statutes, with respect to "Select Schools," was in March, 1834, from the "Farmington School Association."
The requisites for acceptance under this act, not having been de fined, an ordinance was passed at that time, as follows:
"That the founders or benefactors of any Academy, or of any school established, or to be established for the instruction of youth, on the system of Lancaster or Bell, or any other system of instruction approved by the Board of Regents, or as many of such founders as shall have contributed more than one-half of the property collected or appropriated for the use of such academic school, shall present satisfactory proof to the Regents that they own property yielding a net annual income of $250, and that they are seized of an estate of inheritance in a lot suitable for a site for such Academy or school, and that they have erected a building sufficiently commodious for the uses and purposes of such Academy or school, and that such lot and building are free and clear of all incumbrances."
Seven years later it was thought proper to give this ordinance in more systematic form, and the following was adopted:
Ordinances Respecting the Incorporation of Select Schools (Adopted May 4, 1841).
The founders and benefactors of any Select School desiring to have the same incorporated under the Sixth Article of the First Title and Fifteenth Chapter of the First Part of the Revised Statutes, are to make an application for that purpose to the Regents of the University in the following manner:
I. The application must be in writing, and must be subscribed by as many of the founders as shall have contributed more than onehalf of the property collected or appropriated for the use of such school.
II. It must nominate the first trustees, who ought not to exceed twelve in number.
III. It must specify the name by which the corporation is to be called.
IV. The property collected or appropriated for the use of the school must be particularly described, with the estimated value of each item, and the property and fund, contributed must amount to at least $1,000.
V. The courses of studies and the system of instruction intended to be pursued must be specified.
VI. There must be an affidavit annexed to the application by two or more of the applicants, sworn to and subscribed before some officer authorized to take affidavits to be read in courts of record of this State, stating that the same is made by as many founders of such school as have contributed more than one-half of their property collected or appropriated for its use, and that the facts set forth in the application are true.
VII. In case the Regents conceive a compliance with such request will be conducive to the diffusion of useful knowledge, they will declare their approbation of the incorporation of such school,