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somewhat near, but of course did not grasp, the far more extensive work of supplying fully the needs of the people in establishing schools; and they came also somewhat near, but did not entirely understand, the duty of enforcing by universal law the use of opportunities of education by everybody.” 1
It is surprising to see how readily in those days of poverty and selfdenial the early assemblies, the representatives of the people, came to the support of institutions devoted to learning and culture. So cheerfully did the Assembly respond to the frequent memorials of the trustees of Yale that President Dwight was enabled to say, a century after its foundation, “ You are to be informed that Yale College has never received any considerable benefactions except from the Legislature of Connecticut.”2 And in speaking of the board of trustees, who had almost entire control, he said, “Their acts, however, are to be laid before the Legislature as often as required, and may be repealed and disallowed whenever it shall think proper.” 3
We find in the early annals relating to education in Connecticut the raling of the Court concerning the support of students at Harvard. Rev. Mr. Shepard appeared before the commissioners and requested them to consider “ some way of comfortable maintenance of that school of the Prophets which now is,” and further suggested: “If it were commanded by you, and left to the freedom of every family which is able and willing to give throughout the plantations, to give but a fourth part of a bushel of corn, or something equivalent thereto, and for this end, if every minister were desired to stir up the hearts of the people once in the fittest season of the year, to be freely enlarged therein, and one or two faithful
men be appointed in every town to receive and seasonably send in what shall be thus given to them, it is conceded that no man could feel any aggrievance hereby; so it would be a comfortable provision for the diet of divers such students as may stand in need of some support and may be thought fit and worthy to be continued a fit season therein."
SUPPORT OF HARVARD.
The commissioners approved the plan presented by Mr. Shepard, and reported the same to the Assembly of Connecticut. This body duly considered the matter, and finally passed the following law: "The proposition concerning maintenance of scholars at Cambridge made by the commissioners is confirmed, and it is 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
Chas. D. Hine, Secretary of the State Board Education, Connecticut.
into some room in March. This shall be continued yearly as it shall be considered by the commissioners.” 1
Nine years later, in 1653, the General Assembly granted during the November session the sum of twenty pounds for a fellowship in Harvard College.
EDUCATION IN TOWNS.
Earlier than this, however, the towns of Connecticut showed an interest in local education. Hartford, settled in 1638, and New Haven, a year later, both made the subject of public schools a part of municipal legislation. The code of laws instituted by the Court of Connecticut concerning education is essentially the same as that adopted by Massachusetts, and reads thus: “It is ordered by the Court and authority thereof, that the selectment of every town in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell shall bave a vigilant eye over their brethren etc.," to see that their children and servants do not grow up in ignorance. Other laws for the instruction of children follow in this code.
In May, 1678, the following action was taken: “This Court now see cause to order that every town, when the Lord shall have increased their numbers to thirty families, they shall maintain a school to teach children to read and write." Prior to this, in 1665, a town of one hundred householders was to set up and maintain a grammar school, and subsequently the Court ordered (1671-72) that a grammar school be established in each of the four county towns of Hartford, New Haven, New London, and Fairfield. These schools were afterward endowed by the Court with six hundred acres of land each for their support.
A fine of five pounds, which was afterward increased to ten, was im., posed on every town not complying with the law in keeping a grammar school. The grammar schools of Hartford and New Haven were made free and of a higher grade by the action of the Court of 1690, and we find that the latter school early attained celebrity, under Master Cheever, who maintained it from 1638 to 1649, as a school in which Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were taught, to fit young men for “ye universitie.” “The town paid twenty pounds a year to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever for two or three years at first, but in August, 1644, it was enlarged to thirty pounds a year, and so continueth."
The General Court favored this class of schools as the supporters of the University. In 1684 the Legislature passed the following act: “For the encouragement of learning and promoting public concernments, it is ordered by this Court that all such houses and lands used for school, church, or charitable purposes be exempted from taxation.” 6 Two years thereafter another act provided that the surplus money in the treasury be distributed to the support of grammar schools.?
1 Connecticut Colonial Records, I, 112,
4 Code of Laws, I, 520. Trumbull.
This legislation in respect to grammar schools indicates the generous tendency of the public spirit and the attitude of the people of Connecticut, but the crowning work of the State is seen in its able support of Yale College, now Yale University. This venerable institution, from the time of its founding, has been the central power in the education of the State and has ever been her pride and her glory. Its influence has not only permeated every section of Connecticut, but it has shed its rays of light upon other States less fortunately provided with the advantages of higher education.
The reform of 1701 established in Connecticut a complete system of education, which was an embodiment of previous acts of the Assembly extended and enlarged. The system embraced an obligation on the part of parents and guardians to educate their children and appren. tices at least to the extent that they might be able to read the holy word of God and the good laws of the colony." The new law also provided a tax of forty shillings on every thousand pounds of the lists of estates, which tax was collected in every town with the annual provincial tax, and was payable proportionally to those towns only which should establish their schools according to law. A town with seventy families and over must keep a school open at least six months in the year. in 1702 this law was changed so that a town of seventy families or over should keep a school open eleven months in a year, and a town of less than said number of families must keep a school for at least six months in the year to comply with the law, obtain State aid, and be free from fines. The grammar schools maintained in the four county towns were still to be continued to fit youth for college, and provision was also made in this educational system for the religious instruction of the Indians. But the most important regulation, and the one which concerns us chiefly, was the authorization of a “collegiate school," as it relates directly to the subject of higher education.
FOUNDING OF YALE COLLEGE.
A truly significant event in the history of education at this period was the founding of Yale College. For sixty years Harvard had been the only school for higher education in New England. The people of Connecticut desired a school nearer home, especially for the training of their ministers. The first movement in the enterprise was made by three ministers, respectively of the towns of New Haven, Milford, and Branford.
“ Ten ministers, nine of them being graduates of Harvard, met at Branford, and made a contribution from their libraries of about forty volumes in folio for the foundation of the college.”? A nucleus being thus formed, other donations of books were made, and the General Court granted articles of incorporation. It was in 1700 that theact
1 Palfrey : History of New England, 371.
was passed, which was to bear rich fruit," for the founding and suitably endowing and ordering a collegiate school
wherein the youth may be instructed in the arts and sciences, who, through the blessing of Almighty God, may be fitted for public employment both in church and in state." 1. The charter created a body of trustees, not to be more than eleven nor fewer than seven, all to be clergymen and at least forty years of age. The court endowed this college of Connecticut with an annual grant of one hundred and twenty pounds current money, which at that time was equivalent to sixty pounds sterling. This was subject to discontinuance at the will of the court, and it was granted that the college might hold property not exceeding the value of five hundred pounds annual income.
The Governor and council gave a formal approval of the application of the board of trustees to citizens for pecuniary aid, and in the session of October, 1703, the General Court passed an act freeing its students from military service and from the payment of taxes. Subsequently an act was passed as follows : “ This Assembly allow unto the reverend trustees sent for by this Assembly five shillings per diem during their attendance."
Notwithstanding this favorable beginning of what has proved to be a great institution, the college of Connecticut was destined to pass through a period of doubtful existence. "For nearly twenty years," says Palfrey," the college of Connecticut had continued to be an unsatisfactory experiment. While the rector taught some youth at Milford, and two tutors had other pupils at Saybrook, and the few scores of books which had been obtained for a library were divided between the two places, there was small prospect of the results for which institu. tions of learning are created.”6 The chief cause of this failure was the contention of the different towns for the university seat. The desire for local self-government, stimulated by local pride and local jealousy, has prevented the establishment of many excellent institutions in the United States. A glance at our educational history will suffice to show how this lack of united effort has naturally led to the opening of many superfluous schools of third and even fourth grade, and has at the same time prevented the growth of greater institutious with permanent endowments and first-class facilities. It is evident that so long as the important question of location.remained undecided there could be but little to encourage private donations. The most considerable sum given to Connecticut College during the early period was four hundred pounds sterling, donated by Elihu Yale. This was so far in excess of any other gift received, that the college name was changed by the order of the court and in honor of this generous benefactor to Yale.
1 Conn. Col. Rec., IV, 363, Palfrey.
5 Ibid., V, 38.
It was a day of small things when a sum like this could earn so great a name. Meanwhile the strife as to location continued; doubtless the Assembly was deserving of censure for not promptly deciding where the college should be. It seems that after settling it at Say. brook they passed the following in May, 1718: “Considering the great dissatisfaction of the country in general, do conclude, in order to (the college) flourishing and having the support of the Government, it must be settled somewhere near the Connecticut River.” I The grant of £120 per annum was reduced to one hundred pounds, and was to be drawn in bills of credit for the time being in favor of the three towns of Saybrook, Wethersfield, and New Haven, which were contending for the location of the seat of learning. In the meantime the trustees were authorized to go on with the construction of the college at New Haven.
COLLEGE LOCATED AT NEW HAVEN.
New Haven raised the sum of seven hundred pounds for an endowment, thus offering by far the greatest inducement, and the Legislature finally decided to locate the college at that place. To forward the en. terprise of building, the Assembly gave two hundred and fifty acres of land, which sold for the same number of pounds (£250), and they also granted one hundred pounds in current money. A building was at once erected with these funds. Saybrook refused to give up the college books or yield to the order of the Assembly concerning the location. But after some difficulty, accompanied with the loss of books, the matter was finally decided in favor of New Haven.
After the college was definitely settled at New Haven and buildings were begun, the General Assembly had little to do with the internal affairs of the college. It chief work consisted in granting funds to supply the needs of the institution in response to the frequent memorials of the trustees. In 1715 a grant of five hundred pounds was ordered
1 Conn. Çol. Rec., V, 30, 38.
2 Ibid., VI, 30. “Another matter of historical interest which I presume has not escaped your attention is the question why the college was located at New Haven. You say, I believe, that it was due to the large donation or gift from that town, viz: seven hundred pounds. This probably had something to do with it, but why should even this take the college to New Haven, a comparatively unimportant, uninfluential, and poor town, remote and off the line of travel, when Wethersfield and Saybrook, both more fit for the special purposes of the college, were passed by? I suspect, and there is, I am told by Mr. Hoadley, of our State library, some evidence that the then Governor, Saltonstall, was influential in this. He was a thrifty man and had secured large tracts of land near New Haven. It would enhance the value of his land, and perhaps bring settlers, if the college were there established. You will find in one of the laws about that period that New Haven is referred to as 'remote.' You will note that Saybrook was on the sea-shore and river, and also on the line of travel from the center, and that the population and the prospective students were in New London County and Hartford County rather than near New Haven.”
3 Palfrey: Hist. New Eng., IV, 477. 4 Conn. Col. Rec., VI, 84 H.