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than $67,791.20. A part of this money, however, was a certain portion of the state tax, which is by law annually added to the interest of the fund. This fund for the advancement of learning, in the single department of common schools, whether considered in reference to the resources of the people who have made it, or to what has been done in other parts of the United States for the same object, is a provision so extraordinary, and indeed unprecedented, that we have been induced to make some inquiry into its origin, application, and effects. In the prosecution of our design, we have been led to investigate, to some extent, the progress of the school-system of Connecticut, and have noticed certain facts, which we have thought it not improper to detail, especially as they seem to throw some light upon what are understood to be the prevailing opinions and feelings of the people of that state on the general subject of education.

The present state of Connecticut was originally two distinct colonies, the colony of Connecticut, and the colony of New Haven. It does not appear, that among the original laws of either of those colonies, any very express provision was made for the regulation and support of schools. Both governments, as is well known, managed the most important concerns, in their respective communities, not according to the provisions of any written law, but the discretion of the magistrates and clergy; that being ordered and enforced, which appeared reasonable and expedient, as cases of very different kinds, in civil and even in domestic life, came under consideration. The education of children, according to this primitive, and, in some respects, patriarchal system, seems to have been recognized from the first as an indispensable duty, and to have been enforced by severe penalties; but the several plantations were allowed, either to establish schools within their respective limits, or to teach their children the elements of learning in the family, as, in the feeble state of those colonies, might be thought most convenient.

This was undoubtedly the original plan of education in the colony of New Haven. In the system of laws of that colony, published in the year 1656, the following are the provisions for children's education.'

'It is ordered that the deputies for the particular court, in each plantation within this jurisdiction, for the time being, or

where there are no such deputies, the constable or other officers in public trust, shall from time to time have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors within the limits of the said plantation, that all parents and masters do duly endeavor, either by their own ability and labor, or by improving such schoolmaster or other helps and means as the plantation doth afford, or the family may conveniently provide, that all their children and apprentices, as they grow capable, may, through God's blessing, obtain at least so much as to be able to read the scriptures and other good and profitable printed books in the English tongue, being their native language," &c.

Parents and masters, found to neglect this duty, were, on the first complaint, to be fined ten shillings; on the second complaint, three months after the first, twenty shillings; on the third complaint, they were to be fined still higher, or their children or apprentices were to be taken from them, and put under the care of others, males till twenty-one, and females till eighteen years of age.

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This law contains, what appears from various circumstances to have been the practice in the colony of New Haven from its first settlement, but probably the system had never been reduced to writing till the compilation of this code. as a government had been regularly organized, a colony grammar school was also established in New Haven, under the superintendance of Ezekiel Cheever, who was afterwards master of the Latin school in Boston, and whose Latin Accidence, compiled in that method, which he found most advantageous by seventy years' experience,' may be known to some of our readers. In the year 1654, a plan for the establishment of a college was brought by the Rev. John Davenport before the colonial legislature, and the town of New-Haven made a donation of land to the proposed seminary. A bequest from governor Hopkins, in 1656, enabled the government to take some measures towards the erection of the colony grammar school into a college; but the dissolution of the colony, which soon followed, prevented the completion of their design. The colony school has since been known by the name of the Hopkins grammar school, and is the oldest literary institution in Connecticut.

In the colony of Connecticut, the laws respecting schools seem not to have been materially different. In the laws of that colony, published in the year 1672, eight years after the New Series, No. 14.


union of Connecticut and New Haven, there is a provision on the subject of education, very similar in its language to that we have just copied from the first New Haven code. It is there ordered, that the selectmen of every town, in their several precincts and quarters, shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors, to see that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism, in any of their families, as not to endeavor, by themselves or others, to teach their children and apprentices so much learning, as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue,' &c. The penalty for neglect was twenty shillings. In the same code, it is ordered, that every town, containing fifty householders, shall 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, as the major part of those who order the prudentials of the town shall appoint,' &c. It is further provided, 'that, in every county town, there shall be set up and kept a grammar school, for the use of the county, the master thereof being able to instrust youths so far, as they may be fitted for college.'


In the year 1677, to render the existing law respecting schools more effectual, it was enacted, that every town, by the said law ordered to keep a school, that shall neglect the same above three months in the year, shall forfeit five pounds for every defect, and said fine shall be paid towards the maintenance of the Latin school in their county: all breaches of this law to be taken notice of and presented by the grand jury at every county court.' The following year the number of families in a town, obliged to maintain a public school, was reduced from fifty to thirty.

It appears that, notwithstanding the several penalties for neglect of maintaining schools, the laws on this subject were not universally executed, as in the year 1690, we find an additional statute, which, after reciting in the preamble, that there were still persons unable to read the English tongue, and thereby incapable to read the holy word of God, or the good laws of this colony,' among other provisions, contains the following; that the grand jurymen, in each town, do, once in a year, at least, visit each family they suspect to neglect this order, [to teach their children and servants to read dis

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tinctly the English tongue,'] and satisfy themselves whether all children under age, and servants in such suspected families, can read the English tongue, or be in a good procedure to learn the same or not; and if they find any such children and servants not taught, as their years are capable of, they shall return the names of the parents or masters of the said children or servants to the next county court,' &c. The penalty is twenty shillings for each child or servant, whose teaching is or shall be neglected, contrary to this order.'

In the year 1700, a law was passed, which placed the common schools of Connecticut on the foundation where they continued, with little variation, till since the establishment of the present fund. It was then required, that in every town, having seventy or more householders, a constant school should be kept, and when there were less than seventy, a school should be kept half the year. It was likewise enacted, that the inhabitants of every town should pay forty shillings on every thousand pounds of taxable property, estimated according to a rule prescribed by the legislature in their general system of taxation, for the support of the schoolmaster, to be collected with the public or county tax; and if any town failed to provide a schoolmaster according to law, this sum was to be collected and paid to the county treasury, as a fine upon such negligent town. Where this fund was insufficient to support the school, the deficiency was to be made up, one half by the inhabitants of the town, and the other half by the parents or masters of the children. By a subsequent law, towns and ecclesiastical societies were empowered to divide themselves into districts, and to alter the same; and each district was entitled to its proportion of the public money, for the support of its school.

We have gone, perhaps, more into detail, in this case, than many of our readers may think necessary; others, however, we have no doubt, will be gratified with a full view of early legislation, on a subject so important as the establishment and progressive improvement of a system of general education in an infant colony. It is obvious from the facts here stated, that the legislature and the great body of the people of Connecticut were from the first fully determined on securing the instruction of every individual, at least in the rudiments of learning. The several changes, in the details of their system,

did not originate in any instability of purpose, but were rendered necessary by the delinquencies of certain towns, where, from various causes, the existing penalties were insufficient to secure to the laws a prompt and entire execution. The clause in the law of 1700, by which a tax of forty shillings on every thousand pounds was collected through the colony for the support of instructers, and by which the benefit of this tax was limited to those towns which supported schools the time prescribed by law, undoubtedly contains the efficient measure which secured the object so long aimed at, the universal establishment of common schools. The tax for schools being collected with the county tax, had not the odium attached to it of a fine incurred by delinquency; while it was attended with all the advantages which such a fine could promise. It was left to the option of the towns, whether they would make the necessary addition to the public money, and expend it for the purpose designated by the legislature, or, after it had been collected, leave it for the common and ordinary uses of the county. The consequence was such as had been anticipated from the law, and schools were every where maintained.

From this time very little alteration was made in the system of primary education. Occasionally new regulations* were thought necessary, but the great features of the scheme were unchanged. From what is known of the state of the schools, as well as from universal tradition, it appears, that the laws were now rigidly executed; a school was brought to every man's door; the poor, and even the slave, were always within the reach of instruction; and hence, for more than a century, in Connecticut, a native of mature age, who, in the language of the old statutes, was unable to read the English tongue,' has been looked on as a prodigy.

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We have already mentioned that among the first laws enacted on the subject of education, after the union of the two colonies of Hartford and New Haven, was one providing

* One new statute appears in the edition of the laws of 1718, which contains a provision highly characteristic. If any be unable to do so much, [that is, to teach their children and apprentices so much learning as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue'] that then at the least, they procure such children and 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 catechism, by their parents or masters, or ministers, when they shall call them to an account of what they have learned in that kind,' &c.-Penalty, twenty shillings, in each case, for the use of the poor.

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