Huntingdon journal. (Huntingdon, Pa.) 1843-1859, December 09, 1852, Image 1

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Huntingdon, Afrov. 80, 1852,
Dear Sir
We were present
it the exhibition of Mr. Barr's school, and
listened, in common with the large audi
inme there assembled, to your address up-
On Common Schools with unusual pleasure.
Believing that the address is worthy of be
ing more widely diffused, and that the in
formation contained in it, presented in a
form so condensed, will be useful, we would
respectfully solicit you to furnish it for
publication. Yours,
To .Messrs. Gwin, Wharton, Campbell,
and others,
In reply to your
polite note of this date, by which I am so
highly flattered and honored, I beg leave
to say—that, if you deem my address,
written as it was, hastily and only with a
view to delivery, worthy of publication un
der your auspices, it is placed at your dis
With the highest sentiments of respect
and regard, believe me, gentlemen
Your Obt. Servt.
Huntingdon, Nov. 80th, 1852.
On Public Schools,
33RD NOVEMBER, 1852.
11. Bucher Swoope.
An apology,
on an occasion like the present, would be
worse than presumption, as my very ap
pearance here this evening must be suffi
cient evidence of preparation. Neverthe
less, I deem it due to you, as weal as my
self, to say, that I can promise you nothing
more than a dry, imperfect, and brief his
tory of public schools. Speeches and wri
tings on the subject of education, are in
almost every instance of a declamatory
character. The advantages that result from
it both to individuals and society, form the
chief topics of discourse, while no one has
ever been so hardy as to call them in ques
tion. Requested to deliver an address upon
a specific subject, but two courses were left
me to pursue, either to confine myself to
the unadorned relation of facts, or to in
dulge in the illusions of declamation and
fancy. I have chosen the former, and shall
endeavor, this evening, in the language of
Goldsmith, to be just--not uncommon—
and ask your attention a few moments, while
I discharge the duty imposed upon me, and
glance hastily at the origin and history of
Public &hoots. _ .
From the remotest period df antiquity,
history demonstrates, that the wisest rulers
and the most eminent stiteihnen, regarded
the establishment of institutions of lea'rning
among their subjects as a ►natter of the
deepest importanbe; and that those govern
winch were longest perpetuated,
were those most brilliant* illumined by
the light of knowledge. Greece, the land
of Homer and of Hesoid, was celebrated
for public libraries and schools, by whioh
her people were enlightened and instructed
in the several liberal arts of grammar, rher
tonic, logic, arithmetic, music, geometry,
and astronomy. The most celebrated of
her schools were the gymnasia, which con
sisted of the Lyceum, the Cynosarges, and
the Academy—three magnificent establish
ments, instituted and maintained at the
public expense. Here, the Athenian youth
were taught the arts of wrestling, leaping,
boxing, tennis, and foot-racing, as well as
the more refined intellectual branches to
whioh I have just alluded.
Rome, also, in her most cultivated and
classical era,—the period immediately pre
ceding the Augustan age, had schools inti
mately connected with her government, and
supported by its fostering care. The ori
gin of the Roman Schools is to be attribu
ted to the influence of the thousand Achse-
Ana who were sent as a deputation to plead
the cause of their country before the &n
-ate of Rome, but, instead of being heard,
were retained in captivity for a period of
seventeen years. These Acha3ans were
nearly all men of taste and elegant accom
plishments, as well as ripe scholars of pro
found and diversified eruditioM The whole
Republic soon became enamored of their
various acquisitions, and schools were es
tablished under their saperintendenoe,
when, but a short time elapsed ore all the
Roman youth were engaged in the exercise
of rhetoric and eloquence.
China and Persia have also been cele
brated for their systems of Public Schools,
by which they have been enabled to wield
a despotic sway over more than one fourth
of the population of the habitable globe.--
And in more modern times, the govern
ments and statesmen of Europe have turn
ed their attention to the institution and
support of schools as a means of self pres
ervation. This has been the case especi
ally in Norway, Denmark, Prussia,—Switz
erland, portions bf Germany and Great
As early as 1616, the Scottish Parlia
ment adopted measures for supporting a
public school in each parish, at the expense
of the landed proprietors, a system of edu
cation that had a propitious and enduring
influence on the moral and enterprising
character of the nation. In Austria the
supervision and control of the whole school
system resides in the government, and their
institutions, from the primary village school
up to the classical gymnasium and the uni
versity, are gratuitously open to all the
youth of the Empire. In Prussia,Com
mon Schools were established by rederic
11, in 1750. Under his system, a school
was maintained in every village, by a tax
levied on the lord of the village and his
tenants. The scholars were to be sent
from their sixth to their thirteenth year,
and every parent who neglected to send
his child, unless for a sufficient cause, was
doubly taxed. The law, under strong pen
alties, still imposes the duty upon parents
to send their children to school. Primary
Seminaries, for the instruction of teachers,
are also maintained at the expense of the
State, and the departments. The Prussian
System, with a few slight alterations, was
introduced and adopted in - France in 833:
Every commune is obliged to have a school,
but parents are not compelled by law to
send their children, as in Prussia, and it is
therefore much neglected by the inhabi
tants of many of the districts.
No country of Europe presents a more
brilliant illustration of the progressive in
fluence of popular education, than England.
One hundred years ago, nine tenths cf the
population of Great Britain were entirely
uneducated. News received from distant
countries wore as marvelous to them as a
communication from the inhabitants of the
Moon would be to their descendents of the
precept day. The world, beyond the shores
of their own sea-girt isle, was entirely un
known, while science and the arts were en
veloped in equal obscurity. But a centu
ry has elapsed, and how changed? Slave
ry has been abolished; the middle classes
and the working people begin to appreciate
their position as freemen, the education of
the masses, though far behind that of our
own land, has been greatly extended and
improved; Catholics have been emancipa
ted; capital punishment for trivial offences
abolished; and their whole political condi
tion has been changed. It is true that the
bulk of her people are yet poor and degra
ded, and they must so continue until such
efforts as those of the patriotic Lord
Brougham are successful, and a popular
system of education is established.
Turning from Europe to our own coun
try, we find that the cause of education has
occupied the attention of the American
people from the first landing of the Pil
grims an the barren rock of Plymouth ;
among whom we discover a law existing
4,That every township, when the Lord bath
increased them to the number of fifty house
holders, shall appoint one to teach all,
children to read and write; and when any
town shall increase to the number of one
hundred families, they shall set up a gram
, mar school; the master thereof being able
I to instruct youth so far as they may be fit
ted for the UniversltY." And it haS ever
continued to be a principle in New Eng
taffd, that it is the duty of government to
provide for the education of all the Youth,
at least so far as it consists in the elements
of learning, morals, and religion.
The first legal provision made to enforce
the duty of education in this country, was
in 1647, when the compulsory system was
adopted in Massachusetts. In Connecticut
we find legislation upon the subject as ear
ly as 1650, and in 1700 their system of
Common Sohools was permanently estab
lished. Their school fund, which was first
created in 1795, and was yielding a yearly
income in 1831 of $78,000, is declared by
the constitution to be inviolate and perpet
ual. More attention has been paid to Pub
lie Schools in Connecticut than in any oth
er State in 'the Union. Tile result is, that
Chief Justice Reeve was able to inform us,
that during a period of twenty-seven years
practice as a lawyer, he never met with but
one person iti that State who could not
write. In New Jersey the Legislature
have at various times, made provision for
a fund for the support of free schools; and
in 1838 they organized a system of com
mon schools, which, though very chifeetive,
has been productive of much and lasting
In New York an excellent system has
been adopted, and a splendid provision
made for its support , . The first establish-
anent of a permanent school fund was in
1805, and in 1821, the amount distributed
in addition to that raised by taxation in the
several school districts, was $BO,OOO. In
1842, the productive capital of the Com
mon School fund was two million, thirty
six thousand, six hundred and twenty-five
dollars. Each school district is furnished
with a library, and the aggregate number
of volumes in all the districts, was at that
time, 630,000. The whole capital perma
nently invested for the support of educa
tion in New York, was in 1842, ten and a
half millions of dollars. This is, perhaps,
one of the most splendid provisions for the
cause of education, made by any govern
ment in the world, and may be viewed with
pride by the citizens of other States as an
auspicious harbinger of the universal diffu
sion of useful instruction throughout the
length and breadth of our land.
It has uniformly been a part of the land
system of the United States, to provide for
the maintainance of public schools, and all
the States north-west of the Ohio River,
have received appropriations of land for
this purpose. There is not at this time, a
State in the Union, in which some provision
has not been made for the support of Com
mon Schools, or at least, a general system
of education.
Having thus traced the origin and his
tory of Public Schools, and glanced hasti
ly at their present condition, both in this
country and in Europe, we come now to
regard them as they exist, and have exist
ed in our own State,
since the landing of
William Penn on the shores of the New
World, on the 27th of October, 1682.
That illustrious law-giver, in his “Frame
of Government," of constitution of the pro
vince, incorporated the great truth, that—
'Men of wisdom and virtue were requisite to
preserve a good constitution, and that these
qualities did not descend with worldly in
heritance, but were to be carefully propaga
ted by a virtuous education of youth.' About
one year after the landing of Penn, in a
rude hut, formed of pine and cedar planks,
and divided by a wooden partition into two
apartments, Esocti FLOWErt oponed the
first school in Pennsylvania. Under the
thick groves of Coaquannock, where the
City of Philadelphia now stands,—perhaps
where Girard College rears its marble
front, was located this
"School-house rude
As is the chrysalis to the butterfly,"
from whence issued the following curricu
lum and charges—"To learn to read, four
shillings a quarter;—to write, six shillings;
—boarding a scholar,--to wit—diet, lodg
ing, washing, and schooling, ton pounds
the whole year.".
A few years after, a law was passed by
the colonists enjoining it as a duty upon
the several courts to see that all the chil
dren in the province were taught to read
and write, and imposed a penalty upon
every parent of ..C5 for every child not
thus educated. flow this compulsory
system was afterwards departed from, can
not now be ascertained. Six years after
ENOCH FLOWER opened his school, a
Public School was founded, in which the
celebrated GOOROE Kuril was the first
teacher. The office was then held in the
highest estimation, and he was allowed
fifty pounds a year, and a house to live
in, in addition to all the profits derived from
the scholars.
The constitution of our State provides
that the Legislature shall establish schools
throughout the Commonwealth, in such
manner that the poor may be taught grat
is;—and also that the arts and sciences
shall be promoted in one or more Semina
ries of learning.
But, though the importance of a gen
eral system of education, was thus recog
nized, and in some degree enforced, at the
earliest period of our existence as a Prov
ince or State, yet no attempt to establish a
common School fund was made until the
2d of April,'lBl. At that time certain
moneys arising from the sale of lands,
were set apart for that purpose, at au in
terest of five per cent. The State was di
vided into districts by the act of April '34,
and $75,000 were ordered to be paid out
of the school fund for the year 1835, and
annually thereafter; to the counties en
titled to receive it. Provision was also
made for levying a tax in the districts not
less than double the amount received from
the state. Various other acts and supple
ments were passed by the Legislature, not
materially ohangoing the system, however,
until the act of 1849, which revised and
consolidated the act§ of former Loigsla
tures, and may now be considered as the
basis of our Common School system, which
may be regarded as in its nineteenth year,
of practical operation.
Since its establishment in 1835, its pro-,
gress has been rapid, and the consequent
advance of our State in wealth and intelli
gence, is the best evidence of its influence
and utility. Then,*the whole number of
scholars was 32,544,—n0w more ttian half
a million of children aro receiving the
benefits and blessings of education in the
Public Schools of the State. Then, there
were 752 schools, now we have 10,000 in
active operation. Then, the whole number
of toichere employed was 808, now some
11,000 cf our citizens are engaged in im
parting instruction to the future Legisla
tors and Statesmen of the Commonweatb.
But, though the system has been thus
successful in its operation, it is still defec
tive, and has had many disadvantages to
contend with—many difficulties and ob
stacles to surmount. The popular preju
dices that at first impeded its progress,
have it is true to a very great extent been
removed, yet there are still some districts
in the State hostile to its operation.—
Truth always enters the world like a hunt
ble child, with few to receive her, and it
is only when she has grown in years and
strength, that she is sought and wooed.—
It was this principle that awarded a dun
geon to GALLILEO, when he proclaimed
that the earth moved round the sun, and
that bitterly opposed the philanthropy of
Cr.mucsosr, when he denounced the wick
edness of the Slave Trade.
"When fiction rises pleasing to their eye,
Men will believe, because they love the lie,
But truth herself, if clouded with a frown,
Must have some solemn proofs to pass her
Thank Heaven! those proofs have, in this
instance, been afforded. The prejudice
that has existed in some parts of our State
for years, is fast yielding to the benign
influence of popular education, and thoSe
who have heretofore been hostile to it, are,.
year after year, becoming reconciled to
the system, and are voluntarily adopting its
But there is a prejudice that has not been
broken down,—which prevails throughout
the whole Commonwealth,—and which is
exercising a yet snore baneful influence on
the success and prosperity of the common
school system;— a prejudice totally unwor
thy of men, and especially of freemen. It
is the narrow notion that Public Schools
are intended for the education of the poor,
only, Ilb such! If the meridian sun shed
his glorious beams nitre effulgently upon
the rich man's palace than on the poor
man's cottage,—if the Groat Eternal had
provided for the poor a less gorgeous earth
and a less brilliant sky,—if the Creator
had enstamped the mind of the poor man's
child with the imprint of a baser birth
then might the pale sons of aristocracy en
joy alone the blessings of refined educa
tion. But mind is the offspring of immor
tality. It wants but light, and misfor
tune, difficulty, and poverty, will but stim
ulate its vigor. Bestowed by the inspira
tion of the Almighty, its energies will not
be restrained, its power can not be de
stroyed. It is alike invincible in the hov
el and in the palace,—the lint of the slave
and the home of the free. The son of
the poor tallow-chandler, though compelled
to sit up and read by the dim li zht of the
midnight lamp while the scion of aristocra
cy reolinedon his downy pillow,—planted
his foot tipon the neck of kings—added new
provinces to the domain of science, and
bound the lurid lightningti with a hempen
cord to a frail chariot of glass. In the lan
guage of BISHOE' DoANE-- 4, the common
school is comman—not as an inferior,not as
the school for poor men's childern,—but as
the light and air are common.
Another obstacle to the prosperity and
success of the system is, that in many of
the districts, in fact a large majority of
them, as soon as the State appropriation is
exhausted, the schools are closed for the
remainder of the year. We are reproach
ed as a nation by foreigners for the con
temptible and selfish vice of avarice,—
and, so far as our present subject is con
cerned, I fear the censure is not unjust.—
There are too many persons even in our
own community who, if we judge from the
temper displayed when called upon for
school tax, would not hesitate,
were the
opportunity offered, to disregard the exam
ple of the Saviour when tempted by the
Devil, and by falling down in worship to his
Satanic majesty, barter both soul and body,
were a sufficient number of acres spread
out before them as the recompense.
But the greatest obstacle to surmount
is incapacity of teachers. There is noth-,
ing doing snore to render the system un
popular than this. Teaching is an art, in
which, to arrive at perfection, long study
and training are necessary as well as
practice. It is a fatal error, to think that
almost any one is competent to teach chil
dren in the commencement of their educa
tion. Tlsis:is the very period when the
greatest injury results from improper in
struction and "no unskilful hand should
play upon the harp, where the tones are
forever left in the strings." It is too fre
quently the ease that when men are unfit
for, or poet with misfortune in their own
legitimate pursuits, that they turn (HAW
masters and take upon . ..themselves the,
charge of the morals,health and education of
those who are one day to bo the guardians
of our liberties, and the Statesmen of our
country. Time will„not permit me to go
into an'exantinathin of the various retue
dies proposed for this evil, but its prinej
pal cause is—indde4Tiaeg'of ip!fyytsa-.
Item. , Jf wo want a good article, we must
pay a good price for it; and whenever a
sufficient inducement is held out to men of
education and ability to embrace the pro
fession, but few persons will gain access
to our schools who are unlit to teach.
From this hasty and imperfect el:ctch of
the history of Public Schools, and of the
character and practical working ef our own
system, we discover that the ball of schol
astic education has been gradually enlar
ging in size and power for the last half
century, and is now rolling on with in
creasing velocity. We are the heirs to a
rich inheritance of knowledge, that has
been accumulating from age to age, and
from 'generation to generation. The child
is now taught at its mother's knee, the or
bits of the heavenly bodies,—the diversity
of inen,—the geography, of nations,—and
the discoveries, of „science, none of which
could be grasped by the mightiest intel
lects of other days. Thus the reason cf
man is at the present day, not merely the
reason of a single individual, but that of
the whole human family, in 611 ages from
which krowledge has descended. Never
theless the great conflict that commenced
three thousand years ago, of men !striving
to advance towards perfection against oth
ers striving to degrade them, has not yet
ceased, but is still going on, and must con
tinue logo on until the inhabitants of the
world have conquered the few, who are at
tempting to cheat them out of their birth
right. In every part of the annals of
Atiafikind we behold how knowledge has been
struggling against wars, famines, conflagra
tions, and corrupt governments, and how all
the arts of life are, through its influence
advancing nearer and nearer to perfection.
As the stream of time steals silently away
the bad disappears, and the good it con
tained enters into new forms,—its precious
seeds to be again scattered for a rich and
abundant harvest.
But, however much we may rejoice over
the diffusion of knowledge throughout our
country, and the world; we roust not for
get that intelligence,—though an essential,
is not the only requisite of civil and reli
gious freedom. It was when Greece,—the
land of intellect and of thought—the
birthspot of eloquence, poetry, andphilos
ophy,—had reached the highest pinbacle of
her intellectual greatness, that the pillars
of her accropolis gave way! It was when
Rome had attained the very zenith, of her
glory--the proudest point of her intellec
tual development, that the palladium of
her liberty was dashed into ten thousand
atoms! It was when France was most
brilliantly illumined by the light of sci
ence, that the fearful reign of terror be
gan its bloody havoc,—and made her a
nation of scientific, philosophic, paracidcs!
The chrystal streams of knowledge must
be mingled with the pure waters "that flow
fast by the oracles of God." This is the
lesson which all history teaches, and I
fear, alas!. the great lesson America has
yet to learn. . . . .
From the remarks which you have just
heard, my young friends, you may discov
er that you are not only objects of solici
tude to your parents, teachers, and friends,
but also to the government and cotnutuni
ty in which you live. It remains for you,
who are now slaking your thirst at the
olirystal fountains so freely opened to you
by the liberality of the Commonwealth, to
. deep of their bright clear waters,
and to prepare yourselves faithfully to dis
charge the, obligations. you are under for,
the blessings of civil and religious liberty,
and the institutions of learning that have
filled up the measure of our country'S,glo+
ry. As is evinced by the exercises .of this
evening, you have already done much, and
for this you, as well as your teacher, de
serve great credit. But your career has
just commenced. You are yet standing
on the first steps that lead to the temple
that glitters high up in the cloud, and the
most untiring perseverance and industry
will be necessary to accomplish the task
of mounting even a single stop. Still per
"Press on!
For it hatit tempted angel•
0, press on!!!
ttnd when at last you, enter the portal you
will be rewarded with a smile from the
bright spirits that cluster there, and who
alone can confer upon you—
"One of the few, the immortal lames
That were not born to (lie."
To you, sir, to whom we are chiefly indebt
ed for this evening's intellectual entertain
ment, permit tue to nay—you occupy a
most responsible position in the community
—one whose importance time will not now
penult me to dwell upon. In you, old and
young look for an example, not merely of
wisdom and knowledge, but of virtue and
&dein truth. To you belongs not only
" Delightful task: to rear the tenant thought
To teach the young idea how et. rho a,
To breathe the enlivening spirit, and to fix,
The genrotts purpose in the glo,ing breast."
but also the duty of instilling into the
mind of sour pupil, that. there is proposed
to Lim a nobler end than knowledge. A
great Philosopher mourned in his old age
that boiled wandered picking pebbles on
Ithe shore, While the vast, illimitable, and
VOL. 17, NO. 49.
unknown ocean still stretched away before
Lim. True, indeed, is the proposition of
IMMANUEL KANT, that—'ln intellect is no
virtue." There is kwisdom which all the
processes of philosoPby cannot find out,
but which is present to the free sense of
the child. It is higher than all the learn
in# of Aristotle, more beautiful than the
brightest" gems of Homer, It is better
than rubies,
more precious than the gold
of Ophir. Teach them this, and it will
guide their steps in safety through the
tangled paths of life, and shed upon their
dying couch the dawning radiance of a di
vine and an endless day.
In conclusion : it is the duty of each and
every on. of us to encourage by every
means in our power the cause of education,
and perhaps, there is nothing which will a better tendency, and exert a more
propitious influence than public exrecises of
the character of ,those: we have this eve
ning witnessed; Enlighten the masses and
our liberty will be perpetual. But if we
disregard the admonitions of history, and
close our eyes to the light of reason and
eiperi e nee —that Anerica,—which is now
the light of the world, an oasis in the des
ert—a home to the homeless and an
lum to the oppessed,—will he erusheiblike
the shattered Empires and bleeding repub
lics of antiquity, beneath the iron heel of a
worse than feudal desprtism. The last of
those gigantic intellects, to whom were
entrusted the education and development of
the Union by its immotral founders,—bas
lately been quenched in the darkness of
the tomb. Calhoun, Clay, Webster—all•
are gone, and our tutelage has expired
with the last fleeting breath of that great
patriot, whose failing hand ho lately un
clasped the helm of State. We have en
tered upon the illimitable ocean of the fu
ture without a precedent, and without a
guide. The chaste eloquence of CLAY, the
solid wisdom of WEBSTER, will no longer
counsel us in the hour of ch.nger, or rejoice
with us in the moment of success. A cel
ebrated divine has lately said, that—:t has
been observed in all time, that when Prov
idence is about to work vengenee upep any ;
people, the infliction is begun by liking a
way from her places of rule her ablest men:.
and then, bereft of wise counsels,
affairs fall into confusion and reuslt in dis
aster. It becomes us then, in view of the
elements of a mighty change that are work
ing within us, whose direction is. unknown,
to enlighten our pecple that they may com
prehend their position and understand their
danger. Let each and every one adopt and
act upon the great truth, written in letters
of living light . upon ,every ,page of our
country's history, that "Human, happiness
has no perfect security but freedom—free
dom none but virtue—virtue none but
knowledge;—and neither freedom, nor vir
tue, nor knowledge,.have any vigor or im
mortal hope save in the principles of the
obviation faith, and in the sanctions of the
christian religion." Then may we truly
"Land of the west—beneath the heaven
There's not a fearer, lovelier clime,
Nor one to which wee ever given
A destiny more high, sublime."
Then may we fondly and with reasen
anticipate, that our country and our liber
ties will endure long after the sceptre shall
have passed away from England,—when
her proudest temple, and most enduring
monument shall have mouldered with the
towers of Achia, of Ronie, babylLn, and
MODERN MAcuiNEair.—A writer on the
benefits of machineiy as confered upon
man, anticipates the day when it will per
form nearly all the domestic drudgery now
done by hand. It will carry hot and Otild
water to all parts of the house, bring coal
up stairs, and carry dust down, answer the
door, make the beds, clean ahoes,atund.ta
the cooking, and perform a thousand other
similar offices. In some instances, the wri,
ter suggests how these things may bo accom
plished. In numerous businesses req king
polishing processes, circular, brushes are
made fast on a shaft revolving at speed
a lathe. Shoes held against ybeSh. 6Pushon
would be polished without labor. Coffee,
tea, and similar things, might be prepared
by gas jets alone, with little trouble, and
without the aid of servants. Ascending the
stairs to answer bells, might be dispensed
with by internal telegraphs. But increased
racilities for people to have all things near
them, would much diminish this labor; and
moreover, using lifts, such as are used for
workmen in mills, .wnild rena.VO the toil
altogether. Waiting on a table could be
ruled by a machine. In fact, all kina
of domestic drudgery which requires a large
number of servants iu a house, a ill, in limo,
the writer thinks, be performed by contri
vances requiring no manual labor; and the
office 9.1 a domestic servant cease to be, and
humanity Acme really emancip..ted from
r a slaver;, .create) by these wants, as op
pressivo as twee cervitule.
Avoid all harshness of behaviour; treat
every oLe pith that oourteay which epriage
from a mild and gentle heart,