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III. CONNECTICUT LEGISLATION, 1642-1799.
1. CONNECTICUT: Orders of the Hartford town meeting, 1643, 1048; Weathersfield vote,
1658; titles, " children” and “schools” in the codified laws of 1650. II. NEW JIAVEN: Orders of the general court, 1641, 1643, 1644, and 1652 ; educational
provisions of Governor Eaton's code, 1655. III. COXNECTICUT (following the union of the two colonies): Order relating to gram
mar schools, 1072; order of the general court, 1677; grant to the county court of Fairfield, 1678; order of the general court, 1690; compulsory orders, 1677, 1678, 1090; prorision of 1700, act of general court, 1700; Dr. Barnard's summary of the system of instruction existing in 1701 ; act of 1715, act of 1742 ; Dr. Barnard's summary of the part of the rerised statutes relating to schools; noles and comments on the development of the district system and the decline of education; code of rules for the schools of Farmington, 1796 ; Dr. Barnard's final summary for the period closing with the eighteenth century.
No State has a more honorable educational record, taken altogether, than Connecticut. No other of the old States can show such a connected series of public and private transactions relating to schools and education, extending from the foundation of the Commonwealth down to the opening of the present educational area, some fifty or sixty years ago. Accordingly, the State affords the best possible opportunity to study continuously the history of popular education from the feeblest beginnings. The following compilation of documents is made from The History of Common Schools in Connecticut, which Dr. Ilenry Barnard prepared and first published when he was superintendent of common schools of that State, and afterwards republished in The American Journal of Education. (Vol. IV, 657, et seq.)
The history of Connecticut begins with the founding of Hartford in 1635. The earliest records of the town are lost, but in 1612 an appro priation of £30 was made for the support of a school, not as a new thing, but as one of the establishments of the town. In April, 1643 it was ordered at a general town meeting
That Mr. Andrew should teach the children in tho school one year next ensuing from the 25th of March, 1613, and that he shall have for his pains £16; and therofore the townsmen shall go and inquire who will engage themselves to send their children; and all that do so shall pay for ono quarter at the least, and for more if they do send them, after the proportion of twenty shillings the year, and if they go any weeks more than an even quarter, they shall pay sixpence a week; and if any would send their children who are not able to pay for their teaching, they shall give notice of it to the townsmen, and they shall pay it at the town's charge; and Mr. Andrew shall keep the account between the children's schooling and himself, and send notice of the times of payments and demand it; and if his wages do not come in, the townsmen must collect and pay it; or if the engagements come not to six teen pounds, then they shall pay what is wanting at the town's charge.
In February, 1648, the following action was had: The necessities of the town and the desires of many, calling for some provision to be made for the keeping of a school with better conveniency than hithertu hath been attained, tho want whereof hath been both uncomfortable to those who have been employed in that service and prejudicial to the work under hand, which is looked
upon as conducing much to the good of the present age, and that of the future: It was agreed and consented to by the town that forty pounds shall bo paid in the way of a rate to the townsmen for the time being for carrying on the said work, which being considered to fall much short of attaining the end in building such honse as may be suit. ble for the said employment.
It was agreed unto by the town that in case any other shall make such an addition to the said sum that the work may be carried on and finished, either with timber or brick, as may be judged most convenient, that the building so to be erected shall not be diverted to any other uso or employment but in a way of schooling without the consent of the parties that sball contribute.
In a subsequent meeting the following vote was passed:
The town chose Mr. Talcott, Mr. Fitch, and Goodman Stebbins, Jolin Barnard, as their committee, to act for them, either in buying or building a house for a schoolhouse; and if they do agree to build, they are not to exceed the sum of money that was due to the town from Mr. Goodwin; and if they buy, they are not to exceed the sum of money due from Mr. Goodwin; and the town doth engage to stand what their committee shall do iu this business.
The other towns composing the colony followed the same mode of supporting schools. Education was partly a public and partly a private charge. For example, Weathersfield voted in March, 1658,
That Mr. Thomas Lord should be schoolmaster for the year ensuing, and to have twenty-five pounds for the year, and also the use of the house lot, and the use of the meadow as formerly; and the twenty-five pounds is to be raised-of the children eight shillings per head of such as come to school, and the remainder by rate of all the inhabitauts made by the lists of estates.
In 1650 a codification of laws for the government of the Commonwealth was made. The titles “Children” and “Schools,” according to Dr. Barnard, with trifling modifications, and such only as were calculated to give them greater efficiency, remained on the statute book for one hundred and fifty years. It will be seen that the author of the compilation borrowed a familiar statute from Massachusetts:
Forasmuch as the good Education of Children is of singular behoofe and benefitt to any Commonwealth; and whereas many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent of theire duty in that kind;
It is therefore ordered by this Courte and Authority thercof, that the Select men of enery Towne in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall bave a vigilant eye over their brethern 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 tho English tongue, and knowledgo of the capital 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 proponnded to them out of such catechisms by their parents or masters, or any selectmen, when they shall call them to a trial of wliat they have learned in this kind; and further, that all parents and masters do breed and bring up their children and apprentices in some bonest lawful (calling, ] labor, or employment, either in husbandry or some other trade profitable for themselves and the commonwealth, if they will not nor can not 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 until they come to twenty-one, and girls to eighteen years of age complete, which will more strietly 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 into it.
The following enactments constitute sections 14 and 15 of the capital laws:
SECTION 14. If any child or children above sixteen years old and of sufficient understanding, shall curse or smite their natural father or mother, he or they shall be put to death; unless it can be sufficiently testified, that the parents have been very unchristianly 'negligent in the education of such children, or so provoke them by extreme and cruel correction that they have been forced thereunto to preservo themselves from death or maiming.
SECTION 15. If any man has a stubborn, or rebellious son of sufficient understanding and years, viz, sixteen years of age, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that where they have chastized him, he will not hearken unto them; then may his father or mother being his natural parents lay hold on him and bring him to the magistrates assembled in court, and testify unto them that their son is stubborn, and rebellious, and will not obey their voice and chastisement, but lives in sundry notorious crimes, such a son shall bo put to death.
It being one clief 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 them from the use of tongues, so that at least, the true sense and meaning of tho original might be clouded with falso glosses of saint seeming deceivers; and that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefatliers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting onr 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 fifty householders, shall then forth with 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 more than they can lave 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 town neglect the performance hereof above one year, then every such town shall pay five pounds per annun, to the next such school, till they shall perform this order.
The proposition concerning the 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 into some room, in March; and this to continuo yoarly, as it shall be considered by the commissioners.
New Haven dates from 1638, and there is evidence showing the existence of a school in the colony in the following year. On the 25th of the twelfth month, 1641, the general court adopted the following order:
It is ordered, That a free school be set up in this town, and our pastor, Mr. Davenport, together with the magistrates, shall consider what yearly allowance is meet to be given to it out of the common stock of the town, and also what rules and orders aro meet to be observed in aud about the same.
The following order relates to a public grammar school that was established in New Haven two or three years later, and placed under the charge of Ezekiel Cheever:
For the better training up of youth in this town, that through God's blessing they may be fitted for public service hereafter in church or Commonwealth, it is ordered that a free school be set up, and the magistrates, with the teaching elders, are entreated to consider what rules and orders are meet to be observed, and what allowance may be convenient for the schoolmaster's care and pains, which shall be paid out of the town's stock.
General court, in November, 1644, adopted the first of a series of orders in relation to aiding such children as should show the requisite talent, but whose parents were not able to support them at the college at Cambridge:
The proposition for the relief of poor scholars at the college at Cambridge was fully approved of, and thereunto it was ordered that Joshua Atwater and William Davis shall receive of everyone in this plantation whose heart is willing to contribute thereunto a peck of wheat, or the value of it.
The following entry, made under the date of November 8, 1652, is but one of many similar entries that could be quoted from the public records of the colony:
The governor informed flio court that the cause of calling this moeting is abont a schoolmaster, to let them know what he hath done in it. He hath written a letter to one Mr. Bower, who is a schoolmaster at Plymouth, and desires to come into these parts to live, and another letter to one Rev. Mr. Landson, a scholar, who he hears will take that employment upon him. How they will succeed he knows not but now Mr. Janes has come to town, and is willing to come hither again if he may have encouragement; what course had been taken to get one he was acquainted with, and if either of them come he must be entertained; but he said, if another come, he should be willing to teach boys and girls to read and write if the town thought fit, and Mr. Janes being now present contirmed it.
The town generally was willing to encourage Mr. Janes his coming, and would allow him at least ten pounds a year out of the treasury, and the rest he might take of the parents of the children lie teacheth by the quarter, as he did before, to make up a comfortable maintenance; and many of the town thought there would be need of two schoolmasters-for if a Latin schoolmaster come, it is feared he will be discouraged if many English scholars come to him. Mr. Janes, seeing the town's will. ingness for his coming again, acknowlodged their love, and desired them to proceed no further in it at this time, for he was sure he shall get free where he is, and if he do, he doubt it will not be before winter. Therefore no more was done at it at present.
The town was informed that there is some motion again on foot concerning the setting up of a college here at New Haven, which, if attained, will in all likelihood
provo very beneficial to this place, but now is only propounded to know the town's mind, and whether they are willing to further the work by bearing a meet proportion of charge if the jurisdiction upon the proposal thereof shall see cause to carry it
No man objected, but all seemed willing, provided that the pay which they can raise here will do it.
Governor Eaton's code of 1655, drawn up at a time when the colony contained but seven towns, has a provision in relation to the education of children that may be prefaced with a remark or two. Dr. Barnard says that Theophilus Eaton and John Davenport have the credit of establishing in New Haven, before it ceased to be an independent colony, a system of public instruction at that time without a parallel in any part of the world, and not surpassed in its universal application to all classes, rich and poor, at any period in the subsequent history of the State. The main motor force that acted in producing this result, as well as in producing similar results in Massachusetts, appears upon the surface. It is the principle of religion. Says Mr. John Fiske:
The Puritan theory of life lay at the bottom of the whole system of popular education in New England. According to this theory, it was absolutely essential that everyone should bo taught from early childhood to read and understand the Bible. So much instruction as this was assumed to be a sacred duty which the community owed to every child born within its jurisdiction.'
This is the provision in question:
Whereas too many parents and masters, either through an over tender respect to their own occasions and business, or not duly considering the good of their children and apprentices, have too much neglected duty in their education while they are young and capable of learning;
It is ordered, That the deputies for tho particular court in each plantation within this jurisdiction for the time being, or where there are no such deputies the constable or other officer or 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 employing 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 attain at least so much as to be able duly to read the Scriptures and other good and profitable printed books in the English tongue, being their native language, and in some competent measure to understand the main grounds and principles of the Christian religion necessary to salvation, and to give a due answer to such plain and ordinary questions as may by the said deputies, officer, or officers, be propounded concerning tho samo: And when such deputies, or officers, whether by information or examination, shall find any parent or master, one or more, negligent, he or they shall first give warning. and if thereupon due reformation follow, if the said parents or masters shall thenceforth seriously and constantly apply themselves to their duty in manner before expressed, the former neglect may be passed by; but if not, then the said deputies and other officer or officers shall, three months after such warning, present cach such negligent person or persons to the next plantation court, where such delinquent, upon proof, shall be fined ten shillings to the plantation, to be levied as other fines. And if in any plantation there be no such court kept for the present, in such case
1 The Beginnings of New England, p. 151.