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ORDINANCE OF 1647.
The following ordinance was adopted November 11, 1647: It being one of the chief projects of that old deluder Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded by false gloss is of saint-seeming deceivers, that learning may not be buried in the grave of our fathers in the church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors :
It is therefore ordered, That every towuship in 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 that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint: Provided, Those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have 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 master thereof being able to instruct youth, so far as they may be fitted, for the university: Provided, That if any town neglect the performance hereof above one year, that every such town shall pay five pounds to the next school until they shall perform this order."
It is not quite certain which of the two foregoing statutes Lord Macaulay had in mind when he pronounced his famous eulogy upon Massachusetts in the House of Commons in 1817 :
Assuredly if there be any class of men whom the Protestant nonconformists of England respect more highly than another, if any whose memory they hold in deeper veneration, it is that class of men, of high spirit and unconquerable principles, who in the days of Archbishop Laud preferred leaving their native country and living in the savage solitudes of a wilderness rather than to live in a land of prosperity and plenty where they could not enjoy the privilege of worshiping their Maker freely according to the dictates of their conscience. Those men, illustrious forever in history, were the founders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But though their love of freedom of conscience was illimitable and indestructible, they could see nothing servile or degrading in the principle that the State should take upon itself the charge of the education of the people. In the year 1642 they passed their first legislative enactment on this subject, in the preamble of which they distinctiy pledged themselves to this principle, that education was a matter of the deepest possiblo importance and greatest possible interest to all nations and to all communities, and that, as such, it was in an eminent degree deserving of the peculiar attention of the State.”
[At the second session of the general court, held at Boston, the 19th of October, 1652.) A declaration concerning the advancement of learning in New England by the general court.
If it should be granted that learning, namely, skill in the tongues and liberal arts, is not absolutely necessary for the being of a Commonwealth and churches, yet wo conceive that, in the judgment of the godly wise, it is beyond all question not only laudable, but necessary for the well-being of the same; and although New England (blessed be God) is completely furnished (for this present age) with men in place, and upon occasion of death or otherwise, to make supply of magistrates, associates in courts, physicians, and officers in the Commonwealth, and of teaching elders in
Matp. Coll. Records, Vol. II, p. 203.
the churches, yet for the better discharge of our trust for the next generation, and so to posterity, seeing the first founders do wear away apace, and that it grows more and more difficult to fill places of most eminence as they are empty or wanting; and this court, finding by manifest experience that though the number of scholars at our college doth increase, yet as soon as they grow up ready for public use they leave the country, and seek for and accept of employment. elsewhere, so that if timely, provision be not made it will tend much to the disparagement, if not to the ruin, of this Commonwealth: It is therefore ordered and hereby enacted by this conrt, that a voluntary collection be commended to the inhabitants of this jurisdiction for the raising of such a sum as may be employed for the maintenance of the president, certain fellows, and poor scholars in Harvard College, and for that purpose do further order, that every town of this jurisdiction do choose one meet person to take the voluntary subscriptions of such as shall underwrite any sum os sums of money for that purpose, and to make return thereof to the next conrt; and forasmuch as all the colonies are concerned therein, this court doth order the secretary to signify to tho governor of the several colonies our endeavors herein, and to commend the same unto them for their help and furtherance in so good a work.'
(At a general court of election, held at Boston, the 3rd of the 3rd month (May 3), 1654.) Ordered, Forasmuch as it greatly concerns the welfare of this country that the youth thereof be educated not only in good literature, but sound doctrine, this court doth therefore commend it to the serious consideration and special care of the orerseers of the college and the selectmen in the several towns not to admit or suffer any such to be continued in the office or place of teaching, educating, or instructing of youth, or child, in the college or schools that have manifested themselves unsound in the faith or scandalous in their lives, and not giving due satisfaction according to the rules of Christ.2
(At a general court for elections, held at Boston, the 31st of May, 1671.) Whereas the law requires every town, consisting of one hundred families or npward, to set up a grammar school, and appoint a master thereof, able to instruct youth so as to fit them for the college, and upon neglect thereof the said town is to pay five pounds per annum to the next Latin school until they shall perform that order, the court, upon weighty reasons, judge meet to declare and order, that every town of one hundred families and upwards that sball neglect or omit to keep a grammar school, as is provided in that law, such town shall pay ten pounds per annum unto the next town school that is set according to that law.
Whereas in the law, title Townships, the several towns and selectmen of the said towns have power to impose penalties as the law directs; and whereas many constabiles question whether it be their duty to serve warrants from the selectmen for persons to appear beforo them and to levy fines for the removal of such doubts, and, as an addition to the said law, this court doeth order and require that all constables respectively shall serve all warrants from the selectmen, and levy all such fines as shall be imposed by the said towns or selectmen:
It is ordered by this court, and the authority thercof, That all gists and legacies given and bequeathed to the college, schools of learning, or any other public use, shall be truly and faithfully disposed of according to the true and declared intent of the donors; and all and every person or persons intrusted to receive or improve any such gift or legacies shall be liable from time to time to give accomut of their disposal and management thereof to the county court of that shire where they dwell and where such estate shall lic, who are hereby empowered to require the same, where need shall be, to appoint feoffees of trust to settle and manage the same according to the will of the donors.3
The Records of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, Vol. IV, Part I, pp. 100, 101.
(At the second session of the general court, held at Boston, October 10, 1683.]
That every town consisting of more than five hundred families or householders shall set up and maintain two grammar schools and two writing schools, the masters whereof shall be fit and able to instruct youth as said law directs.
And whereas the said law makes the penalty for such towns as provide not schools as the law directs to pay to the next school ten pounds: This court hereby enacts that the penalty shall be twenty pounds when there are two hundred families or householders.
The law requiring every person above the age of 16 years dnly to attend all military exercise and service, as training, watching, warding, under penalty of 5 shillings for every fault, excepted from its operation the president, fellows, students, and officers of Harvard College, and professed schoolmasters.
AN ACT to provide for the instruction of youth ard for the promotion of good education (1789).
Whereas the constitution of this Commonwealth hath declared it to be the duty of the general court to provide for the education of youth; and whereas a general dissemination of knowledge and virtuo is necessary to tlo prosperity of every State and the very existence of a Commonwealth:
Be it enacted by the senate and house of represontatires in general court assembled, and.by the authority of the same, That every town or district within this Commonwealth, containing fifty families or householders, shall be provided with a schoolmaster or schoolmasters of good morals, to teach children to read and write and to instruct them in the English language, as well as in arithmetic, orthography, and decent behavior, for such term of time as shall be equivalent to six months for ono school in each year. And every town or district, containing one hundred families or householders, shall be provided with such schoolinaster or schoolmasters for such term of time as shall be equivalent to twelve montlis for one school in each year. And every town or district, containing one hundred and fifty families or householders, shall be provided with such schoolmaster or schoolmasters for such term of time as shall be equivalent to six months in each year; and shall, in addition thereto, be provided with a schoolmaster or schoolmasters, as abovo described, to instruct children in the English languago for such term of time as shall be equivalent to twelve months for one school in each year. And every town or district, containing two hundred families or householders, shall be provided with a grammar schoolmaster of good niorals, well instructed in the Latin, Greek, and English langnages, and shall, in addition thereto, be provided with a schoolmaster or schoolmasters, as above described, to instruct children in the English language, for such term of time as shall be eqnivalent to twelve months for each of said schools in each year; and
Whereas by means of the dispersed situation of the inhabitants of several towns and districts in this Commonwealth the children and youth can not be collected in any one place for their instruction, and it has thenco become expedient that the towns and districts in the circumstances aforesaid should be divided into separate districts for the purpose aforesaid:
Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the several towns and districts in this Commonwealth be, and they are hereby, authorized and impowered, in town meeting, to be called for that purpose, to determine and define the limits of school districts within their towns and districts respectively.
And to the end that grammar schoolmasters may not be prevented in their endeavors to discharge their trust in the most useful manner
Be it further enacted, That no youth shall be sent to such grammar schools unless they shall have learned in some other school or in some other way to read the Eng.
lish language by spelling the same, or the selectmen of the town where such grammar school is shall direct the grammar schoolmaster to receive and instruct such youth.
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be, and it is hereby, made the duty of the president, professors, and tutors of the university at Cambridge, preceptors and teachers of academies, and all other instructors of youth, to take diligent care and to exert their best endeavors to impress on the minds of children and youth committed to their care and instruction the principles of piety, justice, and a sacred regard to truth, lore to their country, humanity, and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry, and frugality, chastity, moderation, and temperance, and those other virtues which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which the republican constitution is structured; and it shall be the duty of such instructors to endeavor to lead those under their care (as their ages and capacities will admit) into a particular understanding of the tendency of the beforementioned virtues, to preserve and perfect a republican constitution, and to secure the blessings of liberty, as well as to promote their future happ ss; and the tend. ency of the opposite vices to slavery and ruin. | And to the end that improper persons may not bo cmployed in the important offices before mentioned
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person shall be employed as a schoolmaster as aforesaid unless he shall have received an education at some college or university, and before entering on the said business shall produce satisfactory evidence thereof; or unless the person to be employed as aforesaid shall produce a certificate from a learned minister, well skilled in the Greek and Latin languages, settled in the town or place where the school is proposed to be kept, or two other such ministers in the vicinity thereof, that they have reason to believe that he is well quali. fied to discharge the duties devolved upon such schoolmaster by this act; and in addition thereto, if for a grammar school, “that he is of competent skill in the Greek and Latin languages for the said purpose.” And the candidato of either of the descriptions aforesaid shall, moreover, produce a certificate from a settled minister of the town, district, parish, or place to which such candidate belongs, or from the selectmen of such town or district, or committee of such parish or place, “that to the best of his or their knowledge le sustains a good moral character.”
Provided, nerertheless, This last certificate respecting morals shall not be deemod necessary where the candidate for such school belongs to the place where the same is proposed to be actually kept; it shall, however, be the duty of such selectmen or committee who may be authorized to hire such schoolmaster specially to attend to his morals; and no settled minister shall be deemed, held, or accepted to be a schoolmaster within the intent of this act.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforcsaid, That if any town or district, having the number of fifty families or householders and less than one hundred, shall neglect the procuring and supporting a schoolmaster or schoolmasters to teach the English language as aforesaid by the space of six months in one year, such deficient town or district shall incur tho penalty of ten pounds, and a penalty proportionable for a less time than six months in a year, upon conviction thereof; and upon having the number of one hundred families or householders and upwards, shall neglect the procuring and supporting such schoolmaster or schoolmasters as is herein required to be kept by such town for the space of one year, every such deficient town or district shall incur the penalty of twenty pounds, and a proportionable sum for a less time than a year, upon conviction of such neglect; and every town or district having one hundred and fifty families or householders which shall neglect the procuring and supporting such schoolmasters, and for such term of time as the schools aforesaid aro herein required to be kept by such town or district in any one year, shall ioeur the penalty of thirty pounds, and a proportionable sum for a less timo, upon conviction of such veglect; and every town or district having two hundred families
or householders and upwards that shall neglect the procuring and supporting such grammar schoolmaster as aforesaid for the space of one year shall incur the penalty of thirty pounds, and a proportionable sum for a less time than a year, upon conviction of such neglect.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the penalties which may be incurred by virtuo of this act shall bo levied by warrant from the supreine judiciary court or court of general sessions of the peace for the county to which such deficient town or district belongs upon the inhabitants of such deficient town or district in the same manner as other sums for the use of the county, and shall be paid into the county treasury, and the same shall be appropriated for tho support of such school or schools as are prescribed by this law in such town or towns, district or districts, in tho samo county as shall have complied with this law and whoso circumstances most require such assistauce, or in such plantation or plantations in the same county as the said court of sessions shall order and direct; and it shall be the duty of the minister or ministers of the gospel and the selectmen (or such other persons as shall be specially chosen by each town or district for that purpose) of the several towns or districts to use their influence and best endeavors that the youth of their respective towns and districts do regularly attend the schools appointed and supported as aforesaid for their instruction, and once in every six months at least, and as much oftener as they shall determine it necessary, to visit and inspect the several scbools in their respective towns and districts, and shall enqniro into the regulation and discipline thereof and the proficiency of the scholars therein, giving reasonable notice of the time of their visitation.
Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all plantations which shall bo taxed to the support of government, and all parishes and precincts, are hereby authorized and empowered, at their annual meeting in March or April, to vote and raise such bums of money upon the polls and rateablo estates of their respective inhabitants for the support and maintenance of a schooimaster to teach their children and youth to read, write, and cipher as they shall judge expedient, to be assessed by their assessors in due proportion, and to bo collected in like manner with the public taxes.
And whereas schools for the education of children in the most early stages of life may be kept in towns, districts, or plantations, which schools are not before particularly described in this act, and that the greatest attention may be given to the early establishing just principles in the tender min«ls of such cliildren and carefully instructing them in the first principles of reading
Be it enacted, That no person shall be allowed to be a master or mistress of such school, or to keep the same, unless he or she shall obtain a certificate from the selectmon of such town or district where the same may be kept, or the committee appointed by such town, district or plantation to visit their schools, as well as from a learned minister settled therein, if such there be, that he or she is a person of sober life and conversation, and well qualified to keep such school. And it shall be tho duty of such master or mistress carefully to instruct the children attending his or her school in reading (and writing, if contracted for), and to instill into their minds a sense of piety and virtue and to teach them decent behavior. And if any person shall prosume to keep such school without a certificate as aforesaid, he or sho shall forfeit and pay the sum of twenty shillings; one moiety thereof to the informer, and the other moiety to the use of the poor of the towy, district, or plantation where such school may be kept.
Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person shall be permitted to keep within this Commonwealth any school described in this act unless in conscquence of an act of naturalization, or otherwise, he shall be a citizen of this or some other of the United States; and if any person who is not a citizen of this or some one of the United States shall presume to keep any such school within this State for the spaco of one month, he shall bo subjected to pay a fine of twenty pounds, and a proportionable sum for a longer or shorter time; the one-half of which fine shall be to