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6. In addition to tho separate districts which are or may be made the society shall be ono entire district, for the purpose of maintaining and supporting a school for the further instruction of those children and youth of both sexes who have passed through the ordinary course of learning in the common schools, to be kept near the center of the society, which school shall be under the superintendeney and direction of the aforesaid overseers in the same manner as the common schools are. The object of tho said school shall be to perfect the youth admitted therein in reading and in the grammar of the English tongue, and to instruct them in geography, arithmetic, composition, and speaking, or any of them; also in the whole course of instruction to impress their minds with a just sense of their duty to God, to their pareuts and instructors, to one another, and to society, and in general to prepare them to act well in the various relations of social life. The directions for reading tho Bible and prayer in the common schools shall equally apply to this.
7. No youth shall be admitted as a pupil in the said school unless such youth is accurate in a good degree in spelling and reading tho English tongue, and has acquired a good handwriting, and has attained to such maturity in years and understanding as to be able with profit to pursuo' the course of learning taught in said school, and upon examination before the major part of the said overseers shall be by them judged qualified for admission. And if a greater number of pupils shall be admitted than can well be accommodated or instructed, in the judgment of the overseers, in such case they shall limit the number who shall attend at a time, and direct all the pupils, in a certain order of rotation, by them appointed, to attend the school, so as all may have an equal benefit.
8. That the powers and duties of the overseers with respect to said school, relative to the appointment of the master, relative to the instruction and government thereof, relative to its visitation, encouragement, and public exercises, shall be the same as in respect to common schools.
9. The said school shall from time to time draw its share of all the public nioneys appropriated to the use of schools within the society, to be made up out of the shares of the respectivo districts, according to the number of pupils in such school from such districts, when compared with the number of children, such districts computing from four to fourteen years of age.
Similar regulations were adopted in other towns. Dr. Barnard takes leave of his subject in the following paragraph: In closing this important period of our school history it may be well to repeat that up to 1798 the law enforced the keeping of school in towns or societies of moro than 70 families for eleven months of the year, and in those of less than seventy, for at least one-half the year. It also enforced the keeping of a grammar school in tho head town of the several counties. It imposed a tax, collectible with other public taxes, for the support of schools, and limited its benefits to such towns or societies as kept their schools according to law. There are no official documents respecting the condition of the schools themselves, but from the testimony of men who wero educated in the common schools prior to 1800 it appears that the course of instruction was limited to spelling, reading, writing, and the elements of arithmetie, but that these studies were attended to by all the people of tho State; so that it was rare to find a native of Connecticut “who could not read the Holy Word of God and the good laws of the State.” These schools, such as they were, were the main reliance of the whole community for tho above studies. There were but few private schools, except to fit young men for college, or carry them forward in the higher branches of an English education. The books used were few and imperfect, but uniform. The supervision of the schools by the selectmen was considered a part of their town office, and by the clergy as a regular part of their parochial duty.
Down to a half century ago Connecticut men boasted that theirs was the best educated commonwealth in the Union. Dr. Jededial Morse wrote in 1797: “A thirst for learning prevails among all ranks of people in the State. More of the young men of Connecticut, in proportion to their numbers, receive a public education than in any of the States." And Dr. Horace Bushnell said in 1851: “The late Hon. James Hillhouse, when he was in Congress, ascertained that 47 of the members, or about one-fifth of the whole number in both Houses, were nativeborn sons of Connecticut. Mr. Calhoun assured one of our Representatives, when upon the floor of the House with him, that he had seen the time when the natives of Connecticut, together with the graduates of Yale College there collected, wanted only 5 of being a majority of that body."2 The present Commissioner of Education, himself a Connecticut born and educated man, has said: “Before 1837 Connecticut surpassed the other States in the education of its people."3
IV. THE COMMON SCHOOL FUND OF CONNECTICUT.
1. Preliminary history, including an act establishing funds for the support of the min
istry and schools of education, passed in 1793.—. An act appropriating the moneys which shall arise on the sale of the Western lands belonging to this State, passed 1795.3. Subsequent history of the fund.
Connecticut was the first of the States to establish a permanent common school fund. This was done in 1795; New York did not take her first step in that direction until 1805, and Massachusetts not until 1834. The national land ordinance of 1785 had dedicated one thirtysixth part of the Western territory, then in possession of the Government, to common schools, and the contracts for lands made with the Ohio Company of Associates and Judge Symmes in 1787 confirmed the dedication so far as their sales were concerned; but this was the extreme point that the development of the national policy reached until 1802. Again the Connecticut fund became available for school purposes in 1799, while no Western State derived any immediate advantage from its school lands until some years after that time. These facts give to the history of the Connecticut fund a peculiar interest.
When Connecticut made her cession of Western lands to the General Government in May, 1786, she retained or reserved the territory bounded as follows: North by the international boundary; east by Pennsylvania; south by the forty-first parallel of north latitude; west by a line parallel to the western boundary of Pennsylvania and distant from it 120 miles. The disposition to be made of the territory reserved, known in history as the “Connecticut Western Reserve," "New Connecticut," and the “Western Reserve," embracing between 3,000,000
American Gazetteer, article, Connecticut.
* Historical Estimate of Connecticut. (Seo Annual Report of the Board of Education, 1876, pp. 52, 53.)
3 Prefaco to Dr. Pickard's School Supervision.
and 4,000,000 acres, became immediately a State question, that continued to attract attention for the nine ensuing years. An act was passed in October, 1786, authorizing the sale of a portion of the lands. This act gave 500 acres of good land in every town (5 miles square) to the public for the support of the gospel ministry, the same quantity for the support of schools, and 240 acres in fee simple to the first gospel minister who should settle in the township. But the sale of only 24,000 acres was made in pursuance of this legislation. In 1792 the general assembly gave 500,000 acres, lying across the western end of the territory, to the citizens of eight enumerated Connecticut towns, who had suffered loss of property in the Revolution from the numerous expeditions of the British into the State.
In October, 1793, tle assembly created a committee of eight persons, whom it authorized to sell the remaining lands on certain specified terms and conditions, and at the same time took the following action:
AN ACT establishing funds for the support of the ministry and schools of education.
Be it enacted, f'e., That the monies arising from the sale of the territory belonging to this State, lying west of the State of Pennsylvania, bo, and the same is hereby, established a perpetual fund, the interest whereof is granted and shall be appropriated to the use and benefit of the several ecclesiastical societies, churches, or congregations of all denominations in this State, to be by them applied to the support of their respective ministers or preachers of the gospel and schools of education, under such rules and regulations as shall be adopted by this or some future session of the general assembly.
An earlier proposition was to devote the funds wholly to the gospel ministry.
This act was not passed without strong opposition in the assembly. Its passage led at once to a widespread, spirited, and even acrimonious discussion, in which the press, the pulpit, the platform, the town meeting, and the legislature all participated. The points of attack were several, as that the act had been hastily passed, without due consideration; that there was no need of disposing of the proceeds of the lands until they had been first sold; that the proceeds could be put to a better use, as paying off the State debt, improving the roads, and promoting agriculture and internal improvement; that the funds should be wholly devoted to education; that they should be given to Yale College; and especially that it was improper and invidious to put the interest of the accruing fund at the disposal of the ecclesiastical societies for the purposes named.
In the section of this chapter devoted to school legislation in Connecticut the relation of ecclesiastical societies to public education at that time has been pointed out. Here it is sufficient to say that there was a strong anti-church feeling in the State, and, moreover, that the church, or religious influence, was sharply divided into the congrega
Made to Gen. S. H. Parsons, and lying on the Mahoning River. See list. Coll. Mahoning Valley, Vol. I, pp. 140-151.
tional, orthodox, or established church, and the heterodox or non-established interest, consisting of various dissenting bodies. The regular clergy were strongly assailed, charged with exerting an undue influence in public affairs, and particularly with having influenced or procured this particular act of legislation. For example, the inhabitants of Cheshire, legally assembled in town meeting on the second Friday of December, 1791, voted, among other things:
We also believe the same appropriation to be an introductory step toward establishing a certain and permanent civil provision for a certain and permanent sacerdotal order; a provision which, in other ages and nations, has gone forward and proclaimed that the downfall of liberty and pure religion was hastening after, and of course a provision against which the experience of ages admonished us to guard with a jealous eye.
The same line of attack is followed by a writer in the American Telegraph, Newfield, May 27, 1795, who propounds the following questions:
(1) For what purpose does the State pay from two to three hundred dollars annually for refreshing and dining the clergy who assemble at elections?
(2) What part of their official duty calls them there?
(3) Whether the spiritual good of inen are the objects of their greatest good on such occasions ?
(4) Whether an order of men, exempt from all public taxes, and profoundly devoted to the service of the altar, intermeddling in the affairs of government, and in continual progression extending and advancing their secret influenco in every department of the State, is not a growing and dangerous aristocracy?
(5) Whether the extraordinary and unprecedented exertion of the clergy to effect a measure of government in their own favor against the will of the people is not sufficient to excite suspicion and even to canse universal alarm?
Various propositions to repeal the act or to modify it were introduced into the assembly from time to time. In the mean time the lands were not sold. At its May session, 1795, the assembly passed a new act making new terms of sale, and the same day put an end to the heated controversy in relation to the destination of the proceeds by passing the following act, which created the State school fund:
AN ACT appropriating the monies which shall arise on the sale of the Western lands belonging to
1. Be it enacted, g'c., That the principal sum which shall be received on the sale of the lands belonging to this State lying west of Pennsylvania shall be and remain a perpetual fund for the purposes hereafter mentioned in this act, to be loaned or otherwiso improved for these purposes as the general assembly shall direct, and the interest arising therefrom shall be, and hereby is, appropriated to the support of schools in the several societies constituted, or which may be constituted, by law within certain local bounds within this State, to be kept according to the provisions of law which shall from time to time be made, and to no other use or purpose whatsoever, except in the case and under the circumstances hereafter mentioned in this act.
2. Be it further cnacted, That the said interest, as it shall become duo from time to time, shall be paid over to the said societies in their capacity of school societies according to the list of polls and ratable estate of such societies respectively, which shall, when such payment shall be made, have been last perfected.
3. Provided nerertheless and be it further enacted, That whenever such society shall, pursuant to a vote of such society, passed in a legal meeting, warned for that pur
pose only, in which vote two-thirds of the logal voters present in such meeting shall concur, apply to the general assembly requesting liberty to improve their proportion of said interest, or any part thereof, for the support of the Christian ministry, or the public worship of God, the general assembly shall have full power to grant such request during their pleasure; and in case of any such grant, the school society shall pay over the amount so granted to the religious societies, churches, or congregations of all denominations of Christians within its limits, to be proportioned to such societies according to the lists of their respective inhabitants or members, which shall, when such payment shall from time to time be made, have been last perfected; and in case there shall be in such school society any individuals composing a part only of any such religious society, church, or congregation, then the proportion of such individuals shall be paid to the order of the body to which they belong by the rale aforesaid, and the monies of such individuals shall be discounted from their ministerial taxes or contributions, and in that way inure to their exclusive benefit, and the monies so paid over shall be applied to the purposes of the grant, and to no other whatsoever.
4. Be it further enacted, That if any society, church, or congregation shall apply any of tho aforesaid monies to any other use or purpose than those to which they shall or may have a right to apply them pursuant to this act, such society, church, or congregation shall forfeit and pay a sum equal to that so misapplied to the public treasury of this State.
5. Be it further enacted, That all the inhabitants living within the limits of the located societies who by law have, or may liave, a right to vote in town meetings, shall meet some time in the month of October annually, in the way and manner prescribed in the statute entitled, “An act for forming, ordering, and regulating societies," and, being so met, shall exercise the powers given in, and by said act, in organizing themselves and in appointing the necessary officers, as herein directed, for the year ensuing, and may transact any other business on the subject of schooling in general, and touching tho monies hereby appropriated to their use in particnlar, according to law, and shall have power to adjourn from time to time, as they shall think proper.
6. Be it further enacted, That the inhabitants or members of the several religious societies, churches, or congregations aforesaid, who have the right by law to vote in their respective meetings on the subject of the ministry and the public worship of God, shall assemble themselves some time in the month of December annually, or at such other time as they shall judge convenient, and may organize themselves and appoint the necessary officers as in said act is directed, all in the way and manner therein prescribed, with power to adjourn from time to time, as they may think proper, and in any of their said meetings they shall have power to transact any business relating to the ministry and the public worship of God according to law, but shall have no power to act on the subject of schooling, any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.
7. Be it further enacted, That an act passed Oct., 1793, entitled, "An act for the establishing a fund for the support of the gospel ministry and schools of education” be, and the same is hereby, repealed.
October 14, 1795, the committee appointed to sell the lands reported to the assembly that it had effected a sale for $1,200,000. Some further points relating to the history of the fund may be found in the following summary:
The first apportionment of the income among the school societies was made in 1799. The interest had been allowed to accumulate, and amounted in March, 1799, to 860,403.78. In March, 1800, the dividends were $23,651. Up to this date the fund had been managed by the com