« AnteriorContinuar »
Delaware, which first assumed an independent jurisdiction in 1776 (although settled in 1627), had in 1790 a population of 69,096, which had increased in 1870 to 125,015, with an area of 2,120 square miles, and taxable property valued at $64,787,223.
Delaware was the first State to ratify the Federal constitution (1789), and one of the earliest to ordain by constitution (1792) that 'the Legislature shall, as soon as conveniently may be, provide by law for establishing schools and promoting arts and sciences.' But the act of 1796 to create a fund sufficient to establish schools,' and all subsequent acts of 1797, 1816, 1817, 1821, 'to increase the fund or pay the tuition of poor children,' or of 1829 to provide for free schools.' or of 1830 and 1832, 1833 and 1835 supplementary and additional thereto, or of 18:37 appropriating the income of the U. S. Surplus Revenue Fund for the benefit of the school districts, and all subsequent acts (1852, 1857, 1858, 1861) have failed to go to the root of the matter by making it obligatory on the towns or hundreds to establish and maintain public schools, not for the poor, but for all classes, and to raise by tax on the taxable property of such town or hundred, a minimum sum for the support of such schools, and then subjecting teachers to an examination, and the schools to regular visitation, by a committee responsible to the State and to the local community for the performance of their duties. From this general remark should be excepted the city of Wilmington, in which a system of public schools has been maintained under a special act of the Legislature, by which the school interest is committed to a board elected by the citizens, with power to establish schools and provide money for their support, by requisition on the city authorities. Down to 1872, no provision was made by the State for education of the colored children, but by the aid of citizens, and the Freedmen's Bureau, 29 schools were maintained with 2,104 pupils at an expense of $11,000.
According to the national census of 1870, out of a school population (5 to 18 years of age) of 40,807, only 19,965 were returned at school in the year previous, and out of the total population (125,015), 19,356 persons over 10 years could not read, and 23,100 could not write. According to the same census there were 326 public schools under 388 teachers, with 17,835 pupils; 9 academic institutions under 63. teachers and 859 pupils (including 2 classed as colleges with 15 teachers, of whom 8 are females, and 137 pupils, of whom 120 are females ; and 38 private and parochial schools, with 59 teachers and 1,881 pupils.
Florida, although settled earlier than other portions of the Union, was not admitted into the United States until 1845, with a population in 1850 of 87,442 (39,300 slaves), which had increased in 1870 to 187,748, on an area of 59,248 square miles, and taxable properly returned at $32,480,843.
Although the constitution adopted in 1839, and that of 1865 throw their protection around lands granted for the use of schools and seminaries of learning,' not much scems yet to have come of the lands (amounting to over 1,000,000 acres), or to have been done for schools, until under the act of Jan. 30, 1869, by which (1) a Superintendent of Public Instruction is appointed for the State, and (2) County Superintendents for each county. This is a good beginning in administrative authorities.
According to the national census of 1870, out of a school population (5 to 18 years of age) of 63,807, 12,778 were returned as attending school in the year previous. Of this number, 8,254 were white and 4,524 colored. Out of the entire population (187,748), 66,238 persons over 10 years of age could not read, and 71,803 could not write, with taxable property to the valuation of $32,480,843, and school lands yet undisposed of. A better exhibit may be anticipated in 1880 over 1870, when the census returned 377 public schools, with 14,000 pupils ; 10 academies, with 580 pupils, and 141 private schools, with 1,500 pupils.
GEORGIA. Georgia was settled in 1773, and had in 1790 a population of 82,548 (29,264 slaves), which had increased in 1870 to 1,184,109 (545,142 colored), on an area of 58,000 square miles, with taxable property valned at $227,219,519.
This State was one of the earliest to assert in its fundamental law (constitution of 1777), that schools shall be erected in each county, and supported at the general expense of the State,' and to make liberal appropriations to endow seminaries of learning. In 1783 the legislature donated 1,000 acres of land to each county for the support of free schools, and in the year following; 40,000 acres for the endowment of a university, and in 1792, one thousand pounds for the endowment of an academy in each county. In the preamble of the charter creating the University of Georgia in 1785, are these words: “as it is the distinguishing happiness of freo governments that civil order should be the result of choice, and not necessity, and that the common wishes of the people become the laws of the land, their public prosperity and eren existence depend very much on snitably forming the minds and morals of their citizens.
It should be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity, to support the princij les of religion and morality, and early to place the youth under the forming band of society, that by instruction they may be molded to the love of virtue and good order. Sending them abroad to other countries for an education will not answer.' To give effect to the last suggestion, in the same year it was enacted that if any person or persons under the age of sixteen years, shall, after the passage of this act, be sent abroad without the limits of the United States, and reside there three years for the purpose of receiving an education under a foreign power, such person or persons, after their return to this State, shall for three years be considered and treated as aliens, in so far as not to be eligible to a seat in the legislature or executive authority, or to hold any office, civil or military, in the State for that term, and so in proportion for any greater number of years as he or they shall be absent as aforesaid.' The legislature at this period was in earnest, and comprehensive in its educational policy, but in spite of numerous laws and liberal appropriations designed to provide free elementary instruction for the poor, to establish at least one endowed academy in each county, and a university for higher and professional learning for the whole State, the bindrances incident to a new conntry, with its productive resources not developed, to a population settled and settling not in villages or groups, but in independent and isolated plantations, and more than all, to a radically unrepublican constitution of society, these laws failed to accomplish their beneficent objects.
The provisions of the amended constitution of 1798, reordained in that of 1839, that “the arts and sciences shall be promoted,' and the General Assembly shall provide effectual measures' for elementary as well as higher institutions, did not establish free schools, provide competent teachers, awaken public interest, or keep the legislature informed of the exact state of education in different parts of the State. The national census of 1840, while it showed the existence of 11 colleges (so designated) with 622 students, and 176 academies with 7,878, and only 601 primary schools with 15,561 pupils, for a white population of over 400,000, of whom 30,79 7 persons (increased to 42,000 in 1850), over 20 years
of age were returned unable to read and write. In 1843, and again in 1854 and 1856, after a personal visit of the writer of this article, and correspondence with prominent citizens, a plan was devised to create a system of common schools, open alike to rich and poor, supported by pablic tax, State and local, and administered by district, county, and State commissioners. The plan met with favor in the legislature both in 1854 and 1856, but failed in spite of the eloquent appeal of Hon. W. H. Stiles, Speaker of the House, Let us, by the passage of this bill, inaugurate a system of common schools in Georgia. In the name and in behalf of 150,000 Georgians, between 5 and 20 years of age, who are growing up in ignorance of the duties and relations of civilized life, I demand it. In the name of 42,000 of my countrymen, over the age of 20 years, who are daily hurrying to the grave without being able to read for themselves the way of eternal life, I demand it. In the name and in behalf of the whole State, which we proudly call the • Empire State of the South,' I demand it. And in what, pray, does her empire. consist? In lands and tenements, in fields and stocks, in railroads and copper mines, but not in that which exceeds them all, in cultivated intellect. It is an empire of matter, and not of mind, of darkness and not of light. Enlighten this darkness, efface from her escutcheon that foul blot of illiteracy which the census discloses, or never call her again the Empire State.'
The census of 1870 disclosed a progressive increase of illiteracy; the events of the war, having added the entire black race at once to the number of citizens, and the ranks of the illiterate, making 468,593 persons over 10 years of age who could not read.
In 1870 a system was established, with the following officers :
(1,) A State Board of Education, consisting of the Governor and other State officers, acting through a State School Commissioner. To this Board is given the apportionment of any State appropriation, and supervision.
(2,) A County Board of Education, consisting of a member for each militia district. By this Board a County School Commissioner is elected, who thus becomes a member, and its secretary. To this Board belongs the examination of teachers the inspection of schools, and the imposition of a tax.
(3) School Trustees for each militia district, which has been made a school district. This Board manages the school, and reports to the County Commissioner.
(4,) The city school authorities of Augusta, Colombia and Savannah, instituted by special acts, by which graded systems of public schools are established for the respective cities and the counties of which they forin part.
Illinois became one of the United States Dec. 3, 1818, with a population in 1820 of 55,211, which had increased in 1870 to 1,680,637, on an area of 55,410 square miles, and with taxable property valued at $482,899,575.
By an ordinance dated Aug. 26, 1818, the convention which framed the State Constitution accepted a proposition contained in act of Congress passed April 18, 1818, as a coudition precedent of the admission of the people of the Illinois Territory, and to be obligatory upon the United States, viz., That section numbered 16 in every township shall be granted to the State for the use of the inhabitants of said township for the use of schools; that five per cent. of the net proceeds of public lands within the State and sold by Congress after the first day of January, 1819, shall be reserved for the following purposes, viz., two-fifths for making roads leading to the State, and the residue shall be appropriated by the Legislature of the State for the encouragement of learning, of which one-sixth part shall be exclusively bestowed on a college or university.' "That 36 sections, or one entire township, to be designated by the President of the United States, together with the one heretofore reserved for that purpose, shall be reserved for the use of a seminary of learning, and vested in the Legislature of said State to be appropriated solely to the use of such seminary.'
Much legislation has been bad on the management of the funds growing out of the lease and sale of the lands thus donated, and the controversy over the possession of portions of the avails of the United States reservations paid over to the State, has not yet ceased. The capital of these funds in 1871 was as follows: School Fund, $613,363 ; College or University Fund, $156,613; Seminary Fund, $59,839; County School Fund, $348.285; Congressional Township Fund, $4,868,555; Surplus Revenue Fund, $335,592 ;— Total, September 30th, 1872, $6,382,248.
The first general school law was passed in 1825, “to provide for the establishment of free schools,' with the following preamble: “To enjoy our rights and liberties we must understand them; their security and protection ought to be the first object of a free people; and it is a well established fact that no nation has ever continued long in the enjoyment of civil and political freedom, which was not both virtuous and enlightened; and believing that the advancement of literature always has been, and ever will be, the means of developing more fully the rights of man; that the