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In June (14th), 1642, we find in the Records of Massachusetts Bay the following Ordor:

This Court, taking into consideration the great neglect of many parents and masters in training up their children in learning, and labor, and other employments which may be profitable to the Commonwealth, do hereupon order and decrue that in every town the chosen men appointed for managing the prudential affairs of the same, shall hencefortlı stand charged with the care of the redress of this evil, so as they shall be sufficiently punislied by fines for the neglect thereof, upon presentment of the grand jury or other information or complaint in any Court within this jurisdiction; and for this end, they, or the greater number of them, shall have power to take account from time to time of all parents and masters, and of their children, concerning their calling, and employment of their children, especially of their ability to read and understand the principles of religion and capital laws of this county, and to impose fines upon such as shall refuse to render such account to them when they shall be required, and they shall have power, with consent of any Court or the magistrate, to put forth apprentices the children of such as they shall find not to be able and fit to employ and bring them up.

The following order is found under date of November 11, 1647:

It being one chiefe project of y' ould deluder, Sathan, to keepe men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures, as in form' times by keeping yn in an unknown tongue, so in these latt: times by perswading from ye use of tongues y so at least ye true sence and meaning of ye originall might be clouded by false glosses of saint seeming deceivers, y' learning may not be buried in ye grave of or fath' in ye church and cominonwealth, the Lord assisting or endeavors.

It is therefore ordret, ye evrry township in this jurisdiction, aft" ye Lord hath increased ya to ye number of 50 household'•, shall then forth will appoint one wehin their towne to teach all such children as shull resort to him to write and reade, whose wages shall be paid eith by ye parents or inast of such children, or by ye inhabitants in genrall, by way of supply, as ye major p of those y ord' ye prudentials of ye towne shall appoint; provided, those ye send their children be not oppressed by paying much more ya they can have y taught for in othr townes; and it is furth' ordered, y' where any towne shall increase to ye numbr of 100 families or househould's they shall set up a gramer schoole, ye master thereof being able to instruct youth so farr as they may be fited for ye university ; provided, ye if any towne neglect y® performance hereof above one ycare, ye every such towne shall pay 5* to yo next schoole till they shall performe this order.

At the May session, 1654, the following law was passed in addition to the foregoing, and in the digest of 1658 is annexed to it as the 3d section.

Forasmuch as it greatly concerns the welfare of this country that the youth thereof be educated not only in good literature but in sound doctrine:

This Court doth therefore commend it to the serious consideration and special care of our overseers 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 youth or children in the college or schools 'that have manifested themselves unsound in the faith, or scandalous in their lives, and have not given satisfaction according to the rules of Christ.'

At the October session, 1683, the following was enacted:• As an addition to the law, title schools, this Court doth order and enact

, That every town consisting of more than five hundred families or householders sball set up and maintain two grammar schools and two writing schools, tho 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 where there are two hundred families or householders.'

The earliest notice in schools in the records of the Colony of New Plymouth, is under date of 1663, as follows:

'It is proposed by the Court unto tho several townships of this jurisdiction, as a thing that they ought to take into their serious consideration, that some course may be taken that in every town there may be a schoolmaster set up to train up children to reading and writing.'

At a General Court held March 4, 1670, a grant was made of all such proffetts as might or should annually accrew or grow dew to this collonie from time to time, for fishing with netts or saines att Cape Cod for mackerell, basse, or herrings, to be imployed and improved for and towards a free school in somo town in this jurisdiction, for the training up of youth in littrature, for the good and benefitt of posteritie, provided a beginning were made within one year;' and committed the ordering and managing of said affaire to the Governor and assistants, or any four of them.' In 1667, at the General Court held at Plymouth, the following order was passed :

Forasmuch as the maintainance of good literature doth much tend to the advancement of the weal and flourishing estate of societies and republicks,

This Court doth therefore order: That in whatsoever township in this gov. ernment, consisting of fifty fainilies or upwards, any meet man shall be obtained to teach a Grammar School, such township shall allow at least twelve pounds in current merchantable pay to be raised by rate on all the inhabitants of such town; and those that have the more immediate benefit thereof, by their children's going to school, with what others may voluntarily give to promote 80 good a work and genral good, shall make up the residue necessary to maintain the sampe; and the profits arising of the Cape Cod fishing, heretoforo ordered to maintain a Grammır School in this colony, be distributed to such towns as have such Grammar Schools, for the maintainance thereof, not exceeding five pounds per annum to any such town, unless the Conrt Treasurer, or other appointed to manage that affair, see good cause to add thereunto to any respective town, not exceeding five pounds more per annum. And further this Court orders: That every such town as consists of seventy families or upwards, and hath not a Grammar School therein, shall allow and pay unto the next town, which hath such Grammar School kept up amongst them, the sum of five pounds per annum in current merchantable pay, to be levied on the inhabitants of such defective towns by rate, and gathered and delivered by the constables of such towns, as by warrant from any magistrate of this jurisdiction shall be required.

The provincial charter granted by William and Mary in October, 1691, which united the two colonies of New Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, went into effect by the organization of the government in June, 1692. The first business of the legislature was the re-enactment of the principal colonial laws in a revised and amended form, to suit the altered circumstances of the time. Among the earliest acts, was one for the Settlement and Support of Ministers and Schoolmasters.' The third section of the act read as follows:

* And be it further enacted, &c. That every town within this province, hav. ing the number of fifty householders or upwards, shall be constantly provided of a schoolinaster to teach children and youth to read and write. And where any town or towns have the number of one hundred families or house. holders, there shall also be a grammar school set up in every such town, and some discreet person of good conversation, well instructed in the tongues, procured to keep such school. Every such schoolmaster to be suitably encour. aged and paid by the inhabitants.'

"And the selectmen and inhabitants of such towns respectively, shall take effectual care, and make due provision, for the settlement and maintenance of such schoolmaster and masters.'

* And if any town qualified as before expressed, shall neglect the due observ. ance of this act, for the procuring and settling of any such schoolmaster as

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aforesaid, hy the space of one year; every such defective town shall incur the penalty of ten pounds, for every conviction of such neglect, upon complaint made unto their Majesties Justices in Quarter Sessions for the same county in which such defective town lieth; which penalty shall be towards the support of such school or schools within the same county, where there may be the most need, at the discretion of the Justices in Quarter Sessions; to be levied by warrant from the said court of sessions, in proportion upon the inhabitants of such defective tɔwn, as other public charges, and to be paid unto the county treasurer.'

In 1701 an act was passed, which, after setting forth the previous act in a preamble, and saying “That the observance of which wholesome and necessary law is shamı fully neglected by divers town.s, and the penalty thereof not required, tending greatly to the nourishment of ignorance and irreligion, whereof grievous complaint is made. For the redress of the same' declared "That the penalty or forfeiture for the non-observance of the said law shall henceforth be twenty pounds per annum.' The following new provisions were added:

Ist. That 'every grammar schoolmaster be approved by the minister of the town and the ministers of the two next adjacent towns, or any two of them, by cer. ificate uniler their hands.'

2d. “That no minister of any town shall be deemed, held or accepted to be the schoolinaster of such town within the intent of law.'

3d. • And the justices of the peace in each respective county are hereby directed to take effectual care that the laws respecting schools and schoolmasters be duly observed and put in execution. And all grand jurors within their respective counties, shall diligently inquire and make presentment of all breaches and neglect of the said laws, so that due prosecution may be made against the offenders.'

In 1768, an act relating to schools was passed, which authorized the division of the towns into school districts.

• Whereas it may happen that when towns and districts consist of several precincts, some of such precincts may be disposed to expend more for the instruction of children and youth in useful learning, within their own bounds, than as parts of such towns or districts they are by law held to do; and no provision has hitherto been made to enable precincts to raise money for that purpose. And whereas the encouragement of learning tends to the promotion of religion and good morals, and the establishment of liberty, civil and religious:

Be it therefore enacted, &c. That when and so often as the major part of the inhabitants of any precinct, at their annual meeting legally warned, shall agree on the building, finishing or repairing any schvol-house, or the defraying any other charge for the support of schools and schoolmasters, and shall also agree on any sum or sums of money for such purpose or purposes, the assessors of such precinct are hereby empowered and required to assess the same on the polls and estates within the said precinct, and all such rates and assessments shall be paid to the constable or collector, to whom the same shall be committed, with a warrant from said assessors, in form as by law is prescribed for collecting town assessments.'

To prevent misconception it may be proper to state that the term district used in the foregoing preamble, was the legal designation of an incorporated community, precisely similar to a town in respect to territory, and to all rights duties, privileges, and powers, except of being represented in the general court.

The term precinct was used to denote a settlement in a township, remote from the centre, and for that reason clothed by the general court with the power of selecting a minister and supporting public worship by taxation, in the same manner that the town might do. In a word, a precinct was a parish, or, more properly, an incipient town, having power in ecclesiastical matters only. To this power was now added that of supporting schools. Many existing towns have been created out of these ancient precincts.

AN ACT to provide for the Instruction of Youth, and for the Promotion

of Good Education. Passed June 25, 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 virtue is necessary to the prosperity of every State, and the very existence of a Commonwealth :

SEC. 1. Be it enacted, &c. That every town or district within this com. monwealth, 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 one school in each year.

And every town or district containing one hundred families, or householders, shall be provided with such schoolmaster, or schoolmasters, for such term of time as shall be equivalent to twelve months 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 above described, to instruct children in the English language, 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 morals, well instructed in the Latin, Greek and English languages; 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 equivalent to twelve months for each of said schools in each year.

And whereas by means of the dispersed situation of the inhabitants of sep. eral towns and districts of this Commonwealth, the children and youth can not be collected in any one place for their instruction, and it has thence become expedient that the towns and districts, in the circumstances aforesaid, should be divided into separate districts, for the purpose aforesaid,

SEC. 2. Be it enactrd, &c. That the several towns and districts in this Commonwealth be, and they are hereby authorized and empowered, in town meetings to be called for that purpose, to determine and define the limits of school dis. tricts 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,

SEC. 3. Be it enacted, &c. 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 English 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.

SEC. 4. Be it further enacted, dc. That it shall be and it is hereby mado the duty of the president, professors and tutors of the uviversity at Cam. bridge, 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, love 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 understand. ing of the tendency of the before-mentioned virtues, to preserve and perfect a republican constitution, and to secure the blessings of liberty as well as to promote their future happiness; and the tendency of the opposite vices to slavery and ruin.

And to the end that improper persons may not be employed to the important offices before-mentioned,

Sec. 5. Be it euacted, dc. 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 satisfac. tory 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 qualified to discharge the duties devolved upon such master 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 aforesaid purpose.

And the candidate of either of the descriptions aforesaid shall morcover 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 knowl. edge, he sustains a good moral character.' Provided, nevertheless, This last certificate respecting morals shall not be deemed necessary when 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.

Section 6 provides the following penalties for neglect to obey the law for six months in each year: Town of 50 families, £10; of 100 families, £20; of 150 families, £30; of 200 families, £30, for not keeping a grammar school.

Sec. 7. Said penalties to be levied by warrant, on conviction, and paid into the county treasury, and appropriated for the support of such school or schools as are prescribed by this law in such town or towns, district or districts, in the same county, as shall have complied with this law, and whose circumstances most require such assistance; or in such plantation or plantations in the same county, as the Court of Sessions shall order and direct.'

• And it shall be the duty of the minister or ministers of the gospel and tho sele tmen (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 do regularly attend the schools appointed 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, schools in the respective towns and districts, and shall inquire into the regulation and discipline thereof, and the proficiency of the scholars therein, giving reasonable notice of the time of their visitation.'

And whereas schools for the education of children in the most earliest stages of life may be kept in towns, districts and plantations, which schools are not be fore particularly prescribed in this act; and that the greatest attention may be given to the early establishing just principles in the tender minds of such children, and carefully instructing them in the first priuciples of reading,

$20. 9. Be it enucted. 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 selectmen 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 the duty of such master or mistress carefully to instruct the children, attending his or her school, in reading (and writiny, if contracted for), and to instil into their minds a sense of piety and virtue, and to teach them decent behavior. Penalty, forty shillings

Sec. 10 enacts That no person shall be permitted to keep, within this Com. monwealth, any school discribed in this act, unless in consequence of an act of naturalization, or otherwise, he shall be a citizen of this or some other of the United States.' Penalty of twenty pounds for each month, one-half of which shall be for the use of the person who shall sue for the same, and the other half thereof to the use of this Commonwealth.

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