Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

WORCESTER FREE INSTITUTE. 101

monwealth added a sum, which I recall at about $141,000, to the capital of the fund derived from the foregoing source. Of the income of this fund the Institute of Technology regularly receives one-third, so that, again, one might say that the State had in this instance given to the school a little less than $50,000. Inasmuch, however, as the State has never made the money over to us, and as the State might possibly refuse to continue the appropriation under which the income is paid to us, the question just how the matter shall be stated becomes . a difficult one. “This is all which Massachusetts has given us in money, upon any construction of the statutes. In addition, we have derived from the State the benefit of a right of perpetual occupancy of the land on which our buildings stand, subject to the condition that we shall never build over more than one-third the ground. It is difficult to say just what "this privilege was worth at the time it was conferred upon us. At the time the grant was made the State was selling the land next to us (slightly to be preferred, by reason of being nearer the public garden) at a rate which would have made the fee of our tract worth about $120,000. But we did not get the fee, and our easement was qualified, as I have told you. The grant was also accompanied by the condition that if when all the lands surrounding us had been sold it should not be made to appear to the satisfaction of commissioners to be for the purpose appointed by the Governor, that the price of such surrounding lands had been raised sufficiently above their then appraised value (at which value the State was earnestly desirous of selling as rapidly as possible) to make the treasury good for not selling our tract, then, in that case, the Institute of Technology should be required to pay for the land. This we have never been called upon to do, and I therefore conclude that the grant made to us by the State in the foregoing instance cost the treasury nothing, but was in fact only a part of the general scheme of advertisement by which the State undertook to promote the sale and settlement of the Back Bay lands, which were then, and for a long time thereafter, vastly in excess of the demand.

WORCESTER FREE INSTITUTE.

Worcester Institute was founded in 1865 through private beneficence for the purpose of training boys in the mechanical arts. The State then gave fifty thousand döllars to augment the endowment. Though the institute may not be termed a school of higher learning in the philosophic sense of the term, yet it gives theoretical and practical courses in mechanical and civil engineering, chemistry, physics, modern languages, etc. It deserves to be mentioned among the worthy State institutes of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has thus shown herself ever ready to aid all of her educational enterprises, and they have been at once the glory and the support of the State. By wise laws, by land grants, by taxation, by

gifts, and by every means at her command, the work of education has been supported. In accordance with the generous sentiments expressed in the Constitution and otherwise, the statutes provide, “ That the personal property of literary, benevolent, charitable, and scientific institutions incorporated within the Commonwealth, and the real estate belonging to such institutions and occupied by them or their officers, for which they were incorporated," are exempt from taxation.

[blocks in formation]

The history of earıy education in Connecticut presents the same selfsacrifice and devotion to the cause of learning that characterized the people of Massachusetts Bay. An historic branch of this colony, Connecticut followed the same general.plan of education in providing for the system of local town schools and academies, and in supporting the college at Cambridge. But we find, after the founding of Yale in 1700, that while the system of local schools was continued with little change the greater part of the private and all of the public support was withdrawn from Harvard and given to the home school, which was finally located at New Haven. The Court of Connecticut pursued the same

icy with regard to the support of Yale College that Massachusetts had previously followed in relation to Hapvard, viz, by aiding the enterprise by means of grants of land and money, by protecting the property and making it exempt from taxation, and by favoring those engaged in the educational work.

Although the government of the college was under the immediate control of the General Assembly, whose members appointed the board of trustees, yet the Assembly or Court considered Yale a subject of legis. lation, and if not an organic part of the system of State, yet as an institution essential to the welfare of all, and one which they were in duty bound to support.

“ The essential feature of this legislation as well of the whole history of our schools and colleges shows that the fathers of this colony recog. nized the paramount duty of aiding the work of education. They came

1 Revised Statutes, Chap. II, sec. 5, Title III.

[blocks in formation]

somewhat near, but of course did not grasp, the far more extensive work of supplying fully the needs of the people in establishing schools; and they came also somewhat near, but did not entirely understand, the duty of enforcing by universal law the use of opportunities of education by everybody.” 1

It is surprising to see how readily in those days of poverty and selfdenial the early assemblies, the representatives of the people, came to the support of institutions devoted to learning and culture. So cheerfully did the Assembly respond to the frequent memorials of the trustees of Yale that President Dwight was enabled to say, a century after its foundation, “ You are to be informed that Yale College has never received any considerable benefactions except from the Legislature of Connecticut.”2 And in speaking of the board of trustees, who had almost entire control, he said, “Their acts, however, are to be laid before the Legislature as often as required, and may be repealed and disallowed whenever it shall think proper.” 3

EARLY LEGISLATION.

We find in the early annals relating to education in Connecticut the raling of the Court concerning the support of students at Harvard. Rev. Mr. Shepard appeared before the commissioners and requested them to consider “ some way of comfortable maintenance of that school of the Prophets which now is,” and further suggested: “If it were commanded by you, and left to the freedom of every family which is able and willing to give throughout the plantations, to give but a fourth part of a bushel of corn, or something equivalent thereto, and for this end, if every minister were desired to stir up the hearts of the people once in the fittest season of the year, to be freely enlarged therein, and one or two faithful

men be appointed in every town to receive and seasonably send in what shall be thus given to them, it is conceded that no man could feel any aggrievance hereby; so it would be a comfortable provision for the diet of divers such students as may stand in need of some support and may be thought fit and worthy to be continued a fit season therein."

SUPPORT OF HARVARD.

The commissioners approved the plan presented by Mr. Shepard, and reported the same to the Assembly of Connecticut. This body duly considered the matter, and finally passed the following law: "The proposition concerning 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

Chas. D. Hine, Secretary of the State Board Education, Connecticut.
2 Dwight's New England, 168.
3 Ibid., 180.

into some room in March. This shall be continued yearly as it shall be considered by the commissioners.” 1

Nine years later, in 1653, the General Assembly granted during the November session the sum of twenty pounds for a fellowship in Har. vard College.

EDUCATION IN TOWNS.

[ocr errors]

Earlier than this, however, the towns of Connecticut showed an interest in local education. Hartford, settled in 1638, and New Haven, a year later, both made the subject of public schools a part of municipal legislation. The code of laws instituted by the Court of Connecticut concerning education is essentially the same as that adopted by Massachusetts, and reads thus: “It is ordered by the Court and authority thereof, that the selectment of every town in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell shall bave a vigilant eye over their brethren etc.," to see that their children and servants do not grow up in ignorance. Other laws for the instruction of children follow in this code.

In May, 1678, the following action was taken : “ This Court now see cause to order that every town, when the Lord shall have increased their numbers to thirty families, they shall maintain a school to teach children to read and write.” Prior to this, in 1665, a town of one hundred householders was to set up and maintain a grammar school, and subsequently the Court ordered (1671-72) that a grammar school be established in each of the four county towns of Hartford, New Haven, New London, and Fairfield. These schools were afterward endowed by the Court with six hundred acres of land each for their support. 5

A fine of five pounds, which was afterward increased to ten, was imposed on every town not complying with the law in keeping a grammar school. The grammar schools of Hartford and New Haven were made free and of a higher grade by the action of the Court of 1690, and we find that the latter school early attained celebrity, under Master Cheever, who maintained it from 1638 to 1649, as a school in which Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were taught, to fit young men for “ye universitie.” “The town paid twenty pounds a year to Mr. Ezekiel Cheever for two or three years at first, but in August, 1644, it was enlarged to thirty pounds a year, and so continueth."

The General Court favored this class of schools as the supporters of the University. In 1684 the Legislature passed the following act: “For the encouragement of learning and promoting public concernments, it is ordered by this Court that all such houses and lands used for school, church, or charitable purposes be exempted from taxation." 6 Two years thereafter another act provided that the surplus money in the treasury be distributed to the support of grammar schools.?

1 Connecticut Colonial Records, I, 112,

Trumbull. ' Ibid. 3 Ibid., II, 250.

4 Code of Laws, I, 520. Trumbull.
5 Conn. Col. Rec, III, 176. Trumbull.
Ibid, Oct., 1684.
Ibid., 224.

6

7

YALE COLLEGE, 105

This legislation in respect to grammar schools indicates the generous tendency of the public spirit and the attitude of the people of Connecticut, but the crowning work of the State is seen in its able support of Yale College, now Yale University. This venerable institution, from the time of its founding, has been the central power in the education of the State and has ever been her pride and her glory. Its influence has not only permeated every section of Connecticut, but it has shed its rays of light upon other States less fortunately provided with the advantages of higher education.

The reform of 1701 established in Connecticut a complete system of education, which was an embodiment of previous acts of the Assembly extended and enlarged. The system embraced an obligation on the part of parents and guardians to educate their children and apprentices at least to the extent that they might be able to read “the holy word of God and the good laws of the colony.” The new law also provided a tax of forty shillings on every thousand pounds of the lists of estates, which tax was collected in every town with the annual provincial tax, and was payable proportionally to those towns only which should establish their schools according to law. A town with seventy . families and over must keep a school open at least six months in the year. In 1702 this law was changed so that a town of seventy families or over should keep a school open eleven months in a year, and a town of less than said number of families must keep a school for at least six months in the year to comply with the law, obtain State aid, and be free from fines. The grammar schools maintained in the four county towns were still to be continued to fit youth for college, and provision was also made in this educational system for the religious instruction of the Indians. But the most important regulation, and the one which concerns us chiefly, was the authorization of a “collegiate school,” as it relates directly to the subject of higher education.

FOUNDING OF YALE COLLEGE.

A truly significant event in the history of education at this period was the founding of Yale College. For sixty years Harvard had been the only school for higher education in New England. The people of Connecticut desired a school nearer home, especially for the training of their ministers. The first movement in the enterprise was made by three ministers, respectively of the towns of New Haven, Milford, and Branford.

“Ten ministers, nine of them being graduates of Harvard, met at Branford, and made a contribution from their libraries of about forty volumes in folio for the foundation of the college.”" A nucleus being thus formed, other donations of books were made, and the Gen. eral Court granted articles of incorporation. It was in 1700 that the act

1 Palfrey: History of New England, 371.

« AnteriorContinuar »