« AnteriorContinuar »
At the session of the Legislature in 1887 an appropriation of eight thousand dollars per annum was granted the Storrs Agricultural School.1
SUMMARY OF GRANTS.
£2, 160 £2,300
£700 £750 £500
Harvard Scholarship, £20 per annum, (to Harvard) 1653-1700
Total grants to Yale, (approximate)
1888. Annual appropriation, Storrs Agricultural School, 1887.
Total grant by Legislature
£231 68. 6d. £7,764 178. 3d.
£128 $40, 629 $20,000 $7,000
$122, 676 $135,000
$8,000 $15,000 $8,000 $8,000
EARLY CONDITIONS OF EDUCATION.
In its settlement and early history Rhode Island differs in many respects from the other New England Colonies, and these differences are observed in the development of the principal institutions of the State. The Massachusetts Colonies were composed of a homogeneous people, with definite religious beliefs and definite civil organizations. There was a positive belief in religion and politics, and men were forced to conform to established tenets and laws or their presence was not welcomed at the colonies. The Connecticut colonies were direct off
Charles D. Hine, Secretary State Board of Education. Letter of July 30, 1888. 2 One pound of lawful money currency of the colonies averaged about three and one-third dollars in money of the present denomination, although its purchasing power was much greater than this amount in present currency.
shoots of the Massachusetts colonies, and adopted similar policies in all matters pertaining to the control of the social organism. But Rhode Island, founded by a dissenter from these views, adopted a liberal policy in religion and government. All persons, of whatsover creed, were welcomed to the new colony, and there sprang up, as a consequence, various beliefs in regard to government and religion. Whatever may be said about the motives entertained by the colonists of New England for settling in this new land, it must ever be held as a first principle that religion was the great organizer; and wherever it was strongest the government was soonest organized and most exact in its execution.
As compared with Massachusetts, the institutions of Rhode Island were slow in developing. Nowhere is the contrast more observable than in the matter of public education. The schools of Rhode Island fell almost a hundred years behind the progress of those of the adjacent colonies.
THE COLONIAL SCHOOLS OF RHODE ISLAND.
The colonial schools of Rhode Island were supported entirely by towns or by private enterprise. The central government considered it no part of its legitimate function to look after the general education. The first school was held at Newport in 1640, by Rev. Robert Lenthal, who had left Massachusetts on account of certain ecclesiastical troubles, “and August 20, Mr. Lenthal was, by vote, called to keep a public school for the learning of youth; and for his encouragement there was granted to him and his heirs one hundred acres of land, and four more for an house. lot; it was also voted “that one hundred acres should be laid forth and appropriated for a school, for encouragement of the poorer sort to train up their youth in learning, and Mr. Robert Lenthal, while he continues to teach school, is to have the benefit thereof.” But this gentleman did not tarry very long; I find him gone to England the next year but one.” 1 This School was maintained from year to year at Newport by various teachers, who were paid a salary by the town. At one time the salary was fixed at two pounds; but as all the school lands were rented for the small sum of eight pounds, or less than one shilling an acre,” the salary is larger than would at first-be supposed, though small enough at its highest estimate. The first step toward higher education was taken on October 4, 1710. As quoted by Mr. Stockwell, the record reads as follows: “The peti. tion of Mr. Gallaway, for the liberty of teaching of a latin school in the two little rooms in the school-house of this town, is hereby granted.” In 1763 the town voted to sell a portion of its school lands, and
* Stockwell: History of Public Education in Rhode Island, 5. Quoted from Callender's Discourse, Elton's edition, 116. *Stockwell, 6.
place "ye monies” received therefrom in the hands of the town treasurer, for a fund to be used in the education of poor children.
The school-house at Newport was destroyed by fire in 1774, and this was the end of the support of schools from land endowment in that town for the next fifty years.
There were other schools, however, outside of Newport. There were two school-masters in what was later known as Middletown, each of whom was paid a salary of ten pounds per annum.
In Providence the first public action was taken in favor of education in 1663, when the Assembly voted one hundred acres of upland and six acres of meadow for a school in the town of Providence. The lands thus appropriated were to be known as the school lands of Providence.” 2
The majority of these colonial schools were not equal to the grammar schools of Massachusetts and Connecticut of that day. From all we can learn of the early period, and from the subsequent struggle to establish a public school system it must be inferred that the government was not active and persistent in aiding education of any sort, while in the country districts of Massachusetts, and near the Rhode Island border, we find the schools in a prosperous condition. There was one at Barrington, then a part of Swansea, Mass., which was maintained “for the teaching of grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, and the tongues of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, also to teach English, and to write."93
“As respects schools," says Staples, "previous to the year 1770, they were but little thought of; there were in my neighborhood three small schools, perhaps about a dozen scholars each. Their books were the Bible, spelling-book, and primer.”
There were no free schools in Rhode Island prior to the Revolution. It was not until 1799 that, through the influence of John Howland and the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufactures, an act of the Assembly established free schools. Unfortunately this was repealed in a few years, and the struggle for the establishment of free schools was renewed in 1820, but without success, and again in 1841, when a public school system was established. At the same time (1841) a public high school was opened in Providence.
The State Legislature has never aided Brown University by grants or appropriations.
The proceeds of the land grant of 1862 were given over to the insti. tution by the State apon the condition that a scientific department should be formed in Brown University. The fund is held in trust by the
Stockwell, 7. 3 Stone: History of Rhode Island Institutions, 9; cf. Stockwell, 9. * Ibid.
4 Annals of Providence, 515; Stockwell, 11. 880-No.1-8
University, and the income goes toward paying the tuition of a certain number of State students, who are nominated by the Legislature.
Another item should be mentioned. The charter of the institution originally exempted the property of its professors; but now, by amendment of the charter, it exempts professorial property to the extent of ten thousand dollars for each professor.
While Harvard was the only literary institution in the country, the towns of New Hampshire contributed liberally for its support and were desirous of promoting its interests. As early as the year 1669, at the time of soliciting funds for a new building, the inhabitants of Portsmouth subscribed sixty pounds annuaily for a term of seven years, and at the same time and for the same purpose Dover gave thirty-two pounds and Exeter ten pounds.?
Not all of the support of the colony was given to the central institution, for we find that towns very early began grammar schools of their own.
In fact, the town system of educational support was particularly noteworthy in New Hampshire, and so remains until this day. 66 The policy of the State has been to leave in the bands pf the family and the neighborhood the main share of the work in educating the child. This doctrine was in harmony with the active and liberty-loving principles of our ancestors. Next to the parent and citizen in the work of education, the State recognizes the town as the proper agency for maintaining schools." :
Thus, from the Dover town records it is learned that, " at a publique Town Meeting held the 5:2 mo 58 (1658), It is agreed that Twenty pounds per annum, shall be yearly rayzed for the mayntenance of a School.master in the Town of Dover,” 4
The General Court of the province of New Hampshire very early provided that each town should have a school-master and a minister of the Gospel, and pay them by a rate. The weight of responsibility was thrown upon the towns. Again, "An act for the settlement and support of grammar schools, 6 passed the 5th of George I (1719), made it obligatory on each town of fifty householders to provide a school, and each town of one hundred freeholders a Latin schooi; the " select men” were to raise the money for the support of the schools by taxation, and any town failing to comply was fined twenty pounds.
| President E. G. Robinson, Brown University.
4 Smith: Dartmouth College, 15.
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, 115
These laws were almost identical with those of the General Court of Massachusetts. It is said that “when New Hampshire became a province in 1647, the laws of Massachusetts were copied, but only existed on the statute books, never being enforced.” In 1789 the Legislature repealed all previous acts, and authorized English grammar schools for teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic, “provided that in shire and half-shire, grammar Schools for teaching Latin and Greek shall be provided.”
Prior to this act the “form of government” adopted in 1784 had made a firm declaration in favor of the encouragement of learning. It asserts that “Knowledge and learning, generally diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; * * * it shall be the duty of the legislators and magistrates in all fature pe. riods of this Government to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries and public schools, etc.”
These provisions of the law cited above still threw the responsibility on the towns, and the only instance where education of an advanced grade received the support of the State is that of the assistance given to Dartmouth College.
“The germ of Dartmouth College was a deep-seated and long-cherished desire of the foremost of its founders to elevate the Indian Race in America.” In this respect it differs but little from the first foundations of Harvard and the first college in Virginia, except that the first school, of which Dartmouth is the successor, was composed of Indian youth. The school was founded as a private school and a private charity, but was forced to appeal to the State for assistance in order to preserve its existence.
The initiative step toward the founding of a college in New Hampshire was taken, as in the case of the founding of Yale, by an association of ministers. As early as 1758 a convention of Congregational ministers, assembled in Somersworth, framed a petition to Governor Wentworth for a college in the province of New Hampshire, “to serve the government and religion by laying a foundation for the best instruction of youth.””
It was urged that the distance from any seats of learning rendered the education of youth exceedingly difficult, and it was hoped that by means of interest among the people and “some favor from the Government” sufficient funds could be raised “for erecting and carrying on an academy or college within this province, without prejudice to any other seminary in neighboring colonies.” The Governor failed to grant the petition, and subsequently the matter of education was referred to a committee for consideration until the convention of ministers in 1762
1 state Report, 1876, 298. Smith, I. “Ibid., 16.