Character Of The Academies
( Originally Published 1907 )
THE academy was the institution for secondary education wrought out by the American people in the first half century of their independence, and it was the dominant institution of its class for at least another half century. It appeared under different names and in different forms, and its character changed as time went on. In its varied developments, it contributed largely to the making of American civilization. The nature of this contribution and of the institution which made it must now be considered a little more particularly.
To begin with, some differences between the academy and the grammar school, and the social conditions out of which they respectively arose, should be mentioned. The early grammar-school-and-college system, as was pointed out, be-longed to a society in which there was a conscious cleavage between higher and lower classes. In the revolutionary period there was a strong tendency toward democracy. Yet the democracy with which the present generation has been familiar had not yet come into being. A most important turning-point was passed when the Republican party came into power, with Thomas Jefferson in the presidential chair. The rise of the west within the twenty years next following, made for a great advance in democratic spirit. And this was a time when academies were springing up everywhere.
The academy age was, in fact, the age of transition from the partially stratified colonial society to modern democracy. Perhaps the most marked feature of that transition was the growing importance' of a strong middle class. The rise of the academies was closely connected with the rise of this middle class. The academies were by no means exclusively middle-class schools at the start, and they became something very different from that at a later period. But it is one of their glories that they were in the earlier days so bound up with the higher interests of the common people.
There was in the academies a growing sense of the value of education for its own sake, or rather for its effect in the heightening of sheer human worth. To be sure the colonial colleges had not been professional schools in the modern sense ; but they were valued chiefly because they gave such an education as a member of one of the learned professions required. In this way the professional spirit was strong in them, apparently stronger than the spirit of " culture," to use the word in a modern sense. But the idea of liberal culture took strong hold of the academies ; and it would, perhaps, be fair to call it the dominant note of both academy and college education in the nineteenth century.
There were many reasons for this change of attitude. It may have been influenced in some measure by Rousseau. This influence, however, was indirect for the most part, though the Emile was read somewhat on this side of the water.i Then, our revolutionary period was alive with the doctrine of the rights of man and with the assertion of human freedom. The minds of men were receptive not only to the ideas of revolutionary France, but also to those ancient conceptions of the rights and duties of freemen which the study of Latin and Greek had made familiar. So this ideal of liberal culture which made its way into the academies and was spread abroad by them, was a blending of many elements, all fused in a very religious enthusiasm. It gave us a noble view of the worth of education, a view which tended doubtless to abstraction, but which was very high and generous. It had consequences, too, of a thoroughly practical sort.
The old grammar schools had, many of them, been erected to supply the educational need of single communities. An academy, on the other hand, was not commonly regarded as a merely local institution. It served a widely scattered constituency. The Phillips academies came, in fact, to be in a sense national, like the great public schools of England.
We have seen that the close corporation was the characteristic type of academy organization, replacing those various forms of control which were found in the grammar schools. Where there was a deviation from this type, it was not in the direction of management by some public corporation, as in the grammar schools, but rather in the direction of ecclesiastical control. The members of the managing board of an academy were commonly drawn from several localities, and these sometimes remote from one another.
The earlier academies were not bound up with the college system in the same way as the grammar schools : they were not primarily " fitting schools." They were, instead, institutions of an independent sort, taking pupils who had already acquired the elements of an English education, and carrying them forward to some, rather indefinite, rounding out of their studies.
The constitutions of the Philadelphia academy and of the two schools founded by the Phillips family, set forth the purposes of those several institutions, but make no such mention of preparation for college as is contained in the New England laws providing for grammar schools, or in official documents relating to the grammar schools of Mary-land and Virginia. We even find the interests of the academies sometimes set over against those of the colleges, as in New York and Maryland, the two institutions being regarded as belonging to diverse educational systems. The colleges were for the higher, and particularly the professional, classes. The academies were the colleges of the people. So the matter stood in the controversies of the time.
On the other hand, it should be noted that, even in the earlier academies, the classical studies were arranged with reference to college admission requirements, for the convenience of such students as might go on to some higher institution. The tradition of the grammar schools, too, made itself felt in the new institutions. In fact, the classical side of the academies was virtually the old grammar school continued in a new setting. In the better schools the college preparatory course was the backbone of the whole system of instruction. While the academies were much more than fitting schools, it was the admission requirements of the colleges, more than anything else, that determined their standards of scholarship.
Up to the year 1800, Latin, Greek, and arithmetic were the only subjects required for admission to the leading American colleges. The requirements in the classics were not definitely marked out in the eighteenth century, except at the college in New York. King's College, as early as 1755, had made the quantitative requirement of three of Tully's orations, the first three books of the AEneid, the first ten chapters of St. John's gospel, and all of the rules of Clarke's Introduction. Columbia College, thirty years later, extended this requirement to include the four orations against Catiline, the first four books of the AEneid, and apparently the whole of Casar's Gallic War and all four of the gospels.
Between the year 1800 and the breaking out of the Civil War, five new subjects found a place in the requirements for admission to the regular college course. These are given as follows, with the dates of their first appearance : Geography, 1807 ; English grammar, 1819 ; algebra, 1820 ; geometry, 1844; ancient history, 1847. All of these subjects were first required by Harvard College, with the exception of English grammar, in which Princeton took the lead ; but each of the new requirements named spread gradually to other institutions.
Academy students who were preparing for college pursued the studies, now slowly increasing in number and in definiteness, which their several colleges prescribed. But the notable thing about the academies, as distinguished from the grammar schools, was that they went on adding subjects to this programme at their own sweet will, wholly regardless of what the colleges were doing. Sometimes they brought subjects down from the college course ; sometimes they took subjects which the most of the colleges did not touch. Perhaps the most significant of these additions were studies in the English language, in history, and in certain branches of natural science. Occasionally, too, we find mention of the modern foreign languages. And books were studied which treated of ethics and psychology in some of their practical aspects. Watts' Improvement of the mind was one of these.
The first stage in the introduction of natural science into the programme of studies is seen in the laying of strong emphasis on mathematics, especially on algebra and geometry. Closely connected with these subjects was the study of astronomy. It is easy to see the relation between this movement and that rising interest in natural phenomena which had found expression in the academies of England. Here as there astronomy was received with favor because of the new stimulus which it gave to the sense of religious awe. The work of Herschel was now added to that of Newton. The wonder of the heavens was increased, and the expectation of new discoveries lent further interest to the science. It is, indeed, a distinct loss to our secondary education that this earlier study of astronomy is now so largely discontinued.
"Natural philosophy " followed close upon astronomy, or not infrequently absorbed astronomy, which then made one of the chief divisions of the more comprehensive subject. The several formal divisions of physics were also included in this natural philosophy. Electricity and magnetism were already fascinating studies. A patriotic as well as scientific interest attached to the story of Franklin's experiments. Even before the close of the eighteenth century, some schools had "philosophical" apparatus for use by the instructor in the presence of the class. At odd times, students as well as teachers performed experiments with such apparatus ; but the era of regular school laboratories was still far off.
Chemistry was taught along with natural philosophy, and by similar methods. Geography, too, began to be emphasized. This subject presents a good example of the influence of text-books. With the publication of Morse's geography, in 1784, it became an easy matter to manage a course of geographical study, such as it was. There were many interesting things in the text-book, and the subject was intrinsically attractive, besides offering a great store of useful information. So geography soon made headway in the schools, and later found a place in college admission requirements.
In all of the studies of this group, the speculative and liberal interest ran alongside of the consideration of practical use — sometimes the one ahead, and then again the other. To the general public, such subjects doubtless appealed chiefly on account of some sort of usefulness. Their practical value was sometimes emphasized by the addition of technical instruction in surveying and navigation, after the example of a few of the colonial schools.
The study of the English language and literature in the academies, as recommended by Defoe, and still more as recommended by Franklin, seems to have been intended to fill a place somewhat like that which English occupies in our best secondary schools at the present time. The master-pieces of English prose and poetry were to be studied critically, with a view to a just appreciation of their beauties as well as of their defects. Practice in composition under intelligent supervision was to form the students' English style. By oral reading and declamation they were to be trained to an effective public presentation of worthy sentiments.
There were many hindrances in the way of the attainment of this ideal — such hindrances as we can hardly realize in our day. Tradition, apparatus, and atmosphere were all lacking, and only a few great teachers can get on without such aids. Franklin's letter to the trustees of the College of Philadelphia, with reference to the depression of the English school, is a pathetic setting-forth of these difficulties. It seems likely that the better teachers of English branches in our early academies tried faithfully to give their pupils some real introduction to English literature, but the accounts of their work are scrappy and obscure.
Lindley Murray's grammar, published in 1795, gave the first definite direction to this department of study. In the study of English grammar a means was found of giving form to the chaotic desire to study the vernacular. The tradition of Latin grammar easily passed over into this branch of study. The school spirit of the age could comprehend its significance. In the hands of skilful teachers it could be made intensely interesting to many students, and especially to those whose belated opportunities brought them to the academies near the end of their teens, with minds eager for intellectual exercise, which their childhood had largely missed. English grammar soon became one of the standard subjects of academy instruction ; and a large part of the fluid and formless aspiration after the study of English was run into the grammatical mould.
This, however, does not tell the whole story. Certain English masterpieces, Paradise lost, the Essay on man, and Cowper's Task, and along with these, Pollock's Course of time, were used for parsing exercises, and sometimes furnished at the same time materials for exercises in reading. While this practice was open to grave objections, it cannot be denied that it led some students to an appreciation of good literature. At its best, it was much better than some present-day instruction in Vergil and Cicero. Logic and rhetoric were sometimes brought over from the ancient trivium and made to round out the English side of the academy programme. There was great interest, too, during this period, in the practice of declamation. But one of the most noteworthy lines of English instruction in the early academies was provided by the new school reading books. Interest in English literature combined with moral aspiration and with patriotic devotion to everything American, in determining the content of our earliest works of this class.
It is interesting to note the sense of pride and confidence in America and Americanism which flamed up when the in-dependence of the colonies was secured and the national constitution was established. The rapid growth of the country to westward added fuel to this sentiment. There was in it a great deal of crude and ignorant bumptiousness, such as Dickens saw and made the whole world see. But there was in it, too, a passionate devotion to the ideal of free government, and an abundance of hero-worship. Washington was a demigod and lived among the clouds, even before he became president. We may gather as much from the bitter comment of his enemies. Putnam and Wayne and La Fayette and Marion and Light Horse Harry were heroes. The Declaration of Independence was a sacred document, and the Signers were held in reverence not wholly unlike that with which the early church regarded the twelve apostles.
It is good for youth to have generous enthusiasms, and this exuberant Americanism was one of the most pervasive influences at work in the old academies. In some measure it took the place of the religious instruction of the old grammar schools, at the same time that the reading book was taking the place of the Psalter and Testament.
Noah Webster's American, selection or "Third Part" (1785) was crowded with examples of American eloquence. Caleb Bingham's American preceptor (1794) and Columbian orator (1797) followed this lead, though containing a little more of eighteenth-century English literature. Lindley Murray's series of readers, and particularly his Sequel (1801) drew largely upon Milton and the essayists and poets of the eighteenth century. The book last named was " designed to improve the highest class of learners, to establish a taste for just and accurate composition and to promote the interests of piety and virtue."
In addition to the patriotic selections of the reading books there was more definite instruction in the history of the United States, supplemented by some account of other nations. The classical course seems generally to have offered no instruction in history, except in the annals of Greece and Rome. But this has been the case even in our high schools, down to a recent period. If the history taught in the academies was hardly more than an appendage of literary studies, it will be remembered that until well on into the nineteenth century historians were commonly ranked as contributors to belles-lettres.
The course of study in the earlier schools was not clearly formulated. That part which looked to preparation for college was, however, fairly well defined in the tradition received from the grammar schools. The arrangement of the newer studies was open to free experiment. It seems to have been a common practice to form classes during the winter months in such subjects as might be of especial interest to the young farmers who came into the school when the fall work was over, and must leave when the spring ploughing began. The separation of the English from the classical course appears at a very early day.
The history of the Phillips Exeter curriculum is instructive. In the year 1808, the number of classes in that academy was reduced, and a uniform system of classification established. At this time the requirements for admission to the English course were defined, and probably somewhat advanced. Ten years later the admission requirements were made more rigid, and the separation of the English from the classical department was sharpened. The full course of study for the year 1818 is given as follows :
For the First Year :
Adam's Latin Grammar; Liber Primus, or a similar work; Viri Romani, or Caesar's Commentaries ; Latin Prosody ; Exercises in Reading and making Latin ; Ancient and Modern Geography ; Virgil and Arithmetic.
For the Second Year :
Virgil ; Arithmetic and Exercises in Reading and making Latin, continued ; Valpey's Greek Grammar ; Roman History ; Cicero's Select Orations ; Delectus ; Dalzel's Collectanea Graeca Minora ; Greek Testament ; English Grammar and Declamation.
For the Third Year :
The same Latin and Greek authors in revision ; English Gram-mar and Declamation continued ; Sallust ; Algebra ; Exercises in Latin and English translations, and Composition.
Collectanea Graeca Majora ; Q. Horatius Flaccus ; Titus Livius ; Parts of Terence's Comedies; Excerpta Latina, or such Latin and Greek authors as may best comport with the student's future destination ; Algebra ; Geometry ; Elements of Ancient History ; Adam's Roman Antiquities, etc.
For admission into this department the candidate must be at least twelve years of age, and must have been well instructed in Reading and Spelling ; familiarly acquainted with Arithmetic, through Simple Proportion with the exception of Fractions, with Murray's English Grammar through Syntax, and must be able to parse simple English sentences.
The following is the course of instruction and study in the English Department, which with special exceptions, will comprise three years.
For the First Year :
English Grammar including exercises in Reading, in Parsing, and Analyzing, in the correction of bad English ; Punctuation and Prosody ; Arithmetic ; Geography, and Algebra through Simple Equations.
For the Second Year :
English Grammar continued; Geometry; Plane Trigonometry and its application to heights and distances ; mensuration of Sup. and Sol. ; Elements of Ancient History ; Logic ; Rhetoric ; English Composition ; Declamation and exercises of the Forensic kind.
For the Third Year :
Surveying ; Navigation ; Elements of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, with experiments ; Elements of Modern History, particularly of the United States ; Moral and Political Philosophy, with English Composition, Forensics, and Declamation continued.
The religious spirit was still strong in the academies, but it was passing through a transformation. A marked characteristic of this transition was the appearance of the idea of non-sectarian religious instruction. This conception, together with its practical application, is a notable feature in the history of these schools.
Some of the academies, to be sure, were conducted on denominational lines and under ecclesiastical control. But the extreme subdivision of sectarian bodies made it difficult to se-cure adequate support for many such institutions. The friends of learning saw that schools could be established and properly maintained only by getting those of divergent religious beliefs to pull together, making education a common cause. There was, moreover, a growing dissatisfaction with the prevalent sectarian strife. One indication of this sentiment is seen in the establishment of the church of the Disciples (about 1827), under the leadership of Alexander Campbell, for the avowed purpose of bringing about a union of all Christians in an organization based upon the Bible alone, and having no creed nor liturgy. The Unitarian movement, too, which was destined to exercise so powerful an influence upon American education, was giving expression to a mighty protest against the dominance of religious forms and creeds.
There was already a limited acceptance of the principle that those doctrines on which the various sects had divided should be excluded from the schools. In a discourse at the dedication of the academy at Milton, in 1807, the Rev. Thomas Thacher went so far as to say, "A Preceptor has no right to inculcate his peculiar sentiments in theology on the mind of the pupil." Others, who might not have agreed with the general principle thus expressed, would at least maintain that the schools would do better to touch on only those broad aspects of religious belief upon which their constituents were practically agreed ; but would have these presented with all fulness and earnestness.
So the academies were generally pervaded by a religious spirit, which was often deep and intense; but which was non-ecclesiastical, in that it kept clear of those doctrines which are peculiar to any single church. In this way they bridged over the gulf which separates the ecclesiasticism of the earlier grammar schools from the secularism of modern public-school systems.
The grammar schools had been for the most part one-teacher schools, and when the teacher was assisted by an usher, there was no distribution of the subjects of instruction between the two. The principal teacher still taught everything, and the usher was merely a helper, who taught the beginners, it might be, or did whatever task was assigned to him. This plan was departed from when a separate teacher was appointed to give instruction in writing and the mathematical branches. Such an arrangement foreshadowed the academy system.
In the academies the prevalent form of organization was that in which the work of instruction was divided among two or more teachers, and the distribution made according to subjects. A partial variant from this type is seen in some early co-educational schools, where the "preceptor" taught the boys, while the " preceptress " taught the girls in another room. But even in these cases, boys and girls were sometimes brought together for instruction in some subject in which either the one or the other of the teachers was especially proficient.
At the Leicester (Massachusetts) Academy provision was made at the outset for a "Preceptor in the Greek and Latin languages" and a " Teacher of English, writing, arithmetic, etc." These two teachers were practically independent of each other. In 1821, however, the supervision of both departments was definitely committed to the preceptor of the Latin School, and three years later a horizontal division was adopted, into an upper and a lower school.
It is not to be supposed that the transition from the age of the grammar school to the academy age could be made without some conflict between their characteristic types of education. There were those in Massachusetts who lamented the passing of schools of the earlier type. As far back as 1795, Samuel Adams, in his inaugural address as governor of Massachusetts, said :
" It is with satisfaction that I have observed the patriotic exertions of worthy citizens to establish academies in various parts of the Commonwealth. It discovers a zeal highly to be commended. But while it is acknowledged that great advantages have been derived from these institutions, perhaps it may he justly apprehended that multiplying them may have a tendency to injure the ancient and beneficial mode of education in town grammar schools.
" The peculiar advantage of such schools is that the poor and the rich may derive equal benefit from them ; but none excepting the more wealthy, generally speaking, can avail themselves of the benefits of the academies. Should these institutions detach the attention and influence of the wealthy from the generous support of the town schools, is it not to be feared that useful learning, instruction, and social feelings in the early parts of life may cease to be so equally and universally disseminated as it has heretofore been ?"
Judge Phillips seems to have given up the town grammar school as hopeless before determining to establish an academy. The public was not sufficiently interested to get and keep good teachers — if such could be found ; the school was lacking in moral and religious vitality ; and it was unfortunately bound down to a study of the classics . At Haverhill, as late as 1825, there was an animated newspaper discussion of the question whether an academy should be established or steps taken to improve the existing town grammar school.
When the new type of school came to be well recognized and popular, some of the old grammar schools were regularly transformed into academies. The Hopkins school at Hadley was one of these. As early as 1754, a vote was passed declaring that, " The Town is willing that the estate given for the support of a Grammar School in the Town of Hadley, be employed . . . for the support of an Academy in the Town of Hadley." If this suggestion had been acted on immediately, Hadley would in all probability have had the first New England academy. It was more than sixty years, however, before such a step was taken. In 1816 the trustees of the "Hopkins Donation School," as it was then called, were incorporated by the Massachusetts legislature as " The Trustees of Hopkins Academy." In accordance with the policy formulated in 1797, the legislature made a grant of a half-township of land for the benefit of the new academy. This was in 1820.
A famous suit at law, affecting the Hopkins Academy, was carried through the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1833. The trustees were charged with a perversion of the true intent of the Hopkins foundation in that they had extended the privileges of the academy to non-residents bf Hadley on equal terms with members of the home community. The court rendered its decision in favor of the defence, finding no ground for the supposition that the endowment was originally intended for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of Hadley. This case throws a side-light of some importance on the relation of the academies to the public.
The grammar school at Roxbury was incorporated in 1789, the board of trustees being made the successors of both the feoffees of the original grammar school and the trustees of the Bell endowment. In this instance, some shreds of connection with both ecclesiastical and civil authorities were retained; for the minister and the two oldest deacons of the First Church of Christ in Roxbury were made members of the corporation by virtue of their respective offices, and the trustees were required to exhibit a copy of their accounts at the call of the town meeting.
The grammar school at Hartford, so long maintained, with such varying fortunes, became virtually an academy by its incorporation in 1798. It still continued to be a one-teacher school until 1828, when it was broadened out and four teachers were employed. The funds, however, were inadequate, and the affairs of the school were in a bad way until the high school movement gave it new life some eighteen years after this.
On the other hand, a few of the old grammar schools successfully resisted the new movements. Foremost among these was the Boston Latin School, which continued to be a Latin school of the earlier type, and devoted itself steadily, and almost exclusively, to the preparation of students for admission to Harvard College.
Under the system adopted for the public schools of Boston in 1789, the minimum age for admission to the Latin School was fixed at ten years, and the course of study was reduced to four years. Children were from this time on admitted to the reading and writing schools of the town at the age of seven years, "having previously received the instruction usual at Women's Schools," i. e., at the so-called " dame schools ; " and might continue vibrating daily between the reading and writing schools up to the age of fourteen. Those who from the age of ten entered the Latin school were permitted to spend certain hours daily thereafter in a writing school.
Under Principal Gould, about 1823, the age of admission to the Latin School was reduced to nine years, and one year was added to the length of the curriculum. In 1860, the curriculum was lengthened to six years, and the time of admission raised again to ten years. Later changes belong to the high school period, and show somewhat the influence of the high schools and of the forces which have been shaping the high school policy.
The inner life of the academies was different in many ways from that of the earlier schools. A large proportion of the academy students came from a distance, and were for the time being under the quasi-parental oversight of the academy teachers. Dormitories were not generally provided at first. The students were boarded in the town as were those in attendance on the county grammar schools. The academy superintendence was extended, in a way, to their life in these temporary homes. It was not long, however, before institutions appeared with provision for the whole round of the student's life. Nazareth Hall, as we saw, had its dormitory from the start.
The average age of academy students was higher than that of the boys in the grammar schools ; and it was no uncommon thing to see young men who had already attained their majority beginning Latin in one of these schools along with little boys. Benjamin Abbot, the chief of our early academy masters, was himself one of those who had started late. In some instances young volunteers at the close of their army service entered an academy to continue their interrupted schooling. The presence of girls in many of these schools brought with it an atmosphere of home. On the whole, the discipline of the academies was milder than that of the grammar schools had been, and the student body was characterized by somewhat more of maturity of thought and purpose.
Student organizations soon began to appear. These were commonly, at first, rhetorical or debating clubs. Such a club, known as the Rhetorical Society, was in existence at Phillips Exeter previous to the year 1818. In that year the Golden Branch Society was organized, which seems before long to have taken the place of the earlier organization. This was a secret society at the outset. It seems to have had great influence in shaping the life of the school. Its president, a few years after its founding, spoke of earlier days when academy boys and town boys had sometimes met in open conflict, armed with cudgels, clubs, and even, it was added, with pistols. He attributed the more peaceable character which the academy had then, in 1824, achieved, to the influence of the Golden Branch. At a later time a fierce feud broke out between this society and the academy boys who had not been admitted to its charmed circle, but it was long before a rival society was established. The Social Fraternity and the Philomathean Society of the Phil-lips Andover Academy date from about this time.
Annual and occasional " exhibitions " were affairs in which the social interest of the academy year culminated. We find such an exhibition referred to at Leicester Academy as early as 1785. And five years later we hear of a dramatic performance by the academy pupils. The academy plays at Leicester soon came to be looked forward to with great anticipations. They were acted in the meeting-house, if contemporary accounts may be believed. Scenery was constructed, and both boys and girls took part in the representation, the academy being co-educational. One play referred to was the "Scolding Wife."
School hours were shortened somewhat, and there was time for play. At Leicester, in 1820, the school day lasted from eight to twelve in the forenoon and from two to six in the afternoon. But in 1834 this was reduced. From half-past eight to twelve and from half-past one to half-past four were the hours then prescribed, with a change of the after-noon session in summer to make it extend from two to five.
Football was the standard autumn game at Phillips Exeter as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century. The whole school participated in this game, being divided into two equal sides. No one was allowed to take the ball from the ground, and the game consisted for the most part of vigorous kicking. "Bat and ball" was played in the spring.
A very unfavorable account of American education was published in Blackwood's Magazine in the year 1819. It begins with condemnation of the academies : " The Americans take a strange delight in high-sounding names, and often satisfy themselves for the want of the thing, by the assumption of the name. These academies are not always exclusively classical schools ; some are partly appropriated to education for the counter and the counting-room ; and as far as this object goes, there is no striking defect in them ; it not being a very difficult matter to teach a lad to count his fingers and take care of his dollars. But in all that relates to classic learning, they are totally deficient ; there is not one, from Maine to Georgia, which has yet sent forth a single first-rate scholar ; no, not one since the settlement of the country, equal even to the most ordinary of the thirty or forty, which come out every year from Schule Pforta, and Meissen. . . . This arises from bad masters and a bad method of study. . . . They [the masters] are mere language masters, not scholars. . . . Virgil and Cicero are read in the miserable paraphrases of Davidson and Duncan. In this way the preparatory books are run through ; nothing is read but what is necessary for matriculation, and that so superficially as to be of no use."
The common American practice of educating boys in day schools is condemned. Those Carolina gentlemen who have sent their sons to Europe to be educated are accorded high praise. "The city of Charleston is still illuminated by a constellation of these European formed scholars." But the picture that is presented of the country as a whole is dark enough. Higher education is shown to be as badly off as that of middle grade, if not, indeed, in a worse condition.
This attack called forth a reply in the North American Review for September of the same year. But this was a rather halting production, admitting much that the writer in Blackwood's had asserted, and offering only a vague answer to such criticisms as met with dissent. The hopeful signs that appear in this discussion are an acknowledgment of the high attainments of Americans in the learned professions, and some indications of a disposition to improve the schools.
Whatever their defects, it would be difficult to measure the influence of the academies in our new national life. They were in sympathetic touch with our inchoate civilization, and helped it to find itself in its relations with the great world of human thought. Revolution on both sides of the Atlantic marked the age of their early development. The romantic movement was winning its triumphs in English as well as Continental literature. The Americanism and republicanism of the early academies was ready to respond to such influences. The romantic spirit was there in full measure. So a generation was brought up prepared to appreciate and take pride in the work of our early American writers. Probably the great majority of that constituency for which Bryant and Irving and Cooper and Simms and Willis wrote had had their taste formed in the old academies or felt only a little less directly the academy influence. And when the great group of New Englanders began to produce, a large part of their readers were such as had received an academy education.
We have seen that at the outset the academies were not intended as preparatory schools, and represented rather an independent educational movement. As time went on, they came into close relations with the colleges. But while the grammar schools simply followed the lead of the colleges and sought to meet their requirements, there can be little doubt that the academies reacted at the first with some degree of influence upon the higher institutions.
In the latter part of the eighteenth and the earlier part of the nineteenth century, the colleges were receiving many intimations of the fact that their curriculum did not meet the public need. The acad.imies were the popular institutions of the day in more senses than one. But the colleges came by slow degrees into closer adjustment with the demands of the age. They enlarged their programme of studies, but to do this was to add subjects already taught in the academies. It is altogether likely that one cohsideration which led the colleges to make such a change was the example of the more popular schools ; and this seems all the more probable when we remember that some of the progressive college men of the time had had their first experience as teachers in one or another of these academies.
An excellent example is found in Timothy Dwight the elder. In his career as an academy instructor he had taken a deep interest in studies in natural science. He carried this same spirit into the presidency of Yale College. He called about him such men as Silliman, Olmsted, and Dana, and soon made Yale the chief scientific centre among our American colleges. This course of action greatly increased the popularity and influence of that institution, and was doubtless one reason why it became such a mighty force in the making of our western civilization. Other eastern colleges, whether influenced by Yale or by the academies or by popular sentiment or by all at once, expanded gradually their range of instruction.
The establishment of other college courses, parallel with the time-honored classical course, seems to have begun at Columbia, where a scientific and literary course was offered as early as 1830. French appears among the subjects required for admission to that course. This was a notable innovation. It was not until the seventies that modern Languages were included among the subjects which might be offered for admission to the classical course of our leading colleges? The " parallel" course at Columbia was discontinued in 1843. But about this time other colleges began offering similar courses ; and already Harvard was making those noteworthy early experiments in the introduction of elective college studies.
In English, mathematics, and natural science, it seems clear that some of the academies, at the close of the last century and for one or two decades thereafter, were far in advance of the requirements for admission to college. President Dwight made his academy at Greenfield Hill "not only preparatory to but parallel with the college course." Moses Waddel, in South Carolina, prepared his better students to enter the junior class in college. Lewis Cass, in 1799, received from Phillips Exeter Academy a certificate to the effect that he had been a member of the academy seven years ; that he had "acquired the principles of the English, French, Latin, and Greek languages, Geography, Arithmetic, and practical Geometry ; " and that he had "made very valuable progress in the study of Rhetoric, History, Natural and Moral Philosophy, Logic, Astronomy and Natural Law." Yet neither geography nor arithmetic seems to have been required for admission to Harvard College until 1803. In the early days of the college, arithmetic had been a study for the senior year. The Constitution of the Episcopal Academy, adopted in 1796, provided that the following subjects should be taught in that institution : "The English Language, Philosophy, Mathematics, History, and every other science usually taught at Colleges; likewise the dead languages, such as Greek and Latin." These institutions knew hardly any limit to their studies excepting such as were fixed by the demand for instruction and their ability to meet that demand.
But in the latter part of the nineteenth century, when high schools had largely taken the place of academies as the ordinary agency of secondary education, the academies swung back toward the position of distinctively "preparatory " institutions. The reputation that some of them have gained as among the foremost fitting schools for our foremost colleges, has obscured the fact that fitting for college was a subordinate consideration in their original establishment.
The new colleges growing up in the western and southern states, where secondary schools were still few and weak, were generally under the necessity of maintaining preparatory departments. These came to be commonly known as academies. They contributed largely to the secondary education of the newer portions of the country. In not a few instances, the academy was first established, and the college was a later development, after the fashion of the Philadelphia institution.
Whether the direct influence of the academies on the colleges was great or small, there can be no doubt as to the greatness of their services in certain other directions. A new sense of the need of elementary schools was arising and the number of such schools was on the increase. But there was a great lack of even moderately well-prepared teachers, and the academies were looked to for improvement in this respect. We have seen that one reason urged by Franklin for the establishment of the academy at Philadelphia was " that a number of the poorer sort will hereby be qualified to act as schoolmasters in the country." We may well imagine that the need was great.
Again and again we find the establishment of academies urged on the ground of the need of better teachers in the elementary schools. In 1830 a seminary was opened by Samuel R. Hall, in connection with the Phillips Academy at Andover, for the special preparation of teachers for the common schools. Horace Mann visited and studied this school when he was engaged in furthering the state normal school movement. The Regents of the University of New York in their annual report of 1821 say of the academies : "It is to these seminaries that we must look for a supply of teachers for the common schools." In 1833 teachers' classes were instituted in these New York academies. Repeated efforts were made in Pennsylvania to make the academies answer the purpose of normal schools. Finally, when the organization of state normal schools began, in 1839, the institution that came into being was an academy without foreign languages, in which students were instructed in the various school subjects with especial reference to the consideration that they were in their turn to teach those subjects to others.
Not only were the academies the direct forerunners of the normal schools : the academy movement was connected also with a great forward movement in the higher education of women. In colonial times the education which girls might receive consisted of the mere learning in some dame school to read and to recite the catechism, in addition to the training to household arts in the home, and the religious instruction given from the pulpit. The story is told of a hungry-minded little girl in Hatfield, Massachusetts, who used to go to the school-house and sit on the doorstep to hear the boys recite their lessons.l Such privileges were not for those of her sex.
When the town school was first set up in Dorchester, the selectmen were directed to determine from time to time whether " the maydes shall be taught with the boys or not." The decision of this question seems not to have been in the affirmative for over one hundred and fifty years — not indeed till 1784, when girls were allowed to attend the school during the summer months.
The regulations adopted for the Hopkins Grammar School at New Haven, in 1684, provided, letters well & begin to Read . .. & yt all others either too young & not instructed in letters & spelling & all Girles be excluded as Improper & inconsistent w61i such a Grammar Schoole as ye law injoines, and is ye Designe of this Settlemt."
It does not appear whether the stigma of impropriety attached chiefly to the youth, the illiteracy, or the femininity of those excluded.
Yet even in this period there were girls who persuaded their fathers, brothers, or friends to teach them, and in various irregular ways some young women did rise to the attainment of knowledge beyond the merest rudiments. In the Revolutionary period, and for some years previous, the demand for learning was already so strong on the part of young women and girls that some sort of provision was made here and there for their instruction. Teachers in boys' schools, as in Philadelphia and Boston, formed classes out of their regular school hours for teaching girls writing, arithmetic, and the elements of English grammar.
In the Diary of David McClure we find a reference, under date of November 7, 1773, to a school of exceptional character at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. " The Selectmen invited me," so the journal reads, " to take the care of a public School of Misses." The invitation was accepted, and the account continues under date of December 1:
"Opened the School, consisting the first day of about 30 Misses. Afterwards they increased to 70 and 80 ; so that I was obliged to divide the day between them, & one half came in the forenoon, and the other in the Afternoon. They were from 7 to 20 years of age. Mr. Samuel Parker, afterwards settled in the ministry in Boston, was my predecessor in the school. I attended to them in reading, writing, arithmetic & geography principally. This is, I believe, the only female School, (supported by the town) in New England, it is a wise and useful institution."
Dr. McClure was engaged to keep the school for five months at a salary of X60 "per annum," the five months presumably constituting the annum.
The reminiscences of the Rev. William Woodbridge seem to indicate that about the year 1770 girls were taught in the public schools in and around Hartford, Connecticut. They " had no separate classes, though generally sitting on separate benches."
There is not much in any of the schools referred to above that could by any stretch of the term be brought within the compass of secondary education. But after the Revolution, private schools for girls, of a somewhat higher grade, began to appear. Several Yale men were prominent in the earlier stages of this movement. Two Yale students, during the interruption of college exercises by the British occupation of New Haven, in 1779-80, taught each a class of young women for the term of one quarter. One of them, the Rev. William Woodbridge, of the class of 1780, kept a young ladies' school at New Haven during his senior year, in which he taught grammar, geography, composition, and rhetoric. Jedediah Morse had a similar school at New Haven in 1783. And Timothy Dwight, after teaching a mixed school at Northampton, made his academy at Greenfield Hill, opened in 1785, a co-educational institution.
About the year 1780 an academy for girls was established by Dr. Rush and others at Philadelphia. A few other institutions, either coeducational or for girls only, appeared before the close of the eighteenth century. A " female academy" was maintained at Medford from 1789 to 1796, which is said to have been the first institution of its kind in New England . Leicester Academy (1784) and Westford Academy (1793) were co-educational from the start. Brad-ford Academy (1803) was co-educational for many years, and then became a school for girls alone.
In 1814, Catherine Fiske began her twenty-three-year term of service as a teacher of young women at Keene, New Hampshire. More than twenty-five hundred in all came to her, and she taught them botany, chemistry, Watts on the Mind, and other studies. The Rev. Joseph Emerson's seminary for young women at Byfield and Saugus, 1818-24, received about one thousand pupils, many of them young school-teachers. It is of especial significance in this record because of the fact that Miss Zilpah P. Grant (Mrs. William B. Banister) and Miss Mary Lyon received in it some part of their academic training and a great part of that inspiration which made them apostles of education to the women of New England.
Emma Hart (Mrs. John Willard) after teaching for a time at Westfield, Massachusetts, Middlebury, Vermont, and Waterford, New York, founded in 1821 the Troy Seminary, at Troy, New York, which commanded widespread interest. It is said that two hundred schools for girls, one-half of them in the southern states, have come into existence as a result of the influence of this one institution. Miss Catherine Beecher's seminary at Hartford (1822—32) also exercised a very wide influence. The writings of Miss Beecher, added to her success in the conduct of this school, contributed very greatly to the growing popularity of woman's education. The Adams Academy at Derry, New Hampshire (1823), was the first in New England to be endowed and incorporated expressly for the education of girls. Miss Grant and Miss Lyon were co-laborers in this school for four years. Then they removed to Ipswich, where the first incorporated girls' academy in Massachusetts came into existence in 1828. The Abbot Academy at Andover was incorporated the following year.
Caleb Bingham and Ebenezer Bailey and many others had an honorable part in this earlier movement. Finally, in the eighteen-hundred-thirties, two institutions were established that have led the two main lines of advance in the higher education of women. A new college, bristling all over with unpopular principles, was established in 1833 at Oberlin, Ohio, which courageously introduced the innovation of collegiate co-education. The labors of Mary Lyon culminated in the incorporation of the Mount Holyoke Seminary, in 1836. These institutions, as they were then, would look poor and weak in comparison with any high-grade college, whether co-educational or for women only, of the present day. But they were great in the nobility of their purposes, and in their promise of these later developments.
The beginnings which were making at this same time in the education of girls at Catholic convents are referred to in another place. That movement had some direct connection with the one we are considering here ; for the Catholic competition lent new spirit to the efforts of those who were seeking to build up Protestant schools for girls. The fear of religious and political dangers which might arise if the mothers of the land should be generally educated in convent schools is often referred to in the discussions of the time.
One other consideration which greatly stimulated this movement toward a higher education for women was the fact that women were coming to be much more generally employed as teachers. There was need of a larger number who should be well enough educated to give intelligent instruction to the little ones. The normal school movement and movements in the education of women have more than once been found very closely bound together.
But perhaps even more weight should be attached to the growing conviction that education is a good thing in itself. The nineteenth century ideal of liberal culture — a culture which is proper to human beings simply because they are human — carried the day for the education of women in the face of the question, "Who shall cook our food if girls are to be taught philosophy ? "
The strong religious trend of the academies has already been referred to. Generally speaking, they were not founded for the immediate theological purpose which was upper-most in the organization of the schools of the nonconformists in England. Yet the Phillips Andover Academy has had an intimate connection with the development of theological instruction in this country. Dr. Bancroft, the late principal of this academy, said of the Andover Theological Seminary : " It claims to be the first regular theological seminary distinctively and exclusively organized for the theological training of ministers of Protestant churches in the United States." r It seems clear that the idea not only of general religious instruction but of provision for the direct preparation of young men for the ministry was entertained by the founders of that academy from the outset ; and a theological professor was employed for some years before the theological seminary was established. The seminary proper was opened in 1808. Before that time Protestant theological institutions had been established at New Brunswick, New Jersey ; Xenia, Ohio ; and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania ; and a Catholic seminary at Baltimore.
This brief survey can give only a hint of the part which the old academies have played in our national life. For a better understanding of the springs of their influence we must get some glimpses of the personal touch and tone of academy teaching, which was after all the most vital thing in the whole academy history. This portion of their story will be told, in some small part, in the chapter on Teachers and Teaching.