First High Schools
( Originally Published 1907 )
THE English High School.of Boston is regarded as the pioneer of the high school movement in this country. In 1818 Boston had extended its public school system downward to include the primary schools. In 1820 steps were taken looking to an extension of the system upward, in an institution planned to meet the needs of those advanced pupils who were not destined for the classical course of the Latin School. On the forty-fifth anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, the school committee having under consideration the question of appointments and salaries in the Latin School for the ensuing year, Mr. S. A. Wells introduced a number of resolutions relating, in part, to the establishment, of an " English Classical School." This part of the resolutions was referred to a sub-committee, which reported October 26 of the same year. On that date the school committee voted " that it is expedient to establish an English Classical School in the Town of Boston." At a subsequent meeting the selectmen of the town were requested to call a town meeting for the consideration of the sub-committee's report as amended by the school committee. A town meeting was accordingly held January 15, 1821, at which the plan out-lined in the report was debated, and finally adopted with only three dissenting votes.
The Boston Advertiser of January 13, 1821, had sounded a note of caution. "A town meeting," it said, "is to be holden on Monday next, to act, among other things, on the proposition for establishing what is called an English Classical School. We trust that a measure of this sort will not be adopted without due consideration. It ought to be considered what will be the effect of it on the existing English Grammar Schools, and also on the Latin Grammar School. Will not its effect be to degrade the former institutions, by transferring the more liberal studies now pursued in them, and for which they are, or ought to be, fully competent, to a single school more favored by the public ? And is it not the intention of some of the friends of the new school to withdraw a portion of the patronage which is now bestowed on the Latin School ? " But the nearly unanimous vote to establish the school seems to show that the consideration of these doubts resulted in putting them aside.
The same town meeting passed a second vote, " That the School Committee from year to year be, and hereby are, instructed to revise the course of studies proposed in the report this day made and accepted for the new school, and adopt such measures as experience shall dictate, and the object of its establishment require."
The sub-committee's report, presumably as amended and presented to the town meeting, stands as follows on the records of the school committee :
"Though the present system of public education, and the munificence with which it is supported, are highly beneficial and honor-able to the Town ; yet in the opinion of the Committee, it is susceptible of a greater degree of perfection and usefulness, without materially augmenting the weight of the public burdens. Till recently, our system occupied a middle station : it neither commenced with the rudiments of Education, nor extended to the higher branches of knowledge. This system was supported by the Town at a very great expense, and to be admitted to its advantages, certain preliminary qualifications were required at individual cost, which have the effect of excluding many children of the poor and unfortunate classes of the community from the benefits of a public education. The Town saw and felt this inconsistency in the plan, and have removed the defect by providing Schools in which the children of the poor can be fitted for admission into the public seminaries.
" The present system, in the opinion of the Committee, requires still farther amendment. The studies that are pursued at the English grammar schools are merely elementary, and more time than is necessary is devoted to their acquisition. A scholar is admitted at seven, and is dismissed at fourteen years of age; thus, seven years are expended in the acquisition of a degree of knowledge, which with ordinary diligence and a common capacity, may be easily and perfectly acquired in five. If then, a boy remain the usual term, a large portion of the time will have been idly or uselessly expended, as he may have learned all that he may have been taught long before its expiration. This loss of time occurs at that interesting and critical period of life, when the habits and inclinations are forming by which the future character will be fixed and determined. This evil, therefore, should be removed, by enlarging the present system, not merely that the time now lost may be saved, but that those early habits of industry and application may be acquired, which are so essential in leading to a future life of virtue and usefulness.
" Nor are these the only existing evils. The mode of education now adopted, and the branches of knowledge that are taught at our English grammar schools, are not sufficiently extensive nor other-wise calculated to bring the powers of the mind into operation nor to qualify a youth to fill usefully and respectably many of those stations, both public and private, in which he may be placed. A parent who wishes to give a child an education that shall fit him for active life, and shall serve as a foundation for eminence in his profession, whether Mercantile or Mechanical, is under the necessity of giving him a different education from any which our public schools can now furnish. Hence, many children are separated from their parents and sent to private academies in this vicinity, to acquire that instruction which cannot be obtained at the public seminaries. Thus, many parents, who contribute largely to the support of these institutions, are subjected to heavy expense for the same object, in other towns.
" The Committee, for these and many other weighty considerations that might be offered, and in order to render the present system of public education more nearly perfect, are of the opinion that an additional School is required. They therefore, recommend the founding of a seminary which shall be called the English Classical School, and submit the following as a general outline of a plan for its organization and of the course of studies to be pursued.
"1st. That the term of time for pursuing the course of studies proposed, be three years.
"2ndly. That the School be divided into three classes, and one year be assigned to the studies of each class.
"3rdly. That the age of admission be not less than twelve years.
"4thly. That the School be for Boys exclusively.
"5thly. That candidates for admission be proposed on a given day annually; but scholars with suitable qualifications may be admitted at any intermediate time to an advanced standing.
"6thly. That candidates for admission shall be subject to a strict examination, in such manner as the School Committee may direct, to ascertain their qualifications according to these rules.
"7thly. That it be required of every candidate, to qualify him for admission, that he be well acquainted with reading, writing, English grammar in all its branches, and arithmetic as far as simple proportion.
"8thly. That it be required of the Masters and Ushers, as a necessary qualification, that they shall have been regularly educated at some University.
A financial statement follows, in which it is proposed that four thousand dollars yearly be spent on the school, to support a master, sub-master, and two ushers. The report then closes with general considerations relating to the usefulness of public schools.
In accordance with this plan, the school opened in May, 1821, with Mr. George Barrell Emerson as principal master, and a membership of over one hundred pupils. And so began the establishment of city high schools in this country.
It will be observed that the term high school does not appear in the early record of this Boston institution ; and it may not be amiss to devote a little space here to a consideration of the titles of our early schools of this type. Sometimes such a school was known as the free academy. This hints at a close connection in thought between the high school and its immediate predecessor, the academy. The New York City College was known as the New York Free Academy in its earlier days. The high school at Albany bore a similar title till 1873. The term free, in this case, seems to refer to gratuity of instruction.l The memorial presented to the state legislature by the board of education of the City of New York, in 1847, relative to the establishment of a Free Academy, states that "one object of the proposed free institution is to create an additional interest in, and more completely popularize the Common Schools. It is believed that they will be regarded with additional favor, and attended with increased satisfaction when the pupils and their parents feel that the children who have received their primary education in these schools can be admitted to all the benefits and advantages furnished by the best endowed college in the state without any expense whatever."
Sometimes the term union school was used rather loosely to denote the highest department of a graded school system. This recalls at once the fact that our high schools are an upward extension of the public graded schools, and that "grading" was commonly made possible in the early days by a union of school districts. Strictly speaking, the graded school, formed in this way, constituted in its entirety the "union school." But the high school department was the most conspicuous division in such a school, and so often monopolized the appellation which belonged of right to the system as a whole.
It would appear that the term high school was used to some extent in Pennsylvania, even in colonial times. Mr. Wickersham applies it to a school established at German-town in 1761, and carried on successfully for some years thereafter; and to another opened in 1764 by the Schwenckfelders, in Berks County, later removed to Montgomery County, and maintained with a good degree of success for two generations). The latter school was started with a subscription aggregating £600, a part of which fund was passed on to the public schools when a state system was finally established in Pennsylvania. Latin, Greek, and the higher mathematics were taught in its classes.
It is evident that these Pennsylvania schools were not high schools of the modern type, and it is not likely that they exercised any influence upon the later use of the designation applied to them. If they were called " high schools " by their founders, it is probable that the name was derived from the German Hochschule, a term used somewhat indefinitely to designate a school of advanced grade.
The Boston school committee, when it came to provide a place of abode for the proposed English high school, voted, "That the third story of the new School-house in Derne Street, be appropriated for the present to the use of the English Classical School." Three years later, June 23, 1824, "it was Voted that the schoolhouse which the city is now building on Pinckney Street be appropriated to the use and accommodation of the English High School:— that the Grammar School, on Derne Street, be hereafter called and known by the name of the Bowdoin School: and that the vote of 11th May, giving that name to the house on Pinckney St. be repealed."
We do not know how the "English Classical School" came to be the " English High School." The latter title appears for the first time on the records of the school committee in the resolution quoted above. It is not impossible that the vote of June 23, 1824, was expressly intended, among other things, to bestow upon this school the designation of " High School." Or, there may have been an earlier resolution upon the same subject which failed through some mischance to find its proper place in the secretary's minutes.
It was a time of new things in Boston. The town became a city on the first of May, 1822. Josiah Quincy, its second mayor, was at the head of its government from 1823 to 1828. He was a man of positive convictions and devoted himself assiduously to municipal affairs. Under the city government, until 1835, the mayor and board of aldermen were members ex ogeio of the school committee. Mr. Quincy's own account of the establishment of the school reads as follows : " In 1820, an English classical school was established, having for its object to enable the mercantile and mechanical classes to obtain an education adapted for those children, whom their parents wished to qualify for active life, and thus relieve them from the necessity of incurring the expense incident to private academies." It may be surmised that his own unfortunate experience at the Phillips Andover Academy, in the first years of its existence, may have pointed Mr. Quincy's reference to the school as a substitute for the academy.2 He certainly interested himself in its affairs, and while still mayor was deep in the controversy relating to the high school for girls. He may have had much or little to do with the renaming of the English Classical School; but it seems not improbable that he was concerned with the change, that the new name was adopted in imitation of the Edinburgh High School, and that one channel through which the influence of the Edinburgh institution reached Boston was John Griscom's account of his visit to the Scottish capital.
John Griscom was a Quaker, living in New York, a man of scientific tastes and of substantial attainments in chemistry, a shrewd and sympathetic observer of men and institutions. He travelled extensively in Europe, and on his return published in two volumes an account of his observations. This work was noticed at some length in the North American Review for January, 1824. The Review was at that time published in Boston.
Professor Griscom (he was professor of chemistry and natural philosophy in the "New York Institution ") interested himself in European movements for ameliorating the condition of the poor and of the criminal class. He devotes considerable attention in the account of his travels to Mrs. Fry's work in the Newgate prison. On his return to America he was instrumental in securing the establishment of a house of industry in New York. Mr. Quincy, in the face of much opposition, brought about the establishment of a similar institution for the city of Boston. Some years later, Professor Griscom was the guest of Mr. Quincy, and visited with him the penal institutions at Boston.
In Edinburgh, Mr. Griscom made the acquaintance of Dr. Pillans, later professor in the University of Edinburgh, but at that time rector of the High School. This school interested the American visitor greatly, and his account of it is reproduced verbatim in the article already referred to, in the North American Review. But both the author and the reviewer were especially interested in the fact that Dr. Pillans was employing the monitorial system in the conduct of his school. The Bell-Lancaster controversy was in full swing in Great Britain, and many ardent school men on this side of the water were coining to believe that the Lancasterian method had been sent down from heaven to solve the problem of financiering a complete system of popular education. The state of New York, at the prompting of Governor De Witt Clinton, had entered upon a general Lancasterian movement in the second decade of this century. Massachusetts was more conservative, but numerous schools of the same type began to spring up within her borders in the twenties. Yet there had appeared but little disposition on either side of the water to extend the system to secondary schools ; and the great apparent success of Dr. Pillans experiment in the Edinburgh High School commanded thoughtful attention.
The reviewer remarks "that the city of Boston, which makes, we doubt not, in proportion to its means, a more honorable exertion for the instruction of its own community, and is rewarded by a more excellent success, than any other city of equal size in the world, pays at least twice as much for the instruction of a boy in its admirable Latin School, as is paid for the instruction of a boy at the High School, in the more expensive city of Edinburgh ;" and makes a conservative suggestion that those who have the management of public instruction inquire into the practicability of adopting some portions of the system of mutual instruction.
Professor Griscom himself proceeded to establish a school at New York, under the management of a board of trustees. These trustees were incorporated as the " High-School Society," and the school was known as the "High School for Boys." It was not opened till the first of March, 1825, some months after the Boston school had taken its new name; but its establishment seems to have been under consideration and discussion for a year or two before the formal opening.
The history of this incorporated "high school" in New York can be traced for several years, in a series of published reports. They are well edited and make interesting reading. The school received over six hundred scholars the first year. The same society opened a Female High-School " February 1, 1826. The monitorial system was employed in these schools, but apparently with more reserve and caution in the higher than in the lower classes. The following statement as to studies is taken from the first report :
"It should never be forgotten, that the grand object of this institution is to prepare the boys for such advancement, and such pursuits in life, as they are destined to after leaving it. All who enter the school do not intend to remain for the same period of time — and many who leave it expect to enter immediately upon the active business of life. It is very plain that these circumstances must require corresponding classifications of scholars and of studies."
" Some pursuits are nevertheless common to all. All the scholars in this department attend to Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Elocution, Composition, Drawing, Philosophy, Natural History, and Book-Keeping. Philosophy and Natural History are taught chiefly by lectures and by questions; and these branches, together with Elocution and Composition, are severally attended to one day in every week."
The fourth report contains a biographical sketch of Daniel H. Barnes, associate principal of the school, whose life had been lost in a stage-coach accident. The following passage relates to his acceptance of the monitorial system :
" He had satisfied himself of the value of this system by trial on a small scale in his own private classes, when his confidence in its efficacy was increased by its successful application in the High School of Edinburgh by Professor Pellans, as well as by the attestations of Drs. Mann and D'Oyley to its use in the Charter-House School of London.
" He, therefore, eagerly co-operated in the foundation of the High School for Boys, in 1824."
It appears that dissatisfaction with the name of the new Boston school had found expression as early as 1823. The Prize Book of the Latin School published in that year contains an admirable account of the free schools of Boston, written undoubtedly by Mr. B. A. Gould, then principal of the Latin School. The part relating to the school we have under consideration opens with the following paragraph :
"Public opinion and the wants of a large class of citizens of this town have long been calling for a school in which those, who have either not the desire or the means of obtaining a classical education, might receive instruction in many branches of great practical importance which have usually been taught only at the Colleges. This led to the establishment of the English Classical School."
A foot-note to the last sentence contains the following comment :
" This is as far as possible from being what its name indicates, as the classics, properly so called, are not taught, nor any knowledge of their languages required. It is hoped that an enlightened board of school committee will find some more appropriate name for this school, and not suffer so erroneous a use of terms to prevail among the youth of Boston."
Whether with or without official sanction, the change of name was made, as we have seen, in 1824. But at one time the use of the earlier designation was resumed. In 1832 the school committee, finding no authority in their minutes for the title " English High School," dropped it and called the institution the " English Classical School," as at the be-ginning. The committee took considerable interest in this matter, and one would guess from the record that it was the occasion of some controversy. However, this action of 1832 was reversed in the following year, and since that time the school has been uniformly known as the English High School.
It seems altogether probable, in the light of such facts as have been presented, that this name was suggested by that of the high school at Edinburgh. But it is not so clear that the Boston school followed the example of its Scotch namesake in other particulars. I have not found evidence that the system of mutual instruction was ever introduced into the English High School. Moreover, the instruction in the ancient classics, which was — and I suppose still is — the most marked feature of the Edinburgh school, was not introduced into the English High School at all, in the earlier days. The contrast between the two schools in this particular is brought out sharply by another passage in Griscom's account. He says :
"Although the system of instruction adopted in the High School is, professedly, intended to be chiefly classical ; P[illans] remarked, that he should think himself very deficient in his duty, in teaching the boys only Latin and Greek, and omitting to avail himself of every suitable occasion to inculcate moral truth, and to excite them to intellectual exertion. This he regards as one of the most important advantages of classical instruction. He thinks it might he practicable to frame a course of English study, that would be equally efficacious in training the mind to the pursuit of knowledge, and in disciplining its powers to a close and vigorous application; but such a course of study would be exceedingly unpopular in Scotland."
The ideas embodied in the English High School, then, cannot be traced to the High School of Edinburgh, however much the rector of that school at the time may have been disposed to look favorably on such ideas. In so far as they were drawn from institutions then existing, we can trace them to the English side of the New England academies ; and to the English grammar schools of Boston, of which the high school was an extension upward. The school was undoubtedly influenced also by the Latin School, which it paralleled. In one important particular the example of the Edinburgh school may in all likelihood have worked to the advantage of the high school in Boston. From the year 1566 the former institution had been under the direct control and patronage of the city authorities of Edinburgh. Like other schools of the Scotch municipalities, it enjoyed a peculiarly close relationship with the civic life of the community in which it was established. Both the Latin School and the English High School have stood in a like relationship with the civic life of Boston. Edinburgh and Boston have had many common interests, and pride in institutions of learning under public control has been not the least of these. This connection of the schools with the political community is worthy of special notice, for such connection has been of great significance in the growth of our American high schools.
It would seem that the example of Edinburgh has had its influence along with that of Boston in our high school movement beyond the limits of New England. When the Public School Society of New York made their appeal, in 1828, for means wherewith to establish a high school, the examples to which they pointed in support of their plan were those of Edinburgh and Boston
"The means of instruction, which are offered to the poor, should be the very best which can be provided. They may not all be able to proceed so far in the path of learning as others in happier circumstances. But to the extent of their progress, let them have all the helps which the present state of knowledge affords. This is no mere fanciful theory. The advantages of a free intercourse and competition between persons of all ranks and conditions in life, as exhibited in the Edinburgh High School, have been admirably illustrated by one of the first British orators of the age. He regarded such an institution as invaluable in a free state; because, to use his own language, men of the highest and lowest rank in the community sent their children there to be educated together. The practical beneficence of this system is attested by the noble institutions of a sister city."
Within a few years after the establishment of the English High School in Boston, several other schools of similar character were opened in different parts of Massachusetts. The "Educational Revival" was soon in full progress in that state, and public schools of all grades were quickened and strengthened by it.
A little later the high school movement passed beyond the bounds of Massachusetts. The state legislature of Pennsylvania had passed an act, in 1818, making the "Lancasterian " system obligatory on the schools of Philadelphia. In 1836 this statute was repealed, and the new act for Philadelphia then passed authorized the establishment of a high school. The Central High School, erected under this act, was opened to students in October, 1838. The first year its organization was tentative. Then it came under the strong, shaping hand of Alexander Dallas Bache, who was at its head from 1839 to 1842. He provided three parallel courses : An English course, two years in length ; a classical course of four years ; and a modern languages course of four years. Professor Bache, in 1841, described the object of the school as being " especially to provide a liberal education for those intended for business life." The legislature granted to it, in 1849, the power to confer academic degrees.
The mayor and city council of Baltimore, in 1839, authorized and requested the commissioners of public schools of that city to establish a high school, " in which the higher branches of English and classical literature only should be taught." In accordance with this resolution, the Baltimore high school was organized in the fall of 1839. In 1848 the name of this institution was changed to " the Central High School," in order to distinguish it from the Eastern and Western high schools, which had then been provided. A reorganization in 1851 introduced the departmental plan of instruction. The name was changed by city ordinance, in 1866, to " The Baltimore City College."
Charleston, South Carolina, was about this time a center of particularly active educational interest. In 1839, the city council voted to establish a high school, and the school was opened on the first of July of that year. A tuition fee of forty dollars a year was charged, the city council voting to supplement the income from this source so as to provide amply for the maintenance of the school. An annual appropriation of one thousand dollars was also voted " to be invested in city bonds to form a permanent fund for the school." Only boys were admitted. They were offered two parallel courses of study, classical and English, each four years in length.
At Providence, Rhode Island, a graded school system had been established in 1829. In 1838, after much opposition, a city ordinance was secured providing for the reorganization of the schools and the establishment of a high school. The next year Nathan Bishop was employed as school superintendent. The high school building was dedicated early in 1843, and the school was opened, with the superintendent acting as its principal. This school had a girls' department from the start. In 1855 the boys' department was divided into a classical and an English and scientific department.
A number of such schools were established in the towns of Ohio in the course of the forties. Connecticut joined in the movement about the same time ; and in 1847, after a campaign of education led by such men as Horace Bushnell and Henry Barnard, Hartford voted "to establish a free high school for instruction in the higher branches of an English and the elementary branches of a classical education, for all the male and female children of suitable age and acquirements in this society, who may wish to avail them-selves of its advantages." The old, colonial grammar school of Hartford, which had been transformed into something like an academy, as has already been told, was now made a part of the new high school, and the income from its endowment was used for the support of a classical teacher.
An act of the New York state legislature authorized the board of education of New York City, in 1847, to establish a free academy. This act was ratified the same year by vote of the city, and the school was opened the following year. In 1854 it was empowered to grant academic degrees. On recommendation of the board of education, in 1866, the institution became " The College of the City of New York."
From 1850 to the outbreak of the Civil War, the establishment of high schools went steadily forward. In Cincinnati the Hughes and Woodward funds, devoted to educational uses by two early citizens of that town, were made available for an extension of the public schools in 1851, and the Hughes and Woodward High Schools were accordingly established. The Woodward endowment, dating from 1826, had maintained a high school, so called, from 1831 to 1836, and a college from 1836 to 1851. The Hughes bequest had been made in 1824.
The Girls' High School of Boston, which had been closed in 1828 after a flourishing existence of only two years, was reopened, in 1852, as a training school for teachers. St. Louis opened a regular high school in 1853, Chicago and San Francisco each in 1856, and Detroit in 1858.
How many schools of this class were in existence previous to the Civil War, it would be hard to say. According to Barney's Report on the American system, eighty cities had such schools in 1851. One year later, there were sixty-four reported in Massachusetts alone. Ohio is said to have had ninety-seven in 1856. Other states were already making considerable progress in the building up of such institutions. Dr. Harris estimate of forty high schools in the whole country in 1860 was doubtless reached through a winnowing process. It is fair to presume that many' institutions known as high schools were only advanced elementary schools, so far as their spirit and methods were concerned. On the other hand, many elementary schools, under ambitious teachers, were pushing upward into higher ranges of study. " Our public schools must be expanded upwards," said Samuel Lewis of Ohio. This conviction was abroad, among teachers and members of educational boards.
Yet the great majority of students pursuing secondary school studies was still found in the academies, and the establishment of new academies was going steadily forward. It is not surprising that, although the institutions of these two types were so diverse in character and aims, there should have sprung up an active rivalry between them. This rivalry was not simply a competition for patronage, but was much more the clash of opposing views of public education.
The discussions of the time, particularly those which attended the establishment of new high schools, throw much light on the principles and aspirations of the two institutions. An unusually illuminating literature of this sort was called forth by the establishment of the free academy at Norwich, Connecticut, early in the fifties. This institution differed from the ordinary type both of the academy and of the high school. Its origin is described as follows in a recent issue of the annual catalogue :
" The Free Academy originated in a remarkable movement of leading citizens for the improvement of the educational advantages of Norwich. This movement commenced about 1846 and culminated in 1854, when the academy was incorporated. The leader of the enterprise was Dr. John P. Gulliver, who died last year in Andover, Mass., and has left behind him an enduring claim to the gratitude of dwellers in Norwich in all coming generations. The popular movement was part of that general agitation out of which came the high-school system, first developed by Horace Mann in Massachusetts, and afterward generally adopted in the United States.
" In Norwich, however, no high school was established. Instead of this, a body of the most influential citizens took upon their own shoulders the burden of providing for higher education. Amid much enthusiasm an endowment of $50,000 was raised, with $30,000 additional to cover the cost of the school building, and the academy was opened October 21, 1856, with eighty pupils. The school, thus auspiciously founded, grew with a healthy growth, in both endowment and number of pupils, during the first thirty years of its existence ; but the great extension of its influence and its expansion during the last ten years, beyond what even its founders ventured to anticipate, are chiefly due to the wise liberality and personal interest of Mr. William A. Slater, a graduate of the academy in 1875, and of Harvard University in 1881."
A more detailed account of the beginnings was given by Dr. Gulliver himself in his address at the dedication of the first Free Academy building, in October, 1856. Its bearing upon our subject is so intimate, and the intrinsic interest of certain portions is so great, that somewhat extended passages from it are here presented :
" In January, 1839, a serious effort was made to effect a thorough reorganization of the city schools. This movement took its rise in the debates of the Norwich Mechanics' Association, in whose meetings the question had been discussed for two years, ' Is the school fund of Connecticut, as at present used, an injury or a benefit to our schools V The conviction became at last quite universal that without additional taxation of property for the support of schools the fund is a decided injury to the cause it was intended to pro-mote. A petition was accordingly prepared, in which similar associations in Hartford and New Haven united ; praying the legislature to grant to school districts the power of imposing taxes for the support of schools.
"This petition was granted in respect to the districts represented by the petitioners. Thereupon a report was presented by the Rev. Mr. Paddock and Mr. Francis A. Perkins to the school society recommending the union of the three central districts of the city and the establishment in them of a graded system of schools, with a high school at its head. This plan was, after some discussion, adopted without a dissenting voice. Certain individuals were, however, dissatisfied with this result, and in September of the same year they succeeded in procuring a reconsideration of the former vote, and the project was for that time abandoned."
An interesting reference is made to the struggle, carried on in mass meetings and at the polls, between the advocates and the opponents of the high school. The address then continues :
" This was the soil into which the seed was cast from which grew the grand enterprise whose successful beginning we celebrate to-day. In the midst of the struggle a gentleman, since a large donor to the institution, declared, more in jest than in earnest, ' These men talk about a high school ! I would not take one for a gift if it is to be managed by such assemblages as we have lately had at the Town Hall. I am in favor of an endowed school and would give $5,000 toward one.' This chance remark suggested the idea of this institution ; and led to a series of inquiries and investigations which were continued for two years. The first question was, Are public high schools, supported by taxation, in all respects successful ? the second, Would endowed free schools remedy their defects ? the third, On what plan should endowed schools be conducted in order to insure success'? On these points, either by correspondence or by personal interviews, a large number of the leading educators of the country were consulted. It was ascertained that in all quarters apprehension was beginning to be felt in regard to the working of our higher public schools. The lower schools up to the grade of the grammar school were well sustained. Men were to be found in all our communities who had been themselves educated up to that point, and understood, practically, the importance of such schools, in sufficient numbers to control popular sentiment, and secure for them ample appropriations and steady support. But the studies of the high school, Algebra, Geometry, Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Ancient History, Latin, Greek, French and German, were a perfect `terra incognita' to the great mass of the people. While the High School was a new thing and while a few enlightened citizens had the control of it, in numerous instances it was carried to a high state of perfection. But after a time the burden of taxation would begin to be felt. Men would discuss the high salaries paid to the accomplished teachers which such schools demand, and would ask, ` To what purpose is this waste 1' Demagogues, keen-scented as wolves, would snuff the prey. ` What do we want of a High School to teach rich men's children l' they would shout. ` It is a shame to tax the poor man to pay a man $1,800 to teach children to make x's and pot-hooks and gabble parley-vows.' The work would go bravely on; and on election day, amid great excitement, a new school committee would be chosen, in favor of retrenchment and popular rights. In a single day the fruit of years of labor would be destroyed. Such occurrences, it was ascertained, had already become sufficiently numerous to excite alarm among the most intelligent friends of education. Even in communities where the high school had been uniformly prosperous, it appeared that the same influence was at work and awakened constant apprehension. The proposal to establish an endowed high school was regarded with great favor, and a uniform opinion was expressed that, properly managed, it would supply all the defects in the public high school. Indeed the plan, though generally regarded as impracticable, was hailed with enthusiasm, as at least a theoretical solution of a very perplexing problem. The next point was to ascertain the principles which should form the basis of such an enterprise. The Putnam School, at Newbury-port, seemed to furnish the best model for imitation. This school had received an endowment of $50,000, from Oliver Putnam, Esq., of Newbury, and was then in successful operation, extending a most beneficent influence over a wide circle of common schools in eastern Massachusetts. One unfortunate error had, however, been committed by its founders, in assigning the election of the trustees to the town. A noted political leader, taking advantage of this circumstance, persuaded the people that Mr. Putnam's design in founding the school, was not so much to raise the standard of education, as to relieve the burden of taxation, and proposed that the school should be made a substitute for one of the public schools of the town. There is great danger that the benevolent design of Mr. Putnam will be frustrated by the same influence which is sap-ping the foundation of many of our public high schools. Another salutary caution was given by the experience of the endowed school at Colchester. The funds there are under the control of a self-perpetuating board of trustees. But the school embraces all departments of instruction from the infant school upward. Then it becomes a rival to the common schools, and depresses rather than elevates them. Various other points in the plan became the subject of careful thought and inquiry. The effort was made to attain all the light which the experience and skill of practical educators could furnish, though the painful conviction still remained, that others would, in like manner, hereafter learn wisdom from the errors into which we might fall."
The opposing view was forcibly presented about this time by the Hon. George S. Boutwell, secretary of the Board of Education of the State of Massachusetts, in an address be-fore the American Institute of Instruction. The following passages from that address are especially significant :
"The distinguishing difference between the advocates of endowed schools and of free schools is this : those who advocate the system of endowed academies go back in their arguments to one foundation, which is, that in education of the higher grades the great mass of the people are not to be trusted. And those who advocate a system of free education in high schools put the matter where we have put the rights of property and liberty, where we put the institutions of law and religion — upon the public judgment. And we will stand there. If the public will not maintain institutions of learning, then, I say, let institutions of learning go down.
"It is said that the means of education are better in an endowed academy, or in an endowed free school, than they can be in a public school. What is meant by means of education ? I understand that, first and chiefly, as extraneous means of education, we must look to a correct public sentiment, which shall animate and influence the teacher, which shall give direction to the school, which shall furnish the necessary public funds. An endowed free academy can have none of these things permanently. Take, for example, the free school established at Norwich by the liberality of thirty or forty gentlemen, who contributed ninety thousand dollars. What security is there that fifty years hence, when the educational wants of the people shall be changed, when the population of Norwich shall be double or treble what it is now, when :science shall make greater demands, when these forty contributors shall have passed away, this institution will answer the wants of that generation l According to what we know of the history of this country, it will be entirely inadequate; and, though none of us may live to see the prediction fulfilled or falsified, I do not hesitate to say that the school will ultimately prove a failure, because it is founded in a mistake."
Mr. Boutwell discussed the same question in an address delivered at the dedication of the Powers Institute at Bernardston. His reference to Dartmouth College on that occasion is significant of the effect which the supreme court decision had had upon popular opinion with reference to secondary schools. He said :
" This institution is a high school, and the question is now agitated, especially in the State of Connecticut, ` How can the advantages of a high-school education be best secured 4' This question I propose to consider. And, first, the high school must be a public school. A public school I understand to be a school established by the public — supported chiefly or entirely by the public, controlled by the public, and accessible to the public upon terms of equality, without special charge for tuition.
" Private schools may be established and controlled by an individual, or by an association of individuals, who have no corporate rights under the government, but receive pupils upon terms agreed upon, subject to the ordinary laws of the land.
"Private schools may be founded also by one or more persons, and by them endowed with funds for their partial or entire support. In such cases the founder, through the money given, has the right to prescribe the rules by which the school shall be controlled, and also to provide for the appointment of its managers or trustees through all time. In such cases, corporate powers are usually granted by the government for the management of the business. But the chief rights of such an institution are derived from the founder, and the facilities for their easy exercise and quiet enjoyment are derived from the state.
"Such schools are sometimes, upon a superficial view, supposed to be public, because they receive pupils upon terms of equality, and no rule of exclusion exists which does not apply to all. And especially has it been assumed that a free school thus founded, as the Norwich Free Academy, which makes no charges for tuition, and is open to all the inhabitants of the city, is therefore a public school. These institutions are public in their use, but not in their foundation or control, and are therefore not public schools. The character of a school, as of an eleemosynary institution, is derived from the will of the founder; and when the beneficial founder is an individual, or a number of individuals less than the whole political organization of which the individuals are a part, the institution is private, whatever the rules for its enjoyment may be. To say that a school is a public school because it receives pupils free of charge for tuition, or because it receives them upon conditions that are applied alike to all, is to deny that there are any private schools, for all come within the definition thus laid down.
"Nor is there any good reasoning in the statement that a school is public because it receives pupils from a large extent of country. Dartmouth College is a private school, though its pupils come from all the land or all the world; while the Boston Latin School is a public school, though it receives those pupils only whose homes are within the limits of the city. The first is a private school because it was founded by President Wheelock, and has been con-trolled by him and his successors, holding and governing and enjoying through him, from the first until now; while the Boston Latin School is a public school, because it was established by the city of Boston, through the votes of its inhabitants, under the laws of the state, and is at all times subject, in its government and existence, to the popular will which created it. . . . In the private school, with a self-perpetuating hoard of trustees, the temptation is strong to make the organization subservient to some opinion in politics, religion, or social life. This may not always be done ; but in many cases it has been done, and there is no reason to expect different things in the future. I concur, then, unreservedly in the judgment which has placed this institution, in all its interests and in all its duties, under the control of the inhabitants of Bernardston."
These opposing arguments are presented for their historical rather than their controversial value. It may be added that the Norwich Free Academy has had and continues to have a highly successful career. At the same time it cannot be said to have inaugurated any general movement toward the establishment of privately managed secondary schools as the direct continuation of city systems of elementary instruction. There is evidently room in our systems of public education for more than one type of secondary-school organization. More than that, there is evident need of schools of different types for the satisfaction of diverse wants and the attainment of various public ends. But the characteristic tendency of the past half-century is undoubtedly seen in the upward ex-tension of public elementary schools into public high schools.
The making of these schools represents a high development of the spirit of co-operation. The earlier academy movement was a missionary enterprise — a bringing to the people of something for the people's good. The spirit which it embodied is one of the finest things in all the world, a mainstay of our hopes for the betterment of human life. The high schools on the other hand appeal less to imagination and sentiment. Their promoters did not set about doing good to the people, but rather undertook to work with all the people for the common good. Here, too, we touch on one of the finest things in all the world, the spirit which draws men together in a common pursuit of the public welfare. And this, too, must have its place — a first place, is it not ? — in all our hope for better things. All of our best institutions, it should be added, the best of either sort and of every sort, go back to that precious foundation stone of our American life, the free initiative of high-minded individual citizens.