Gambar halaman

general purposes for the advancement of education as the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education may deem advisable and necessary and the State Board of Examiners may allow.

I feel that I cannot better close this address than by quoting from the reports of the State Superintendents of the various loyal States a few extracts relating to the prosperity of the Schools and the patriotism of the people.

The State Superintendent of Kentucky says :

It is a fact, which ought to be noted with pride by every one in whose breast genuine patriotism has not been supplanted by sectional prejudices and Secession allurements, that, of the Southern States, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri-the three which have done and are now doing most for Common Schools—are the most una to the Constitution and Union of our country.

May we not trust that one of the main results of the present war will be an additional proof of the transcendent value of popular education ? Systems which pass comparatively unscathed through the fires of revolution, are apt to be noble ones indeed. My hopes for the permanence of our present form of National Government rest upon the conviction that its excellence and beauty are such that Secession, which is but a synonym of anarchy, will be found, after a fair trial, to furnish but a flimsy substitute for it. The people-like those who of old brought back the Ark of the Covenant-will restore the Constitution of their fathers.

Those great interests which give employment to all the people of a country like ours, and embrace every pursuit of human life, will require EDUCATED LABOR hereafter even more than now, let the present struggle for and against the Union terminate as it may. The doors of none of those tens of thousands of primary and higher Schools throughout our land should be closed either in peace or war. Knowledge, from her myriad sources—those Common Schools throughout our land-is welling up her perennial streams, and bidding all the sons and daughters of a great people “Come hither," and without money and without price, drink of their crystal waters. Contrast such a policy with that of the “ Seceded " States, where, if there remains as much as one efficient School system in existence, it is more than I am aware of, Arkansas, about a year since, was maturing a plan of popular education. One of her most influenial citizens lost his election for Governor because he was understood to be opposed to it. Where is it now? Texas had but a little while ago one of the most magnificent School Funds on the continent. If reports be true, that Fund is now being frittered away in support of rebellion. These facts suggest their own impressive moral. To rivet links of ignorance for posterity, has been one of the works of that self-appointed Oligarchy which is now endeavoring to destroy the Government.

The State Superintendent of Maine says :

The newly aroused spirit of patriotism seems to have awakened new interest in those institutions which constitute the highest objects of our Northern pride, and which are known to be the objects of special hatred among the aristocratic citizens of the Rebel States. We owe it to ourselves to defend what they would otherwise overthrow-our system of free labor, free schools, and free men.

The State Superintendent of New York says:

I have travelled extensively through the State, and have everywhere found the mani. festation of a deep and active interest in education ; an interest not content with the existence and support of Schools, but earnestly desiring to increase their efficiency and usefulness. The universal sentiment is, that whatever else we may have to forego in the defence of the Government and the preservation of the Union, our Common Schools must suffer no neglect. These are justly regarded as the nurseries of that patriotism and loyalty which pervade the masses of the North ; and we should be blind and infatuated indeed, if, in this hour, when the influence of our Schools in moulding the popular sentiment and inspiring the popular heart is so strikingly manifest, we could neglect to foster with jealous care and maintain with heroic pride these institutions which alone are the guarantee of our country's permanent peace.

The State Superintendent of Wisconsin says:

In some respects the war has awakened an interest in education. All who love their country with an intelligent love, know and feel that our liberties are cherished and preserved only by intelligence and virtue. The war arouses in thinking minds the determination to prepare our youth to receive and perpetuate the institutions their fathers and elder brothers are so earnestly fighting to defend. With the thought that our country calls for mind and heart as well as for muscle and money, we are nerved to double diligence, and “bate not a jot of heart or of hope.”

Hon. Anson Smyth, State Superintendent of Ohio, a State second in her Schools to no other in the Union, writes as follows:

Sir William Berkeley, one of the early Governors of Virginia, wrote: “I thank God that there are no Free Schools nor printing presses here, and I hope we shall not have them for these hundred years—for learning hath brought disobedience and heresy and sects into the world, and printing hath divulged them in libels against the best of Governments.”

Here are set forth the beginnings of those influences which have moulded the characters of the loyal and disloyal States. With the former, the education of all has been a prominent and predominant idea. Their children have been taught to read-to investigate truth—to think for themselves. In the older of the seceding States, very little has to this day been accomplished towards the education of the children of the lower classes; while in the newer, something has been effected through the grants for educational purposes made by the General Government. But nowhere in all the land of rebellion has popular education been a prominent idea. The children of the wealthy classes have enjoyed facilities for learning, but the “ poor whites” have had few opportunities in this direction. In some of these States, the number of adults who cannot read is, proportionably, fifty times as great as that of the same class in some of the loyal States.

The State of Ohio is educating more children in Public Schools than are all the seceded States. Who can believe that this rebellion could have assumed its present proportions, but for the ignorance of the lower classes there?

I have not made these statements and instituted these comparisons for the sake of casting reproach upon any of the Southern people ; but simply for the reason that I wish to exhibit the connection there is between popular education and the safety of free institutions.

The State Superintendent of Michigan says:

God give us power to hold our Common Schools to their full work, and the children to the Schools, and we may hope to hold fast to all that is true and worthy in our social life and civilization till the storm be past. Disrupted and dissolved as we must be, we may hope to settle down again when peace comes, and crystalize into the same peacefully great people we were ere the war began.

Massachusetts says:

There has been no decrease of interest or of effort in behalf of the Public Schools in this Commonwealth, but rather an increase of both. Passing events have seemed to deepen the conviction in the minds of our people of the vast importance of our system of popular education, not only to the public prosperity, but also to the perpetuity of our free institutions.

The State Superintendent of Illinois, Newton Bateman, says:

The State School tax-two mills ad valorem-has not been disturbed, and will not be. The vested School Fund, State, county, and township, amounting to about five millions of dollars, is, of course, beyond the reach of the contingencies of the times; so that in a financial sense our system of public instruction is breasting the war storm bravely.

I have watched the bearing of current events upon our educational enterprises with the greatest solicitude, not unmingled with forebodings of evil. It is with inexpressible relief that I find the citizens of this Commonwealth disposed to rally around and sustain their Free Schools in this trying hour. It is, indeed, but the instinct of selfpreservation. Never before in all our history did the absolute necessity of universal intelligence and virtue to the preservation of our political system and the well-being of society appear to me so clear and demonstrable. As well might the mariner throw overboard his chart and compass in the midst of the tempest, as for our people to abandon their Free Schools at a time like this. The loss of a battle or of a campaign would be comparatively a trifling disaster.

With such words of cheer coming to us across the continent, shall we become disheartened, and lose our faith in the capacity of a free people for self-government?

Intelligent free laborers are working out the great problem of civilizing this contirent; intelligent fighting men are consolidating its Government; and, underlying all, the Public Schools are silently forming a sound national character. Free as air, vital as electricity, and vivifying as the sunlight, they act on the organic forces of the nation as these three physical agents build up the life of the globe out of inorganic matter.

The insurrection will be put down by the sword and the bayonet; treason will be rooted out by armed men; but even then the only strength of the Union will be in a public opinion based on an intelligent comprehension of national affairs by the people of the whole nation.

The number of legal voters in the United States who cannot read and write is greater than the ordinary majority by which a President is elected.

It is seldom the Governor of any State is elected by a majority larger than the number of “illiterate voters of the State.” What avails the Constitution at the mercy of men who cannot read it ? Unless the laws of the several States are administered by rulers chosen by electors whose ballots fall vitalized by intelligence, no standing armies, no Constitutions, can hold them in harmonious spheres around the central sun of a Representative Government. They will shoot off in eccentric orbits into the unfathomable darkness of dissolution and chaos, never to return.

When Public Schools shall have performed their great mission so that every ballot shall represent an idea, Whittier's Lines on “ Election Day” will no longer be ideal.

Around I see the powers that be,
I stand by Empire': primal springs,
And princes meet in every street,
And hear the tread of uncrowned kings !

Not lightly fall beyond recall,
The written scrolls a breath can float;
The crowning fact, the kingliest act
Of Freedom, is the Freeman's vote!

Our hearts grow cold, we lightly hold
A right which brave men died to gain ;
The stake, the cord, the axe, the sword,
Grim nurses at its birth of pain.

The shadow rend, and o'er us bend
Oh! martyrs, with your crown of palms,
Breathe through these throngs your battle songs,
Your scaffold prayers, and dungeon psalms !
So shall our voice of sovereign choice,
Swell the deep bass of duty done,
And strike the key of time to be,
When God and man shall speak as one.

It is a Prussian maxim“ Whatever you would have appear in the life of the nation you must put into the Schools.”

If the Schools inculcate with intellectual training love of country, cordial submission to lawful authority, moral rectitude, some knowledge of the theory and organic structure of our Government, and a true spirit of patriotism, then shall our citzens be truly men, and our electors princes indeed.

When I consider the power of the Public Schools, how they have disseminated intelligence in every village, and hamlet, and log house in the nation, how they are moulding the plastic elements of the next generation into the symmetry of modern civilization, I cannot think that our country is to be included in the long list

Of nations scattered like the chaff
Blown from the threshing floor of God.

I hold nothing in common with those faint hearted patriots who are beginning to despair of the future of our country. The latent powers of the nation are just coming into healthful and energetic action, and in spite of treason, are moving the Republic onward and upward to a higher stand-point of liberty. What though it comes to us amid the storm of battle and the shock of contending armies !

Not as we hoped—but what are we !

Above our feeble arms and plans

God lays with mightier hands than man's
The corner stones of Liberty.

The Anglo-Saxon race, even in its ruder years, always possessed an inherent power of independence and self-government. Tell me not that now, when this stubborn vitality and surplus energy, expended so long in overrunning the world, are guided by intelligence and refined by Christianity, this same race is to be stricken with the palsy, because of a two years' war.

The two millions of boys now in the Public Schools constitute a great “ Union League,” electrified by intelligence, cemented by the ties of one blood, one language, one course of instruction-strong in its power to perpetuate the Union as the great “ Union Leagues” which the citizens of the nation are now organizing for its defence. Long before the completion of the Pacific Railroad, these new recruits, drilled in the Public Schools, will push their way across the continent, as the Saxons sent out from their northern hives, a vast army of occupation, cultivating the “National Homestead," and fortifying the whole line of communication by a cordon of School houses that shall hold it forever as the heritage of free labor, free men, and a free nation.

So shall the Northern pioneer go joyful on his way,
To wed Penobscot's waters to San Francisco's Bay;
To make the rugged places smooth, to sow the vales with grain,
And bear, with Liberty and Law, the Bible in his train ;
The mighty West shall bless the East, and sea shall answer sea,
And mountain unto mountain call, PRAISE GOD, FOR WE ARE FREE!





I had occasion, not long since, to make a short journey into the country. For a considerable distance the land on either side of the way was under good cultivation; the young grass was making the hillsides beautiful, and the springing grain, just coming from the fertile earth, gave promise of an abundant harvest. Nature had received the weary labor of the farmer kindly, and seemed intent upon doing her work, wonderful in its silence and its greatness, in such a fashion as to cheer him on to do still greater things for her. It was as if she wooed him to bis task ; and, giving the grass and the grain, had asked for further culture and further effort, to show how rich she was, by giving trees, and flowers, and vines.

Passing along, I came to a wide stretch of land untamed. It was a salt marsh, soft under foot, muddy enough in places to require the utmost strength of the horses to draw the stage. IIundreds of acres were lying there, owned, indeed, by somebody, yet all uncared for. But even here this Nature would not be idle. Over all the surface were growing coarse grass and weeds—useless, it may be, for many purposes, yet serving to hide the depths beneath, as well as to show the passer that something could grow even there. A wonderful power has Nature, which she seems bound ever to use in one or another way. If the fruit trees or the grains are not given her, she tries to send out wild flowers ; and if they will not obey her call, the coarse grass and the weeds of the salt marsh come. Wherever there is soil she makes something grow.

I remember thinking, as I passed over that sad waste of neglected land, that it is not alone in the material world the law of growth prevails. In the intellectual and moral nature of the human race something is ever growing, and what it shall be is determined chiefly by the means men use. But with land a score of years may pass without the farmer's care, and even then fine crops may come, and pleasant fruits ; while in the human soul the first score of years determines for the most part its future destiny. After these first years, culture may somewhat modify, but will rarely radically change the character.

The State has come to recognize these facts, and in self defence has established Public Schools, that the growth which is inevitable may be good growth, and that the early years may give a safe tendency to the character of its future citizens. After many trials, it has been learned that these Public Schools may exist without accomplishing what the necessities of the Commonwealth require. Much, indeed, has been

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »