Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

VIRGINIA.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Virginia was first settled in 1607, and adopted its first constitution in 1776, having in 1790 a population of 748,308 (293,427 slaves). Its original area of 61,352 square miles was reduced by the separation and organization of a portion of its territory into a new State, called West Virginia, to 38,350 square miles, with a population in 1870 of 1,225,163 (512,841 colored), and taxable property to the value of $365,439,917. The constitution of 1776 contained no reference to education, but in a bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge prepared by Wythe aud Jetferson in 1779, there is the following preamble :

Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect ind.viduals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience huth shown, that even uuder the best forms, those intrusted wiih power have in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed the inost effectnal means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially thereby of the experience of o. her ages and countries, they may be enuoled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes; and whereas it is generally true that the people will be happ'est whose laws are best, and are best admiuis ered, and thit laws will be wisely formed and honestly adıniuis ered in proportion as those who form and adminig, er them are wise and honest; whence it becomes exped ent for promoting the public happ ness, that those persons whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue shou.d be rendered, by liberal education, wortly to receive, and able to gu..rd the sacred deposit of the righis and liberties of tier fellow-citizens, and that they should be cal.ed to the charge w thout regard to wealth, birth, or o her accidental condition or circumstance. But the ind gence of the greater pumber, disabling them from so educating at their own expense those of their children whom natuie bath fily formed and disposed to become useful instruments of the public, it is better that such should be ought for and educated at the common expense of all, than that the huppiness ot' all should be coutided to the weak or wicked.

The admirable code of which the above is the preamble, was not adopted, and the first general school law was passed in 1796 with the following preamble:

Whereas it appeareth that the great advantages which civilized and polished nations enjoy, beyond the savage and barbarous natious of the world, are principally derived from the invention and use of letters, by means whereof the kuowledge and experience of past ages are recorded and transmitted, so that man, availing himself in succession of the accumulated wisdom and discoveries of his predecessors, is enabled more successfully to pursue and iniprove not only those arts which contribute to the support, convenience, and ornament of life, but those al: o which tend to illumine and enuoble his understanding and his

And whereas, upon a review of the history of mankind, it seemeth that however favorable republican government, founded on the priuciples of equal liherty, justice. and order, may be to human happiness, no real stability or lasting perminency thereof can be rationally hoped for if the minds of the citizens be not rendered liberal and hum ne, and be not fully impressed with the importance of those principles from whence these blessings proceed; with a view, therefore, to lay the first foundations of a system of education which may tend to produce those desirable purposes.

nature.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In 1810 the Literary Fund was instituted, and in 1816 the direc-
tors were instructed to report to the General Assembly a system of
public edncation to comprehend a university, and such additional
colleges, academies, and schools as shall diffuse the benefits of edu-
cation throughout the commonwealth. The report embodied a
scheme similar in its main features to that of 1779, which passed
the House but was lost in the Senate. In 1918 an act was passed
which appropriated $45,000 of the revenue to the primary educa-
tion of the poor, and $15,000 a year to endow and support a uni-
versity, to be styled The University of Virginia.'
On the basis of this law, and a special act of 1819, Mr. Jefferson

sful in establishing an institution of higher learning,
which educated, down to 1870, 8,000 students for Virginia, and
exerted a powerful influence on the organization, studies and disci-
pline of American colleges, generally.

The system of primary education on the basis of the Literary Fund in 1811, and the act of 1818, did not accomplish even its narrow and ill-aimed object, the primary instruction of the poor. Governor Campbell, in 1839 proclaimed its failure, and that the utter ignorance of the white adults in that year was greater than in 1817, as evidenced by the register of marriage licenses; and this statement was confirmed by the national census of 1840, which returned 58,787 persons over twenty years of age, out of the free white population, who could not read and write. Well might Governor McDowell

say to the Legislature in 1843: This plan of common cducation, which reaches only 28,000, out of the 51,000 poor children, and gives them only sixty days tuition, is a costly and delusive nullity, which ought to be abolished, and anothier and better one established in its place.' . Various plans of modification and substitution was suggested and discussed, but they were set aside in the frenzy of political excitement; and the national census of 1870 returus the illiteracy of the poor whites, with the frightful addition of the cutire colored population, over ten years of

age,

at 390,913, who could not read, and 445,893 who could not write--and of the latter number, 441,623 were natives.

The constitution of 1867, ordains the outline of a system, which if it can be accepted cordially by the people, and administered firmly, but kindly, by officers who have their confidence, will in one generation do more for popular education than has been realized since Rev. Mr. Copeland, in 1621, first moved for the establishment of a “ Free School in the Colony of Virginia, twenty-six years before • Brother Purmont was entreated to become schoolmaster for the teaching and nurturing of children' in Boston.

2

REESE i

UNITED

CALHOVA

Under the constitution of 1867, and the school law of 1870, a new system is now being administered by W. II. Ruffner, whose second annual report, dated Nov. 1, 1872, is an admirable document, in two parts. Part I. is devoted to a statistical and expository record of the work; Part II. is an exposition of the general principles and methods of the system and iustitutions established by the earlier and later legislation of Virginia. Both documents should bave a wide circulation and find thoughtful readers, and henceforth many •dvers of the word.' The results of 1872, compared with those of 1871, and especially with any year of the former system are very encouraging; 3,695 public schools, with 166,337 pupils, under 3,853 teachers, examined and visited by 91 city and county superintendents, and maintained at an expense of $993,318, is a hopeful exhibition of two years work under such difficulties as exist in this as in the other Southern States.

In tlre statistical summary of the Superintendent, and Auditor's Report, appear the following items: Capital of Literary Fund, $1,596,069; pay of public school teachers and treasurers, 643,066; county superintendents, $45,295; central office, $6,490; district expenses, $289,467; University of Virginia, $15,000; Military Institute, $15,000; Deaf, Mute, and Blind School, $40,000. Aid ($29,900) from the Peabody Fund was given to Normal Schools, &c.

The appeal of Guv. Wise to all classes of citizens in 1856, to aid in the work of universal elucation should be heeded now:

I call upon the learned professors of William and Mary, and of the academies and schools --I call upon the reverend clergy, ot' every denomination-I call upon my brethren of the bar-I call upon the humano faculty of medicine-I call upon our most excellent fariners and mechanics—I call upon parents and guardians - I call upon women who wou'd be the mother of scholars, philosophers, sages and great m 0-I call upon a l ages and sexes—I call up. n the rich mm and the poor man, and upon inen of all conditions—to stir, to live, move, and have their beiny'in ibis vital subject. Knowledge is power; it is the greatest of all power. It is the power which overcomes all social obstacles; it is the power which prostrates all political inequalities; it is the power which overcomes all phy ical obstructions in the way of man; castes and ranks and grad s bow before it; wealih is impotent against it; it subdues the eartlı; and it hurubles tyrants!! And if ko wledge is power, ignorance is w akness-ulter, impo'e it weakness. We say we were all born free and equal—that may be so. But, if we were born so, the state of fredom and equality does not last long in lile if one man is to be cultivated in his mind, whilst the other is permitted to grow up in ignorance. How is the man who can not read and write, the equal in

power any sort, except muscular power, of the man of letters ? No; ignorance among the peo, le destroys the liberty and equality of the people; it makes inequalities in the social state; it gives one pre-eminence and preference among men over another in the political state; it makes the very weeds of the earth too strong for man's physical might to earn his bread; it makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer--the strong stron zer, and the weak weak •r; it is the sycophant and slave of tyrants, and the foundation of despotisın; it enslaves the citizen, aud enervates the State.

[ocr errors]

of

man a

WEST VIRGINIA. West Virginia was detached from the territory of 'Old Virginia,' the people refusing to be put out of the United States, by the war of secession, and was admitted as a State in December, 1862, with an area of 23,000 square miles and a population in 1860 of 393,224, which bad increased to 442,014 in 1870, with taxable property to the amount of $140,538,273.

The Constitution, as amended in 1863, creates a school fund out of the State's proportion of the literary fund' of Virginia and other sources, for the support of free schools throughout the State and for no other purpose whatever. The legislature is directed to provide as soon as practicable for the establishment of a thorough and efficient system of free schools,' for the election of a Siate Superiutendent, for township taxation for free schools, for the proper care of the blind, deaf mutes, and insane; and the organization of such institutions of learning as the best interests of general education in the State

may

demand. The, system of free schools established in 1865, provides for: (1,) a general superiutendent of free schools; (2,) county superintendents, elected by the people, for two years; (3) township commissioners, three for each township, one elected each year for a term of three years ; (4,) district trustees, appointed by the township board, from the residents of the district for which the school is provided ; (5) State Board of the School Fund, for the management of any fund set apart for the support of free schools.

In 1871, there were 2,357 public schools, with 87,330 pupils enrolled under 2,303 teachers in 2,113 school-houses, estimated to have cost $2,257,744. The total expenditure for the year, for all objects, exceeded $565,000.

Institutes were held at twenty different points with manifest advantage to teachers, and to the school interest of the localities where held:

The support of schools falls mainly on a capitation tax of one dollar on each male inhabitant, over twenty-one years, and a tax of ten cents on every one hundred dollars of taxable property.

In the auditor's report for 1870 we notice the following items charged to the State treasury, $20,000 for the construction of West Virginia University . $8,000 for the deaf mutes; $3,000 for Normal schools, &c.

Dr. Sears applied $18,000 in aid of normal instruction in the State University, State Normal School at Fairmount, and the teachers' department in Marshall College, as well as to the establishment of the graded schools, and to the Teachers' Institutes.

[ocr errors]

WISCONSIN. Wisconsin was detached from the Territory of Michigan, and organized an independent Territory in 1836, and admitted a State in 1818, with a population in 1850, on an area of 53,954 square miles, of 305,391, which had increased in 1870 to 1,054,670, with $333,447,568 taxable property.

By the constitution of 1848, the supervision of public instruction is invested in a State Superintendent, to be chosen by the qualified electors of the State; the proceeds of all lands donated by tbe United States to the State for educational purposes are secured inviolably, (1,) for the maintenance of common schools in each school district, and the purchase of suitable libraries and apparatus ; (2) for the maintenance of academies and normal schools, and (3,) for a state university ; each town and city is required to raise by a tax, annually, for the support of free common schools therein, a sum not less than one-half the amount received by each town or city for school purposes, from the income of the school fund.

The first school law dates from 1849, by which all the territory in the organized towns is divided into school districts, the affwrs of which are managed by three district officers, subject to the general supervision of the town school superintendent.

In 1857, twenty-five per cent. of the income of all swamp and overflowed lands granted to the State were constituted a normal school fund, the avails of which was first applied to colleges and academies which supported normal classes; but in 1865, the entire sales were constituted a special fund for the support of Normal Schools, of which five are now located. The capital of the Normal Fund is now about $1,000,000; and the Cominon School Fund, $2,500,000.

The settled and liberal policy of the State towards institutions for the education and practical training of teachers of public schools, is drawing a good supply of candidates.

According to the last official report (of Samuel Fallows) for 1872, there were 5,103 districts (excluding cities), with 423,717 persons of the school age (4 to 20), and the whole number of all ages attending public schools, 270,292; private schools, 18,020; academies and colleges, 2,831 ; benevolent institutions, 1,200; or an aggregate attendance for 1872, of 292,343.

The number of school-houses returned was 4,920, with accommodations for 312,612, valued at $3,295,268. The productive capital of the school fund was $2,482,771, and the aggregate expenditure for schools, $2,174,154. The number of graded schools in the cities and villages was 340.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »