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on schools, will soon afford 90,000 or 100,000 dollars a year for the same object. In the a rule of distribution was adopted, by which the interest of the school fund is now divided among the several districts, according to the number of children in each, between the ages of four and sixteen, and provision was made for an annual enumeration. This rule is the one in force at present.
• As to the manner in which the common schools of Connecticut are managed, the following particulars are all in which our readers can be supposed to take much interest. All the inhabitants living within the limits of ecclesiastical societies, incorporated by law, constitute school societies, elect officers, build school houses, establish school districts, appoint a committee of one for each district, whose duty it is to manage the concerns of the district, and provide an instructor for the school with the assent of the district, and the approbation of the visitors. The visitors are appointed by each school society, whose duty it is to examine instructors, displace such as are incompetent, visit the schools twice at least during each season for schooling; and they may require of the master such exercises of the youth, as will show their proficiency in learning. No person can keep a school until he has been examined and approved by the visitors.
• We have not been able to ascertain with the exactness we could wish, the number of district
schools in Connecticut. Dr. Trumbull, in the second volume of his history of that State published in 1818, states the number at 1580, “ according to the best collection he had been able to obtain." He adds, that, in some of them, there are a hundred scholars or more, and in others not more than twenty. He supposes, that, “ on an average, they will amount to fifty-five or fifty-six.” From the inquiries we have made, we are satisfied that this statement is not far from the truth.'
The reviewers after a most excellent and elaborate account of the schools, and the means by which part of the large sum annually divided might be advantageously applied to supporting schools of a higher order, conclude with the following admirable remarks. “In looking back upon the statements we have thus presented to our readers, one or two remarks are forced upon us. The first regards the noble testimony, borne to the characters of the Fathers of Connecticut, by the laws for the support of schools. To feel the strength of this testimony, we have but to compare their condition with these their efforts ; to see them, a handful of men, scattered in a few hamlets through the native wilderness, exposed to the most harassing of public dangers, the daily and nightly dread of a savage foe, and yet enacting laws which should send the Grand Jury twice a year into every family, to see that its children, aye, its apprentices and servants, “ could read the English tongue.” These are the men to
whom our brethren beyond the sea courteously allude, when they say that “ the Adam and Eve of America came from Newgate.” How does their conduct and policy contrast with that of the richest and most powerful nation of the present day! What an apparition would it not be at the English Assizes—a true bill found by the grand jury against the proprietor of a cotton factory in Manchester, for that he had neglected to afford his apprentices“ at least so much learning as should enable them to read the Scriptures, and other good and profitable printed books in the English tongue.” Such a bill would transform even Mr. Brougham into Amicus Curiæ ; and do more to promote the education of the commonalty of England, than all the Bells and Lancasters have done, and all their monitors.' *
These are some of the noble institutions of the Americans for the diffusion of universal instruction. Every State, though it has not made the same exertion as Connecticut, is nevertheless fully aware of the importance of the subject. The new States have made immense appropriations of land, which is all they can do at present. These lands, though as yet of no great value, will eventually be able to support the schools and colleges to the full extent wanted. The wise men of the United States know, that the maintenance of their liberties
* North American Review, April 1823. Art. XXIV.
greatly depends upon having an enlightened population, who are capable of appreciating the advantages they enjoy; for despotism is more strongly supported by ignorance, than by armed thousands.
THE law of the United States says: “ All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent. No human authority ought in any case whatever to control or interfere with the rights of conscience and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious societies, or modes of worship.”
This law ought to be written in letters of gold on a pillar of marble. It should be recollected that the inhabitants of the United States were the first, and are still the only people, who have thus had the wisdom and courage to proclaim the legal equality of all religions.
Some of the States did not at first adopt so complete a system of toleration ; but they have now all agreed to it. The State of Virginia formerly granted certain privileges to those professing the faith of the Church of England; and it was in order to suppress this injustice, that Jefferson wrote his famous paper upon Religious Toleration.