Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of public education in Rhode Island from 1636 to 1876"

See other formats

ic Education 


John Swett 

i 1 







163 6 to 18 76 




Commissioner of Public Schools. 




/ :■ 



Page . 

State of Rhode Island 1 

Rhode Island State Normal Sehool 118 

Rhode Island Institute of Instruction 123 

City of Providence 129 

University Grammar Sehool 211 

Brown University 217 

Dr. Stockbridge's School for Young Ladies 225 

Scholfield's Commercial College 227 

English and Classical School 228 

Mount Pleasant Academy 232 

Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers 234 

Providence Franklin Society 246 

Franklin Lyceum . 247 

City of Newport 251 

Redwood Library and Athenaeum 2G7 

The Peoples' Library 277 

Town of Barrington 281 

" " Bristol 185 

" " Burrillville 310 

" " Charlesto wn 340 

" " Coventry 346 

" " East Greenwich 352 

" " East Providence 362 

" " Glocester 364 

" " Jamestown 367 

" " Hopkinton 368 

" " Johnston , 375 

" " Middletown 383 

" " North Kingstown 389 

" " Richmond 404 

Lapham Institute 412 

Town of Smithfleld 415 

" " Warwick 436 

" " Woonsocket 439 

Index 449 




Public School System 





Roger Williams, after returning in 1 654 from a two years' visit in 
England, wrote thus of some of his employments while in that country : 
" It pleased the Lord to call me for some time, and with some persons, 
to practice the Hebrew, the Greek, Latin, French and Dutch. The secre- 
tary of the council (Mr. Milton) for my Dutch I read him, read me 
many more languages. * * * I taught two young gentlemen, a 
parliament man's sons, as we teach our children English, by words, 
phrases and constant talk." 

In these brief sentences we see the founder of Rhode Island as a 
scholar, a teacher, aud the friend of Milton. It will always seem a sur- 
prising thing that the colony founded by such a man should not have 
established for itself, like the adjoining colonies of Massachusetts and 
Connecticut, a system of common schools. Yet nothing is plainer than 
the reacous which led to this ; and they cannot be more clearl}' stated 
than they were given a quarter of a century ago by Hon. E. R. Potter, 
a man who has rendered this State almost equal service in law and in 
education : — 

"One of the first things which strikes an observer in considering the early 
history of Rhode Island, is, that the population was not homogeneous. Massa- 
chusetts was settled by colonies from one people, and all actuated by the same 
notions of religious and civil government, and of a similar religious creed. 
Connecticut was an offshoot from Massachusetts, and the same principles and 
ideas had a controlling influence in its settlement. 

" Rhode Island, on the contrary, was settled hymen of all religious views 
and opinions. As the first settlers fled from persecution in Massachusetts, it 


2 Rhode Island. 

naturally became an asylum for all who like them were persecuted for conscience' 
sake. The predecessors of our Baptists were all fugitives from persecution. 
The Quakers nearly all came here from the same cause and to avoid the severe 
laws which were made against them in other colonies. And the friends and fol- 
lowers of Mrs. Hutchinson constituted a respectable portion of the new com- 
munity. Here, too, half a century after the first settlement, came a colony of 
French Huguenots, driven from their country by the same spirit which had ex- 
pelled Roger Williams from our sister colony. 

"For the very reason that in this colony no religion was established, nor the 
observance of any religious forms compelled by law, it was natural that many 
should resort here who had no religion at all; and that the settlement should 
include many wild spirits, who came here because in the then thinly peopled 
country on the borders of our beautiful bay, they could obtain an easy subsist- 
ence, free from the restraints of all law whatever. 

"Rhode Island thus differed entirely from the neighboring states in its mode 
of settlement. Its population resembled more the population of one of our 
western states at the present day ; a collection of people coming from different 
nations and at different times, some actuated by the desire of religious freedom, 
some by desire of freedom from all law ; some by the spirit of speculation, (for 
even that then prevailed) ; and some from that wild love of adventure which 
has always exercised such a sway in the breast of man. 

"Driven from Massachusetts under such circumstances, the original settlers 
viewed everything which they had left behind them with hostility. In Massa- 
chusetts, as in most early settlements, the clergy being the only class of leisure, 
were the depositories of the learning of the infant commonwealth. The clergy 
also always exercised an active control in their government; and wars, leagues 
and important government measures, were seldom undertaken without their 

" Hence, in a great measure, has arisen the feeling against a settled and sala- 
ried clergy, which has always been a characteristic of our people, and which 
prejudice remains in some parts of the State to the present day in undiminished 
strength. Hence, we have lost the influence which such a body of men would 
always have exerted in favor of education. * * * * 

" Another circumstance, and a very important one to be considered, in account- 
ing for the want of a system of public education among our forefathers was, 
that for nearly one hundred years, Rhode Island could not be said to have any 
settled government. 

" On the East, Plymouth claimed to Narragansett Bay, and for the first hun- 
dred years Rhode Island had no jurisdiction east of it. On the west, Connecti- 
cut claimed to Narragansett Bay, under her charter, which she claimed to be 
prior to that of Rhode Island. The first settlers of the Narragansett country 
were obliged to defend themselves by force, from the attempts of Connecticut 
to assert her jurisdiction. She incorporated towns with boundaries extending 
into Rhode Island, appointed officers at Wickford and other places, and made 
grants of land which were the origin of some of the existing titles. Some por- 
tion of the inhabitants, probably from a desire to have the protection of a 
stronger government, acknowledged her jurisdiction, and thus there was a sort 
of civil war constantly going on within our own limits. Citizens of Rhode 
Island were repeatedly seized, carried off' and imprisoned for refusing to obey 

Colonial Schools. 3 

the Connecticut authorities. Land titles were disputed, and there seemed little 
security for person or property except in the strength of the possessor. 

" After the Pequod War, Massachusetts and Connecticut claimed the south 
western portion of the State by right of conquest, and in the division it fell to 
Massachusetts, who erected the country about Westerly into a township, by the 
name of Southertown. Here was another claimant for jurisdiction. But Con- 
necticut seems afterwards to have again asserted her jurisdiction, and Massa- 
chusetts at last gave up the contest. 

" The settlement at Warwick had also similar difficulties to contend with. A 
part of their inhabitants had submitted themselves to Massachusetts, who as- 
serted her claims to that country, and imprisoned its people for resisting her 

"Again, in the great Indian war of 1G7G, the western portion of our State 
was made the battle ground on which Massachusetts and Connecticut contended 
for victory over the Indians. The settlers of Rhode Island had always main- 
tained a friendly intercourse with the Indians, and had no cause to complain of 
them. The war arose from causes growing out of the policy and past wars of 
the neighboring colonies. Yet next to the Indians, Rhode Island was the prin- 
cipal sufferer. The armies of the united colonies desolated the country, and 
what they left, the Indians, exasperated and driven to desperation, burnt and 
destroyed. Almost all the inhabitants on the west side of the Bay were obliged 
to retreat to Newport, for shelter and protection. 

" After the war, the settlers returned to their ruined homes. But Connecti- 
cut, powerful from her recent victory, continued the contest for jurisdiction. 
Rhode Island, weak and exhausted by a war she had not provoked, Avas sub- 
jected to the burden and expense of almost continued negotiations in England; 
and it was not until 1728, nearly one hundred years from the date of the arrival 
of Roger Williams, that the boundary was settled, and Rhode Island acquired 
undisputed control of Narragansett. 

"It was not until 1709, that Rhode Island felt strong enough and sure enough 
of the success of her cause, to grant land titles in Narragansett. Before that 
time, the country along the shore of the Bay had been settled, and the rights of 
the settlers undisturbed, but all the central and western portions of the Narra- 
gansett country, were occupied as our public lands in the West now are, by 
squatters, as they are called. Their claims were acknowledged, their conflicting 
boundaries settled by surveys, and deeds given them from the State, about 1709. 

"As may be supposed, during these troubles, the population of the western 
part of the State, then colony, was small in number, scattered and feeble. 
When, in 1G61, a company was formed at Newport, for the purpose of settling 
Misquamicuck, there was a powerful nation of Indians between them and their 
destined western abode. In leaving their old homes they had the same difficulties 
to encounter, the same anxieties for the future, which the emigrants of the pre- 
sent day meet with in our western wilderness. And when afterwards they were 
incorporated as a township, it received the name of Westerly. 

"It would be unreasonable to expect of a people so situated much progress in 
the comforts and elegancies of life. Occupied with keeping up a friendly inter- 
course with the natives on the one side, and defending their lives and property 
from the attacks and machinations of rival colonies, who regarded and treated 
them as heretics, rebels or intruders, on the other; it required all their energies 

4 Ehode Island. 

to gain a bare subsistence. No wonder, therefore, that they did not establish 
schools and colleges, and that we do not find among them the arts, and the re- 
finement of manners, which we could only expect in an older and more settled 
state of society. 

" There is another fact in the social history of Rhode Island which ought not 
lightly to be passed over, because its influence is still to be traced among us. 
The institution of domestic slavery for a long time existed here. * * * * 

" But slave labor was nearly confined to the towns along the Narragansett 
Bay, — Newport, Portsmouth, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Exeter, War- 
wick, Bristol and Jamestown. South Kingstown had the greatest number next 
to Newport. 

"All along the belt of land adjoining the west side of the Bay, the country, 
generally productive, was owned in large plantations by wealthy proprietors, 
who resided on and cultivated their land. They had the cultivation which would 
naturally result from a life of leisure, from intercourse with each other, and 
with the best informed men of the colony, and from the possession of private 
libraries, for that day, large and extensive. But any common system of educa- 
tion they could not have, from their very situation and distance from each other. 

" In the interior and westernmost portions of the State the population was 
scattered, the roads and means of communication poor, and the people them- 
selves enjoying but few of the comforts and luxuries of life. There were no 
towns, and but few villages, to serve as centres of communication and informa- 
tion, and to set an example to the rest of the community ; for nearly all the 
villages in the western part of the State are of recent growth, and the result of 
manufacturing industry. Their only opportunities of adding to their knowl- 
edge were their religious meetings, their town meetings, and the county 
courts." * 

It must be also remembered that the population of Rhode Island, ex- 
clusive of Indians, did not exceed 7,000 in 1G80, and was only 10,000 
at the end of the century. A census taken in 1730 gave but 17,93f>. Ex- 
cept in a few of the larger settlements, therefore, there was no great 
opportunity for the organization of a public school system ; and the school 
history of a few of these settlements is the earl}' histoiy of education in 
Rhode Island. 

Among these settlements Newport clearly took the lead in respect to 
schools. The early town records are in very imperfect condition, having 
been carried off by a Tory Sheriff when the British entered the island ; 
having been sunk at Hurlgate, been kept in New York a year without dry- 
ing, and been returned in a mutilated state b} r the British commander. But 
it is known from other authority that, in two years from the foundation 
of the town, a school was established under the following circumstances : 

* Address delivered before the Rhode Island Historical Society, on the evening of 
February 19th. 1851, by Elisha B. Potter, member of the society. Providence, 1851. (Be. 
printed, 1875.) Compare the similar views expressed in an article in Barnard's Journal 
of B. I. Institute, &c, II , 33. It was attributed to Judge Staples. 

Colonial Schools. 5 

Rev. Robert Lenthal, a clergyman of the church of England, was called 
by the people of Weymouth, Massachusetts, to be their pastor ; but left 
Massachusetts from some ecclesiastical trouble, and came to Newport, 
where he assisted Rev. Dr. Clarke in the ministry. According to Cal- 
ender's Historical Discourse, which was for man}* years the only his- 
tory of Rhode Island, Mr. Lenthal was admitted as freeman, August 
6, 1640. 

" And August 20, Mr. Lenthal was, by vote, called to keep a public school for 
the learning of youth, and for his encouragement there was granted to him and 
his heirs, one hundred acres of land, and four more for an house lot; it was also 
voted ' that one hundred acres should be laid forth and appropriated for a 
school, for encouragement of the poorer sort, to train up their youth in learning, 
and Mr. Robert Lenthal, while he continues to teach school, is to have the ben- 
efit thereof.' But this gentleman did not tarry very long; I find him gone to 
England the next year but one." * 

It is not clearly established that any community in New England can 
claim an earlier school record than thi^. The first public teacher in Sa- 
lem, Massachusetts, was apparently elected in 1640, for it is not clear 
that the school taught in that city by Rev. John Fisk, in 1637, was es- 
tablished by any public vote. The first petition for a free school in 
Boston, Massachusetts, is dated in 1636 ; but the first record concerning 
such schools in Boston was made in 1642,-f as was the first record in 
Hartford, Ct. 

This school tract of one hundred acres was allotted in what is now the 
town of Middletovvn, but in 1661 was exchanged for a tract afterwards 
known as Newtown, or school land. In 1663, this tract was ordered to 
be divided into lots, " and to be sold or loaned on condition that the 
purchasers should pay to the town treasurer an annual rent to constitute 
a fund for the schooling and educating of poor children, according to the 
direction of the town council for the time being, who are hereby empow- 
ered to direct, regulate and manage the said charity in behalf of the town, 
to the best advantage, according to the true intent and meaning 
thereof." j 

It is plain from the records, that the original school-house existed in 
1685, and that it was decaying in 1700, when, at a quarter meeting, 
there appears an entry 4t that Ebenezer Mann may have some of the lum- 
ber that has fallen down about the old school-house, to help build his 
house." A new school-house was ordered to be built, January 31, 1704-5, 
but the order was revoked in April, and land was granted to Samuel 

* Cullender's Discourse ; Elton's edition, p. 116. 

t Annual Report ot School Committee of Salem, Mass , (1876) p. 33. 

X Barnard's Journal of it. I. Institute of Instruction, III, 145. 

6 Kiiode Island. 

Cranston and others, for the purpose of building a school-house there. 
In October, 170C, additional land was granted and ordered to be sold 
" for finishing the school house in or near the market place in Newport." 
It appears, however, that in a few years the subscribers to the school- 
house had become weary of their undertaking, and surrendered the 
building to the ownership of the town. The vote receiving it was as 
follows : 

" At an adjourned quarter meeting, August 18th, 1708.— Voated, That the 
town council of Newport are empowered to take ye school-house into their 
hands, to manage all ye prudential affairs belonging to said house, always re- 
serving to ye quarter meeting in said town ye power of choosing ye school mas- 
ters for said house, always provided that ye freemen of said towii assembled in 
their quarter meeting have power further to alter or order ye above premises 
and the * * power always be invested therein." 

But the building does not seem to have been finally completed, belfry 
and all, until April, 1739. 

Thus Robert Lenthal, and after him John Jethro and Thomas Fox, 
schoolmasters, had buildings in which to teach, and had, moreover, an 
allotted salary from the income of the school lands. Thomas Fox atone 
time had the salary of £2, which would now hard]}- procure the services 
of a first class teacher ; but as the whole school lands were let for £8, it is 
evident that a little money, in those days, bought a good deal. Farther 
details of these negotiations sometimes occur as follows : 

" Quarter meeting, April 17,1709. — Mr. William Gilbert being chosen school- 
master for ye town of Newport, and proposing that upon conditions, the quarter 
meeting grant him of the benefit of the school land, viz., the chamber and sellar 
and the profit arising from ye school land in this part of the town, and some 
conveniency for keeping of fire in the winter season, he is willing to teach 
school for the year ensuing, and to begin the second Monday in May next, voated 
and allowed an act of the quarter meeting." 

Eighteen months later (October 4, 1710) came this step toward "the 
higher education." 

" The petition of Mr. Gallaway, for the liberty of teaching of a latin school in 
the two little rooms in the school-house of this town, is hereby granted." 

In 1729, it seems, besides the central school of Newport, there were 
two schoolmasters, paid £10 each, " in the woods part of the town." This 
part was set off as Middletown, in 1743, after which there was apparently 
but the central school again. The first schoolmaster chosen in annual 
town meeting was John Callender, June 3, 1746. This gentleman was 
also pastor of the First Baptist Church, and was the author of the histor- 

Colonial Schools. 7 

ical discourse alreacty quoted. It was a centennial address delivered in 
1738, in commemoration of the first settlement of the island. Mr. Cal- 
lender was again chosen schoolmaster in 1747, and died during the Jan- 
uaiy following, being succeeded by " Terrence Donally," whose name 
indicates his origin. 

In 1763, the town voted to sell a portion of the school lands, and the 
purchase mone}' was assigned to be used as follows : 

"Voted, That ye monies, arising by the sale of said lots and also ye animal 
quit rents forever, shall be paid to ye town treasurer, for ye time being, and yt 
ye same shall be a fund for ye schooling and educating of poor children, accord- 
ing to ye discretion of ye town council, for ye time being, who are hereby em- 
powered to direct, regulate and manage ye said charity in behalf of said town 
to ye best advantage, according to ye true intent and meaning thereof." 

But it appears that the town school-house was destroyed by fire, in 
1774, and that for the next half century, no school was supported from 
the income of the school land. Thus ended the first experiment at public 
education in the leading settlement of Rhode Island.* 

The first public action in behalf of education in Providence took 
place in May, 1663, when the proprietors passed the following order: 
" It is agreed by this present Assembly that one hundred acres of up- 
land and six acres of meadow (or lowland to the quantity of eight 
acres, in lieu of meadow) shall be laid out within the bounds of this 
town of Providence ; the which land shall be reserved for the mainte- 
nance of a school in this town ; and that after the said land is laid out, 
•and the bounds thereof set, it shall be recorded in our town records, ac- 
cording to the bounds fixed, and shall be called by the name of the 
school lands of Providence." 

Judge Staples, in his Annals of Providence, states that " this is the 
earliest grant now to be found in the records, and the earliest reference 
to a school or any means of education. From a petition of Jolin Whip- 
ple, Jr., in the files of the city clerk's office, presented to the town, Jan- 
uaiy 28, 1684, it appears that a whole purchase right of land had long 
before that time been set apart for the use and benefit of a school. "f 
In 1696, again, a piece of land was assigned to certain persons for the 
erection of a school-house. The same thing took place in 1751 ; and 
earlier than this, (in 1725,) Mr. George Taylor had the use of a room in 
the State House to keep a school in. The first reference to a town 

* The passages in the early town records bearing on education have been carefully 
transcribed by the Probate Clerk oi'Newport.Mr. Benjamin B. Rowland, and were printed 
in the Newport Mercury of Dec. 4, 18. 1875; Jan. 15, 29, 1876. Compare Barnard's Journal, III., 

f Staples' Annals of Providence, p. 492. 

8 Rhode Island. 

school-house is found in the records of 1752, and it is probable that the 
town simply allowed the schoolmaster the use of it, at a fixed rent, the 
pupils paying him for his services. At a town-meeting held December 
2, 1767, the citizens went so far as to vote to build " three school-houses 
for small children and one for youth, to provide instructions, and pay 
the expense from the treasury, and these schools to be under the super- 
vision of the school committee." A plan for the organization of these 
schools was reported by the committee, through Governor Jabez Bowen, 
and ma}* be found in the pages of Staples' Annals of Providence. It is an 
admirable report, and is based upon this wide provision : " That every 
inhabitant of this town, whether they be free of the town or not, shall have 
and enjoy an equal right and privilege of sending their own children, and 
the children of others that ma}- be under their care, for instruction and 
bringing up, to any or all of the said schools." 

It appears, however, that this beneficent project was defeated, and the 
grounds of defeat are thus quaintly given by Moses Brown, another 
member of the committee reporting the plan : 

" 17G8. Laid before the town by the committee, but a number of the inhabit- 
ants (and what is most surprising and remarkable the plan of a Free School, 
supported by a tax, was rejected by the Poorer sort of the people,) being 
strangely led away not to see their own as well as the public interest therein, 
(by a few objectors at first,) either because they were not the projectors, or had 
not public spirit to execute so laudable a design, and which was first voted by 
the town with great freedom. M. B." 

Rejecting this liberal plan, the town, after several abortive efforts, 
built a school-house jointly with private proprietors, the town owning 
only the lower story, and appointing masters to teach what was appar- 
ently a free school. The town passed rules for both schools and appointed 
a committee to visit both public and private schools. This was the condi- 
tion of affairs in Providence until after the American Revolution.* 

The first schoolmaster in Providence, of whom any definite memorial 
remains, wasWilliam Turpin, whose earliest record is on June 11th, 1684, 
when he executpd an indenture with William Hawkins and Lydia his* 
wife, " to furnish Peregrine Gardner with board and schooling one year 
for six pounds ; forty shillings of which in beef and pork ; pork at 
two-pence, and beef at three pence half-penny, per lb. ; twenty shillings 
in corn, at two shillings per bushel ; and the balance in silver money." 
This instrument is in the handwriting of Mr. Turpin, and according to 
Judge Staples, does him credit in point of chirograph}'. During the 
following January, he presented this petition to the town : 

* Staples' Annals of Providence, pp. 492-502. 

Colonial Schools. 9 

" The humble request of William Turpin, now schoolmaster of the said town, 
is, that whereas there was a parcel of land formerly granted by the ancestors of 
said town, and was to be to the use and benefit of a schoolmaster, as by the 
records of the town book will more at large appear, which said order or grant 
was read to me in the presence of several gentlemen, that were the occasion of 
my settling at this town, who promised to be instrumental in the performance 
thereof. Gentlemen, my desire is that the aforesaid land may be forthwith laid 
out, according to the said order or grant, and that the said master or his heirs 
may be invested in the said land, so long as he or any of them shall maintain 
the worthy art of learning. Thus leaving it to you, gentlemen, to give a speedy 
answer, according as you shall think meet, I rest yours to command. 

William Turpin."* 

There is no record as to the answer given to this petition, nor does it 
appear how long the petitioner could " maintain that worthy art of 
learning;." He must have been a man of some weight and influence as 
he was afterwards, successively, town representative, town clerk and 
town treasurer. 

Thus much for Newport and Providence. In Barrington, then a part 
of Swansea, Mass., a school was established in 1 673, "three years after old 
Plymouth had voted a free school within her borders," "for the teaching of 
grammar, rhetoric and arithmetic, and the tongues of Latin. Greek and 
Hebrew, also to teach English and to write." Of this school Rev. John 
M\ les was appointed teacher " at a salary of £40 per annum in current 
country pay." It is probable that this included his clerical services also, 
as one of his successors had but £18 per year, " one quarter in money 
and the other three quarters iu provisions at money price," and another 
had "£12 current money of New England, to be paid quarterl\ T , and the 
town to ' pay for his diet'," besides 20s. " toward the keeping of his 
horse." Each of these teachers was expected " to teach in the several 
places of the town by course," so that the horse was quite essential.! 

In Bristol it appears that the original proprietors, in 1G80, granted 
land " for the common improvement, for the encouragement and use of 
an able orthodox minister, and for the use and encouragement of an able 
schoolmaster in the town." The first recorded act of the citizens of 
Bristol in regard to schools is dated in September, 1682, when it was 
voted : 

" That each person that hath children in town ready to go to school, shall 
pay three pence the week for each child's schooling to the schoolmaster, and 
the town by rate according to each ratable estate shall make the wages to amount 

* Staples' Annals of Providence, p. 494. 
f Stone's Hist. R. I, Inst. p. 9. 

10 Khode Island. 

to £24: the year. The selectment to look out a grammar schoolmaster and use 
their endeavor to obtain £5 of the cape money granted for such an end." 
"September, 1G84, voted £24 the year for Mr. Cobbitt, he officiating in the 
place of a schoolmaster in this town."* 

These seem to have been the main attempts made, before the Revolu- 
tion, to establish popular education in the Rhode Island towns. There 
were also some local e -orts for the instruction of the Indians, of whom 
there were, in 1730, nearly a thousand (985), in the colony. These 
efforts began with a gift of land made by «;udge Sevvall, for that purpose, 
to Harvard College, in 1G96. The colored population was still more 
numerous and the Newport Mercury, of March 29, 1773. contained the 
folLwing advertisement : 

" Whereas a school was established, several years past, in the town ot New- 
port, by a society of benevolent clergymen of the church of England, in Lon- 
don, with a handsome fund for a mistress to instruct thirty negro children in 
reading, sewing, &c. And whereas it hath hitherto been found difficult to 
supply the said school with the number of children required ; notice is hereby 
given, that the said school is now kept by Mrs. Mary Brett, in High Street, 
nearly opposite to judge Johnston's, and is open to all societies in the town, to 
send their young blacks, to the number of thirty; And, provided, that the num- 
ber cannot be nearly kept up for the future, the gentlemen to whose care and 
direction the said school has been entrusted will be obliged to give it up entirely 
at the expiration of six months." 

As the colored population of Newport must at this time have com- 
prised seven or eight hundred, (having numbered 649 in 1730,) it 
certainly seemed discouraging that "all societies" could not furnish 
thirty pupils. But the appeal seems to have been successful, and Mrs. 
Brett, at any rate, renewed the advertisement of her school, still address- 
ed to " all societies," in tin Mercury for March 14, 1774. 

Furnishing an unconscious link between these slave-children and the 
more favored class, the same newspaper, on April 19, 1773, shows us 
Peleg Barker, Jr., advertising his '• morning and afternoon school for 
young misses," adding in the same advertisement that " he has for sale 
a likely, well-limbed negro lad, eleven years old." Rising to a higher 
flight of culture, Francis Vandeleur advertises (October 17, 1774,) that 
he is ready to teach French and Italian to young ladies at their dwell- 
ings. It was to Francis Vandeleur, perhaps, that the lovel}' Hunters 
and Champlins, of that day, owed the French accent, be it better or worse, 
with which they charmed the hearts of Lauzun and Deux-Ponts. 

*Barnard's Journal, R. I. Inst., Ill, 157. 

Colonial Schools. 11 

It is rare to find in the school advertisements of that period, any dis- 
tinct recognition of young girls as pupils ; and even when this appears, 
it is sometimes evident from the hours announced, that they were ad- 
mitted only at times not devoted to hoys. Thus in May, 17G7, a school 
was advertised in Providence for the instruction of young ladies in writ- 
ing and arithmetic; and the hours were from G to 7.30 a. m., and from 
4.30 to 6 p. m. — the price of tuition being $2 per quarter. There was a 
teacher of French at Providence in 1773. The demand for ornamental 
accomplishments seems to have made itself manifest earlier than this, 
for in 1763, the want of a teacher of dancing had been found an evil so 
serious that a correspondent of the Providence Gazette expressed the 
opinion that " a competent teacher who could play his own fiddle," 
would meet with encouragement in Providence. This suo-o-estion led 
to a long controversy, in that newspaper, as to the comparative merits 
of dancing-master and spinning-wheel ; but the dancing-master arrived 
soon after, and has certainly held his own against the spinning-wheel, 
down to the present clay. 

In the reminiscences of an aged citizen of Providence, Samuel Thur- 
ber, as recorded by himself for Judge Staples, there are the following 
facts in regard to education before the Revolution : 

" As respects schools, previous to about the year 1770, they were but little 
thought of; there were in my neighborhood three small schools, perhaps about 
a dozen scholars in each. Their books were the Bible, spelling-book, and 
primer. One kept by John Foster, Esq., in his office; one by Dr. Benjamin 
West. Their fees were seven shillings and sixpence per quarter. One kept by 
George Taylor, Esq., for the church scholars. He, it was said, received a small 
compensation from England. Besides these, there were two or three women 
schools. When one had learned to read, write and do a sum in the rule of three, 
he was fit for business. * * * The Rev. James Manning did great things in 
the way of enlightening and informing the people. Schools revived by means 
of his advice and assistance. Previous to him it was not uncommon to meet 
with those who could not write their names."* 

This important testimony links Brown University- with the history of 
public education in Rhode Island. This Dr. Manning was President of 
Rhode Island College at the time of its removal to Providence in 1770, 
and the impulse given by him might have made itself felt throughout 
the State, but for the absorbing excitements of the Revolution. A colony 
which saw one of its chief towns in actual possession of the enemy could 
hardly give much attention to school-books or school-houses. The conflict 
left the young State terribly depleted and impoverished, and it had 
scarcely recovered itself when it was urged on to the adoption of a school 
system, by the far-seeing public spirit of one man. 

♦Staples' Annals of Providence, pp. 515, 533, 601-2. 



The public school system of Rhode Island dates back, as distinctly as 
can be the case with an}' institution, to the labors of one man ; and that 
man neither highly educated, nor wealthy, nor occupying what was, or 
is held as a peculiarly elevated social position. John Howland was burn 
in Newport in 1757, and was sent to Providence at thirteen to be a hair- 
dresser's apprentice. At eighteen, he enlisted in the Revolutionary 
army, where he remained eighteen months, and among other experiences 
fought under Washington at Trenton. After his return to Providence 
he seems still to have served as barber to high military functionaries, 
recording in his diary his professional attendance on General Prescott, 
General Arnold and General Gates. Later he had a shop of his own, 
which was a favorite resort of the leading people of the town, so that 
Judge Thacher, of Massachusetts, records in his diary that he was recom- 
mended to go and be shaved by Mr. Howland as the best preliminary to 
an}' important information on subjects of local history. In later life he 
was treasurer of the first savings bank in Providence, was President of 
the Rhode Island Historical Society, and atoned to his conscience for 
his early share in war by assisting in the formation of a Peace Society, 
of which he was also President. He was also, happily for the commu- 
niry, a member of the Mechanics' Association ; and it was through this 
body that he began to work for a system of public schools. We fortu- 
nately have his record of the events of that time, and the history of the 
agitation may be given in his own graphic language : 

" In 1789, the Mechanics' Association was formed, and in this bod} r begun the 
agitation that led to the establishment of public schools. When we came to- 
gether in our association, we made the discovery of our deficiencies. There 

John Holland's Enterprise. 13 

were papers to be drawn, and various kinds of writing to be done, that few of 
us were competent to execute. Then we began to talk. The question was asked, 
ought not our children to have better advantages of education than we have en- 
joyed? And the answer was, yes. Then it was asked, how shall those advan- 
tages be secured? The reply was, we must have better schools. So when we 
had talked the matter over pretty thoroughly among ourselves, we began to 
agitate. As I was something of a talker, and had practiced writing more than 
most of my associates, a good deal of this work fell to my lot. And I was very 
willing to do it, because I felt and saw its importance. So I wrote a number of 
pieces for the newspaper, and tried to induce others to do the same. I prevailed, 
however, with only one, Grindall Reynolds. He felt as I did about the the mat- 
ter, and wrote a piece for the Gazette in favor of schools. We had, indeed, the 
good will of many educated men. There were Thomas P. Ives, Thomas L. Hal- 
sey, David L. Barnes, and others, who had been educated in the public schools 
in Massachusetts, all of whom understood our wants and favored our movement. 
Governor Bowen and the Bowen family were also friendly. So was Governor 
William Jones. We met no opposition from the wealthy, but the} 7 having the 
advantages for their sons and daughters that wealth can always procure, did 
not feel as we poor mechanics did. They were not active. In this beginning of 
the movement, they seemed willing to follow, but were unwilling to lead the 
way. It is a curious fact, that throughout the whole work, it was the most un- 
popular with the common people, and met with the most opposition from the class 
it was designed to benefit. I suppose this was one reason why the most influ- 
ential citizens did not take hold of it heartily in the beginning. They thought 
its success doubtful, and did not wish, in a public way, to commit themselves 
to an enterprise that would curtail their popularity and influence. This was not 
the case with all, but it was so with many. 

" The more we discussed the subject, the greater became its importance in our 
eyes. After a good deal of consultation and discussion, we got the Mechanics' 
Association to move in the matter. This was an important point gained, and 
an encouragement to persevere. A committee was chosen to take up the subject. 
Of this committee I was a member. They met at my house, and after due de- 
liberation, it was resolved to address the General Assembly. I told them, that 
as neither of us were qualified to draw up a paper in a manner suited to go 
before that body, we had each better write a petition embodying our individual 
views, and bring it to our next meeting. Out of these mutual contributions we 
could prepare a petition that would do. This was agreed to, and the committee 
separated. When we next met, it was found that but two had been written ac- 
cording to previous recommendation. Those were by William Richmond and 
myself. Richmond then read his. It was in the usual petition style, ending, ' as 
in duty bound will ever pray.' I told the committee I did not like the doctrine 
of that paper. It was too humble in tone. I did not believe in petitioning leg- 
islators to do their duty. We ought, on the contrary, in addressing that body, 
to assume a tone of confidence that with the case fairly stated, they would de- 
cide wisely and justly for the rising generation. I then took out my mem- 
orial and read it. It was not in the shape of an 'humble petition.' It expressed 
briefly our destitution, and the great importance of establishing free schools to 
supply it. It received the approbation of the committee, and was adopted. 

14 Rhode Island. 

" This memorial was presented to the General Assembly in the name of onr 
association. It was there warmly debated, and after pretty severe opposition, 
the Assembly referred the whole subject to a committee, with directions to 
report by bill. This bill, embodying a general school system, was drawn up by 
James Burrill, jr., Attorney General of Rhode Island. I was with him all the 
while, and he readily complied with my suggestions. 

" When the bill was reported, the Assembly was afraid to pass it, until the 
sense of the towns could be obtained. So it was printed, and sent out to the 
freemen for instructions. The great object now was to get the towns to vote 
right. When the subject came before the town meeting in Providence, I moved 
that a committee be appointed to prepare instructious to our representatives, 
and report at the present meeting. This was carried, and William Richmond, 
Samuel W. Bridgham, afterwards our first mayor, George R. Burrill, Wm. 
Larned, and myself, were constituted the committee. It was now late in the 
afternoon, and Bridgham, said, ' Mr. moderator, this is an important matter. 
It will require some time to draft instructions, and as it is now almost night, I 
think the subject had better be postponed until the next town meeting.' 'Never 
fear,' replied Richard Jackson, the moderator, 'I guess Howland has them 
already written in his pocket.' ' O,' rejoined Bridgham, ' I didn't think of that 
— then we can go oil." The committee accordingly retired to the office of 
George R. Burrill for consultation. The questions then came up, what shape 
shall the instructions take? Who shall write them? Various opinions were ex- 
pressed, but I kept silent. Bridgham then turned to me and said, ' what do you 
think, Mr. Howland?' I had anticipated the course of events, and was prepared 
to answer the question. I had set up, the night before, till 11 o'clock, to pre- 
pare a document I intended to submit to the town meeting. I therefore said to 
the committee, ' I have got my opinion in my pocket. If you wish to hear, I 
will read it.' ' Let us hear, by all means,' was the reply. So I took out my 
document, and read it. When I got through, Burrill said, 'well, that is just 
what we want. All we need do is to sign our names.' They accordingly signed 
it, without suggesting any alteration, and we returned and reported it to the 
meeting. The paper was adopted by the town, as its instructions to its repre- 

" But though Providence was thus committed to the good work, the country 
towns generally were not so safe. In many, the movement was decidedly un- 
popular, and there was ground for apprehension that it might fail. One of the 
most influential men in the State councils was then a resident of Newport. I 
felt very anxious to secure the favorable expression of that town. I therefore 
wrote to the town clerk, urging him to get an article inserted in the warrant for 
the town meeting, to instruct their representatives to vote for the bill before 
the Assembly. And so fearful was I that this precaution would be neglected, 
that I made a special journey to Newport to secure the measure. Much to my 
gratification, Newport voted for the instructions, and valuable services were 
rendered by Mr. George Champlin, the principal representative from that town. 
Essential aid was also rendered by a member from Smithfield. 

" At the autumn session, (1799,) the bill passed the House of Representatives, 
and was sent up to the Senate. That body was afraid to pass it, and did not 
dare reject it. So with other unfinished business, they laid it over until the 

John Howland's ExTERrniSE. 15 

next session. The Assembly met in February in tins town. I resolved to per- 
severe in my efforts to get the school bill passed. I saw the secretary, and at 
my suggestion, he placed the deferred bill among the papers first to be called 

"One day, in the early part of the session, I met Joel Metcalf, a man of 
strong good sense, who had interested himself in the matter of public schools. 
' Come,' said I, ' yon and I must go up to the Senate to-day and get them to call 
np the school bill.' ' Well,' he replied, ' I don't know as we can influence that 
honorable body.' 'We can try,' I responded. And so we went. We saw John 
Innis Clarke, a senator, and told him our errand. ' Well,' said he, 'the gover- 
nor and senate are to dine with me to-day, and I will do what I can to secure 
favorable action.' We left, and went up to the senate chamber in the afternoon. 
As soon as I opened the door, Clarke rose and came to me, and said, ' the school 
bill has just passed.' 'Was it opposed?' I inquired. 'No,' he replied. 'I 
called it up, and it was passed without a word in opposition.' Thus we achieved 
our great State triumph — not of long duration indeed, as the act was repealed 
in 1803,— but long enough to secure a permanent blessing to Providence. 

"I shall not confine my narrative to the strict order of dates, as I have no 
minutes of the events I am relating by me. My object is to give a brief view 
of the part I took in this work. The town resolved to establish four schools, 
three on the east, and one on the west side of the river. I was on a committee 
to carry out the design. Having made a motion in town meeting, June 3, 
1799, that a committee be appointed to purchase the shares held by the proprie- 
tors of ' Whipple Hall,' and the brick school-house, standing near the State 
house, I was made chairman, and entered at once upon my duties. The other 
members of the committee were Richard Jackson, jr., and John Carlile. After- 
noon after afternoon, accompanied by Paul Allen, I traversed the north end in search 
of the proprietors. Sometimes we found one at home, and another in the street. 
In this way, we picked up forty-five shares, at §10 each — I making the contract, 
and Allen, as justice of the peace, legalizing it. Five of the old proprietors we 
never could find, nor could we ascertain who were their heirs. To this day, 
they have not been purchased. One of the proprietors, a sturdy, self-willed 
man, at first refused to sell. He ' was'nt going to educate other people's child- 
ren.' But after being made to see that the system would go on, and his refusal 
would injure no body but himself, (the town then owning over forty shares, and 
thus able to control the house,) he relented, and acceded to our terms. We next 
bought the brick school-house. This was more easily done, as the principal 
number of shares was in the hands of Moses Brown, and the town already 
owned the land on which the building stood. These shares were purchased at 
$10.50 each. It was not so easy, however, to obtain the lot wanted for a school 
house site at the south end. This land belonged to a gentleman who was un- 
willing to have a school of two hundred scholars so near his house and garden. 
I was not on the commiitee to make this purchase, but when I heard lie had re- 
fused to sell, I went to see him. I asked the ground of his objections. He 
said if a school was established there, the neighborhood would be a perfect 
bedlam every time it was dismissed. Besides, his garden would be robbed of 
all its fruit. These were very natural fears. But I assured him they were 
groundless. Under our rules, the school would be dismissed by classes, and not 

16 Rhode Island. 

permitted to loiter about the premises, and as to his garden, so strict a watch 
would be kept over the scholars, that his fruit would be safer than ever. I can- 
not repeat all my arguments on the occasion. It is sufficient to say, that before 
I left him, he consented to sell. 

" Some time after, when the schools had gone fairly into operation, the town 
council, accompanied by the school committee, made their first visit to this 
school. When opposite his residence, I requested the company to pause till I 
went in and invited him to go with us. They did so. I went in and said, ' I 
have been deputed by the honorable town council and the school committee, to 
invite you to accompany them in their first visit of examination to the Transit 
street school. He appeared gratified with the attention, and readily complied 
with our invitation. I Mill not say there was not a little policy in this. At all 
events, it had a good effect. Our skeptical friend was delighted with all he saw 
and heard, and was ever after a firm supporter of the public schools. 

" Among the exercises of this occasion, was a poetic address made to the 
gentlemen of the honorable council and committee. It was written by Paul 
Allen, and spoken by a lad nine years of age. 

"It was clear, that to carry out our system successfully, a larger sum of 
money than hitherto appropriated for schools must be secured. Here we expe- 
rienced the strongest opposition, and were in greatest danger of defeat. I 
moved, in town meeting, for an appropriation of §4,000. Some said it was too 
much, and others, hoping to defeat the motion, opposed it on the ground that 
the sum was insufficient. After listening some time to the discussion, I rose 
and said, that as there appeared to be a difference of opinion in the meeting, 
with a view to obviate the last objection, I would move the insertion of $G,000 
in the place of §4,000, first proposed. This was seconded by one of the oppo- 
nents, thinking thereby to give the motion its quietus. Much to his surprise, 
however, the motion was adopted. When the result was announced, great ex- 
citement prevailed. Two of the strongest opponents came up to me and said, 
' you have taken us in — you have taken us in— we did'nt intend to vote you so 
much money.' 'You have taken yourselves in, and I am glad of it,' I replied. 
^This agitation of the school matter induced many of the mechanics to attend 
town meeting, and take an active part in town affairs, who never went before. 
" April 16, 1800, the town appointed James Burrill, Jr., John Corliss, Richard 
Jackson, Jr., John Carlile, Joel Metcalf, William Richmond and myself, a com- 
mittee to devise and report a plan for carrying the school act into effect. This 
plan I drew up. It was reported to an adjourned town meeting, April 2Gth, and 

"The first school committee under the act of the General Assembly, was 
chosen in August, 1800. It consisted of President Maxcy, Rev. Dr. Gano, Rev. 
Dr. Hitchcock, David L. Barnes, Jabez Bowen, Amos M. Atwell, James Bur- 
rill, Jr., William Jones, John Carlile, and myself. The town council, in con- 
junction with this body, appointed a sub-committee to draw up rules and regu- 
lations for the government of the schools. On this committee were President 
Maxcy, Rev. Dr. Hitchcock, and Rev. Dr. Gano. When nominated, Dr. Gano 
said the schools had his warmest wishes for success, but as he was not much 
acquainted with the matter, and as Mr. Howland had done so much, and under- 
stood the wants so well, he would decline in his favor. His wish was com- 
plied with, and I was placed on this important committee. 

John Rowland's Enterprise. 17 

" When the work of drawing up the rules came to be done, to my surprise, 
the burden of the labor was assigned to me. President Maxcy was pressed 
with the cares of the college, and could not conveniently attend to the duty. 
Dr. Hitchcock's health was declining, and though warmly devoted to the cause 
of education, was unable to give the subject the attention it deserved. So it 
was Jeft for me to go on with it. This was rather a formidable undertaking, 
but as I had the approbation of the literary gentlemen, I boldly put my hand to 
the work. To aid me in the matter, I sent to Boston, and procured the rules 
established there, and also a list of the books used in school. After my rules 
and regulations were prepared, I submitted them to the committee and town 
council. They were accepted, and adopted October 16th, less than two months 
after my appointment. 

"Up to this time I had never seen a grammar -a sorry confession for a 
school committee man, some may think — but observing that ' The Young 
Ladies' Accidence' was used in the Boston schools, I sent to the principal book- 
seller in that town, and purchased one hundred copies for the use of ours. For 
whatever accuracy I have obtained in writing, I am indebted to observation 
and practice. 

" The introduction of grammar was quite an advance in the system of educa- 
tion, as it was not taught at all except in the better class of private schools. 
The same was true of geography, which had never been taught before. Geogra- 
phies could not be bought in this town, so I sent to Boston and purchased as 
many as were wanted for our schools. Dr. Morse, of Charlestown, had pub- 
lished the first volume of his geography, and that was the work we adopted. 
Many thought it an unnecessary study, and some in private objected to it be- 
cause it would take oft" their attention from arithmetic. But it met with no 
public opposition. 

" To some this recital may seem egotistical. But I have no such feeling. I 
was so constantly connected with the school movement, that I cannot speak of 
it without speaking of myself. I take no improper pride in the part I acted. 
If better educated and more influential men had seen lit to take the lead, I 
should have been contented to follow. But I felt that somebody must do the 
work, and as others would not, I resolved that I would. I thank a kind Provi- 
dence that I have been able, in my humble way, to be of service to my fellow- 
men; and I wish to occupy no other place in their memories, or on the page of 
history, than that which truth shall assign me."* 

The memorial mentioned by Mr. Howland in the previous paper, was 
in the following form : 

" To the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Ehodc Island and Provi- 
dence Plantations, to be holden at Greenwich, on the last Monday of Febru- 
ary, A. D. 1799 : 
" The Memorial and Petition of the Providence xlssociation of Mechanics and 

Manufacturers, respectfully represents : — 

*Life and Recollections of John Howland, late President of tlie Rhode Island Histor- 
ical Society, by Edwin M. Stone, Providence, 1S57, pp. 138-118. 


18 Ehode Island. 

" That the means of Education which are enjoyed in this State, are very inade- 
quate to a purpose so highly important : 

" That numbers of the rising- generation, whom nature has liberally endowed, 
are suffered to grow up in ignorance, when a common education would qualify 
them to act their parts in life with advantage to the public, and reputation to 
themselves : 

" That in consequence of there being no legal provision for the establishment 
of schools, and for want of public attention and encouragement, this so essen- 
tial a part of our social duty is left to the partial patronage of individuals, whose 
cares do not extend beyond the limits of their own families, while numbers in 
every part of the State are deprived of a privilege which it is the common right 
of every child to enjoy : 

" That when to that respect, which, as individuals we feel ourselves bound to 
render to the representatives of the people, we add our public declaration of 
gratitude for the privileges we enjoy as a corporate body, we at the same time 
solicit this Honorable Assembly to make legal provision for the establishment 
of Free Schools, sufficient to educate all the children in the several towns 
throughout the State ; with great confidence, we bring this our earnest solici- 
tation before this Honorable Assembly, from the interest we feel in the public 
welfare, and from the consideration that our society is composed of members 
not originally of any one particular town, but assembled mostly in our early 
years from almost every town in the State. 

" That we feel as individuals, the want of that education which we now ask 
to be bestowed on those avIio are to succeed us in life, and which is so essential 
in directing its common concerns. That we feel a still greater degree of confi- 
dence from the consideration that while we pray this Honorable Assembly to 
establish Free Schools, we are at the same time, advocating the cause of the 
great majority of children throughout the State, and in particular, of those who 
are poor and destitute — the son of the widow, and the child of distress. 

" Trusting that our occupation as mechanics and manufacturers ought not to 
prevent us from adding to these reasons an argument which cannot fail to ope- 
rate on those to whom is committed the guardianship of the public welfare, and 
that is, that liberty and security, under a republican form of government, de- 
pend on a general diffusion of knowledge among the people. 

" In confiding this petition and the reasons which have dictated it, to the wis- 
dom of the Legislature, Ave assure ourselves that their decision will be such, as 
will reflect on this Honorable Assembly the praise and the gratitude, not only of 
the youth of the present generation, but of thousands, the date of whose exist- 
ence has not commenced. 

Kespectfully submitted by 

John Rowland, 
Joel Metcalf, 
William Richmond, 
Peter Grinnell, 
Richard Anthony, 
Grindall Reynolds, 
Samuel Thurber, Jr., 
Nathan Fisher, 

j- Committee. 

The Fipst School Law. 19 

The subject was referred by the General Assembly to a committee 
which reported, in June, 1799, a bill that was ordered to be printed, 
and to be distributed to the several towns for instructions. In the fol- 
lowing October, a bill was passed by the House of Representatives, but 
it was postponed by the Senate to the session held in February, 1800, 
when it became a law. The bill was as follows : — 


" Whereas, the unexampled prosperity, unanimity and liberty, for the enjoy- 
inent of which, this nation is eminently distinguished among the nations of the 
earth, are to be ascribed, next to the blessing of God, to the general diffusion of 
knowledge and information among the people, whereby they have been enabled 
to discern their true interests, to distinguish truth from error, to place their con- 
fidence in the true friends of the country, and to detect the falsehoods and mis- 
representations of factious and crafty pretenders to patriotism ; and this General 
Assembly being desirous to secure the continuance of the blessings aforesaid, 
and moreover to contribute to the greater equality of the people, by the common 
and joint instruction and education of the whole : — 

" Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, and the authorities thereof , 
and it is hereby enacted ; — That each and every town in the State shall annually 
cause to be established and kept, at the expense of such town, one or more free 
schools, for the instruction of all the white inhabitants of said town, between 
the ages of six and twenty years, in reading, writing and common arithmetic, 
who may stand in need of such instruction, and apply therefor. 

'•Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Town 
Council of every town, to divide said town into so many school districts as they 
shall judge necessary and convenient. 

" Sec 3. And be it further enacted, That each of the towns of Newport and 
Providence shall cause to be established and kept every year, so many free 
schools, and for such terms of time, as shall be equivalent to keeping three such 
schools eight months each ; that each of the towns of South Kingstown, 
Glocester and Smithfield shall cause to be established and kept every year, so 
many free schools as shall be equivalent to keeping three such schools six months 
each ; That each of the towns of Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton, Scituate, 
Cumberland, Cranston, Johnston, Foster, Westerly, North Kingstown, Charles- 
town, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton, Bristol, Warwick, East Greenwich, West 
Greenwich and Coventry, shall cause to be established and kept, in every year, 
so many free schools as shall be equivalent to keeping three such schools four 
months each; and that the towns of Middletown, Jamestown, New Shoreham, 
North Providence, Warren and Barrington, shall cause to be established and 
kept, in every year, so many free schools as shall be equivalent to keeping one 
such school four months. 

" Sec 4. And be it further enacted, That for the encouragement of institu- 
tions so useful, there shall be allowed and paid to the Town Treasurer of each 
town, or his order, out of the general treasury, at the end of every year, com- 
puting from the first Wednesday in May next, twenty per centum of the amount 

20 Rhode Island. 

of the State taxes of the preceding year paid into the general treasury by said 
town; provided the said sum or allowance of twenty per cent, shall not exceed, 
in the whole, the sum of six thousand dollars in any one year. 

" And the town making application to the general treasurer for said allow- 
ance, shall exhibit and deliver to him a certificate, signed by the town council, 
town treasurer, and school master or school masters of such town, that a school 
or schools have been established and kept in said town, according to the pro- 
visions of this act, and specifying the number of schools and the term of time 
for which each school shall have been kept. 

" Six;. 5. And be it further enacted, That the allowances aforesaid, when 
paid to the town treasurers, shall be, and remain exclusively appropriated to 
the establishment and support of free schools, and shall be paid out, under the 
orders of the several town councils, for the benefit of the school or schools 
which shall be kept in the districts established by them, as aforesaid, in propor- 
tion to the number of persons in the several districts entitled to instruction in 
the said schools, by virtue of tins act. 

" Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That if any town shall neglect, or refuse 
to establish and keep free schools, in the manner prescribed in this act, such 
town shall forfeit all right or claim to the allowance aforesaid for the year in 
which such neglect or refusal shall happen, and the said forfeited allowances 
shall make and constitute a part of the unappropriated moneys in the general 
treasury ; and that all certificates for obtaining said allowances, shall be pre- 
sented to the general treasurer within six months after the expiration of the 
year, within which the said allowances shall have become due, or the same 
shall be forfeited as last aforesaid. 

' ; Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the general treasurer shall annually 
make a report to the General Assembly of the operation and execution of this 
act, accompanied with copies of the certificates aforesaid, and an account of 
the allowances paid thereon. 

' ; Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That if any school district in any town 
shall think lit to keep a school in said district for a longer time than the town 
shall provide; for the same, or to erect a school-house, or to enlarge, ornament 
or repair any already erected, it shall and may be lawful for any seven freemen 
of such school district, to make application to any justice of the peace in the 
town, for a warrant for calling a meeting of the freemen of such district, and 
the said justice shall thereupon grant such warrant, directed to the town ser- 
geant and constables of said town to warn the freemen of said district to 
assemble at a proper time and place, to be prescribed in said warrant, to take 
into consideration the subjects therein mentioned; and the said warrant being 
first served, in the manner in which warrants for calling town meetings are 
served in said town, the freemen of said district (any seven of whom shall be a 
quorum) shall and may assemble and appoint a clerk, treasurer, collector, and 
such other officers and committees as occasion may require, and order and 
assess such taxes on the inhabitants of said district, to be assessed in the pro- 
portions of the last town tax, as they may think necessary for the purposes 
aforesaid, which taxes shall be collected by warrant from the clerk of said 
school district, directed to the district collector, and shall be levied and col- 
lected in the same manner and under the same laws and regulations as town 

The First School Law. 21 

taxes, and shall be appropriated to the uses aforesaid, according to the votes 
and orders of the said school district meetings; and the freemen of said district, 
assembled as aforesaid, shall and may make such other lawful orders and regu- 
lations, relative to the continuance and support of their district schools, as to 
them may appear useful, and may be called by their clerk by warrant, on request 
of any seven of said freemen, and the meeting so called shall and may have and 
exercise the powers and privileges aforesaid. 

" Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That no person shall establish or direct as 
master or preceptor, any school or academy of instruction established by virtue 
of this act, unless he shall be a native or naturalized citizen of the United 
States, and be approved of by a certificate in writing from the town council of 
the town in which he shall teach. 

" Skc. 10. And be it further enacted, That the town councils of the several 
towns shall have the government of the town and district schools in their re- 
spective towns. 

" Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect and be in 
force from and after the first Wednesday of May next, and shall be published in 
all the newspapers in this State ". 

The law met with great opposition and was repealed in a few years. 
I can find in the Providence Gazette and in the U. S. Chronicle of that 
period no hint of the special influences which brought about the repeal. 
It appears from the Newport Mercury of November 4, 1800, that amotion 
was made (October 31,) by Mr. J. Davis, seconded by Mr. A. Taylor, 
in pursuance of instructions from the town, of Little Cornpton, to repeal 
the whole bill, and that, u after considerable debate," the motion was 
defeated, 32 to 25. Again it appears from the same authority that on 
June 17, 1801, u instructions from several towns were read against the 
school-bill, which occasioned a motion for its repeal. It was finally re- 
ferred to a Committee, who are to report an amended bill at the next 
session." * No such bill appears to have passed ; the whole measure 
was virtually defeated by simple non-enforcement, and the law was re- 
pealed at the February session, 1803. 

Providence was the only town which had ever carried it into effect. 
But as the Providence schools have been sustained ever since under the 
organization then begun, and as the whole State was afterwards brought 
under a system essentially identical with that proposed by Mr. How- 
land, he may justly be called the founder of the school system of the 
State. Indeed it was the opinion of that high authority, Henry Barnard, 
when he took charge of the public schools forty years later, that if* a 
competent officer had been at once appointed, at the time of the passage 
of the act of 1800, to explain its provisions, meet objections, urge ad- 

* Newport Mercury, June 23, 1801. 

22 Rhode Island. 

vantages, unci suggest modifications, it would not have been repealed, 
and Rhode Island would have had the best school s3~stem in New 

The " freemen " of Providence at once proceeded to organize schools 
under the new law ; four school-houses were bought or built and four 
ik masters" appointed, each with an usher. Two gentlemen, Dr. Enos 
Hitchcock and Tristam Burges, Esq., " being about to visit Boston* 
were requested by the town council to visit the public schools of that 
city and obtain, if possible, a copy of the rules and regulations of its 
public schools." It appears that Mr. Burges obtained a copy of these 
rules, for which the town council voted to pa} T him one dollar, and gave 
him a vote of thanks. On October 16, 1800, a committee of which Dr. 
Hitchcock was chairman, read this excellent report to the town council : 

" The public schools being established for the general benefit of the com- 
munity, all children of both sexes admissible by law, shall be received therein 
and faithfully instructed without preference or partiality. 

"The system of instruction shall be uniform in the several schools, and the 
pronunciation as near alike as possible, and to this end, it shall be the duty of 
the several instructors to have frequent intercourse with each other, and agree 
upon some measures for carrying this important article into effect. 

" The good morals of the youth, being a matter of the highest consequence, 
both to their own comfort, and to their progress in useful knowledge, they 
are strictly enjoined to avoid idleness and profaneness, falshood and deceitful" 
ness, and every other wicked and disgraceful practice, and to conduct themselves 
in a sober, orderly and decent manner, both in and out of school. 

" The principal part of the instruction Mill consist in teaching spelling, ac- 
centing and reading both prose and verse with propriety and accuracy, and a 
general knowledge of English grammar and composition; also writing a 
good hand, according to the most approved rules, and vulgar and decimal 
fractions, including tare and tret, fellowship, exchange, interest, &c. 

" The books to be used in carrying on the above instruction, are Alden's 
Spelling Book, 1st and 2nd parts, the young Ladies' Accidence, by Caleb Bing- 
ham, the American Preceptor, Morse's Geography abridged, the Holy Bible in 
select portions, and such other books as shall hereafter be adopted and appoint- 
ed by the committee. The book for teaching arithmetic shall be agreed on by 
the masters. As discipline and good government are absolutely necessary to im- 
provement, it is indispensable that the scholars pay a particular attention to 
the laws and regulations of the school. 

"If any scholar should prove disobedient and refractory, after all reasonable 
means have been used by the master to bring him or her to order and a just sense 
of duty, such offender shall be suspended from any further attendance or in- 
struction in any school in the town, until the next visitation of the committee. 

" That each scholar shall, after having entered a school, be punctual in his 
attendance at the appointed hour, and be as constant as possible in his daily 

The Providence Schools. 23 

" That excuse for absence sliallbc by a note from the parents or guardians of 
such scholar. 

" That monitors be appointed by the masters of each school, to notice the 
absence or tardiness of the delinquent scholars, the list of whose names shall 
be preserved and exhibited to the committee at their next visitation. Submit- 
ted by Enos Hitchcock, John Howland, Jonathan Maxcy, Joseph Jencks, com- 

The above report having been accepted, it was voted and resolved, 
that the vales therein recommended, be adopted for the regulation of 
the schools, viz. : 

"That as far as possible they exclude corporeal punishment from the 
schools : and in particular, that they never inflict it on females. 

" That they inculcate upon the scholars the proprieties of good behavior dur- 
ing their absence from the school. That they consider themselves in the place 
of parents to the children under their care, and endeavour to convince them by 
their treatment, that they feel a parental affection for them. 

" That they never make dismission from school at an earlier hour than usual, 
a reward for attention or diligence, but endeavour to lead the children to con- 
sider being at school as a privilege, and dismission from it as a punishment. 

" That they never authorize one scholar to inflict any corporeal punishment 
on another. 

" That they endeavour to impress the minds of their pupils with a sense of 
the Being and Providence of God, and the obligation they are under to love and 
reverence Him ; their duty to their parents and masters ; the beauty and excel- 
lence of truth, justice and mutual love; tenderness to brute creatures; the 
happy tendency of self-government and obedience to the dictates of reason and 
religion; the observance of the Sabbath as a sacred institution; the duty which 
they owe their country, and the necessity of a strict obedience to its laws ; and 
that they caution them against the prevailing vices."* 

Four public schools were thus opened in Providence on the last Mon- 
day in October, 1800. The number of scholars was beyond anticipa- 
tion, and a fifth school was soon required. For twelve years, however, 
the whole attendance rarely exceeded eight hundred. The four original 
schools had each a master with a salary of S500, and an usher who was 
paid $200. After a time the rules were revised and new regulations es- 
tablished, from which the following is an extract : 

" The public schools are established for the general good of the community: 
and all children of both sexes, having attained the age of six years, shall be re- 
ceived therein, and faithfully instructed without preference or partiality. The 
instruction shall be uniform, in all the schools, and shall consist of spelling, 
reading, the use of capital letters, and punctuation, writing, English grammar 
and arithmetic. 

* Barnard's Journal of R. I. School Inst., III. p. 41. 

24 Rhode Island. 

" The pronunciation shall be uniform in all the schools, and the standard shall 
be the Critical Pronouncing Dictionary of John Walker. 

" The following books, and none other, shall be used in the several schools, 
viz. : Alden's Spelling Book, flrs.t and second parts : New Testament, American 
Preceptor, Murray's Sequel to the English Header, Murray's Abridgement of 
English Grammar, and Daboll's Arithmetic. 

"Each scholar shall be punctual in attendance at the appointed hour, and as 
regular as possible in daily attendance, and all excuses for absence shall be by 
note from the parent or guardian of the scholar. 

" It shall be the duty of the Preceptor to report at each quarterly visitation, 
the names of those scholars who have been grossly negligent in attending school 
or inattentive to their studies."* 

These were the provisions made for public schools in Providence, at 
the beginning of the present century. The system lias never been 
abandoned, in that city, but only expanded'; and as it ultimately spread 
from Providence through the State, it is clear that the whole State must 
trace its school system to these early efforts. But for many years the 
children of the State were mainly left to the instruction given in private 
schools ; and I must next endeavor to give, so far as it is possible, some 
indication of what those private schools were. 

♦Barnard's Journal, 11. I. School Inst., III. 42. 


The longevit}' often attributed to Rhode Islanders has this great ad- 
vantage, that tradition preserves much which has found no other record. 
It is to Rev. George G. Channing, now approaching his ninetieth year, 
that we owe the most graphic picture of the private schools of this State, 
from 1794 to 1804. No apology is therefore needed for some citations 
from his u Early Recollections of Newport, R. I." 

" Accompany me, if you will, to the primary school where I first commenced 
' the art of spelling and reading the English language with propriety.' 

"The room occupied by the matron-teacher, Mrs. Sayre, and her daughter 
('Miss Betsy,' as she was called), situated near the corner of Mary and Clarke 
streets, was a low, square chamber, on the second floor, having no furniture, 
no desks, nor chairs, excepting a few for teachers or visitors. The children, 
boys and girls (the former dressed the same as girls), were furnished by their 
parents with seats made of round blocks of wood of various heights. These 
movable seats, at least thirty in number, would constitute as great a curiosity 
at this day of school accommodations and luxury, as would the old 'ten-footer' 
district school-houses, were they set np for public gaze in one of our streets. 
Mrs. Sayre was a model teacher in her day. It was at the time of reading from 
Noah Webster's spelling and reading book, when an urchin, alias brat, some- 
times softened into varlet, being pinned to the mistress's apron, was hammering 
or stuttering over a monosyllable, turning red and pale by turns as she jostled 
the poplar rod at her side. — it was just at that moment, when her e} T cs were 
bent on the sewing she was preparing for the girls, and on the garter-knitting 
for the boys, and she listening to and correcting the poor boy's mistakes, — it 
was just then that the block gyrations commenced, not exactly as on a pivot, 
but in sweeps, forming larger or smaller circles according to the whim of the 
block-mover, — it was just at that moment of astounding commotion, when the 
old lady, taking notice of the tumult, raised the wand, viz., the poplar pole, 

26 Eiiode Island. 

and with distinct, nay fearful articulation, cried out, in regular, syllabic order. 
' Mi-rab-i-le-dictu,' which Latin word sounded in my right ear very much like 
' My rabble dick you.' Of course, this, to us, meaningless word excited as 
much open-eyed and open-mouthed admiration as is produced by a grandiloquent 
orator, * * * 

" To return to Mrs. Sa3 r re's primary school : I recollect very well the dis- 
agreeable sensations connected with the ' ; dark closet," the prison of the disobe. 
dient. It was not resorted to, save in extreme cases. I remember what a fright 
was caused by one of the bo} r s swallowing a marble (he is still alive), which led 
to a sudden dismission of the school. At the close of the school on Friday after- 
noons, we were sent to a vacant room below stairs, where we recited the 
' commandments,' repeated the ' Lord's Prayer,' and received commendation 
or censure according to our good or bad conduct during the week. I remember 
most gratefully the happy influence of Mrs. Sayre's discipline and instruction. 
She was firm but gentle in manner and speech, governing by signs rather than 
by words. My preparation was excellent for the higher school I was soon to 
enter, especially in reading and spelling. The junior teacher (Miss Betsy) had 
under her care children of advanced standing. She was an excellent teacher, 
and was affectionately remembered for her assiduity in behalf of her scholars. 
During the recess twice a week, Mrs. Say re taught colored children spelling and 
reading, gratis. This good lady and her daughter were greatly respected and 
beloved. The latter married Joseph Rogers, Esq., of Philadelphia. 

' ; The first school-house of any note in the town was owned and managed by 
a gentleman of acknowledged ability for those days. Compared with buildings 
used for similar purposes now, it was a mere shanty, a 'ten-footer.' It 
was scant in length, breadth, and height, and poorly ventilated. The furniture, 
viz., the desks and benches, was of the most ordinary stamp. The former, used 
for the writing exercises, had leaden inkstands in the centre; and their surface 
was more or less disfigured with rude indentures, so as to render straight or 
curved strokes with the pen next to impossible ; and the latter, the benches 
without backs, were so tall and shaky as to be very uncomfortable, especially to 
the shortest boys, whose legs had to be suspended, causing often extreme pain, 
and consequent disturbance ; bringing on them undeserved punishment from 
the monitors, unless warded offby a bribe, in the shape of a top or a knife, or a 
handful of marbles. On the rostrum were two or three chairs for distinguished 
visitors, and a small desk for the master, on which reposed, not often, a punc- 
tured ferule, surmounted by an unpleasant-looking cowskin. So exceedingly 
disagreeable were the daily ministrations of these instruments of instruction, 
that every method was adopted for their destruction. But the master was 
more than a match for our organ of destructiveness. Such was school No. 1 
in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It certainly was not 
the prototype of the school at Rugby, where Dr. Arnold ruled successfully, 
without making any of the distinguishing marks which characterized my pupil- 
age. As the school grew, assistants were employed. Mr. Maxy was an excel- 
lent teacher of the languages. Mr. Taylor (a most worthy citizen) taught the 
lower branches. The tree is known by its fruit : whilst, therefore, it must be 
granted that the greater number of the scholars were of the genus Booby, there 
were some of rare brightness of mind, whose intellectual culture did credit to 
those efficient and faithful teachers. 

Private School Instruction. 27 

" Our school-room had to be swept and dusted twice or thrice a week, and 
the classes were obliged to do this in turn. As this was a disagreeable task, 
those boys who had money (and these were generally of Southern parentage) 
could easily buy substitutes from among the poorer boys. During my nonage, 
the Puritan spirit did not die out. It was an age of force. Punishment was 
deemed necessary. Exhibitions of authority constituted, day by day, a series 
of domestic tableaux. The discipline of the school was in accordance with the 
government of the home. It was arbitrary, with rare exceptions, in the ex- 
treme. Children were required to bow or kiss the hand, when entering or 
leaving either home or school. The school to which I was sent differed in no 
respect from inferior ones in the matter of corporal punishment. The ferule 
and cowskin were almost deified. Apologies increased, rather than abated, the 
swellings of the hand, and the wales upon the back. An appeal to parents was 
of no more avail than beating the air. This severe discipline was not inter- 
fered with by the clergy; for, in their day, they had to run the gauntlet; and as 
the men, and even the boys, of that age were notoriously addicted to swearing, 
drinking, gambling, and other vices, it was deemed necessary to subdue these 
evils by blows. No faith existed then in behalf of moral suasion. It is delight- 
ful to remember that none of my name, as boys, at least, were guilty of utter- 
ing an oath. 

"The only classical school in Newport, strictly speaking, during my pupilage, 
was kept in New Church Lane, by Mr. John Frazer, a Scotchman, lie was a 
good teacher, especially in Greek, Latin, and mathematics. * * * 

"Mr. Clarke Rodman {a Friend) had, in his own house in Mary street, quite 
a large school, devoted to the education of a class of boys and young men 
living at the South End, who were styled the 'roughs.' It was thought singu- 
lar, that a man belonging to the ' Society of Friends,' a non-resistant by pro- 
fession, should have attracted to his school so many disorderly youths. But, 
though avowedly a non-resistant, he never suffered any act of disobedience to 
go unpunished. His manner of conducting the spelling was original. The 
word being given out, followed by a blow from a strap on his desk, 
the whole class, simultaneously, would bellow out .the word, — say the 
word ' multiplication,' — properly divided. His ear was so true, that he easily 
detected any misspelling. When this happened, he would demand the name of 
the scholar who had failed : if there was any hesitancy in giving the name, the 
whole class, instead of being dismissed, — spelling being the last exercise, — was 
detained, until, by repeated trials, accuracy was obtained. So many voices 
upon a single word, in so many keys, produced an amusing jingle, which invari- 
ably attracted to the spot all passers-by. A Mr. Knox, with remarkably long- 
feet and an ungainly appearance, devoted most of his time to teaching very 
poor children their A B C, in a small building in the rear of Trinity Church. 

" Having given the reader a brief but accurate statement of the schools in 
Newport during my boyhood, I will give, in the next place, my recollections of 
some of the school-books then used. The advanced scholars in our school 
studied the Creek and Latin text-books of the day. The principal English books 
were Murray's Grammar, Noah AVebster's Spelling-book, the Columbian Orator, 
Woodbridge's Dictionary, Daboll's, Pike's and Walsh's Arithmetics, and Morse's 
small Geography."* 

* Early Recollections of Newport, R. I., from 1793 to 1811, by George G. Charming. (New. 
port, R. I., 18U8,) pp. 43-54. * 

28 Rhode Island. 

Most of the schools mentioned by Mr. Charming appear to have been 
open to boys only. In 1794,* however, the Newport Mercury announces 
that lk Miss Vinal, lately from Boston," will open a school at the house of 
Mr. William Coggeshall, " and will be obliged to those ladies and gen- 
tlemen that will favor her with their custom." In 1797,f James Wallace 
offers a " morning school for 3'oung ladies in reading, writing and arith- 
metic," he also teaching navigation and book-keeping as usual, doubt- 
less to young men. In 1805, £ William Bridges offers to " teach young 
ladies and gentlemen. Private rooms for young ladies and board if re- 
quired." In 1807, § Mrs. LaSalle and daughter advertise a school, prob- 
ablj- for girls, at their home ; and the Misses hmith announce a Female 
Academy at Bristol. || In 1808,*[ Mrs. Eliza C. Brenton announces in- 
struction for girls at Washington Academy, South Kingstown ; her list 
of studies including " Epistolary Style," as well as "Temple Work, 
Paper Work, Fringing and Tufting." And in 1811,** Mr. J. Rodman 
offers to young ladies " the elegant art of writing," and also arithmetic. 

One of the most characteristic of these school advertisements, espec- 
ially in the order assigned to the studies, is the following in the United 
States Chronicle^ of Providence : 

"Mrs. Hurley, from London, offers to instruct young ladies in all kinds of 
Needlework, Tambour and Embroidery, with Drawing - , Painting, and Music on 
the Piano Porte. 


In Pleading, Writing, Arithmetic, French and English, Grammar, Geography, 
and History — which will be explained by Rev. Mr. Hurley." 

We are, finally, indebted to Mr. Channing for this tribute to one teacher 
of young ladies during this period : 

"Eloise Payne, the daughter of Schoolmaster Payne (a teacher of great cel- 
ebrity in his day, in Boston, Mass.,) and sister of John Howard Payne (the re- 
nowned dramatist and poet), came to Newport about the year 1807-8, and 
opened one of the most noticeable schools in America; and, until her health 
failed, she exerted a great influence for good in the moral and intellectual cul- 
ture of girls,— not only the residents of Newport, but also of many from New 
York and Boston, who boarded in Miss Payne's family. Perhaps no young lady- 
teacher ever enjoyed more deserved repute than Miss Payne. Her voice was 
delightfully sweet and winning. Her face was the index of unusual intellectual 
power. Her eye, lustrous and penetrating when she spoke, awakened confi- 
dence and love when she was silent. Her skill in penmanship was admirable. 
She attracted many, and held them spell-bound by her grace in conversation. 

* April 22. t April 18. J July 20. § April 4. [| Aug. 29. IT April 16. ** Feb. 23. 

tfDec. 18, 1800. 

Private School Instruction. 29 

Her religious faith yielded the fruit of holy living; so that, though her life was 
short, her death was deeply lamented. I have frequently been gratified by the 
expression of affectionate remembrance of this faithful teacher by the few pupils 
who still survive to calk her blessed.'** 

Other advertisements of private schools, usually without mention of sex, 
appear in plenty during this period, and are subjects of never-failing 
curiosity to the reader in the singular selection of hours for instruction. 
Thus Mr. Wallace, already mentioned, taught young ladies ""from 6 to 
8 a. vr.," and Mr. Jastram, in Providence, from G to 8 a.m., and from 10 
to u 12 at noon." A morning and evening school, advertised in the Mer- 
cury, March 29, 1806, was taught from 5£ to 8 a. m., and from 5 to 7 
p. m., for '• both sexes." Mr. Hall had a kt Morning School," from 6 to 
8 a. m., and Mr. Fraser an evening school, from 5^ to 8 p. m. Mr. Col- 
burn teaches penmanship to ladies from 11 a, m. to 1 p. m., and to gen- 
tlemen from 3 to o and from 7 to 9 p. m. : then his successor, Mr. Dill- 
ingham, has the ladies at 3 and the gentlemen at 7 p. m., and a year 
later reaches the modern hours and has both classes at 9 a. m. in two 
separate rooms. | These morning schools were probably arranged in order 
not to interfere with the regular instruction of the teacher, or with the 
daily occupations of the pupils. Our " evening schools " are the only 
vestige now remaining of this system. 

For the more ornamental branches, schools were re-opened soon after 
the Revolution. Thomas Berkenhead, lately from Liverpool, offers, 
through the Newport Mercury, in 1796, to teach " the Organ, Harpsi- 
chord, and Forte-Piano ; " another offers " a grand Kirckman's Harpsi- 
chord for sale ; " another teaches "• Vocal Music in the evening ; " and a 
nameless person proposes to "teach the violin. "| French and Dancing 
were taught by Frenchmen, and commonly combined. M. Francisqu3' 
offered lessons in dancing »■ to children and persons more advanced in 
life," and stated that tk the principles of his mode of instruction are 
founded upon reflection and long professional experience." M. Nugent, 
announcing a school for the 'two arts, says of himself, u As a French 
teacher, besides his having been bred to Letters in France, he has the 
advantage of possessing the English language; and as a dancing-master 
he presents it as a sufficient Proof of his Abilities that he has been 
principal Dancer in the Theatres of Philadelphia and Boston." It is to 
be observed that a lower price was charged for the language than for the 
other accomplishment. Later, the newspapers begin to contain adver- 

*Ch:mning's Early Recollections, p. 03. 

t Newport Mercury. July 29, 1615; June 14, Oct, IS, Nov. 22, 1817; Dec. 19, 1818. 

% Aug 1«, 1790; Feb. 4, March 14, 1797. 

30 Rhode Island. 

tisemeuts from " a unfortunate gentleman," or " a sufferer by the unfor- 
tunate circumstances of the war," still teaching French and sometimes 
dancing.* On January 14, 1794, we ma}- read of '"The young married 
gentleman from Cape Francois who lately announced in the Newport 
Mercury his deplorable situation and his desiie of teaching the young 
ladies and gentlemen of Newport the art of dancing;" and this striking 
appeal is continued, with undiminished pathos, for several successive 

The early academies of this State, especially the Washington Aca- 
dem}-, of South Kingstown, are advertised freely in the newspapers from 
1800 onwards. The u Frenchtown Catholic Seminary " appears in 1804, 
and the u Pawcatuck Academy " at Westerly in 1807. To these must be 
added a few attempts in the direction of gratuitous teaching, apart from 
the public school system of Providence. A school had existed in New- 
port before the Revolution, having been established by the will of 
Nathaniel Kay, Esq., collector of the King's customs, in order " to teach 
ten poor boys their grammar and the mathematics gratis." It was in 
charge of the minister, church wardens and vestry of Trinity Church, 
and the master must be " Episcopally ordained." This school existed 
from 1741 till the Revolution ; and was revived in 1799 and continued 
for many }ears, though in a somewhat modified form.f 

The Newport Mercury of August 8th, 1807, announces that Mr. E. Tre- 
vett — a well-known teacher — will '• gratuitously teach as many poor child- 
ren as he can attend to in the State House, a few hours in the morning," 
and that a subscription is in circulation to purchase stationery. The editor 
adds, u the want of free schools is a serious evil to society." On October 
31, 1807, the same announcement is renewed, with the statement that more 
than seventy had attended in the summer, more than forty in the winter ; 
and an appeal was made for clothes to cover them. About the same time 
the " Female Benevolent Societ}* " informs those who wish to put child- 
ren under their care that a few can be admitted into their school. \ In 
the following year the " African Benevolent Society " opens a school 
kept b\- Newport Gardner, " the object of which is the free instruction 
of all the colored people of this town who are inclined to attend." § 
Eight years after, this school seems still to have been, in existence ; and 
the school of the " Female Benevolent Societ}'" was described, in 1817, 
as having been established for twelve years, and as having habitually 
taught and partially clothed twenty-tive or thirty children. 

* Mercury, Sept. 6, Oct. 11, 1796; June 20, Oct. 3, 1797. 
t Updike's Xarragansett Church, pp. 397-407. 
X Mercury, Oct. 24, 1807; Sept. 13, 1817. 
§ Mercury, March 2(5, 1808. 

Private School Instruction. 31 

To these should be added the Sunday schools, just introduced from 
Europe, and applied at first mainly to secular instruction. These schools 
were first established b}* Robert Raikes in England, in 1781 ; but tho 
first organized in America is believed to have been in 179C, by Samuel 
Slater — the father of cotton manufactures in the United States — for the 
children employed in his cotton mill at North Providence. They were 
introduced into Providence itself in 1816, but only in their present 
form, for religious instruction.* But in Newport, during the following 
year, the}' were established in their original form, for secular teaching. 
In the Mercury of August 2d, 1817, appears the announcement of the 
" First Sabbath School Society " for the instruction of indigent children 
" in the first principles of education." The school was to be held at "Mr. 
Hitchcock's Meeting-House," at 8J a. m. and 1 p. m. Among the signers 
of the notice were prominent day-school teachers, such as Messrs. Hall 
and Trevett. It appears from later issues of the Mercury^ that these 
schools were gradually established by several other societies, and refer- 
ence is made to their becoming general throughout the country. 

There were thus in Newport alone, five different avenues for the gra- 
tuitous instruction of poor children — the Kay school, Mr. Trevett's 
school, the Female Benevolent Society, the African Benevolent Society 
and the Sunday schools. To these was presently added a sixth, as we 
shall see, and these all contributed, together with the constant example 
of the town of Providence, to swell the growing public sentiment in 
favor of a State system of public schools. 

* Staples' Annals of Providence, p. 535. 
t Oct. 17, Nov. 7, 1818. 


For twenly-five years after the final defeat of John Rowland's 
enterprise, Rhode Island had no public school system, even on paper. 
The Providence schools held on their course, under local authority, but 
under no other. There existed, however, a means, familiar in those days, 
now wholly discarded hereabouts, by which the means of civilization 
were to be freely obtained. It is almost impossible to open a Rhode 
Island newspaper, printed in the first quarter of this century, without 
finding the advertisement of a lottery ; and the only difference in this 
respect between New England and other parts of America was, that the 
avowed aim of the enterprise was here usually a church, a school-house, 
a charity, or some municipal improvement. It was employed with as 
little compunction as young ladies feel in these days in organizing a 
raffle. In my- limited investigation I have come upon advertisements of 
lotteries for paving streets, for the Redwood Library, and for relieving the 
maritime losses of Gideon Almy ; for churches in Providence. Newport, 
Bristol, Warren, Warwick, Coventry, Little Compton and East Green- 
wich ; for churches of the Baptist, Methodist, Congregational and Presby- 
terianfaiths ; for "Catholic" and Episcopal academies ; for the Washington 
Academy at East Greenwich, and the academy at Hopkinton, Mass. ; for 
the universities of Brown, Harvard, Union, and William and Mary.* 
All these are advertised in Rhode Island newspapers, between 1773 
and 1825 ; and they are sometimes reinforced bj T mixed appeals like 

* Newport Mercury for March 29, 1773; August 8, 22, September 12,1774; April 3, 17, 
June 19, 26, August 14, December 18, 1784; January 27, February 17, 21, June 30, September 
15, 1795; May 10, 1796; May 8, 1798; April I, December, 2, 23, 180J; September 0, December 
17, 1803; February 18, 1804; April 13, May 11, July 20, 1805; June 0, 1807; February 17, March 
3, 1810; March 2, 9, November 9, 1811; May 16, July 18, 1812, etc., etc. 


this, which is offered in connection with the Newport Methodist chapel 
lottery of 1807 : u Now is the time to make your fortune. * * * It is 
presumed that those who wish to encourage religion, laying aside the 
prospect of a fortune, will call and purchase liberally."* 

Such were the lotteries of that day, and among these came one which 
had so definite a relation with the public schools of Rhode Island, that it 
deserves to be specially chronicled. In the newspapers of 1705 appears 
an advertisement of the " Newport Long Wharf and Public School 
Lottery," of which George Gibbs and George Champliu, then among 
the foremost citizens of the town, were the managers. The history of 
this enterprise was as follows : The plan of the lottery had originated in 
1769, though then, it would seem, for Long Wharf purposes alone ; but 
it was revived in 1795, when an act passed the legislature, at the 
January session, as thus stated in a legal report officially rendered by 
Hon W. li. Staples : 

"Without petition or complaint from any one, on motion, the Assembly 
authorized thirty-six persons, citizens of Newport, who are named in the act, 
to set forth a scheme to raise by lottery twenty-live thousand dollars. 

" They were to appoint managers of the lottery, who were to give bonds to 
the general treasurer for the faithful performance of their trust as managers. 
The powers conferred on them were very broad. How the wharf should be 
rebuilt, after a title to it had been procured, what kind of a hotel and where to 
be located, are left to the discretion of these trustees, who are to act without 
bond or oath, in discharge of their part of the trust. 

" After the wharf and hotel were completed, the trustees were to apply the 
rents and profits arising from them to such a public school for the children of 
Newport, and in such way and manner, and under such regulations as the 
trustees should impose. And the trust to last through all time, the right of 
filling vacancies in the number being specially conferred on the survivors. 
The board of trustees originated with the Assembly; the funds which they 
were to raise and appropriate, were provided by the Assembly. Xo person was 
compelled to contribute toward the fund, and no person was compelled to be 
benefited by it." 

The original call for a meeting of the trustees of this enterprise 
appears in the Newport Mercnry for February 10th, 1795, and the first 
announcement of the lottery itself on March 24th. There were to be 
2,000 shares, at $125 each. There were 12,000 prizes, varying from 810 
to $30,000 ; so that each share was sure to draw six prizes, amounting at 
least to $60, nearly half thepurchase money ; while the maximum of prizes 

* Newport Mercury, JuneG, July 15, 1807. 


34 Rhode Island. 

attainable by any share was 872,000. For convenience, man}' of the shaves 
were divided into twenty-seven tickets, at $5 each. The total amount 
actually drawn at last appears to have been 830,000.* 

The accounts of the managers of the lottery do not appear to have 
been settled until March 22nd, 1708, when the committee reported the 
cash in their hands as being 8(5,570.17, and the amount of accounts and 
notes to be collected as being 85.973.39. What was the total amount 
of profits cannot now be ascertained, but the committee reports that 
the lottery, on the part of the managers, has been conducted with the 
most perfect regularity and fairness, and they have generously relin- 
quished their commissions for the management. The proceeds of the 
venture went to the rebuilding of Long Wharf; the projected hotel was 
never built, and it is doubtful whether a school-house would have been 
obtained, had not a private citizen made sure of it, by offering a 
building for the purpose. The following letter was received by the 
trustees of the lottery, soon after its first announcement : 

" Swansea, May 11, 1705. 
'■'■Messrs. George Gibbs and George Champlin: 

"Gentlemen: — I saw in the Boston Cent fuel, a scheme of a lottery, for the 
laudable intention of rebuilding the Long Wharf in Newport, the building a 
hotel, and more especially establishing a free school, which has determined me 
to make a free gift of my estate on the point called Easton's Point, which came 
to me by way of mortgage, for a debt dae from Hays and Pollock; if you will 
accept of it in trust to support a free school forever, for the advantage of the 
poor children of every denomination, and to be under the same regulations as 
you desired the free school should be that you design to erect. If you, gentle- 
men, will please to get a deed wrote agreeably to the intentions here manifested, 
I will sign and acknowledge the same, and send it to you for recording. I 
would only mention that if the situation is agreeable to you, the house and 
garden would do for a schoolmaster, and the oil house, which is large, might 
be fitted up for the school-house. This as you may think proper. There is no 
person here that understands writing such a deed, or I would have sent it to 
you completely executed. 

"I am, gentlemen, with respect, 

" Your very humble servant, 

" Simeon Potter." 

On receipt of this letter, it was at once 

"Voted and Besolved, That G. Gibbs and G. Champlin be requested to present 
the thanks of the trustees to Simeon Potter, Esq., for his liberal donation, and 

* Newport Mercury, May 31, 1790. 

Lotteries and their Eesults. 35 

to assure him that it shall be inviolably appropriated to the establishment and 
support of public schools, he has so generously patronized. 

" Voted, That Thomas Dennis and John L. Boss, be requested to take charge 
of the house, store and land, presented by Simeon Potter, to rent the same, and 
appropriate the rents to the repairs, in such manner as they may deem most 

On April 28, 1S00, it was 

"Resolved, That the use of the building presented by Simeon Potter, Esq , be 
tendered to the town for a school-house, on condition of the town repairing the 
same, and paying such rent as may be agreed upon, provided it is appropriated 
for a school, conformably to the act of the Assembly for establishing free 
schools, and that it be called the Public School." 

This was in anticipation of the town's compliance with the law carried 
through by John Rowland, but nothing seems to have come of the pro- 
position. During the war of 1 <S 1 2 the trustees of the Long Wharf did 
not meet; but on August 19th, 1814, they had got into working order 
again, ami ' w a committee was authorized to devise a plan for the com- 
mencement of a school, taking into consideration the present limited 
funds." This plan, reported August 25th, 1814, was as follows: — 

11 August 25. — The school committee reported a plan for the commencement 
of a school for poor children as follows : live trustees to be appointed a school 
committee to rent the Potter House to a suitable person to keep a school, for 
such a number of boys belonging to families in the town who are unable to 
educate them; that they be instructed in reading, writing and arithmetic, 
necessary for ordinary business and navigation; the committee to superintend 
and adopt a code of rules for the government thereof, to be rigidly observed. 
As many boys admitted as the funds will support. 

"The committee report that they have visited the Potter House, and find a 
room fifteen by forty feet, with two lire-places, which, at small expense, can be 
converted into a goad school-room, sufficiently large for fifty or sixty scholars, 
and the tenants. Joseph Pinch and wife, who occupy the c3 ambers keeping a 
school, who will undertake to instruct twenty or thirty children in reading, and 
find the necessary tire wood at $1.80 each, per quarter, a plan which the com- 
mittee recommend to be adopted for the ensuing winter, pr< punitory to enlarg- 
ing the plan at the annual meeting, should the funds then admit, Job Gibbs, a 
carpenter who occupies the first floor, and is largely in arrears for rent, can be 
employed for making the necessary repairs for the accommodation of the pupils, 
on enlarging the establishment under the direction of an instructor in the 
higher branches. 

" J. L. Boss and four others were appointed a committee to carry the same, 
into effect, and they are to have the solo charge of the Potter House, renting the 
same to the best advantage, to receive the rents either in ion, labor, mate- 
rials requisite for repairs, or money. The room for the school to be fitted up in 

3G Rhode Island. 

such manner as they think proper. The committee to make up quarterly ac- 
counts of expenses, and receipts for the house, tuition, books, and stationery ; 
are authorized to draw on the treasury for the balance, and to make a report of 
the same to the annual meeting-, or any other meeting of trustees ; to keep a 
record of the pupils admitted, time of admission and dismission, books and sta- 
tionery furnished. They are also authorized to call a meeting of the trustees." 

It appears from a later report that it was really '• with Elizabeth 
Finch " that the contract was made, and that " on the 16th October, 
1814, school commenced, consisting of twent}~-five small bo}'s, who, on 
examination by the school committee from time to time, and more par- 
ticularly at the expiration of the second quarter, were found to have 
made much greater progress in their learning than was anticipated, and 
that Mrs. Finch, with the assistance of her husband, had done ample 
justice to the pupils." It would appear from this that it was really an 
old-fashioned u dame's school," the husband of the " dame " rendering 
incidental assistance. On April 10th, 1815, the school was increased to 
forty, nominally ; but the actual number in 1820 was only about twenty ;* 
and it was finally abandoned in 1832. The house which it had occupied 
was ordered to be sold, and the proceeds were deposited in the savings 
bank, where they remained until 1863, when the} T were appropriated, 
with other funds, in the bauds of the Long Wharf trustees, to building 
what is now the Willow street public school-house. 

As a companion picture to the school-boy reminisceuces of Mr. Chao- 
ning, it may be well to quote a remiuiscence of the worthy Captain 
Finch, as given by Hon. W. C. Cozzens, in his public address on the 
dedication of the Willow street building : 

" I well remember this school from 1820 to its close, and shall never forget 
the novel and most peculiar method adopted to give notice of school-time. The 
teacher, having been an old sea captain, was more accustomed to use his lungs 
than hand-bells, and as there was no bell belonging to the school, the teacher 
with great punctuality would go first to the west window on Washington street 
(second story), and call out at the top ol his voice — and that voice was 
not weak or delicate — three times, ' Boys ! Boys ! Boys ! ' Then he would 
appear at another window on the east side of the house, and repeat the 
same call, 'Boys! Boys! Boys!' This being on the side of the cove, 
with buildings on all four sides, forming a hollow square at least a thou- 
sand feet across, over the water, it would at times produce a most prodigious 
noise, heard as far almost as a steam whistle in these days. I have often heard 
it, in my boyhood days, while sailing about the cove in a boat, echo in every 
direction, east, north, south and west. Sometimes the second and third call 

* Barnard's Journal of It. I Inst.. Ill, 145. 

Lotteries and their Eesults. 37 

would catch the echo of the first, and with the roguish boys in their boat joining 
in the general chorus, shouting at the top of their voices, ' Boys,' too. Thus 
on many a bright morning, with a calm, clear atmosphere, lias there been a con- 
fusion of sounds oyer that, at times, crystal sheet of water, far surpassing the 
efforts of the most gifted ventriloquist. What effect these interferences of the 
boys, or the echoes, had upon the old schoolmaster's disposition and temper, 
I never heard." * 

* Address at the dedication of the school-hoiise erected by the trustees of Long 
Wharf, at Newport, R. I., p. 18. 



The second movement for a State system of public schools seems to 
have began in a resolution passed by the General Assembly, early in 1820, 
" calling on the several towns for information on the subject of public 
schools."* The call could not have been very efficacious, for scarcely a 
town in the State had any information to give. Providence could honestly 
reply that she had five public school-houses and eight hundred and forty- 
six pupils under instruction. A committee of the town of Newport could 
only report as follows : 

" Their duty obliges them reluctantly to state, that except about twenty chil- 
dren educated at the Newport Long- Wharf Public School, the children of indi- 
gent persons in this town rely on individual bounty, or the limited provision 
made by benevolent institutions for the small portion of instruction they obtain : 
the consequence is that a large number are totally neglected, or perhaps through 
the medium of Sunday schools are taught to spell and read very indifferently. 
After stating these facts, the committee cannot but recommend that the town 
instruct their representatives in General Assembly to unite in their best endea- 
vors to procure an act of the legislature for such general system of Public 
Schools as their wisdom may devise, and so framed as to secure to this town its 
fair proportion of the sum appropriated to the object." f 

No immediate result followed, but at the Newport town-meeting a re- 
port was read, showing plainly that the original school fund of the town 
had been diverted from its proper use, and that the town was bound kt in 
justice to itself as well as to posterity, to provide for the support and 

* Barnard's Journal of R. I. Institute of Instruction, III, 145. 
t Barnard's Journal, III, 143. 

Revival of Public Schools. 39 

maintenance of public schools for the education of all the children of the 
town at the public expense."* A vote to establish such schools had 
been passed at a previous meeting, but was reconsidered at a subsequent 
one ; and it all ended in a vote to petition the General Assembly for author- 
ity to carry out the above plan. Permission was accordingly obtained 
to levy a local tax for the purpose, and to apply to the same end the pro- 
ceeds of the school lands ; and before proceeding farther the Newport 
committee called John Ilowland to the front again, and obtained from him 
a letter which gives us another vivid glimpse at the gradual progress of 
the only public schools, properly so called, in the State. f 

"Providence, September 20, 1821. 
" To Richard K. Randolph and Dutee J. Pearce, Usqs. : 

" Gentlemen : —Your communication dated lGtli instant was duly received, and 
the intelligence it affords that the good people of my native town have set them- 
selves seriously to work to establish public schools will render a compliance 
with your request the greatest pleasure. 

" The preparatory measures establishing the system in this town resulted from 
the provisions of an act of the General Assembly, passed in 1800, for the encour- 
agement of public schools throughout the State. Tins act placed the power of 
commencing and carrying the system into effect, principally in the se~\ e \ I town 
councils ; and although the act of the State was repealed in I wo years 

after it had pressed, yet the town never withdrew the powers confided by the town 
to the town council in the first instance, in conformity to the State law, being 
satisfied they could devise no better method. Before the system was completed, 
the town, on the request of the town council, appointed a school committee (at 
first consisting of twelve) to attend with them in any consultation on measures 
to be adopted relative to the schools. 

" The town was at first divided into four, at present into five school districts ; 
two old school-houses were purchased of proprietors, and three new ones have 
been built, two of brick and one of stone. During the time the new houses 
were building and the old ones repairing, a sub-committee devised and reported 
the rules for the government of the schools, and designating the books to be 
used. The rides as first established are continued with little variation, but 
changes have been made in the books as new ones have appeared, bettor adapted. 

" The appointment and removal of the masters and ushers, remain solely with 
the town council, though in the appointment of a master to fill a vacancy, (as 
there are generally several applicants,) the school committee are convened with 
the council, and the qualifications of the candidates discussed. 

"Presuming these preliminary observations may come within the scope of your 
enquiries, I now proceed to answer as correctly as possible, the special interro- 

"1st. Of how many pupils do the schools consist? The average number in 
the winter season is about nine hundred, in summer eight hundred; the school- 
houses are calculated to accommodate two hundred each. 

♦ Barnard's Journal, III, 145. j Barnard's Journal, III. 44. 

40 Rhode Island. 

" 2d. Are there one or more masters to a school? One master and one usher 
to a school. 

" 3d. At what age are pupils admitted, or at what age discharged? The chil" 
dren are admitted at the age of six years, the time of continuance not limited* 
Before the establishment of the public schools the means of education were very 
limited, and on their being opened, the scholars were of all ages between six 
years and twenty, there are now but few over fourteen years, mostly from six 
to twelve. Although the age for admission as a general rule, is six years, yet 
the preceptors receive some under that age, when they belong to a family from 
which older children attend ; but when the number in a school is two hundred 
or more, which has frequently been the case, then all under six are excluded. 

"4th. Are females admitted? Females are admitted. The school-rooms have 
an aisle lengthwise through the middle, the boys occupy one side, the girls the 
other; the floors rise from the side of the broad alley to the walls, and there is 
a desk and a seat for every two scholars ; the size of the room fifty feet by thirty. 

" 5th. Does the method of instruction differ from that practised in ordinary 
schools? The method of government and instruction differ materially from that 
practised in schools before, or at the time the public schools were established. 
The old pedagogue system of the cow-skin and the ferule is laid aside. The 
government partakes more of the paternal character; the boys have the appel- 
lation of masters and the girls of misses ; emulation is excited by promotion to 
a higher class, and by public commendation by the preceptor, of particular in- 
stances of attention to order or improvement. The upper class of boys are 
supposed to be in the character of young gentlemen, and the misses are 
addressed as young ladies. After all, the application of the general system of 
government depends much on the peculiar qualifications and address of the pre- 
ceptor; he is not addressed by the term master, that is exclusively applied to 
the boys. The number of males exceeds the number of females, probably about 
one-fifth through winter, but in the summer season they are nearly equal. 

" 6th. What are the branches taught? This may be answered generally, by an 
extract from the first regulation, viz. : ' The principal part of the instruction 
will consist in learning spelling, accenting, and reading, both prose and verse, 
with propriety and accuracy, and a general knowledge of English grammar, and 
composition; also writing a good hand, according to the most approved rules, 
and arithmetic,' &c. 

" 7th. What is the expense of each and all the free schools in Providence? 
Five masters, $500 per year, each, - - - $2,500 

Five ushers, at 250 dollars each, - . - - - 1,200 

To this may be added necessary repairs of school-houses, stove pipes, etc., and 
a few books furnished occasionally to poor children by the town council. 

" 8th. What are the results of the system? As to the effect which the public 
schools have had on the state of society, the evidence must be circumstantial, 
as it is impossible to tell what would have been the case had they not ueen es- 
tablished; but the circumstances are so numerous and co-incident, that they 
appear to establish the fact beyond a doubt, that they have been highly benefi- 
cial. Many of our citizens who pay through the tax collector for their support, 

Revival of Public Schools. 41 

and who, having- no children of their own to instruct, care but little about the 
education of others : but from their observation of the good effect of the schools 
in their own neighborhood, or in the town at large, are now among the most 
zealous for their support. You, gentlemen, were probably well acquainted with 
the late Marshal E. K. Dexter, Esq., and his testimony with you will be im- 
portant. At the time the public schools were first established, Mr. Dexter and 
his father, who paid a large tax, were two of our strongest opposers. Their 
principal argument was, that it was wrong to compel those who had been at the 
expense of their own education, and now have no children of their own to be 
benefited, to pay for the schooling of other people's children ; but before the 
death of the father, he was well satisfied with the result, and the Marshal, for 
ten or twelve years past, has been one of the firmest friends of the schools, and 
frequently declared that he owed the safety of his gardeus and orchards to the 
public schools. 

"There are now many among our most active and valuable citizens, mer- 
chants, mechanics, manufacturers, and masters of ships, who were poor boys, 
without other means of instruction, and who owe their present standing, and in 
some instances large property, entirely to the education and manners acquired 
in these public schools. 

" Two schools, on the Lancasterian plan, are now in operation in this town, 
by individuals from abroad, without any support from the town. This is matter 
of experiment ; they are well spoken of, and I think will be useful for children 
who have been altogether without instruction. In these they can commence the 
first rudiments, and be prepared to take their places in the other schools to more 
advantage. A committee appointed by the town at April meeting, made a re- 
port (highly favorable to the plan) in June. The3Mvcre continued, and probably 
will, at a future meeting, recommend one school on the plan of Lancaster, for 
the support of the town. 

" I have not at present a moment's time to review what I have written, or to 
add any further details or remarks. With the best and most ardent wishes that 
the gentlemen who have begun the good work in Newport, may persevere in the 
good cause to the great benefit and everlasting honor of the place of my birth, 
I remain, 

"Your obedient servant, 

"John Rowland."* 

During the year 1820, the Providence newspapers, echoed in som2 
degree by the Newport Mercury, urged upon the community the impor- 
tance of public education, and at the February session, 1821, the General 
Assembly appointed a committee " to prepare and report a bill establish- 
ing Free Schools." The Providence American, in October, urges action 
and says, " A decided majority of the people have already expressed their 
sentiments in favor of free schools." But if so, the majority exerted 
their influence but slowly ; at the October session the committee ex- 
plained that they were not yet ready to report. They had addressed cir- 
culars to the town clerks, and many had answered, but not all. As a 

* Stone's Life of Howland, p. 151. 

42 Rhode Island. 

matter of fact, the report never came, and the impulse died away for a 
year or two. 

It was helped to revive by the action of Newport, where a certain un- 
easiness of mind had always existed in regard to the school lands, so long- 
diverted from their original purpose. Town meetings were held from 
September 14, 1824, onwards, many legal points were discussed, and full 
educational plans devised. It is a curious indication of these times that 
there seems to have been much the same hesitation about the necessit\ r 
of common school education for girls that is now felt by many in regard 
to their collegiate education. In a report printed in the Newport Mer- 
cury of March 12, 1825, for instance, it is stated that "in the present 
situation of the town, your committee have thought it advisable that the 
education of males only should be provided for." This committee's esti- 
mate for the annual education of four hundred boys was §850, for eight 
hundred boys and girls $1,360 ; this being on the Lancasterian or moni- 
torial plan, the elder pupils assisting in the instruction. On the ordinary 
plan the cost would rise to 81,768. The highest estimated cost for eight 
hundred pupils was thus about half the salary now paid to the High 
School Principal in Newport. 

These plans were duly considered, and there were votes and reconsider- 
ations, petitions to the legislature and counter-petitions. As usual, a 
lottery was thought of, and a bill was read once in the Assembly, allow- 
ing Newport to raise $10,000 for a school fund by that means. Finally, 
however, at the June session, 1825, the town of Newport was authorized 
by the legislature to raise a tax of $800 k ' for educating the white chil- 
dren of the town who are not otherwise provided with the means of edu- 
cation." This $800 was devoted for the first year to building a school 
house on Mill street, in which a public school lor boys was opened May 
9, 1827 ; a school on the Lancasterian plan, in which children who could 
afford it were expected to pa}' from twenty- five cents to a dollar per 
quarter, according to the instruction they received. This was followed 
by a school for girls opened June 1G, 1828. All the present school sys- 
tem of Newport is the expansion of this modest provision.* 

It was, to be sure, a local movement, but it was undertaken under per- 
mission from the State, and Governor Fenner had given it a sort of official 
recognition, by offering to the school fund of Newport the sum of $100 
which it was usual for the governor in those days to contribute towards 
the rather jovial festivities of Election Day. In his letter, dated May 

* Newport Mercury, Sept. 18, 1824; Feb. 26, March 12, May 21, Jane II, 23, July 2, i), Sept. 10, 
1823; April 1, June 10, 182G; March 31, May 3, 12, June 7, 1827. 

Eevival of Public Schools. 43 

2, 18:^7, the Governor seems rather to apologize for this interference with 
a '-good old custom," but the trustees of the school fund reassure him 
in their letter of acceptance : and Lieutenant-Governor Collins, it seems, 
reinforced the donation by fifty dollars more.* 

All this indicated or promoted an increase of sympathy for the public 
school system, and this finallv took form in January, 1828. There was, 
indeed, one final effort to revert to the lotteiy system, on a large scale, 
for at the May session, in 1825, it appears, u An act for the establish- 
ment of lotteries, for the purpose of raising a fund for the support of 
free schools, by which, it is believed, from $3,000 to $5,000 may be 
raised annually, without risk or expense to the State, was received and 
referral to the next session. "y But the next session had, apparently, 
the wisdom to suppress it. 

In 1827, Mr. Joseph L. Tillinghast, of Providence, was the leader in 
urging free schools upon the Assembly. The subject was first intro- 
duced by memorials from Smithfield, Cumberland, Johnston, East 
Greenwich and other towns. The East Greenwich memorial, which is 
an excellent one, may be found in full in Barnard's Journal of the 
Rhode Island Institute of Instruction. J together with reports of the. more 
important speeches. These reports are taken from a pamphlet entitled, 
'•Debate on the Bill establishing Free Schools at the January session of 
the Rhode Island Legislature, a. d. 1828, reported for the Rhode Island 
American, by B. F. Jlallett." The bill finally passed through both 
houses, by a vote of fifty-seven to two in the House, and unanimously, 
after a few amendments, in the Senate. The bill itself is as follows : 

"School Act of 1828. 

" Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, and by authority thereof 
it is enacted, That from and after the passing of this act, all 11101103- that shall be 
paid into the general treasury, by managers of lotteries or their agents ; also all 
money Unit shall be paid into said treasury by auctioneers, for duties accruing 
to the State, shall be set apart and paid over to the several towns in this State 
in manner hereinafter mentioned, in proportion to their respective population 
under the age of sixteen years, as exhibited in the census provided by law to be 
taken from time to time, under the authority of the United States, always 
adopting for said ratio the census next preceding the time of paying out each 
annual appropriation of said money as herein provided, to be by said towns ap- 
propriated to and for the exclusive purpose of keeping public schools, and 
paying expenses thereof; the sum, however, hereby appropriated to be paid 
over in any one year, not to exceed ten thousand dollars. 

* Newport Mercury, May 5, 1827. \ Newport Mercury, May 14, 1825. % Vol. H. p. 41. * 

42 Rhode Island. 

matter of fact, the report never came, and the impulse died away for a 
year or two. 

It was helped to revive by the action of Newport, where a certain un- 
easiness of mind had always existed in regard to the school lands, so long 
diverted from their original purpose. Town meetings were held from 
September 14, 1824, onwards, many legal points were discussed, and full 
educational plans devised. It is a curious indication of these times that 
there seems to have been much the same hesitation about the necessity 
of common school education for girls that is now felt by ninny in regard 
to their collegiate education. In a report printed in the Newport Mer- 
cury of March 12, 1825, for instance, it is stated that "in the present 
situation of the town, your committee have thought it advisable that the 
education o^ males only should be provided for." This committee's esti- 
mate for the annual education of four hundred boys was $850, for eight 
hundred boys and girls $1,360 ; this being on the Lancasterian or moni- 
torial plan, the elder pupils assisting in the instruction. On the ordinary 
plan the cost would rise to $1,768. The highest estimated cost for eight 
hundred pupils was thus about half the salary now paid to the High 
School Principal in Newport. 

These plans were duly considered, and there were votes and reconsider- 
ations, petitions to the legislature and counter-petitions. As usual, a 
lottery was thought of, and a bill was read once in the Assembly, allow- 
ing Newport to raise 810,000 for a school fund lry that means. Finally, 
however, at the June session, 1825, the town of Newport was authorized 
by the legislature to raise a tax of $800 w - for educating the white chil- 
dren of the town who are not otherwise provided with the means of edu- 
cation." This $800 was devoted for the first year to building a school 
house on Mill street, in which a public school for boys was opened May 
9, 1827 ; a school on the Lancasterian plan, in which children who could 
afford it were expected to pa)' from twenty-five cents to a dollar per 
quarter, according to the instruction they received. This was followed 
by a school for girls opened June 1G, 1828. All the present school sys- 
tem of Newport is the expansion of tins modest provision.* 

It was, to be sure, a local movement, but it was undertaken under per- 
mission from the State, and Governor Fenner had given it a sort of official 
recognition, by offering to the school fund of Newport the sum of $100 
which it was usual for the governor in those days to contribute towards 
the rather jovial festivities of Flection Day. In his letter, dated May 

* Newport Mercury, Sept. 18, 1824; Fcb.2G, March 12, May 21, Jane 11, 25, July 2, 9, Sept. 10, 
1823; April 1, June 10, 1820; March 31, May 5, 12, June 7, 1827. 

Revival or Public Schools. 43 

2, 1827, the Governor seems rather to apologize for this interference with 
a '■ good old custom," but the trustees of the school fund reassure him 
in their letter of acceptance : and Lieutenant-Governor Collins, it seems, 
reinforced the donation by fifty dollars more.* 

All this indicated or promoted an increase of sympathy for the public 
school system, and this finallv took form in January, 1828. There was, 
indeed, one final effort to revert to the lottery system, on a large scale, 
for at the May session, in 1825, it appears, u An act for the establish- 
ment of lotteries, for the purpose of raising a fund for the support of 
free schools, by which, it is believed, from 83,000 to $5,000 may be 
raised annually, without risk or expense to the State, was received and 
referred to the next session. "y But the next session had, apparently, 
the wisdom to suppress it. 

In 1827, Mr. Joseph L. Tillinghast, of Providence, was the leader in 
urging free schools upon the Assembly. The subject was first intro- 
duced by memorials from Smithfield, Cumberland, Johnston, East 
Greenwich and other towns. The East Greenwich memorial, which is 
an excellent one, may be found in full in Barnard's Journal of the 
Rhode Island Institute of Instruction. J together with reports of the. more 
important speeches. These reports are taken from a pamphlet entitled, 
u Debate on the Bill establishing Free Schools at the January session of 
the Rhode Island Legislature, a. d. 1828, reported for the Rhode Island 
American, by B. F. Hallett." The bill finally passed through both 
houses, by a vote of fifty-seven to two in the House, and unanimously, 
after a few amendments, in the Senate. The bill itself is as follows : 

"School Act of 1828. 

" Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, and by authority thereof 
it is enacted, That from and after the passing of this act, all money that shall be 
paid into the general treasury, by managers of lotteries or their agents ; also all 
money that shall be paid into said treasury by auctioneers, for duties accruing 
to the Stare, shall be set apart and paid over to the several towns in this State 
in manner hereinafter mentioned, in proportion to their respective population 
under the age of sixteen years, as exhibited in the census provided by law to be 
taken from time to time, under the authority of the United States, always 
adopting for said ratio the census next preceding the time of paying out each 
annual appropriation of said money as herein provided, to be by said towns ap- 
propriated to and for the exclusive purpose of keeping public schools, and 
paying expenses thereof; the sum, however, hereby appropriated to be paid 
over in any one year, not to exceed ten thousand dollars. 

* Newport Mercurj, May 5, 1827. t Newport Mercury, May 14, 1823. \ Vol. If. p. 41. » 



The school law of 1828 was an honest effort to do a very difficult 
thing, namely : to unite in one school system a city like Providence, 
which had long since established schools of its own, and various country 
towns to which the whole enterprise was a wholly new one. To the 
country towns, the law seemed to attempt too much ; while the experi- 
enced friends of education in Providence thought it attempted too little. 
John Rowland, alwa} T s clear and graphic in his statements, wrote of it 
with some dissatisfaction, in a letter to Captain George Howland, of 
Newport : 

" By the new State law, for the encouragement, or rather for the encourage- 
ment of schools, each town is to receive a small sum, annually, from the State 
treasury, and are allowed to assess a small sum, I don't recollect how much, in 
a town tax for the same purpose. This limitation, beyond which the towns are 
prohibited from assessing, was passed in the General Assembly by the influence 
of members who were opposed to the general instruction of the children 
throughout the State, and wished to confine it to paupers. But the town of 
Providence insisted on their right to assess as much as they pleased, or thought 
necessary for the support of their schools, and sufficient for the education of 
all the children in town, and this privilege was reserved to us in the State law, 
but it is allowed to no other town in the State. The rich men of Providence 
are and always have been in favor of all the children being educated at the 
town's expense, and if a representative of this town, in the General Assembly, 
should oppose this system, he would never be sent to the Assembly again. 
But it does not altogether depend on rich men in this town. The Mechanics' 
Association consists of three hundred members, most of whom are voters, and 
all in favor of the schools. The number of children at the last quarterly visi- 
tation in our public schools, was twelve hundred and seventy-seven." * 

* Stone's Life of Howland, p. 156. 

Schools in 1828. 47 

But inasmuch as the law endured and did its work, the main point of in- 
terest is now to ascertain in what condition it found the schools of Rhode 
Island. Here again we have from John Rowland, in the same letter, 
some glimpses. He says of Providence: 

'' Twenty-eight or twenty-nine years ago, the town established public schools 
sufficient for the instruction of all the children, of both sexes. The school- 
houses were built, or purchased at the expense of the town, and the salaries of 
the instructors are paid out of the town treasury. The town is divided into 
live school districts, in each of which there is a school-house, with a master, or 
principal instructor, and an usher. The salary of each master is $500, and of 
the usher $250. About two years since, there was, in addition to the above, 
live primary or women's schools established, one in each district, for the small 
children to be taught the alphabet, and to be able to read and spell properly. 
The salary of the mistresses in each of these schools is a hundred and seventy- 
five dollars per year. In two of these primary schools, the teacher has an 
assistant, at a less salary. Agreeably to the report of the school committee, at 
the late June town meeting, the amount of all the salaries is - §4,590 46 
Estimated contingent expenses for repairs of school-houses, stove 

pipes, premiums of rewards to children, etc., etc., - - $100 00 

Total, - - - - - - - - - $4,750 46* 

We fortunately have also a full and careful exhibition of the condi- 
tion as to schools of every town in the State, in the year 1828. It was 
prepared for the Rhode Island American and Gazette of January 1 6, 
1828 ; and is preserved in Barnard's Journal of the Rhode Island Insti- 
tute,! as follows : 

Rhode Island Schools in 1828. 

" Schools are now kept up in our country towns at a very considerable expense 
to the people; an expense much greater than would be required of them should 
they raise an equal amount with the sum they would be entitled to receive from 
the treasury, under the proposed act for establishing free schools. To show this, 
we refer to the following statements gathered from the representatives of the 
towns named, the general correctness of which may be relied on, though the 
statement is not as full as could be wished. In 1821, a committee, appointed on 
the state of education, collected from most of the towns the exact account of the 
number of school-houses, schools, etc., in each town. Their report was never 
made to the legislature, and the information is not to be found on file. In order 
to supply this defect, as far as possible, we have applied to the several represen- 
tatives, and now give the result, with the exception of Providence, which is 
abundantly provided with schools. 

" Newport.— One free school with about two hundred scholars. Forty-two 

* Stone's life of Howland, p. 155. t Barnard's Journal, II. 38. 

48 Rhode Island. 

private schools, having about one thousand one hundred scholars. These schools 
are supported winter and summer. Inhabitants, 7,31 i). 

" West Greenwich. Two school-houses, built by subscription. Eleven 
schools are regularly kept about three months in the winter; three of which are 
continued nearly the year round. Inhabitants, 1,927. 

"Richmond. — Two school-houses, in which schools are kept a part of each 
season ; also a well attended Sunday school. Inhabitants, 1,428. 

" Hopkinton. — Nine school-houses, in three of which — in the vicinity of facto- 
ries — schools are kept through the year, the others in winter. Inhabitants, 

"North Kingstown, — The Elam Academy, and one private school in Wickford. 
There is but one school-house in the town, near William Reynold's factory — in 
all six schools, three of which are kept winter and summer. Inhabitants, 3,007. 

"Exeter. — Three school-houses, in which winter schools are kept — no other 
schools in the town. Inhabitants, 2,581. 

"East Greenwich. — Academy and one private school in the village, kept year 
round ; four in other parts of the town— in all six school-houses. Seven schools 
are kept in the winter and three or four women's schools in the summer. In- 
habitants, 1,519. 

"Johnston. — Five school-houses; six or seven schools are kept in the winter 
and two or three in the summer. Inhabitants, 1,542. 

" Charlestown. — One school-house — from five to seven schools in the winter, 
and three in the summer. Inhabitants, 1,160. 

"Coventry. — Ten school-houses, fourteen schools in winter, and seven in 
summer. Inhabitants, 3,139. 

" Portsmouth. — Four school-houses, in which schools are kept pretty regu- 
larly in winter, and in one or two in summer. Inhabitants, 1,645. 

"Foster. — Fifteen school-houses — all open in the winter season, and most of 
them in summer. Inhabitants, 2,000. 

" North Providence. — Seven school-houses — an academy, and four other 
schools in Pawtucket, two men's and three women's, kept most of the year ; in 
all eleven schools in the town, most of them kept open but a part of the year. 
Inhabitants, 2,420. 

"Cranston. — Is divided into eleven districts, and has eleven school-houses, 
though schools not regularly kept in all. There are five other schools — in all six- 
teen schools, but a small part kept through the year. Inhabitants, 2,274. 

" Middletown. — Five school-houses, in which are schools regularly in winter, 
and irregularly in summer. Inhabitants, 949. 

"Warwick. — Seven school-houses, in which are kept men's schools, besides 
two or three others ; six women's schools in winter and summer — in all sixteen 
schools. Inhabitants, 3,643. 

" Smithfield. — Has thirteen school-houses. Two of these are well conducted 
academies, kept the year round, at Woonsocket and Slatersville, two nourishing 
manufacturing villages. There is also a private school at Woonsocket. Two 

Schools in 1828. 49 

school-houses on tlie east road, four on the Worcester road; one Sayles'hill; 
one in Angell's neighborhood; one Louisquisset turnpike, of brick, and one 
near R. Mowry. Besides schools regularly kept in these places, there are five 
others, in all nineteen schools. Inhabitants, 4,678. 

"Cumberland. — Is divided into districts and has thirteen school-houses, 
schools regularly kept and well attended in all. Inhabitants, 2,G53. 

" Burrillyille.— Eleven school houses ; schools in all in the winter, averaging 
forty scholars each ; one kept the year round. There are four or five private 
schools in summer. Inhabitants, 2,164. 

" Scituate.— Five school-houses. There are probably some other schools in 
the town, but a correct statement could not be obtained. Inhabitants, 2,834. 

" Glocester. — Eleven school-houses, and about fifteen schools in the winter. 
Inhabitants, 2,504. 

"Jamestown. — Three school-houses, schools kept in but two in winter. In- 
habitants, 448. 

" Harrington. — Three school-houses ; schools kept winter and summer. In. 
habitants, 634. 

" Little Compton. — Eight school-houses open in winter, and most all in sum- 
mer. Inhabitants, 1,580. 

"Westerly. — Six school-houses open the year round; limited to thirty 
scholars each. There are two academies, one at Pawcatuck, a manufacturing 
village, kept the year round ; in all eight schools. Inhabitants, 1,972. 

" Bristol. — Four school-houses, one of which is an academy, with two 
schools in it. There are five men's schools in winter, and seven women's schools 
through the year. The town appropriates about $350 annually for support of 
schools, arising from the rent of market, licences, and some land given for that 
purpose. Inhabitants, 3,197. 

"Warren. — One academy and four school-houses; three built by the town 
and one by an individual. There are five men's schools in winter (including the 
academy), and an average of twelve female schools through the year; in addition 
to the above, sometimes as many as twenty female schools. Inhabitants, 1,806. 

"New Shoreham. — One school-house. There are four schools, averaging 
thirty scholars each; kept four months in winter, and about six months in sum- 
mer. Inhabitants, 955. 

" South Kingstown. — One academy, in which a school is kept the year 
round, and seven school-houses, in which schools are kept winter and summer. 
There are a number of schools kept irregularly in private houses. Inhabitants, 

" Tiverton. — Ten school-houses, in which schools are kept pretty regularly. 
There are a few other small schools. Inhabitants, 2,875. 

"Providence. — There are eight public schools in this town, at which about nine 
hundred children are taught. Six or seven academies where the higher branches 
are taught, including the Friends' Seminary, and probably eighty or ninety private 
schools. In 1821, a regular return was made of all the schools in town. Exclu- 
sive of the public schools, there were then ten men's schools, and forty-four 

50 Rhode Island. 

kept by females. Since then this number has greatly increased. The expense 
of the public schools paid by tax on the inhabitants, is not much short of §5,000. 
The amount paid by parents for private tuition is doubtless double that sum, 
making at the lowest estimate $15,000, annually paid for the tuition of the 
children of Providence. It is obvious, therefore, that in a pecuniary point of 
view, Providence will gain nothing by the system of free schools becoming 
general, as she would pay much more into the treasury towards the support 
of schools in other towns than she would be entitled to draw out, besides 
making up the deficiency in the support of her own schools. Inhabitants in 1820, 
11,767; since increased to upwards of 17,000. 

" Population of the counties in 1820, — Providence, 35,730; Newport, 15,771; 
Washington, 15,(587; Kent, 10,228; Bristol, 5,037. 

" Supposed number of children to be educated, viz. : Providence county, 
15,315; Newport, 0,527; Washington, 7,093; Kent, 4,517; Bristol, 2,301. In 
the State, 35,813 children. 

" From an examination of the above statement, it will be seen that there is a 
much larger number of school-houses erected than has been generally supposed, 
and but few additional ones will be required. It is obvious, too, that the ex- 
pense to all the towns of keeping up the schools they now maintain, is a much 
greater sum than they will be required to assess in order to entitle them to their 
proportion of any money that may be appropriated out of the treasury, thus 
giving them at a less expense than the inhabitants o'f those towns now volun- 
tarily incur, nearly double the advantages of education they are now receiving. 

" The total number of school-houses erected in all the towns in the State (ex- 
cluding Providence and Newport), are 181, and ten academies. The number of 
winter schools, averaging at least three months in a year, maintained by the 
inhabitants of these towns is 262. A winter school for three months must cost 
at least $100, which gives $20,200, the sum now annually paid by the inhabitants 
of the towns above alluded to, for the education of their children, besides the 
expense of keeping female schools in summer. If the blank in the bill now 
before the General Assembly is tilled with $10,000, the proportion which those 
towns will receive from that sum will so much diminish their expense of educa- 
tion ; or if they add it to what they now pay within themselves, will greatly 
extend the means of instruction among their children, without one cent addi- 
tional burden, the only effect being to equalize the payment of the sums now 
voluntarily raised in the several towns. 

"Taking the estimate for the criterion of apportionment, the several towns 
would be entitled to receive the following sums out of an annual allowance from 
the treasury of $10,000, viz.: Newport, $000.40; Portsmouth, $245.08; New 
Shoreham, $37.32; Jamestown, $107.22; Middletown, $137.80; Tiverton, 
$175.30; Little Compton, $153.18; Providence, $2,010.54; Sinithlield, $551.40: 
Scituate, $201.04; Glocester, $208.32; Cumberland, $200 48; Cranston, $300.38: 
.Johnston, $196.08; North Providence, $382.06; Poster, $103; Burrillville, 
$100.80; Westerly, $143.98; North Kingstown, $266.54; South Kingstown. 
$336.74; Charlestown, $107.22; Exeter, $183.86; Richmond, $01.00; Hopkin- 
ton, $143.08; Bristol, $450.40; Warren, $180.04; Barrington, $58.60; Warwick, 
$398 28; East Greenwich, $140.74; West Greenwich, $190 74; Coventry, 

Schools in 1828. 51 

Such was the condition of the Rhode Island schools when the school 
law went into operation. These schools had been heretofore detached 
and isolated, dependent \vh0ll3* on the degree of enlightenment or energy 
which prevailed in a particular town. Henceforward they were to be a 
part of a State system, such as it was, and were to be brought under 
the general influence which revived all the schools of New England 
from 1826 to 1830. 

Some modifications of the school law took place during the next fif- 
teen years ; the most important being the temporary adoption of a rule 
by which the school-money was distributed — not, as at first, according 
to the number of inhabitants below the age of sixteen, but according to 
the number of the white population under the age of fifteen years, and 
the number of the colored population under the age of ten years, to- 
gether with five-fourteenths of the said population between the ages of 
ten and twenty-four years. This complicated method remained in force 
from 1832 to 1815. There were also some additional provisions as to 
the sources of the school fund and as to the forms of school returns, 
besides various local enactments as to school-houses and school districts. 
In 1837-8 the schools of Providence underwent a great revolution for 
the better ; and in 1839 the school laws of the State were codified as 
follows : 

School Law of 1830. 

"Ax act to revise and amend the several Acts relating to Public Schools. 
Be it enacted by the General Assembly asfolloics: — 

" Section 1. The annual income of the money deposited or that may be de- 
posited witli this State by the United States in pursuance of ' an act to regulate 
the deposit of the public money,' passed by the Congress of the United States, 
and approved June 23, 1830, shall annually be paid over to the several towns in 
this State; to be appropriated for the purpose of maintaining public schools, in 
manner hereinafter provided. 

" Sec 2. To the money derived from said source, shall annually be added 
enough from any money in the general treasury not otherwise specially appro- 
priated, to make up the sum of twenty-live thousand dollars, to be annually 
paid out for the purpose aforesaid. The money received by the State from the 
managers of lotteries or their agents, or from auctioneers for auction duties 
accruing to the State, shall be hereafter annually appropriated, to pay the debt 
now due from the general treasury to the permanent school fund, until said 
debt is paid; after which time the revenue derived from those sources shall be 
applied to the increase of said fund. The money paid out by virtue of this act, 
shall be divided among the several towns in proportion to the respective white 

52 Khode Island. 

population of each town under the age of fifteen years ; the colored population 
of such town under the age of ten years, and five-fourteenths of the colored 
population between the ages of ten and twenty-four years ; computing the same 
according to the United States census next preceding such annual payments, 
and excepting Xarragansett Indians in all cases. 

" Sec. 3. Each town may raise by tax every year so much money as a ma- 
jority of the freemen may deem proper, to be appropriated to the purpose of 
keeping public schools, not exceeding in any one year double the amount re- 
ceived by such town from the general treasury : provided that notice be inserted 
in the warrant issued for calling the town meeting, that such business will then 
be acted upon. 

" Sec. 4. The money received by each town from the general treasury, shall 
be applied to pay for instruction, and not for room rent, fuel or any other pur- 
pose whatever. 

" Sec. 5. The general treasurer shall keep a separate account of all moneys 
paid to the State by lottery managers, or their agents, or auctioneers as afore- 
said, and shall report the same to the General Assembly annually, at the May 
session thereof: particularizing the sums received from each of said sources. 

" Sec. G. The school committee of each town snail every year certifiy to the 
general treasurer, that the money received the previous year has been faith- 
fully applied according to this act. No town shall receive its proportion of the 
next distribution until such certificate be made. 

" Sec. 7. The money payable by virtue of this act, shall be paid to the order 
of the town treasurers of the several towns which shall comply with the terms 
of this act, on or after the first day of June in every year; and the said town 
treasurers shall apply for and receive said money from the general treasurer, 
as soon after it is payable, as it may be required for school purposes in their 
respective towns : and shall charge and receive no compensation for their 
services in collecting the same. 

" Sec. 8. Each town shall, at its annual town meeting for the choice of town 
officers, appoint a school committee, to consist of not less than five, nor more 
than thirty persons resident in such town, to act without compensation ; and to 
be engaged to the faithful discharge of their duties before entering upon the 

"Sec. 9. The school committees shall appoint a president or chairman and 
secretary from their number, and shall keep a record of all their proceedings ; 
they shall meet at least as often as once in every three months, and a majority 
of the whole number chosen shall constitute a quorum ; but any less number 
may adjourn a meeting, giving reasonable notice of the time and place of the 
adjourned meeting. 

" Sec. 10. The school committee of each town may direct the books to be 
used, and make all necessary rules and regulations for the good government of 
the public schools therein ; they may suspend or expel any scholar for miscon- 
duct ; they shall determine the places where the school-houses shall be located, 
or the school kept, in the different districts, having regard to the accommoda- 
tion of the greatest number of inhabitants ; and for satisfactory reasons may 
alter the location of any school-house ; and in case of the death, resignation, or 
removal of a member of the committee, they may fill the vacancy for the re- 

School Law of 1839. 53 

mainder of the year : and at any regular meeting they may make, alter and 
repeal such by-laws and regulations for the delegating or more conveniently 
discharging any or all of the duties assigned to them as they shall deem proper: 
Provided, they are not repugnant to the provisions of this act, nor in violation 
of any law in this State. 

" Six 1 . 11. The school committee shall appoint all instructors and instruc- 
tresses, taking care that they be of good moral character, temperate and other- 
wise well qualified for the office ; and may dismiss said instructors or 
instructresses in case of inability, or misconduct; said committee shall visit all 
the schools in their respective towns, at least as often as once in three months 
during their continuance, and shall generally superintend, watch over and pro- 
vide for the well ordering and governing the same. 

" Si:e. 12. The school committee shall allow and certify all bills for com- 
pensation for instruction and all other expenses before the same shall be paid by 
the town treasurer ; they shall also at the annual town meeting for choosing 
town officers, (and oftener if required) render an account of all their doings 
for the preceding year. 

' : Sec 13. All divisions of any town into school districts, and all alterations 
of such divisions, whether made by a town or school committee, shall be re- 
corded in the town clerk's office of such town. 

" Six 1 . 14-. The school committee of every town shall hold quarterly 
meetings on the second Mondays of January, April, July and October in every 

" Six:. 15. There shall but one school be kept in any school district, unless 
the school committee shall otherwise order. 

" Sec. 10. The school committee of any town, with the assent of the school 
committee of an adjacent town, may permit such children as will be better ac- 
commodated thereby, to attend the school in such adjacent town, and may pay 
such portion of the expense thereof, as considering the number of children and 
other circumstances, may be just and proper. 

" Sec. 17. The money which each town shall receive by virtue of this act, 
shall be expended among the different schools and school districts, in such pro- 
portions as the school committee shall deem most advisable. 

'• Sec. 18. The freemen of any town may, at any legal town meeting, divide 
their town into suitable school districts, and may from time to time alter the 
number and limits thereof. All divisions heretofore made by any town or 
school committee, shall remain in force until legally changed. 

" Sec. 19. Every school district shall be a body corporate, by such name or 
designation as the school committee shall select, so far as to prosecute and 
defend in all actions relating to the property or affairs of the district, and to 
take and hold such real estate as may be given to or purchased by them for the 
purpose of supporting schools in the district. 

" Sec. 2(>. The school committee of ths several towns and of the city of 
Providence, shall on or before the first Wednesday of May, annually, make 
official returns to the secretary of state, of all the public schools in such towns 
and the city respectively, for the year preceding the date of the returns; the 
amount of school money received from the general treasury; the amount of 
money raised by the town or city for supporting public schools ; the number of 

54 Rhode Island. 

districts ; the number of schools in each district ; the amount of money ex- 
pended in each school, designating the portion paid for furniture, fuel and inci- 
dental expenses, and the portion paid for instruction only ; the number 01 
children, male and female, attending each school, and their average attendance; 
the time and season of keeping each school; the number, names and salary of 
instructors ; the branches taught and books used. They shall also the next and 
subsequent years, report the number of academies and private schools in their 
respective towns; the length of time and season of the year they are kept; the 
names of the instructors ; prices of tuition ; and the average number of scholars 
attending each of them : Provided, however, that the returns aforesaid to be 
made by the school committee on or before the first Wednesday in May next, 
shall be conformable to the blank returns already furnished the several towns 
under the act of June last. 

" Sec. 21. The secretary shall annually furnish every town and the city of 
Providence, with the blank forms of the returns required by the last section, 
which forms shall contain a copy of this and said last section; and the secretary 
shall annually at the session of the General Assembly first holden after the 
annual session in May, report an abstract of said returns. No town or city shall 
be entitled to any part of the money appropriated to be paid out of the general 
treasury, to the support of public schools, which shall have failed to make such 
returns for the year next preceding the time of the appropriation ; and the 
names of all such delinquent towns or city shall be by the secretary returned to 
the general treasurer, on or before the first Monday in June annually. 

" Sec. 22. There shall annually be paid out of the general treasury to the 
town treasurer of the town of Charlestown, the sum of one hundred dollars, to 
be expended under the direction of some suitable person to be annually Appointed 
by the governor, in the support of a school for the use of the members of the 
Narragansett tribe of Indians and the incidental expenses thereof, and in pur- 
chasing school books for the use of said school; and an annual account of the 
appropriation of all said money shall be rendered to the general treasurer, on or 
before the first Wednesday of May. 

<; Sec. 23. Two or more contiguous districts in adjoining towns, the majority 
of the taxable inhabitants of each district, at a duly notified meeting agreeing 
thereto, may unite together for the purpose of keeping one school, if they may 
deem it more advantageous to do so ; and in such cases the committee men of 
the districts so uniting, may examine and appoint the instructor. 

" Sec. 24. Whenever any persons to the number of live or more, have asso- 
ciated or shall hereafter associate together for the purpose of building and main- 
taining a school-house, they shall be entitled to all the privileges of a body cor- 
porate, by such name and style as they may select, and upon such terms and 
subject to such regulations as they may have adopted upon the formation of their 
association ; and may hold, control and convey, by their corporate name, the 
school-house so erected, and the lot of land upon which it may stand ; and the 
shares or ownership therein, may be transferred in the same manner as personal 

" Sec. 25. Whenever any persons to the number of five or more, have asso- 
ciated or shall hereafter associate together, for the purpose of procuring and 
maintaining a library, they shall be entitled to all the privileges of a body cor- 

School Law of 1839. 55 

porate, by such name as tliey may designate, and upon such terms and subject 
to such constitution and rules as they may have adopted upon the formation of 
their association ; and may hold, control and convey by their corporate name, 
real and personal, to an amount not exceeding two thousand dollars, exclusive 
of their books, maps and library furniture. Provided, that in all such cases, the 
constitution or articles of association, and all alterations thereof, shall be re- 
corded in the town clerk's office in the town where such library shall be estab- 

" Sec. 26. All general acts heretofore passed relating to public schools, ex- 
cepting so much of the eighth section of ' an act to establish public schools,' 
passed January session, a. d. 1828, which relates to the permanent school thud, 
as is not inconsistent with this act, are hereby repealed. Provided, that every 
thing done under said acts shall be valid, and all things omitted or neglected to 
be done, shall be punished by the same penalties and forfeitures as if this act 
had not been passed. 

" Sec. 27. The secretary shall immediately cause to be printed a sufficient 
number of copies of this act and of all laws and acts in force relating to public 
schools, or the building of school-houses in the several towns, and shall send a 
suitable number to the town clerk of each town, for the purpose of distribution,*' 



We have accurate means of knowing, b} r statistics, the results pro- 
duced, within a few }~ears, b} T the school law. The first report, prepared 
by any officer or committee, so far as I know, giving any precise school 
statistics for the State, was presented to the public, May 17, 1832, and 
published in a pamphlet form. It was prepared by Oliver Angell, a vet- 
eran Rhode Island teacher, in behalf of a committee appointed at a pub- 
lic meeting held in the Providence Town House, during the previous 
year. The report recognizes progress already made, mentions a great 
deficiency of school-houses, and a great want of some medium of inter- 
course between persons interested in education in the different towns. It 
closes as follows : 

"Upon a review of the subject, your committee find much cause for congratu- 
lation in the increase and increasing means of education in the State. There is 
not a town in which all the children may not have the means of acquiring a con- 
mon school education, and when we consider the nature of our institutions and 
how much their preservation depends on the general spread of information and 
on the correct morals of our youth, we have much cause to rejoice at the present 
favorable prospects, and we look forward to the period when Ehode Island shall 
be as celebrated for the facilities afforded to education, as she now is for her in- 
dustry and manufactures." * 

The most important part of the report, however, is to be found in the 
following table, for the year 1832 : 

* Barnard's Journal of R. I. School Inst., II, 49. 

First Results. 




N. Providence. 
Smithflelcl. . • • • 
Cumberland. . • 
Burrillville. . . • 








Barrington. . . . 



East Greenwich 
West Greenwich 



Portsmouth...- . 
Little Compton. 
New Shoreham. 



No. Kingstown . 
So. Kingstown . 


Westerly. . . 
Hopkinton. . 
Richmond . . . 




. .1 





6s 12 



4 & 12 
3 & 12 


as 12 85,000 



3 & 12 



i 323117,034 





3 h 





1,682 14s 12 

300 1 



17 1.000 

16 500 

17 400 
20 550 



Teachers Teachers 
3 1 8 





1 for 1: 


42 s 12 

8 for 3 m 


80 1 for 12 | 12 

900 12 
400 1 











Teachers Teachers 

i srT - " I 186 

Whole number of public schools in the State, - - - 323 

Whole number of scholars taught in them, - - - 17,034 

Number of male teachers employed, - 318 

Number of female teachers employed, - 147 

Number of schools continued through the year, - - 20 

Average time of the others, - - - - - 3 months. 

Whole amount appropriated by the towns for the support of schools, $11,490 

Amount drawn from school fund, - $10,000 

Whole amount expended for support of public schools, - - $21,490 

, , t . . A1 ,., „. f Male teachers, 30 

Number of private schools continued through the year,* < finale " 88 

*In nearly all the country towns, the private schools may he considered as the puhlic 
schools continued hy individual subscription, from three to six months. 


Khode Island. 

Whole number of scholars taught in them, (exclusive of the Friends' 

Boarding School, Providence.*) - 3,403 
Estimated expense of the private schools which continue through 

the year, at twenty dollars per scholar, - $68,040 
Estimated expense of other private schools, at three dollars per scholar, $13,335 

Total estimated expense of private schools, - - - $81,37-") 
Sum total expended for support of schools for one year, - $102,805 

The first abstract of school returns was presented in 1839 and gives 
ground for comparison with the table just cited. Other tables are added, 
which show the gradual progress down to 1844. 

Abstract of Returns of Public Schools, May, 1839. 







N. Shoreham. . 
N. Kingstown. 
S. Kingstown. . 
E. Greenwich. . 




Charlestown. . . 
W. Greenwich. 



Middletown . . . 



Iv. Compton. . . 


Cumberland . . . 


Hopkinton .... 


N. Providence 
Harrington. . . 


Burrillville . . . 


3. Sis 








































+S «3 


800 00 
7,000 00 

400 00 
84 00 









y A 


















1,000 00 
300 00 
027 34 

300 00 

500 00 

.00 00 

350 00 

200 00 

93 75 

300 00 

3 3 

30 30 

10 10 

10 20 

8 8 

15 10 

19 19 

13! 1 

5 10 
17, 21 

7| 13 

3, 3 
li) 22 
10 10 
13, 13 
12' 12 
12 15 
10 13 

3 3 
19j 19 19 
10 10 32 


,_; r- 


<~ -C 


O a 


P '— 


o £ 






















87 54 

" i 5 * 00 

50 00 
297 5 
135 12 
7 43 
127 8 

501 03 


124 08 
100 70 



1,025 00| 

8,420 90 
487 69 
598 08 

1,082 42 
394 43 
792 05 

1,059 71 
386 30 
159 00 

2,511 50 

1,472 00 
858 95 
379 85 
572 00 

1,172 30 
490 88 

1.307 50 
037 11 
390 0() 
445 09 

1,594 4 
458 00 
606 82 
089 20 
718 47 

1,091 30 
170 10 
938 22 
927 70 

25,000 001 12,575 09 330 305 427 2,971 50 32,383 30 13,748 12,240 

No. of 








































♦This flourishing institution contains, on an average, 160 scholars. 

First Results. 


Abstract of the Returns of Public Schools, made May,' 1844. 






X. Shoreham. . . 
X. Kingstown.. 
S. Kingstown. . 
E. Greenwich.. 





Charlestown . . . 
W. Greenwich . . 


Exeter ! 

Micldletown .... 



Little Compton . 



Richmond. j 


Hopkinton j 

Johnston ; 

X. Providence. . 

Barrington I 


Burrillville ; 

Total ' 


500 00 












714 I 











400 j 


100 j 

' 42050 





1 3 


























1 10809J 









2509574 279183:3591 42S> 342i 


]: : 





9 1 


12 . 
12 . 


1 1 

49 ! 









2 1 






9| 31583 


101 50*' 
5 .... 

14 1731 



5 20O 















191 S01 1 

U3S35 1 


15,5 J 

3490 ( 

147908 1 




3G450 1 



No. of 








2( II I 
1 lo 
1 48 
25 1 

173 540517 4S33570 


Yet in spite of all the progress shown by these tables, Rhode Island 
was tar from keeping pace with the progress made elsewhere. Jt must 
be remembered that it was just at this time — from 1837 to 1848 — that 
Horace Mann was revolutionizing the common schools of Massachusetts, 
and through them, stimulating those of all the eastern States. Accord- 
ingly there seems to have been a latent demand for some more vigorous 
organization in Rhode Island, and this found expression at last, in a 
bill introduced into the Assembly by Wilkins Updike, Esq., of South 

<30 Rhode Island. 

Kingstown, in Oct., 1843. Introducing this bill, Mr. Updike made the 
bold statement that 

"The free school system as it then existed, was not a blessing to the State, 
except in the city of Providence, and possibly in a few other towns, where a 
similar course was pursued. This was not owing to the want of liberal appro- 
priation from the general treasury. This was large enough, or at least, was 
larger than was made by any other State to the several towns. But the difficulty 
lay with the towns, and with the want of any thorough system for the examina- 
tion of teachers, the regulation of books, and supervision of schools, by officers 
qualified to discharge these duties. Our teachers come from abroad, are em- 
ployed without producing evidence either of moral character, or their titness to 
teach, remain in the schools two or three months, and within twenty-four hours 
of the close of the term arc gone to parts unknown. The books for our schools 
are selected by authors and publishers, or itinerant venders, and all that parents 
have to do about the matter is to get new books every year, and pay the bills. 
As to visiting the schools, who ever heard of committees going about into the 
different districts, or of parents being seen in the school-room? These things 
should be looked into. The legislature should know what becomes of the sum 
of £25.000, which is drawn annually from the general treasury. The people 
should have their attention called to the actual state of education among us. 
Our self-respect should be roused by a knowledge of the fact brought out by the 
last census of the United States, from which it appears that Rhode Island is 
behind the other New England States in this matter. With a population of 
108,830, we have over 1,G00 adults who cannot read or write, while Connecticut 
with a population of 309,978, has only 52G. The other New England States not 
only educate their own teachers, lawyers, doctors and clergymen, but help to 
supply our demand for these classes of men. It is time to bestir ourselves in 
this matter. We need not act with precipitation. All that this bill provides 
for, is information as to the real state of things, and upon such information the 
legislature and the people can act understandingly. Pass this bill — sustain the 
agent who may be appointed— act upon his recommendations when they are sus- 
tained by facts and sound arguments— engraft upon our system the tried im- 
provements of other States — enlist the people, the whole people, in this great 
work of elevating the schools where all the children of the State may be well 
educated, and this little bill of three sections will be the beginning of a new era 
in our legislation on the subject of education."* 

The bill introduced by Mr. Updike — which passed unanimously — was 
as follows : 

"An Act to provide for ascertaining the condition of the Public Schools in this 
State, and for the improvement and better management thereof. 

" Be it enacted by the General Assembly as follows : 

" Section 1. The Governor of this State shall employ some suitable person 

* Barnard's Report for 1845, p. 109. 

First Results. 61 

as agent, for the purposes hereaftcrmentioned, at a reasonable compensation for 

his services. 

" Sec. 2. The said agent shall visit and examine the respective public schools 
in this State; ascertain the length of time each district school is kept, and at 
what season of the year ; the qualifications of tlic respective teachers of said 
schools — the mode of instruction therein— collect information of the actual con- 
dition and efficiency of our public schools and other means of popular educa- 
tion : and diffuse as wideiy as possible among the people, a knowledge of the 
most approved and successful methods of arranging the studies and conducting 
the education of the young, to the end that the children of this State who de- 
pend upon common schools for instruction, may have the best education that 
those schools may be made to impart; and shall make a report to the legisla- 
ture, with such observations and reflections as experience may suggest, upon 
the condition and efficiency of our system of popular education, and the most 
practicable means of improving the same. 

" Sec. 3. It shall be the duty of the preceptors of the public schools in the 
respective districts in this State, from time to time, to furnish said agent with 
all the information he may require, in order to enable him to cany out the pro- 
visions of this act. 

"Passed October Session, 1843. 

" Henry Bowen, Secretary." 

This act was promptly promulgated by the Governor of the State, 
with the following circular : 

"To the People of Rhode Island. 

"In pursuance of An Act 'to provide for ascertaining the condition of the 
public schools of this State, and for the improvement and belter management 
thereof,' I have secured the services of Henry Barnard, who has had several 
years experience in the discharge of similar duties in a neighboring State, and 
has observed the working of various systems of public instruction in this 
country and in Europe. 

Mr. Barnard will enter immediately on the duties of his office. His great 
object will be to collect and disseminate in every practicable way infor- 
mation respecting existing defects and desirable improvements in the organiza- 
tion and administration of our school system, and to awaken, enlighten, and 
elevate public sentiment, in relation to the whole subject of popular education. 
With this view, he will visit all parts of the State, and ascertain, by personal 
inspection, and inquiries of teachers, school committees, and others, the actual 
condition of the schools, with their various and deeply interesting statistical 
details. He will meet, in every town, if practicable, such persons as are dis- 
posed to assemble together, for the purpose of stating facts, views and opin- 
ions, on the condition and improvement of the schools, and the more complete 
and thorough education of the people. lie will invite oral and written commu- 
nications from teachers, school committees, and all others interested in the sub- 
ject, respecting their plans and suggestions for advancing the intellectual and 

62 Rhode Island. 

moral improvement of the rising, and all future generations, in the State. The 
result^ of his labors and inquiries will be communicated in a report to the Gen- 
eral Assembly. 

" In the prosecution of labors so delicate, difficult and extensive, Mr. Barnard 
will need the sympathy and cooperation of every citizen of the State. With the 
most cordial approval of the object of the legislature, and entire confidence in 
the ability, experience and zeal of the gentleman whom I have selected to carry 
it out, I commend both to the encouragement and aid of all who love the State, 
and would promote her true and durable good, however discordant their opin- 
ions may be on other subjects. 

" James Fenner. 

"Providence, December G, 1843." 

The appointment thus announced was the most important step yet 
taken in the school history of Rhode Island. So great was the confi- 
dence felt in Mr. Barnard, that the school legislation of the State was 
virtually placed in his hands — a few temporary acts concerning school- 
houses being excepted — and he was instructed by the General Assembly 
to prepare and present the draft of a school law which should cover the 
whole ground of existing statutes. 



At the session of the Assembly in May, 1844, the new sehool agent made 
his report of a sehool lav,-, which was considered and printed. At the June 
session it was passed by the House, and the Senate ordered it to be 
printed — together with the remarks of the agent, explaining each section — 
and voted that it should be circulated among the school committees of the 
several towns. The year after, 1845, it was again considered by the Senate, 
carefully revised by a committee and passed by a large majority. It 
was also passed by the House, but with the condition that the law should 
not go into operation until after the rising of the General Assembly iu 
October, in order that its provisions should be thoroughly understood. 

The chief advocate of the bill in the Assembly, during the debate, 
appears to have been Mr. Updike, whose pictures of the need of educa- 
tion were very vivid. In the course of his remarks, he said : 

" There is a wide-spread dissatisfaction with the schools as they are ; with 
the inefficient manner in which the system is administered ; with the shortness 
of time for which the schools are kept, — although they are quite long enough, 
unless they can be kept by better teachers; with the amount of money which is 
now appropriated by the State without calling forth any corresponding efforts 
and appropriations from the towns and districts ; with the want of any suitable 
regulation as to books and studies; with the defective methods of instruction, 
aud the harsh, unnecessarily harsh, discipline pursued by many of the schools ; 
in fine, with the entire organization and administration of the system, as far, at 
least . as the great mass of the towns are concerned. True, there are good schools 
in Providence, Bristol, Warren and Newport, and in some of the eastern towns of 
Providence county, but the returns to the secretary of state, and the report of 
your school commissioner, will show that the public schools are not kept in the 
country districts, on an average, three months in the year; that there area great 

64 Rhode Island. 

variety of text-books in every school, and that this variety is made greater every 
year through the activity of book agents, authors and publishers. * * Let us 
have a law by which the enormous evil and expense, arising out of a constant 
change of school books shall be remedied ; and all new school-houses erected 
after judicious plans and directions. Let us have a law by which the public 
interest shall be kept alive and vigilant, to look after the expenditures of the * 
public money, and see that the results correspond with the outlay. Let us have 
an officer whose intelligence, experience, and constant oversight, shall give effi- 
ciency and uniformity to the administration of the system — who shall go round 
among the schools, hold meetings of teachers, parents, and the friends of edu- 
cation, break up the apathy which prevails in some parts of the State, enlighten 
the ignorant, and direct the efforts of all to one great and glorious end, the 
training of all the children, the rich and the poor, in all sound knowledge and 
worthy practice. Let us have a State pride on the subject. 

"Let us aim to be, what I am sure we can become from our compact popula- 
tion, and the comparative wealth of all our people, the educated and educating 
State of this Union. Instead of being set down in the census of the United 
States as the seventh State in the scale of ignorance and neglect of public edu- 
cation — instead of having one in forty of our population who cannot read and 
write — instead of giving occasion for geographers and travellers to say, that 
Rhode Island is behind every other New England State in the means and results 
of common school education — instead of all this, let us make an immediate and 
vigorous effort to reverse the picture. Let us stand at the head of the list, for 
a wisely organized and efficiently administered system of public instruction, "f * * 

The act finally passed was as follows : 

"Ax act Relating to Public Schools. 

" Passed June 27, 1813. 
"It is enacted by the General Aesembly as follows : 

" I. State Appropriation and Supervision. Sections I.— III. 

" Section I. For the uniform and efficient administration of this act, and the 
supervision and improvement of such schools as may be supported in any man- 
ner out of appropriations from the general treasury, the governor shall appoint 
an officer, to be called the commissioner of public schools, who shall hold his 
office one year, and until his successor shall be appointed, with such compen- 
sation for his services, and allowance for his expenses, as the General Assembly 
shall determine. 

" Sec. II. For the encouragement and maintenance of public schools in the 
several towns and cities of the State in the manner hereinafter prescribed, the 
sum of twenty-five thousand dollars is hereby annually appropriated, payable 
out of the annual avails of the school fund, and of the money deposited with 
this State by the United States, and other moneys not otherwise specially ap- 

t Barnard's Journal R. 1. School Inst., II. pp. 54-6 

School Law of 1845. 65 

propriated; and the general treasurer is authorized and directed to pay all 
orders drawn by the commissioner of public schools in pursuance of the pro- 
visions of this act, or of resolutions of the General Assembly : Provided, the 
aggregate amount of such orders in any one year shall not exceed the sum of 
twenty-five thousand dollars. 

"Sec III. The commissioner of public schools is authorized and it is made 
his duty — 

"1. To apportion annually, in the month of May, the money appropriated to 
public schools, among the several towns of the State, in proportion to the num- 
ber of children under the age of fifteen years, according to the census taken 
under the authority of the United States, next preceding the time of making 
such apportionment. 

"2. To draw all orders on the general treasurer, for the payment of such 
apportionment in favor of the treasurers of such towns as shall comply with the 
terms of this act, on or before the 1st of July annually. 

"3. To prepare suitable forms and regulations for making all reports, and 
conducting all necessary proceedings under this act, and to transmit the same, 
with such instructions as he shall deem necessary and proper for the uniform 
and thorough administration of the school system, to the town clerk of each 
town, for distribution among the officers required to execute them. 

"4. To adjust and decide, without appeal and without cost to the parties, all 
controversies and disputes arising under this act, winch may be submitted to 
him for settlement and decision ; the facts of which cases shall be stated in 
writing, verified by oath or affirmation if required, and accompanied by certified 
copies of all necessary minutes, contracts, orders and other documents. 

"5. To visit as often and as far as practicable, every school district in the 
State, for the purpose of inspecting the schools, and diffusing as widely as 
possible by public addresses, and personal communication with school officers, 
teachers and parents, a knowledge of existing defects, and desirable improve- 
ments in the administration of the system, and the government and instruction 
of the schools. 

" G. To recommend the best text-books, and secure, as far as practicable, a 
uniformity in the schools of at least every town, and to assist, when called 
upon, in the establishment of, and the selection of books for school libraries. 

" 7. To establish teachers' institutes, and one thoroughly organized normal 
school in the State, where teachers, and such as propose to teach, may become 
acquainted with the most approved and successful methods of arranging the 
studies, and conducting the discipline and instruction of public schools. 

"8. To appoint such and so many inspectors in each county, as he shall, 
from time to time, deem necessary, to examine all persons offering themselves 
as candidates for teaching public schools, and to visit, inspect, and report, con- 
cerning the public schools, under such instructions as said commissioner may 
prescribe ; Provided, that as far as practicable such inspectors shall be experi- 
enced teachers, and shall serve without any allowance or compensation from the 
general treasury. 

"9. To grant certificates of qualification to such teachers as have been 

approved by one or more county inspectors, and shall give satisfactory evidence 

of their moral character, attainments, and ability to govern and instruct chil" 



66 Rhode Island. 

" 10. To enter, or cause to be entered, in proper books to be provided for 
the pnrpose in his office, all decisions, letters, orders on the treasurer, and other 
acts as commissioner of public schools ; and to submit to the General Assem- 
bly at the October session, an annual printed report, containing, together with 
an account of his own doings, — 

"First, — A statement of the condition of the public schools, and the means 
of popular education generally in the State ; 

" Second, — Plans and suggestions for their improvement; 

"Third, — Such other matters relating to the duties of his office, as he may 
deem useful and proper to communicate. 

" II. Towers and Duties of Towns. Sections IV — IX. 

" Sec. IV. To provide for the education of all the children residing within 
their respective limits, the several towns and cities of the State are empowered 
and it shall be their duty — 

" 1. To lay off their respective territory into primary school districts, and to 
alter or abolish the same when necessary; Provided, that unless with the appro- 
bation of the commissioner of public schools, no new district shall be formed 
with less than forty children, over four and under sixteen years of age; and that 
no existing district, by the formation of a new one, shall be reduced below the 
same number of like persons ; And that no village or populous district shall be 
subdivided into two or more districts for the purpose of maintaining a school 
in each under one teacher, when two or more schools of different grades for 
the younger and older children, can be conveniently established in said district; 

"2. To establish and maintain, (without forming, or recognizing when 
formed, districts as above,) a sufficient number of public schools of different 
grades, at convenient locations, under the entire management and regulation of 
the school committee hereinafter provided. 

" 3. To raise by tax at the annual meeting, or at any regular meeting called 
for the purpose, such sums of money for the support of public schools, as they 
shall judge necessary, which tax shall be voted, assessed and collected as other 
town taxes ; Provided, that a sum equal to one-third of the amount received 
from the general treasury for the support of public schools for the year next 
preceding, shall be raised, before any town shall be entitled to receive its pro- 
portion of the annual State appropriation. 

" 4. To elect by ballot, or otherwise, at the annual town meeting, or at a meet- 
ing of the town previously designated for this purpose, a school committee, to 
consist of three, six, nine, or twelve persons resident in such town, as the town 
shall determine at the first meeting held for the choice of said committee after 
the passage of this act. 

" Sec. V. The school committees of the several towns, when qualified by oath 
or affirmation, to the faithful discharge of their duties, are authorized audit shall 
be their duty — 

"1. To elect a chairman, and in his absence or inability to serve, a chairman 
pro tern., who shall preside in all meetings, and sign all orders and official papers 
of the committee ; and a clerk, who shall keep minutes of their votes and pro- 
ceedings, in a book provided for that purpose, and have the custody of all papers 

School Law of 1845. 67 

and documents belonging to the committee ; and either chairman or clerk when 
qualified may administer the oath or affirmation required of said other members 
of the school committee, and of trustees of school districts. 

"2. To hold at least four stated meetings, viz. : on the second Monday of 
January, April, July, and October, in each year, and as often as the circumstances 
of the schools require; and a majority of the whole number chosen, shall consti- 
tute a quorum for the transaction of business, but any less number may adjourn 
to any time and place. 

''3. To form, alter, and discontinue school districts, and to settle the bounda- 
ries between them when undefined or in dispute, subject to the direction or con- 
currence of the town, or the commissioner of public schools. 

" 4. To locate all school-houses, and not to abandon or change the site of any 
without good cause. 

"5. To examine by the whole board, or a sub-committee appointed for that 
purpose, all candidates as teachers in the public schools of the town, and give to 
such as may be found qualified, in respect to moral character, literary attain- 
ments, and ability to govern and instruct children, a certificate signed by the 
chairman, which shall be valid for one year, or until annulled. 

" G. To annul the certificates of such teachers as shall prove, on trial, unqual- 
ified, or who will not conform to the regulations adopted by the committee. 

" 7. To visit, by one or more of their number, every public school in town, at 
least twice during each term of schooling, once within two weeks after the open- 
ing, and again within two weeks preceding the close of the school, at which 
visits they shall examine the register of the teacher, and other matters touching 
the school-house, library, studies, discipline, modes of teaching, and the improve- 
ment of the schools. 

" 8. To suspend during pleasure, or expel during the current school year, all 
pupils found guilty, on full hearing, of incorrigibly bad conduct, and re-admit the 
same, on satisfactory evidence of amendment. 

"9. To prescribe, and cause to be put up in each school-house, or furnished 
to each teacher, a general system of rules and regulations, for the admission and 
attendance of pupils, the classification, studies, books, discipline and methods of 
instruction in the public schools. 

"10. To fill any vacancy in their own committee, or in the trustees of school 
districts, occasioned by death, resignation, or otherwise, by an appointment, to 
continue till the next succeeding annual election, and no longer, at which time 
such vacancies shall be filled by the town or district respectively. 

"11. To apportion as early as practicable in each year among the several 
school districts, in case the public schools are maintained through their organi- 
zation, the money received from the State, one-half equally, and the other half 
according to the average daily attendance in the public schools of each district, 
during the year next preceding, which money shall be designated as 'teachers' 
money,' and shall be applied to the wages of teachers, and for no other purpose 
whatever; and further to apportion any other money, either raised by tax over 
the sum received from the State, or derived from the registry tax or funds, grants, 
or other sources of revenue appropriated to public schools, in such manner as the 
town may determine. 

" 12. To draw an order on the treasurer of the town in favor of such districts, 
and such districts only, as shall have made a return to them in matter and form 

68 Ehode Island. 

required by said committee, or by the commissioner of public schools, from which 
it shall appear, among other things, that for the year ending the first of May pre- 
vious, one or more public schools had been kept for at least four months by a 
teacher properly qualified, and in a school-house approved by the committee, and 
that the money designated ' teachers' money,' received from the treasurer of the 
town for the year previous, had been applied to the wages of teachers, and for no 
other purpose whatever. 

" 13. To prepare and submit annually, First, a return to the commissioner 
of public schools, on or before the first of July, in matter and form as shall be 
prescribed by him ; and Second, a written or printed report to the town, at the 
annual town meeting when the school committee is chosen, setting forth the 
doings of the committee, and the condition and plans for the improvement of 
the public schools of their respective towns ; which report, unless printed, shall 
be read in open town meeting. 

" Sec. VI. Whenever a town is not divided into school districts, or shall 
vote in a meeting duly warned for that purpose, to provide public schools of 
different grades without reference to such division, the school committee of 
said town shall perform all the duties devolved by this act on the trustees of 
school districts, and pay all necessary expenses of the system, by drafts on the 
treasurer of the town. 

" Sec. VII. Any town may establish and maintain a public school library 
for the use of the inhabitants generally of the town, and such library may be 
kept together at some convenient place, or be distributed into several parts, 
and transferred from time to time for the convenience of different districts or 
neighborhoods, under such rules and regulations as the town may adopt. 

" Sec. VIII. The town clerk of every town shall keep a record of all votes 
and proceedings of the town relating to public schools, in a book provided for 
that purpose ; shall receive and keep all school reports and documents addressed 
to the town, and receive such communications as maybe forwarded by the com- 
missioner of public schools, and dispose of the same in the manner directed by 

" Sec. IX. The treasurer of each town respectively shall apply to the general 
treasurer, and receive all moneys to which the town may be entitled under the 
apportionment and order of the commissioner of public schools ; shall keep a 
separate account of all moneys thus received, or appropriated by the town ; shall 
give notice to the school committee, within one week after the regular animal 
town meeting, of the amount of moneys remaining in his hand, at the time, or 
subject to the order of said committee, specifying the sources from whence 
derived ; and shall pay out said money from time to time, to the orders of the 
school committee, signed by the chairman. 

"III. School Districts. Sections X — XIX. 

" Sec. X. Every regularly constituted school district shall be numbered, 
and its limits defined by the town, or the school committee of the town, which 
number and limits, and any alteration thereof, shall be entered on the records of 
the clerk of the town, and the records of the district. 

" Sec. XI. When any two or more districts shall be consolidated into one, 
the new district shall own all the corporate property of the several districts ; 

School Law of 1845. 69 

and when a district shall be divided, or a portion set off to another district, the 
funds, property, or the income and proceeds thereof, belonging to such district, 
shall be distributed or adjusted among the several parts, by the school com- 
mittee of the town or towns to which such district belongs, in a just and equit- 
able manner. 

' ; Sec. XII. 1. Notice of the time, place, and object of holding the first 
meeting of any district, shall be given by the committee of the town to which 
such district belongs. 

"2. Every school district shall hold an annnal meeting in the month of May 
in each year, for the choice of officers, and the transaction of any other business 
relating to schools in said district, and shall also hold a special meeting when- 
ever the same shall be duly called. 

"3. The trustees may call a special meeting whenever they shall think it 
necessary or proper, and shall call a special meeting on the written request of 
five residents in the district qualified to vote, which request shall state the 
object of calling the same. 

"4. District meetings shall be held at the district school-house. If there be 
no school-house, the trustees shall determine the place of meeting. If there be 
no trustees, the committee of the town to which such district belongs, shall de- 
termine the place of meeting, which shall, in all cases, be within the limits of 
the district. 

"5. Notice of the time and place of every annual meeting, and of the time, 
place, and object of every special meeting of the district, shall be given at least 
five days inclusive, previous to holding the same. 

" G. The trustees, or if there be no trustees, then the committee of the town, 
shall give the notice of a district meeting, either by publishing the same in a 
newspaper printed in the district, or by putting the notice on the district school- 
house, or on a sign-post within the district, or in some other mode previously 
designated by the district; but if there be no such newspaper, school-house, or 
sign-post, or other mode so designated, then the committee of the town to which 
such district belongs, shall determine how and where the notice shall be given. 

" 7. Every person residing in the district may vote in district meetings, to the 
same extent, and with the same restrictions, as he may at the time be qualified 
to vote in town meeting. 

"8. Every district meeting may appoint a moderator, and adjourn from time 
to time. 

" Sec. XIII. Ever} T school district shall be a body corporate, and shall have 
power — 

"1. To prosecute and defend in all actions relating to the property and affairs 
of the district. 

" 2. To purchase, receive, hold and convey any real or personal property for 
school purposes. 

"3. To build, purchase, hire and repair school-houses, and supply the same 
with black-boards, maps, furniture, and other necessary and useful appendages; 
Provided, that the erection and repairs of the district school-house shall be made 
according to plans and specifications approved by the school committee of the 
town, or the commissioner of public schools. 

"4. To establish and maintain a school library. 

70 Rhode Island. 

"5. To employ one or more teachers. 

"(5. To raise money b}' tax on the ratable estates of the district, for school 
purposes ; and to fix a rate of tuition to be paid by the parents, employer or 
guardian of each child attending school, towards the expense of fuel, books, and 
other estimated expenses of the school, over and above the sum accruing to the 
district from the State and town appropriations ; Provided, that the rate of tui- 
tion, for any one term of three months, shall not exceed one dollar per scholar; 
and provided further, that the amount of such tax and the rate of tuition, shall 
be approved and authorized by the school committee of the town. 

" 7. To elect at the annual meeting, by ballot or otherwise, one person, re- 
sident in the district, to serve as trustee for the district, and to hold his office 
for three years ; Provided, that the first election after the passage of this act, 
three persons shall be thus elected, one of whom shall serve one, a second, two, 
and the third, three years, to be determined by lot among themselves; and pro- 
vided further, that any new district may choose three trustees as above, at the 
first meeting called after its formation, and the term of office of the one desig- 
nated by lot to serve one year, shall expire at the next annual meeting of the 
school districts. 

"8. To appoint a clerk, collector and treasurer of the district, who shall 
exercise the same powers and duties in their respective districts, as the clerk, 
treasurer and collector of the town, in their respective towns. 

" Sec. XIV. The trustees of every school district, when qualified to the 
faithful discharge of the duties of their office, are authorized, and it shall be their 
duty — 

"1. To have the custody of the school-houses and other property of the dis- 

"2. To give notice of all meetings of the districts in the manner provided. 
"3. To employ at their discretion, one or more qualified teachers, for every 
fifty scholars in average daily attendance, provide school-rooms, and furnish the 
same with fuel, properly prepared. 

" 4. To visit the schools by one or more of their number, twice at least during 
each term of schooling. 

" 5. To see that the scholars are properly supplied with books, and in case 
they are not, and the parents, guardians or masters, have been notified thereof 
by the teacher, to provide the same at the expense of the district, and add the 
price thereof to the next school tax or rate bill of said parents. 

" G. To make out the tax and rate bills for tuition, against the persons liable 
to pay the same, as shall be voted by the district. 

" 7. To make such returns to the school committee in matter and form, as 
shall be prescribed by them, or the commissioner of public schools, and perform 
all other lawful acts that may be required of them by the district, or which may 
be necessary to cany into full effect the powers and duties of school districts. 

' ; Sec. XV. 1. Whenever a tax shall be voted by any district, the same shall 
be levied on the ratable estate in said district, according to the estimate and 
apportionment in the tax bill of the town to which such district belongs, last 
completed, or next to be completed, as said district may direct. 

" 2. Whenever any real estate situated within the district is so assessed and 
entered in the tax bill of the town, in common with other estate situated out of 

School Law of 1845. 71 

said district, that there is no distinct or separate value upon it, the trustees of 
the district may call upon one or more of the assessors of the town, not residing 
in said district; and it shall be the duty of said assessors on such application, to 
assess the value of said real estate so situated, and in making such assessment, 
to proceed as in making the tax bill of the town. 

" Sec. XYI. If any school district shall neglect or refuse to establish a school 
and employ a teacher for the same for nine months, the school committee of the 
town may establish such school, and employ a teacher, as the trustees of the dis- 
trict might have done ; and any school district may, with the consent of the 
school committee, devolve all the powers and duties relating to public schools 
in said district, on said committee. 

"Sec. XV I L Any town, at any legal meeting, may vote to provide school- 
houses, furnish the same with fixtures and necessary and useful appendages, in 
all the districts, from time to time, at the common expense of the town. 

" Sec. XVIII. 1. Any two or more adjoining primary school districts in the 
same or adjoining towns, may by a concurrent vote, agree to establish a second- 
ary or grammar school, for the older and more advanced children of such dis- 
tricts, under the management of a committee, composed of one member from 
each of said districts, to be appointed annually for each district, by the school 
committee of the town, or towns to which such districts belong respectively: 
and said secondary school committee shall locate the school, provide school- 
house, fuel and furniture, employ teachers, regulate the studies, the terms of 
admission, the number of pupils to be admitted, the rate of tuition, and have the 
general control of the school; Provided, that no teacher shall be employed in 
any secondary school, without exhibiting a certificate of qualification, signed by 
a school inspector for the county, or the commissioner of public schools. 

"2. The school committee of the town or towns in which such secondary 
school shall be established, shall draw an order in favor of the committee of said 
school, to be paid out of the public money appropriated to each district inter- 
ested in said secondary school, in proportion to the number of scholars from 

" Sec. XIX. 1. Whenever it shall be found convenient to form a school dis- 
trict of two or more contiguous districts, or parts of two or more contiguous 
districts in adjoining towns, such towns respectively concurring therein, niiiy 
form such district, and alter and discontinue the same. 

" 2. The first meeting of any district composed of parts of two or more towns, 
shall be called by a notice signed by the school committees of the several towns 
to which such parts belong, and set up in one or more public places, in each 
town within the limits of the joint district ; and said district may, from time to 
time thereafter, prescribe the mode of calling and warning the meetings, in like 
manner as other school districts may do. 

" 3. Every district established by two or more towns, shall have all the powers, 
and perform all the duties allowed or prescribed in regard to school districts, 
and shall be subject to the supervision and general management of the school 
committee of the town in which the school of the joint district may be kept, or 
the school-house, when erected, may stand. 

" 4. Whenever a joint district shall vote to build or repair a school-house by 
tax, the amount of such tax, and the plan and specification of such building or 

72 Rhode Island. 

repairs shall be approved by the school committee of the towns out of which 
said district is formed. 

"IV. Teachers. Sections XX — I. 

"Sec. XX. No person shall be employed to teach as principal or assistant. 
in any school supported in part, or entirely, by public money, unless such person 
shall exhibit a certificate of qualification, signed either — 

" 1. By the chairman of the school committee of any town, or the sub-com- 
mittee appointed for this purpose, which shall be valid for one year from the date 
thereof, in any public school or district in said town, unless annulled; or 

" 2. By an inspector for the county, which shall be valid for two years from 
the date thereof, in every town and district of the county for which such inspec- 
tor shall be appointed, which last certificate, when signed by the commissioner 
of public schools, shall be valid in any public school of the State, for three years, 
unless the same is annulled. 

" Provided, That neither of the above authorities shall sign any certificate of 
qualification, unless the person named in the same shall produce evidence of good 
moral character, and be found on examination, or by experience, qualified to 
teach the English language, arithmetic, penmanship, and the rudiments of geog- 
raphy and history, and to govern a school. 

" Sec. XXI. Every teacher in any public school, shall keep a register of all 
the scholars attending said school, their ages, their parents or guardians, the date 
when each scholar entered and left said school, and their daily attendance, 
together with the day of the month on which said school was visited by any of 
the authorities named in this act, with the names of the visitors. 

miscellaneous provisions. 

" Sec. XXIII. No child shall be excluded from any public school in the district 
to which such child belongs, if the town is divided into districts; and if not so 
divided, from the nearest public school, except by force of some general regula- 
tion, applicable to all children under the same circumstances ; and in no case, on 
account of the inability of the parent, guardian, or employer of the same, to pay 
his or her tax, rate, or assessment, for any school purpose whatever. 

" Sec. XXIV The school committee of any town, or the trustees of any 
school district, are authorized to make arrangements with the committee of any 
adjacent town, or the trustees of any adjacent district, for the attendance of such 
children, as will be better accommodated in the public schools of such adjacent 
town or district, as the case may be, and to pay such a portion of the expense of 
said schools, as may have been agreed upon, or as may be just and proper. 

" Sec XXV. Any money appropriated to the use of public schools, which 
shall be applied by a town, school district, or any officer thereof, to any other 
purpose than that specified by the law, shall be forfeited to the State ; and any 
officer or person who shall fraudulently make a false certificate or order, by which 
any money appropriated to public schools shall be drawn from the treasury of 
the State, or the town, shall forfeit the sum of fifty dollars to the State ; and it 
shall be the duty of the commissioner of public schools to bring a suit to recover 
said forfeitures in behalf of the State. 

School Laav of 1845. 73 

" Sec. XXVI. In the construction of tins act, the word ' town' shall include 
the city of Providence, so far only as to entitle the same to a distributive share 
of the money appropriated to the support of public schools, on making the 
annual report required of the several school committees, in matter and form as 
prescribed by the commissioner of public schools. 

" Sec. XXVII. Any person conceiving himself aggrieved in consequence of 
any decision made by any school district meeting, or l)3 r the trustees of any 
district, or the committee of any town, or by a county inspector, or concerning 
any other matter arising under this act, may appeal to the commissioner of public 
schools, who is hereby authorized and required to examine and decide the same ; 
and the decision of said commissioner, when approved by any judge of the 
supreme court, shall be final and conclusive. 

" Sec. XXVIII. All general acts and resolutions heretofore passed relating to 
public schools, and all acts authorizing particular towns and districts to build 
school-houses, and perform other duties now provided for in the preceding sec- 
tions, are hereby repealed. 

" Provided, That all acts and resolutions relating to the public schools in the 
city of Providence, and the town of Newport, are hereby continued in force. 

" Provided further, That all rights vested in any person or persons by virtue of 
any of the acts hereby repealed, shall remain unimpaired and unaltered by this 
act; and that all matters commenced by virtue of any of the laws aforesaid, now 
depending or unfinished, may be prosecuted and pursued to final effect, in the 
same manner as they might have been, if this act had not been passed. 

" Sec. XXIX. This act shall not take effect till after the next session of the 
General Assembly, and in the meantime the existing law relative to public 
schools shall continue in force. 
"Passed June Session, 1815. 

"Henry Bowen, Secretary." 

"Narragansett Indians. 

" Sec. XXII. The general treasurer shall pay to the treasurer of the town of 
Charlestown, the sum of one hundred dollars annually, to be expended under the 
direction of some suitable person or persons to be appointed annually by the 
governor, in support of a school for the use of the members of the Narragansett 
tribe of Indians, and for the purchase of books and other incidental expenses of 
said school ; and an account of the expenditure of said money shall be rendered 
annually to the General Assembly, and a report of the condition of the school be 
transmitted to the commissioner of public schools, on or before the first Monday 
of May; Provided, that in the apportionment of the public money, by the said 
commissioner, and by the school committee of the town of Charlestown, the 
number of the Narragansett Indians in such town shall not be included. 

" An Act to provide for the education of the indigent blind, and the indigent deaf 
mutes in this State. 

[" Passed January 25, 1845.] 

" It is cnucted by the General Assembly as follows : 

"Section 1. The sum of fifteen hundred dollars is hereby annually appropriated for 
the education, at ' the American Asylum of Hartford, for the instruction of the deaf and 

74 Rhode Island. 

dumb,' of the indigent (loaf rnutos of this State; and for the education of the indigent 
blind of this State, at the institution for education of the blind located at South Boston. 
"Sec. 2. Said sum shall be paid out of the general treasury to' the orders of Byron 
Diman, of Bristol, who is hereby appointed commissioner for the distribution of said 
appropriation, with full authority to determine which of said persons in this State shall 
be admitted to the benefit thereof, and the portion which such shall receive; Provided, 
that no one person shall receive any portion thereof for more than live years, nor a 
greater sum in any one year than one hundred dollars." 




From the time of Mr. Barnard's appointment, the course of the Rhode 
Island school system was not only more honorable, but became far easier 
to trace. A series of State reports, at first irregular, then regular, together 
with local reports of a more fragmentaiy nature, make the career of de- 
velopment comparatively easy to follow. Of these reports, that first sub- 
mitted by Mr. Barnard — in 1845 — was naturally the fullest and most valu- 
able, because it marked the era of transition. In it he spoke with extreme 
frankness as to the existing defects of the public schools. Thus, of the 
actual number taught, he said : 

"With these views as to the desirable standard of sehool attendance, let lis 
see how far the State fell below it in 1844, and what are some of the means by 
which a nearer approach can be made in future years. 

" The whole number of persons over four and under sixteen years of age, the 
ordinary but not exclusive subjects of school education, in the different towns 
of the State, including - the city of Providence, was about 30,000. 

"The whole number of persons of all ages who attended any school, public 
or private, any portion of the year, was 24,000. Of this number 21,000 were en- 
rolled as attending the public schools, and 3,000 as receiving instruction at home, 
or in private schools of different grades, at periods of the year when the public 
schools were open. At other periods of the year the number attending private 
schools, taught by teachers of public schools, was much larger. 

" Of the 21,000 connected with the public schools during the year, 18,000 only 
were between the ages of four and sixteen years. One-third of the whole num- 
ber enrolled, attended school so irregularly, that the average attendance of children 
of all ages in the public schools, did not exceed 13,500, or less than one-half of 
all the children of a proper school age. The number who attended school during 
the whole year, allowing for vacations of ordinary length, did not exceed 5,000, 

76 Rhode Island. 

including scholars in primary schools, while more than G,000 on an average did 
not attend a public school three months in the year. Less than half of the whole 
number of scholars were girls. Of the scholars over sixteen years of age, the 
proportion of boys to the girls was as live to one. Of the scholars over ten years 
of age, the number of boys were to the girls as four to one." 

Of the condition of school-houses he said : 

"With these general views of school-architecture, let us contrast the condi- 
tion of the places where most of the public schools of the State were kept in the 
winter of 1843-44 , as presented in an abstract of the returns of teachers and 
committees, corrected from notes taken during my first circuit through the 
several towns. 

" As the schools were then organized, four hundred and five school-houses 
were required, whereas but three hundred and twelve were provided. Of these, 
twenty-nine were owned by towns in their corporate capacity ; one hundred and 
forty-seven by proprietors ; and one hundred and forty-five by school districts. 
Of two hundred and eighty school-houses from which full returns w T ere received, 
including those in Providence, twenty-five were in very good repair ; sixty-two 
were in ordinary repair; and eighty-six were pronounced totally unfit for school 
purposes ; sixty-five were located in the public highway, and one hundred and 
eighty directly on the line of the road, without any yard, or out-buildiugs at- 
tached ; and but twenty-one had a play-ground enclosed. In over two hun- 
dred school-rooms, the average height was less than eight feet, without any 
opening in the ceiling, or other effectual means for ventilation ; the seats and 
desks were calculated for more than two pupils, arranged on two or three 
sides of the room, and in most instances, where the results of actual meas- 
urement was given, the highest seats were over eighteen inches from the floor, 
and the lowest, except in twenty-five schools, were over fourteen inches for 
the youngest pupils, and these seats were unprovided with backs. Two hun- 
dred and seventy schools were unfurnished with a clock, blackboard, or ther- 
mometer, and only five were provided with a scraper and mat for the feet. In 
view of these facts, the following summary of the condition of the school-houses 
was given in my report on school-houses, which is repeated here, as still appli- 
cable to many places where public schools are now taught. 

" They are, almost universally, badly located, exposed to the noise, dust and 
danger of the highway, unattractive, if not positively repulsive in their external 
and internal appearance, and built at the least possible, expense of material and 

" They are too small. There was no separate entry for boys and girls appro- 
priately fitted up ; no sufficient space for the convenient seating and necessary 
movements of the scholars; no platform, desk, or recitation-room for the 

" They are badly lighted. The windows were inserted on three or four sides 
of the room, without blinds or curtains to prevent the inconvenience and danger 
from cross-lights, and the excess of light falling directly on the eyes or reflected 
from the book, and the distracting influence of passing objects and events out 
of doors. 

Henry Barnard's Administration. 77 

" They are not properly ventilated. The purity of the atmosphere is not pre- 
served by providing for the escape of such portions of the air as had become 
offensive and poisonous by the process of breathing, and by the, matter which is 
constantly escaping from the lungs in vapor, and from the surface of the body in 
insensible perspiration. 

" They are imperfectly warmed. The rush of cold air through cracks and 
defects in the doors, windows, floor and plastering is not guarded against. The 
air which is heated is already impure from having been breathed, and made more 
so by noxious gases arising from the burning of floating particles of vegetable 
and animal matter coming in contact with the hot iron. The heat is not equally 
diffused, so that one portion of a school-room is frequently overheated, while 
another portion, especially the floor, is too cold. 

i; They are not furnished with seats and desks, properly made and adjusted to 
each other, and arranged in such a manner as to promote the comfort and con- 
venience of the scholars, and the easy supervision on the part of the teacher. 
The seats are too high and too long, with no suitable support for the back, 
especially for the younger children. The desks are too high for the seats, and 
are either attached to the wall on three sides of the room, so that the faces of 
the scholars are turned from the teacher, and a portion of them at least are 
tempted constantly to look out at the windows, — or the seats are attached to the 
wall on opposite sides, and the scholars sit facing each other. The aisles are not 
so arranged that each scholar can go to and from his seat, change his position, 
have access to his books, attend to his own business, be seen and approached by 
the teacher, without incommoding any other. 

" They are not provided with black-boards, maps, clock, thermometer, and 
other apparatus and fixtures which are indispensable to a well regulated and in- 
structed school. 

" They are deficient in all of those in and out-door arrangements which help 
to promote habits of order, and neatness, and cultivate delicacy of manners and 
refinement of feeling. There are no verdure, trees, shrubbery and flowers for 
the eye; no scrapers and mats for the feet; no hooks and shelves for cloaks and 
hats ; no well, sink, basin and towels to secure cleanliness; and no places of 
retirement for children of either sex. 

" Such was the condition of most of the places where the public schools were 
kept in the winter of 18f3-44, in the counties of Kent, Washington and Newport, 
and in not a few districts in the counties of Providence and Bristol. In some 
districts, an apartment in an old shop or dwelling-house was fitted up as a school- 
room ; and in eleven towns, the school-houses, such as they were, were owned 
by proprietors, to whom in many instances, the districts paid in rent a larger 
amount than would have been the interest on the cost of a new and commodious 
school-house. Since the passage of the Act of January, 1844, empowering 
school districts to purchase, repair, build and furnish school-houses, and since 
public attention was called to the evils and inconvenience of the old structures, 
and to better plans of construction and internal arrangement, by public addresses, 
and the circulation of documents, the work of renovation in this department of 
school improvement has gone on rapidly. If the same progress can be made 
for three years more, Rhode Island can show, in proportion to the number of 
schools districts, more specimens of good houses, and fewer dilapidated, incon- 

78 Rhode Island. 

venient and unhealthy structures of this kind, than anj' other State. To bring 
about thus early this great and desirable result, I can suggest nothing beyond 
the vigorous prosecution of the same measures which have proved so successful 
during the past two years." 

" In all the schools visited the first winter, or from which returns were re- 
ceived, put of Providence, and the primary departments of a few large central 
districts, I found but six female teachers ; and including the whole State, and 
excepting the districts referred to, there cannot have been more than twice that 
number employed. This is one evidence of the want of prudence in applying 
the school funds of the districts, and of the low appreciation of the peculiar 
talents of females, when properly educated as teachers — their more gentle and 
refined manners, purer morals, stronger interest and greater tact and content- 
ment in managing and instructing young children, and of their power when 
properly developed, of governing even the most wild and stubborn minds by 
moral influences. Two-thirds at least of all the schools which I visited, would 
have been better taught by female teachers, who could have been employed at 
half the compensation actually paid to the male teachers, and thus the length of 
the winter school prolonged on an average of two months. Convinced as I am 
from many years observation in public schools, that these institutions will 
never exert the influence they should on the manners and morals of the children 
educated in them, till a larger number of well trained and accomplished females 
are employed permanently as teachers, either as principals or assistants, I have 
every where and on all occasions urged their peculiar fitness for the ofiice. I 
have reason to believe that at least fifty female teachers, in addition to the num- 
ber employed last year, are now engaged in the public schools of the State. But 
before the superior efficiency of woman in the holy ministry of education, can 
be felt in its largest measure, her education must be more amply and universally 
provided for, and an opportunity afforded for some special training in the duties 
of a Readier ; and a modification of the present practice and arrangement of 
districts be effected." * 

In pointing out what has been already done during his brief administra- 
tion, Mr. Barnard claims that more than fifty additional female teachers 
have been employed, during his influence, within the past year, and that, 
within two years, more than fifty school-houses have been built, or 
have been so thoroughly repaired as to be substantially new, and most of 
them after plans furnished by himself. His first report is a perfect 
encyclopaedia of popular education, and perhaps covers more ground 
than any single report by Horace Mann. Mr Barnard's activity also 
equalled that of Mr. Mann ; and the obstacles that he encountered were 
of essentially the same kind. It would be possible to cull from Mr. 
Mann's early lectures and reports a series of extracts almost as dis- 

* Barnard's Report for 1845, pp. 11, 30, 35. 

Henry Barnard's Administration. 79 

couraging as the above ; * and the two brave combatants fought, each 
on the same ground, with the same exhaustless ammunition of lectures, 
documents and newspapers. In this Mr. Barnard elicited as hearty 
cooperation as Mr. Mann, and perhaps, from his temperament as well as 
his smaller sphere, excited less antagonism. He found a powerful ally 
in the " Rhode Island Institute of Instruction," formed January 24, 
1845, and in the Washington County Teachers' Institute. In these and 
in all his work, he had the valuable aid of Mr. Updike, with whom his 
appointment had originated, and of Hon. E. R. Potter, who was to be 
his successor in ollice. Mr. William S. Baker, also, who was for two 
years the official agent of the Rhode Island Institute, rendered impor- 
tant aid to the school agent. 

Mr. Barnard remained five years in office, retiring in 1849, because 
of failing health. On retiring, he was presented with a testimonial by 
the teachers of the State, and the committee presenting it thus testified 
to his services : 

" Of the extent of your labors in preparing the way for a thorough re-organi- 
zation of our system of public schools, and in encountering successfully the many 
difficulties incident to the working of a new system, tew of us can probably be 
aware. But we can speak from a personal knowledge of the value of the 
Teachers' Institutes which have from time to time been held by your appoint- 
ment, and provided (too often, we fear, at your expense) with skillful and 
experienced instructors, and practical lecturers; and of the many books and 
pamphlets on education and teaching, which you have scattered broadcast over 
the Slate. 

" We can speak, too, of what the teachers of the State know from daily 
observation, — many of them from happy experience, — of the great change, — nay, 
revolution,— which you have wrought in our school architecture; by which old, 
dilapidated, and unsightly district school-houses have given way for the many 
new, attractive, commodious and healthy edifices which now adorn our hills and 
valleys. We have seen, too, and felt the benefits of the more numerous and 
regular attendance of scholars, of the uniformity of text-books, the more 
vigilant supervision of school committees, and the more lively and intelligent 
interest and co-operation of parents in our labors, which have been brought about 
mainly by your efforts. 

*" In 18:57, not one-third part of the public schr.ohhouses in Massachusetts would 
have been considered tenantable by any decent family, out of the poor-house or in it." 
—Horace .Manx's Report (for Massachusetts) is 1846. 

" One-third only of the whole number (of school-houses) visited were found in good 
repair; another third in ordinary and comfortable condition only, in this respect— in 
other words, barely sufficient for the convenience and accommodation of the teachers 
and pupils; while the remainder, consisting of 3,319, were to all intents and purposes 
unfit for the reception of man or beast."— Hon. Samuel Young's Report (for New 
York) in 1844. 

80 Rhode Island. 

" The fruits of your labors may also be seen in the courses of popular lectures 
which are now being held, and in the well-selected town, village and district 
libraries, which you have assisted in establishing, and which are already scatter- 
ing their life-giving influence through our beloved State. In the consciousness 
of having been the main instrumentality in effecting these changes, for which 
the generations yet unborn will bless your memory, you have your own best 
reward. * * * * May } r our future course be as honorable to yourself, as the 
past has been useful to the children and youth of Rhode Island." 

Rev. Edwin M. Stone, the historian of the Rhode Island Institute of 
Instruction, thus sums up the labors of Mr. Barnard : 

" During the Ave years of service by Mr. Barnard, more than eleven hundred 
meetings were held, expressly to discuss topics connected with the public 
schools, at which upwards of fifteen hundred addresses were delivered. One 
hundred and fifty of these meetings continued through the day and evening; 
upwards of one hundred through two evenings and a day; fifty through two 
days and three evenings ; and twelve, including Teachers' Institutes, through 
the entire week. In addition to this class of meetings and addresses, upwards 
of two hundred meetings of teachers and parents were held for lectures and 
discussions on improved methods of teaching and for public exhibitions or 
examinations of schools. Besides these various meetings, experienced teachers 
were employed to visit particular towns and sections of the State, and converse 
freely with parents, on the condition and improvement of the public schools. 
By these agencies a meeting was held within three miles of every home in Khode 
Island. In addition to all this, more than sixteen thousand educational 
pamphlets and tracts were distributed gratuitously through the State; 'and 
one year not an almanac was sold in Khode Island without at least sixteen pages 
of educational reading attached.' This statement does not include the official 
documents published by the State, nor the Journal of the Institute, nor upwards 
of twelve hundred bound volumes on teaching purchased by teachers or added 
to public or private libraries. * * * * Before Mr. Barnard left the State a 
library of at least five hundred volumes had been secured for twenty-nine out of 
the thirty-two towns." * 

The successor of Mr. Barnard was Hon. Elisha R. Potter, who ranks 
second to his predecessor only in the quantity of his labors, not in their 
quality. His reports from 1851 to 1854 show services of the greatest 
value. The work of Mr. Barnard was after all only the preliminary 
work. He created the system, but it was in a community so unequally pre- 
pared, and in many regions so unprepared, that he could not carry the or- 
ganization beyond a certain point. It was not till 1852 that the towns 
had even supplied themselves with school-houses. In his report lor that 

* Stone's Hist. R, I. Inst., p. 32. 

Schools under Hon. E. R. Potter. 81 

year, Mr. Potter announces with satisfaction that "nearty all the districts 
have school-houses belonging to the districts as their corporate property. 
Very few of the districts now depend on the old proprietors' school- 
houses. In many cases tliey have been purchased by the district and 
repaired." Again, it appears, that after all Mr. Barnard's efforts, no 
free-school system, in the thorough sense, had yet been established 
throughout the State. In the report for 1 850, Mr. Potter says : "-In 
several of the larger towns the schools are now made entirely free by town 
taxation ; but in most of the towns, the State and town appropriations 
are insufficient, and the remainder of the expense is assessed upon the 
scholars. And although the law provides that no child shall be excluded 
from school on account of poverty, and that the trustees shall exempt 
the poor from the assessment, yet man}' of the poor refuse to avail them- 
selves of it." He also points out that, in the State of New York, the 
rate-bill system had lately been abolished by an immense popular major- 
ity. In the Rhode Island reports for January, 1852, and January, PS53, 
it appears that about ten per cent, of the amounts expended were obtained 
by assessment on scholars ; but the report of January, 1854, shows only 
five per cent., and the rate-bill system has now wholly disappeared. This 
result is largely due, no doubt, to the remonstrances of Mr. Potter. 

This gentleman's legal experience was also of the greatest value in 
codifying the school-laws of the State ; laws which he, on the bench, was 
afterwards able to expound and apply with authority. Other important 
services rendered by him were the recommendation (in 1850) of a Board 
of Education, and the persistent advocacy of a Normal School. Under 
his efforts a Normal Department was first established (in 1850) in Brown 
University, and was placed under the charge of Prof. S. S. Greene, then 
Superintendent of the Providence Schools, but whose title in the Univer- 
sity was that of u Professor of Didactics." To this arrangement succeeded 
(in 1852) a private Normal School in Providence, taught by Messrs. 
Greene, Russell, Colburn and Guyot; and finally (in 1854) a state Nor- 
mal School, took its place, under charge of Mr. Dana P. Colburn. This 
school, it will be remembered, was afterwards removed to Pristol, and 
was placed, after Mr. Colburn's death, under Mr. Joshua Kendall's 
charge. It was, however, abolished in 18G5, but was reestablished at 
Providence in 1871, under charge of Mr. J. C. Greenough, who still re- 
mains its principal. 

Still another great service rendered by Judge Potter was the thorough 

discussion and elucidation of the religious question in public schools. It 

shows the recurrence of the same public questions that we find, so Car back 

as 1840, the same demand as now, from certain quarters, for the substitution 


82 Rhode Island. 

of church schools in place of common schools ; and the treasury of 
argument and illustration accumulated on this subject in Mr. Potter's 
reports has really done the work permanently, and left little for his suc- 
cessors to do. Fortunately the State had, in its school commissioner, a 
man thoroughly trained in its constitutional principles, and the wise 
cautions inserted by him in the decisions of the " School Manual," have 
saved the State from much of the contest which has prevailed elsewhere. 
In this Manual, which is the authoritative statute-book for every school- 
committee in the State, these principles are distinctly laid down: 

" The constitution and laws of the State give no powder to a school commit- 
tee, nor is there any authority in the State by which the reading of the Bible, or 
praying in school, either at the opening or the close, can be commanded or 
enforced. On the other hand, the spirit of the constitution, and the neglect of 
the law, to specify any penalty for so opening and closing a school, or to 
appoint or allow any officer to take notice of such an act, do as clearly show that 
there can be no compulsory exclusion of such reading and praying from our 
public schools. The whole matter must be regulated b} r the consciences of the 
teachers and inhabitants of the district and by the general consent of the com- 
munity. Statute law and school committee's regulations can enforce neither the 
use nor disuse of such devotional exercises. School committees may recom- 
mend, but they can go no further."* 

Judge Potter was chairman of the commission which framed this vol- 
ume, and the germ of this passage may be found in his report for Octo- 
ber, 1854, where he stated his views as follows : 

" The school committees have indeed the power by law r to regulate the lite- 
rary exercises of a school, but not to prescribe religious exercises for a school. 
They have indeed the power to prescribe the books to be used in a school, but 
this power, and all their powers, must be construed subject to the provisions of 
the constitution relating to religious freedom. The constitution is the supreme 
law, and overrides all other laws. 

" It has been said also, that if one objector can drive the Bible out of school, 
he can drive all other books out of school on the same ground, and so may ren- 
der necessary an expurgation of our whole school literature to suit every indi- 
vidual conscience. This objection can only be made by those who misunder- 
stand the principles I have laid down and endeavored to defend. As no one by 
objecting can drive the Bible out of school, but will only be taken out of the 
class which uses it, and allowed to pursue his other studies ; so if he objects to 
any other book, he could not effect its expulsion from school, but merely would 
not be compelled to read in it or hear it read himself. And knowing that he 
could not prevent others from using the book, objections would seldom be made 
from ill-will or obstinacy, but only from real scruples of conscience. 

*E. I. School Manual, (1873,) pp. 198, 258. 

Schools under Hon. E. K. Potter. 83 

" And it seems to me that the ground I have taken with regard to the use of 
the Bible in public schools, is the only one upon which the consciences of all, 
majority and minority, can be properly regarded. The teacher cannot make it a 
public school exercise, and require the attention of the whole school to it, if any 
one objects. But if any one does object, the majority can still use it in a class 
by themselves, leaving the objector out of the class; and he has then no more 
right to object to their reading in it, than he has to their using any other book, 
which he does not wish, or is not required to use himself. * * * * 

" Although it is a repetition of what has already been said, I will again state, 
in conclusion, the principles upon which I consider that all these cases should 
be decided, viz. : that all public religious exercises, by which I mean prayer and 
the reading of the Bible, or any religious book by the teacher and the whole 
school, the school being required to listen to it, can only be had by general con- 
sent. And it does not remove the difficulty to authorize a scholar who has con- 
scientious objections, to leave the school-room while the exercises are proceed- 
ing. For school purposes, the house is his house, as much as his private 
dwelling-house, and he has a right to be there. 

" But if objection be made, which would seldom be the case if a teacher 
manages properly, then the Bible, or any religious book may be used in classes, 
like any other book, by those whose parents do not object to it. 

" If any other grounds than these can be supported at the present day, it 
would imply a most wonderful change in the feelings of the people of this State. 
We should need to reprint and restudy the noble words of John Milton, Jeremy 
Taylor and John Locke in defence of religious freedom, to bring us back again 
to the doctrines avowed by our ancestors when they first settled this colony. 
The total separation of religious and civil affairs was with them their cardinal 
principle." f 

t School Report for October, 1854, pp. 27-9. 


(1854— 187G.) 

From this time forth, the schools of Rhode Island have had a career 
of quiet development ; yet their condition in some of the smaller towns 
has lingered far behind what could be desired- The district system has 
never been abolished, in >pite of the efforts of about every successive 
commissioner ; and the district system can rarely be made to produce 
schools of high order. 

Mr. Potter's successor was Rev. Robert Allyn, of East Greenwich, who 
remained in office from 1854 to 1857. He edited the Rhode Island School- 
master, which took the place of the Educational Magazine, and carried 
on the same work of popular enlightenment, Mr. Allyn, in his report 
for 185(3, points out that less than half the children of school age through- 
out the State, are to be found at any given time within the school-bouse 
doors, the percentage of attendance being but .48§, while the percentage 
of enrolled membership is but .69. In the next year's report (1857) he 
returns again to the charge, and shows the number of enrolled pupils in 
the State to have actually diminished within live years, having been more 
by 761 in 1852 than in 1857. While the increase of taxation has been 
nearly forty-two per rent., he declares that'' the decrease in scholars act- 
ually enrolled is, since 1852, three per cent., and the decrease in the aver- 
age attendance is two per cent. The growth of population during that time 
must have been, at least, seven per cent. About twenty-two per cent, 
of the children in our State between the ages of six and fifteen, are not 
attending school." * Yet, he declares the school system of the State to 
be a model one, and finds the chief source of trouble in the immense in- 
crease of manufacturing industry and of a foreign born population. 

* Report for 1857, p. 13. 

Later History of the Schools. 85 

Mr. Allyn's successor, John Kingsbury, E«q., who held the commis- 
sionership from 1857 to 1859, points out in his first report another source 
of difficulty in the lingering indifference of the towns to their schools. 
He points out that some of the towns fail to print their annual reports, 
and that the schools are very insufficiently visited. In one town the 
committee give these two reasons for making no report: u 1st, The 
freemen at the annual town-meeting pay no attention to the reading of 
it; and second, the secretary was unable to draw up one."* Even from 
Providence, the commissioner complains that he can obtain only the most 
meagre returns, although he claims that the Providence school system is 
unsurpassed in the nation. 

Mr. Kingsbury seems to have entered on his work in an unusual spirit 
of thoroughness. Considering, as he says in his report for 1859, the 
school law of the State to have been brought to a high degree of perfec" 
tion, he devoted himself mainly to a thorough inspection of the actual 
working of the system. With the exception of three or four districts, he 
visited every school-house in the State, and a large proportion of the 
schools. His testimony as to the condition of the buildings is there- 
fore peculiarly valuable. It is as follows : 

" After the passage of the school act in 18-44, which authorized districts to 
purchase, repair, build and furnish school-houses, the progress of improvement 
was so rapid that Mr. Barnard predicted, that if the same progress could be 
made for three years more, Rhode Island could show, in proportion to the 
number of school districts, more specimens of good houses, and fewer dilapi- 
dated, inconvenient and unhealthy structures of this kind, than any other State. 
This prediction, was without doubt, fulfilled, yet there are some school-houses 
in the State now, to which Mr. Barnard's unfavorable description applies as 
well to-day as it did fifteen years ago. It may be that the prediction itself, 
uttered with the praiseworthy desire of encouraging and stimulating the people 
of the State, together with the numerous compliments bestowed upon us by 
persons from abroad for what was really accomplished in that period, may have, 
instead of producing the intended effect, lulled into inactivity and self-compla- 
cency those very districts which it ought to have aroused. The credit which is 
due to those districts and those towns which did improve their schools, has 
been assumed as belonging to the whole State. Those districts which have not 
kept pace with the current improvements of the age, so far from indulging feel- 
ings of satisfaction in what others have done, and making it a reason for their 
own inactivity, ought to be aroused to action by the simple fact alone, that they 
are in painful contrast with the general progress. Rhode Island has done well. 
She takes a high rank among her sister States in furnishing the inestimable 
privileges of a good common school education to every child in the State. This 
credit, however, is not due equally to all the towns and districts. It is due in 
spite of those towns and districts which as yet remain comparatively indifferent. 

♦Report for 1858. p. 31. 

86 Ehode Island. 

" A large number of our school-houses are creditable specimens of school 
architecture. They arc commodious, well arranged, well adapted to school 
purposes, furnished with maps, black-boards and other conveniences, and some 
of t hem arc beautifully located, with good grounds adorned with shade trees. 
Many of them have been erected at a cost quite as great as the means of the 
districts will justify. Two or three, perhaps, have exceeded the ability of the 
districts, so that they are a standing bugbear to all further improvements in 
their neighborhoods. They are like expensive dwelling-houses, whose owners 
have so crippled themselves in building that they cannot afford to live in their 
houses after they have been built. In respect to such school-houses, the stand- 
ing argument is, we have expended so much money in building our house, that 
we cannot afford to tax ourselves for a good school. Happily, the number is 
very small where there is the least ground of complaint on this point. A con- 
siderable number of the school-houses which have recently been built or 
repaired, have cost less than what is absolute economy in expenditure. This is 
true in regard to the size of the structures, their location, play-grounds, out- 
houses, fences, and especially their interior arrangements. In some of the new 
houses there are no maps, except one of Rhode Island, furnished at the expense 
of the State, and not a single work of reference, even a dictionary of the 
English language. Notwithstanding all that has been done to improve our 
school-houses, there are many which are entirely unlit places for the education 
of children, since in them these children are to spend so many of the precious 
hours of their lives. They are old, needing repairs even for a temporary occu- 
pancy ; cramped in size, with uneven floors which allow a large ventilation; 
having desks arranged on the sides of the room, or even in the still more 
ancient method, on the outside of the room, with the old-fasioned slab seats. 
Some of them are located in the highway, where land is not worth ten dollars 
an acre, in the most desolate place in the district, and are destitute of all attrac- 
tion both without and within. It is gratifying to be able to report that the 
progress of improvement has, within the past year, reached some of these 
districts. Several of them have repaired their houses or built new ones, and 
two or three districts which have never owned a school-house before, are now 
the fortunate owners of such a structure. There is reason to believe that there 
are others which are taking measures that will prove successful in securing the 
same blessing, so that shortly it may be said that there is not a district in the 
State, which does not possess a creditable school-house. 

" The most remarkable circumstance to be noticed in this connection, is the 
great contrast, not so much between the structure and condition of the school- 
houses of the different towns — though there is here enough to challenge atten- 
tion as between the. structure and condition of the school-houses of the same 
towns, and sometimes between those of adjacent districts. Why is it so? Here 
is the same school-law operating equally for the good of both, the same s'chool 
committee to whom the supervision of each is committed. In the one district you 
will find the school-house beautiful, commodious, everything without and within 
being so arranged as to attract and win the hearts of the young. In the very 
next district everything is reversed. Instead of attraction, the prevailing 
principle, as seen in the school-house and its surroundings, is repulsion. Again 
it may be asked, why is it so? It is found on inquiry, that there is an equal 


Later History of the Schools. 87 

amount of wealth in both districts, an equal number of children to be educated, 
and that these children are equally dependent upon their education for the 
stations in life which they are to occupy. It may be found that all this differ- 
ence may be traced to the activity, energy and liberality of a single individual. 
May such individuals be multiplied till not a discreditable school-house can be 
found in Rhode Island. 

' • It is also worthy of notice that in some of the towns there is a great con- 
trast between the school-houses and dwelling-houses. As you enter these towns 
the impression made on your mind by so many excellent, commodious and 
elegant dwelling-houses, is that there must be not only competence but abun- 
dance, and even great wealth. You draw the very natural conclusion that here, 
at least, you will find good if not beautiful school-houses. In this you are (mite 
liable to labor under a mistake ; for there are towns where the dwelling-houses 
and out-houses are indicative of wealth, and yet the school-houses are among 
the very poorest in the State. Whenever this contrast is found, it is not owing 
to want of wealth, but of something better — a knowledge of the true manner of 
using wealth." 

The next commissioner was Dr. Joshua B. Chapin, who held the office 
from 1859 to 1861, and again from 18G3 to 1869. his place being tilled 
during that two years' interval by Henry Rousmaniere, Esq. In Dr, 
Chapin's report for 1861, he again points out the evils of the district 
system, at least so far as it leads to the appointment of teachers by the 
district trustees acting singly. He points to a diminution of absenteeism 
in some districts, from thirty-eight per cent, to ten or eight per cent, 
lie boasts that the improvements in school architecture are so great that 
u at the present rate of progress, the next generation will look in vain 
for an absolutely poor schooMiouse within the borders of our State," — a 
hope not yet fulfilled. He thus refers, also, to the increasing emploj*- 
ment of women as teachers : — 

" Experience has proved that for the larger part of our common district 
schools, females are much better instructors than males. Profiting by this 
experience, their number, especially in our winter schools, has largely increased. 
When Mr. Barnard first assumed the office of commissioner, he says that. ' out 
of Providence and the primary department of a few central districts, I found 
but six female teachers, and with the exceptions referred to, there cannot have 
been more than twice that number employed.') Had he visited the same schools 
during the past year, he would have found more than two hundred. Without 
intending to underrate males, as teachers, I am free to say that two-thirds of all 
the schools which I have visited, taught by males, would be better taught, and 
better disciplined, too, by females. Females have peculiar talent, and when 
properly educated, have greater power over the maimers, morals and minds of 
children. They have a stronger interest, more skill, patience, tact. They have 
a facility for placing themselves in sympathy with young hearts. In matters of 
government and discipline they often succeed best, when it was predicted they 
would uniformly fail. * * * 

88 Rhode Island. 

" They should also be better paid. I have yet to learn a good reason why a 
female teacher, doing the same service as a male teacher, and doing it better, 
should not have at least equal pay. The most of our teachers are miserably 
compensated for the amount and character of the labor which they perform. 
The pay for farm labor and kitchen service is, in many cases, in advance of 
teachers' wages ; though we are every year getting the better of this evil. 
Wages are each year advancing, and. within the past live years, have increased 
from one-third to one-half. Especially is this true in our cities and larger towns ; 
and yet with all this increase they have hardly kept pace with the increased 
expense of living. * * * 

"There is far less occasion for a resort to the severer forms of discipline in 
our schools of the present day than formerly. Wholly insubordinate spirits are 
seldom found. Twenty years ago it was no uncommon occurrence for a do/en 
schools to be utterly broken up in the course of the winter, and many more were 
rendered wholly useless by the presence of vicious, incorrigible boys. During 
the past year, only one instance of serious disturbance has come to my knowl- 
edge, and this was due quite as much to the incompetency and inefficiency of 
the teacher as to anything else." 

Dr. Chapin was succeeded in June, 1869, by T. W. Bicknell, Esq., 
in whose reports we begin at once to see that greater thoroughness and 
method which we are now accustomed to expect in such documents. 
For the first time, in connection witli his first report, every town in the 
State published its school report in full. The various points of school 
discipline, absenteeism, truancy, normal instruction and school super- 
vision were not only discussed in the main document, but illustrated from 
the local experience of different towns. Mr. Bicknell at once urged the 
creation of a State board of education, and the re-establishment of the 
normal school. Both these measures were almost immediately carried ; 
the former in 1870, and the latter, as has already been said, in 1871- 
From this time forth, the annual reports of the board of education have 
accompanied those of the school commissioner. 

By his annual reports and personal efforts, Mr. Bicknell also did 
much as to procuring liberal legislation on public libraries, as to the 
extension of the term of school committees from one to three years, and 
as to the legal authorization of a school superintendent for every town. 
As Providence was the first city in New England to appoint (in 1838) 
a city superintendent, it was appropriate that the State should also be 
prominent in wise legislation on this point. Mr. Bicknell also urged 
the appointment on school committees of a reasonable proportion of 
experienced and intelligent women, mentioning one town in the State 
where the committee had even consisted of women only, with favorable 
results.* He collected valuable data as to evening schools from dif- 

* Report, January, 1872, p. (39; January, 1874, p. 90. 

Later History of the Schools. 89 

ferent towns in the State.* Me fearlessly presented the facts as to 
illiteracy in Rhode Island, as follows : 

" It may occasion surprise in many minds to learn that more than one in 
eight, of all the people of this State over ten years of age, cannot read nor 
write, and that more than one in nine of all the population of the State will 
remain for life unable to read a page of the simplest reading, or to sign a 
document, except with their mark. 

"In order that the growth of illiteracy may he apparent, the following 
figures from the censuses of 1850, 1800, 1865 and 1870 are presented: 

" In 1850, the number of persons in Rhode Island, over twenty years of age. 
who could not read and write, was given as 3,607, of whom 1,248 were native, 
and 2,359 were foreign by birth; 3,310 were whites, and 2(57 were colored. 

" In 1860, the number, over 20 years of age, who could not read and write, 
was 6,112. Of these, 1.202 were of native, and 4,910 were of foreign birth; 
5,582 were white, and 260 colored. 

" The whole number of persons upwards of 20 years of age. in 1865, who 
could not read and write, was 10,181; of American birth, 1,552; of foreign 
birth, 8,629. 

" According to the census of 1870, the illiterate population of Rhode Island, 
over 10 years of age, is 21,901 ; of whom 8,681 are males, and 13,220 are 
females; 4,444 are of native birth, and 17,477 are foreign born; 21,011 are 
white, and 890 are colored. 

"The minor illiterate population, from 10 to 21 years old, is 5,115, and the 
adult illiterate population, 21 years old and over, is 16,786. 

" Notice the rapid increase of illiterates in twenty years : 

'• 18.10, Illiterates (over 20 years), American born. 1.248; Foreign, 2,3.i0; Total, 3,607; 

18(30, " " " '• " 1,202; " 4.910; " 6,112; 

1865, " " " " " 1,552; " 8,62!); " 10.181; 

1870, '• (over 21 yours), " '- " •' 16,780; 

1870, " (over 10 years), " «■ 4.444; " 17.477; «• 21,901. 

•• A glance at the above figures shows the extent and the source of this mass 
of ignorance in our State. 16,786 of our citizens have passed the age for obtain- 
ing the rudiments of knowledge in our public schools, and they will probably 
never acquire the ability to read and write, unless by the agency of the evening 
school, or by private instruction; and beyond the age referred to, ignorance is 
too liable to perpetuate itself, and to bind its shackles upon its own victim. 

" There is still opportunity, if there is but little hope, for those between the 
ages of ten and twenty-one, that they will yet learn to read and write. In a 
large degree, they either belong to our truant and vagrant population, which is 
now in preparation by idleness, petty offences and public crimes, to become 
inmates of the Reform School, the State Farm and the State Prison; or to an- 
other class, which by the cupidity of parents or employers, is obliged to pass 
the tender and formative period of childhood and youth in the factory, where 
nimble lingers are made to enrich the capitalist, or to aid in the support of the 

* Report, January, 1872, p. 34. 

90 Rhode Island. 

family, at the expense of that necessary intelligence which fits boys and girls for 
the ranks of society and citizenship. Add to these, a class of children whose 
only birthright is poverty, neglect and misfortune, who must keep the wolf aud 
the sheriff from the door, by early toil, trial and sorrow, and we have before us 
the unpromising minor illiterates of our State."* 

Mr. BicknelPs proposed remedies for this illiteracy are the following : 

" 1. Excellent common schools. 

"2. An intelligent and interested public sentiment, strongly positive in favor 
of universal education. 

" 3. The enforcement of a law which shall not allow a child to be employed in 
a manufacturing establishment under twelve years of age. 

" 4. The enforcement of a law requiring the children employed in the manu- 
facturing establishments of our State to attend school at least five months in 
each year. 

" 5. A truant and vagrant law, by which every child between the ages of six 
and sixteen years, not attending any school, or without any regular and lawful 
occupation, or growing up in ignorance, may be committed to some suitable 
institution, or bound as an apprentice at some good home, for the purpose of 
gaining the rudiments of an education, and of learning some useful trade. 

" (J. The establishment of evening schools in every town, for the benefit of all 
persons over sixteen years of age, who may desire to attend. 

"7. A constitutional enactment, which shall require of every person who 
shall possess a franchise in the State, a certificate of his ability to read and 

As to this last provision I must venture to differ from Mr. Bicknell. 
The experience of Massachusetts shows that such a law, if made, is not 
likely to be strictly enforced ; and it seems to me plain that if enforced, 
it would defeat its own end. Enfranchise all, and it is for the obvious 
interest of eveiy man of wealth that all should be educated. Disfran- 
chise the ignorant, and every rich man is tempted to leave the common 
people in ignorance, lest they should acquire votes. 

At the session of the General Assembly in 1873, a committee was 
appointed, consisting of Hon. Elisha R. Potter, Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court ; Hon. T. W. Bicknell, School Commissioner ; and Hon. 
J. M. Addeman, Secretary of State, to print a manual of the school 
laws, which had just been revised, and to include therewith such forms 
and decisions as might be needful. Two thousand copies of this work 
were distributed among the school districts ; and it still furnishes a 
sufficient manual ot the school legislation of Rhode Island. 

* Report, Januarj^, 1872, p. 61. 

Later History of the Schools. ( J1 

In Mr. Bicknell's last report, he devotes especial attention to the sub- 
ject of drawing in schools, and urges reasons why it has peculiar 
importance for the Rhode Island school system. Some of these 
reasons are as follows : 

"Attention is called to a single branch of instruction which demands an im- 
portant place in the coarse of studies in our common schools, not only for the 
reason that it is a subject of great practical value to the various State industries, 
but on account of its influence in educating the mental faculties. Jake mathe- 
matics or language, the acquisition of the several departments of drawing has 
an influence upon the easier reception of all knowledge, and in that sense has a 
relation to every sphere of labor, and every Held of thought. Not only do the 
best educators of the State and country so regard it, in its influence as an intel- 
lectual stimulus, but the business men of the community so regard it, as practi- 
cal in a double sense for its utility and its discipline. 

" The population of no State is so generally engaged in manufactures as that 
of Rhode Island Her manufactures are varied in kind and in quality, they 
demand all grades of skill not only in those who take the general charge, but in 
the workmen. Every one who lias studied the subject knows that it is not 
enough to have intelligent, skillful, reliable supervision of labor; the best, and 
therefore the cheapest results can be secured only Avhen the laborers are also 
intelligent, skillful and reliable. Ignorant labor is always costly labor. It is 
generally conceded, and all Europe is acting upon the belief, that a knowledge 
of drawing, since it deals with the representation of form, which all objects 
possess, is the most essential element of skilled labor. This explains the action 
which Massachusetts has recently taken for the art-education of her whole peo- 
ple. Rhode Island must not hesitate to follow the example of Massachusetts, 
unless she is content to see herself out-stripped in all the more skilled and prof- 
itable manufactures. 

" To enumerate the industries of Rhode Island is to enumerate nearly all the 
industries of the whole country. There are her manufactures of cotton and 
wool, of machinery, locomotives, fire-arms, stoves and iron castings generally, 
her manufactures of wood, cloth and leather, her silver-ware, jewelry, and a 
hundred other things in metal. Then there is her building-construction and her 
quarrying. To give details would be to make a lengthy catalogue indeed. 

"Now, into the products of all these industries enters the element of design, 
usually in its relation both to form and to decoration. Of all the things that 
Rhode Island manufactures, there is scarcely one that will not command a better 
price for being beautiful. Many of her products, as machinery, locomotives, 
involve also a knowledge of working-drawings in their construction. When we 
consider that nearly everything is now made from a drawing, that a beautiful 
object cannot be made by a person lacking in taste, that one cannot work from 
a working-drawing without previous instruction, unless he works under the 
direct supervision of a second person, it is evident that there is good reason for 
the declaration that a knowledge of drawing will add, on an average, one-third 
to the daily wages of the workmen, and increase the profits of him who 

"According to the census of 1870, the total population of Rhode Island was 

92 Kiiode Island. 

217,353. The number of persons engaged in all occupations was 88.574. Of 
this number, 11,780 were engaged in agriculture; 19,679 in professional and per- 
sonal services ; 10.108 in trade and transportation; 47,007 in mechanical and 
mining industries. As every teacher would be directly helped by knowing how 
to draw, and as good taste is a thing of direct commercial value to all engaged 
in trade as well as to all engaged in manufactures, it is clear that nearly the 
whole occupied population of Rhode Island, and so all dependent on them; can 
be directly benefited by drawing, while there is no one whose interests will not 
be indirectly subserved. Indeed, of all the States, Rhode Island is the last 
which should neglect the art-education of her people." * 

These remarks deserve especial prominence, inasmuch as the introduc- 
tion of drawing into the schools is a reform still to be effected throughout 
the State as a whole, Newport being the only place where it is yet taught 
systematically. The experiment has been tried there for a year, under 
a teacher trained in the Massachusetts Normal Art School, and the re- 
sults have been so wholly satisfactory that it may indeed be said no 
longer to be an experiment. 

After nearly six years of eminently useful service, Mr. Bicknell retired 
from oflice in January, 1875. in order to assume the editorship of the 
New England Journal of Education. The best verdict on his labors 
was that pronounced by the Board of Education in saying that he had 
labored for the schools " with a diligence, a wisdom, and a contagious 
enthusiasm, which, it is believed, have resulted in lasting benefit to the 
cause with which his name is identified." His successor, Hon. T. B. 
Stockwell, has been in oflice one year onl}' ; and his first report shows 
him to be a worth}' successor of the efficient men who have preceded him. 

* Report, Jan., 1875, p. 57. 


The Commissioner's Report for January, 1875, gives this simple sum 
man* of what the Rhode Island schools now attempt : 

" An examination of our schools shows that reading, spelling-, penmanship, 
arithmetic (mental and written) and geography are taught in all the schools of 
the State of an intermediate and grammar grade. United States history and 
English grammar are taught in most of our grammar schools. Vocal music is 
practised in many of our schools, and taught in a few, particularly in those of 
all grades in Providence and Newport. Drawing is taught in the intermediate 
and grammar grades of Providence and Newport. Sewing is taught in a few of 
the schools in Providence. 

" In the high schools we find the pupils pursuing the studies of natural phi- 
losophy, chemistry, astronomy, botany, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, book- 
keeping, general history, mental and moral philosophy, English literature, Latin 
and Greek." * 

To comprehend the full bearing of this brief schedule, we must look 
back to the time (1800) when a leading school-committee man in Provi- 
dence had never even seen a grammar, and could find no geography for 
sale in the town.f 

In regard to the number attending public school, the transformation 
is quite as wonderful. It seems now hardly credible that forty-four } T ears 
ago there were but twenty public schools in the State which were kept 
through the year, and that the average term of the rest was but three 
months. It seems hardly credible that in 1832 even Providence had but 
eleven public schools and fifty-six private schools, while Newport had 
but two of the former class and thhfry-two of the latter. j By the first 

* Report, Jan., 1875, p. 55. 

jSee statement of John Howland, ante,Y>- 1"- 

\ See ante, p. 57. 


Kiiode Island. 

official report (1839) Newport exhibited an aggregate of 265 scholars ; 
whereas it has now P7G9 ; and Providence had 1,753 against its present 
12,507.* In the whole State there were, in 1839, but 13,748 public 
school pupils, an amount now nearly equalled by Providence alone, while 
the whole State has now 38, 669. | The whole amount spent for public 
schools in 1839, was but $35,354.86 ; whereas, in 1875, it was $764,- 
643.74. The detailed comparison will be found in the following tables : 


Providence County. 


Cranston . . . .* 


East Providence.. . 





North Providence. 
North Smithtield.. 

Pawtucket , 





Newport County. 


Little Compton 
Middletown. . . . 


New Shoreham 
Portsmouth . . . 

Washington County. 




North Kingstown 


South Kingstown. 




$1,003 32 
1,107 82 
1,594 42 

938 22 
946 4!) 
831 94 

1,215 38 

8,902 41 
1,472 00 
2,511 50 

173 00 

397 43 

540 88 

1,320 20 

415 43 

487 09 
772 23 

379 sr> 
508 05 
G89 20 
910 22 
458 00 
1,154 38 
598 08 


$11,400 05 

10,840 30 
9,773 40 
9,015 92 
3,044 89 
4.082 04 
9,203 08 

15.382 84 
2.305 15 
4.082 48 

45.949 95 

428.200 80 

5,880 54 

5.070 50 

42,004 99 

581 53 
2,544 95 


3,574 03 
3.922 10 
7,009 01 
5,700 74 
4,323 97 
7.205 12 
18,007 69 

* See ante, p. 58. 

t Report, Jan., 1876, p. 195. 










Kent County. 

$1,172 30 
430 80 

$6,587 00 
3.490 41 


1,261 09 1 12.136 03 

West Greenwich 

587 00 

270 80 

1,665 02 

572 96 

2,663 98 

Bristol County. 

7,084 03 


11,124 57 

Warren . . . . 

8,102 50 


$35,354 86 

$764,643 74 

Analysis of the Above. 



For permanent expenditures ; sites, buildings and 

$2,971 50 
32,383 36 

$275,835 02 
488,808 72 


$35,354 86 

$764,643 74 

The following table exhibits the changes in the aggregate number of 

O O OO o 

pupils actually attending public schools in the different towns of the 
State. In a few cases, apparent diminution has occurred from a sub- 
division of the town ; in other cases there has been a real diminution 
through the diminished population of certain places, usualty small 
farming towns. 

The total increase is, however, large, though bearing but a small pro- 
portion to the increase of appropriation, the number of pupils having 
increased about three-fold, and the amount of appropriation more than 


Rhode Island. 

Aggregate Number of Pupils Attending Schools. 



of pupils, 



of pupils, 


Providence County. 



Cumberland .... 
East Providence. . 





North Providence. 
North Smithlield. . 


Smithlield. . . 

Newport County 


Little Compton. 



New Shoreham, 



Washington County 

Charlestown . . • . . 



North Kingstown 


South Kingstown 

Kent County 


East Greenwich 



West Greenwich. . 

Bristol County, 





-I (18 







1 32 







7 J!) 



1 75 

























Conclusion. 97 

The following table, for which I am indebted to Hon. T. B. Stock- 
well, gives, more in detail, the steps in progress within the last thirty 
years : 

Public Day Schools. 






* 4 m. 1 d. 


* 7 m. 18 d 



Average length of Schools 

8 m. 18 d. 

Teachers and Teachers' Wages. 

Number of different teachers 



$3} 65 






Average wages of male teachers per month 

$85 18 
$46 17 

$17 96 

Total amount paid teachers 


$48,335 76 

*$ 121, 675 15 

$383,284 14 

School population. 5 to 15 years, inclusive 
Number of different pupils. 



26 883 



Average number belonging 

30 102 

Average attendance. 







$16,001 56 
$131,675 15 

$17,578 29 
$143,613 66 

$275,835 02 
$472,024 39 


$53,74 L 23 



$25,000 00 
$25,434 83 

$50,000 00 
$62,564 89 

$50,000 00 
$105,595 54 

$90,000 00 
*340,506 14 

School Property. 

Number of school-houses 



*$850 000 00 


Estimated value of sites, buildings, etc. . 

$2,36 f >,017 00 

The detailed history of the other educational institutions of the 
State — its academies, its university, its teachers' institutes, its public 
libraries, its learned societies, — will be found elsewhere ; as will the pres- 
ent system of school laws. The task assigned me was simply to give 
a continuous sketch of the history of public school education in the 
State, this necessarily including some reference to the private school 
instruction in the early days, when public schools were to be found only 
here and there. 

In most respects, the results of this system have gone far beyond the 
predictions of those who organized it. John Rowland's imagination 
would hardly have pictured to him the costly buildings, the elaborate 

* Estimated when what appears to be reliable data for estimates can be obtained. 


98 Rhode Island. 

appliances, the high salaries now to be found in Rhode Island. He 
would also find the standard of instruction far higher, with a greater 
range of studies, better text-books and a better system of teaching. 
He would be forced to admit, however, that much still remains to be 
done, and that in some of our most ambitious schools, the instruction 
is still formal and technical, while the text books are too often addressed 
to the memory only, without recognizing that the memory itself can be 
best reached through the reason and the imagination, in accordance with 
Horace Mann's pithy axiom, u That which interests is remembered." 
He would also find that while the normal school benefits the common 
schools, the latter may do much to testrict and hamper the normal 
school, by furnishing it with material very imperfectly prepared. 

In one respect there has been, it must be allowed, some disappoint- 
ment. It is true that the public schools have effected — at least since the 
abolition of the separate schools for colored children, in 1806 — something 
of that actual mingling of all classes which was predicted as a desirable 
result. But Henry Barnard's theory, — that a manufacturing community, 
" from its necessary concentration in villages," * must be favorably 
situated for a public school system, — has not stood the test of time. Or 
rather, however true it might have been for a race of manufacturing 
operatives, drawn originally, as he says, ; * from the country homes of 
New England," the case was greatly changed when the factory popula- 
tion came to be mainly of Irish or French Canadian parentage. The aver- 
age poverty has been greater than was expected, and this has brought with 
it an unexpected indifference of parents to the education of their children. 
It has proved, in the long run, that although the compactness of a 
factory village is favorable, as Mr. Barnard pointed out, to a system of 
graded schools, yet such a village offers greater obstacles to a fall at- 
tendance than the more thinly-settled farming towns. To overcome this 
evil of irregular attendance ; to resist tiie pecuniary necessities of 
parents and the pressure on the part of manufacturing corporations to 
keep children at work instead of at school : this still remains the hardest 
problem of Rhode Island education. In Woonsocket, for instance, it 
appears b\- the report for 1874 that " the number of truants and 
absentees is four times as large as in many, if not in most towns and 
villages in Massachusetts. "j- It is well known that by the joint in- 
fluence of parents and manufacturing corporations the laws are openly 
violated in man}' of our manufacturing villages ; the laws, namely, which 

* Report for 1845, p. 71. 

| State School Report, January, 1875, p. 30. 

Conclusion. 99 

prohibit the employment, in manufacturing establishments, of children 
under twelve, and permit no minor under fifteen to be so employed 
unless after attending school three months in the previous year.* Un- 
til so simple a law can be enforced, it is almost useless to talk of uniform 
compulsory education. The prosperity of a community must depend at 
last on the training of its children. Disfranchised ignorance is as dan- 
gerous as enfranchised ignorance ; the evil is still there, without the 
degree of self respect and the stimulus to mental action given by the 
ballot. The only safety is in bringing to bear upon the children of the 
ignorant all the knowledge of the wise. 

* General statutes, chapter 153. 



The last revision of the school law of the State was made in 1872, in 
connection with a general revision of the statute law. Since that 
time a few amendments have been made, but it remains very nearly as 
then established, and as it is to be found in the Common School Manual, 
alread} T mentioned. As given below, it has been so altered as to include 
every amendment or addition up to the present time. 

I. - Or the Board of Education. 

Section 1. The general supervision and control of the public schools of this 
State, with such high schools, normal schools and normal institutes, as are or 
may be established and maintained wholly or in part by the State, shall be vested 
in a State board of education, which shall consist of the governor and the lieu- 
tenant-governor, as members by virtue of their office, and of one other member 
from each of the counties of the State, with the exception of Providence county, 
which shall have two other members. The board of education shall elect the 
commissioner of public schools. 

Sec 2. The members of the board of education shall continue to be divided 
into three classes, and to hold their offices until the terms for which they were 
respectively elected shall have expired. 

Sec. 3. Two members of the board of education shall be elected annually at 
the May session of the General Assembly, in grand committee, from the counties 
in which vacancies shall occur in said board, who shall hold their office for 
three years, and until their successors shall have been elected and qualified; 
vacancies in said board shall be filled for any unexpired term by an election 
from the county for which the member whose office is vacant was elected, in the 
same manner, at any session of the General Assembly. 

1G2 Rhode Island. 

Sec. r. The governor shall be president, and the commissioner of public 
schools shall be secretary, of the board of education. 

Sec 5. The board of education shall hold quarterly meetings in the first 
week of March. June, September and December of each year, at the office of the 
commissioner of public schools, and may hold special meetings at the call of 
the president or secretary. They shall prescribe, and cause to be enforced, all 
rules and regulations necessary for carrying into effect the laws in relation to 
public schools. 

Sec. (>. The board of education may cause to be paid annually to and for 
the use of each tree public library established and maintained in this State, and 
to be expended in the purchase of books therefor, a sum not exceeding fifty 
dollars for the first five hundred volumes included in such library, and twenty- 
five dollars for every additional five hundred volumes therein: Provided, that the 
annual payment for the benefit of any one such library shall not exceed the sum 
of five hundred dollars. 

Sec 7. The board of education shall from time to time establish rules pre- 
scribing the character of the books which shall constitute such a library as will 
be entitled to the benefits conferred by the foregoing section, regulating the 
management of such library so as to secure the free use of the same to the 
people of the town or city and neighborhood in which it shall be established, 
and directing the mode in which the sums paid in pursuance of this act shall be 
expended. No library shall receive any benefit under the foregoing provisions, 
unless such rules shall have been complied with by those in charge thereof, nor 
until they have furnished to said board satisfactory evidence of the number and 
character of the books contained in said library. 

Sec. s. Any payment herein authorized shall be made by the general treasurer 
upon the order of the commissioner of public schools, approved by the board of 
education, and payable to the librarian, or other person having charge of such 
library, or of the funds applied to its support designated by said board. 

Sec !». The board of education shall make an annual report to the General 
Assembly, at the adjourned session at Providence. 

Six:. 10. The members of the board shall receive no compensation for their 
services, but the State treasurer may pay, upon the order of the State auditor, 
the necessary expenses of the members, when attending the meetings of the 
board, or when travelling upon official business for and within this State, after 
the bills have been approved by the General Assembly. 

II.— Of tiik Commissioned of Public Schools. 

Section 1. There shall be annually elected a commissioner of public schools 
in the manner prescribed in the next preceding chapter, who shall devote his 
time exclusively to the duties of his office. In case of sickness, temporary 
absence, or other disability, the governor may appoint a person to act as com- 
missioner during such absence, sickness, or disability. 

Sec 2. The commissioner of public schools shall visit, as often as practica- 
ble, every school district in the State, for the purpose of inspecting the schools, 
and diffusing as widely as possible, by public addresses and personal communi- 
cations with school officers, teachers and parents, a knowledge of the defects, 

Present School Law, 187G. 103 

and of any desirable improvements in the administration of the system, and the 
government and instruction of the schools. 

Sec. 3. He shall, under the direction of the hoard of education, recommend 
and secure, as far as is practicable, a uniformity of text-books in the schools of 
all the towns; and shall assist in the establishment of, and selection of hooks, 
for school libraries. 

Sec. 4. He shall annually, on the last Monday in December, make a report 
to the board of education, upon the state and condition of the schools and of 
education, with plans and suggestions for their improvement. 

III.— Of the Appropriation for Public Schools. 

Section' 1. The sum of ninety thousand dollars shall be annually paid out of 
the income of the permanent school fund, and from other money in the State 
treasury, for the support of public schools in the several towns, upon the order 
of the commissioner of public schools. 

Sec. 2. The sum of sixty-three thousand dollars of the amount aforesaid 
shall be apportioned annually, in May, by the commissioner, among the several 
tow ns, in proportion to the number of children therein under the age of fifteen 
years, according to the census of the United States, or of this State, then last 
preceding; and the sum of twenty-seven thousand dollars shall be apportioned 
among the several towns in proportion to the number of school districts in each 

Sec. 3. The money appropriated from the State as aforesaid shall he denomi- 
nated -'teachers' money," and shall be applied to the wages ot teachers, and to 
no other purpose. 

Sec. 4. Xo town shall receive any part of such State appropriation, unless 
it shall raise by tax for the support of public schools, a sum equal to the amount 
it may receive from the State treasury for the support of public schools. 

Sec. 5. If any town shall neglect or refuse to raise or appropriate the sum 
required in the section next preceding, on or before the first day of July in any 
year, its proportion of the public money shall be forfeited, and the general 
treasurer, on being officially informed thereof by the commissioner of public- 
schools, shall add it to the permanent school fund. 

Sec. <!. The commissioner of public schools shall draw orders on the general 
treasurer, in favor of all such towns, for their proportion of the appropriation 
for public schools, as shall, on or before the first day of July, annually, comply 
with the conditions of the fourth section of this chapter. 

IX — ()f the Powers and Duties of Towns, and of the Duties of the Town 
Treasurer and Town Clerk relative to Public Schools. 

Section 1. Any town may establish and maintain, with or without forming 
districts, a sullicient number of public schools, of different grades, at convenient 
locations, under the management of the school committee, subject to the super- 
vision of the commissioner of public schools as provided by this title. 

Sec. 2. Any town may be divided by a vote thereof, into school districts. 

104 Eiiode Island. 

Sec 3. Any town may vote, in a meeting notified for that purpose, to pro- 
vide school-houses, together with the necessary fixtures and appendages thereto, 
in all the districts, if there be districts, at the common expense of the town : 
Provided, if any district shall provide, at its own expense, a school-house 
approved by the school committee, such district shall not be liable to be taxed 
by the town to furnish or repair school-houses for the other districts. 

Sec. 4. Any town may, at its first annual town meeting after this act shall go 
into effect, for the choice of State or town officers, elect a school committee to 
consist of not less than three residents of the town, who shall serve without 
compensation unless voted by the town, and shall hold their offices as follows, 
to wit : immediately after being assembled in consequence of such election, they 
shall be divided by lot as equally as may be into three classes. The term of 
office of the first class shall expire at the end of one year, that of the second 
class at the end of two years, and that of the third class at the end of three 
years. As the office of each class becomes vacant as aforesaid, or the office of 
any member of either class by resignation, or otherwise, such vacancy or vacan- 
cies may be annually filled by the town at its annual town meeting, for the 
election of State or town officers, or at any time by the town council, until the 
annual town meeting for the election of State or town officers. 

Sec. 5. Any town may elect, or failing to do so, its school committe shall 
appoint, a superintendent of the schools of the town, to perform, under the 
advice and direction of the committee, such duties, and to exercise such powers, 
as the committee may assign to him, and to receive such compensation out of 
the town treasury as the town may vote. 

Sec. (5. The town treasurer shall receive the money due the town from the 
State treasury for public schools, and shall keep a separate account of all money 
appropriated by the State or town, or otherwise for public schools in the town, 
and shall pay the same to the order of the school committee. 

Sec. 7. The town treasurer shall, within one week after the school com- 
mittee is elected, submit to them a statement of all moneys in his hands be- 
longing to schools, specifying the sources wdience derived. 

Sec. 8. The town treasurer shall, on or before the first day of July, annually, 
transmit to the commissioner of public schools a certificate of the amount which 
the town has voted to raise by tax for the support of public schools for the 
current year; and also a statement of the amount paid out to the order of the 
school committee, for the year ending with the thirtieth of April next preced- 
ing, and until such return is made to the commissioner, he may, in his discre- 
tion, withhold the order for the money in the State treasury belonging to such 

Sec. 9. The town clerk shall record the boundaries of school districts and 
all alterations thereof, in a book to be kept for that purpose, and shall distribute 
such school documents and blanks as may be sent to him, to the persons for 
whom they are intended. 

V. — Of the Powers of School Districts. 

Section 1. Every school district shall be a body corporate, and shall be 
known by its number, or other suitable or ordinary designation. 

Present School Law, 1876. 105 

Sec. 2. Every school may prosecute and defend in all actions in which said 
district or its officers are parties, may purchase, receive, hold and convey real 
or personal property for school purposes, and may establish and maintain a 
school library. 

Sec. 3. Every such district may build, purchase, hire and repair school- 
houses, and supply the same with black-boards, maps, furniture and other neces- 
sary and useful appendages, and may insure the house and appendages against 
damage by Are : Provided, that the erection and repairs of the school-house 
shall be made according to the plans approved by the school committee, or, on 
appeal, by the commissioner of public schools. 

Sec. 4. Every such district may raise money by tax on the ratable property 
of the district, to support public schools; and to carry out the powers given 
them by any of the provisions of this title; Provided, that the amount of the 
tax shall be approved by the school committee of the town. 

Sec. 5. Every such district shall annually elect a moderator, a clerk, a 
treasurer, a collector, and either one or three trustees, as the district may 
decide, and may till vacancies in either of said offices at any legal meeting. 
The moderator may administer the oath to all the other officers of the school 

Sec. G. The clerk, collector, and treasurer, within their respective school 
districts, shall have the like power, and shall perforin like duties, as the clerk, 
collector, and treasurer of a town ; but the clerk, collector and treasurer need 
not give bond, unless required by the district. 

Sec. 7. All district taxes shall be collected by the district or town collector, 
in the same manner as town taxes are collected. 

Sec. 8. Any district may vote to place the collection of any district tax in 
the hands of the collector of town taxes, who shall thereupon be fully authorized 
to proceed and collect the same, upon giving bond therefor satisfactory to the 
school committee. 

Sec. 9. If any school district shall neglect to organize, or if organized, shall 
for any space of seven months, neglect to establish a school, and employ a 
teacher, the school committee of the town may, themselves, or by an agent, 
establish a school in the district school-house, or elsewhere in the district, in 
their discretion, and employ a teacher. 

Sec. 10. Any district may, with the consent of the school committee, de- 
volve all the powers and duties relating to public schools in the district, on the 

VI. — Of District Meetings. 

Sectiox 1. Notice of the time, place, and object of holding the first meeting 
of a district for organization, or for a meeting to choose officers or transact 
other business, in case there be no trustees authorized to call a meeting, shall 
be given by the school committee of the town, at such time, and in such manner 
as they may deem proper. 

Sec. 2. Every school district when organized shall hold an annual meeting, 
in the month of March, April, or May, of each year, for choice of officers, and 
for the transaction of any other business relating to schools. 

106 Rhode Island. 

Sec. 3. The trustees may call a special meeting- for election, or other busi- 
ness, at any time, and shall call one to be held within seven days on the written 
request of any Ave qualified voters, stating the object for which they wish it 
called; and if the trustees neglect or refuse to call a special meeting when re- 
quested, the school committee may call it and fix the time therefor. 

Sec. 4. District meetings shall be held at the school-house, unless other- 
wise ordered by the district. If there be no school-house or place appointed by 
the district for district meetings, the trustees, or if there be no trustees, the 
school committee, shall determine the place, which shall always be within the 

Sec. 5. Notice of the time and place of every annual meeting, and of the 
time, place, and object of every special meeting, shall be given, either by pub- 
lishing the same in a newspaper published in the district, or by posting the same 
in two or more public places in the district for live days inclusive before holding 
the same : Provided, that the district may, from time to time, prescribe the mode 
of notifying meetings, and the trustees shall conform thereto. 

Sec. 0. Every person residing in the district may vote in district meetings, 
to the same extent and with the same restrictions as would at the time qualify 
him to vote in town meeting; but no person shall vote upon any question of 
taxation of property, or expending money raised thereby, unless he shall have 
paid, or be liable to pay, a portion of the tax. 

Sec. 7. The clerk of the district shall record the number and names of the 
persons voting, and on which side of the question, at the request of any quali- 
fied voter. 

VII.— Of Joint School Districts. 

Section 1. Any two or more adjoining primary school districts in the same 
or adjoining towns, may, by a concurrent vote, establish a school, for the older 
and more advanced children of such districts. 

Sec. 2. Such associating districts shall constitute a school district for the 
purposes of providing a school-house, fuel, furniture, and apparatus, and for 
the election of a board of trustees, to consist of one member from each district, 
so associating, and for levying a tax f~r school purposes, with all the rights and 
privileges of a school district, so far as such school is concerned. 

Sec. 3. The time and place for the meeting for organization of such associate 
district maybe fixed by the school committees, and anyone or more of the asso- 
ciating districts may delegate to the trustees of such school, the care and man- 
agement of its primary school. 

Sec. 4. The school committee of the town or towns in which such school 
shall be established, shall draw an order in favor of the trustees of such school, 
to be paid out of the public money appropriated to each district interested in 
such school, in proportion to the number of scholars from each. 

Sec. 5. Any two or more adjoining school districts in the same town may, 
by concurrent vote, with the approbation of the school committee, unite and be 
consolidated into one district, for the purpose of supporting public schools, 
and such consolidated district shall have all the powers of a single district. 

Sec. G. Such consolidated district shall be entitled to receive the same pro- 
portion of public money as such districts would receive if not united. 

Present School Law, 187fi. 107 

Sec. 7. The mode of organizing such consolidated district and calling the 
first meeting thereof, shall be regulated or prescribed by the school committee, 
and notice thereof given as prescribed in section five of chapter forty-nine. 

Sec. 8. Two or more contiguous districts, or parts of districts in adjoining 
towns, may be formed into a joint school district by the school committees of 
such towns concurring therein, and all joint districts which have been, or shall 
be formed, may by them be altered or discontinued. 

Sec. 9. The meeting for organization of such joint district shall be called by 
the school committees of such towns, and notice thereof shall be given as pre- 
scribed in section five of chapter forty-nine. 

Sec. 10. Such joint district shall have all the powers of a single school dis- 
trict, and shall be regulated in the same manner, and shall be subject to the 
supervision and management of the school committee of the town in which the 
school is located. 

Sec. 11. A whole district making a portion of such joint district, shall be 
entitled to its proportion of public money, in the same manner as if it had re- 
mained a single district; and when part of a district is taken to form a portion 
of such joint district, the school committee of the town of which such district 
is a part shall assign to it its reasonable proportion. 

Sec. 12. Whenever any two or more districts shall be consolidated, the new 
district shall own all the corporate property of the several districts. 

Sec. 13. Whenever a district is divided, and a portion taken from it, the 
funds and property, or the income and proceeds thereof, shall be divided among 
the several parts, in such manner as the school committee of the town, or towns, 
to which the districts belong, may determine. 

Sec. If. Whenever a part of one district is added to another district, or part 
of a district owning a school-house, or other propert}*, such part shall pa} r to 
the district or part of a district to which it is added, if demanded, such sum as 
the school committee may determine, towards paying for such school-house and 
other property. 

VIII. — Of the Levy oe District Taxes. 

Section' 1. District taxes shall be levied on the ratable property of the dis- 
trict, according to its value in the town assessment then last made, unless the 
district shall direct such taxes to be levied according to the next town assess- 
ment ; and no notice thereof shall be required to be given by the trustees. 

Sec. 2. The trustees of any school district, if unable to agree with the 
parties interested, with regard to the valuation of any property in such district, 
shall call upon one or more of the town assessors not interested, and not resid- 
ing in the district, to assess the value of such property so situated, in the fol- 
lowing cases, namely : When any real estate in the district is assessed in the 
town tax bill with real estate out of the district, so that there is no distinct or 
separate value upon it; when any person possessing personal property shall re- 
move into the district after the last town assessment; when a division and 
apportionment of a tax shall become necessary by reason of the death of any 
person, or the sale of such property; when a person has invested personal 
property in real estate, and shall call upon the trustees to place a value thereon; 
and when property shall have been omitted in the town valuation. 

108 Rhode Island. 

Sec. 3. The assessors shall give notice of such assessment, by posting up 
notices thereof for ten days next prior to such assessment, in three of the most 
public places in the district ; and after notice is given as aforesaid, no person 
neglecting to appear before the assessors shall have any remedy for being over- 

Sec. 4. If a district tax shall be voted, assessed, and approved of, and a 
contract legally entered into under it, or such contract be legally entered into 
without such vote, assessment, or approval, and said district shall thereafter 
neglect or refuse to proceed to assess and collect a tax sufficient to fulfil such 
contract, the commissioner of public schools, after notice to and hearing of the 
parties, may appoint assessors to assess a tax for that purpose, and may issue a 
warrant to the collector of the district, or to a collector by him appointed, 
authorizing and requiring him to proceed and collect such tax. 

Sec. 5. Errors in assessing a tax may be corrected, or the tax reassessed, 
in such manner as may be directed or approved by the commissioner of public 

Sec. 6. Whenever any person who has paid a tax for building or repairing a 
school-house in one district, shall, by alteration of the boundaries thereof, 
become liable to pay a tax in any other district, if such person cannot agree 
with the district, such abatement of the tax maybe made as the school commit- 
tee, or, in case of a district composed from different towns, as the commissioner 
of public schools, may deem just and proper. 

Sec. 7. Whenever a joint district shall vote to build or repair a school-house 
by tax. the amount of the tax and plan and specifications of the building and 
repairs, shall be approved by the school committees of the several towns, or, in 
case of their disagreement, by the commissioner of public schools. 

Sec. 8. In case of assessing a tax by a joint or associate district, if the town 
assessments be made upon different principles, or the relative value be not the 
same, the relative value and proportion shall be ascertained by one or more per- 
sons, to be appointed by the commissioner of public schools, and the assess- 
ment shall be made accordingly. 

IX. — Of the Trustees of School Districts. 

Section 1. The trustees of school districts shall have the custody of the 
school-house and other district property, and shall employ one or more qualified 
teachers for every fifty scholars in average daily attendance. 

Sec. 2. The trustees shall provide school-rooms and fuel, and shall visit the 
schools twice at least during each term, and notify the committee or superin- 
tendent of the time of opening and closing the school. 

Sec 3. The trustees shall see that the scholars are properly supplied with 
books, and in case they are not, and the parents, guardians, or masters have 
been notified thereof by the teacher, shall provide the same at the expense of 
the district. 

Sec. 4. The trustees shall make out the tax bill against the person liable to 
pay the same, and deliver the same to the collector with a warrant by them 
signed annexed thereto, requiring him to collect and pay over the same to the 
treasurer of the district. 

Present School Law, 1876, 109 

Sec. 5. The trustees shall make returns to the school committee in manner 
and form prescribed by them or by the commissioner, or as may be required by 
law, and perform all other lawful acts required of them by the district, or neces- 
sary to carry into full effect the powers and duties of districts. 

Sec. G. The trustees shall receive no compensation for services out of the 
money received from either the State or town appropriations, nor in any way, 
unless raised by tax by the district 

Sec. 7. The trustees of any school district may allow scholars from without 
the district, or without the State, to attend the public schools of such district, 
upon the payment of such sums for tuition as the trustees may determine, pro- 
vided that such attendance and tuition shall be approved by the school com- 

Sec. 8. Whenever a town shall not be divided into school districts, or when- 
ever public schools shall be provided without reference to such division, the 
school Committee may exercise the powers provided in the preceding section 
hereof, to be exercised by trustees. 

Sec. 9. All moneys received for tuition as hereinbefore provided, shall be 
paid into the district or town treasury, as the case may be, and shall be used for 
school purposes only. 

Sec. 10. No attendance upon the public schools authorized by the three pre- 
ceding sections, shall be reckoned in determining the average attendance for 
the purpose of regulating the distribution of school money, but such average 
attendance shall be returned to the district or town where such scholars reside, 
and be there reckoned with the average attendance of the school of the proper 
town or district. 

X. — Or the Powers axd Duties oe School Committees. 

Sectiox 1. The school committee of each town shall choose a chairman and 
clerk, either of whom may sign any orders or official papers, and may be 
removed at the pleasure of said committee. 

Sec. 2. The school committee shall hold at least four stated meetings, viz. : 
on the second Monday of January, April, July and October, in every year, and 
as much oftener as the state of the schools shall require. A majority of the 
number elected shall constitute a quorum, unless the committee consist of more 
than six, when four shall be a quorum, but any number may adjourn. 

Sec. 3. The school committee may alter and discontinue school districts, and 
shall settle their boundaries when undefined or disputed; but no new district 
shall be formed with less than forty children, between the ages of four and six- 
teen, unless with the approbation of the commissioner of public schools. 

Sec. 1. The school committee shall locate all school-houses, and shall not 
abandon or change the site of any without good cause. 

Sec. 5. In case the school committee shall fix upon a location for a school- 
house in any district, or shall determine that the school-house lot ought to be 
enlarged, and the district shall have passed a vote to erect a school-house, or to 
enlarge the school-house lot, or in case there is no district organization, and the 
committee shall fix upon a location for a school-house and the proprietor of the 
land shall refuse to convey the same, or cannot agree with the district for the 
price thereof, the school committee of their own motion, or upon application of 

110 Rhode Island. 

the district, shall be authorized to appoint three disinterested persons, who shall 
notify the parties and decide upon the valuation of the land; and upon the ten- 
der, or payment, of the sum so fixed upon, to the proprietor, the title to the land 
so fixed upon by the school committee, not exceeding one acre, shall vest in the 
district, for the purpose of maintaining thereon a school-house and the necessary 
appendages thereof. 

Sec. G. An appeal in such case shall be allowed to the court of common pleas, 
in the same manner, and with the same effect, both as to the necessity of taking 
the particular land condemned, and the valuation thereof, and the like proceed- 
ings thereon shall be had, as is provided by law, in case of taking land for public 

Sec. 7. The school committee may examine, by themselves, or by some one 
or more persons by them appointed, every applicant for the situation of teacher 
in the public schools of the town, and may, after five days' notice in writing, 
annul the certificate of such as upon examination of the party by them prove 
unqualified, or will not conform to the regulations of the committee, and in such 
case shall give immediate notice thereof to the trustee of the district in which 
such teacher is employed. 

Sec. 8. The school committee shall visit, by one or more of their number, 
every public school in the town, at least twice during each term, once within 
two weeks of its opening, and once within two weeks of its close, at which 
visits they shall examine the register, and matters touching the school-house, 
library, studies, books, discipline, modes of teaching, and improvement of the 

Sec. ( J. The school committee shall make and cause to be put up in each 
school-house, rules and regulations for the attendance and classification of the 
pupils, for the introduction and use of text-books, and works of reference, and 
for the instruction, government, and discipline, of the public schools, and shall 
prescribe the studies to be pursued therein, under the direction of the school 

Six;. 10. The school committee may suspend during pleasure all pupils found 
guilty of incorrigibly bad conduct, or of violation of the school regulations. 

Sec. 11. Where a town is not divided into districts, or shall vote in a meeting 
duly notified for that purpose, to provide schools, without reference to such divi- 
sion, the committee shall manage and regulate said schools, and draw all orders 
for the payment of their expenses. 

Sec 12. Whenever the public schools are maintained by district organiza- 
tion, the committee shall apportion, as early as practicable in each year, among 
the districts, the town's proportion of the sum of sixty-three thousand dollars 
received from the State, one-half equally, and the other half according to the 
average daily attendance of the schools of the preceding year. 

Sec 13. Whenever the town is divided into school districts having the man- 
agement of their own concerns, the committee shall apportion equally among 
all the districts of the town, the town's proportion of the sum of twenty-seven 
thousand dollars received from the State. 

Skc. 14. The school committee shall apportion the money received from the 
town, from the registry tax, from school funds, or from other sources, either 
equally or in such proportion as the town may direct, and for want of such 
direction, then in such manner as they deem best. 

Pre s ext School Law, 1876. Ill 

Srcc. 15. The school committee shall, immediately after making the appor- 
tionment among the several districts as provided in the three sections next pre- 
ceding, give notice to the trustees of the amounts so apportioned to each district. 

Sec. 16. The school committee shad draw an order on the town treasurer in 
favor of such districts only, as shall have made a return to them in manner and 
form prescribed by them or by the commissioner of public schools, or as maybe 
required by law, from which it shall appear that for the year ending on the first 
day of May previous, one or more public schools have been kept for at least six 
months, by a qualified teacher, in a school-house approved by the committee or 
commissioner, and that the money designated " ; teacher's money," received the 
year previous, has been applied to the wages of teachers, and to no other pur- 

Sec. 17. Such orders may be made payable to the trustees or their order, or 
to the district treasurer, or teacher, and if the treasurer receives the money, he 
shall pay it out to the order of the trustees. 

Sec. 18. The school committee shall not give any such order, until they are 
satisfied that the services have actually been performed for which the money is to 
be paid; and the register, properly kept, has been deposited with the committee, 
or with some person by them appointed to receive the same. 

Sec. 19. At the end of the school year, any money appropriated to any dis- 
trict which shall be forfeited, and the forfeiture not remitted, or which shall re- 
main unexpended, shall be divided by the committee among the districts the fol- 
lowing year. 

Sec. 20. The school committee shall prepare and submit annually to the com- 
missioner of public schools, on or before the first day of July, a report in manner 
and form by him prescribed, and until such report is made to the commissioner, 
he may refuse to draw his order for the money in the State treasury belonging to 
such town, provided, the necessary blank lor said report has been furnished by 
the commissioner on or before the first day of May, next preceding; they shall 
also prepare and submit annually at the annual town meeting, a report to the 
town setting forth their doings, the state and condition of the schools, and plans 
for their improvement, which report, unless printed, shall be read in open town 
meeting, and if printed, at least two copies shall be transmitted to the commis- 
sioner on or before the first day of July in each year. 

Sec. 21. The committee may reserve annually, out of the public appropriation, 
a sum not exceeding forty dollars, to defray the expense of printing their report. 

Sec. 22. In any town in this State a change may be made in the school-books 
in the public schools of such town, by a vote of two-thirds of the whole commit- 
tee; notice of the proposed change having been given in writing at a previous 
meeting of said committee: Provided, that no change be made in any text-book 
oftener than once in three years, unless by the consent of the board of education. 

XI.— Of Teachers. 

Section 1. Xo person shall be employed in any town to teach as principal or 
assistant in any school, supported, entirely or in part, by the public money, unless 
he shall have a certificate of qualification, signed either by the school committee 
of the town, or by some person appointed by said committee, or by the trustees 
of the normal school. 

112 Rhode Island. 

Sec 2. Such certificate, unless annulled, if signed by the school committee, 
shall be valid within the town for one year. 

Sec. 3. The school committee shall not sign any certificate of qualification 
unless the person named in the same shall produce evidence of good moral char- 
acter, and be found on examination qualified to teach the various branches 
required to be taught in the school. 

Sec. 4. The school committee of any town may, on reasonable notice, and a 
hearing of the party, dismiss any teacher who shall refuse to conform to the regu- 
lations by them made, or for other just cause, and in such case shall give imme- 
diate notice to the trustees of the district. 

Sec. 5. Every teacher in any public school shall keep a register of the names 
of all the scholars, attending said school, their sex, ages, names of parents or 
guardians, the time when each scholar enters and leaves the school, the daily 
attendance; together with the days of the month on which the school is visited 
by any officer connected with public schools, and shall prepare the district's 
return to the school committee of the town. 

Sec. 6. Every teacher shall aim to implant and cultivate in the minds of all 
children committed to his care the principles of morality and virtue. 

XII. — Of Legal Proceedings Relating to Public Schools 

Section 1. Any person aggrieved by any decision or doings of any school 
committee, district meeting, trustees, or in any other matter arising under this 
title, may appeal to the commissioner of public schools, who, after notice to the 
party interested of the time and place of hearing, shall examine and decide the 
same without cost to the parties : Provided, that nothing contained in this sec- 
tion shall be construed to deprive such aggrieved party of any just legal remedy. 

Sec. 2. The commissioner of public schools may, and if requested on hearing- 
such appeal by either party shall, lay a statement of the facts of the case before 
the supreme court whose decision shall be final. 

Sec. 3. The commissioner of public schools may prescribe, from time to 
time, rules regulating the time and manner of making such appeals, and to pre- 
vent their being made for trifling and frivolous causes. 

Sec. 4. Parties having any matter of dispute between them arising under this 
title, may agree in writing to submit the same to the adjudication of said com- 
missioner, and his decision therein shall be final. 

Sec. 5 If no appeal be taken from a vote of a district relating to the ordering 
of a tax, or from the proceedings of the officers of the district in assessing the 
same, or if on appeal, such proceedings are confirmed, the same shall not again 
be questioned before any court of law or magistrate whatever: Provided, that 
this section shall not be construed to dispense with legal notice of the meeting, 
or with the votes or proceedings being approved by the school committee or 
commissioner of public schools, whenever the same is required by law. 

Sec. G. In any civil suit before any court, against any school officer, for any 
matter which might by this chapter have been heard and decided by the commis- 
sioner of public schools, no costs shall be taxed for the plaintiff, if the court are 
of opinion that such officer acted in good faith. 

Sec. 7. Any inhabitant of a district, or person liable to pay taxes therein, 

Present School Law, 1876. 113 

may be allowed by any court to answer a suit brought therein against the dis- 
trict, on giving security for costs, in such manner as the court may direct. 

Sec. 8. Whenever judgment shall be recovered in any court of record against 
any school district, the court rendering judgment shall order a warrant to be 
issued, if no appeal be taken, to the assessors of taxes of the town in which 
such district is situated, or in case of a joint district, composed of parts of 
towns, then to one or more of the assessors of each town, with or without des- 
ignating them, requiring them to assess upon the ratable property in said district 
a tax sufficient to pay the debts or damages, costs, interest, and a sum in the 
discretion of the court sufficient to defray the expenses of assessment and col- 
lection. Said assessors shall, without a new engagement, proceed to assess the 
same, .giving notice as in case of other district taxes. 

Sec. 9. Said warrant shall also contain a direction to the collector of the 
town, or in case of a joint district, then to the collector of either town, as the 
court may direct, requiring him to collect said tax; and said warrant, with the 
assessment annexed thereto, shall be a sufficient authority for the collector, 
without a special engagement, to proceed and collect the same with the same 
power as in case of a town tax ; and when collected, he shall pay over the same 
to the parties to whom it may belong, and the surplus, if any, to the district. 
And the court may require a bond of the collector. 

Sec. 10. Whenever any writ, summons, or other process shall issue against 
any school district, in any civil suit, the same may be served on the treasurer or 
clerk, and if there are no such officers to be found, the officer charged with the 
same may post up a certified copy thereof on the door of the school-house, and 
if there is no school-house, then in some public place in the district, and the 
same, when proved to the satisfaction of the court, shall constitute a sufficient 
service thereof. 

Sec. 1L. The record of the district clerk, that a meeting has been duly, or 
legally, notified, shall he prima facie evidence that it has been notified as the law 
requires. The clerk shall procure, at the expense of the district, a suitably 
bound book for keeping the record therein. 

Sec. 12. The commissioner of public schools may, by and with the advice 
and consent of the board of education, remit all fines, penalties and forfeitures 
incurred by any town, district, or person under any provisions of this title, ex- 
cept the forfeiture incurred by any town for not raising its proportion of money. 

XIII. — Of the Normal School, Teachers' Institutes and Lectures. 

Section 1. The normal school shall be under the management of the board 
of education, and the commissioner of public schools, as a board of trustees. 

Sec. 2. All applicants from the several towns in the State shall be admitted 
to free tuition in said school, after having passed such an examination as maybe 
prescribed by the board of trustees, and after having given to such board satis- 
factory evidence of their intention to teach in the public schools of this State for 
at least one year after leaving the said school. 

Sec. 3. Persons who shall have passed the regular course of studies at the 
normal school, shall, on the written recommendation of the principal, receive a 
diploma, signed by the trustees of the school. 


114 , Rhode Island. 

Sec. 4. The said trustees shall, by themselves, or by a committee of their 
board, examine all applicants to teach in the public schools, and shall give certi- 
ficates to such as arc found qualified to teach school. 

Sec 5. The trustees of the Normal School may pay to each pupil who shall 
reside within the State, and not within five miles of said school, who shall have 
been duly admitted thereto, and who shall have attended the regular sessions of 
said school, and complied with the regulations thereof, during the term next 
preceding such payments, not exceeding ten dollars, for each quarter year, for 
travelling expenses, but such payments in the aggregate for such travelling ex- 
penses shall not exceed the sum of fifteen hundred dollars in any one year, and 
shall be made to the respective pupils entitled to the same, in proportion to the 
distance they may reside from said school. 

Sec. G. A sum not exceeding five hundred dollars shall be annually paid for 
defraying the necessary expenses and charges for procuring teachers and lecturers 
for teachers' institutes, to be holden under the direction of the commissioner of 
public schools ; and a like sum of not exceeding five hundred dollars shall be 
annually paid for publishing and distributing some journal devoted to educational 
interests published in this State, among the several school districts. 

Sec. 7. The commissioner of public schools shall render an annual account 
to the state auditor, of his expenditures, under the provisions of this chapter, 
with his vouchers therefor. 

XIV. — Of Truant Children and Absentees from School. 

Section 1. Town councils shall make needful provisions and arrangements 
concerning habitual truants, and children not attending school, or without any 
regular and lawful occupation, or growing up in ignorance, between the ages of six 
and sixteen years; and also all such ordinances respecting such children as shall 
be deemed most conducive to their welfare, and to the good order of such town, 
and may provide penalties for the breach of any such ordinance, not exceeding 
twenty dollars for anyone offence. 

Sec. 2. Any such minor convicted under any such ordinance of being an 
habitual truant, or of not attending school, or of being without any lawful occu- 
pation, or of growing up in ignorance, may, at the discretion of the court having 
jurisdiction of the case, instead of being fined, as aforesaid, be committed to any 
institution of instruction or suitable situation provided for that purpose. 

Sec. 3. Before any ordinance's made under the authority of the next two pre- 
ceding sections hereof shall take effect, they shall be approved by the commis- 
sioner of public schools. 

Sec. 4. The several towns, availing themselves of the provisions of this 
chapter, shall appoint, at their annual town meetings, or annually, by their town 
councils, three or more persons, who alone shall be authorized to make the com- 
plaints, in case of violations of said ordinances, to the court which, b}^said ordi- 
nances shall have jurisdiction in the matter; and said persons thus appointed 
shall alone have authority to carry into execution the judgment of such court. 

Sec. 5. The municipal courts of the cities of Providence and Newport, 
and the justice courts of the several towns of this State, shall have jurisdiction 
of all cases arising under Chapter 57, Title IX., of General Statutes. 

Present School Law, 1876. 115 

Sec G. Any town council or board of aldermen may designate the industrial 
school in the city of Providence, as the institution of instruction or suitable sit- 
uation provided for in section 2 of said chapter. 

Sec. 7. The general treasurer is hereby directed to pay to the managers of 
the industrial school of the city of Providence, a sum not exceeding two dollars 
per week for the board, clothing, and instruction of children committed to said 
school, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 57, of the General Statutes, 
from any town or city in the State. 

X7- General Provision's Relating to Public Schools. 

Section 1. No person shall be excluded from any public school in the dis- 
trict to which such person belongs, if the town is divided into districts, or if not 
so divided, from the nearest public school, on account of race or color, or for 
being over fifteen years of age, nor except by force of some general regulation 
applicable to all persons under the same circumstances. 

Sec. 2. Every school officer elected or appointed under the provisions of this 
title, except the moderator of a district meeting, shall take an engagement 
before some person authorized to administer oaths, to support the constitution 
of the United States, the constitution and laws of this State, and faithfully to 
discharge the duties of his office so long as he shall continue therein. 

Sec. 3. The record of the district clerk that any district school officer has 
been duly engaged, shall be prima facie evidence thereof; and no school district 
officer shall enter upon the duties of his office, without taking an engagement. 

Sec. 4. Every school officer elected or appointed under the provisions of 
this title shall, without a new engagement, hold his office until the time of the 
next annual election or appointment for such office, and until his successor is 
elected or appointed and qualified. 

Sec. 5. Every officer who shall make any false certificate, or appropriate any 
public school money to any purpose not authorized by law, or who shall refuse 
for a reasonable charge to give certified copies of any official paper, or to 
account or deliver to his successor, any accounts, papers, or money in his 
hands, (or shall wilfully or knowingly refuse to perform any duty of his office, or 
violate any provisions of any law regulating public schools,) except where a 
particular penalty may be prescribed, shall be fined not exceeding five hundred 
dollars, or be imprisoned not exceeding six months, and shall be liable to an 
action on the case for damages, to be brought by any person injured thereby. 

Sec. G. Any school receiving aid from the State, either by direct grant or by 
exemption from taxation, may be visited and examined by the school committee 
of the town or city, in which such institution is situated, and by the members 
of the board of education and the commissioner of public schools, whenever 
they shall see fit. 

Sec. 7. Whenever such school shall refuse to permit such visitation, when 
requested, its exemption from taxation shall thereafter cease and be determined. 

Sec. 8. Every person who shall keep any swine, in any pen or other enclo- 
sure, or shall keep, or suffer to be kept, any other nuisance, within one hundred 
feet of any district school-house, or within one hundred feet of any fence en- 
closing the yard of any such school-house, shall be fined twenty dollars, one 

116 Rhode Island. 

half thereof to and for the use of the school district in which said oifence is com- 
mitted, and the other half thereof to and for the use of the State. 

Sec. 9. In the construction of this title, except in the construction of chap- 
ter fifty-seven and the sixth and seventh sections of this chapter, the word town 
shall include the city of Providence only so far as to entitle said city to a dis- 
tributive share in the public money, upon making a report to the commissioner, 
in the same manner as the school committees of other towns are required to do. 

Sec. 10. The public schools in said city shall continue, as heretofore, to be 
governed according to such ordinances and regulations as the proper city au- 
thorities may from time to time adopt. 

Sec. 11. Xo superintendent or school committee of any town, or any other 
person officially connected with the government or direction of the public schools, 
shall receive any private fee, ►gratuity, donation, or compensation in any manner 
whatsoever, for promoting the sale or the exchange of any school book, map or 
chart, in any public school. 

Sec. 12. Xo person shall offer to any public school officer any fee, commis- 
sion, or compensation whatsoever, as an inducement to effect through such 
officer any sale, or promotion of sale, or exchange, of any school book, map, 
chart, or school apparatus ; and every person violating any provisions of this 
chapter, shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars, or be imprisoned not exceed- 
ing thirty days. 

Sec. 13. All the public schools in the State, including the State normal 
school, shall be open to the children of officers and soldiers belonging to the 
State, mustered into the service of the United States, and of those persons 
belonging to the State, and serving in the navy of the United States, and who 
died in said service during the late rebellion against the authority of the United 
States, or who were discharged from said service, in consequence of wounds or 
disease contracted in said service, or who were killed in battle, without any 
cost or expense for taxes, or other charges imposed for purposes of public 

XVI. — Of Factory and other Laborers. 

Section 1. Xo minor under the age of twelve years shall be employed in or 
about any manufacturing establishment, in any manufacturing process, or in 
any labor incident to a manufacturing process. 

Sec. 2. Xo minor under the age of fifteen years, shall be employed in any 
manufacturing establishment in this State, unless such minor shall have attended 
school for a term of at least three months in the year next preceding the time 
when such minor shall be so employed; and no such minor shall be so employed 
for more than nine months in any one calendar year. 

Sec. 3. Xo minor who has attained the age of twelve years, and is under 
the age of fifteen years, shall be employed in any manufacturing establishment 
more than eleven hours in any one day, nor before five o'clock in the morning, 
nor after half-past seven o'clock in the evening. 

Sec 4. Every owner, employer, or agent of a manufacturing establishment, 
who shall knowingly and wilfully employ any minor, and every parent or guar- 
dian who shall permit or consent to the employment of his or her minor child or 

Present School Law, 1876. 117 

ward, contrary to the provisions of the next three preceding sections of this 
chapter, shall be liable to a penalty of twenty dollars for each offence, to be re- 
covered by complaint and warrant before the justice court in the town in which 
such child shall reside, or in which the manufacturing establishment in which 
such child shall have been employed shall be situated, one-half thereof to the 
use of the complainant, and the other half thereof to the use of the district 
school of the district in which such manufacturing establishment shall be sit- 
uated, or. if in the city of Providence, to the use of the public schools of said 

Sec. 5. Every such complaint shall be commenced within thirty days after 
the offence complained of shall have been committed, with right of appeal as in 
other criminal cases. 

XVII. — Of the Indian School. 

Section- 1. The general treasurer shall annually pay to the treasurer of the 
town of Chariest own the sum of two hundred dollars, to be expended under the 
direction of some person or persons to be annually appointed by the governor, 
in the support of a school, and the purchase of school books for the members of 
the Indian tribe; Provided, that no portion of said appropriation shall be ex- 
pended, unless the school-house occupied by said tribe shall be put and kept in 
suitable repair by said Indian tribe. 

Sec. 2. The person or persons appointed as aforesaid shall, on or before the 
first Tuesday of May. annually, transmit to the governor an account of the 
expenditure of said money together with a statement of the condition of said 

Sec. :;. No person shall be employed to keep said school, either as principal 
or assistant, who has not received a certificate of his qualifications to teach a 
school from the school committee of the town of Charlestown, or other com- 
petent authority, in like manner as is required for teachers in other public 

Sec. 4. In the apportionment of the public money by the commissioner of 
public schools and by the school committee of the town of Charlestown, the 
Indian tribe shall not be included. 


(Compiled mainly from Stone's Hist. R. I. Inst, of Instruction.) 

The origin of the State Normal School is to be traced, like that of 
many other of our educational institutions, to the labors of Commis- 
sioner Barnard. In the enumeration of the means and agencies employed 
by him in his work throughout the State and of the purposes he had in 
view, he says : U I have aimed eveiywhere to so set forth the nature, 
necessitj 7 and probable results of a Normal School, as to prepare the 
public mind for some legislative action toward the establishment of one 
such school." Furthermore, in the first school act drawn up by him, and 
which was passed by the House in 1844, and also in the amended act of 
1845, which became a law in June of that year, he secured the insertion 
of a clause, among the duties of the commissioner, which read as fol- 
lows : u To establish Teachers' Institutes, and one thorough^ organized 
Normal School in the State, where teachers and such as propose to teach, 
may become acquainted with the most approved and successful methods 
of arranging the studies and conducting the discipline and instruction of 
public schools." 

However willing the Assembfv may have been to pass the law impos- 
ing such a duty upon the commissioner, they were not ready to make it 
operative by the needed appropriation. Repeated efforts were made by 
Mr. Barnard, seconded by the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction, the 
school committees of several towns, and others interested in the welfaie 
of the common schools, but all to no purpose, and it seemed almost a 
Wk lost cause." The fact, however, that during these years the teachers 
of the State had been aroused to a sense of their needs, and that a 
''better way" had been opened before tnem, created such a demand that 
in obedience to the universal law, that a recognized want will always be 

Normal School. 119 

met with a supply, Brown University, at the time of its reorganization 
in 1850, incorporated in its course a Normal Department, or Professor- 
ship of Didactics. 

This department was designed to do the work of a Normal School, 
and in 1851, Samuel S. Greene, Esq., then recently elected superintend- 
ent of public schools in Providence, was permitted by vote of the school 
committee, to accept the professorship of the same in connection with 
his duties due to the city. But however gratifying were the fruits of this 
arrangement, it soon became clear that to secure the best results of a 
Normal Institution, — to make its work reach further and accomplish more 
than the Didactic Department of the University was able to do, it must 
be popularized, and to popularize it, the Institution must stand in close 
relations with the schools for which its labors were to be performed. 

With this conviction, a Normal School was opened in Providence, 
October 24, 1852, as a private enterprise, by Messrs. Samuel S. Greene, 
William Russell, Dana P. Colburn and Arnold Guyot ; and Mr. Greene 
having resigned the Professorship of Didaetu s in the University, was 
permitted by the school committae to devote a portion of his time to this 
school. During two sessions of five months each it was attended by a 
large class of pupils wishing to prepare themselves for teaching, and did 
much to extend an interest in Normal instruction. But to give it the 
assurance of permanency, municipal or State sanction and control were 

At this juncture the school committee of Providence took up the sub- 
ject, looking to the establishing of such a school for its own teachers, 
and at a special meeting, December 20, 1853, a committee, consisting of 
Theodore Cook, Edwin M. Stone, William Gammell, Amos I). Smith, 
and Gamaliel L. Dwight, was appointed to consider the plan, and report 
at a subsequent meeting. This they did January 13, 1854, and pre- 
sented the following resolution, which was adopted : 

Besolved, That in the opinion of this committee, the time has arrived when a 
Normal School for the education of teachers should be added to our system of 
public instruction, and that it be recommended to the City Council to establish 
such a school, either separately, for the exclusive benefit of the city, or in con- 
nection with the government of the State of Rhode Island, for the joint benefit 
of the city and the State, as in their wisdom they may deem best. 

In accordance with this resolution, a code of rules and regulations was 
drawn up and adopted, and the committee of qualifications was author- 
ized to open the school at such time as it should deem expedient. The 
city council made the required appropriation, and everything seemed in 

120 Rhode Island. 

readiness for continuing the school on a new basis. This movement of 
the city may have hastened the action of the State, for, at the May ses- 
sion of the General Assembly, an act was passed establishing a State 
Normal School, and $3,000 were appropriated for its support. Although 
the city left the field to be occupied exclusively by the State, the school 
committee showed its cordial approval of what had been done, by author- 
izing Professor Greene to give a daily lecture to the school on the 
English language, and on the government and organization of the differ- 
ent grades of schools, for which service he was allowed to receive such 
compensation as might be agreed upon between himself and the State 

On the 29th of May, 1854, the school was inaugurated with appro- 
priate ceremonies, in the presence of Governor Hoppin and a large assem- 
blage of the friends of the institution. An earnest congratulatory 
address was made by the governor. The inaugural address was delivered 
by Commissioner Potter, in which he treated of the province of a Nor- 
mal School, what might, and what might not be rightly expected of it. 
He spoke of the difficulties it would have to contend with, and touched 
upon manners as an essential feature of the school-room, and of moral 
instruction as a vital element in the system of education. 

Thus, after nine years of anxious waiting on the part of the Rhode 
Island Institute of Instruction lor the germination of the seed thought, 
sown by Mr. Barnard, the Normal School came into being, to fill an un- 
occupied place, and to elevate the standard of teachers' qualifications. 
Of this school Mr. Dana P. Colburn was appointed principal, and Mr. 
Arthur Sumner, assistant, the former at an annual salary of $1,200, and 
the latter at $750. 

The school was continued at Providence with flattering success until 
the fall of 1858, when it was removed to Bristol, in response to an offer 
made by the citizens of that town, to provide ample accommodations for 
its use, free of expense to the State. In December, 1859. the school 
was suddenly deprived of its able and successful head by an accident 
which resulted in his instant death. Mr. Colburn's decease was a great 
blow to the school as well as to the State, which had just begun to feel 
the effects of his formative work in her schools. 

The vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Mr. Joshua 
Kendall, of Meadville, Pa. Mr. Kendall brought to his new and some- 
what difficult position a thoroughly 1 rained mind, scholarly attainments, 
a high ideal of intellectual and moral culture, and an ardent devotion to 
his work. His services were justly appreciated by the board of trustees, 
who gave him their hearty cooperation. He continued in the successful 

Normal School. 121 

discharge of his duties until April, 18G4, when he resigned and removed 
to Cambridge, Mass. The female assistants in the school from 1855 to 
1865, were Misses Harriet W. Goodwin, E. T. Brown, A. F. Saunders, 
Ellen R. Luther, and Ellen G. LeGro. The school was continued 
upwards of a year after Mr. Kendall's resignation, under the charge of a 
female principal, but the location having proved unfavorable to its con- 
tinued prosperity, it was suspended July 3, 1865. 

The friends of a Normal School were not discouraged by this event, 
but were the rather encouraged to persevere in their efforts to secure 
its reestablishment in the city of Providence. Several plans were brought 
forward for a number of years, but no one of them was able to unite 
a sufficient number of the advocates of the school till 1871, when a bill 
was introduced into the Assembly at its January session, providing for 
the establishment of a Normal School, under the control and direction 
of the Board of Education acting as trustees. This proposition met 
with general favor, and it was carried through both houses with but very 
little opposition. A liberal appropriation was made, in order to enable 
the trustees to inaugurate the school on the most effective basis, and eveiy 
disposition was manifested to give the system a fair trial and to provide 
for it a permanent home, so soon as it should demonstrate its worthiness 
of such an honor. And the same feeling has been displayed up to the 
present time, there being now an unexpended appropriation providing 
for the purchase of a site and building, so soon as the present occupants 
shall be ready to give possession. 

The school was opened September 6th, 1871, in Normal Hall, formerly 
the High Street Congregational Church, in the city of Providence, with 
impressive services. Governor Padelford delivered the inaugural address, 
in the presence of an audience that filled the hall to its full capacit}*. 
Of the school thus revived, J. C. Greenough, A. B., an instructor of ex- 
perience from the Normal School at Westlield, Mass., was appointed 
principal. The school began with a large number of pupils, and has 
since continued in a highly prosperous condition. From the opening in 
September, 1871, to January, 1876, 524 have been registered, and 184 
have graduated. 

As now organized the school is prepared to do the most thorough and 
effective work. The course of study is comprehensive and carefully 
adjusted to the capacities and acquirements of the pupils, as well as to 
the end for which the school has been established, so that the State may 
be confident that the school furnishes the facilities for imparting as good 
Normal instruction as any similar institution in the countiy. 

The present corps of instructors is as follows : J. C. Greenough, A. B., 

122 Khode Island. * 

Principal; Susan C. Bancroft, Mary L. Jewett, Sarah Marble, Ida M. 
Gardner ; Charles H. Gates, teacher of French ; E. C. Davis, teacher of 
Penmanship. Lecturers : Prof. George I. Chace, LL. D., Moral Science ; 
Prof. S. S. Greene, LL. D., Language; Prof. J. Lewis Diraan, D. D., 
Mediaeval and English History ; Prof. E. VV. Blake, A.M., Physiology ; 
Prof. B. F. Clarke, A. M., Mathematics. 


(Compiled from Stone's History, R. I. I. of I ) 

111 the latter part of the year 1844, at the suggestion of Henry 
Barnard, Commissioner of Public Schools, Mr. Amos Perry, then Princi- 
pal of the Summer Street Grammar School, in Providence, made 
arrangements for a meeting of teachers and the friends of education to 
be held in the City Council chamber, to consider the subject of organ- 
izing an association, whose object should be to awaken among the people 
a broader and deeper interest in public schools, and at the same time 
lend its support to Mr. Barnard in his work as State Commissioner. 
The meeting was held according to previous notice, at which Nathan 
Bishop, Esq., Superintendent of Public Schools in Providence, presided. 
Twenty-five or thirty teachers, most of them engaged in the public 
schools, and a few other persons were present. Mr. Barnard being 
unable to attend in consequense of severe indisposition, Mr. Perry 
explained the object of the meeting, stating, in substance, Mr. Barnard's 
views and wishes. After a free interchange of opinions, during which 
several gentlemen manifested a want of faith in associate action, a com- 
mittee was appointed to consider the expediency of forming a State 
Educational Association, and to take such measures for that object as 
they should deem expedient. This committee consisted of John Kings- 
bury, Nathan Bishop, Amos Perry, Henry Day, and John J. Stimson. 

The representative character of the committee will be noted. All of 
them were identified with the cause of education. One member was at the 
head of a private school ; one Superintendent of the Public Schools ; 
one at the head of a Grammar school ; one the senior teacher in the 

124 Rhode Island. 

high school, and one an influential member of the School Committee. 
The several meetings of this committee were held in the office of the 
Superintendent of Public Schools. After deliberately considering the 
question, shall we have an Association ? it was agreed that the enterprise 
should go forward, and the foundation of the Institute was laid. 

The Association adopted the name of the eldest educational associa- 
tion of the country, with a view of indicating, on a restricted scale, s its 
general policy and mode of action. The two associations were alike in 
their general outlines, though different in their sphere of action. One 
belonged to New England, or the nation, and the other to the little 
State of Rhode Island. While teachers naturally took a leading part in 
the deliberations of the Institute, all friends of education without 
regard to profession or calling, were invited to co-operate for the com- 
mon cause and to share the honors and responsibilities of membership. 
Exclusiveness and clannishness were foreign to its spirit and object. A 
free and cordial intercourse between different classes and professions 
was invited and encouraged, with a view to breaking down partition 
walls and introducing life and light to the dark chambers of the mind. 

The second meeting was held in the State House in Providence, 
January 21, 1845, when the committee to whom the whole subject had 
been committed, made a report. This report, after being discussed, 
was referred to a committee of which Mr. Barnard was chairman, with 
instructions to present a constitution at an adjourned meeting. This 
meeting, at which Hon. Wilkins Updike, of South Kingstown, presided, 
was held in Westminster Hall on the evening of January 25, 1845, 
when the constitution, prepared by Mr. Barnard, was reported and 
adopted. At an adjourned meeting held in the vestry of the First 
Baptist Church, on the 28th of January, the organization of the Institute 
was completed by the choice of the following officers : President, John 
Kingsbury, Providence. Vice Presidents, Wilkins Updike, South Kings- 
town ; Ariel Ballon, Wocnsocket. Corresponding Secretary, Nathan 
Bishop, Providence. Recording Secretary, Joshua 1). Giddings, Provi- 
dence Treasurer, Thomas C. Hartshorn, Providence. Directors, 
William Gammell, Providence; Amos Perry, Providence; Caleb 
Farnum, Providence : Joseph T. Sisson, North Providence ; J. T. Hark- 
ness, Smithfield ; J. B. Tallman, Cumberland ; L. W. Ballon, Cumber- 
land ; J. S. Tourtellott, Glocester ; Samuel Greene, Smithfield. 

During the first year of the Institute, spirited meetings under its 
auspices were held in Providence, Newport, Bristol, Warren. Woon- 
socket, East Greenwich, Valley Falls, Chepachet, Olneyville, Scituate, 
Iruit Hill, Pawtuxet, Foster and Kingston. 

Institute of Instruction. 125 

The number and location of these different places reveal the thorough- 
ness with which the Institute entered upon its work. Its aim was to 
reach ever}' section of the State, and to infuse new life and new princi- 
ples into the currents of public opinion. In pursuance of this plan it 
continued its local meetings more or less frequently each year till after 
the inauguration by the Commissioner of Public Schools in 1870 of 
local institutes under State patronage. Since that time it has held but 
one meeting yeaiTy — the annual in January. Of the results of its labors 
for the first year, the President at the first annual meeting, January 
15, 1846, said: 

'' Through tins Association, and county societies of a similar nature, a vast 
amount of voluntary labor, in this cause, has been performed ; and. apparently, 
a very deep public interest has been created. By these means, united with legis- 
lative action, a train of measures has been put in motion which already indicate 
a great improvement in the public mind — a train, winch, if not prematurely 
interrupted, will ultimately, and at no distant period, raise the public schools of 
this State to the highest rank among the means of popular education. It is not 
too much to say, that probably no State in the Union has made greater progress 
in the same space of time." 

In 1845, the Institute appointed Mr. William S. Baker, of South Kings- 
town, to act as its agent to carry forward the work and promote the 
objects it had in view. Mr. Baker's experience as a teacher, his single- 
ness of purpose, and his devotion to the cause of popular education, 
qualified him pre-eminently for the service assigned him. He entered 
heartily into the work, and became an invaluable coadjutor of the State 
Commissioner. Under the direction of a committee of the Institute, 
he traveled from town to town ; conversed with the people in their 
homes, in the field, and in the workshop : visited the schools ; held 
meetings of the parents ; ami in every other practicable mode endeavored 
to awaken an interest in educational improvement. The services he 
rendere 1 were of immense advantage, and his name will ever be held in 
honor among the friends of public schools. 

Another instrumentality employed by the Institute to accomplish the 
the work of disseminating advanced views on education was that of the 
press. Arrangements were made for the publication of a serial called 
the Journal of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruct>on, which 
should contain full accounts of the proceedings of the various sessions 
of the Institute, including the papers read and the accompanying dis- 
cussions so far as it was possible. These volumes were distributed as 
widely as the society were able to do so with the limited means at their 

126 Rhode Island. 

In 1856, Mr. Kingsbury declined re-election as President of the Institute, 
and Prof. Samuel S. Greene, of Brown University, was elected to the 
office, and held it four years. Professor Greene retired from the presid- 
ency of the Institute in 1860. The successive incumbents to January, 
1876, have been John J. Ladd, William A. Mowry, Thomas W. Bicknell, 
Noble W. DeMunn, James T. Edwards, Albert J. Manchester, Merrick 
Lyon, Isaac F. Cady and David W. Hoyt. 

Reference has already been made to the publication of the Journal 
of the Institute. This continued to be published till Mr. Barnard's 
retirement, when it was given up. Under the administration of Commis- 
sioner Potter, a new enterprise was started, called the ffliode Island 
Educational JSlagazine. This survived for two years, being sustained by 
gratuitous contributions from various friends of education in the State. 
In 1855, a third educational magazine was star;ed, and one which, with 
the exception of one short interim, continued to be published for twenty 
years. This journal was the Rhode Island Schoolmaster, in whose welfare 
the Institute ever took the deepest interest. At the January meeting in 
1856, it was voted to appoint a corresponding committee. In 1860, the 
Schoolmaster was made the official organ of the Institute, and a Board of 
Editors was appointed. This mutual relation existed till December, 
1874, when by vote of the Institute it was decided to unite with the 
other New England States in the establishment of a New England 
Journal of Education, and to transfer the good will of the Schodmaster 
to said journal. 

At the time of its organization the conditions of membership were 
signing the constitution and the payment of some fee to the treasurer, 
the amount being left optional with the individual. In January, 1853, 
an amendment to the constitution repealed the provision requiring the 
pavment of any fee for membership. This left signing the constitution 
as the only condition of membership, which soon resulted in a virtual 
abandonment of any recognized distinction between members and those 
who were not. This continued till January, 1872, when an amendment 
to the constitution was voted, making membership dependent upon the 
payment of an annual tax ; one dollar for gentlemen and fifty cents for 

Any sketch of the Institute would be incomplete without a reference 
to the influence of the annual and subsidiary meetings of the Institute 
in multiplying friends to the cause of popular education, and in strength- 
ening its hold upon the public mind. This is made evident by the in- 
creased attendance upon its meetings, as well as by the high character 

Institute of Instruction. 127 

of the citizens who extended to them their cordial support. This lias 
been a more distinctly marked feature within the last fourteen years. Up 
to that lime, with few exceptions, and those were evenings when a pop- 
ular speaker from abroad addressed the Institute, the vestry of a church 
had furnished all needed accommodations. But year by year the circle of 
interest widened until in 1870 it became necessary to transfer the annual 
meetings to Roger Williams Hall, capable of seating sixteen hundred 
people. A single year demonstrated that even this Flail was of too lim- 
ited dimensions, and in 1872, for this reason, the evening exercises were 
held in Music Hall, the largest audience room in Providence, if not in 
the State. The annual meetings of subsequent years, held in this latter 
hall, have been preeminentl}* distinguished for numbers and enthusiasm. 
Such gatherings of teachers and the friends of education were never before 
seen in Rhode Island, if indeed, in any part of the United States. At 
the evening sessions, each year, not less than three thousand persons 
have been present. 

In reviewing the work of the Institute a glance at the records of more 
than one hundred meetings, held in various parts of the State shows 
that the Institute not only commenced its labors with the advocacy of a 
Normal School, but has led public opinion in eveiy movement originated 
for the improvement of the public school system. It early encouraged 
the formation of Town and District Libraries, the introduction of Music 
into the public schools as an important element of culture, the establish- 
ing of a Board of Education, - k by the aid of which the public schools 
would be safe from the influences of politics and the evils of sectarian 
prejudices," and the opening of Evcuitaj Schools in our manufacturing 
villages, to meet an imperative want of the operative population. The 
lecturers included man}* of the ablest educators in our country, 
while the range of topics considered at these meetings evinced a breadth 
of view not elsewhere surpassed, and touched upon every point vital to 
the advancement of our schools. 

The officers for the current year are: President, David W. 
Hoyt, Providence. Recording Secretary, George W. Cole, Pawtucket. 
Corresponding Secretary, Frederic W. Wing, Olneyville. Treasurer, 
Benjamin V. Gallup, Providence. Vice Presidents, Rev. Daniel Leach, 
T. B. Stockweli, J. C. Greenough, Rev. E. M. Stone, L. AY. Russell, J. 
M. Hall, E. II. Howard, J. M. Sawin, J. M. Potter, Ellen M. Haskell, 
Sarah Dean, B. W. Hood, G. E. Church, Rev. J. M. Brewster, Provi- 
dence ; F. W. Tilton, T. II. Clarke, Miss II. M. Hunt, Newport; J. 
Eastman, East Greenwich; R. S. Andrews, Bristol; J. M'E. Drake, 
Westerly ; Lysander Flagg, Julia LeFavor, Lincoln ; Rev. C. J. White, 

128 Rhode Island. 

Woon socket ; Anna C Boyd, Portsmouth. Auditing Committee, O. B. 
Grant, Providence; L. A. Freeman, Watchemoket ; D. R. Adams, Cen- 
treville. Directois, Merrick Lyon, Win. A. Mowry, A. J. Manchester, 
Sarah E. Doyle, Emory Lyon, Alonzo Williams, G. E. Whittemore, 
Providence; I. F. Cady, Barrington ; H. W. Clarke, Newport; A. W. 
Brown, New Shoreham ; Thomas Irons, Glocester ; A. C. Robbins, 
M. II. Way, Miss S. F. Bryant, D. R. Adams, Woonsocket ; J. Q. 
Adams, Natick ; W. E. Tolman, J. F. Kent, X. D. Tingley, Pawtucket ; 
Mrs. C. J. Barker, Tiverton; II. A. Wood, Warwick; Rev. F. D. 
Blakeslee, East Greenwich ; J. M. Nye, Crompton. 




} ?m Ci¥y otf f^ovrB^c^. 


P 11 E FACE 

The rise and progress of public free schools in Providence is one of the most 
interesting and important features in its history, and the centennial year, so 
replete with patriotic memories, is a period eminently appropriate in which to 
place its educational story on record. In doing this the author has deemed it 
proper to bring into view the action of the town as early as 1GC>8, and also the 
efforts of men on behalf ot the common schools, whose enlarged ideas placed 
them in advance of the popular sentiment of the time. Their disinterested 
labors, though not immediately successful, prepared the way for the success of 
others who took up the work where they left it, and have secured for them an 
honored place among public benefactors. 

In preparing this history, free use has been made of the manuscript records 
and printed reports of the school committee, and of the reports of the superin- 
tendent of public schools; of Barnard's reports to the General Assembly of the 
State of Rhode Island; of Staples' Annals of Providence; and of the author's 
various publications. To the materials drawn from these sources, has been 
added whatever could be elsewhere gleaned. 

In accordance with the plan of the volume, to which this history is a contri- 
bution, the narrative here given is necessarily concise. It is believed, however, 
that no facts material to a correct exhibit of the past and present condition of 
the public schools of this city, have been omitted. If what is here written shall 
in any degree serve to quicken the public mind in a cause with which the highest 
interests of the State are vitally connected, the author's sole desire will be 

Providence, April. 187G. 


(103G— 17G5.) 

The period between 163G, when Roger Williams and five companions 
crossed the Seekonk river and commenced the settlement of Providence, 
until 1676, when the town was nearly destroyed by the Indians, was 
unfavorable for the encouragement of schools The people were poor, 
and were constantly harrassed with difficulties. It was only by a mighty 
effort that they were able to save themselves from being absorbed by 
neighboring colonies, and secure an independent, chartered existence. 
The powerful aboriginal tribes in their immediate neighborhood, whose 
enmity would have been fatal to the young settlement, were to be pro- 
pitiated, and danger from those quarters warded off. To satisfactorily 
allot to original proprietors the territory purchased by their leader, and 
to provide for new-comers, as the}' were admitted to the rights and 
privileges of the little commonwealth ; to build their homes, clear up 
the forests, plant their fields, and settle for themselves an efficient form 
of government; to counteract unpropitious influences acting upon them 
from without, and to settle perplexing questions constantly rising 
within ; to do all this, filled the years with an activity which left little 
time to devote to other matters, weighty even as the cause of educa- 
tion. Had the town been settled under circumstances as propitious as 
those which marked the settlement of Salem, Boston and New Haven ; 
could the little band of Refugees have brought with them the two essen- 
tial elements of a high civilization, the organized Church and the School- 
master, Providence would early, doubtless, have compared favorably in 
culture with these several towns. 

It is not to be assumed, however, that the people here were indifferent 
to the education of their children. There is reason for the belief that 
the educational wants of the young were, to a limited extent, provided 

132 Providence. 

lor by home instruction, or by a Dame school. At the time Providence 
was burned in 1676. the town comprised, probably, less than sixty 
families, and such provision would answer the immediate needs of the 
small number of children then to be cared for. Mr. Williams was a 
man of liberal education, and as such, could not have been insensible to 
the importance of the school as giving character to his cherished town, 
but " the pressing demands upon his time and services in adjusting 
local vexations and in serving the welfare of a neighboring Colony, put 
it out of his power to give thought to any plan for establishing a 
system of popular education." 

All this being true, it is nevertheless clearly evident that schools had 
a place in the thoughts and intentions of the people, which only waited 
a favorable season for expression. Twent}' seven years from the settle- 
ment of the town, the favorable season came. In May, 1663, the 
proprietors in public assembly, set apart kt one hundred acres of upland, 
and six acres of meadow, (or lowland to the quantity of eight acres in 
lieu of meadow,") to be reserved for the maintenance of a school, and 
to '• be called by the name of the School Lands of Providence." 

What occurred during the next twenty years in the way of encourag- 
ing a school, the town records do not show. It is probable, however, 
that the children were taught by one or the other of the methods already 
mentioned. In 1684, a professional schoolmaster first comes to view. 
This was William Tnrpin, who wrote an excellent hand, and appears 
in other respects to have been well qualified for the duties of his office. 
What year he arrived in Providence, or from whence he came, is not 
known. There is ground for the belief that he exercised the vocation 
of a pedagogue previous to the year above named. The first record 
found ot him in this character, is dated June 11th, 1684. It is an 
agreement drawn up between himself and William Hawkins and his 
wife Lydia, in which lie covenants to instruct Peregrine Gardner, (pro- 
bably a son of Mrs. Hawkins by a former husband,) in reading and 
writing for the term of one year. His compensation for this service 
was to be six pounds; fortj* shillings of which was to be paid in beef 
and pork, the former at three-pence-half-penn}', and the latter at two- 
pence per lb. ; twenty shillings in corn, at two shillings per bushel, and 
the balance in silver money. Of such a compensation no one could 
have complained as being exhorbitant, while the mode of payment must 
have been entirely satisfactory 7 at a time when to " pa}' in kind " was 
more convenient for debtors than to liquidate their obligations in silver 
and gold. 

It appears by a communication addressed to the town in January, 

Introduction. 133 

following the above named agreement, that Mr. Turpi n was induced to 
select Providence as the field of his usefulness as a teacher, by the encour- 
agement which the grant of land for the maintenance of a school held out. 
In this communication he styles himself " schoolmaster of the said 
town," and desires " that the aforesaid land may be forthwith laid out, 
according to the said order or grant," and that he or his heirs " may be 
invested in said laud so long as he or an}' of them, shall maintain that 
worthy art of learning " What action, if any, was taken upon this 
request by the town, must be left to conjecture. The records are 

The next movement in behalf of schools, we find under date January, 
1G9G, when John Dexter, son of Gregory, William Hopkins and others, 
petitioned the town for land on Dexter's lane (now Olney street,) or 
Stampers hill, on which to build a school-house. The petition was 
granted, but no evidence of the house having been built exists. In 1735 
George Taylor had the use of a chamber in the State House to keep a 
school in ; and in 1751, Gideon Comstock, Alexander Frazier, Joseph 
Potter, Thomas Angell, James Field, Barzillai Richmond and Nehemiah 
Sprague, had permission to build a school-house on the west side of the 
river, tk on vacant land a little above Joseph Snow, Jr.'s dwelling house, 
the street being wide enough." The}* stated that they had subscribed 
enough to erect a house. The location of this house must have been 
near the public pump in Broad street. 

W hen the proprietors divided the land lying on the west side, u the 
Town street," as North and South Main streets were then called, into 
warehouse lots, they left a lot opposite the west end of " the Court 
House Parade " for school purposes. The first reference to it is on the 
plat of the warehouse lots in the proprietors' office, bearing date in 1 747. 
How long before this date the lot was set off for a school-house site or 
whether it was set off in pursuance to the grant referred to in Mr. 
Turpin's petition, or in answer to* the petition of John Dexter and 
others, cannot be ascertained. Neither can the year be determined when 
a school-house was erected there. It must have been, however, previous 
to 1752, as in that year Nicholas Cooke, Joseph Olney, Esek Hopkins 
(celebrated as the first Admiral appointed to command the Continental 
navy,) Elisha Brown and John Mawney, were appointed " to have the 

* Besides teaching, Mr. Turpin kept an ordinary, or house of public entertainment. 
His dwelling stood on the west side of North Main street, nearly opposite the Fourth 
Baptist Meeting House. At one time the General Assembly met there. It was a sightly 
place, and one of considerable business. He died July 18th, 1709, leaving a widow 
(Anne, his second wife,) and three children. 

134 Providence. 

care of the town school-house, and to appoint a master to teach in said 
house." The school committee the following year were Nicholas Cooke, 
John Mawney, Nicholas Brown, Elijah Tillinghast and Daniel Abbott. 

In 1754, a change in the arrangements appears to have been made. 
The house was leased to Stephen Jackson, schoolmaster, for three 
months from March 1st. No further action appears until 1 7Go, when 
the town clerk was directed to lease the house again. The schoolmaster 
probably received his compensation from his pupils ; the town, as a 
corporation simply furnishing a room at a fixed rent. There were at 
least two other schools in town as early as 1763. It may be proper 
here to add, that after the court-house was burned in 1758, the town 
endeavored to obtain possession of the lot upon which it had stood in 
lieu of the one on North Main street. There were great difficulties in 
the way, the courtdiouse lot having been originally granted only for the 
use of the Colony house, and the school-house lot only for a school- 
house. The difficulties were, however, overcome, and in February, 17G5, 
a committee of the town transferred the fee simple of the school-house 
lot, and purchased the other.* 

staples' Annals of Providence. 



The idea of public free schools was slow in obtaining a strong hold 
upon the community. Yet there were some who welcomed it with great 
earnestness, and they set themselves vigorously at work to make it a 
practical reality. In December, 17G7, the subject of education with the 
apparent design of providing schools for all the children of the inhabi- 
tants, was brought before a town meeting, and a resolution passed to 
purchase or build three school-houses for small children, and one for 
youth. These schools were to be placed under the supervision of a com- 
mittee, and the expense of maintaining them was to be defrayed from 
the town treasury. At this meeting John Brown, John Jenckes, Nathan- 
iel Greene, Charles Keene, and Samuel Thurber were appointed a com- 
mittee to select locations for the houses, to purchase land and make con- 
tracts for their erection. Darius Sessions, Samuel Nightingale, Jabez 
Bowen, and Moses Brown, all sympathizing warmly with the object, 
were appointed a committee to prepare an ordinance for the building, 
supporting and governing the school. These duties were promptly at- 
tended to by both committees, and their respective reports were pre- 
sented to an adjourned town meeting held January 1st, 17G8. On test- 
ing the sense of the meeting in reference to them, both were rejected. 
The report of the second committee was written by Hon. Jabez Bowen, 
Deputy Governor of the State, the substance of which is here preserved 
as an interesting and honorable memorial of men, wdio, unfortunately for 
the children and youth of that day, were too far in advance of a majority 
of their townsmen to be appreciated in their labors. 

136 Providence. 

It began by affirming the education of youth to be of " first import- 
ance to every society." It referred to the vote of the town at a previous 
meeting, directing the purchase and erection of several school-houses, 
and recommended how they should be built and where located. To carry 
out the plan of building, furnishing teachers, firewood, etc., they pro- 
posed an assessment or levy of £520, '• on the polls and estates of the 
inhabitants." The house owned by proprietors " on the west side of the 
great bridge" was to remain under their direction until the new houses 
were finished and ready for the reception of scholars. The masters were 
to be furnished u at the expense of the town." A school committee, to 
be invested with various executive powers, including the appointment of 
t3achers and ushers, and fixing their salaries, was to be chosen annually. 
The schools were to be free to the children of every inhabitant of the 
town, and to the children of others under their care. The children of 
non-resident free-holders were to be admitted into the schools upon the 
payment of '" twelve shillings, lawful mone}', in the school tax annually." 
Inhabitants of the town who paid a similar tax annually, having no 
children or apprentices of their own, were to " have liberty to send the 
children of any friend or relation of theirs living out of town." Children 
from other towns were not to be received to the exclusion of those living 
in Providence. A suitable course of study, including " writing, arith- 
metic, the various branches of mathematics, and the learned languages," 
together with necessary rules for the government of the school, were also 
prescribed. Such, in substance, was this first attempt to embod}- and 
organize the free school idea. 

Moses Brown, among whose papers this report was many years ago 
found, made upon it the following endorsement : " laid before the town 
by the committee, but a number of the inhabitants (and what is most sur- 
prising and remarkable, the plan of a free school supported by a tax, 
was rejected by the poorer sort of the people) being strangely led awa} r 
not to see their own as well as the public interest therein (b} T a few 
objectors at first), either because they were not the projectors, or had 
not public spirit to execute so laudable a design, and which was first 
voted by the town with great freedom." 

Whipple Hall Built. 

Notwithstanding this repulse, the friends of education showed a 
determined purpose to win success. They continued their efforts to 
organize some plan b} T which increasing wants could be met. From the 
town, in its corporate capacity, nothing could be immediately hoped 

Second Epoch. 


for. At this juncture (1768) a company of public spirited men living 
in the north part of the town, organized as proprietors, and erected a 
school house on the site where the Benefit street grammar school-house 
now stands. The same year, at the October session of the General 
Assembly, a charter was obtained. The lot was the gift of Captain 
John Whipple. The house, designed for two schools, was one story 
high, with a hipped roof, a belfry in the centre of the roof, and a porch 
or entry on the west end, towards the street. It was completed in 
November, at an expense of £120 Old Tenor, to each proprietor. " In 
honor and in memory of the generous donation" of Captain Whipple, 
the house received the name of Whipple Hall. In the plan, still pre- 
served, of the building, a room in each department w? s set apart for a 
library. The names of the proprietors were : 

Edward Thurber, Jr., 
Benjamin Thurber, 
Daniel Cahoon, 
Obadiah Sprague, 
Stephen Carpenter, 
Dexter Brown. 
Major Samuel Currie, 
Joseph Wilson, 
Major Simeon Thayer, 
Colonel David Burr, 
John Smith, 
Ezekiel Burr, 
Joseph Olney, Jr., 
Moses Hearne, 
Levi Burr, 
Nehemiah Sweet, 
Charles Keene, 
John E. Brown, 
Captain James Olney, 
William Tiler, 
Aaron Mason, 

Jonathan Arnold. 

Captain Nathaniel Wheaton, 

Samuel Thurber, Jr., 

Timothy Mason, 

Coomer ITaile, 

George Pay son, 

Captain Ephraim Wheaton, 

Amos Horton, 

George Whipple, 

Abner Thayer, 

Philip Mason, 

Captain Benjamin Sheparcl, 

Benjamin Cozzens, 

Joshua Burr, 

Captain Amos Allen, 

Comfort Wheaton, 

Mrs. Comfort Wheaton, 

Edward Knowles, 

Benjamin Allen, 

Charles Keene, 

Peter Randall. 

The building committee were Aaron Mason, Ephraim Wheaton, 
Nathaniel Wheaton, Daniel Cahoon and Comfort Wheaton. The com- 
mittee to draw up regulations for the government of the school were 
Joseph Nash, Charles Keene, Samuel Thurber, Jr., Samuel Currie, 
Benjamin Cozzens, Comfort Wheaton and Jonathan Arnold. The 
school opened on the first day of November. It must have been a proud 
day for its friends and patrons. Mr. George Taylor, Jr., the first teacher 
in the upper grade, was compensated for his services by tuition fees, the 

138 Providence. 

proprietors paving him four shillings and sixpence quarterly, for each 
pupil they sent. An additional charge of two shillings was made to 
parents who were not proprietors, but filled a vacant right. Sally 
Jackson was teacher in the lower grade. Some of the rules to be 
observed b}' the pupils are deserving of notice. They were to be present 
at the devotional services in the morning, k ' and behave decently and 
soberly." They were to u take their seats without noise and disturb- 
ance." When the master or visitors entered or left the room, they 
were to a rise up with decent obeisence." They were not to leave their 
seats or communicate with each other without leave. They were not to 
tarry in the school-house after the school was dismissed, ki unless by the 
special license of the master." In addressing their school-fellows, they 
were to use only " his or her christian or surname." Traffic among the 
pupils was not to be practised, nor were they to " play at cards, dice, or 
any unlawful game." When abroad, they were to " treat all men and 
women with civility, modesty and good manners, and especially their 
known superiors ; and when at home their parents with all dutifiilness 
and respect." They were not to u presume to take God's name in vain, 
swear, lie, steal, or use any unbecoming language or behaviour." They 
were not to " be seen in a tavern unless upon business." They were to 
" behave decently and soberly in the house of God, not whispering, 
laughing, or using any indecent gestures." And punishment was to be 
inflicted u according to the nature, desert and circumstances of the 

The master was required to be punctual in opening the school, and 
during school hours was not to engage " in business of any other kind" 
than that of instruction. Every Thursday afternoon, instead of the 
usual exercises, he was to read to the pupils " some lecture either in 
Natural Philosophy or some other entertaining and useful branch of 
science," suited to their capacities, u and explain the same so as to give 
them a tolerable idea of the subject," or else spend the time in teaching 
them " to spell and pronounce properly and distinctly, difficult words, 
sentences, etc." Every Saturday, before dismissing the school, he was 
required to u exhort his scholars to behave themselves at all times 
decently and soberly, teaching them both by precept and example to 
refrain from vice, immorality and prophaneness, and to remember the 
Sabbath day to keep it holy." 

The parental solicitude here displayed for the morals of the young, 
w r as what we should expect from men who had witnessed the demoral- 
izing effects of the Revolution, and who looked upon a pure, upright 
character as of priceless value. The oral instruction given weekhv, by 

Second Epoch. 13 ( J 

the teacher, upon topics outside of his dail}' routine, could not have 
failed to increase the intelligence of the pupils, by fixing in their minds 
certain principles of science of which they must otherwise have 
remained ignorant, and at the same time enhancing their enjoyment by 
opening to them new fields of thought. 

While the committee on regulations so carefully defined the duties of 
teacher and pupils, they appear to have been no less mindful of those 
which pertain to the Board of Trustees. Besides conferring upon them 
plenary power in matters of finance, it was made their duty to visit the 
schools " and see that the rules and orders of the Society respecting the 
same were regularly observed and kept," both a by the proprietors, 
master, mistress and their pupils." They were to " see that the master 
and mistress do their duty towards the scholars under their care respect- 
ively ; and also to see that the master and mistress are well treated by their 
scholars and the proprietors : and in case any uneasiness should arise, 
to endeavor to reconcile the differences, heal the breaches, restore unit}* 
and amity, peace and order, amongst the contending parties." All this, 
and whatever other business which might come before them, they were 
" to do and transact as faithful and honest, prudent and humane, 
guardians and fathers of the incorporated society of Whipple Hall, 
according to their best skill and ability, without fee or reward." 

The teachers who succeeded Mr. Taylor were John Barrows, Nathan 
Downe, Sumner Wood, Joseph Balch, Solomon Bradford, Abner Tucker, 
and John Dexter. 

Meeting Street School-House Erected, 

The same year that the schools in Whipple Hall went into operation, 
another company of proprietors was organized, and in conjunction with 
the town built the brick school-house still standing on Meeting street, 
adjacent to the Friends' Meeting-house. The proprietors, who were 
chartered 1770, owned and occupied the upper story, and the town the 
lower. The house was built by John Smith, the carpenter work being 
done by Jonathan Hammond. The names of these proprietors were 
as follows : 

John Updike, Darius Sessions, 

Thomas Greene, Richard Jackson, 

Nicholas Brown, Ebenezer Thompson, 

Ambrose Page, Rums Hopkins, 

Joseph Russell, Ephraim Bowen, 

James Sabin, David Harris, 



Solomon Drowne, 
William Smith, 
Richard Olney, 
Caleb Greene, 
Noah Mason, 
Haywarcl Smith, 
James Lovett, 
Joseph Carver, 
Daniel Jackson, 
Caleb Harris, 
Nicholas Cooke, 
Nathaniel Wheaton, 
Henry Sterling, 
George Hopkins, 
Moses Brown, 
Joseph Brown, 
Jabez Bowen, 
Nathan Angell, 
John Jenckes, 
Benjamin dishing, 
John Brown, 

George Corlis, 
Nathan Jacobs, 
John Smith, 
Knight Dexter, 
Charles Keen, 
John Waterman, 
John Peck, 
Zephaniah Andrews, 
Jonathan Hammond, 
Elijah Bacon, 
Benjamin Bowen, 
Joseph Tillinghast, 
Samuel Nightingale, Jr. 
Bernard Eddy, 
Joseph Bucklin, 
Esek Brown, 
Joseph Whipple, 
Gideon Crawford, 
Abraham AY hippie, 
Jonathan Ellis, 
Elilm Robinson. 

The regulations for this school were drawn up by Stephen Hopkins, 
Jabez Bowen and Moses Brown. Under these the teacher was to receive 
his compensation from the parents of his pupils. His discipline was to 
be u strict, though not passionate." His pupils were to be taught to 
read " twice in the forenoon and twice in the afternoon." They were to 
be instructed " in accenting, pronouncing and proper understanding of 
the English tongue." They were also to devote a suitable portion of 
time to writing, arithmetic and spelling; : 'and for the raising of a 
laudable emulation to excel in the respective branches of learning," the 
master was to u range the scholars in proper classes according to their 
several attainments, weekly, monthly or quarterly." He was likewise 
to " take special care of the morals of the scholars," being careful to be 
exemplary in his own. Weekly, before closing the school, he was to 
" audibly read or pronounce a short moral lecture, either from the scrip- 
tures of truth or of his own composure, or from approved authors," and 
these lectures he was to present to the committee at their visits, " to be 
b}' them preserved among the papers and records of the school." To 
perfect this system of moral training, the pupils were to be required u on 
the first fourth day of eveiw month," to " pronounce at least six verses 
out of Christ's sermon on the Mount, or from the Proverbs of Solomon." 
The committee were monthly or at least quarterly to visit the schools 
" to inspect the conduct of the masters, and the proficiency of those 

Second Epoch. 141 

under their charge." At these visits they were to " name and notify 
six persons who were '* parents of children at school in the time being, 
to visit in turn once a week, to inspect the school, and to make report 
to the committee if the}' found anything amiss, or any new regulations 

These regulations show that the proprietors regarded moral instruc- 
tion to be of primary importance, while the naming and notifying of 
parents having children in the school to visit it for the purpose indicated, 
expresses the value they attached to a practice which could not fail of 
extending and deepening an interest in the cause of education. 

A New Impulse Given. 

To give an additional impulse to the cause, Rev. Enos Hitchcock, 
D. D., pastor of the First Congregational Church in Providence, whose 
active efforts had given him an influential position, by request delivered 
a "Discourse on Education," in the meeting-house on the west side of 
the river, (Rev. Joseph Snow's,) November 16th, 1785. The discourse 
was printed, and served an excellent purpose. It is now a rare tract, 
and accessible to few. As a waj'-mark in the progress of events, a few 
paragraphs from it are here reproduced : 

" It lias ever been the opinion of the wise and the considerate, and it is a plain 
dictate of the Scriptures, that the serious attention of parents to the education of 
their children is a matter of the greatest importance — that the present and future 
happiness of individuals, the welfare of society, and the progress of virtue and 
religion, depend very much upon it. 

"It is well known that the delicacy, strength and usefulness of plants, depend 
very much upon their early growth. If neglected, they will be infested with 
evil weeds, their growth stinted, their appearance pale and languid; but if 
cherished with due cultivation, will gain their form, size and vigor in the proper 
growing season. In the same manner, the form, size and qualities of the mind, 
depend upon the means of education being employed during the season of its 
growth and improvement. 

"As we have just merged from a grievous and oppressive war, which ob- 
structed the progress of science, suspended or destroyed schools, and laid waste 
the means of education, how can we improve the happy event, and the invalu- 
able blessings of peace and independence, so well as by exerting ourselves for 
the revival and promotion of languishing science, and instituting schools founded 
upon the liberal and permanent footing of general usefulness ! 

"To be endowed with the faculty of reason and understanding, and to be 
ranked in the scale of being with intelligences, we justly esteem a great honor 
and happiness — and truly it is an invaluable blessing if rightly improved. We 
account it a very great privilege and happiness to have our lot cast in a land of 
freedom, where ignorance and superstition are not the necessary engines of 

142 Providence. 

government; where we may enjoy at pleasure all the means of information. 
' But if a country stored with diamonds, lying in their native crust, may be de- 
nominated poor, because it is neglected, what brand of infamy shall we deserve 
if we take no pains to rescue our richest treasure and brightest ornaments from 
perpetual obscurity ! ' 

" To suffer these powers to lay dormant, and not to draw them forth and 
cherish them, by the use of those means and opportunities which God hath 
granted us, is to ' wrap up in a napkin ' a most important talent — a talent be- 
stowed for use and improvement, with this injunction, ' occupy till I come.' 
These latent powers and qualities must be drawn forth and improved, by season- 
able and diligent cultivation, as the tender plant is nourished and reared by the 
fostering hand of diligence and care. Hence education is called nurture in 
allusion to the culture of plants and vegetables. St. Paul calls upon parents to 
bring up their children ' in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' This 
must mean to nourish and cherish the mind in its growing season, with the ihost 
useful knowledge. 

" The mind, like the infant plant, is, in its first stages, feeble and tender. Like 
that, it is capable of growth and enlargement and may receive almost any direc- 
tion or impression you please to give it If left untutored, it becomes the sport 
of every passion ; but if informed, and guided by a suitable education, it will 
produce noble and worthy fruits. As reason in its first dawn is small, so its 
progress is slow, but with early cultivation, diligent and persevering applica- 
tion, is capable of great enlargement in the wide field of science, as many bril- 
iiant genii have proved, greatly to the honor of human nature and benefit of 

" It is observed of the brute creation, that they ' soon arrive at that pitch of 
perfection which is allotted to their nature, where they must stop short, without 
a possibility of going any further. Sense, which is the highest natural power 
they have, moves in a narrow sphere; its objects, in comparison, few; dull and 
gross ; and therefore not only come more quickly round, but become more lan- 
guid and dull at every revolution.' But man is endowed with nobler faculties, 
and presented with nobler objects whereon to exercise and employ them. 
Nothing can bound the noble range of reason, ever improving and ever improv- 
able When we take a view of the intellectual world, how are we struck with 
admiration at the progress the human intellect is capable of making! How small 
the beginning! How slow the progress ! And yet, how great the store of in- 
tellectual acquirements which some have made! 

" It is in every man's power to make his life a progressive state. The facul- 
ties of the human soul are in themselves noble and excellent, and capable of con- 
tinual enlargement. The more the soul thinks and reasons the more capable it 
becomes of that noble exercise, and it may be eternally increasing in knowledge 
and wisdom, making perpetual advances towards perfection — bending forward 
to the excellence of superior natures, unbroken by exercise and unimpaired by 
time, — receiving new accessions of bliss and glory from its perpetual approaches 
towards the fountain of all perfection. The concern which individuals have in 
this momentous affair, is an immediate address to personal interest and parental 
aifection. Involved in its consequences are the honor, comfort and happiness of 
parents — the present and future good of their children. Therefore, the subject 
lays claim to your attention by all the ties of interest, affection, and humanity. 

Second Epoch. 143 

Education rescues the mind from that darkness and obscurity which is the un- 
happy lot of savages, and which distinguishes them from enlightened and civil- 
ized nations. Why are not we howling in the uncultivated desert, untutored as 
' the wild ass's colt?' Is it not to be ascribed to the early care of our pious 
ancestors, in instituting schools and colleges, for the preservation and general 
diffusion of knowledge and science? As the chisel works the rude block into 
shape, so does education form the human soul, which would otherwise be tilled 
with nothing more than a jumble of wild, unconnected ideas, incapable of form- 
ing itself into any system ' The business of education, says the great Dr. Price, 
is to teach • how to think' rather than ' what to think.' 

" Education opens all the secret sources of the mind; marshals all its powers; 
and prepares the subject for future action. * * * For want of a suitable 
education, how many of superior natural abilities, have sunk under the weight 
of untutored genius; perverted their noble faculties to base purposes; and 
'fallen among the splendid ruins of human nature?' It is the judgment of the 
most accurate writers upon this subject, that of the men we meet, nine parts out 
of ten are, what they are, good or bad, according to their education. If you 
wish to see your children entering upon the stage under every possible advantage, 
cultivate their minds, direct their manners, and ' train them up in the way they 
should go.' This will qualify them for the part they are to act in life, of what- 
ever station or relation ; and enable them to discharge the duties and offices of 
the places they may fill, with honor to themselves, and usefulness to the public. 
•' W the means of education should be neglected, the rising generation would 
grow up uninformed and without principle; their ideas of freedom would 
degenerate into licentious independence ; and they would fall a prey to their own 
animosities and contentions. If education is not laid open to all. and schools 
instituted for common benefit, of poor as well as rich, ' your posterity will be 
iu danger of being gulled out of their liberties by an artful and insidious few, 
who may have all the wealth and learning in their hands.' 

"Sentiments and practice depend much upon education ; as that is, such in 
general will the man be. If the principles of virtue are early implanted in the 
mind, they will take deep root, and produce the most happy fruits. If a founda- 
tion is seasonably laid in the mind by regular instruction, men will learn to 
think rationally and soberly upon subjects of moral duty, and christian faith. 
They will be able to inquire candidly after truth, and determine impartially, what 
is their duty. 

"It is not my province, in this place, to point out ths particular methods to be 
pursued in the institution and arrangement of schools. Put it is well known, 
that where the public have provided the means of instruction, knowledge has been 
more generally diffused; and the advantages to society more largely experienced, 
and those ill-consequences to government prevented which have been sadly 
experienced where they were neglected. Much credit is due, therefore, to every 
one who steps forth in so good a cause, and distinguishes himself by his exer- 
tions for the establishment and support of schools upon such principles and in 
such manner as shall be most subservient to general good." 

In closing he thus addresses parents and the guardians of the young : 
" By the love you bear to your tender charges, watch the first dawn of reason, 


beaming forth in immortal rays, and pour religious instruction into the opening 
genius. Follow it through the several stages of its growth, with due cultivation, 
to its mature state. Take the helpless creature by the hand, and lead it ' in 
the way it should go,' and there is the strongest probability that ' when it is old, 
it will not depart from it.' Let the mind be early formed to virtue. Let the 
principles of it be deeply rooted, before the habits of vice get possession there. 
Be more solicitous to see in them unaffected goodness of heart, and 
unsullied purity of manners, than brilliancy of wit, or beauty. Teach them the 
right government of their passions, and that uniform rectitude of manners 
which will give them the fairest claim to honor and reputation. Laise them above 
anxiety. Secure to them a happy tranquillity of mind, in the troubles of life. 
Lead them in the way to comfort and happiness in this world, with the pleasing 
assurance that it will be perfected in that which is to come." 

From 1775 to 1783, the state of affairs in Providence was unfavorable 
for advancing the work which the friends of free education had at heart. 
The raising of troops for the continental army, the exposed condition 
of the colony, the campaign upon Rhode Island, the military encamp- 
ment into which the town had been turned, and other excitements of 
war, absorbed time and thought to the exclusion of almost everything 
else. From 1773 to 1781, the school in Whipple Hall was suspended, 
and the building occupied by the Continental Committee of War for a 
Laboratory and Magazine. The Meeting street school-house was con- 
verted to a similar use. 

The damage done to " Whipple Hall" was estimated at " one hundred 
and thirteen Spanish milled dollars, and one-third of a dollar." Sub- 
sequently the town set apart all sums " which should be received of the 
State or the United States, for damage done the brick school-house 
during the revolutionary war, all rents to be received for Market* 
house cellar, chambers and stalls, and all wharfage to be received on the 
Market-house lot, as a fund for the support of public schools." These 
sums could do little more than keep the buildings in repair ; but the 
appropriation had an important bearing upon the public mind, by 
drawing attention to the distinction between free and proprietors' 

In 1770 the school cause received an accession of strength in Rev. 
James Manning, D. D., the first President of Rhode Island College, 
which had been established at Warren, and in the above named ycav 
was removed to Providence. He interested himself in the labors of and 
co-operated with those, who for twent}* years had been moulding public 
thought, and endeavoring to secure effective action. Of his services 
more will be said in another place. 

Second Epoch. 145 

The experience of several } T ears proved that town partnership in pro- 
prietors' schools, could not produce satisfactory results ; and a com- 
mittee appointed to draw up a plan for the government of the several 
schools in town, reported that in their opinion no effectual method could 
be devised for the encouragement of learning, and the general diffusion 
of knowledge and virtue among all classes of children and youth, until 
the town should think proper to take a matter of so much importance 
into their own hands, and provide and support a sufficient number of 
judicious persons for that purpose. 

The town did not, however, adopt the proposed measure, and matters 
continued with little change until 1791, when a renewed effort in the 
right direction was made. 

" At the annual town meeting held on the 6th day of June, 1791, the subject 
came up in the form of a petition, praying that a sufficent number of school- 
masters be appointed to instruct all the children in town, at the public expense. 
The petition was read and referred to the School committee, consisting, besides 
the Chairman, Dr. Manning, of the Rev. Dr. Hitchcock, the Rev. Joseph Snow, 
pastor of the Beneficent Congregational Church, the Rev. Moses Badger, pastor 
of St. John's Church, the Rev. Jonathan Maxcy, then the youthful pastor of the 
First Baptist Church, and Messrs. Jabez Bowen, Moses Brown, John J. Clark, 
David Howell, Theodore Foster, John Dorrance, Welcome Angell and Benjamin 
Bowen. The consideration of the subject, says the Providence Gazette, was 
referred to the adjournment on Monday next, (June 13,) and the School Com- 
mittee were requested to report at that meeting, rules and regulations for the 
government of schools, etc. From the almost unanimous approbation this 
important measure received from all quarters, ' we anticipate,' says the Gazette, 
' with the greatest pleasure, the happy consequences that may be reasonably 
expected to result from an establishment which will do honor to the town, be of 
infinite service to the rising generation, and which must interest every humane 
mind in its final success. We cannot close this article without saying, what we 
deem it to be just should be generally known, that a number of the most opulent 
gentlemen in town, who will pay largely on this establishment, have interested 
themselves warmly in its favor. 

" At the next meeting, the Committee found themselves unprepared to report 
in full upon a subject of such vast importance, and again the meeting was 
adjourned until the first Monday in August. Meanwhile the matter was discussed 
in the columns of the weekly press, and the advantages of public free schools 
were fully and ably set forth. In the Gazette for Saturday, July 30, every male 
inhabitant, and heads of families especially, are requested to lay aside other con- 
cerns, ' and attend on the town meeting next Monday, in the afternoon, to 
consider and decide on the important measure of establishing town schools.'" — 
Providence School Beport, 1869. 

The report above referred to, was written by Dr. Manning, who died 

146 Providence. 

greatly lamented a few days before the town meeting was held at which 
it was to be presented.* It is here printed entire, as a document 
deserving a permanent place in the history of the free school movement: 

Report of the School Committee in 1791. 

"At a town meeting' of the Freemen of the town of Providence, held, by 
adjournment, at the State House, on Monday, the 1st day of August, 1791. 

" Whereas, the School Committee, who were, on the Gth and 13th days of 
June last, appointed and continued to make report respecting a petition pending 
before the meeting, for the erection of schools in this town, the expense 
whereof is to be paid out of the town treasury, presented the following report, 
to wit : 

" To the Freemen of the Town of Providence, to be convened next by adjourn- 
ment, the underwritten members of your School Committee, in pursuance of 
your resolution at your last meeting, report. 

" After the most deliberate and mature consideration of the subject, we are 
clearly of opinion that the measure proposed by the petitioners is eligible, for 
many reasons : 

" 1st. Useful knowledge generally diffused among the people is the surest 
means of securing the rights of man, of promoting the public prosperity, and 
perpetuating the liberties of a country. 

" 2d. As civil community is a kind of joint tenancy, in respect to the gifts and 
abilities of individual members thereof, it seems not improper that the disburse- 
ments necessary to qualify those individuals for usefulness should be made from 
common funds. 

"3d. Our lives and properties, in a free State, are so much in the power of 
our fellow citizens, and the reciprocal advantages of daily intercourse are so 
much dependent on the information and integrity of our neighbors, that no wise 
man can feel himself indifferent to the progress of useful learning, civilization, 
and the preservation of morals, in the community where he resides. 

"4th. The most reasonable object of getting wealth, after our own wants are 
supplied, is to benelit those who need it ; and it may with great propriety be 
demanded, in what way can those whose wealth is redundant, benefit their 
neighbors more certainly and permanently, than by furnishing to their children 
the means of qualifying them to become good and useful citizens, and of acquir- 
ing an honest livelihood? 

" 5th. In schools established by public authority, and whose teachers are paid 
by the public, there will be reason to hope for a more faithful and impartial 
discharge of the duties of instruction, as well as of discipline among the 
scholars, than can be expected when the masters are dependent on individuals 
for their support. 

* Rev. Dr. Manning was born in Elizabc-thtown, New Jersey, October 22d, 17.38, and 
received a liberal education at Princeton College, where he was graduated September 
29th, 1762, and the same year was ordained as a Baptist Minister. lie was elected 
President of Phode Island College, (Brown University,) in 17(35, of which he was the 
successful and honored head until his death which occurred suddenly, Sunday morning, 
July 24, 1791, in the 54th year of his age. As an educator he occupied a leading 

Second Epoch. 147 

" These, among other reasons, have lead your Committee to investigate the means 
of accomplishing an object so desirable as the establishment of a competent 
number of schools in this town, to be supported at the town's expense. The 
Brick School House and Whipple Hall are buildings convenienly situated for our 
present purpose ; but, as the former is, in part, and the latter wholly, private 
property, it will become necessary that the individual owners should be com- 
pensated, and the entire property of those buildings vested in the town. 

" The large number of inhabitants on the west side of the river renders it 
indispensably necessary that a suitable school-house be erected on a lot to be 
provided for that purpose on that side of the river. It would also be proper 
that a fourth school-house should be provided on a convenient lot, to be pro- 
cured near the lower end of the town. 

"When your Committee consider that, according to the late enumeration, there 
are in this town twelve hundred and fifty-six white males under sixteen years 
of age, they cannot estimate the number of scholars lower than to require, at 
the Brick School-house, a principal Master and Assistants; at the School-house 
on the west side of the river, a principal Master and Assistants ; and a principal 
Master and Assistants at each of the other school-houses ; to be appointed by, 
and amenable to, a committee to be chosen by the Freemen, annually assembled 
according to law, to be called the Town School Committee, for the time being; 
by whom also the salaries of such teachers, from time to time, shall be con- 
tracted for and paid by orders by said Committee, drawn on the town treasury. 
The Assistants to be occasionally appointed, when need may require. 

" Your Committee are further of opinion, that all the aforesaid schools be sub- 
jected to such rules and regulations, from time to time, as may be devised and 
formed by the School Committee, for the time being, after the same shall have 
received the approbation of the Freemen of this toAvn, in town meeting legally 

" And as the Society of Friends have a convenient school-room of their own, 
and choose to educa f e their children under the tuition of their own members, 
and the direction of committees of their own Meeting, it is recommended that 
they receive, from time to time, of the money raised for schooling, according as 
the proportion which the number of scholars in their school shall bear to the 
whole number educated out of the town's funds, to be ascertained by their Com- 
mittee to the Town's Committee, who are to give orders on the town treasury 
for the same, as in the case of other schools, — their schools being open to the 
Town's Committee for their inspection and advice in regard to the moral con- 
duct and learning of the children, not interfering in respect to the address or 
manners of the Society, in relation to their religious opinions. 

" Finally your Committee recommend, as new and further powers are hereby 
proposed to be granted to, and exercised by, the Town's future School Committee, 
which were not in contemplation at the time of their appointment, that they have 
liberty to resign their places, and that a School Committee be appointed for the 
Town of Providence, to remain in office till the next annual choice of Town 
Officers, and instructed to report the rules and regulations aforesaid to the next 
town meeting; that a committee be also appointed to contract, in behalf of the 
town, for suitable lots where to build the two new school-houses proposed to be 
erected, and to form plans and an estimate of the expense of such buildings, 

148 Providence. 

and to report the same to the next town meeting; That said Committee last 
mentioned also inquire and report on what terms the proprietors of the Brick 
School-house and Whipple Hall will relinquish their claims to the town. 

" James Maxnning, " David Howell, 
Enos Hitchcock, Benjamin Bourn, 

Moses Brown, John Dorrance, 

Joseph Snow, Theodore Foster, 

Moses Badger, Welcome Arnold. 

Jabez Bowen, 

" Providence, Jul}', (7th month,) 1791. 

" And the said report having been duly considered, It is Voted and Besolved, 
That the same be received and adopted, except as to the resignation of the 
School Committee, who are hereby continued, and directed to draft rules and 
regulations for the government of said schools, and to make report at the next 
town meeting. 

" It is further Besolved, That Messrs. Moses Brown, John Brown, Welcome 
Arnold, Edward Thurber, Charles Keene, Zephaniah Andrews and Charles 
Lippitt, or the major part of them be and they are hereby appointed a Com- 
mittee to procure the lots in said report mentioned ; to inquire the terms on 
which the proprietors of Whipple Hall and the Brick School-house will relin- 
quish their rights in said buildings to the town ; to estimate the expense of the 
two new school-houses, and to perform all other business required of the Com- 
mittee last mentioned in said report ; and that they also make report to the next 
town meeting. 

" Ordered, That these resolutions be published in the newspapers in this town. 
" A true copy — witness, 

" DANIEL COOKE, Town Cleric" 

Between the foregoing report and the one presented to the town 
twenty-three years before, there is entire harmony with a single excep- 
tion ; and that is, the clause allowing the Society of Friends to maintain 
a separate school " under the tuition of their own members," and draw 
upon the public treasur} T for its support. And here rose a strong objec- 
tion. It was seen that a favor like this granted to one denomination 
could be demanded by every other ; and hence the plan of public free 
schools, to be attended by children of all classes without regard to theo- 
logical tenets, would ultimate in a collection of sectarian schools, a great 
gulf between each, maintained at public charge — a system totall}- incom- 
patible with the genius of Republican institutions. There is foundation 
for the belief, that, well intentionecl as was the recommendation, it was 
the real cause why the action of the town through committees and other- 
wise, for several succeeding years, proved abortive. 



The Schools Established by Law. — Mr. Howland's Narrative. 

The nine years following 1791 were years of uncommon interest to 
the friends of public free schools. The unsuccessful attempts of the 
preceding twenty-three years had not been in vain. The discussions in 
town meetings and in private, brought the subject more prominently to 
view, and not a few, who, at the start, were indifferent or absolutely 
hostile, had become actively interested. A change was coming slowly 
but surely over the public mind, and those who had borne the heat and 
burden of the day, sometimes hoping against hope, felt their courage 
stimulated, and their determination to persevere, strengthened. 

Near the close of the century a new and important element was 
brought to the aid of the cause. This was the Providence Association 
of Mechanics and Manufacturers, founded in 1798, and which soon be- 
came one of the most influential organizations in the town. Among the 
prominent members of this body was John Howland, descended in the 
fifth generation from John Howland of the Plymouth Pilgrim Company 
of 1620. He had been an attentive observer of the course of things, 
and, as he saw the inadequacy of the means of education, and reflected 
upon the privation of his earl}' years, he was stirred to make another 
effort in behalf of free schools. He was peculiarly adapted to the work 
partly assumed by him, and partly assigned him by his fellow townsmen. 
He was noted for sound judgment, far-reaching discernment, skill in exe- 
cution, and unconquerable persistence. There came daily to his shop 
men of all shades of opinion, and he was not long in becoming familiar 

150 Providence. 

with the peculiarities of each. His position in the commun^-gave him 
a strong influence with the wealthy and with the laboring classes, and as 
the hostility to free schools was found largely among the latter, he Was 
able to create a better sentiment among them. In his place of business, 
in tiie street, and by the fireside, public free schools were made by him a 
topic of conversation. " Most of us." he said, " have had but few ad- 
vantages of education, but it will be our fault, as well as the fault of our 
fellow citizens, if the next generation is not better taught. Perhaps this 
is a subject on which we are too indifferent. It is a subject which ought 
to be the lesson of the day, and the story of the evening. Let it be said 
in all private companies ; let it be asserted in all public bodies ; let it be 
declared in all places, till it has grown into a .proverb ; that it is the 
duty of the legislature to establish free schools throughout the State. 
But until this can be accomplished, let us not neglect our duty. It is 
the duty of every man who has children, to see that they have what is 
called a good common education ; not such a common education as per- 
mits them to grow up destitute of morals or of principles ; but such as 
will qualify them to be respectable, as well as useful members of society." 
In 1798, the Mechanics' Association committed itself to the support 
of these ideas. Mr. Rowland, as chairman of a committee appointed 
for the purpose, prepared a memorial to the General Assembly soliciting 
that honorable body " to make legal provision for the establishment of 
free schools, sufficient to educate all the children in the several towns 
throughout the State ;" and subsequently when a bill had been introduced 
into the legislature, he prepared, by vote of the town, a letter of instruc- 
tions to its representatives, directing them to vote for it. But the stoiy 
of his efforts is best told in his own words as taken down by the author 
during an interview in 1847.* The familiar, unstudied language of the 
recital, which has been literally preserved, imparts to the narrative an 
additional interest; and having compared it with the records, and veri- 
fied the accuracy of every statement relating to the action of the town, 
it must ever be regarded as an invaluable contribution to the school his- 
tory of Providence. 

"In 1789, the Mechanics Association was formed, and in this body begun the 
agitation that led to the establishment of public schools. When we came together 
in our association, we made the discovery of our deficiencies. There were papers 

♦The reader may l>e surprised to find this story entire in the preliminary portion or 
the centennial volume. The author can only say in explanation, that he was not aware 
of its being thus appropriated until he saw it in print. But as it was included in his 
manuscript, and is necessary to the completeness of his narrative of the public schools 
in Providence, h6 has, upon consultation with friends, decided not to suppress it. 

Third Epoch. 151 

to be drawn and various kinds of writing to be done, that few of us were com- 
petent to execute. Then we began to talk. The question was asked, ought not 
oiij- children to have better advantages of education than we enjoyed? And the 
answer was, Yes. Then it was asked, how shall these advantages be secured? 
The reply was, we must have better schools. So when we had talked the matter 
over thoroughly among ourselves we began to agitate. As I was something of 
a talker, and had practised writing more than most of my associates, a good deal 
of this work fell to my lot. And I was very willing to do it, because I felt and 
saw its importance. So I wrote a number of pieces for the newspaper, and tried 
to induce others to do the same. I prevailed, however, with only one, Grindall 
Reynolds. He felt as I did about the matter, and wrote a piece for the Gazette 
in favor of schools. We had, indeed, the good-will of many educated men. 
There were Thomas P. Ives, Thomas L. Halsey, David L. Barnes, and others. 
who had been educated in the schools of Massachusetts, all of whom understood 
our wants and favored our movements. Governor Bowen and the Bo wen family, 
were also friendly. So was Governor William Jones. We met no opposition 
from the wealthy, but they having the advantages for their sons and daughters 
that wealth can always procure, did not feel as we poor mechanics did. They 
were not active. In this beginning of the movement, they seemed willing to 
follow, but were unwilling to lead the way It is a curious fact, that throughout 
the whole work, it was the most unpopular with the common people, and met 
with the most opposition from the class it was designed to benefit. I suppose 
this was one reason why the most influential citizens did not take hold of it 
heartily in the beginning. They thought its success doubtful, and did not wish, 
in a public way, to commit themselves to an enterprise that would curtail their 
popularity and influence. This was not the case with all, but it was so with 
many. The more we discussed the subject, the greater became its importance 
in our eyes. After a good deal of consultation and discussion, we got the 
Mechanics Association to move in the matter. This was an important point 
gained, and an encouragement to persevere. A committee was chosen to take 
up the subject. Of this committee I was a member. They met at my house, 
and after due deliberation, it was resolved to address the General Assembly. I 
told them, that as neither of us were qualified to draw up a paper in a manner 
suited to go before that body, we had each better write a petition embodying our 
individual views, and bring it to our next meeting. Out of these mutual con- 
tributions we could prepare a petition that would do. This was agreed to and 
the committee separated. When we next met it was found that but two had 
been written according to previous recommendation. These were by William 
Richmond and myself. Richmond then read his. It was in the usual petition 
style, ending, ' as in duty bound will ever pray.' I told the committee I did not 
like the doctrine of that paper. It was too humble in tone. I did not believe in 
petitioning legislators to do their duty. We ought, on the contrary, in addressing 
that body, to assume a tone of confidence that with the case fairly stated they 
would decide wisely and justly for the rising generation. I then took out my 
memorial and read it. It was not in the shape 'of an 'humble petition.' It ex- 
pressed briefly our destitution, and the great importance of establishing free 
schools to supply it. It received the approbation of the committee, and was 
adopted. This memorial was presented to the General Assembly in the name 
of our association. It was there warmly debated, and after pretty severe oppo- 

152 Providence. 

sition, the Assembly referred the whole subject to a committee, with directions 
to report by bill. This bill, embodying a general school system, was drawn up 
by James Burrill, Jr., Attorney General of Rhode Island. I was with hinvall 
the while, and he readily complied with my suggestions. When the bill was 
reported, the Assembly was afraid to pass it, until the sense of the towns could 
be obtained. So it was printed, and sent out to the Freemen for instructions. 
The great object now was to get the towns to vote right. When the subject 
came before the town meeting in Providence, I moved that a committee be 
appointed to prepare instructions to our representatives, and report at the 
present meeting. This was carried, and William Richmond, Samuel W. Bridg- 
ham, afterwards our mayor, George R. Burrill, William Larned and myself, 
were constituted the committee. It was now late in the afternoon, and Bridg- 
ham, said, ' Mr. moderator, this is an important matter. It will require 
some time to draft instructions, and it is now almost night, I think the subject 
had better be postponed until the next town meeting.' ' Never fear,' replied 
Richard Jackson, the moderator.' ' I guess Rowland has them already written 
in his pocket.' '(),' rejoined Bridgham, ' I didn't think of that — then we can 
go on.' The committee accordingly retired to the office of George R. Burrill 
for consultation. The questions then came up, what shape shall the instructions 
take? who shall write them? Various opinions were expressed, but I kept silent. 
Bridgham then turned to me and said ' what do you think Mr. Rowland? ' I had 
anticipated the course of events, and was prepared to answer the question. I 
had set up, the night before, till 11 o'clock, to prepare a document I intended to 
submit to the town meeting. I therefore said to the committee, ' I have got my 
opinion in my pocket. If you wish to hear, I will read it.' ' Let us hear, by all 
means,' was the reply. So I took out my document and read it. When I got 
through, Burrill said, ' well, that is just what we want. All we need do is to 
sign our names.' They accordingly signed it, without suggesting airy alteration, 
and we returned and reported it to the meeting. The paper was adopted by 
the town, as its instructions to its representatives. 

" But though Providence was thus committed to the good work, the country 
towns generally were not so safe. In mam r , the movement was decidedly 
unpopular, and there was ground for apprehension that it might fail. One of 
the most influential men in the State councils was then a resident of Newport. 
I felt very anxious to secure the favorable expression of that town. I therefore 
wrote to the town clerk, urging him to get an article inserted in the warrant for 
the town meeting, to instruct their representatives to vote for the bill before the 
Assembly. And so fearful was I that this precaution would be neglected, that 
I made a special journey to Newport to secure the measure. Much to my grati- 
fication, Newport voted for the instructions, and valuable services were rendered 
by Mr. George Champlin, the principal representative from that town. Essential 
aid was also rendered by a member from Smithfield. At the autumn session, 
(179!),) the bill passed the House of Representatives, and was sent up to the 
Senate. That body was afraid to pass it, and did not dare to reject it. So with 
other unfinished business, they laid it over until the next session. The Assmbly 
met in February in this town. I resolved to persevere in my efforts to get the 
school bill passed. I saw the secretary, and at my suggestion, he placed the 
deferred bill among the papers first to be called up. One day, in the early part 

Third Epoch. 153 

of the session, I met Joel Metcalf, a man of strong good sense, who had 
interested himself in the matter of public schools. ' Come,' said I, ' you and I 
must go up to the Senate to day and get them to call up the school bill.' 
' Well' he replied, ' I don't know as we can influence that honorable body.' 'We 
can try,' I responded. And so we went. We saw John Innis Clarke, a senator, 
and told him our errand. ' Well,' said he, ' the governor and senate are to dine 
with me to day, and I will do what I can to secure favorable action.' We left, 
and went up to the senate chamber in the afternoon. As soon as I opened the 
door, Clarke rose and came to me, and said ' the school bill has just passed.' 
Was it opposed?' I inquired. 'No,' he replied, 'I called it up, and it was 
passed without a word of opposition.' Thus we achieved our great State 
triumph — not of long duration, i ndeed, as the act was repealed in 1803, — but long 
enough to secure a permanent blessing to Providence. 

" I shall not confine my narrative to the strict order of dates, as I have no 
minutes of the events I am relating by me. My object is to give a brief view of 
the part I took in this work. The town resolved to establish four schools, three 
on the east and one on the west side of the river. I was on a committee to carry 
out the design. Having made a motion in town meeting, June 3, 1799, that a 
committee be appointed to purchase the shares held by the proprietors of 
' Whipple Hall,' and the brick school-house, standing near the State House, I 
was made chairman, and entered at once upon my duties. The other members 
of the committee were Richard Jackson, Jr., and John Garble. Afternoon after 
afternoon, accompanied by Paul Allen, I traversed the north end in search of 
the proprietors. Sometimes we found one at home and another in the street. 
In this way, we picked up forty-live shares, at $10 each — I making the contract, 
and Allen, as justice of the peace, legalizing it. Five of the old proprietors we 
never could find, nor could we ascertain who were their heirs. To this da}' they 
have not been purchased. One of the proprietors, a sturdy, self-willed man, at 
first refused to sell. He ' wasn't going to educate other peoples children.' But 
after being made to see that the system would go on, and his refusal would injure 
nobody but himself, (the town then owning over forty shares, and thus able to 
control the house,) he relented, and acceeded to our terms. We next bought the 
brick school-house. This was more easily done, as the principal number of 
shares was in the hands of Moses Brown, and the town already" owned the land 
on which the building stood. These shares were purchased at $10.50 each. It 
was not so easy, however, to obtain the lot for a school-house site at the south 
end. This land belonged to a gentleman Avho was unwilling to have a school of 
two hundred scholars so near his house and garden. I was not on the committee 
to make this purchase, but when I heard he had refused to sell, I went to see 
him. I asked the ground of his objections. He said if a school was established 
there, the neighborhood would be a perfect bedlam every time it was dismissed. 
Besides, his garden would be robbed of all its fruit. These were very natural 
fears. But I assured him they were groundless. 

" Under our rules, the school would be dismissed by classes, and not permitted 
to loiter about the premises, and as to his garden, so strict a watch would be 
kept over the scholars, that his fruit would be safer than ever. I cannot repeat 
all my arguments on the occasion. It is sufficient to say, that before I left him, 
he consented to sell. Some time after, when the schools had gone fairly into 

154 Providence. 

operation, the town council, accompanied by the school committee, made their 
first visit to this school. When opposite his residence, I requested the company 
to pause till I went in and invited him to go with us. They did so. I went in 
and said, ' I have been deputed by the honorable town council and the school 
committee, to invite you to accompany them in their first visit of examination 
to the Transit street school.' lie appeared gratified with the attention, and readily 
complied with our invitation. I will not say there was not a little policy in this. 
At all events, it had a good effect. Our skeptical friend was delighted with all he 
saw and heard, and was ever after a firm supporter of the public schools. 

•'It was clear, that to carry out our system successfully, a larger sum of 
money than hitherto appropriated for schools must be secured. Here we experi- 
enced the strongest opposition, and were in greatest danger of defeat. 1 moved, 
in town meeting, for an appropriation of $4,000. Some said it was too much, 
and others, hoping to defeat the motion, opposed on the ground that the sum 
was insufficient. After listening sometime to the discussion, I rose and said, that 
as there appeared to be a difference of opinion in the meeting, with a view to 
obviate the last objection, I would move the insertion of 80,000 in the place of 
84,000, first proposed. This was seconded by one of the opponents, thinking 
thereby to give the motion its quietus. Much to his surprise, however, the 
motion was adopted. When the result was announced, great excitement pre- 
vailed. Two of the strongest opponents came up to me and said, 'you have 
taken us in — you have taken us in — we didn't intend to vote you so much money.' 
' You have taken yourselves in, and 1 am glad of it,' I replied. This agitation of 
the school matter induced many of the mechanics to attend town meeting, and 
take an active part in town affairs, who never went before. April 1G, 1800, the 
town appointed James Burrill, Jr., John Corliss, Richard Jackson, Jr., John 
Carlile, Joel Metcalf, William Richmond and myself a committee to devise and 
report a plan for carrying the school act into effect. This plan I drew up. It 
was reported to an adjourned town meeting, April 26th, and adopted. 

" The first school committee under the act of the General Assembly, was 
chosen in August, 1800. It consisted of President Maxcy, Rev. Dr. Gano, Rev. 
Dr. Hitchcock, David L. Barnes, Jabez Bowen, Amos M. Atwell, James Burrill, 
Jr., William Jones, John Carlile and myself. The town council, in conjunction 
with this body, appointed a sub-committee to draw up rules and regulations for 
the government of the schools. On this committee were President Maxcy, Rev. 
Dr. Hitchcock and Rev. Dr. Gano. When nominated, Dr. Gano said the schools 
had his warmest wishes for success, but as he was not much acquainted with 
the matter, and as Mr. I lowland had done so much, and understood the wants so 
well, he would decline in his favor. His wish was complied with, and I was 
placed on this important committee. 

" When the work of drawing up the rules came to be done, to my surprise, 
the burden of the labor was assigned to me. President Maxcy, was pressed 
with the cares of the college, and could not conveniently attend to the duty. 
Dr. Hitchcock's health was declining, and though warmly devoted to the cause 
of education, was unable to give the subject the attention it deserved. So it was 
left for me to go on with it. This Mas rather a formidable undertaking, but as 
I had the approbation of the literary gentlemen, I boldly put my hand to the 
work. To aid me in the matter, I sent to Boston, and procured the rules estab- 

Third Erocn. 155 

lislicd there, unci also a list of the books used in school. After my rules and 
regulations were prepared, I submitted them to the committee and town council. 
They were accepted, and adopted October lGth, less than two months after my 

"Up to this time, I had never seen a grammar — a sorry confession for a school 
committeeman, some may think — but observing that 'The Young Ladies' Acci- 
dence ' was used in the Boston schools, I sent to the principal book-seller in that 
town, and purchased one hundred copies for the use of ours. For whatever 
accuracy I have obtained in writing, I am indebted to observation and practice. 

" The introduction of grammar was quite an advance in the system of educa- 
tion, as it was not taught at all except in the better class of private schools. 
The same was true of geography, which had never been taught before. 
Geographies could not be bought in this town, so I sent to Boston and purchased 
as many as were wanted for our schools. Dr. Morse, of Charlestown, had pub- 
lished the first volume of his geography, and that was the work we adopted. 
Many thought it an unnecessary study, and some in private objected to it 
because it would take oil' their attention from arithmetic. But it met with no 
public opposition." 

'• To some, this recital may seem egotistical. But I have no such feeling. I 
was so constantly connected with the school movement, that I cannot speak of it 
without speaking of myself. I take no improper pride in the part i acted. If 
better educated and more influential men had seen lit to take the lead, I should 
have been contented to follow. But I felt that somebody must do the work, and 
as otheis would not, I resolved that I would. I thank a kind providence, that I 
have been able, in my humble way, to be of service to my fellow men ; audi 
wish to occupy no other place in their memories, or the page of history, than 
that which truth shall assign me." 

Such is the simple recital of the part borne by Mr. Rowland in laying 
the foundation of the Public Schools in Providence, ami in its cifects 
reaching beyond, shedding a blessing upon the entire State. The names 
of Hopkins, l'ovven, Jones, Burrill, Brown, Jackson, Nightingale, Hitch- 
cock, Manning, Gano. Maxcy, Bridgham, Ives, Rhodes, Smith and 
Barnes, with many others of like spirit, will ever be held in grateful re- 
membrance for the interest they early exhibited in the cause of free edu- 
cation. Without the sympathy and cooperation of such men, little could 
have been accomplished. But to the mind that from its own fertile re- 
sources originated plans, combined influences, organized popular senti- 
ment, and by its indomitable energy carried forward to its ultimate tri- 
umph this great enterprise, a distinct acknowledgement is due. And 
this tribute is here rendered to the memory of John Howland.* 

* Mr. Howland was a native of Newport. As a member of the school committee, he 
for twenty years discharged the duties of his office with scrupulous fidelity, and retired 

156 Providence. 

School Regulations — District Boundaries. 

On the 17th day of October, 1800, the System of Instruction drawn 
up b} T Mr. Howland, was reported and adopted. It prescribed that " all 
children of both sexes admissible bylaw," should be admitted to the 
schools, " and faithfulry instructed without preference or partialit}'," and 
that the instruction should " be uniform in the several schools, and the 
pronunciation as near alike as possible." The good morals of the youth, 
being a matter of the highest consequence, both to their own comfort, 
and to their progress in useful knowledge, they were strictly enjoined "to 
avoid idleness and profaneness, falsehood and dcceitfulness, and every 
other wicked and disgraceful practice, and to conduct themselves in a 
sober, orderly and decent manner, both in and out of school." It was 
also enjoined upon the teachers, "• That they endeavor to impress the 
minds of their pupils with a sense of the Being and Providence of God, 
and the obligation they are under to love and reverence Him ; their duty 
to their parents and masters ; the beauty and excellence of truth, justice 
and mutual love ; tenderness to brute creatures ; the happy tendency of 
self-government and obedience to the dictates of reason and religion ; 
the observance of the Sabbath as a sacred institution ; the duty which 
the}' owe to their county, and the necessity of a strict obedience to its 
laws ; and that the} T caution them against the prevailing vices." 

From the third Monday in October, to the third Monday in April, the 
morning school sessions were to commence at 9 o'clock, a. m., and close at 
12, m. The afternoon sessions were to open at 1£ oclock and close at 4 
o'clock. From the third Monday in April to the third Monday in October, 
the morning sessions were to hold from 8 o'clock until 11 J o'clock, and the 
afternoon sessions from 2 o'clock until 5 o'clock. The 4th of July, Fast, 
Thanksgiving and Christmas days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 
of Commencement week, the day succeeding each quarterly visitation, 
and " the regimental training day in October," were made holidays. 
The course of instruction was to comprise u spelling, accenting and read- 
ing both prose and verse, with propriety and accurac\', and a general 
knowledge of English grammar and composition; also writing a good 
hand, according to the most approved rules, and Arithmetic through all 
the previous rules, and vulgar and decimal fractious, including Tare and 
Tret, Fellowship, Exchange, Interest," etc. The pupils were to be 
classed " according to their several improvements, each sex b}- them- 

only, when the demands upon his time as town treasurer, and treasurer of the Provi- 
dence Institution for Savings, suggested the necessity of release from some of his public 

Third Epoch. 157 

selves," and " different hours were to be allotted to the different exer- 
cises." In the matter of discipline and good government which the 
committee regarded as " absolutely necessary to improvement," it was 
provided that " if any scholar should prove disobedient and refractory, 
after all reasonable means used by the master to bring him or her to 
order, and a just sense of duty, such offender shall be suspended from 
an}' further attendance or instruction in an}* school in the town until the 
next visitation of the committee." Pupils were required to be punctual 
in their attendance " at the appointed hour, and be as constant as pos- 
sible in their daily attendance." Excuses for absence were to be •- by a 
note from the parents or guardian " of the pupil. Monitors were to be 
appointed by the masters of each school to notice the absence or tardi- 
ness of the delinquent scholars, the list of whose names was to be pre- 
served and exhibited to the committee at their visitation. 

The books authorized to be used, were Alden's Spelling Book. 1st and 
2d parts ; Caleb Bingham's Young Ladies' Accidence ; the American Pre- 
ceptor ; Morse's Geography, abridged ; the Holy Bible, in select portions ; 
and an Arithmetic, author not named. A few years later, Daboll's 
Arithmetic was introduced, as were Murray's Sequel to the English 
Reader, and Murray's Abridgment to the P^nglish Grammar. Smith's 
Grammar superseded Murray's ; Farnum's took the place of Smith's, 
and in the course of a few years Greene's was introduced, and continues 
to be used. In 1828, Smith's Arithmetic was introduced. This was 
succeeded by Emerson's ; and, from time to time, Colburn's, Davies,' 
Greenleaf's, Leach and Swan's and Hagar's followed. 

For the better convenience of pupils in attending school, the town was 
divided into four districts, the lines of which were designated as follows : 
" From the house of the widow Hall, [on North Main street, opposite 
St. John's Church] eastward up the Church lane, across Benefit street, 
all that part of the town lying northward of said line, to constitute the 
First District. The second Districtto include all that part of the town lying 
between Church lane and the lane that runs eastward by the house of 
the late Welcome Arnold, Esquire, and to take in part of the west side 
of the river, as far as Orange street. The Third District to include all 
that part of the town lying southward of said lane, by the late Welcome 
Arnold's. The Fourth District on the west side of the river to include all 
that part of the town lying westward of Orange street." It was at the 
same time directed that children are to " attend the public schools of 
their respective districts." 



Quarterly Visitations — Death of Rev. Dr. Hitchcock. 

Four schools were now in successful operation, with an aggregate at- 
tendance of 988 pupils, viz. : First District, Whipple Hall, under John 
Dexter, 180 pupils ; Second District, Brick school-house (Meeting street) 
under Moses Noyes, 230 pupils ; Third District, Transit street house, 
under Royal Farnum, 240 pupils ; Fourth District, west side, under Rev 
James Wilson, 338 pupils.* These schools sufficed for the town with a 
population of 7,615. The first quarteily visitation by the Town Council 
and the School Committee mentioned by Mr. Howland, on a preceding 
page, took place January 6th and 7th, 1801, and was made an occasion 
of more than usual importance. That all things might be conducted 
with propriety, and conduce to the satisfaction of the visitors, it was 
recommended to the several masters of said schools to prepare accordingly 
to receive the Committee, b} r compljing with the following regulations, 
viz. : 

"1st. That they enjoin upon their scholars the propriety of appearing neat 
and clean, and that the Committee expect a general and punctual attendance at 
the time appointed. 

*The teachers acting as principals, from 1800 to 1828, as nearly as can be ascertained, 
were .John Dexter, Moses Noyes, Royal Farnum. Rev. James Wilson, Richard Briggs, 
Oliver Angell. Liberty Ransom, William E. Richmond, Noah Kendall, Rev.Thomas Wil- 
liams, Joseph W. Torrey, Christopher Hill, Elisha R. Atkins, Thomas C. Hartshorn, 
Thomas C. Fenner, Joseph Beverly, Edward Beverly, George Taft, Cyrus Grant, Daniel 
Baker, Martin Snell, .Jedediali L. Stark, Richard Battle, Calvin Barnes, Sumner VV. Ar- 
nold, Benjamin Allen, Stephen Rawson, Hezekiah Rattle, Samuel P. Bullard, Nehemiah 
E. Rogers, Samuel Stetson, Daniel G. Sprague, William S. Boss, Charles Arnold. Joseph 
Shaw, Steuben Taylor, Jesse Hartwell, Moses Curtis, Esek Aldrich, Jr., Sylvester R. 
Aborn, Origin Batcheller, Joseph L. Shaw, Edward Seagrave, John Holroyd, Oliver C. 
Shaw, Noah Smith, Jr., Elisha W. Baker, Barnum Field, Joseph C. Gardner, Thomas 
Wilson. Most of these were promoted from ushers. 

Fourth Epoch . 159 

"2d. That the scholars of the several schools be prepared, in the first place, 
to exhibit their writing and cyphering books in good order. 

" 3d. That the masters call upon each scholar to read a short sentence in that 
book which may be used in the class to which such scholar belongs. 

4th. That the Committee may t)e informed of the progress of the several 
scholars in the art of spelling, the masters are desired to direct them to spell one 
word each. 

" 5th. If time should permit, the Committee will hear the scholar recite pas- 
sages in Geography, English Grammar and Arithmetic, and such other select 
pieces as may be adapted to their several capacities." 

At the Transit street school, the official visitors were welcomed with a 
poetic address, written by Paul Allen, Esq., and spoken by a lad nine 
3'ears of age. It is here given. 

" Gentlemen of the Honorable Council and Committee: 

" Heroes of ancient and modern days 
Have challenged, and received, the palm of praise, 
The favored poets will their deeds rehearse. 
And blazon forth their destiny in verse. 
A more exalted task your time employs, 
To watch the morals of the rising boys, — 
To teach their wandering feet to tread the road 
That leads direct to virtue's bright abode — 
To check the sallies of impetuous youth, 
And in their bosoms plant the seeds of truth. 
No more shall avarice presume to blind 
With her dark shades, the eye sight of the mind, 
Nor shall presumptious ign'rance dare enslave 
Those talents which the God of nature gave. 
The tribute that from gratitude is due, 
Our hearts rejoicing fondly pay to you ; 
Unostentatious virtue seeks the shade, 
And by its own success is amply paid; 
Thus the fair stream with steady silent force, 
Through the long meadows winds its devious course, 
And in its route, itself unseen the while, 
Surveys the verdure spread and flow'rets smile, 
Till all the meads in sweet luxuriance grow, 
And tell the wonders of the stream below : 
Thus, while you wish industrious to conceal, 
Those virtues gratitude would fain reveal, 
The morals of the rising youth shall tell 
The names of those whose deeds deserve so well. 
Why should my infant tongue these deeds relate? 
Your future glory shall adorn the State, 
When Patriots yet unknown shall tread the stage. 
And shame the parties of the present age." 

160 Providence. 

The favorable impression made upon the Council and the School Com- 
mittee was entered upon the records in the following words : 

" The extraordinary progress made by the scholars of the several schools, in 
reading - , writing, arithmetic, English grammar, geography and elocution, was 
such as to merit great honor, and obtain the highest commendations of the 
gentlemen who attended. The good order, decorum, and propriety of behavior, 
so manifest in the several schools on this occasion, not only evince the great 
public utility of the institution, but reflect the highest honor on the several pre- 
ceptors and assistants, who, in the short space of about two months, have 
established so excellent a system of instruction, and contributed so greatly to 
the improvement of their pupils. The thanks of the Council and Committee 
were also presented to the several teachers as a testimonial of the high opinion 
entertained of their abilities and merits." 

The second quarterly visitation, April 7th and 8th, appears to have 
been quite as satisfactory as the first. On this occasion governor 
Arthur Fenner and Judge Samuel Eddy were invited to be present. 
For several years the schools continued to prosper under the fostering 
care of the town council, the school committee and men of influence 
generally. In 1803, the schools lost a valued friend and supporter, in 
the death of Rev. Dr. Enos Hitchcock.* He departed this life February 
27th, and was buried on the following Wednesday afternoon. The 
Town Council as a token of respect for his memory, and in appreciation 
of his services in behalf of education, directed a suspension of the 
schools. They also provided that the teachers with their pupils of the 
first and second classes should attend the funeral, and "join in the 
procession according to their sizes, the smallest first, and preceding the 
corpse." This was done. 

Ushers Appointed. — Fuel, Ink, Books for the Poor. 

The schools had not been long in operation, when it became apparent 
thai a herculean task had been assigned the teachers. They were all 
competent and experienced men, but were not equal to the labor imposed 
upon them. Rev. Mr. Wilson could easily and effectively preach to an 
audience filling the church to its full sitting capacity, but to require him 

* Rev. Dr. Hitchcock was a native of Springfield, Mass., and was graduated at Harvard 
University in 1767. In 1771 he was ordained as colleague pastor with Rev. John Chip, 
man, over the Second Congregational Church in Beverly, Mass. He served as chaplain 
in the army of the Revolution, was present at the battle of Hubbardston, where his friend 
and parishioner, Colonel Ehenezer Francis, was killed. He was for a time stationed at 
"West Point. After leaving the army, he was installed pastor of the First Congrega- 
tional Church in Providence, and had a successful pastorate of twenty years He was 
a Fellow of Brown University, and the author of several works. He was a learned 
divine, a good preacher, and a man of active benevolence. 

Fourth Epoch. 161 

to maintain order and satisfactorily instruct 338 pupils without assist- 
ance, was a demand reaching beyond the power of physical and mental 
endurance. And so with the other teachers. This the Town Council 
saw, and prompt!}* appointed five ushers to aid the principals, viz. : 
First District, Ezra Leonard ; Second District, William Norton; Third 
District, Daniel Young; Fourth District, Lucius Bowles and Gravenor 
Tatt. The salary of each principal was $500 per annum ; that of each 
usher, $200. This compensation to ushers was continued until 1818, 
when it was increased to $250 per annum.* 

Among the early school arrangements was an assessment on each 
pupil for the supply of fuel. This practice continued until 1833, when, 
upon the recommendation of the school committee, it was abolished. 
The pupils were also required to furnish themselves with ink, those 
failing to do so to be '" debarred the privilege of writing." In 1804, 
provision was made to furnish books to poor children whose parents 
were unable to purchase them. This course is still pursued, except that 
the}* are not given, but loaned. To be absent at a quarterly visitation 
was an offence which excluded the pupil from the school until permis- 
sion to return had been obtained of the Town Council. 

The Abrogation of-, the Law of 1800 harmless to Providence. 
Special Supervision of the Schools. 

The school law of 1800, under which the public schools of Providence 
were organized, was met in the country by an opposition so strong that, 
after being in operation three years, it was abolished. It seems strange, 
at this day, in the light of nearly three quarters of a century, that such 
a step backward should have been taken. But it onlv adds another to 

* The ushers from 1801 to 1S23, were Ezra Leonard, Lucius Bowles, Gravenor Taft 
(promoted). Daniel Young (promoted), William Blanding, William Norton, Palmer Cleve- 
land, Samuel Randall, Theopholus Hatchings, Samuel Barton, Jabez B. Whittaker, 
David nolman, Tho„mas Philhrook, Eliphalet Dyer, Frederick W. Bottom, Simon Davis, 
Thomas IT. Sill, Jonathan Thayer, John Dunbar, J. II. Cady, Thomas A. Lamed, Gideon 

W. Olney, Whiting, William II. Smith, Rodman Starkweather, Stephen K. 

Rathbone, Joseph K. M'Clintock, Gardner W. Olney, Christopher Safford, Daniel II. 
Haskell, Levi Millard, Robert S. Holden, William C. Jones, Amos Warner, Leon Chapotin. 
William Alverson, Reuben Torry, George Taft (promoted), Ebenezer Colman, Stephen 
Rawson, (promoted,) Elias Fisk, George L. Atwell, Isaac Southwick, Samuel W. Tilling- 
hast, Calvin Barnes, Xoadiah W. Woodward, Benjamin Allen (promoted), Ebenezer 
Greene, Joseph Patrick, Thomas Warner, John Holroyd (promoted), William Grossman. 
John G. Merrill, Samuel Billings, Elisha W. Baker, Caleb G. Balch, William P. Taft, 
Alfred B. Lee, James II. Bugbee, Joshua S. Tweed, Joseph C Gardner (promoted), Silas 
Weston, Joseph B. Pettis (promoted), John Ames, Jonn S. Phillips, Benjamin Wade, 
Richard Anthony. 


162 Providence. 

the multitude of historic events showing the hostility with which impor- 
tant reforms have usually been resisted. Men of ideas in advance of 
the time in which they lived, have pretty uniformly had experiences 
like this. But the three years' reign of law proved a blessing, by stirring 
the friends of educational progress to cling with greater tenacity to the 
noble purpose with which they had become imbued. The abrogation of 
the law was harmless in its effects upon Providence. The town con- 
tinued the course it had commenced, as though nothing had happened. 
Free schools had been established by law. Enough had been seen by 
discerning minds to satisfy them of their great value as an intellectual 
force to move and direct the machinery of private and public prosperity. 
And so, without the aid of law, and with no other encouragement than 
that which comes in the consciousness of doing a right thing, the schools 
were to be maintained. This decision had a reflex influence upon the 
neighboring towns, and upon the State, and prepared the way for cer- 
tain victory in the second struggle, which was to signalize the close of 
the next quarter of a century. 

In 1816, it being thought that a special supervision of the schools 
would be advantageous, they were, b}' vote of the committee, placed 
" under the superintending care of the Reverend Clergy interim between 
the several quarterly visitations." Under this resolution the assignments 
were made as follows : First, District, Rev. Dr. Edes ; Second District, 
Rev. Dr. Crocker ; Third District, Rev. Dr. Gano ; Fourth District, 
Rev. Mr. Wilson and Rev. Mr. Preston. This arrangement appears to 
have succeeded so well that b}* vote, the following year, it was continued. 
In this arrangement we ma}* recognize the germ of the present system 
of district committees, who, besides exercising " a general supervision 
over all the schools in their respective districts, except the High School," 
are required to " visit or cause to be visited, all the schools at least once 
in each term." 

In 1819, a stone school-house, one story high, was built on Summer 
street, occupying the site of the recently erected Primary and Inter- 
mediate school building. A second story was subsequently added. In 
October of the same year, u the west part of the town was divided into 
two Districts ; the fourth retaining the old school-house, and the fifth 
occupying the new house on Pond street." In 1824, an additional 
teacher was provided for the first district, to take charge of a portion of 
the pupils removed to a separate room. The salaiy w r as fixed at $300 
per annum. 

In 1823, the subject of primary schools " for children from five to 
eight years of age," to be taught by females, was agitated, but beyond 
this nothing appears to have been done. 

Fourth Epoch. 163 

January 2G, 1826, the following record was made: " Tt being the 
opinion of the committee and council that the use of profane language 
and swearing is increasing among the youth, it is ordered that the several 
preceptors be instructed to read the law on that subject in their' several 

In July, 1827, it was decided " that no male pupil should commence the 
stud}' of geography until advanced in arithmetic as far as Practice, and 
that no female pupil should engage in the former study until she had 
pursued the study of arithmetic as far as Compound Division." 

Reconstruction of the Schools. 

In 1828, a triumph for the schools was achieved. At the winter 
session of the General Assembly, after a severe struggle, ki An act to 
establish public schools" throughout the State was passed. Though 
Providence, as already said, was not hindered in her school work by the 
abrogation of the law of 1800, the friends of education were highly 
gratified when the law was re-enacted, and accepted it as an endorse- 
ment of the principle they had so long maintained. 

Twenty-live years had wrought a great change in the public opinion of 
Providence on the question of education. Increased intelligence made 
palpable the need of an advance in the course of instruction that should 
correspond to advances made in the practical arts of life. The school 
system of 1800, well adapted to the first recipients of its advantages, re- 
quired some modifications to suit it to a generation standing on a higher 
plane in 1828 Soon after the passage of the school law, a proposition 
to re-organize th< hool system kt and place the schools in a condition of 
greater useful; ' . A\ classes of the community," was referred to a 
committee con; g of Francis Wayland, William T. Grinnell and 

Thomas T. Waterman, with directions to examine into and report upon 
the subject. Immediately after this appointment, two of the committee 
visited Boston, and >ccupiod several days in the schools of that city, for 
the purpose of collecting such information concerning the course of 
studies and the general management of the schools there as might be 
serviceable in the work of re-construction at home. A report, written 
by President Wayland, was presented on the 22d of April, which was 
printed and very generally circulated throughout the town. This docu- 
ment was valuable for the able and exhaustive manner in which it dis- 
cussed its theme. It is specially interesting as embodying the views of 
an eminent c< icator nearly half a century ago. Some portions of the 
report have more than a local bearing, and contain ideas of an enduring 

1 64 Providence . 

character ; and for the purpose of preserving familiarity with the best 
thought of that da}', copious extracts are here given : 

" The principle which should mainly direct the appropriation of public money 
is evidently equity. In other words, money raised by ataxupon every individual 
should be so distributed that every individual should have an opportunity of 
participating in the benefits of its expenditure. Or, to apply the principle to 
the present case, if money is contributed by every citizen for the purpose of 
education, a school system should be so devised that every citizen should receive, 
not merely the general advantage of having his neighbors better instructed, but 
also an equitable share of that instruction which he assists to maintain. Now 
if this view of the subject be just, it will follow that there should be furnished a 
number of schools sufficient to accommodate all who wish to avail themselves of 
their advantages. Every one sees the injustice of taxing the whole community 
to support one or two schools, to which not more than one-tenth part of the 
whole number of children could find admittance. The same injustice will evi- 
dently occur if the number of scholars imposed upon a teacher be so great as to 
render his instructions of so little value that a large portion of the community 
is obliged to resort to private schools. 

"The same principle would dictate that there be established the various grades 
of schools, suited to the wants of the public. If there be but one description of 
schools, it must either be so elevated that many of the parents cannot prepare 
their children to enter it, or else so elementary that none would avail themselves 
of its advantages, for any considerable length of time, or else everything would 
of necessity be so imperfectly taught that a very small portion would be benefited. 
In either case but a small portion of the community would receive the benefit 
of that provision, which all were taxed to support. The first was the case in 
Boston previous to the establishment of primary schools. The grammar schools 
admitted no one unless he could read in the Testament. But it was found by 
actual examination that a very great proportion of the poorer class, were, unable 
or unwilling to procure at their own expense this preparatory education for 
their children, and that thus many thousands were growing up in utter ignorance. 

"It may here be properly suggested whether equity does not demand that 
the system of public education in this town, should make provision for at least 
one school of a higher character, a school which should provide instruction in 
all that is necessary to a finished education. If it be said that such a school 
would be of advantage only to the rich, it may be answered, as the rich con- 
tribute in an equal proportion to education, why should not they be entitled to 
a portion of the benefit. But it is far from being the case that such a school 
would be only for the rich. It would be as much a public school, as open to all, 
and as much under the government of the public as any other. But it would 
evidently be of most peculiar advantage to the middling classes, and the poor. 
Such an education as we propose, the rich man can give, and will give to his 
son, by sending him to private schools. But the man in moderate circumstances 
cannot afford to incur the heavy expenses of a first rate school, and if no such 
provision be made, the education of his children must be restricted to the ordi- 
nary acquisition of a little more than reading and writing. With such a school 

Fourth Epoch. 165 

as we have contemplated, he would be enabled to give his child an education 
which would qualify him for distinction in any kind of business. 

" And lastly, the principles of equity to which we have alluded, would dictate 
that the public schools of every description, should be well and skilfully taught. 
If this be not done, the result will be obvious. The funds by which they are 
supported are contributed by the rich and by the middling classes of society. If 
they be badly taught the rich will derive no benefit from them. This, however, 
is a small matter, as they can afford to give something towards the education of 
the poor, and also to pay for the education of their own children elsewhere. It 
is otherwise with the citizen in middling circumstances. If a public school be 
badly taught and lie is sensible of the value of a good education, he also will 
send his children to a private school. To him this double expense, especially if 
his family be large, is a serious inconvenience; he is taxed to support schools 
of which he will not avail himself, and in addition pays as much for the education 
of his children as though he had contributed nothing. It must be evident that the 
true interest of every citizen of moderate circumstances, must be so to elevate the 
character of our public schools, that he need look nowhere else for as good in- 
struction as his family may require. Although to accomplish this he pays a some- 
what heavier tax, for public education, he will in the end be greatly the gainer. 

" Here, however, we are aware that another consideration will occur. It may 
be said, that in the distribution of funds raised for public schools, perfect equity 
is not to be looked for nor desired, — that this is a contribution from the rich, 
for the benefit of the poor, and that they are sufficiently rewarded by the improved 
morals and intellectual condition of the poorer classes of the community. Now 
granting all this to be so, we must remark that the spirit of the suggestion seems 
to us at variance With our republican institutions. It in reality belongs to the 
old world more than to the new. Why create such distinction between our fel- 
low citizens? Why should one class of society be supposed to say to another, 
it is for our interest that you should have education, and we give it to you, but 
it shall be as useless as anything that can bear the name, so useless that for our- 
selves and our families, we will have nothing to do with it. We hope no man 
amongst us, would be willingto harbor such a thought, or utter such a sentiment. 

" But, as we said before, granting all this to be true, and that perfect equity 
in the distribution cannot be effected, as, clearly it cannot, what then? Is not 
education a commodity which all classes of the community want? Why then 
should we not furnish it of such quality that all may enjoy it together? By fur- 
nishing a valuable course of public instruction, the rich will enjoy its advantages 
and surely it cannot injure the middling classes and poor. Nor do we here look 
towards an impracticable result. Children of every class are seen in the public 
schools in Boston, and they are found there because, as in several instances 
wealthy parents told your committee, the public were preferable to the private 

'• And here we may remark, that there can be no doubt of the effect of a single 
school of the highest character, upon the discipline and improvement of all the 
others. Entrance to it would be conferred, as the reward of merit, upon the 
most deserving scholars of each grammar school, and its requirements should 
always be an accurate knowledge of the branches taught in these schools. It is 
needless to suggest that a thorough education in such a school as we propose 

166 Providence. 

would be the most valuable reward which could be conferred upon diligence and 
good conduct. 

"If, then, we are not mistaken in these views, it is evident that public instruc- 
tion should be provided in sufficient extent to meet the wants of the community. 
The course should embrace a series of instruction, from the simplest elements 
to the higher branches of knowledge, and the instruction in every department 
should be of the most valuable character. Let us, then, briefly inquire how far 
our present school system accomplishes these objects. 

" How far the provisions for education are proportioned to the magnitude of 
our population, it may not be possible with perfect accuracy to decide. Judg- 
ing from the few facts in our possession, it would, however, seem probable that 
the public good would be promoted by considerably enlarging them. The schools 
now number on their books as many pupils as can receive advantage from the 
labors of the present instructors. Yet it will not, we presume, be denied that 
a very considerable portion of the children about our streets attend no school 

" It would therefore seem proper that the school committee, joined with such 
persons as the town council may add, be empowered to increase the means of 
instruction from time to time, as the wants of the population may require. But 
it has appeared to your committee that one part of this object may be accom- 
plished immediately, and with very little additional expense, by establishing a 
sufficient number of primary schools in different parts of the town. The effect 
of these will be to provide a grade of instruction as much needed by the public 
as any other, to elevate the character of the grammar schools, and to enable the 
teachers of these schools to devote their attention to a larger portion of those 
who are prepared for instruction in the more advanced branches of education. 
We have no doubt that by providing a suitable proportion of these schools, the 
number of scholars under public instruction would in a short time be doubled, 
and the convenience to the community be immeasurably increased. 

" If, in addition to these two grades of schools, a single school for the whole 
town be established, of a more elevated character, to enter which, it shall be 
necessary to have been a proficient in all the studies of the grammar schools, 
and in which should be taught a more perfect and scientific knowledge of geogra- 
phy, book-keeping, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, navigation, moral and natural 
philosophy, natural history, the elements of political economy, and the Consti- 
tution of the United States, and the Latin and Greek languages; we think that 
our system of instruction would be such as to do honor to the public spirit of 
this commercial and manufacturing metropolis, but not at all beyond what is 
demanded by the advancing intelligence of the age. Whether a high school, of 
somewhat the same character, for girls, might not also be desirable and expedi- 
ent, would be a matter for future consideration. 

" Your committee have reflected deliberately upon the question, what system 
of instruction should he recommended for the grammar schools now existing, 
or whether any alteration be necessary. It may here be proper to remark, that 
your committee believe that the present instructors have done every thing in 
their power to carry forward the course of education committed to their charge, 
and have richly merited the thanks of the community. But from the remarks 
which have been made, it will be evident that they have labored under many 

Foueth Epoch. 167 

and peculiar embarrassments. A large portion of their pupils are occupied in the 
simplest elements. They are mere children. They occupy the teacher's time 
unprofltably to themselves and to the rest of the school, and hence the instruction 
to them and to the older scholars, is far less valuable than it would be under a 
different arrangement. Of this fact the teachers themselves are aware, and they 
sincerely regret it. 

But while your committee are convinced of the benefit which the schools, as 
they now exist, have conferred upon the public, they have seriously deliberated 
whether they might not be greatly improved by the introduction of the monito- 
rial system. Some of the considerations, which have had effect on their minds, 
are these : 

" The beneficial effects of the monitorial system on the primary schools, have 
been already alluded to ; but if such are the results upon children of from 4 to 
7 years of age, why should they not be the same upon those of from 7 to 18 or 
14. If children of 5, G and 7 years of age can teach each other, why should not 
children of 14, 13 or 12. But it is said a child cannot teach as well as a master — 
that all things being equal he could not, may be granted ; but such is not the 
case in fact. If a master could spend ten minutes with a child that was learning 
to spell, he might teach it better than a monitor but little older than himself; 
but if the time of the master is so occupied that he can spend but one minute 
upon this child, and the monitor can spend ten, we think there will be but little 
doubt under whose tuition the child can learn most. 

" But again, in teaching elements, we are far from being certain that, under 
proper supervision, the child may not be the best instructor. Children who as- 
sociate with children learn to talk much faster than those who associate with 
adults ; and we are not sure that the principles which govern in the one case 
would not govern in the other. 

"But waiving this question, and granting that, if a teacher were limited to 20 
or 30 pupils he would teach better by personal instruction than upon the moni- 
torial system — what has this decision to do with the case? Are we prepared to 
establish such schools? Are there anywhere such public schools? The plain 
fact is, that we must construct a S3'stem upon the supposition that there will be 
from J 50 to 200 scholars to a teacher, or to a teacher and an assistant. Now for 
such schools as these, we are inclined to believe that the monitorial system is 
preferable. So far as our observation has gone we frankly declare, that the pro- 
ficiency of scholars, under the same circumstances in other respects, when taught 
under the monitorial system, has been decidedly superior to that of those taught 
upon the common system. 

" But although these have been the views of your committee, they are far 
from recommending that the monitorial system be at once adopted in all our 
grammar schools. They are aware of the uncertainty of theory, and that many 
of the circumstances necessary to success in any particular place, may have 
been overlooked. They, however, feel fully justified in recommending, that one 
of the public schools be so far altered as to be established upon the monitorial 
system, and that thus a fair trial, open to the inspection of the public, may be 
made. The truth of the question can thus be easily settled, by allowing every 
one to judge for himself. The expense will be light, and the advantage which 
is hoped for, is most important. 

168 Providence. 

" With regard to the improvement of the grammar schools, on the present 
system, your committee have but little to remark. Many of the most necessary 
improvements would certainly flow from the establishment of primary schools, 
and could not be carried into effect without it. Others will necessarily arise 
from a more punctual superintendence on the part of the committee. 

" Benefits would result, in the opinion of your committee, from introducing 
into the schools some system of rewards, which should appeal continually to the 
emulation of the pupils. This may be arranged in a variety of ways, either of 
which would accomplish the same purpose, if it applied invariably and at all 
times to every individual. Human beings may be governed by an appeal to their 
love of character, or to their fears. We prefer the former, as more kind and 
more successful. 

" As to the manner in which a high school should be conducted, we will not 
here hazard any opinion. The decision on this subject will depend so much 
upon the branches to be taught, that until the character of the school be perma- 
nently settled, any opinion would be manifestly fruitless. 

" In closing this report, your committee feel obliged to assure their fellow- 
citizens, that it is utterly in vain to hope for a valuable course of public instruc- 
tion without a thorough and active system of supervision on the part of the 
community. Unless the schools be visited frequently, and examined thoroughly, 
and unless the school committees determine to give to this subject all the atten- 
tion, and reflection, and labor necessary to carry the system of education to as 
great a degree of perfection as the case admits, every thing will be fruitless. 
Without this, every plan of education will fail, and with it almost any may be 
made to succeed. If a sufficient number of gentlemen can be found, who will 
devote to the interests of the rising generation a half day every month, and who 
will so combine their labors as to produce the effect of a particular and general 
supervision, all that the most benevolent could wish can be accomplished. If 
such men cannot be found, nothing of value will ever be done." 

The report closed with four recommendations : — 

" 1st. That the school committee should be so divided as to constitute a 
primary and a grammar school committee, and this committee in conjunction 
with the town council, to be charged with the whole business of the public 

"2d. That primary schools for the instruction of children from four to seven 
years of age, be established in various parts of the town under the superintend- 
ence and direction of the primary school committee. 

" 3d. That the monitorial system be immediately tested in one of the com- 
mon schools. 

" 4th. That a public high school be established, in which shall be taught all 
the branches necessary to a useful, mercantile and classical education." 

In accordance with the recommendations of the foregoing report, 
several changes were made in the school system. Primary schools were 
established, embracing children between the ages of four and eight years, 
and placed under the instruction of female teachers, the principals being 

Fourth Epoch. 169 

paid $175, and the assistants $100 per annum. This arrangement re- 
lieved the grammar masters of the care and tuition of a large class of 
small children, to whom it was impossible for them to give much per- 
sonal attention. The books to be used in the primary schools were, 
Union Nos. 1, 2, 3, and the New Testament. The branches to be taught 
in the Grammar schools were to be, spelling, reading, the use of cap- 
ital letters, and punctuation, writing and arithmetic, rudiments of book- 
keeping, English grammar, geography and epistolary composition. The 
books to be used were, Union Nos. 3, 4, 5 ; American First Class Book ; 
Smith's Arithmetic ; Murray's abridgement of English Grammar, and 
Woodbridge's small Geography. Walker's Dictionary was the standard 
for pronunciation. 

The monitorial system, after a fair trial of a few years, was abandoned. 

During the year 1828, a school for colored children was established, 
the teacher receiving 8-100 per annum. This school was opened on 
Meeting street. At a subsequent period (1837), another school was 
opened on Pond street. In 1865, both schools were abolished, since 
which time colored children have attended school with the whites. 

In 1820, Noyes's system of penmanship was introduced, and teachers 
were directed to instruct their pupils how to make pens. They were 
also directed " not to permit any scholar to learn or practice any orna- 
mental penmanship at school in school hours." 

A General View of Education — Its Methods. 

There were many points touching the subject of education which had 
not yet been wrought into a system that might with confidence be ac- 
cepted. What to teach? Mow to teach? and how should discipline be 
administered? were questions that needed further elucidation. It was 
believed by the friends of education that the public schools could be 
greatly benefited by presenting to teachers such methods of instruction 
and discipline as experience had proved to be successful. In this view, 
a meeting of gentlemen interested in the cause of education was held in 
the Providence Town House, in May, 1831, at which President Wayland 
presided. At this meeting two committees were appointed, one to con- 
sider and report upon lyceums and similar institutions, then in vogue, 
designed to promote the cause of popular education ; and the other to 
consider and report upon the then present state of schools, and what im- 
provement, if any, could be made in discipline and instruction. At an 
adjourned meeting, May 17th, 1832, both committees submitted reports, 
which were accepted and a motion made that the}* be printed. The first 


committee withdrew their report, and that of the second committee was 
published. It was from the pen of Oliver Angell, an experienced edu- 
cator, and is here preserved as a part of the tale of the past : 

"The committee appointed 'to take into consideration the present state of 
schools, and to report generally thereon ; and also what improvement, if any, 
can be made in the discipline or instruction thereof,' beg leave to report : — 

" That in pursuance of the object for which they were appointed, it appeared 
to them necessary to obtain, if possible, from each town in the State, a state- 
ment of the number of schools, public and private; th<; number of scholars in 
each ; what portion of the year the schools are continued, and what sum is 
annually appropriated by the town, in addition to the sum received from the State, 
for the purposes of education. To obtain this information, they addressed circu- 
lars to respectable individuals in each town, requesting a statement of the above 
mentioned particulars. Through the politeness of many of the gentlemen to 
whom these circulars were directed, and by personal inquiry, we are able to 
present the annexed detailed statement. 

' ; The law establishing public schools in this State, is of recent date. It can- 
not, therefore, be expected that your committee will be able to state any facts 
showing the comparative increase of information farther than may be deduced 
from the increased number of schools. Your committee perceive, both trom the 
reports which they have received from the several towns and from personal 
observation, that the system of public schools has not yet acquired that stability 
and uniformity which it undoubtedly will attain, after a little more experience 
and a more general interchange of opinions and feelings on the subject of edu- 
cation, between the intelligent and influential citizens of the different towns. 
If some regular plan could be devised by which this mutual interchange of views 
on this important subject might be promoted, your committee think it would 
greatly facilitate the progress of education through the State. 

" We find that in some of the districts there are not yet convenient houses or 
rooms provided for the accommodation of the schools, but this deficiency will 
probably soon be supplied. Considerable difficulty has also been experienced in 
some towns in the location of school-houses so as to meet the convenience of 
the inhabitants. When the deficiency in school-houses shall be remedied, the 
difficulties attending their location removed, and a regular and systematic plan 
established in every town, the benefits resulting to the community from this best 
of all establishments of our State, will become more obvious. 

" In this stage of our report, we find it necessary to advert to a subject which 
we deem of primary importance : we allude to the qualifications of teachers. 
However numerous may be our schools, and however munificent may be the 
appropriations, either by the legislature or the towns, if placed under the man- 
agement of unqualified or unskilful teachers, much of the benefit which might 
otherwise result from them must inevitably be lo&t. The impropriety of placing 
any person of immoral character in charge of a school, is so obvious that we 
think any comments upon this point unnecessary We believe that the good 
sense and virtue of the citizens of this State will be a sufficient barrier to every 
imposition of this nature. But a good moral character, although indispens- 
able, is not the only qualification of a teacher. To be useful and successful, he 

Fourth Epoch. 171 

must have a good knowledge of what he attempts to teach to others, as well as 
judgment and skill in the manner of teaching. We are aware of the difficulty 
which exists in procuring teachers possessing all the requisite qualifications. It 
is a difficulty not peculiar to this State, but exists in a greater or less degree in 
every State and probably in every town. We are sensible, also, that the compen- 
sation usually allowed to teachers, especially in country schools, is not and, from 
the nature of the case, cannot be such as always to command the best talents. 
But those who may be obtained for the moderate compensation thus allowed, 
might render themselves much more useful were they to take as much pains in 
preparing themselves, as is deemed necessary in almost any oilier employment 
in life. In one. at least, of our sister States, an institution has been established 
for the express purpose of qualifying young men for teaching. Perhaps this is 
the only feasible means of remedying the deficiency which is at present so much 
a matter of complaint. 

" It is a position well established that, " on the early and correct education of 
youth, depends the ultimate success of every rational enterprise for the intellect- 
ual and moral improvement of man." On this early and correct education 
depend, also, in a great measure, the preservation of our liberties and the con- 
tinuation of the present free institutions of our country. Deeply impressed, 
therefore, with the importance of the occupation, both in a moral and political 
point of view, your committee would present the suoject of the qualifications of 
teachers as one deserving the most serious and attentive consideration. 

" Respecting the branches to be taught in our public schools, your committee 
would hazard a very few remarks. While we admit that spelling, reading, 
writing and arithmetic are the most essential, and although we would by no 
means, have any others introduced to the exclusion or detriment of any one of 
these, we, nevertheless, think there is an error in limiting the schools exclusively 
to these branches. More than these can be successfully taught in almost every 
school in our State. It is true that in some of our public schools, grammar and 
geography are partially taught, but this in not enough: the standard of our 
schools should be raised; the branches should be extended, at least, so far as 
that those of every day use in life, may be embraced. There are but few persons 
who have not occasion, in the course of their lives, to express their ideas on 
paper, either in an epistolary, or some other form, yet how often is it the case 
that when a necessity exists for an attempt of this kind the task is entered upon 
with the greatest reluctance from a consciousness of inability to write with any 
degree of correctness. We submit it, therefore, as a very important question to 
school committees, whether in every school, excepting those for very young 
children, the more advanced scholars should not be taught to express their ideas 
in writing, and the proper method of arranging sentences. A very little practice 
in youth will render the task of writing a common letter comparatively easy. 
Most of us are frequent witnesses of the deplorable deficiency which exists in 
this particular. A proper use of the capitals and some general rules for pointing 
sentences, are very readily learned at school; but if not learned there, they are 
seldom learned at all ; and whenever, in after life, a written communication is 
required, this deficiency in their early education is most sorely felt. 

"Another essential, and as we think indispensable acquirement, is a know- 
ledge of accounts, but of this we shall say more in connection with another 

172 Providence. 

subject. All these and more, it is believed by your committee, may be advanta- 
geously taught in our public schools, without detriment to the more elementary 
branches. Teachers frequently complain that they have no time for such 
exercises ; but we would earnestly recommend to them to make the attempt. 
If school committees should require these branches to be taught in their schools- 
teachers, if not already qualified, would find it necessary to prepare themselves 
to teach them. 

"Upon the question, 'whether any, and if any, what improvement may be 
made in the discipline or instruction of schools,' your committee do not hesitate 
to reply, that it is decidedly their opinion much improvement may be made both 
in the discipline and mode of instruction now generally adopted in our public 
schools. The committee are aware that this is a delicate subject, and in the few 
remarks they may offer they feel constrained to speak cautiously. They cannot 
forbear, however, suggesting a few things in relation to this part of their duty 
without presuming to censure, or to prescribe in what manner every school shall 
be taught and governed. 

" There are two extremes into which communities as well as individuals are 
apt to fall. The one is a hasty adoption of every new thing which happens to 
be cried up as an improvement; the other is a pertinacious adherence to old 
established customs and usages, however obvious their inconvenience or their 
defects. To these extremes, schools for elementary education have been pecul- 
iarly subject. While in some of them, no one system has been pursued long 
enough to test its utility or unfitness, in others it has been deemed almost 
sacrilegious to depart a single step from the ancient mode of instruction and 
government. Either of these extremes is unspeakably injurious to the cause of 
education. That great improvements have been made both in the means and 
method of imparting instruction to youth, it is believed none who have been at 
all conversant with the subject will deny; but in niairy places, a rooted attach- 
ment to established rules and preconceived notions have prevented the benefits 
which might have resulted from the adoption of these improvements. Why is 
it, Ave would ask, that so many teachers have failed in their attempts to com- 
municate instruction to the youthful mind? Why have so many parents and 
patrons of schools so much cause to lament the ill success of their exertions in 
endeavoring to promote the education of their children? Your committee think 
it has been owing in a great measure, to mistaken views on the subject. We 
think there has been a mistake both in the theory and practice of teaching. 
Instead of considering and treating children as rational beings, strongly actuated 
by the passions of shame, of pride, of emulation, of hope and despair; instead 
of reflecting that they possess a mind in embryo, susceptible of deep and lasting 
impressions made upon it through the medium of the above named passions, 
we very much fear they are too often considered and treated as beings entirely 
passive; as incapable of receiving any impressions but such as are forced upon 
them by a compulsory process. 

" The passion of fear is one which children manifest earlier and more distinctly 
than any other. This has been seized upon as Ave think injudiciously by some 
teachers, as if it were the only avenue by which approaches could be made to the 
understanding of the child. Acting upon this principle, it is easy to see what 
must be the course of discipline and instruction. The teacher at once arrays 

Fourth Epoch. 173 

himself in terror, and the whole business of teaching and governing must be a 
system of coercion. Our opinion is, that where this system is pursued, there is 
great danger of creating in the pupils a morbid sensibility, a stubborness of 
temper, a hatred of the school and whatever is connected with it. It operates 
as a check upon all the better feelings of the scholar, and it will be a fortunate 
circumstance if it does not create a hardened indifference to improvement of 
every kind. On the subject of corporal punishment we fear to express all we 
feel. As a system of government it is decidedly objectionable, and we think if 
it must he used, it should be used only as a last resort. 

"It belongs not to us to point out all that we consider faults, either in teach- 
ing or discipline, but we will briefly express our views respecting some of those 
faults which have a tendency to defeat the ends for which public schools have 
been established. We have no hesitation in stating what we consider one of 
the greatest faults in teaching, and the (me from which almost all others spring: 
it is a departure, from nature. Children may be compared to young and tender 
plants. When we wish to rear these in the utmost perfection what course do 
we pursue? We surely would not heap upon them piles of rubbish, for this we 
know would crush them at once. Neither would we pour upon them a constant 
deluge of water, which would soon destroy their vitality. Even ' the sturdy 
oak which defies the tempest,' springs from a tender and pliant twig, which may 
be easily destroyed or fashioned to an unshapely shrub. While the vital sap of 
the young tree is passing from its root to its brandies, do we surround it with 
snow and ice to promote its growth? Should we not rather cherish every 
spontaneous effort and gently clip those excrescences which would render the 
tree unsightly or unfruitful? Let it not be said the two cases are not analogous. 
If the principle be applied to the physical powers of children we know it is 
correct. And why not as applicable to their mental powers? 

" If parents and teachers, in their attempts to communicate knowledge to 
the youthful mind, and to train up children to usefulness and respectability in 
life, would closely adhere to the principles followed by the experienced farmer and 
the skilful horticulturist in rearing their grain, their plants and their trees, they 
could scarcely fail of success. An obvious departure from these principles is 
the practice too common both with parents and teachers of crowding the memory 
of children with a mass of unintelligible matter, answering no other purpose 
than to display the wonderful memory of the wonderful child, while every other 
faculty of the mind is left uncultivated and unfostered. We view it as a matter 
of the first consequence in teaching, that nothing be presented to the mind of 
the scholar which he cannot understand. Whatever is unintelligible is not only 
useless, but its effect upon his mind is decidedly bad. 

" It is an axiom that those means are best which are best fitted to accomplish the 
end proposed. The design of education undoubtedly is, to develop, strengthen and 
bring to maturity the mental powers, to give them a right direction, and thus to. 
prepare youth for the scenes and duties of active life. What then are the 
means best adapted to the accomplishment of this great end? Surely not those 
which call into exercise one single faculty of the mind only, while ail the rest 
are left to spring up spontaneously, or to rest in total inaction. Viewing it, there- 
fore, as absolutely essential that in teaching, all these powers should be brought 
into exercise, your committee would recommend oral instruction as best fitted 

174 Peovidence. 

to produce this important result. By this mode of teaching, children are neces- 
sarily led into the habit of thinking and reasoning upon every thing they learn. 
What they do learn, therefore, they learn intellectually and not mechanically. 

" We think tins mode of teaching furnishes many opportunities of imparting 
useful instruction, which are not presented by the other mode. We do not, 
however, by this recommendation, mean to imply that books ought to be dis- 
pensed with in teaching. On the contrary, we think them useful auxiliaries and 
absolutely esseutial in every school. But we think books are too closely adhered 
to, especially in the departments of arithmetic, geography and grammar. We 
believe these may be taught, and much more successfully and practically taught, 
by oral instruction, using the books merely for reference. The time devoted to 
committing to memory the solid contents of books, we think not the most 
usefully employe 1. Time, to children, is all important. In those towns where 
schools are continued through the year, and where children have the opportunity 
of attending them constantly from infancy upward, the loss of a portion of their 
time may not prove a very serious calamity, although even under these circum- 
stances it ought if possible to be avoided. But in the country towns, where 
schools are supported but a part of the year, tins loss is a very serious evil. 
Where a scholar has the privilege of attending school but three months in the 
year, and is obliged to lose a considerable portion of that time by unskilful 
teaching, his progress must necessarily be slow, and he will probably feel the 
embarrass!! ids resulting from this loss of time, throughout his whole life. On 
the subject < teaching arithmetic, we would simply suggest the expediency of 
dispensing ith the use of manuscript ciphering books, especially in schools of 
limited durat ion, and that most if not all arithmetical questions be proposed 
directly by t . ■ teacher; that these questions be of a practical nature, designed 
to habituate the pupil to a readiness of calculation in the ordinary concerns of 
life. Wise, scholars arc sufficiently familar with the fundamental rules of arith- 
metic, and their hand- writing will admit of it, we would recommend to them 
the subjecl of book-keeping as a valuable substitute for their manuscript 
ciphering i oks. This is a branch of knowledge of so great and so general 
utility that e cannot forbear recommending it to school committees as a branch 
that should aught in every school. Book-keeping by single entry, is very 

easily learned, and when learned will probably never be forgotton. We think 
much time .; y be saved to the pupil also, in the study of geography and gram- 
mar, by ado ing the oral method of teaching them. This method may require 
more exerti • :■ md labor in the teacher, but his remuneration will be the more 
rapid advance of his scholars. 

"In connection with what we have already stated on the subject of intellect- 
ual teaching, we take the liberty to recommend, as a most valuable auxiliary, 
the simple school-apparatus, designed to elucidate the elementary principles of 
astronomy, natural philosophy and mechanics. In the schools where this has 
been used, it has produced the happiest results. 

" Our only apology for entering thus far into the details of teaching is, an 
earnest desire that the youth of our State may enjoy all the advantages intended 
by our legislators from the invaluable establishment of public schools. We 
have not considered ourselves as censors of the schools, neither have we 
intended to express our views in the spirit of dictation. 

Fourth Epoch. 175 

have made have arisen from no personal or local feelings, but from a wish to 
discharge the duties entrusted to us under a conviction of their importance to 
the community. 

" Upon a review of the subject, your committee find much cause for congratu- 
lation in the increased and increasing means of education in the State. There 
is not a town in which all the children may not have the means of acquiring a 
common school education, and when we consider the nature of our institutions, 
and how much their preservation depends on the general spread of information 
and on the correct morals of our youth, we have much cause to rejoice at the 
present favorable prospects, and we look forward to the period when Rhode 
Island shall be as celebrated for the facilities afforded to education as she now is 
for her industry and manufactures. 

" Respectfully submitted, 

"Oliver Axgelt, 

" For the Committee." 

The Schools Under a City Charter. 

In 1832, the town of Providence commenced a chartered existence as 
a city. The change from the more primitive forms under which its af- 
fairs had been conducted, in nowise militated against the interests of 
the public schools. In some respects an advantage was gained, espe- 
cially in matters requiring prompt action. In the first Mayor, Hon. 
Samuel W. Bridgham, the cause of public education found a devoted and 
enlightened supporter In his inaugural address he expressed himself in 
the following words : 

"Under the act establishing free schools, passed by the General Assembly in 
January, A. D. 1828, it is necessary that an appropriation to a certain extent 
should be made by the city, for the purpose of supporting such schools, in order 
to entitle the city to receive out of the State treasury its proportion of the 
money appropriated by the legislature to that object. I therefore recommend 
this subject to your early attention. It is a subject of the deepest interest to 
the community. In a free government, education, which elevates the mind, 
diffuses virtue, and leads to virtue, is the surest foundation of freedom and 
public safety. Without free schools a portion of the community are cast into 
obscurity, and oftentimes intellect of the first order is lost to its possessor and 
to the world. Children of the poor as well as of* the rich, ought to be instructed 
both in letters and in morals, and no state of society can, in my opinion, excuse 
the neglect of it. The opulent cannot bestow a portion of their wealth more 
benevolently, nor, I humbly conceive, more for their true interest than by apply- 
ing it to this object If they wish to live in a community peaceably, orderly, 
free from excess, outrage and crime, let them promote by their wealth and their 
influence the cause of education. They will find both their interest and their 
happiness in it. By looking over the catalogue of offenders it will be found 
that vice of every kind and degree most generally springs from ignorance. The 

176 Providence. 

want of learning and of moral instruction generally leads to idleness, to dissi- 
pation and to crime, and often ends in ruin. The town of Providence lias taken 
a lead in the good work of education, highly honorable to the community. 
* * * And I hazard the assertion that few, if any, institutions of the kind in 
our country are better established, regulated and conducted, or prove more 
useful to the public." 

The first school committee under the charter was composed of the fol- 
lowing gentlemen : Samuel W. Bridgham, President ; Dexter Thurber, 
Charles Holden, John H. Ormsbee, William T. Grinnell, Henry R. Green, 
Asa Messer, George Curtis, -Moses B. Ives, Robert H. Ives, Peter Pratt, 
Thomas II. Webb, Frederick A. Farley, William Aplin, George Baker, 
Alexis Caswell, David Pickering, Pharcellus Church, Robert Knight, 
Robert E. Patteson. 

" In August, 1835, a special effort was made in the school committee to im- 
prove the character and increase the number of schools under their care. It 
was urged by some of the members of that body, that the establishing of a high 
school, in which the older and more advanced boys might pursue the higher 
branches of an English education, would tend to improve the grammar schools. 
It was urged that the removal of these pupils from the grammar schools would 
allow the masters to devote their attention to the mass of their scholars, instead 
of to a few already advanced beyond the common studies, and engaged in pur- 
suing the higher branches. It was also urged that the establishment of a high 
school would afford a healthful stimulus to the boys in the grammar schools, 
and urge them onward in their studies, in order that they might become quali- 
fied for admission to such a school. 

" The subject was referred to a special committee with instructions to exam- 
ine into the expediency of having a ' free high school ' established, and to re- 
port the result of their examination. This committee presented a report in the 
form of a series of resolutions, which were adopted by a vote of two-thirds 01 
the school committee. Among these resolutions was the following : ' That it 
is highly desirable and expedient that a high school should be established in this 
city, for the instruction of young men in the higher branches of a good English 
education; and that said high school be established by this committee, should 
a provision tor the same be made by the city government.'"* 

The city council appears not to have been ready to recede to this 
recommendation, and voted that it was then inexpedient to establish a 
high school. 

In 1835, the salaries of masters were raised to SGOO, and of ushers to 
$300 per annum. Tl.e committee in their repoit to the city council this 
year say : 

* Barnard's R. I. School Report, p. 

Fourth Epoch. 177 

" Xo measure lias been omitted which tliey deemed necessary, and was in their 
power to adopt for the promotion of the good of the institutions of which they 
have had the superintendence. The time and labor of the committee have been 
largely taxed, but they do not complain of the burthen, deeming their efforts to have 
been made in a good cause, and trusting that those efforts will not prove to 
have been made in vain. They have visited the schools under their charge reg- 
ularly every quarter agreeably to law, and at other times according to their own 
rules, regulations and by-laws. The schools are now in as good condition, and 
promise as much usefulness, as at any former period." 

In 183G, female assistants were for the first time employed in the 
grammar schools. The ushers were not at once removed, but whenever 
vacancies occurred in their places they were filled by the appointment of 
two female assistants, at a salary of $175 per annum.* In the course of 
a year or two, all the ushers having resigned, female assistants were em- 
ployed in all the grammar schools of the city. About this time Goold 
Brown's Grammar, Field's Geography and Atlas, and the National Reader 
were introduced into the grammar schools, and Emerson's First Part and 
the American Popular Lessons were introduced into the primary schools.! 

Further Reconstruction Proposed. 

The arrangements made under the reconstruction of 1828, worked 
satisfactorilj' for several years ; but with the growth of population in 
Providence the schools became crowded to an extent requiring relief b} T 
the erection of more school houses. Certain changes to give the schools 
increased efficiency were also needed. The Mechanics' Association, ever 
watchful of these interests, brought the subject to the attention of the 
city council early in 1837, in an earnest memorial written b} r George 
Baker, Esq., President of the Association, and for many years an active 
member of the school committee. It was a clear-sighted paper, looking 
to present and future wants, and as a part of the history of the public 
schools specially valuable, showing as it does the common sentiment of 
the body he represented, and the readiness of its members, who com- 

* The first female appointed to this position was Miss Avis W. Lockwood. She had 
been preceptress of the girls' school established in the fourth district in 1827, and "was 
continued in the same place when that school was made a primary, in 1828. 

jFroin 1828 to 183G, the teachers of the primary schools, so far as ascertained, were: 
Carr, Ann J. Ware, Sarah P. Church, Mary Ann Davis, Avis W". Lockwood, Har- 
riet Fisher, Eliza P. Delano, Sarah Pratt, Abby R. Thornton, Mary Godfrey, Emily Phil- 
lips, Hannah Farnum, Ann Page, Rosa A. Grafton, Elizabeth E. Brown, Sarah A, Hay- 
ford, Eliza Thurber, Ruth Winchester, Abby S.Cooke, Abby B. Hay ford, W. Walker, 

Elizabeth It. Little, Tillinghast (colored school), Almy E. Spaulding, Diana Bragg, 

Sarah W. Arnold, Emelinc A. Vinton, Harriet Wood, Mary C. Bragg, L. G. Lincoln, Sutan 


178 Providence. 

posed " a large portion of the heads of families of the city," to cheerfully 
meet the increased expense to be incurred in carrying out the desired 
change. The memorial is as follows : 

" To the City Council of the City of Providence: 

" The undersigned, in behalf of the Providence Association of Mechanics and 
Manufacturers, respectfully represent : That 

"At a meeting of the Association, held on Monday evening, January 30, 1837, 
the accompanying resolutions were unanimously adopted : 

" Besolved, That no subject can be of more importance to the inhabitants of 
this city, than the education of the rising generation. 

" Resolved, That as the members of this Association were the pioneers in the 
establishment of the public schools, they manifested a most laudable zeal on 
that subject. 

"Besolved, That the public schools of this city come far short of the wants of 
the community, and are much inferior in their character to the public schools in 
the neighboring cities. 

"Besolved, That the public schools can and ought to be made equal to the 
private schools, so far as relates to the common branches now taught. 

" Besolved, That two of the greatest evils now existing, as respects public 
school instruction, are the great number of scholars in each school, and the 
small salaries paid to the teachers. 

" Besolved, That an increased number of public schools ought to be established 
in this city as soon as practicable. 

"Besolved, That a committee be appointed to draft a memorial to the city 
council, on the subject of public schools, in conformity with the recommenda- 
tion of the select committee, to report at an adjourned meeting, to beheld on 
Saturday evening next. 

"In accordance with said resolutions, the following memorial was reported 
and approved at the adjourned meeting, and directed to be signed by the Presi- 
dent and Secretary, and presented to the city council. 

" Your memorialists have long considered that public schools, as at present 
conducted in this city, are wholly inadequate to the wants of the community, and 
fall far short of what might be expected from its present opulence. It is the 
opinion of this Association, that unless a more liberal system of public education 
is pursued, the children of the poorer classes must grow up in comparative ig- 
norance; and that the laxity of morals, and loss of an honest pride in their own 
capacities, which would result from this state of things, would more than out- 
weigh the increased expense which would be necessary to arrest it. 

"Your memorialists have been struck with one fact, to which they would re- 
spectfully solicit particular attention. It has been argued by some, (and perhaps 
the argument has attracted the consideration of your honorable body), that the 
instruction of youth in the public schools is a heavy tax upon the middling 
classes, without an adequate return, as they do not participate in the benefit of 
this public instruction. This argument, which is evidently weighty in the 
present condition of these schools, would be destroyed if they were raised to the 
condition desired by your memorialists. Why is it that the middling classes do 

Fourth Erocn. 179 

not become participants in this instruction? There is evidently but one reason. 
They perceive that the crowded state of the schools alone, would prevent proper 
attention to the pupil ; and the}' are aware that with the small sum which the 
instructors receive, it is difficult to procure and retain the services of competent 
persons to till the station. But let the schools be made so numerous that the 
scholars may receive as much attention as they do in the private schools, and let 
the salaries be so large as to induce men of equal ability to take charge of them, 
and that which is now considered as a tax, would then be viewed as an allevia- 
tion of one of the heaviest burdens put upon the middling classes. 

"Your honorable body have, no doubt, in the consideration which you have 
given this subject, perceived how far we are behind our neighboring cities in this 
particular. Whilst they are constantly aiming at perfection in their free school 
system, we have been at a stand, or retrograding. To us, this is a matter of 
serious concern, inasmuch as in proportion to our inferiority in this particular 
we are liable to become inferior in every other matter which requires intelligence, 
industry and enterprise. 

"In evidence of these statements, it is found that the number attending public 
schools in this city, in 1836, was, ------ 1,456 

Private schools, _______ 8,235 

Attending no school, _______ 1,604 

Amount actually paid for public schools from June, 1835, to 

June, 1836, by the city, - $5,936 34 

By the State, _____ l j :,24 65 

" Amount paid for private school instruction, over 
Number attending public schools in Boston, in 1836, 
Number attending private schools, 
Amount paid for public schools, - 
Amount paid for private schools, 

" There are about 50 per cent, more attending private school instruction than 
public, in this city ; while in Boston, three-fifths of the whole number, 12,848, 
are attending the public schools. 

"Boston, containing a population of about 80,000, pays 888,000; and Providence, 
whose population is about 20,000, pays 87,461. Should Providence pay 822,000, 
instead of the sum above stated, her public schools might then be equal in stand- 
ing, and perhaps nearly adequate to the actual wants of the community. 

" To remedy the defect in our present system, your memorialists would suggest 
that a grade of schools be established between the primary and writing schools, 
for reading, writing and arithmetic only, the design of which is to give a thor- 
ough instruction in these branches to those children whose parents need their 
services at as early an age as twelve or thirteen years, and who, under the 
present arrangement, are compelled to leave school with a very superficial 
knowledge of those branches which are so necessary for obtaining a livelihood 
in any business. It must he obvious, that without a thorough knowledge of 
reading, writing and arithmetic, the purposes of education are not, in any im- 
portant degree, answered. And they would further suggest, that in addition to 







- 4,000 


88,000 00 




180 Providence. 

grammar and geography, now taught in the writing schools, such of the higher 
brandies should be added as might be deemed most useful. 

"To effect an essential reform in our public school system, great expense must 
necessarily be incurred ; and your memorialists, who represent a large portion 
of the heads of families of the city, would meet this increased expense with 
hearty encouragement. They need but the assurance that the schools shall be 
adequate to the purposes of education, to stimulate them to unremitting efforts 
for their support and maintenance ; and they feel confident that they would be 
met with corresponding efforts on the part of the inhabitants of the city generally. 

"Your memorialists are convinced that the present is the time to commence 
this work of reform. The amount which will be received from the government, 
and devoted to education, will considerably alleviate the expense in the outset; 
and the inhabitants of the city are now so well convinced of the necessity of ef- 
fort, that any appropriations for this object would no doubt meet with their 

" George Baker, President. 

"Samuel Tixgley, Jr., Secretary." 

This memorial, replete with just views, was received b} r the city council 
with marked respect, and referred to a committee who subsequent!}' re- 
ported a plan for the improvement of the schools ; but the provisions of 
it being unsatisfactory, a second plan was presentee', comprehending 
twelve primary, eight intermediate, an 1 four upper schools— the primary 
to occupy the place of those now bearing that name, the intermediate to 
rank with grammar schools and the "upper schools" to be practically 
equivalents for a high school. A salary bill was agreed upon, vvhich, 
with the school plan, was sent to the board of aldermen for their concur- 
rence. By that bod} r the schools were diminished to twenty, and the 
salaries reduced about ten per cent. 

With these modifications the bill was returned to the common council, 
who refused to concur. After frequent meetings and protracted debates, 
with no approximation to unity, the board of aldermen devised a plan 
embracing ten primary schools, six intermediate schools, two upper 
schools, and two schools for colored children. This, when presented to 
the common council, was voted down b} T a large majority, and without 
any final decision the municipal year closed. 

The feeling on the school question was now stronger than ever. The 
election of aldermen and councilmen for the year 1837-38 turned some- 
what upon this question, and resulted in returning to the two boards a 
majority in favor of an entire reorganization of the public schools. 
Shortly after the organization of the city government a joint committee 
of both boards was appointed to take the subject of a new organization 
of the schools into consideration. A sub-committee from this committee 

Fourth Epoch. 181 

visited Boston, Salem, Lowell and New Bedford to gain such informa- 
tion as might be helpful in arriving at correct conclusions. On their 
return they made a report to the city council as follows : 

"To The City Council of the City of Providence: 

" The Committee appointed to take into consideration the expediency of a new 
organization of the public schools, beg leave to report : 

" That the important subject presented to the consideration of .your committee, 
has ever been one of great and constant interest. In no former period of our 
history, has it excited more universal attention than at the present time. In this 
country, such has been the interest felt in the cause of education, that in aid of 
individual efforts, there have been legislative enactments establishing- public 

" The true wealth of a community should always be deemed to be the mind 
and intelligence of its children. Other treasures are as dross compared with 
this. By means of the public schools, the poor boy of to-day, the orphan 
perhaps, may become the man of influence of to-morrow, and what legacy so 
good, so fraught with lasting benefits as education ! 

"Our public schools should be sustained, if sustained at all, by a liberal 
policy. Neither the indigent nor the sick have higher claims upon us than the 
ignorant. On a subject of such vital importance to this community, may we 
not reasonably indulge the hope, that it will yet become the ambition of its 
citizens to emulate each other in the good work. 

" The system of public instruction in this country, generally commences at 
the age of four years. Whether it ought not to begin at an earlier period, is a 
question which has been more or less discussed. Certain it is, that the earliest 
moment should be seized for imparting moral and intellectual culture to the 
infant mind. Experiments which have been made, show that instruction may 
be given at an age much earlier than that recognized for the admission of child- 
ren into our public schools. Whether it would be an improvement in the system 
of instruction adopted in this city, to create a certain number of infant schools, 
is a consideration worthy of public attention. The free operation of our schools 
is doubtless impeded, and the instruction of the pupils greatly restricted, in 
consequence of the number of those who are continually entering the writing- 
schools, with but a partial knowledge of the first rudiments. If infant schools, 
for the benefit of children from the age of three to five years, were established, 
a positive advantage would be gained to the primary and writing schools. Many 
of us have spent an occasional hour in an infant school. In those cradles of 
learning, the eye views nothing that is depraved; the ear is there unassailed by 
by the language of impiety ; a universal glow of pleasure is depicted on every 
countenance. Children are there made happy, because they are instructed to be 
good. Into such schools are introduced children of the tenderest age, who 
become at once the recipients of kindness, and who are led along by gentle 
steps to the portals of knowledge. 

" To have good schools, it is necessary they be provided with good teachers. 
We fear the office of teacher will never attain to that rank in society which it 
ought, until it is rewarded by the best salaries, in order that it may be coveted 

182 Providence. 

by the best talents. For the purpose of improving their pecuniary condition, 
educated men will ever be ready to abandon a calling which subjects them to 
severe duties, without an adequate reward. Pay to teachers something more 
than the means of a bare subsistence for their labors, and their services will be 
secured, their ambition stimulated, and your schools improved. 

"Every thing connected with education, should be made attractive to the 
child. The school-house, to which he is accustomed to go, should be such as to 
harmonize with the nature of his mind. In its exterior or interior aspect, it 
should never present a repulsive character. Instead of being unsightly and 
unclean, it should be the reverse. Consecrate the spot where your children 
are to spend so many hours of their existence, to good order, beauty of arrange- 
ment, and general neatness, and they will be grateful for the attention bestowed, 
and will be seen resorting there for pastime as well as for study. 

" In the opinion of your committee, it will be found eminently useful to estab- 
lish a superintendent of the public schools. In the plan of instruction herewith 
submitted for consideration, such an officer is incorporated. It must be obvious 
to every one, that an individual well qualified for such a station, might carefully 
survey the whole ground, and understand from time to time its actual condition. 
It should be the duty of such an officer, to have a knowledge of all the children 
in the city, especially those of the poorer classes. It would be within the sphere 
of his influence, to lead the minds of parents and guardians to a more compre- 
hensive sense of their duty. It should be his province to confer with the 
teachers, and to submit to the school committee a quarterly report, exhibiting 
the condition of the schools, and of all such matters relating to the general 
subject, as its importance would suggest. Create such an officer, with a salary 
sufficient to enable him to devote his whole time to the duties of his office, and 
much will have been done towards sustaining the character of the plan of 
instruction which may be adopted. 

"In conclusion, the committee offer the following resolutions : 

"1st. That it is expedient that the number of schools in this city be 
increased to seventeen, not including the schools for children of color. 

" 2d. That it is expedient that said schools be of the following descriptions, 

Viz. : 

" One high school, six grammar and writing schools, ten primary schools. 

"3d. That in the opinion of the city council, no child ought to be admitted 
into the primary schools at a less age than four years; into the grammar and 
writing schools at a less age than seven years ; nor into the high school at a 
less age than twelve years, unless by special permission of the school com- 

" 4th. That in the opinion of the city council, no pupil ought to remain in 
the high school, longer than three years unless by special permission of the 
school committee and in no case unless the same is not full. 

"5th. That in the opinion of the city council, the principal of the high 
school, should be paid one thousand dollars per annum; the assistant teacher 
seven hundred and fifty dollars per annum; the masters of the grammar and 
writing schools, eight hundred dollars per annum; two assistant female 
teachers, two hundred dollars per annum; the principals of the primary 
schools, two hundred and fifty dollars per annum ; the assistant teachers, one 
hundred and seventy-five dollars per annum. 

Fourth Epoch. 183 

" 6th. That in the opinion of the city council, it is expedient to establish a 
superintendent of the public schools. 

" 7th. That in the opinion of the city council, the superintendent of the public 
schools, should be paid a salary of eight hundred dollars per annum. 

" 8th. That the high school should be instituted for the purpose of fitting 
young men for college, and for perfecting those who are not intended for a 
collegiate course of study, in the branches of a good English education. 

" 9th. That it is expedient that the high school shall be open for candidates 

from all the schools in the city, once a year, viz. : on the next 

succeeding the exhibition of the schools in ; and that 

for admission into the high school, candidates from the public schools shall 

have preference over all others. 

" All of which is respectfully submitted, 

" J. L. Hughes, "] 

Stephen T. Olney, 

Henry Anthony, \ „ ... „ 
- Committee. 
Amherst Everett, 

Setii Padelford, I 

James E. Butts, J 

" September 25, 1837." 

This report, which was printed and widely distributed among the free- 
men of the city, was the signal for a renewal of the discussion, both of 
the advantages and disadvantages of a reconstruction of the public free 
school system, bringing out the strongest arguments of friends and 
opponents. These discussions were propitious. -' The advocates of a 
new organization insisted on a radical change in the whole S}*stem. 
They asked for a new classification of the schools into primary and 
grammar schools, and a high school. The}* likewise urged the necessity 
of new plans for the instruction and supervision of the schools. Elabo- 
rate arguments were adduced to show that it would be more economical 
for the city to make liberal provisions for very good public schools, than 
to continue to expend small sums for very poor schools."* 

Conspicuous in these discussions and labors were John L. Hughes and 
Simon Henry Greene, the former a member of the school committee, 
and both members of the common council. Hon. Seth Padelford, then 
also a member of the common council, and subsequently for fifteen 
years a member of the school committee, and always a devoted friend 
to popular education, rendered valuable services during this contest. 
These gentlemen, and others not named associated with them, succeeded 
in securing the adoption of tw A bill providing for a new organization 
and the future government of the public schools in the city of Provi- 
dence." The bill is here presented as an important part of this narrative : 

* It is due to the opponents of reorganization to say, that their hostility appears to 
have been based mainly upon the increased expense involved in the change. 

184 Providence . 

"An Ordinance in relation to Public Schools. 

"Section 1. Be it ordained by the city council of the city of Providence, 
that from and after the 7th day of September, A. D. 1838, the number of public 
schools in said city shall be seventeen ; (not including schools for colored chil- 
dren,) and that said schools shall be of the following description, to wit: one 
high school, six grammar and writing schools, ten primary schools. And that 
free instruction shall be therein given to the children of all the inhabitants of 
said city who may see lit to avail themselves thereof; subject only to the rules 
and regulations hereinafter contained and provided for. 

" Sec. 2. That each primary school shall be under the care of a principal, 
and one assistant teacher, and the rudiments of an English education shall be 
taught therein. That each grammar and writing school shall be under the care 
of a master, and at least two female assistant teachers, or one male assistant 
teacher, at the discretion of the school committee ; and the ordinary branches of 
an English education shall be taught therein. That the high school shall be un- 
der the care of a preceptor, and one or more assistant teachers, and thorough in- 
struction shall be given therein in all the branches of a good English education ; 
and instruction shall also be given therein to all the pupils whose parents or 
guardians may desire it, in all the preparatory branches ol a classical education. 

" Sec. 3. The high school shall not at any time contain more than two hun- 
dred pupils; of which number, not more than one hundred shall be females, ex- 
cept when the number of male pupils shall be less than one hundred; in which 
case, an additional number of females may be admitted, until the school shall be 
filled, under such conditions as the school committee may prescribe. 

"Sec. 4. That no child who shall not have attained the age of four years, 
shall be admitted as a pupil into a primary school. 

" That no child who shall not have attained the age of seven years, shall be 
admitted as a pupil into a grammar and writing school, nor unless qualified im- 
mediately to enter upon the course of studies pursued therein. 

"That no child who shall not have attained the age of twelve years, shall be 
admitted as a pupil into the high school, nor unless qualified immediately to en- 
ter upon the course of studies pursued therein. That no pupil shall remain in 
the high school more than three years. 

" No child who shall not have attended a grammar and writing school for at 
least three years, shall be admitted to the high school when there is a sufficient 
number of candidates in the grammar and writing schools qualified lor admission 
therein. But whenever there shall not be a sufficient number of such candidates, 
any child over the age of twelve years, may, if qualified, be admitted for such 
time as the school committee may determine. 

" Sec. 5. That the school committee be, and they are hereby authorized and 
requested to appoint annually a superintendent of the public schools, who shall 
perform such duties in relation to the public schools as said committee may from 
time to time prescribe. Said superintendent to be subject to removal at any 
time by the school committee, in case of inability or mismanagement. 

" Sec. G. That there shall be a public exhibition in the last week of each 
school year, in some place to be designated by the school committee, by so many 
pupils of the highest class of each of the grammar and writing schools as may 

Fourth Epoch. 185 

be selected, in such manner as the school committee shall prescribe. There 
shall also be an annual public exhibition by the graduating class, and such other 
pupils of the high school as may be selected by the school committee, or under 
their direction ; which exhibition shall take place on the Monday next preced- 
ing the lirst Wednesday in September. 

" Sec. 7. That the first regular term ol all the schools in each school year, 
shall commence on the Monday next succeeding the second Wednesday in Sep- 

" Sec. 8. That there shall be two public schools maintained exclusively for 
the instruction of colored children; each of which shall be under the care of a 
principal, and also of an assistant teacher, whenever, in the opinion of the school 
committee, the services of such assistant may be necessary ; and that free in- 
struction shall be therein given in the ordinary branches of an English education, 
to the children of all the colord inhabitants of the city who may see fit to avail 
themselves thereof, subject only to the rules and regulations herein contained 
and provided for. 

" Sec. 9. That the following annual salaries shall be paid to the superintendent 
and instructors of the schools, respectively, in equal quarterly payments, to wit: 

"To the superintendent, twelve hundred and fifty dollars. 

" To the preceptor of the high school, twelve hundred and fifty dollars. 

"To each male'assistant teacher of the high school, seven hundred and fifty dollars. 

"To each female assistant teacher of the high school, five hundred dollars. 

" To each master of a grammar and writing school, eight hundred dollars. 

" To each male assistant teacher of a grammar and writing school, four hun- 
dred dollars. 

" To each female assistant teacher of a grammar and writing school, two hun- 
dred and twenty-live dollars. 

" To each principal of a primary school, two hundred and fifty dollars. 

"To each assistant teacher of a primary school, two hundred dollars. 

" To each male principal of a school for colored children, five hundred dollars. 

" To each female principal of a school for colored children, two hundred dollars. 

" To each male assistant teacher of a school for colored children, two hundred 
and fifty dollars. 

" To each female assistant teacher of a school for colored children, one hun- 
dred and fifty dollars. 

" Sec. 10. That all moneys appropriated for the support of the public schools, 
shall be subject to the exclusive control of the school committee, who shall have 
full power to cause the same, or any part thereof, to be expended in any manner 
which they may deem most advisable, for the benefit and welfare of the schools, 
excepting so much thereof as will be from time to time required for the payment 
of the salaries established by this ordinance, and excepting also all such appro- 
priations as may be made for a specific purpose or purposes. Said committee 
shall also have full power and authority to alter, from time to time, as they may 
deem expedient, the bounds of the several school districts, in order to provide 
suitable locations for such new schools as may hereafter be established by the 
city council, or to make a more equal apportionment of pupils to the several 
schools. It shall be their duty to see that the school houses and estates are 
kept in proper repair; to select and designate the best text books, and to pro- 
vide all such apparatus, and all other means of instruction for all the schools, as 

186 Providence . 

may be necessary for keeping the same in efficient operation, and for enabling 
the pupils to receive all the advantages therefrom which it is the intention of 
this ordinance to provide and secure. Said committee shall have and exercise 
a general discretionary power in all matters and things relating to the public 
schools, which are not specially provided for by this ordinance, or by the laws 
of this State, and not repugnant to said laws, or to the provisions of this or- 

" Sec. 11. That it shall be the duty of the aldermen and members of the com- 
mon council from each of the wards in the city, on or before the first Monday in 
May in each year, to recommend to the city council three candidates for election 
as members of the school committee for the ensuing municipal year, which 
recommendation shall be made by filing a list of the names of such candidates in 
the office of the city clerk. 

" Sec. 12. That this ordinance be published three weeks successively in the 
semi-weekly Morning Courier, Manufacturers' and Farmers' Journal, and Repub- 
lican Herald. 

" Passed April d, 1838. A true copy : witness, 

" Richard M. Field, City Clerk." 

Under this ordinance the primary and grammar schools went immedi- 
ately into operation. Subsequently an intermediate grade, such as 
recommended b} r the Mechanics' Association, was introduced. The 
high school, concerning which more will be said hereafter, was at a 
latter day added, and gave completeness to the course of study. 

"Immediately after the adoption of this ordinance, the city council appointed 
a committee to examine all the public school-houses and estates, and instructed 
them to report at an early day, what alterations and additions would be neces- 
sary in order to carry the whole system into effect. This committee pursuant 
to their instructions, made a thorough examination of all the old school-houses, 
and reported that they were ' all unfit for use in their present condition, and 
were all either too small, too dilapidated, or too badly constructed to be worth 
repairing.' In June, 1838, another joint committee was appointed, with instruc- 
tions to report plans for new school-houses, and also to present estimates of the 
cost of erecting them on the different plans which the committee might lay 
before the city council in connection with a bill recommending the appointment 
of a building committee. This recommendation was adopted, and the building 
committee were authorized to cause such of the present public school-houses 
to be removed or taken down, and such new school-houses to be erected and 
furnished, as may be necessary to carry into full operation the provisions of the 

This liberal provision was at once improved, and within two years 
thirteen new school-houses were completed. " The first day on which 
the new system went into operation, more than a thousand pupils 
entered the public schools who had never been to one before. All the 
rooms were soon so crowded that it became necessary to establish 

Fourth Erocn. 187 

additional primary schools, and erect houses for their accommodation. 
Within two 3'ears the number of scholars in the public schools was more 
than double that in attendance under the old system. The grammar 
schools were so full tin t many pupils who were prepared to enter upon 
the course of studies therein pursued, could not be admitted." 

The first school committee chosen under the reorganization of 1838, 
comprised the following gentlemen : 

Samuel W. Bridgham, Thomas C. Hoppin, 

William Aplin, Usher Parsons, 

William C. Barker, Caleb Williams, 

George Curtis, Hezekiah Anthony, 

Moses B. Ives, Jesse Metcalf, 

Kobert II. Ives, Joseph Cady, 

William G. Goddard, Richard E. Eddy, 

John F. Phillips, Joseph Yeazie, 

Edward B. Hall, John S. Eddy, 

Thomas W. Dorr, Nathan Tyler, 

Seth Padelford, Bums Claggett, 

John L. Hughes, John Ames, 

Thomas R. Ilolden, Amherst Everett, 

Mark Tucker, Thomas R. Ripley, 

Benjamin Clifford, Henry Anthony. 

This year the committee report that " all the schools maintain a fair 
and respectable standing as at any former period, and though sus- 
ceptable of improvement still continue a source of much usefulness to 
the public." The next two years the schools are reported as follows : 

1839. " The schools in the opinion of the committee, still maintain as fair 
and respectable standing as at any time heretofore. * * * The schools 
are more numerously attended than at any former period; more room is there- 
fore required. * * * The annual increase of scholars must be expected to 
produce, correspondent^, an annual increase of the expenses of the school." 

1810. ' ; Much additional time and attention of the committee have been occu- 
pied in the measures taken and pursued to carry into cfFect the revised plan of 
popular education adopted by the city council. The execution of that plan is 
now in a great state of forwardness. All the schools have been visited and ex- 
amined every quarter agreeably to the rules and regulations of the committee. 
In the opinion of the committee very considerable general improvement has been 
recently made under the new system, and everything promises still further results 
favorable to the progress of useful knowledge and moral discipline. * * * The 
committee deeming females to be preferable to males, for both principals and as- 
sistants in primary schools, and for assistants in the grammar schools, all teach- 
ers of those descriptions are now females. The character and reputation of the 
schools are advancing, and that the confidence of the public in their usefulness is 
increasing, is evinced by the extraordinary increase in the number of pupils. 

188 Providence. 

More scholars now belong to the schools than at any time since their establish- 
ment, and their increase far exceeds the increase of population." 

This year (1840,) the schools were deprived of another of their most 
reliable friends, by the death of Hon. Samuel W. Bridgham, who 
departed this life on the morning of December 29th. He was graduated 
at Brown University in 1794, and in 1828 was elected chancellor. He 
chose the law for his profession, was admitted to practice in 1796, and 
at the time of his decease was the oldest member at the bar in Rhode 
Island. He was for several years attorney general, and speaker of the 
house of representatives. At the organization of the city government 
of Providence in 1832, he was chosen lmvyor, to which office he was 
annually re-elected for eight consecutive years. During the same period 
he was president of the " school committee. Through a long life he 
maintained a character for integrity and probity which secured him the 
confidence of all who knew him. The school committee, in a series of 
resolutions lamenting his death, sa}- : " That while we pa} T a passing 
tribute to his exemplary virtues as a man, and to his tried fidelity as a 
magistrate, we desire more especially to recognize the relation in which 
he stood to the committee, and to express our sense of the impartiality 
with which for many years he presided over its deliberations, and of the 
cordial and efficient service which he rendered to the cause of public 
education in this city." As a further mark of respect for his character 
and services, the committee voted to attend his funeral in a body, and 
ordered all the public schools of the city to be closed on that occasion. 
The funeral took place on Thursday, December 31st, and was attended 
b} T the city government, b} r the bar, and b}* a large number of citizens 
desirous of testifying their respect for his memoiy. 

The report of the school committee for 1841 is minute in its details. 
Extracts from it are here copied, as showing the status of the schools 
at the close of the official }'ear : 

"Keport for 1841. 

" In rendering the account of their proceedings for the past year, prescribed 
by law, the school committee have great pleasure in being able to state to the 
city government, that our improved system of public education, so far as it has 
been carried into effect, has answered the just expectations of its friends, and 
has strongly recommended itself to the public favor. The most satisfactory 
evidence of this is a large and continual increase of pupils in the schools. The 
pleasure which we take in making this communication is enhanced by the gratify- 
ing assurance, that a portion of this system, deemed of very great importance, 

Fourth Erocn. 189 

and indispensable to the best success of the other parts of the system, after 
great delays, is about to be reduced to practice, by the erection of a high school; 
which we hope to see in operation before the end of another year, ample provi- 
sion, as it is understood, having been made for the cost of the building. 

" In addition to the regular quarterly meetings for the visitation and examina- 
tion of the grammar schools, the committee have held nine adjourned, or special 
meetings in the course of this year, — five less than in the year preceding; — a 
difference which is explained by the unusual demand upon the time of the com- 
mittee in that year, for the consideration in detail, of a new code of by-laws and 
regulations, adapted to the changes that have been made in our plan of education. 
The average attendance at the meetings has been twenty-two of the thirty mem- 
bers, who compose the committee. 

" The whole number of school districts is six, and of schools nineteen, viz., 
six grammar sehools, twelve primary schools, and one school for colored children, 
which combines the instruction both of the grammar and primary schools. The 
grammar schools have been transferred to the new and commodious buildings 
erected for them, with the exception of the school in the second district, which 
remains in the old building. This building has undergone considerable repairs 
to render its occupation less inconvenient to scholars and teachers ; and it is to be 
hoped, that before the end of the next year, the new house now in contemplation, 
at the corner of Angell and Prospect streets, will be completed, and that thus 
the inhabitants of the second ward will equally participate in the improvements 
designed for the whole city. 

" lu consequence of a pressure of pupils upon some of the grammar schools, 
it was deemed necessary, in December last, to apply to the city council for leave 
to make use of the ward-rooms, for school purposes; and a portion of the pupils 
in the third, fifth and sixth districts, were placed in these rooms, under the 
charge of an additional assistant for each, and with the supervision of the prin- 
cipal teacher. In the third district, it is believed that the difficulty will be obvi- 
ated by the erection of a larger building in the second district, and by altering 
the boundaries of the two districts, so as to equalize the attendance in each. In 
the fifth district the pressure has so far diminished, that the branch-school in the 
ward-room has been discontinued ; and it is doubted whether it will be necessary 
to make use of the ward-room in the sixth district during the next quarter. 
It will be seen from this statement, that the attendance upon our schools is 
somewhat fluctuating, though the number of scholars is largely on the increase. 
The high school will, in part, prevent the accumulation which now takes place 
in the grammar schools, by withdrawing, at stated periods, a considerable por- 
tion of their scholars; so that the buildings now erected for these schools may 
furnish the necessary accommodations for some years to come. But the time 
is probably not far distant, when it will be thought advisable to devote the 
ward-rooms to the primary schools, some of which are already too much 
crowded. The occupation of these rooms, by classes intermediate between the 
primary and grammar schools, will afford relief to the latter ; and may be found 
advantageous to both. 

' ; The primary school in India street having been removed to the new house in 
East street, the building in which it was kept has been put in good repair, and 
surrendered to the proprietor, Hon. Nicholas Brown, to whose liberality we have 
been indebted for its occupation, without rent, for several years past. 

190 Providence. 

"For the accommodation of the fourth and a part of the fith district, a 
primary school was opened in Mathewson street ; and it has recently, for greater 
convenience, been removed to the old school-house in Richmond street. 

" The whole number of school-houses belonging to the city is eleven. The 
school for colored children and the primary school on Federal Hill, are kept in 
hired houses. 

" The number of teachers in the schools is forty- three — seven males and 
thirty-six females; of whom it is due to justice to say, although of course they 
manifest various degrees of excellence, that, taken as a body, for the useful and 
faithful discharge of their laborious duties, they are entitled to great praise ; 
and, so far as we are able to speak from our own observation, will compare 
honorably with teachers of the same class in those places of New England, 
which are considered as having made the greatest advances in public education. 

" In the course of the year several changes have been made among the teachers, 
in consequence of resignations ; and it has become necessary to supply the 
places of the grammar master in the second district, of two assistants in gram- 
mar schools, of two preceptresses of primary schools, and of three assistants in 
the same. 

" The whole number of scholars whose names have been entered on the books 
in the schools, during the last quarter, is 3486, viz., 13(33 in the primary schools, 
and 1623 in the grammar schools. The whole number at present belonging to 
the schools is 3035, viz., 1674 to the primary, and 1361 to the grammar schools. 
The whole number present at the last quarterly examinations was 2791, viz., 1537 
in the primary, and 1251 in the grammar schools. The average daily attendance 
in all the schools is 2-119, viz., 1260 in the primary, and 1159 in the grammar 
schools, leaving of course an average daily absence of 414 in the former, and of 
202 in the latter; in other words, of 25 percent, in the primary, and over 15 per 
cent, in the grammar schools. In the last annual report of the committee to 
the city government, it was stated, that at the quarterly examinations in May, 
1810, the number of pupils in attendance was 1977; which, when compared with 
the attendance at the examinations in May, 1841, already given, makes a gain in 
one year of 814. 

" In some of the best private schools, for larger children of both sexes, 
which we may adopt as standards of comparison in this case, the amount of 
daily absences is from ten to twelve per cent, of the whole number of pupils; 
which makes a difference of from three to live per cent, against our grammar 
schools. So large an amount of absences is highly censurable, and can be 
justified by no excuses of sickness or necessity; and it becomes a matter of 
great regret and concern, that so many parents and guardians should thus under- 
value and throw away the liberal provisions for public education made by the 
city. Resides the detriment to the pupils, thus unwarrantably absenting them- 
selves, a serious injury is inflicted by them upon those who punctually and 
regularly attend the schools, by deranging the classification, and by interrupt- 
ing the uniform progress in the same studies which are so essential to success, 
and without which the best plans, and the most ample endowments may be set 
at naught and rendered comparatively inefficient. The remedy for the evil 
complained of, is with the people themselves. Such a thing as compulsory 
education forms no part of our legal system. When the extent of the duties 

Fourth Epoch. 191 

imposed on the school committee is considered it cannot be reasonably expected 
that they should undertake the additional task of going from house to house, to 
urge the delinquent to come in, and partake of the neglected advantages of pub- 
lic instruction. All that the members of the committee can do in this wa} r , they 
will do cheerfully ; but they must mainly depend upon the good sense and good 
feelings of the mass of their fellow citizens for the just appreciation and hearty 
adoption of a school system, which tends, without partiality or exclusion, to 
the public welfare, and is thus commended to the voluntary and cheerful support 
of the whole community. 

" It would be interesting, if possible, to ascertain what portion of the youth- 
ful population of Providence are receiving instruction in all the schools, both 
public and private. The number of children in this city between the ages of 
four and fifteen years, as nearly as it can be obtained from the census of the 
United States for 1840, is 52G7. The whole number of scholars at present 
belonging to our public schools, as before stated, is 303."), leaving 221)2 children, 
a part of whom are receiving instruction at private expense. A resolution was 
communicated some time since by the committee, suggesting a small appropria- 
tion for the expense of making the requisite inquiry, but it received attention 
from only one branch of the city council. 

"The whole amount received from the city during the past year for the 
expenses of the public schools is 812,377.07; from the State 83,818.20 — total 
$16,195.87. Of this amount $13,175 have been expended for instruction, includ- 
ing the compensation of the superintendent ; and 83,020.87 for rent, fuel and other 
items, including about $1,200 for repairs on school-houses, and for fixtures. 
The expenditure of the city, as aforesaid, for education is at the rate of 81.334 
a quarter, or $5.34 per annum for each scholar belonging to the schools. The 
rate in the city of New York, as appears by a recent statement, is f^o per annum 
for each scholar. In Boston it is much larger; and, in general, the expenses of 
the larger towns in Massachusetts, on the same account, are much greater in 
proportion to population than those of this city. Before the close of another 
year we hope to obtain more precise information on the subject of the compara- 
tive cost of education in different places, and to communicate the same in our 
next report. 

" Under the new census of 1840 the sum to be received by this city from the 
State for public instruction will exceed 85,000. 

" Considering all circumstances, the committee recommend that an appropria- 
tion of not less than 812,000 be made by the city council for school expenses in 
the ensuing year. 

" The annual return to the secretary of state, and also the certificate to the 
general treasurer, that the money received from the State has been expended in 
the prescribed manner, have been duly furnished, according to law. 

High School Building Erected — The School Established. 

From 1841 to 1844, was a period of great interest to the friends of 
popular education. For more than twelve }-ears a high school had been 
contemplated by them as necessary to give completeness to the public school 
system. "The difficulties encountered in establishing this school, and the 


efforts made to prevent its going into operation, are matters of recorded 
history, and would excite surprise did we not remember how slow has 
been the advance of all real improvements. It was opposed by some 
because it was an ' aristocratic ' institution ; by others, ; because it was 
unconstitutional to tax property for a city college ; ' by others, k be- 
cause it would educate children above working for their support ; ' and 
by still others, ' because a poor boy or girl would never be seen in it.' 
One writer, in a printed communication, went so far as to pronounce the 
proposed school an excrescence on the school system. But the major- 
ity of citizens did not recognize the validity of these objections." * After 
surmounting numerous obstacles, their will was expressed by the city 
government ordering a high school building to be erected. f A site, front- 
ing on Benefit street, and bounded on the north by Angell street, and on 
the south by Waterman street, was purchased, and a house fifty-six feet 
by seventy-six feet put immediately under contract. The basement (the 
front standing several feet above the level of the street,) contained a 
large room designed for lectures and scientific experiments, office and 
private room for the superintendent, and a room for storage or 
other purposes. The second story contained four rooms for the girls' 
department. Tin; third story was divided into three apartments for the 
uses of the English and classical departments, and so arranged that 
when necessary they could be thrown into one. The entrance for girls 
^as in front; that for the bo}*s on the north end. Ten or twelve years 
later, another entrance was provided at the south end of the building. 

But the spirit of hostility had not yet been effectually subdued. When 
the house was nearly completed, a second effort was made to prevent the 
school going into operation. It was proposed b} 7 its opponents to con- 
vert the building into a city hall, a convenience then much needed. A 
petition addressed to the city council, praying for the repeal of that por- 
tion of the ordinance which established a high school, and to appropriate 
the new building to the purposes of a city hall, was circulated for signa- 
tures, but received so few that it was never presented. 

The question in its final form, of school or no school, excited lively dis- 
cussions in private and in the public prints. The opponents of the measure 
produced their strong reasons with an earnestness that left no doubt oi 
their sincerit}*. On the other hand, the friends of the school rushed to 
the front, and fought its battle with a vigor that no opposition could re- 
press. The Providence Journal gave to the cause its powerful aid. "We 

* Providence School Report, 1875, p. 12. 

| The question had previously been put out to the people and decided in the affirma- 
tive by a majority larger than the most sanguine anticipated. 

Fourth Epoch. 193 

go for the schools, and for the high school," saicl the editor.* "We have 
seen nothing which induces us to think that public opinion has changed 
upon this subject." Through the same medium "A Parent" saicl: 
" Should we give up the contemplated high school, and convert the edifice 
erected for its accommodation to some other purpose, we should, in nry 
humble opinion, be greatly disgraced, and the language be justly applied 
to us, ' this man begun to build, but was not able to finish.' I have, 
however, no fears for the result. I have confidence in my fellow citizens, 
to believe that they will carry forward what they have proposed to ac- 
complish, and that the school will soon be in successful operation, filled 
with the cheerful faces and glad hearts of our 3'outh." 

Another writer, f who had been active in the cause of public education, 
said : " The perversion of this new school house from the use for which 
it was intended, would be a virtual breach of good faith. The city gov- 
ernment has, at various periods of its existence, taken unwearied pains 
to ascertain the sentiments of the citizens upon the question of the high 
school. The reply of the citizens has been at all periods, in its favor ; 
and on the last trial, by a greater majority than ever before. The}' have 
repeatedly called for, and now confidently expect, the establishment of a 
high school. Let their expectations be met by a becoming respect for 
their opinions. At least, let nothing be done to defeat the object, with- 
out a new and formal appeal to the freemen, to be answered through the 
ballot boxes." 

In the discussion of the high school question, the friends of that fea- 
ture in our system of public education found an important auxiliary in 
Professor William Giles Goddard. He believed it the true policy of the 
city to give the greatest possible efficienc}- to its schools, by providing 
such instruction as would prepare its youth for any course of life they 
might choose, whether agricultural, mechanical, mercantile, scientific, or 
professional. In a series of thoughtful and well digested papers, printed 
in the Providence Journal, he recited the histoiy of the high school move- 
ment from its inception, and then in strong, positive words, appealed to 
his fellow citizens to sustain it. 

The earnest and eloquent words of Professor Goddard were not lost 
upon a communit}^ so largelv ripe to receive them. The} r served as a 
stimulus to exertions which were crowned with complete success. On 
Monday, March 20th, 1843, the high school was opened with appropriate 
services. One hundred and sixt}'-four pupils were admitted during the 
year — eighty bo} r s and eightj'-four girls. The original design of the 

* Hon. Henry B. Anthony. f William E. Richmond. 


194 Providexce. 

school has been steadily pursued, and during the thirty-three years of its 
existence, upwards of forty-five hundred pupils have received instruction 
within its walls. The policy of selecting teachers for the lower grades 
from its graduates, which was very early adopted, has been continued. 
All things else being equal, the high school graduate has received the 
preference. Of more than three hundred teachers employed in 187G, a 
large proportion were educated in this school. Thus, in the higher cul- 
ture and more exact training of those to whom the instruction of the 
young is intrusted, has the city, year by year, received back rich 
returns for the generous expenditures made. 

The high school gives completeness to the system of public free in- 
struction, and its practical value is perhaps best seen in the thousands of 
its graduates who have engaged in the various industries which consti- 
tute the material prosperity of the State. 


(1844 — 187(1.) 

Superintendent of Public Schools Chosen. 

Agreeably to the school ordinance of 1838, providing for a superin- 
tendent of public schools, the committee, in 1839, proceeded to fill that 
office. They made choice of Mr. Nathan Bishop, who had been a tutor 
in Brown University.* Mr. Bishop entered upon the duties of his office 
August 1st, which he discharged with great benefit to the schools, and to 
the entire satisfaction of the committee, until 1851, when he resigned to 
accept a similar position in Boston. The beneficial effect of this ap- 
pointment was reported to the common council by the school committee, 
May 28th, 1841, in the following words : c ' The labors of the superin- 
tendent have put a new face upon our business meetings. If the ques- 
tion was to be taken upon the abolition of this office or of the committee, 
there could be but little hesitation in saving the office with those who 
regard the best interests of public education." 

The experience of subsequent years was in confirmation of the above 
expressed opinion. 

Mr. Bishop was succeeded by Mr. Samuel S. Greene, who brought to 
his work a large experience as a teacher in the Boston public schools. 
Among his earliest arrangements was one for bringing the teachers of 
the various schools together, at stated times, to receive from him such 
instruction as might be of essential service to them in their daily work. 
Lie also suggested a normal class, to be formed out of such graduates 

* So far as is known, Providence was the first city in this country to provide for a 
superintendent. The example was afterwards adopted by other cities and towns. 

196 Pkovidence. 

of the schools as wished to become teachers, in which they would " gc 
through a systematic drill in the art of teaching," as an " importan 
step forward in the elevation of our schools." He likewise commencec 
a course of written examinations as the best test of the quality of tin 
work done by pupils in the grammar schools — a course that is still con 
tinned, and producing excellent results. Mr. Greene discharged thi 
duties of superintendent for four years with signal advantage to th< 
public schools, and to the general interests of education in the city 
when, having been appointed to a professorship in Brown University, h 

Immediately on the resignation of Professor Greene, the presen 
incumbent, Rev. Daniel Leach, D. D., was elected to the office, and fo 
twenty-one years has performed the services devolved upon him wit 
marked industiy and singleness of purpose. During these years man; 
important changes have been made in methods of instruction, tendin; 
to elevate the character of the schools and to attract attention to ther 
from abroad. His reports have been much sought by educators in ever 
part of the country, for the important views and valuable hints the; 

In his first quarterly report Superintendent Leach recommended tha 
provision be made for a " Mixed or Ungraded School," for a numerou 
class of children having too little education to be qualified to enter th 
grammar schools, and too old to be willing to attend the primary c 
intermediate schools. 

In his report for the next year (1856), the superintendent suggeste 
" the propriety of having an annual course of lectures adapted to th 
higher classes in our schools, and those who have recently left them, 
showing, u by familiar illustrations, the intimate relation of science t 
art, and how ever}- species of knowledge can be made productive, an 
so applied as to secure the greatest results." 

Instruction in plrysiolog}' so far as necessar}* to give to the 3'oung 
knowledge of the fundamental laws of health, was also commended t 
the attention of the school committee, together with the introduction c 
sewing into the schools as an important element of female educatior 
This latter suggestion was subsequently adopted, and for many year 
needle work has been successful!}' taught without detriment to the usin 
book studies. Already thousands of girls have left school with a con 
petent knowledge of the use of the needle who could never have receive 
the instruction at home, and hundreds are known, in consequence of thi 
acquisition, to have obtained remunerative employment in the way c 

Fifth Epoch. 197 

Until the office of superintendent of public buildings was established 
a few years since, the superintendent of public schools, in addition to 
his ordinary duties, had the care of all the school-houses, estates and 
school apparatus, and under the executive committee attended to making 
repairs and furnishing school-rooms with furniture, etc. 

Grades — Classification — Promotions. 

Previous to the reorganization of 1828, the schools were ungraded, 
and much of the time of the principals was emplo} T ed in instructing 
young children in alphabet and other elementary lessons, an arrange- 
ment neither satisfactory nor economical. The reorganization of 1838, 
suggested b}- the experience of ten years, provided for four grades of 
schools — primary, intermediate, grammar and high, and when the 
latter went into operation, the original idea of a public free school system 
was as well developed as the suggestions of a carefully tried method, 
and the light of the hour rendered possible. But this advance upon the 
past fell short of completeness. To make these grades answer best the 
purpose for which they were created, specific classification became 
necessary. On the recommendation of the superintendent such a classi- 
fication was made, and a uniform course of study in the corresponding 
classes of the same grade throughout the city, secured. 

When the grammar school-houses on Benefit, Prospect, Arnold, Elm, 
Summer and Fountain streets were built, accommodations were provided 
in the first story of each for a primary and an intermediate school. The 
second story was thrown into one large hall, to be occupied by the gram- 
mar, or third grade pupils. These soon averaged in each school 
about two hundred, under the charge of a male principal and several 
female assistants who heard recitations in adjacent ante-rooms. But 
this arrangement while affording some advantages, was open to serious 
objections. The large size of the room enabled pupils remote from the 
principal's desk to escape his constant observation, and afforded them 
opportunity to shirk study without detection, while the noise and con- 
fusion caused by classes passing continually to and from the recitation 
rooms, distracted attention, and tended to disturb the order of the 
school. It was believed that were this mass of pupils placed in separate 
rooms to the number of fifty or sixty in each, and each teacher made 
responsible for her own room, better results would be obtained. As an 
experiment, the Benefit street and Elm street houses were altered, and 
the pupils graded and classified according to their attainments! This 

198 Providence. 

succeeded so well, that other houses were altered to correspond, and in 
the building of new grammar school-houses the same plan was pursued. 

The benefit derived from adopting the foregoing plan, was soon per- 
ceptible, and attracted the attention of educators in our own State and 
elsewhere, who visited the public schools to acquaint themselves with 
the Providence system. The State commissioner of public schools in 
his report to the legislature at its January session in 1859, said : 
" During the interval between the winter and summer schools of the 
rural districts, I visited all (he schools in the city of Providence. After- 
wards I made short visits to Boston and New York, for the purpose of 
making myself better acquainted with the schools of those cities. Tne 
results of these visits was such as to give me increased confidence in 
the system now established, and which has so long been in operation in 
this city. The changes which have been recently made in the classifica- 
tion and gradation of the schools, will add greatly to their efficiency 
and success. The friends of public schools in all parts of the State, 
especially in the villages and larger towns, in attempting to improve 
their schools, will do well to give the schools of Providence a careful 
examination before they proceed far in their attempted improvement." 
Following out this system, an exactness and uniformity never before 
attained has been reached, and is scarcely open to future modification, 
certainly not to radical change. 

Another important method connected with gradation and classifica- 
tion, is this : — that while promotions take place in the grammar schools 
semi-annually, and from the grammar schools to the high school annually, 
every pupil in the former who can advance faster than his class is al- 
lowed so to do, forestalling all cause for complaint that bright, studious 
pupils are compelled to wait the slow progress of idlers or dullards ; and 
as each by this course finds a stimulant to industry, individuality is more 
distinctly developed.* 

The exactness with which this system of classification works, is seen 
in the following statement : The average age of the first or lowest grade 
of pupils in all the grammar schools in the city, is 11 years and 4 months ; 
the second grade, 12 years and 11 months ; the third grade, 13 years and 
11 months ; the fourth grade, 14 years and 11 months ; and the lowest, or 
entering grade in the high school, 15 years and 11 mouths. 

*" At Providence the school system seems to he remavkahly complete."— Report U. S. 
Commissioner 0/ Education, 1873. 

Fifth Erocn. 199 

Improvement in Spelling. — Geography. — Drawing. — Centennial 


About 1860, the superintendent made an effort to improve the spelling 
in the public schools. B\ T a " group method," as it maybe called, intro- 
duced first into a colored school, the most remarkable results were ob- 
tained. As the other schools entered heartily into the superintendent's 
views, the success became so marked as to attract attention and call 
forth encomiums from abroad.* Quarterly written examinations in 
this department have for many years been practised, which tend to 
strengthen the memory and ensure exactness. 

In the study of geography, a similar improvement has been made. 
Every lesson recited is required to be illustrated with a map drawn by 
the pupil from memory, upon the blackboard, showing the courses of 
rivers, mountain ranges, the location of the principal towns and cities, 
and other points of importance embraced in a topographical description. 
By this method the pupil obtains a clear perception of the relation of 
different parts of a country and of the world to each other. The skill 
and exactness thus acquired in free hand drawing, gives a charm to a study 
important, but usually dry and unattractive to the young. To the Rhode 
Island department of the great Centennial Exhibition of 1876, at Phila- 
delphia, specimens of maps were sent from the Providence schools, drawn 
entirely from memory, which for accuracy and beauty of finish could 
scarcely have been surpassed had the pupils been permitted to copy from 
an atlas. In this line of free hand drawing the schools of Providence oc- 
cupy a foremost rank.f Accompanying these, were a large number of 
architectural and mechanical drawings and ornamental designs, made by 
pupils in the polytechnic school, as a part of their regular work. The 
specimens were finely executed, and many of them would have been 
creditable to a practised draughtsman. In the same connection were 

■*"The Providence schools have a high character for the accuracy of their spelling. 
One of the professors of Brown University told me that he noticed a marked superiority 
in this respect in students who had heen educated in the Providence schools to those 
educated elsewhere. There is a colored intermediate school whose performances are 
quite wonderful in this way. Mr. Northrop, the agent of the board of education in 
Massachusetts, has mentioned in one of his reports the fact of setting the children in 
this school seventy-five of the hardest words he could find in their spelling hook, and of 
their being spelt without mistake. I saw something of a similar kind myself."— Report 
of Rev. Dr. Fraser to the English Parliament, 18G6. 

t Walter Smith's system of drawing has been introduced into the public schools, and 
a teacher employed to give instruction. The lessons take their appropriate place in 
school routine. 

200 Providence . 

sent, in neatly bound volumes, a large collection of papers comprising 
written examinations made in the customary way, in writing, spelling, 
arithmetic, grammar, geograply, history and music, showing the daily 
work of all the schools. 

School Houses. — School Attendance. 

Commencing in 1800, as already seen, with four school-houses, the 
number has increased, as the growth of population required, to fifty-one, 
in 1876. " Whipple Flail" was purchased of the proprietors for $500, to 
which was added $450, paid to Darius Allen and Samuel Staples for 
alterations and repairs. For the brick school-house on Meeting street 
the proprietors were paid 8892.50.* A school house was the same year 
built on " Transit lane," and another on the west side of the river, at a 
cost of $2,097 each. The price paid for the land on which the former 
stood, was $610. Between 1838 and 1844 Thomas P. Ilolden, Edward 
P. Knowles, Joseph Cady, Heniy Anthony, and Seth Padelforcl, under 
authority of the city council, supervised the building of a high school, 
six grammar and six primary school-houses, at an aggregate cost of 
$100,060. The^high school-house, including $5,500 paid f^r the land, 
and $98.08 for curbing, grading, etc., cost $21,484.79. Of the thirty- 
seven houses since built, the best specimens of the primary and intermediate 
are the Summer street, Messer street, Warren street and Jackson avenue ; 
and of the grammar, Doyle avenue, Thayer street, Federal street and 
Point street, all of which are fine specimens of school architecture. Of 
these, the Point street house covers the most ground, and presents a 
highly imposing appearance. The internal arrangements are such as to 
leave little or nothing to be desired. The annexation of the tenth ward 
to Providence, added seven school-houses to the previous number. Two 
have since been built. The assessors' valuation of school property, ex- 
clusive of houses and land in the tenth ward, is $714,380. 

For the first twelve years, after the schools were established the at- 
tendance rarel} T exceeded 800. From 1819 to 1827 the attendance ranged 
from 744 to 886. In 1836, the number reported attending the public 
schools was 1,456 ; the number attending no school, 1,604 ; while 3,235 
attended private schools. In 1828, the absences reported amounted to 
one-quarter of all the pupils registered. The average attendance that 
year was 1,000. In 1838, it was 1,717; in 1848, it had increased to 

* The proprietorship ot "Whipple Hall " was divided into fifty rights, at £100 old tenor 
(not £120 as inadvertently stated on page 137), or £4.10.9 '-lawful money," each. The 
brick school-house on Meeting street, comprised eighty-five rights at £3.10 each. 

Fifth Epoch. 201 

6,005; in 1858, the register showed an attendance of 7,257; in 1868, 
the number had increased to 7,392. In 1875, the whole number regis- 
tered was 12,507. 

School Expenditures. — Moral Supervision. 

The first appropriation made for the support of the public schools, 
was, as already related, $6,000. From that time, as the necessity for 
additional school accommodations was met, expenditures in this depart- 
ment advanced. In 1848, the cost of maintaining the schools was thirty 
per cent, of the whole city expenses. In ten years (1858), the propor- 
tion had diminished to fourteen per cent. In 1874, they were reduced to 
2.7 per cent, for school instruction, and including " general expenses," 
3.1 per cent. In few New England or other cities is the cost of free 
school education so low as in Providence. In Boston, the expense of 
the public schools, is more than fifty per cent, greater. " No private 
academy or seminary can give to the children of this city an education 
so thorough and advanced as our public schools furnish, at less than 
three or four times the cost now charged upon the public treasuiy ; nor, 
so far as is known, does any other principal New England city receive 
larger or better returns for its outla}'." * * 

By reference to preceding pages it will be seen how careful were the 
early guardians of the .public schools to protect the morals of the young. 
They did not believe that dogmatic theolog}' or sectarian peculiarities 
should constitute a part of public school instruction, but they did believe 
that every pupil should be impressed with the value of a pure character, 
and taught that virtue and integrity as underlying principles of Chris- 
tianity, were of higher moment than mere intellectual attainments. And 
in this unexceptionable spirit are the schools still supervised. 

Evening and Vacation Schools. 

Evening schools were commenced in Providence in 1842, under the 
auspices of the Ministry-at-large, to meet a large class of wants not 
reached by the day schools, and were continued for thirteen years with 
gratifying success. In the meantime this class of schools attracted 
public attention, and in 1849 two were opened by the city, and with the 
exception of three winters (one during the war of the rebellion,) have 
been regularly continued to the present da}\ In 1856 the}' had attained 

* School Report for 1875. 

202 Providence. 

a popularity and usefulness that authorized their recognition as a part 
of the public school system. For several years past the schools have 
been seven in number, including a polytechnic school. The two schools 
opened in 1819 registered 210 pupils. In 1875 the total enrollment was 
2,228. The pupils embraced both sexes, none being received under 
twelve years of age. These schools have been found of great value in 
two respects : They withdraw from the streets five evenings in the 
week a large class of boys and girls who would otherwise be exposed 
to out-door temptations, and afford opportunities for acquiring an edu- 
cation to many operatives and others who by age and other causes are 
precluded attending the da} T schools. To the immigrant population, 
every year increasing in the city, these schools have proved an invalu- 
able blessing. In 1856 an additional school for girls was opened in the 
high school building, in which gratuitous instruction was given by super- 
intendent Leach and William G. Crosby. The ellicienc}- of these schools 
have commended them to the friends of education in different parts ot 
the State, and upwards of fifty have been established in different manu- 
facturing villages.* 

Vacation schools were opened in 1871, for the benefit of children who 
during the summer vacation of the public schools remain in the city 
exposed daily to the dangers and temptations of the streets. The 
pupils are mostl}* of the primary and intermediate grades. The schools 
are commenced about two weeks after the close of the public schools 
and closed one week previously to their opening in the autumn. The 
number of children enrolled in 1875 was 1,150. Besides the usual 
course of study, a large amount of oral instruction is given, for the 
purpose of acquainting the pupils with the names and uses of the 
various products of agriculture and of manufactures, and also those 
which constitute the main features of domestic and foreign commerce. 
By this process much useful knowledge is acquired which school books 
do not furnish, while at the same time, without any strain upon the 
brain, the}* are pleasantly preparing pupils for the more exact studies of 
the autumn term. 

Vacation schools, as connected with our public school system, and 
carried on under the supervision of the public school committee, are 
peculiar to Providence. Their success here has attracted the attention 
of educators and philanthropists in oth?r principal cities of ourcountiy, 
and it is believed that the year is not far distant when the example here 
set, will be very generally adopted in all thickly populated places. 

*Mr. Samuel Austin, of Providence, as agent of 'The Rhode Island Educational Union," 
has been hugely instrumental by his personal labors, in awakening an interest in this 
class of schools. 

FiFTTii Epoch. 203 

Music in the Schools. 

Music " as an important branch of learning," was introduced into the 
public schools of Providence, in 1844. The first male teacher was Mr. 
Jason White, the second Mr. Charles M. Clarke, and the third Mr. Seth 
Sumner. For a single year (180G,) a portion of the schools were placed 
under the charge of Mr. Walter S. Meade. The fourth teacher was Mr. 
Henry Carter, who was succeeded lry the present incumbent, Mr. Benja- 
min W. Hood. As the duties of the principal from year to year 
increased, female assistants to take charge of the lower grades of school, 
were appointed. These have been Eliza Lewis, Charlotte O. Doyle, 
(resigned in 1875,) Mary E. Rawson, Charlotte R. Hoswell and Sarah 
M. Farmer. Mrs. Rawson and Miss Farmer are the present assistants. 

Under the several successive principals and assistants above named, 
constant and satisfactory progress in the knowledge of music has been 
made, and the study found to be helpful rather than a hindrance to other 
studies. The course of instruction is substantially this : In the lowest 
grade of the primary schools rote singing is principally practised, with 
a few characters given to the pupils, acquainting them with the staff, 
names of lines, spaces, notes and rests. In the next higher grade, 
reading notes and singing by note is added to rote singing. The inter- 
mediate grade is drilled in singing by note, and receives instruction in 
rhythm. In the grammar schools the pupils are taught music in two 
parts, and as they advance to higher grades (the high school) they are 
taught more elaborate music, at the same time paying attention to quality 
of toue and exactness of time. At an exhibition of grammar school 
pupils in Music Hall, in 1875, under the direction of Mr. Hood, they 
showed a thoroughness in culture that drew forth unqualified commenda- 
tion. The music was of a more difficult character than is usually heard in 
public schools, and the time and rendition were so exact as to excite the sur- 
prise of the large audience present. The annual exhibition of the high 
school pupils, wh'ch for many years has tilled Music Hall to its entire 
capacity with interested friends, has, in the line music of the occasion, 
furnished an attraction second only to the essays and forensic efforts of 
the graduating classes. The study of music, however, has been for its 
advantages as a vocal drill and for its practical utility in other respects, 
rather than for display ; and at no time have other studies been curtailed 
or suspended for its advantage. The specimens of musical composition, 
elsewhere referred to, sent by the schools to the Centennial Exhibition, 
are proofs of the thorough instruction given, and of the progress made 
in the study as a science. 

204 Providence. 

Presidents and Secretaries of the School Committee — Standing 


The successive presidents of the school committee have been as 
follows : 

Rev. Asa Messer, - - from 1828 to 1832. 

Hon. Samuel W. Bridgham, - " 1832 to 1840. 

Thomas W. Dorr, Esq., - - " 1841 to 18-42. 

Hon. Thomas W. Burgess, - " 1842 to 1852. 

Hon. Amos C. Barstow, - - " 1852 to 1853. 

Hon. Walter R. Danforth, - " 1853 to 1854. 

Hon. Edward P. Knowles, - - " 1854 to J 855. 

Hon. James Y. Smith, - - " 1855 to 1857. 

Hon. William M. Rodman, - - " 1857 to 1859. 

Hon. Jabez C. Knight, - - " 1859 to 18(54. 

Hon. Thomas A. Doyle, - - " 1864 to 1809. 

Hon. George L. Clarke, - - " 1809 to 1870. 

Hon. Thomas A. Doyle, - - " 1870 to 1875. 

Rev. Henry W. Rugg, - - - " 1875 to 

All the above named gentlemen, except Rev. Mr. Rugg, were ex-officio 
members of the school committee, and from 1332 to 1875, it had been 
customary to elect the mayor to preside over the deliberations of that 

The secretaries of the board have been Walter R. Danforth, George 
Curtis, Robert H. Ives, William Aplin, Edward R. Young, Charles H. 
Parkhurst, Reuben A. Guild, Amos M. Bowen, and Sarah H. Ballou, 
the present incumbent. 

The standing committees are ten in number, viz. : executive com- 
mittee, committee on qualifications, committee on high school, committee 
on evening schools, committee on music, committee on drawing and 
penmanship, committee on finance, committee on by-laws, committee on 
vacation schools, committee on text-books. 

School Hygiene. — Ventilation — Dr. Leach's System. 

In the early period of public schools in Providence, little attention 
was paid to the hygiene of the school-room, and particularly to ventila- 
tion in its relation to health. For twenty-five or thirty } T ears after the 
schools were established, open fire-places (the best kind of ventilation,) 
were in vogue, and these with the fresh air forcing its way through the 
crannies of windows, doors and floors, prevented an accumulation 
of impure atmosphere noticeable as detrimental to the health of 
pupils ; and it was only when anthracite coal was introduced as a fuel, 

Fifth Epoch. 205 

throwing a portion of its unconsumed gas into the room, consuming its 
oxygen, and by the dryness of the atmosphere accelerating the outflow 
of insensible perspiration from the human bod} T , that improvement in 
the construction of school-houses came to be considered necessary. 

The first advance upon the past was made between 1838 and 1842, 
when the new primary and intermediate, grammar and high school 
buildings were erected. But even in these dependence was placed solely 
on lowering the upper sashes of windows and a small trap opening in 
the ceiling of the room for the escape of heated air into the attic of the 
building, to escape again through a small oriole window. Such was the 
kind of ventilation provided -for the high school until within a few years, 
when a Robinson apparatus was applied to a single room, and for the 
first time direct communication by a ventiduct was had with the external . 
air. Previously to this the grammar schools had been partially relieved 
by the use of Emerson's ventilators, but in all the old primary and inter- 
mediate buildings teachers and pupils continued to suffer from breathing 
mephitic air. 

To the need of better ventilation, and to other causes injuriously 
affecting health, the superintendent at different times called attention, 
and in 1870 a special committee made a report to the school board on 
" Health in relation to Education," in which the same need was urged. 
Perfect ventilation, it was said, should be secured " at whatever pecuni- 
ary cost." To this should be added such an arrangement of seats in 
the school-room as would " secure pupils from the discomfort of sittino- 
facing the light, or of suffering the dazzle of cross-lights," which strain 
the optic nerve, and affect the brain. Shorter and less exhaustive 
lessons for pupils troubled with myopia or near-sightedness, and physical 
exercise as a part of the daily routine of the school, were recommended 
as helps in securing " strong, healthy and thoroughly cultured bodies 
and minds." 

No marked opportunity for improvement occurred until the erection 
of the Thayer street grammar school-house in 1867, when the superin- 
tendent of schools was authorized to introduce a system invented by 
him in 1854, while employed by the Massachusetts Board of Education 
to examine into the location and construction of school-houses in that 
State. It consists of four ventiducts or shafts in the building, extend- 
ing from the cellar through the roof. The dimensions of these shafts 
are 4J by 3£ feet, and made perfectly smooth. There are two openings 
from each room into one of these ventiducts 3 feet by 2 feet, one at the 
bottom, the other close to the ceiling. The temperature in the venti- 
duct is raised several degrees higher than it is in the school-rooms. This 
is absolutely necessary to success. The higher the temperature, the 

206 Providence. 

more effective the ventilation. The heat maj' be applied by means of a 
smoke pipe, by a steam radiator, by gas, or by a small stove at the 
bottom. In this house a stove is used whenever the condition of the 
atmosphere requires. 

The success of this s}-stem has been so complete, that after a session 
of two hours or more, there is no perceptible difference in the quality of 
the air in the rooms or out. The same system was subsequently applied 
to the Warren street primary and intermediate school building, with 
equal success. Since then, in the erection of new school-houses, venti- 
lation has received the attention its importance demands, and pure air 
in sufficient quantit}' obtained. 

Several 3'ears ago, the superintendent devised another plan of an 
economical character, for relieving school rooms of foul air that have no 
adequate means of ventilation, and upon which it is inexpedient to lay 
out any considerable sums. As an experiment it was applied to two 
rooms in the East street school-house. The plan embraces four openings 
of suitable length and width, two on each side of the room and opposite 
each other ; the upper openings beiug about one foot below the ceiling, 
and the lower ones near the floor. Into each of these openings is inserted 
a frame of slats, placed at a very acute angle, — the upper ones forcing the 
inflowing current directly against the ceiling, causing its rapid diffusion 
through the upper atmosphere of the room, without detriment to the com- 
fort of the pupils. This fact was satisfactorily determined by very accurate 
chemical teste. The slats above mentioned should be about one foot in 
width, one-fourth of an inch thick, and not more than three-eighths of an 
inch apart. 

These openings are covered with slides moved at will, and held in 
place by weights suspended over pulleys. The slides enable the teacher 
to regulate the inflow of pure air, so as to preserve uniformity in quan- 
tity, whatever may be the force of the wind. The lower openings are 
used only for expelling the noxious air which at times forms a stratum 
near the floor. But one of the openings is used at a time, and that 
opposite the direction of the wind. 

This description is enough to give a general idea of the plan of ven- 
tilation which has been on trial nearly three years. According to tin 
testimon}' of the teachers, it has been entirely successful. A pure air 
has been obtained, and the use of open windows for ventilation has been 
entirely superseded. 

Gentlemen interested in the subject of ventilation who have visited the 
East street school have borne testimony to the purity of the air in these 
rooms, and to the wide awake appearauce of the children ; and the}* have 
been equally emphatic in stating the loul condition of the air in the 

Fifth Epoch. 207 

other rooms, and its unmistakeable effects upon the children, even 
though the windows were lowered more than it was safe to have them. 

Recently, a number of medical sanitarians* examined into the work- 
ings of this system, and in a valuable report on the Hygiene of the 
school room, give it their heart}' sanction. The}* say: "The system, 
which we have carefully investigated, possesses the following advantages 
over its competitors, which seem to us strong ones : It is cheap and 
readily applied to any building, old or new. It is independent of light 
supply and directly under the control of the teacher of the room. It has 
double apertures for entrance of fresh and exit of exhausted air, close to 
both floor and ceiling. By the upward angle of the broad slats, compos- 
ing the entry flue, the air is directed away from the floor and ground cur- 
rents avoided. B\ T the close proximity of the slats to each other, the air 
enters the room in thin sheets, in which condition it mixes with and is 
heated by that which it meets with greater ease than if projected into 
the apartment in one mass. We believe that the method applied in 
East street combines more valuable features than any other which has 
fallen under our notice. It therefore gives us great pleasure to express 
our hearty approval of this system." 

This plan admits of various modifications, and can be applied to windows 
when the original method would be less convenient and more expensive. 
In this way it has been successfully used in school-rooms, hospital and 
other buildings. The inventor having neglected to take out a patent, 
while he has freely explained it to inquirers, the principle has been used 
b}' persons in different parts of the country, and claimed to be original 
with them ; and this since it was applied to the East street school-house 
in 1873 ! 

According to the most approved authorities, the laws of health demand 
for each pupil at least twenty-five square feet of standing room, and not 
less than two hundred and forty cubic feet of pure air per hour. Three 
hundred feet would be better. In the erection of new school-houses, 
and in the alteration of old ones, these conditions should be observed. 

The Close. 

It has been a favorable circumstance in the history of the public 
schools, that the successive chief magistrates of Providence have been 
their helpful friends. Both in their private and official character they 
have given them unqualified support, and sanctioned liberal appropria- 
tions for their support. His Honor, Mayor Doyle, whose long con nee. 

* William F. Hutchinson, M. D., William H. Traver, M. D., J. Morrow, M. D., L. 11. Col. 
Ed., Oliver C. Wiggin, M. D. 

208 Providence. 

tion with them as a member of the school committee has made him 
familiar with their wants, represented the spirit of his predecessors no less 
than his own, when at the dedication of the Thayer street grammar 
school-house in 1868, he said: "Asa representative of the common 
school, I have felt a deep interest in whatever relates to the cause of 
free education ; and as a member of the city government, I have advo- 
cated a liberal policy towards this most important department of the 
municipality." And again, when at the dedication of the Hughes gram- 
mar school-house, in 1870, he said : " Fellow citizens, before we unite 
in singing the dedication hymn, let me, as your representative, speaking 
in your behalf, utter the wish and the hope that the day is far distant 
when a narrow and a contracted policy shall rule the councils of this 
city in regard to common school education. Be the day far distant 
when, in the e}'es of the city representatives, her highways, her lamps, 
her other departments, will be of more consequence than the education 
of her youth. When that da} T arrives, darkness will have settled upon 
this city." 

From 1800 to 1828, there was but little apparent change in methods 
of instruction. The school routine was each successive 3-ear essentially 
the same. Teaching was more mechanical than intellectual. The author 
of the text-book had done aH the necessary thinking, and the teacher who 
could instruct only with book in hand, and determine the correctness of 
a pupil's answer only b} T reference to it, and who like a sailor adrift in 
a long-boat without oars or sail, would be helplessly afloat without it, 
was considered sufficiently qualified for his office. New and better meth- 
ods were not thought of. Progress beyond the stereotype lesson was not- 
expected in the schools. Professor Goddard, in one of his admirable 
papers in support of the high school, printed in 1839, says : " I was a 
pupil in one of them more than thirty years ago, and in comparing the 
school which I then attended with the schools which now exist, I am un- 
able to note any signal improvement — none, certainly, at all answerable 
to the demands of the present time, or to the improvement which, in 
parallel institutions, has been accomplished elsewhere." 

But that period is not to be undervalued. That day of small things 
is not to be despised. The friends of free school education builded as 
well as they knew. They gave out all the light thej 7 had received, and 
their earnest, persistent labors prepared the way for better things to 
come. Gradually advances were made. Under the reform of 1828, an 
encouraging change was perceived. In the ten years following a clearer 
insight into the wants of the schools was obtained. In 1847, the com- 
mittee could say of the schools : » 4 We believe that they rank at the 

Fifth Epoch. 209 

present moment, with the very best public schools in the country." The 
next year they said : " The great cause for congratulation in regard to 
our school system, in the opinion of your committee, is that we have be- 
gun well, and have laid a good foundation. We shall never be obliged 
to tear down, but only to build higher. The base is firm enough and 
broad enough to support the loftiest superstructure. Our future progress 
will not require a change, but merel\ T a development of principles." 

From that time forward the annual reports have been records of im- 
provement. With no blind devotion to the past, the schools, in methods 
of instruction, have kept abreast with the times, and whatever experience 
has proved to be of practical worth has been adopted. The written ex- 
aminations for 1876 show a higher scholarship for the schools of Provi- 
dence than they have ever before attained. This result was obtained, 
not by any forcing process but by the faithfulness of teachers and the 
healthful industiy of pupils. In the grammar schools, improved methods 
in teaching arithmetic, geography, grammar and histor}-, have enabled 
scholars to accomplish in a single term, what formerly would have been 
impossible. In the high school the course of study has been, in succes- 
sive } T ears, adapted to the practical needs of pupils intending to become 
teachers, or designing to enter different departments of business. The 
advantages of this comprehensive system of education, are seen alike in 
the pulpit, at the bar, in the school-room, in the halls of science, in the 
office of the civil engineer, in the improved products of the manufactor}', 
in the skilled labor and inventive genius of the machine shop, in intelli- 
gent horticulture, and in the successful enterprise of trade and commerce. 

That the S3'stem of public education devised in the reconstruction of 
1839, and brought step by step to its present state of perfection, is sus- 
ceptible of further advancement is undoubtedly true. In the century 
upon which the schools have now entered, the true relations of the home 
to them will come to be better understood, and the cordial cooperation 
of parents with teachers will become more general. A stronger stress 
will be laid upon primary instruction, and the wisdom of placing chil- 
dren at the most impressible age under the molding hand and mind of 
teachers of broad culture and large experience, will be acknowledged and 
become the rule. Fewer pupils will be assigned to a teacher in all the schools, 
so that those slow to apprehend can receive the personal attention that 
class instruction forbids. Smaller and more inexpensive school-houses 
will be built, as increased accommodations shall be required, avoiding 
thereby the evils which spring from massing large numbers of children 
under one roof. The laws of health will be more carefully studied, and 
in the construction of school-houses rigidly enforced. Aptitude for 

210 Providence. 

teaching not less than competent literary qualifications, will more than 
ever guide in the selection of teachers. Changes in courses of study 
and in methods of instruction, to harmonize with the ever-changing con- 
dition and new wants of society, will be made. Plans tending to create 
an aristocracy in education by limiting free instruction to grammar 
school studies, will be repudiated as consistent only with monarchical 
institutions, and as antagonistic to die spirit of a republic. The duty 
of the appropriate authorities to see that every child in the community 
is educated, will be made paramount. Methods of supervising schools 
adapted to the progress of the age, will be devised, and eveiy influence 
which a liberal, just and statesman-like policy can bring into activit}', 
will be employed in carrying forward to the highest ideal of perfection 
the free school system of 1876. Such is our prediction. 

In closing this brief history of the progress of public free school 
education in Providence, from the crystalization of the thought in 1767 
to the present time, words recentbr spoken in another connection, may 
not be considered inappropriate : 

" Our schools are among the most attractive institutions of our cit} r . 
Enterprise, capital and a better population are drawn to it by the 
superior advantages they afford for the education of the young, and b} T 
the reputation which intelligence and culture always give to a community. 
The enlightened spirit in which the}' have been conducted, and the 
liberal support they have ever received, has enabled them not only to 
give tone to the educational sentiment of the State, but to maintain a 
front rank with other States in educational progress. No city in the 
country has stronger reasons for so fostering public schools as that their 
influence shall be perceptible among every class of the population, than 
our own. Her varied industries demand intelligent labor such as the 
schools only can provide. Her influence in State and Nation is to be 
perpetuated by the potency of mind which has received its development 
and culture in her educational institutions. Let it be the wisdom of the 
future as it has been of the past, to render them all the support that the 
broadest views of public free education shall require, or that can honor 
the Rhode Island name." 

Errata.— Page 137. For Captain John Whipple read Captain Joseph Whipple. 


Tins is undoubtedly the oldest institution of learning in the State, not 
excepting even the University, of which it was the germ and origin. 
In the month of April, 17G4, the Rev. James Manning, afterwards the 
distinguished president of Rhode Island College, removed with his 
family to the town of Warren, and at once opened a Latin School, with 
a view to the beginning of college instruction. During the latter part of 
the year he was chosen pastor of a church, which had been organized 
mainly through his instrumentality. The following year, 17G5, he was 
formally chosen president of the infant college. He thus sustained the 
threefold relation of president, pastor and principal. The first com- 
mencement of the college, now Brown University, was held in Warren 
in 17G9, at which seven young men were graduated, most of whom had 
been trained by Manning in the Latin School. In the contest that after- 
wards ensued for the final location of the College, Providence was 
successful, and the foundations for the College Building, now called 
" University Hall," were accordingly laid on College Hill, Providence, 
in May, 1770. Meanwhile instruction was given in the upper part of 
the u Brick School-house," so called, on Meeting street, the College 
occupying one chamber, and the Latin School the other. This school- 
house, as appears from Staples' Annals of Providence, was built during 
the year 1768, partly by the town and partl} T by subscription. By this 
compound arrangement the town owned the lower story, while the upper 
story was owned by the subscribers, among whom the friends and 
guardians of the College and the Latin School were largely represented. 
This was in the days of beginnings, or small things. 

The first allusion that we find concerning the Latin or Grammar 
School, after its removal from Warren, appears in the Gazette in con- 

212 Providence. 

nection with an account of the college commencement for 1770, this 
being the first commencement held in Providence. " The business of 
the day being concluded, and before the assembby broke up, a piece from 
Homer was pronounced by Master Bill}' Edwards, one of the Grammar 
School bo}'s, not nine years old." This Edwards was a son of the Rev. 
Morgan Edwards, one of the principal founders of the college. He 
was graduated in 1776, at the early age, it appears, of fourteen. In 
1772 the School was removed to a room on the lower floor of the new 
college edifice, the president, as appear s from the following advertise- 
ment in the Gazette, still retaining charge of the same, in connection 
with his other duties : — 

"Whereas several gentlemen have requested me to take and educate their 
sons, this may inform them, and others disposed to put their children under my 
care, that the Latin School is now removed, and set up in the College edifice; 
where proper attention shall be given, by a master duly qualified, and those 
found to be the most effectual methods to obtain a competent knowledge of 
Grammar, steadily pursued. At the same time, Spelling, Reading, and speaking 
English with propriety, will be particularly attended to. Any who choose their 
sons should board in commons, may be accommodated at the same rate with the 
students, six shillings per week being the price. And I flatter myself that such 
attention will be paid to their learning and morals, as will entirely satisfy all 
who may send their children. All books for the school, as well as the classical 
authors read in College, may be had, at the lowest rate, of the subscriber. 

James Manning. 

Providence, July 10, 1772." 

In the following year, Maj' 20, 1773, President Manning thus writes 
to his friend and correspondent, Rev. John Ryland, of Northampton, 
England : " I have a Latin School under m} T care, taught by one of 
our graduates, of about twenty boys." This graduate was the Rev. 
Ebenezer David, of the class of 1772. a most accurate and excellent 
teacher, whom the Hon. Judge Howell, who for many years was 
associated with President Manning as Assistant Tutor and Professor, 
always claimed the honor of having instructed. How long he continued 
in charge of the school we are not informed. Probably until the break- 
ing out of the Revolutionary War. In Judge Pitman's address before 
the Alumni Association of Brown University, we find the following 
paragraph: — " In 1774, fifteen entered the Freshman Class; eight of 
them were from the Latin School in Providence, under the tuition of the 
Rev. Ebenezer David, of the class of 1772, one of the best instructors," 
says Mr. William Wilkinson, who was one of the eight, '-that I have 
ever known." The next mention of the school appears in the Gazette 
for 1776, as follows :— 

University Grammar School. 213 

" A Grammar School was opened in the school-room within the College edifice 
on Monday the 11th instant, in which the same mode of teaching the Learned 
Languages is pursued, which has given such great satisfaction to the inhabi- 
tants of this town. The scholars are also instructed in Spelling, Reading and 
Speaking the English language with propriety, as well as in Writing and Arith- 
metic, such part of their time as their parents or guardians direct. 

" College Library, March 22, 1776." 

Under date of November 8, 1773, President Manning, in renewing 
his correspondence with Rev. Dr. Stennett, of London, which had been 
interrupted during the war of the revolution, thus writes : " I have the 
assistance of a Tutor, and a Grammar Master keeps school in the 
College edifice." This was the late William Wilkinson, of Providence, 
who had just graduated at the commencement in September. In another 
letter Manning adds : — " He is a good Master. The School is nearl} r up 
to twenty." Mr. Wilkinson retained his position as principal of the 
school eleven }*ears, during which time he prepared many young men 
for a collegiate course, and trained them for the responsible and active 
duties of life. Among his pupils may be mentioned the names of Hon. 
Samuel Eddy, LL. D., Secretary of State and Judge of the Supreme 
Court of Rhode Island, Hon. James Burrill, LL. D., United States 
Senator, Hon. James Fenner, LL. D., United States Senator and also 
Governor of the State, aud His Honor Samuel W. Bridgham, first Mayor 
of Providence. In connection with his duties as principal he was also 
librarian of the college, residing with his family in rooms in the college 
building. He died in May, 1852, at the advanced age of ninet3*-two. 
For mam T years he presided over the Masonic Institution in Rhode 
Island, as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, Grand High Priest of the 
Grand Chapter, and Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of 
Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A fine portrait of him has recently 
been placed in Masons Hall, b}' his surviving daughter, Mrs. Tibbits. 

In 1786, the School was removed from the College edifice, back to 
the Brick School House on Meeting Street, as appears from the follow- 
ing advertisement, published in the Gazette: — 

" William Wilkinson informs the public, that by the advice of the School 
Committee, he proposes removing his School from the College edifice, on Mon- 
day next, to the Brick School House; and sensible of the many advantages 
resulting from a proper method of instruction in the English language, he has, 
by the Committee's approbation, associated with him Mr. Asa Learned, as an 
English instructor. Those gentlemen and ladies who may wish to employ them 
in the several branches of Greek, Latin and English languages taught gramma- 

214 . Providence. 

tically, Arithmetic and Writing, may depend on the utmost attention being 
paid to their children. Greek and Latin at twenty-four shillings per quarter ; 
English at sixteen shillings. 

Wilkinson and Learned. 
Providence, October 20, 1786." 

The first mention of the school in the records of the corporation of the 
University, appears under date of September 4, 1794, as follows : — 

"Voted. That the President use his influence to establish a grammar school 
in this town, as an appendage to the college, to be under the immediate visitation 
of the President and the general inspection of the town's school committee, and 
that the President also procure a suitable master for such school." 

In accordance with the foregoing vote the school was again established 
in the college. In a recent notice of the late Hon. Philip Allen, a grad- 
uate in the class of 1803, it is stated that he was ' k prepared for college 
in the Latin School, then kept in the northwest corner room of the lower 
story of the old college building, by Jeremiah Chaplin, afterwards Pres- 
ident of Waterville College." Under date of September 7, 1809, we find 
upon the records of the Corporation the following : — 

"Voted. That a suitable building in which to keep a Grammar School, be 
erected on the college lands, provided a sum sufficient to defray the expense of 
erecting said building can be raised by subscription ; that said school be under 
the management and control of the President of the College; and that Thomas 
P. Ives, Moses Lippitt, and Thomas Lloyd Halsey, Esqrs. , be a committee to 
raise said sum and cause said building to be erected ; and that they erect the 
same on the west line of the Steward's garden." 

"Voted. That the President be authorized to procure a Master to teach the 
Grammar School ordered at this meeting, and that if a sufficient sum be not 
raised from the scholars to pay the salary of the Master, the deficiency be paid 
out of the funds ol the University." 

In accordance with the foregoing: instructions the committee, consist- 
ing of Messrs. Ives, Lippitt and Halse}-, proceeded at once to procure 
subscriptions, and to erect a house suitable for the purpose in view, di- 
rectly opposite the present Mansion House on College street. It was 
built of brick, twenty-four by thirty-three feet, and two stories in height. 
The whole expense was fifteen hundred dollars, which amount was ob- 
tained from one hundred and eighteen persons, mostly citizens of the 
town, in sums ranging from one hundred dollars down to five, three and 
two dollars. The names of the subscribers are given in Guild's Docu- 
mentary History of Brown University, a quarto volume published by 
subscription, in 1867. 

University Grammar School. 215 

We should be glad in this connection to present a list of all the mas- 
ters, preceptors, or principals of the Latin or grammar school from the 
beginning ; the means for this, however, are not at hand, no records or 
files of the school, until a comparatively recent period, having been kept. 
In the catalogues of the university from 1808 to 1824, the names of the 
*' Preceptors " are appended to the names of the president and faculty. 
Whether the school was continued with regularity from this date is un- 
certain. Very likely there were interruptions. For many years after 
the completion of the building, in 1810, the upper story was used for the 
medical lectures, that were formerh' given in connection with the uni- 
versity. In 1837, Mr. Benjamin II. Rhodes, the present popular and 
efficient librarian of the Redwood Library, at Newport, took charge of 
the school, and continued it two 3-ears. He was succeeded by Gen. 
Joseph S. Pitman, a son of the late Judge Pitman, who taught it, how- 
ever, but a short time. In 1843, Mr. Elbridge Smith, who had been a 
tutor in college during the two precediug years, assumed the charge, 
and the following year Mr. Henry S. Frieze, a graduate in the class of 
1841, was associated with him. In 1845, Mr. Smith left the School, and 
his place was supplied by Merrick Lyon, LL. D., also a graduate in the 
class of 1841. Under their joint management the University Grammar 
School had a brilliant and successful career. The number of scholars 
was greatly increased, so that in the year 1852, Messrs. L3-011 and Frieze 
were encouraged to make, at their own expense, an addition to the build- 
ing of thirty-five feet, and to supply the commodious halls and rooms 
thus obtained, with all the conveniences and appointments of a lirst-class 

In 1854, Mr. Frieze accepted a Latin Professorship in the University 
of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and his place was supplied b}' Emory Lyon, 
M. D., a successful principal of an academy in an adjoining State. 
Under their skillful and efficient management the school has increased 
in usefulness and reputation. Dr. Emory Lyon has had charge of the 
English and Mathematical Departments, while his brother, Dr. Merrick 
Lyon, has had charge of the Classical Department, teaching Greek and 
Latin exclusively. As it was in the beginning, so is it now, a most im- 
portant preparatoiy school for the college, training for entrance thereto 
large numbers of youth who take high rank in their respective classes, 
and thus do honor to their earl}* instructors. As an illustration it may 
be stated, that during the past quarter of a century, between two and 
three hundred 3'oung men have been admitted to the University, who 
were prepared for College at the University Grammar School. 

We close this imperfect sketch with the following list of all the instruc- 

216 Providence. 

tors of the School, as nearly as can be ascertained, from the beginning 
down to the present time : — 

Instructors.— 17G4 - 187G. 

Rev. James Maiming, D. D., Hon. David Howell, LL. D., Rev. Ebenezer Da- 
vid. A. M., William Wilkinson, A. M., Mr. Asa Learned, Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, 
D. D., Hon. Tristam Burges, LL. D., Wood Furman, A. M., Rev. Ebenezer Bur- 
gess, D. D., Rev. Hervey Jenks, A. M., David Avery, A. M., George Fisher, A. 
M., Rev. Solomon Peck, D. D., Isaac Kimball, A. M., Rev. Willard Pierce, A. M., 
Rev. Jesse Hartwell, D. D., Rev. Rufus Babcock, D. D., Hon. Isaac Davis, LL. 
D., Rev. Silas A. Crane, D. D., Prof. George W. Keely, D. D., Benjamin II. 
Rhodes, A. M., Rev. George Ware Briggs, D. D., Prof. George W. Greene, A. 
M., Hon. Samuel Curry, A. M., Asa Drury, Rhodes B. Chapman, Hon. Thomas 
A. Jencks, LL. D., Gen. Joseph S. Pitman, A. B., Christopher Greene, Prof. 
Henry Day, 1). 1)., Prof. Henry Warren Torrey, A. M., Elbriclge Smith, A. M. 
Prof. Henry S. Frieze, LL. D., Merrick Lyon, LL. D., Emory Lyon, A. M., M. 
1)., Alfred Lawton, A. B., Benjamin Braman, A. M., Howard M. Rice, A. M., 
Rev. Elisha B. Andrews, A. M., James R. Corthell, Frederick B. Byram, A. M., 
William V. Kellen, A. B. , Harmon S. Babcock, A. B. 

Instructors In Special Studies. 

Felix Aucaine, Alfred Gaudelet, Charles II. Gates, A. B., Rev. George E. Horr, 
William F. Hammond, Stephen A. Potter, George II. Rogers, Ellery C. Davis, 
Miss Mary A. Potter. 

R. A. G. 


Tins venerable seat of learning, the oldest of all the colleges under the 
control of the Baptist denomination, was formall}- incorporated in Feb- 
ruary, 1764. The plan of the institution originated with the Philadel- 
phia Association, which, at its meeting in October, 1762, "obtained," 
says the historian Backus, " such an acquaintance with the affairs of 
Rhode Island as to bring themselves to an apprehension that it was 
practicable and expedient to erect a college in the Colon3 T of Rhode 
Island, under the chief direction of the Baptists, in which education 
might be promoted and superior learning obtained, free from any secta- 
rian tests." In this little colony Roger Williams had first recognized and 
practically enforced the grand principle of "soul liberty," or entire free- 
dom in all religious concernments. Here the Legislature was chiefly in 
the hands of the Baptists, "and here, therefore," says Morgan Edwards, 
"was the likeliest place to have a Baptist college established by law." 
The establishment of an academy at Hopewell, New Jerse}', in 1756, for 
the literary and theological training of young men suggested, doubtless, 
the idea of a higher institution of learning. Although founded by the 
Rev. Isaac Eaton, who for eleven years was the honored and successful 
principal, it was under the supervision and control of the Philadelphia 
and Charleston Associations, who appointed certain trustees to have the 
general oversight of its affairs, and to attend its quarterly and annual 

In the month of July, 1763, the Rev. James Manning, who the year 
previous had graduated with the second honors of his class, at the Col- 
lege of New Jersey, Princeton, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 
the business of the great educational work, with which he had been 
especially entrusted b} r a committee of the association. The details of 
his mission have been related in full by his biographers. Through his 
personal influence, and that of the Rev. Morgan Edwards, a charter 

218 Providence. 

reflecting the liberal sentiments of the colony and of the denomination 
was obtained from the General Assembly, not, however, without a severe 
and protracted struggle on the part of those who opposed the enterprise. 
In the spring of 1764, a preparatory or latin school was opened in the 
town of Warren, and the year following, Manning was formall}- ap- 
pointed " President of the College, Professor of Languages and other 
branches of learning, with full power to act in these capacities at Warren 
or elsewhere." He was, therefore, principal of the latin school, presi- 
dent of the infant college, and pastor of a large and flourishing church, 
which had been gathered and organized mainly through his eloquence 
and faithfulness. Thus the interests of learning and religion, in the 
days of the fathers, were most intimate and friendly. Far distant be 
the da} T when " what hath been joined together" evidently by the Divine 
favor, shall be ruthlessly " put asunder." 

Tn 1766, Mr. Edwards was appointed an agent to solicit funds for the 
college in England and Ireland. He was quite successful, considering 
how " angry the mother country was with her dependent colonies,'' 
obtaining eight hundred and eighty-eight pounds sterling, or about four 
thousand five hundred dollars. The original document, containing the 
names of the subscribers in their own handwriting, has been placed 
among the archives of the college libraiy. About the same time Rev. 
Hezekiah Smith, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, a classmate and intimate 
friend of the president, obtained subscriptions for the college in South 
Carolina and Georgia, amounting to about twenty-five hundred dollars. 
Subscriptions were also taken up in all the Baptist churches, every 
member, in the language of the records of the various associations, being 
recommended to pay six pence sterling annually to the treasurer of the 
college. The gifts and offerings thus contributed were from the " res 
angusta domi" from "pious enlightened penury," to the noblest of all 
causes, the advancement of " religion and sound learning." 

The first commencement of the college was held in the meeting-house 
at Warren, on the 7th of September, 1761). Four years had elapsed 
since the President with a solitary pupil commenced his collegiate duties 
as an instructor. Through, toils and difficulties and opposition even, he 
had quietly persevered in his work until " Rhode Island College " had 
won its way to public favor. And now his first pupils, seven in num- 
ber, were about to take their diplomas and go forth to the duties of life. 
They were young men of promise. Some of them were destined to fill 
conspicuous places in the approaching struggle for independence ; others 
were to be leaders in the church and distinguished educators of youth. 
One, Charles Thompson, who delivered the valedictory address, after- 

Brown University. 219 

wards succeeded President Manning in the pastorate of the Warren 
church. Anpther, William Rogers, attained to eminence as a divine, and 
was the successor of Morgan Edwards in the pastorate of the First 
Baptist Church of Philadelphia. He was also a professor in the Univer- 
sity of Pensylvania, and an intimate friend of Washington. His nephew, 
the late William Sanford Rogers, has recently bequeathed to the Univer- 
sity the sum of fifty thousand dollars to found the " Newport Rogers 
Professorship." Another, William Williams, was for many years pastor 
of a Baptist church in Wientham, Massachusetts, and the instructor of 
mnny young men in theology. This was before the founding of the 
Theological Institution at Newton. A fourth member of the class was 
James Mitchell Varnum, afterwards distinguished as a lawyer and a 
judge, and who served as a brigadier general in the war of the revolu- 
tion. Probably no class that has gone forth from the University, in 
her palmiest days of prosperity, has exerted so widely extended and 
beneficial an influence, the times and circumstances being taken into 
consideration, as this first class of 17G9. A full and extremely interest- 
ing account of the commencement is given in the Providence Gazette, of 
which the following is the closing part : — 

"The President concluded the exercises with prayer. The whole was 
conducted with a propriety and solemnity suitable to the occasion. The 
audience (consisting of the principal gentlemen and ladies of this colony, 
and man}' from the neighboring governments,) though large and crowded, 
behaved with the utmost decorum. Not only the candidates, but even 
the President, were dressed in American manufactures. Finally, be it 
observed, that this class are the first sons of that college which has existed 
for more than four years, during all which time it has labored under 
great disadvantages, notwithstanding the warm patronage and encour- 
agement of man}' worthy men of fortune and benevolence ; and it is 
hoped, from the disposition which many discovered on that day, and 
other favorable circumstances, that these disadvantages will soon in 
part be happily removed." 

As the place for the permanent location of the college was yet unde- 
termined, the four towns of Warren, Providence, Newport and East 
Greenwich, in four different counties of the Mate, all preferred their 
claims as being, each respectively, the most eligible and desirable situa- 
tion. The consequence was that the public mind was greatly agitated 
by the contentions which grew out of these conflicting claims. Mr. 
Edwards, in referring to the subject, says : " Warren was at first agreed 
on as a proper situation, where a small wiog was to be erected in the 
spring of 1770, and about eight bundled pounds raised toward effecting 

220 Providence . 

it. But soon afterwards, some who were unwilling it should be there, 
and some who were unwilling it should be anywhere, did so far agree as 
to la} T aside the said location and propose that the count}' which should 
raise the most money should have the college." A full account of this 
remarkable contest is given in the " Documentary History of Brown 
University." The two ablest competitors were Providence and Newport. 
The latter town raised by subscription four thousand pounds lawful 
mone\', but Providence, says Manning in his correspondence, raised four 
thousand two hundred and eighty pounds lawful mone}*, and advantages 
superior to Newport in other respects. After an earnest discussion on 
the merits of the conflicting claims, the corporation, on the 7th of Feb- 
ruary, 1770, decided by a vote of twenty-one to fourteen, "that the edi- 
fice be built in the town of Providence, and that there the college be 
continued forever." Accordingly, in May following, the President re- 
moved with his students from Warren, and occupied for a time the old 
brick school-house on Meeting street. 

We have thus given in brief the outlines of the earl}* history of Brown 
Universit}'. The details of its progress and continued growth would 
crowd the pages of a volume. We can only acid a few words respecting 
its grounds, buildings, resources and present condition. The location is 
admirable, being the summit of a hill, eas}' of ascent, and commanding 
a delightful view of Narragansett Bay, studded with islands, and of the 
country around, variegated with hills and dales, woods and plains. 
" Surely," says Edwards, " this spot was made for the seat of the muses." 
The grounds, comprising some fifteen acres, are tastefully laid out and 
shaded with magnificent elms, some of them having been growing for 
nearly half a century. The college enclosure, including the -- green" 
in front and the " campus " in the rear, comprises a square area of about 
ten acres, bounded by Waterman street on the north, George street on 
the south, Prospect street on the west or front, and Brown street in part 
on tne east. Beyond this enclosure is the " College Park," extending 
east to Thayer street, and still further on, extending to Hope street, is 
a strip of land comprising upwards of three acres, bequeathed to the 
University in 1841 by the Hon. Nicholas Brown, from whom the institu- 
tion derives its name. The total valuation of its lands, situated as they 
are in the most delightful part of a wealthy and growing city, can not 
be far from a million of dollars. Of course they are unproductive, with 
the exception of the strip referred to, which may perhaps eventually be 
sold and the proceeds applied to the erection of a new dormitory, of 
which the college stands greatly in need. 

Of its six buildings the oldest is " University Hall," the corner stone 

Brown University. 221 

of which was laid by the celebrated John Brown of " Gaspee " fame, on 
the 27th of March, 1770. The plan of this venerated pile was that of 
" Nassau Hall," Princeton, which was regarded at the time as one of 
the finest structures in the country. It is of brick, four stories high, 
one hundred and fifty feet long and forty-six feet wide, with a projection 
in the centre on the east and west sides of ten b}' thirty-three feet, and 
an entry of twelve feet extending through the centre of each story. It 
has fifty-six rooms for officers and students, including various recitation 
rooms. The " Grammar School Building," erected in 1810 for the 
accommodation of the preparatory or Latin School, was originally a 
small brick structure, twent3*-four lry thirty-three feet, and two stories 
in height. "Hope College," erected in 1822, was presented to the 
Corporation Ivy the Hon. Nicholas Brown, and named b}' him in honor of 
his only surviving sister, Mrs. Hope Ives. It is of brick, four stories 
high, one hundred and twenty feet long b} T fort}' feet wide, and contains 
fifty rooms for officers and students. This building is sadly in want of 
repairs. "Maiming Hall" was erected in 1834, at the expense also of 
Mr. Brown, and lry him presented to the Corporation with a request that 
it might be named " in honor of his distinguished instructor and revered 
friend, President Manning." This beautiful building is an exact model 
of the temple of Diana Propylea, in Elusis, being just twice the size of 
the original. It is of stone, covered with cement, and of the pure Doric 
order. Including the portico it is ninety feet in length by foity-two 
feet in width, and of two stories. The height from the top of the base- 
ment is fort}- feet. The libraiy occupies the lower hall, which is sixt} T - 
four by thirty-eight feet, with a height of thirteen feet. The upper hall 
is used for the chapel. The front of the edifice is ornamented with four 
immense fluted columns, resting on a platform projecting thirteen feet 
from the walls. " Rhode Island Hall," erecied by subscription in 1840, 
is of stone, covered with cement, seventy feet long by fortj'-two feet wide, 
with a projection in front of twelve by twenty-six. The first floor is 
divided into two lecture rooms, one for the Professor of Chemistry and 
the other for the Professor of Natural Philosoplry. The second story is 
thrown into a beautiful hall for the Cabinet of Mineralogy, Geologj- and 
Natural History. During the past year a wing has been built on the east 
side, giving additional accommodations for the professors on the first floor, 
while the second floor is occupied as a " portrait galleiy." The " Man- 
sion House," built in 1840 for the use of the president, is a commodious 
dwelling of wood, fort}*-six by thirty-seven feet, with an octagonal pro- 
jection in front, forming a vestibule. Over the front door is an Ionic 
portico, eight by seven feet. The addition is twenty one by eighteen 

222 Providence. 

feet. The "Chemical Laboratory," erected in 1862, is a neat and sub- 
stantial building of brick, two stories in height, fort}' by fifty feet, with 
a projection on the east side, thirty-five 03- fifty-five feet. 

The late Mr. John Carter Brown, for many years a member of the 
Board of Fellows, and a distinguished benefactor of the library, gave to 
the University, some years since, the sum of fifteen thousand dollars, to 
be on interest, and the accumulated amount to be eventually used in 
the erection of a fire-proof library building. At his death, in 1874, he 
bequeathed the additional sum of fifty thousand dollars, and also a 
valuable lot of land, for the same purpose. This lot, which is one 
hundred and twenty feet square, is on the corner of Prospect and Water- 
man streets, overlooking the lawn in front of the college buildings. 
The erection of the building has already been commenced under the di- 
rection of a committee of the corporation, consisting of Rowland Hazard, 
Esq., of the class of 1849, Joseph C. Hartshorn, Esq., of the class of 
1841, and ex-President Caswell. The foundation walls have been laid 
and good progress has been made on the main building. The building 
is to be two stories in height, in addition to the basement, which is high 
and well lighted. The style of architecture is the Italian Gothic, the 
plans adopted being those of General William R. Walker, architect. 
The exterior walls are to be of brick, with olive stone decorations. Ac- 
commodations are to be provided for one hundred and fifty thousand 

The Library for the piesent is in the lower part of Manning Hall. It 
contains forty-five thousand well bound and carefully selected volumes. 
In its early history it received additions from donations and legacies 
made b} T friends of the college, both in this country and in England. 
During the presidenc} r of Dr. Wayland a permanent library fund of 
twenty-five thousand dollars was raised by subscription. Since that 
time the income of this fund has been expended, under the direction of 
a joint committee of six, appointed annually by the corporation and the 
faculty of the university. During the years 1844-6, the foundations of 
the French, German and Italian departments of the library were laid, 
through the generosity of Mr. Brown. At this time, also, a special fund 
of five thousand dollars was raised by subscription, and was expended 
in the purchase of English books. The greater part of the library, there- 
fore, has been procured within the last thirty }'ears, with special reference 
to the wants of professors and students and of other persons engaged in 
literary and scientific research. Besides being well supplied with works 
illustrating the various courses of college study, it has a large number 
of the collections pertaining to civil and ecclesiastical history, antiquity, 

Brown University. 223 

literature, and the Greek and Latin classics. The library is especially 
rich in bibliography and and patristics, and in the pamphlet literature of 
New England. It has also a large number of works on architecture. 
Upon the library table may be found the most important American and 
English periodicals, and also periodicals in the German and French lan- 
guages pertaining to science, history, literature, bibliography, philology 
and the classics. 

The invested funds of the institution, according to the last annual re- 
port of the treasurer, amount to $640,834. These funds are thus clas- 
sified : — "Common Fund," $365,215; " Scholarship Fund," $57,725; 
" Aid Fund," $8,428 ; " Library Fund," $27,000 ; " Agricultural Fund," 
$50,000; "Premium and Prize Funds," $21,012; " Hazard Professor- 
ship," $40,931; "Romeo Elton Professorship," $1G,G74; "Newport- 
Rogers Professorship," $50,000 ; " Marshall Woods Lectureship," $3,849. 
In addition to this is the sum subscribed by Mr. Brown for the erection 
of a library building, amounting with interest to $21,708, and the $50,000 
bequeathed b}- him for this purpose. 

The faculty of Brown Universit} T consists of a president, ten profes- 
sors, three instructors, one assistant instructor, a librarian and a reg- 
istrar. The following are their names and titles as given in the latest 
annual catalogue : Rev. Ezekiel G. Robinson, D. D., LL D., President, 
Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy ; John L. Lincoln, LL. 
D., Professor of the Latin Language and Literature and Instructor in 
German ; Samuel S. Greene, LL. D., Professor of Mathematics and 
Astronomy; Albert Harkness, Ph.D., LL. D., Professor of the Greek 
Language and Literature ; Rev. J. Lewis Diman, D. D., Professor of 
History and Political Econom}- ; Benjamin F. Clarke, A. M.. Professor 
of Mathematics and Civil Engineering ; John H. Appleton, A. M., New- 
port-Rogers Professor ot Chemistry ; T. Whiting Bancroft, A. M., Pro- 
fessor of Rhetoric and English Literature and Instructor in Elocution ; 

Eli W. Blake, A. M., Hazard Professor of Physics ; , Elton 

Professor of Natural Theology (at present instruction in Natural Theol- 
ogy is given by the President of the University) ; John W. P. Jenks, A. 
M., Professor of Agricultural Zoology and Curator of the Museum of 
Natural History ; Charles W. Parsons, M. D., Professor of Physiolog}- ; 
Nathaniel F. Davis, A. M., Instructor in Mathematics ; William Ashmore, 
Jr., A. M., Instructor in Latin and Greek; Charles II. Gates, A. B., 
Instructor in French ; Edwin E. Calder, assistant Instructor in Analyti- 
cal Chemistry ; Reuben A. Guild, LL. D., Librarian ; Rev. William 
Douglas, A. M., Registrar. 

224 Providence. 

The number of students connected with the Universit} T is at present, 
255. The triennial catalogue, published in 1873, gives the names of 
2,540 graduates, more than one-fourth of whom have been ordained and 
set apart for the work of the Christian ministry. This enumeration does 
not include the three classes which have graduated since the Spring of 
1875. Of the graduates from the beginning, upwards of one hundred 
have been honored with the degree of Doctor in Divinity, including 
bishops eminent for their piet} T and learning, missionaries at home and 
abroad, presidents of colleges and theological schools, and religious 
teachers whose names are conspicuous in the republic of letters, and 
whose virtues and deeds will be held in grateful remembrance by the 
manifold churches of our common Lord. 

R. A. G. 



The founder of this school was the late Hon. John Kingsbury, LL. D, 
In age, it takes precedence of all the private female schools of the city, 
having been established in 1828. Mr. Kingsbury was born at South 
Coventiw, Ct., May 26th, 1801. He graduated from Brown University*, 
in 182G, with the second honors, in a class of which the late Bishop 
Burgess, of Maine, and Professor Edwards A. Park, of Andover, were 
members. Mr Kingsbury commenced his undertaking with the earnest- 
ness and zeal which were such marked features in his character, and 
soon had the satisfaction of seeing his experiment a complete success. 
The time and the place were both favorable for embarking in such an 
enterprise. The public school system, which now furnishes such facili- 
ties for higher education, was then in its infancj*, and citizens of wealth 
and refinement were prepared to encourage an undertaking which 
promised to afford a better intellectual training for their daughters. 
Moreover the influence of Brown University in raising the tone of the 
community, had long been acknowledged, and parents felt that their 
daughters ought to be put on a footing with their sons, in the matter of 
their mental culture. The number of pupils was at first limited to 
thirty-six, which was soon extended to forty. The school was under the 
charge of Mr. Kingsbury for thirty- 3-ears, the admissions during this 
period being five hundred and fifty-seven. 

At the close of his long term of service Mr. Kingsbury had are-union 
of his pupils, in the chapel of Brown University. The occasion w*as 
one of great interest and proved how warm a place the retiring princi- 

226 Providexce. 

pal held in the affections of his pupils, and in the regards of the com 
munitv. Dr. Wayland presided on the occasion and paid a warm 
tribute to the successful instructor who had been both guide and friend 
of so many of the ladies of Providence. Mr. Kingsbury, in his repl} T , 
gave a brief historical sketch of the school which had so long been 
under his care, and dwelt at some length on the principles which had 
governed him in its management. 

Mr. Kingsbur}''s term of service closed February 5, 1858, when the 
school passed into the hands of Hon. Amos Perry, and by him was 
soon transferred to Professor J. L. Lincoln, LL. D., who commenced 
the school year 1858-59, in the month of September. For eight years, 
Professor Lincoln carried on the school, which, under his administration, 
enjoyed a prosperit}' similar to that which it had had under his prede- 
cessor. The present Principal, Rev. Dr. Stockbridge, took charge of the 
school in the fall of 1867, and has endeavored to keep up the standard 
of previous years. During the forty-eight years of its existence, not 
far from one thousand }'oung ladies have received their education, in 
part or wholly in this school. How great a blessing it has been in 
training so many who have filled important positions as wives, mothers 
and teachers of the young, it would not be possible to estimate. 
Among the educational institutions of Providence it holds a high rank, 
and if encouraged Iry the patronage of its citizens, will continue to be 
in the future, as it has been in the past, a power for good in the com- 
munity where it has so long had its home. 


A Brief History of its Rise and Progress. 

This institution was founded by its present proprietor, Albert G. Schol- 
field, in June, 1846. This was the first commercial school established 
in Rhode Island, and the patronage for its first year was secured by 
great exertions on the part of the principal, so skeptical were the citizens 
of the State in regard to the necessity for such a school and the advan- 
tages to accrue therefrom. 

The primary object of this institution wa? to cultivate a taste for writ- 
ing, and awaken a greater interest in the science of accounts. Hence 
writing and book-keeping were the leading branches t; Tight. For the 
first three years its patronage was drawn mainly from men in actual 
business, either as accountants or their employers. It soon became 
apparent that it were wise to introduce other branches, the common 
English department, and mechanical drawing, which latter study has 
been almost exclusively confined to professional mechanics. 

As occasion demanded, there have been added to the studies formerly 
pursued, the higher English, languages, surveying and navigation. 
The patronage of the school has ranged since its establishment, from 
fifty to five hundred students per annum. 

The teachers have ranged from one to twelve, as occasion has de- 
manded. During the thirty years of its existence it has enjoyed a pat- 
ronage of ten thousand students, and has graduated three thousand in 
the business or book-keeping course. 


William A. Mowey, A. M., and Charles B. Goff, A. M., Principals. 

Name and Object. 

This school is called the English and Classical School, for boys, 
and is located at No. 49 Snow street, Providence. It was first opened 
February 22, 18G4. 

As its name indicates, it is an English and a Classical school. Its 
English department is designed to give the most thorough, and practi- 
cal preparation for scientific schools or for business. Its classical 
department aims to furnish the best facilities to prepare boys for any of 
our New England colleges. 


The school is divided into five rooms, which are comprised in three 

1. The Preparatory Department, which prepares the younger boys 
for either of the following : 

2. The English Department, which embraces two rooms, the Junior 
English and the English and Scientific Room, and is designed to give the 
best preparation for technical schools or for business life. 

3. The Classical Department, which also has two rooms, the Junior 
Classical and the Senior Classical, and designs to furnish the most 
adequate and thorough preparation for any college. 

Courses of Study. 

Its courses of study begin with the elements of reading, writing, 
spelling, geography and arithmetic, with bo} r s of about eight } T ears 
of age, and after completing the common English studies, pursue the 

English and Classical School. 229 

higher mathematics, natural sciences, the modern languages, rhetoric 
and English literature and authors, metaphysics, and other practi- 
cal studies. The classical course of study is full and thorough, and is 
varied from time to time, as the requirements for admission to our 
American colleges demand. 

The entire course of stud}' extends through nine years. The pupils 
pursue arithmetic five years, algebra one year, geometry one 3'ear, 
trigonometry and surveying six months, geography four years, English 
grammar three years, English composition and rhetoric two years, 
English and American literature one year, spelling, reading and elocu- 
tion through the course, writing seven years, drawing five years, 
history two years, natural philosophj* one year, chemistry and astronomy 
one year, physiology and geology one year, book-keeping six months, 
political economy six months, constitution United States six months, 
intellectual philosophy six months, German two 3 T ears, French three 
years, Latin seven 3'ears, and Greek four years. 

The Growth of the School. 

The growth of the school has indeed been a marvel to its friends and 
most sanguine supporters. It began with about 50 pupils and two 
teachers, and has steadly grown until it has reached 85, 100, 125, 150, 175, 
200, 225, and now numbers 250 pupils. It has from time to time 
improved its course of study, and added to it, as the occasion seemed 
to require. It has, however, ever followed the motto : — 

" Nulla Vestigia Retrorsum." 

In addition to its regular corps of teachers it has special instructors 
in elocution, penmanship, vocal music, physiology and military drill. 
From the very beginning it has had regular and systematic exercises 
for all the pupils in a S3"stem of light g3'innastics, and for more than 
eleven years it has furnished also to all regular militaiw instruction and 
drill. These exercises in gymnastics and drill have proved eminently 
successful and beneficial. They have always been popular and pleasing 
as well as healthful and otherwise advantageous to the pupils. 

Its Numbers and Graduates. 

About 1000 pupils have been members of the school, of whom over 
100 have graduated and received the school diploma. Of these about 
75 have entered Brown University, and have taken one-third of all the 
prizes offered for excellence in Latin and Greek on entering. Pupils 

230 Providence . 

have also been sent to Yale, Harvard and other colleges. Among the 
graduates ma}' be found railroad superintendents, architects, engineers, 
merchants, manufacturers, accountants, bankers, teachers, lawyers, 
doctors, and ministers. 

The School Building. 

The school commenced in a modest way, in two leased rooms, in the 
fourth story of the Lyceum building, where it remained one year. For 
the next five years it was located in the then new Narragansett block, 
on Westminster street. Having outgrown the capacity of the rooms 
there, it removed to the new and elegant Fletcher building, where it 
was well accommodated for six years more. Finding its wants still but 
imperfectly supplied, and needing a home of its own, the proprietors 
have now built a large brick school building on Snow and Moulton 
streets, which furnishes, perhaps, as man}' substantial advantages as 
are possessed by an}' school in New England. In lighting, heating 
and ventilation, visitors from all parts of the country have uniformly 
pronounced it superior to anything the}' have known. The light is 
over the left shoulder, and the surface of the glass is ten per cent, of 
the surface of the floor. The floor divided by the number of pupils, 
gives twenty-five square feet to each, and the cubical contents of 
each room divided by the number of pupils gives about 300 cubic feet of 
air to each. The value of the building and land is estimated at $100,000. 

New School Desk. 

The school is supplied with a new school desk upon an original 
model, with a patent arrangement for folding the lid, by which a rest is 
made for the book in studying, which obliges the pupil to sit upright, 
and which brings the book at the right distance and angle from the eye. 

Laboratory and Apparatus. 

The chemical laboratory is complete and well arranged for practical 
use. The philosophical, ?istronomical and other apparatus is large and 
valuable. The library of reference books is of great value and practi- 
cal service to the school. 

English and Classical School. 231 


The present corps of instructors is as follows : — 

William A. Mowry, A. M., Metaphysics, U. S. Constitution and Book-keeping. 

Charles B. Goff, A. M., Senior Latin and Greek. 

Howard M. Rice, A. M., Modern Languages and English Literature. 

Rev. James W. Col well, A. M., Mathematics. 

Richard W. Smith, A. M., Junior English Studies. 

William S. Liscomb, A. M., Latin and Greek. 

George B. E. Hinckley, A. M., Junior Classical Studies. 

Frank P. Whitman, A. B., Natural Science and Mathematics. 

Mrs. II. M. Miller, Elocution and Voice Culture. 

Mrs. Harriet A. Dean, Preparatory Department. 

Prof J. W. P. Jenks, A. M., Physiology. 

Ellery C. Davis, Penmanship. 

Benjamin W. Hood, Vocal Music. 

Mrs. Mary E. Rawson, Vocal Music, Preparatory Department. 

Gen. Charles R. Dennis, Military Drill. 


Established 18G5. Principals : Jencks Mowry, Joseph E. Mowry, A. M. 

This school had its origin in the opening, by the senior principal, of 
the Mount Pleasant Select School, for affording a more thorough and 
extended course of study in the English branches than was at the time 
pursued in the public schools in the immediate vicinit} T . It was soon 
found that the school met a requirement of a class of scholars whose 
age or diversity of attainments in different branches, prevented from 
following the routine of the public schools, and that such a school was 
needed to supplement those schools. Scholars also from the small 
ungraded schools in our rural districts found opportunities for studying 
branches not taught at their schools. There was no fixed schedule of 
studies, but the studies pursued were the common English branches, 
and sometimes algebra, and the elements of geometiy and physics. 
Especial attention was given to the explanation of the principles of 
arithmetic and to their practical application. 

The number of scholars increased and there arose a demand for a 
more extensive course of study. In 1872, a new school building was 
erected, and the course of study was so extended as to include the 
higher mathematics and French, and the college preparatory classics, 
and it became the aim of the principals to afford a thorough, discipli- 
naiy, and complete preparation for ordinary business pursuits or for 
admission to our colleges. 

The views which suggested its establishment are still adhered to : — 
That all scholars can not with advantage pursue exactty the same 
course of study, nor should their progress in all branches be made 

Mount Pleasant Academy. 233 

uniform ; but that beyond a knowledge of the rudiments, which all 
should possess, and which should be thorough, the scholar ma}' best 
pursue those studies for which he has a natural inclination ; that a 
thorough knowledge of a few subjects, or of a few topics connected 
with one is better than a smattering of man}' subjects, or a superficial 
view of much of any one. Thus scholars entering upon a liberal course 
of stud}- form habits of incalculable advantage, while those whose 
advantages have been limited, and whose time for the completion of 
their education is short, have facilities offered, which of necessity cannot 
be enjoyed in our rigidly graded public schools. 

It has also been the aim of the school to afford equal advantages to 
scholars of both sexes, the entire course being open to both, and both 
having the same privileges in selecting the studies to be pursued. The 
influence of the two classes is believed to be mutually beneficial, both 
intellectually and moralty. 

There is then at present two departments, a preparatory and an 
academic. The latter has two parallel courses of study, extending for 
most pupils over four 3 T ears. The scientific includes the higher English, 
mathematics, and a modern and ancient language ; the classical is 
limited to the college preparatory studies. 

The number of pupils in attendance for the past year has been one 
hundred and twelve. 


On the 27th of Februar}*, 1789, a number of the principal mechanics 
and manufacturers of the town of Providence, met at the house of 
Captain Elijah Bacon, on Union street, and u voted, that we will form 
ourselves, with such others as ma}' join us, into an association for the 
promotion of home manufactures, the cementing of the mechanic 
interest, and for raising a fund to support the distressed." At this 
meeting Col. William Barton, — so well known in our country's history as 
the capturer of the British General Prescott at his quarters on Rhode 
Island in the revolutionary war, — was chosen chairman, and Bennett 
"Wheeler, clerk. At the same meeting a committee, consisting of Amos 
Atwell, Charles Keene, John Davis, Robert Newell, Bennett Wheeler, 
Elijah Bacon and Nicholas Easton, was appointed to draft the form of 
a constitution for the association. This committee reported at an 
adjourned meeting, held at the house of Daniel Jackson, March 4th, 
and the constitution presented by them was, after being debated para- 
graph by paragraph and amended, unanimously agreed to. The follow- 
ing officers were then elected : Barzillai Richmond, president ; Charles 
Keene, vice president ; Amos Atwell, treasurer, and Bennett Wheeler, 
secretaiy. A committee of correspondence was also elected, consisting 
of Aaron Mason, Levi Hall, Robert Newell, Daniel Stillwell, John 
Davis, William Richmond, Zephaniah Andrews, Thomas Hazard, Elijah 
Bacon, Charles Holden and Nicholas Easton. At the same meeting a 
committee was appointed, composed of Charles Keene, Amos Atwell, 
Bennett Wheeler, Thomas Hazard and Amasa Gray, to draft the form 
of a petition to the honorable General Assembly for an act of incorpor- 
ation. Levi Hall was requested to present the petition to the Assembly, 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 235 

and "use his influence to get the prayer of it granted." The Assembly 
granted a charter, which, on the 16th of March, received the signature 
of governor John Collins. The thanks of the Association were presented 
to Mr. Hall and to David Howell, Esq., for their services in the matter, 
and also to Governor Collins '- for his politeness in signing the charter 
of the Association without the usual fee." 

The Association thus formed was one of the very earliest organiza- 
tions in the countiy for the promotion of the mechanic arts ; probably 
the earliest which had any long-continued existence. The only previ- 
ously existing society of which we have an}' knowledge was an 
association of tradesmen and manufacturers in the town of Boston, 
which was, "owing to some part}* political measures," dissolved about the 
year 1788. 

In the commencement of its corporate existence, the Association, in 
matters pertaining to social life, personal expenses, and business 
obligations, assumed high moral ground. At a meeting held March 30, 
1789, the following recommendations were adopted : — 

" On motion, resolved unanimously, that it be and hereby is, earnestly recom- 
mended to all the members of this Association, to discourage as far as possible, 
all foreign manufactures, by using in their families and business those of our 
own country; and that each member avoid all extravagance in dress or other 
expenses, in themselves or those under their care, whereby an emulation may be 

"It is also earnestly recommended, that each member be careful not to con- 
tract debts or enter into engagements beyond their ability to perform with the 
utmost punctuality, that their families may escape the distress, and the society 
the disgrace, attending a different line of conduct. 

"It is also recommended in the most serious manner, that all law suits be 
avoided b} r the members of this Association ; that they do not enter into them 
until they have endeavored to have their disputes settled by referees ; and that 
no member take advantage of laws which are, or may hereafter be made, either 
to distress an honest debtor, or defraud an honest creditor. 

"It is also recommended that the members of this Association very carefully 
inspect into the conduct of their apprentices, and those under their care, that 
they be not strolling in the streets late in the night season, and disturbing the 
inhabitants by revels. 

" It is voted and resolved, that on application being made to this society at 
any of their meetings, by an inhabitant of this town who may think himself 
defrauded by bad manufactures being sold him by any member thereof, or by 
any member not completing his contracts in a workmanlike maimer, or by 
extravagant charges, they will immediately appoint a committee to examine 
into the facts, and endeavor that justice be done to the parties." 


At a subsequent period, in the revision of the by-laws, the Association 
expressed its sense of the value of character, as follows : 

" As the reputation of every society must in a great degree depend on the 
character of its individual members, and the estimation in winch they may be 
held by their fellow citizens, therefore if any member of this Association shall 
fall into profligacy of manners, base and immoral habits, or be chargeable with 
intemperance or fraudulent practices, it shall be the duty of the select com- 
mittee to examine the case of such member, and report thereon to the Associa- 
tion, that measures may be taken for his exclusion therefrom. But, in order as 
far as may be, to prevent the necessity of the exercise of this power, it shall be 
the duty of the committee, by any member or members whom they may desig- 
nate, to advise or admonish any member of the Association who may be declin- 
ing to vicious or base courses, or who may appear to be falling into any habit 
or practice which may affect his reputable standing in society, to the end that 
by faithful counsel and admonition he may be preserved from such a course as 
would render his expulsion necessary." 

The Association was quick to sustain its members in the free exercise 
of the elective franchise, as appears by the following vote, passed April 
5, 1790: 

"It having been suggested, that several wortlry members of this Association 
have been dismissed from their employ, in consequence of voting their senti- 
ments at the last town meeting, they being contrar^v to the sentiments of their 
employers : Voted, that the following gentlemen be, and they are hereby 
appointed a committee to inquire into, and report such facts concerning this 
matter as may come to their knowledge, as soon as may be, viz. : Colonel 
William Barton, Mr. William Richmond, Robert Newell, Esq., Mr. Samuel 
Thurber, Jr., and Mr. Nicholas Easton. 1 ' 

The humane spirit of the Association is shown in the following report, 
made on the 28th of May, 1790, by a committee to whom had been referred 
the subject of rendering advice and assistance to the widows and 
orphans of deceased members : 

" Whereas, the well-being of all societies depends on a proper care being taken 
of the education of the rising generation, and as individuals and families under 
many circumstances, are not in a situation to pay proper attention thereto, it 
behoves all associated bodies of people to aid and assist in the accomplishment 
of that important object : Be it therefore voted and resolved, that a committee 
be annually appointed, of this Association, from different parts of the town, 
whose duty it shall be to advise and assist the widows and children of all 
deceased members thereof, and where circumstances require it, endeavor to 
provide suitable places for education in the mechanic arts, or otherwise, as in 
their judgment is best suited to the genius of such children. And if anything 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 237 

impedes their well-meant endeavors, or any farther assistance may be found 
wanting, (after consulting in committee) they shall lay the same before the 
Association, for their aid and support, as circumstances may require." 

This report was adopted, and made the basis of a by-law, authorizing 
pecuniary aid to members reduced to indigence b}' sickness or misfor- 
tune, and to widows and orphans, to an amount not exceeding forty dol- 
lars, to be applied to an}' one case during the year. And a committe of 
nine members, three for the north part of the town, three for the south 
part, and three for the west side of the river, were appointed to carry 
the by-law into effect. 

When the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers 
came into existence no settled public opinion touching the industrial 
interests of the country had been formed. The need of such an opinion, 
governed by a just regard to mutual rights became obvious ; and one of 
the first steps taken bv the society was to impress the mechanics of 
Rhode Island and also of other States, with the importance of forming 
similar organizations, for concerted action in regard to the protection 
and encouragement of home productions. With this view, the committee 
of correspondence addressed letters to the mechanics and tradesmen of 
Newport, P^ast Greenwich, Warren and Bristol, in Rhode Island ; and 
also to those of Boston, Worcester, Salem, Newburyport, Portsmouth, 
New London, Norwich, Hartford, New Haven, New York, Albam T , 
Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Alexandria, Wilmington, Norfolk and 
Charleston. From most of these places prompt and cordial responses 
were received. And it appears that the efforts of the Association resulted 
in the formation of similar organizations, both in Rhode Island and 
other States. 

The letters from the Providence mechanics exhibit the patriotic spirit 
b}~ which they were actuated, and their ardent desire to be identified with 
the Union of States into which Rhode Island had not 3-et entered. It 
was a natural feeling. Some of the leading men of the Association had 
bravely fought for civil freedom. They were men of practical minds, 
and well knew that the perpetuity of the olessing for which they had 
hazarded life and fortune, could be secured only by the fostering care of 
a central government. To them, a national'^ of thirteen hundred square 
miles, and United States custom houses in border States along the line 
of its territory, presented no charms ; and with praiseworthy devotion, 
they labored to effect a better condition. The feeling with which they 
were oppressed appears in their correspondence ; and while the}' la- 
ment the unfortunate position of their State, they look hopefully 

238 Pkovidence. 

towards the future. Without doubt, the popular sentiment of the State 
which resulted in the adoption of the constitution, was in large degree, 
the creation of the mechanics of Rhode Island ; and there is ground for 
the belief that the action of the Providence Association of Mechanics 
and Manufacturers, the earliest chartered bod} T of the kind in New Eng- 
land, did much to stimulate this sentiment to successful action. 

When the news arrived that Rhode Island had become a member of 
the Union, the Association partook of the general joy. At a meeting 
held June 4, 1790, a congratulatory address to the President of the 
United States was , reported and adopted, expressing their regard and 
attachment to him, and their confidence that Congress would do " all in 
their power to promote the manufactures, as well as the agriculture and 
commerce of our country." The address was forwarded through the 
senators from this State, and an appropriate repty was returned to the 
Association b}' President Washington. 

When the President visited Providence, August 18, 1790, the Asso- 
ciation, b} T formal vote, joined as a bod} T in the procession that escorted 
him and suite from the wharf to his lodgings, at the Golden Ball Inn (now 
known as the Mansion House), kept by Abner Daggett. The}' also par- 
ticipated in the public solemnities in commemoration of the lamented 
death of General Washington, and appeared in the procession with their 
standard and wardens' wands draped in mourning. 

From its organization to 1825, the business meetings of the Associa- 
tion were generally held in the State House. Occasionally they met at 
the Golden Ball Inn, and elsewhere. Very early, a strong feeling was 
expressed in favor of building a hall for its use, but this was never car- 
ried out. In 1824, when the Franklin building, on Market Square, was 
erected, provision was made for a hall for the Association, and when the 
walls were up, the front was surmounted with the emblems of the me- 
chanic arts, to identify it as an abiding home. It was formally taken 
possession of, and an historical address in commemoration of the event 
delivered by the President John Howland. After a few years, objec- 
tions to the place were raised, and a new home was found in the hall of 
Washington buildings. In 1853. the Association removed to the hall 
in Dyer's block, on Westminster street, and in 1860 to the bank build- 
ing, then erected b}- Mr. Amos C. Barstow, on Weybosset street, being 
on the site of the former residence of Amos Atwell, the first treasurer 
and third president of the Association, which location it has continued 
to occupy to the present time. 

Early in 1791, Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury of the 
United States, was directed by the house of representatives, to report 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 239 

to that body " a plan for promoting manufactures." In pursuance of 
this direction, he issued a circular calling upon individuals and associa- 
tions, in every part of the countiy for information upon which to base 
his plan. A copy of this circular was addressed to Col. John S. Dexter, 
then supervisor of the district of Rhode Island, who referred the letter to 
this Association, requesting them to furnish the information desired. 
The Association cordially responded to the Secretary's circular, and in 
July, 1791, appointed a committee, who, after making a careful investi- 
gation into the manufactures of the town, presented in October following, 
their final report, which was transmitted to Mr. Hamilton, through Col. 
Dexter, giving an exhibit of the products of industry in Providence, 
from January 1, 1790 to October 10, 1791, being a valuable contribution 
to the history of manufactures, at a period when the population of the 
town was less than seven thousand souls. 

With a view to self-improvement among the members of the Associa- 
tion, Mr. Isaac Greenwood proposed, at a meeting held January 10, 1798, 
that a lecture be delivered at each quarterly meeting, by a member, on 
subjects relating to improvements in the mechanic arts, the practical 
means of encouraging the manufactures of the country, and the advan- 
tages resulting from social or corporate connections in promoting the 
interests of the manufacturing branches in union with the general pros- 
perity of the United States. The proposition was adopted, and lectures 
were delivered by Mr. Greenwood, Grindall Reynolds, John Howland 
and Mr. Greene. Tli3 practice was afterwards discontinued, but the idea 
was never wholly lost sight of. The fact held a place in the memory of 
more than one, who recognized its importance, and sympathized with 
the spirit that gave it form. After a lapse of more than thirty years, 
the original plan was revived with satisfactory success. In 1831, a 
series of lectures was delivered before the Association alone. To this, 
George Baker, Walter R. Danforth, Isaac Thurber, Leonard Blodget 
and Stanford Newell, Esqs., contributed. The first of the series was b} r 
Mr. Baker, and was designed to stimulate the moral aucl intellectual 
faculties to worthy endeavors. Mr. Danforth's lecture was on General 
Industry ; Mr. Thurber's on Hydraulics and Dynamics ; Mr. Blodget's 
on Building, and Mr. Newell's on Metals. 

The influence of these lectures was not limited to the hours of their 
delivery. They awakened a desire for continued instruction. Additional 
courses were delivered by the Providence Franklin Society, Professors 
Griscom, Chace, Caswell and Elton, Mr. Evans and others ; and thus 
was paved the wa} r for the public courses, under the auspices of the 
Association, commenced in 1844, which have maintained their popularity 

240 Providence. 

and held the interest alike of the Association and the community, con- 
tinuing almost without interruption clown to the present time. For some 
years past the society has united with the Providence Franklin Society 
in the care of these lectures, and the}' have been devoted mainl}- to scien- 
tific subjects. 

In 1799 the subject of education engaged the attention of the Associa- 
tion, and the want of a better system of school instruction being deeply 
felt by the members, a memorial was prepared and presented to the 
General Assembly, forcibly urging the establishment ot free schools 
throughout the State, and reminding that bod}- u that libeiir and secu- 
rity under a republican lorm of government, depend on a general diffu- 
sion of knowledge among the people." 

This question was thus, we believe, for the first time since the exist- 
ence of the State, pressed upon the deliberations of the legislature ; and the 
measure proposed, though met with considerable hesitation, was finally 
incorporated into law. 

In 1799, a practice had sprung up of supplying the wants of the United 
States navy, by enlisting indentured apprentices of mechanics and man- 
ufacturers. The evils of this procedure were severely felt, and the As- 
sociation addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury on the sub- 
ject, deprecating the practice as " injurious and unjust " in its operations, 
and as a sacrifice not required of those classes by the exigencies of the 

In 1800, the depressed condition of the mechanic and manufacturing 
interests engaged the attention of the Association. It was deemed im- 
portant that these interests should receive suitable encouragement from 
the government. And the Association adopted a memorial to Congress, 
drawn up by John Rowland, urging the importance of securing the re- 
vival and extension of the mechanic arts and the promotion of improve- 
ments in various branches of domestic manufacture. Letters were also 
addressed by the society to kindred associations in Newporc, Boston, 
New York and Albany, soliciting their cooperation in obtaining its ob- 
ject. The memorial was presented to Congress, together with a similar 
one from New York, and referred to the committee of commerce, who 
reported unfavorably thereon in 1801, which report the house approved. 
In 1815, the Association made common cause with the community in 
seeking the abrogation ot the revenue laws then recently passed, and 
which were deemed to operate inju v ioush r to the manufacturing interests. 
A memorial was drawn up complaining of the " unjust and oppressive 
operation of the laws," and earnestly soliciting Congress for their repeal, 
It was placed in the hands of Hon. James B. Mason, a representative 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 241 

from Rhode Island, for presentation. In August, 1837, a general con- 
vention of mechanics and manufacturers of the country, was held at New 
York, to consider the causes of the distress and embarrassments that 
seriously affected all classes of the community, and to devise means of 
relief, and in response to the letter of invitation received by the Asso- 
ciation, a delegation was appointed to represent it in the convention. In 
1842, the Association again gave its active influence to securing the 
adequate protection of American manufacturing industry. A declaration 
relative to increasing the duties on foreign manufactures was adopted, 
and a copy, signed by the president and secretary, directed to be trans- 
mitted to each of our senators and representatives in Congress, with a 
request that it should be laid before that bod}', which was done. 

At the annual meeting of the Association in 1809, the society ex- 
pressed their sense of appreciation of *' the essential service rendered 
the United States by Mr. Samuel Slater, of North Providence, in the 
introduction of the complicated machinery for the manufacture of cot- 
ton," and " as a testimony of the high consideration and regard with 
which this Association view Mr. Slater as the founder of an extensive 
and valuable branch of manufacture which will furnish employment and 
subsistence to thousands, and be the means of eventually saving millions 
of property in the country," elected Mr. Slater, by a spontaneous vote, 
a member of the society " without the intervention of the usual forms." 

In September. 1819, the subject of the establisment of a savings bank 
in the town was introduced in a meeting of the select committee of the 
Association, and after consideration, " being convinced that such an in- 
stitution would be advantageous to a great number of persons, by pro- 
moting economy and frugality, and thereby enabling them to save a part 
of their earnings till age or infirmities should render the use of it indis- 
pensable," the committee requested the secretaiy, John IJowland, to 
take such preliminary measures as would lead to the establishment of a 
savings bank. In pursuance of this request, and with the concurrence 
of gentlemen not of the Association, a public meeting was notified and 
held at the Washington Insurance Company's office, from which resulted 
the establishment of the Providence Institution for Savings, of which 
Mr. Ilowland was chosen the first treasurer. 

In January, 1821, the Association voted to establish a library for the 
use of its members and their apprentices. It was commenced by volun- 
tary donations, and in the following April four hundred volumes had 
been collected, when a code of rules for its government was adopted and 
steps were taken for putting it into immediate operation. At a later 
period a reading room was established in connection with the library. 

242 Providence. 

Continual additions of books have been made from time to time by ap- 
priations from the treasury as well as by donation, until a library of 
some seven thousand volumes has been accumulated ; and the issue of 
books lias amounted to as many as twenty thousand in a single 3-ear. 

At a meeting of the society, April 20, 1827, a committee was ap- 
pointed " to take into consideration the subject of promoting temperance, 
and that they report at a special meeting to be called by the president, 
and further, that said committee procure an address to be made by one 
of the Association at the time of presenting their report." The special 
meeting contemplated by this vote, was held Ma}' 29, 1827, and a meet- 
ing of citizens having been held in the vestry of the First Baptist Church 
since the last previous meeting of the Association, to consider the same 
subject, the resolutions adopted Iry the citizens at that meeting were ap- 
proved and recommended " to the serious attention of all our members 
for their cordial cooperation." It was also resolved : " That it be recom- 
mended to the several trades and professions composing this Association 
to call separate meetings, to consider and adopt such measures respect- 
ing the practice of furnishing ardent spirits to workmen and apprentices 
in their employ in the course of their business, or in manufacturing es- 
tablishments, as they ma} T judge most effectual to restrain or abolish their 
use." At this meeting, on invitation of the committee, an address on 
promoting temperance was delivered by George Baker, being the first 
service of the kind known to have been performed in Providence. It 
w r as favorably received, and a resolution was adopted by the Association 
thanking Mr. Baker for his " excellent and well adapted address," and 
requesting a cop}* for publication. 

In 1844 efforts were made to obtain funds for founding an asylum for 
the insane, and at a meeting in September of that year, the Association 
voted to contribute the sum of one thousand dollars towards that object. 
The name of the asylum was subsequent! y changed to the " Butler 
Hospital for the Insane," to which organization the subscription of the 
Association was paid over in April, 1845. 

At the quarterly meeting of the Association in January, 1847, the 
importance and need of the establishment of a house of correction or 
reformation in this city was brought up by the select committee, and 
after discussion was referred to a special committee to consider and 
report thereon at a future meeting. The committee reported at a meet- 
ing in April and presented the following resolution : — 

" Hesolved, That in the opinion of this Association the wants of our city 
demand the erection of a " House of Reformation" within a convenient distance 
from the city, whose objects shall be the confinement, instruction and reforma- 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 243 

tion of such persons as may be placed in it ; and we would earnestly and 
seriously urge the consideration of this subject upon the authorities of this city, 
as the constituted guardians of the welfare and happiness of all the inhabitants 

The report and resolution were received, and the committee was 
instructed to draft the form of a memorial in accordance with that 
resolution, to be presented to the city council. At a meeting held May 
11th, the committee reported the draft of a memorial urging the matter 
upon the attention and serious consideration of the council, and suggest- 
ing weighty reasons for the action desired. The memorial was adopted 
by the Association, and ordered to be signed by the president and 
secretary and presented to the city council. 

In January, 1850, a communication was received from a committee of 
the corporation of Brown University, stating that that body had under 
consideration the expediency of enlarging the course of study in that insti- 
tution, with a view of promoting the more general diffusion of knowledge 
and the practical application of science to the useful arts ; and desiring the 
advice and cooperation of this Association in regard to the same. The 
communication was referred to a special committee, of which Isaac 
Thurber was chairman, who presented, at a meeting in February, a care- 
fully prepared report, approving cordially the proposed enlargement, 
enforcing the importance of uniting theoretical knowledge with practical 
skill, and stating that " our mechanics need an education that will 
inspire confidence in themselves ; that will make them acquainted with 
the science of their arts, and the properties of matter with which the}' have 
to deal ; that will enable them better to judge of the pursuits of others 
and estimate their value ; that will qualify them to lead, as well as to 
follow, in the business transactions of life. And this the}- should have 
an opportunity of acquiring, without being compelled to devote so many 
3'ears to other and more classical studies." The report also suggested 
the expediency of establishing a normal school in connection with 
Brown University, and closed as follows: "The enlargement of the 
course of studies in our literar}- institutions, so as to extend its benefits 
to a more numerous class of our fellow citizens, that they may be better 
trained to observe and judge, not by blind conjecture, but with reference 
to laws or principles, which should have their proper weight, is, in the 
opinion of your committee, the dictate of wisdom, and calculated to 
confer on mankind lasting and beneficial results. Your committee 
would therefore recommend a most cordial compliance with the request, 
to cooperate with the corporation of Brown University in the promotion 
of an object so desirable as a more general diffusion of knowledge." 

244 Providence. 

The report of the committee was accepted and adopted, and a copy 
thereof with a cop} r of the adopting vote of the Association, was trans- 
mitted to the committee of the corporation of Brown University. 

In the autumn of 1850, a movement was made to procure a course of 
lectures by gentlemen of our own city and State on subjects connected 
with Rhode Island history, its manufactures, agricultural and mineral 
products, etc., the proceeds, if any, to be set apart as a fund towards 
the erection of a monument to the memory of Roger Williams. Lectures 
in this course were delivered gratuitously b\ r Rev. Francis Wayland, D. 
D., president of Brown University, Hon. William R. Staples, Samuel 
Ames, Esq., Charles S. Bradley, Esq., Abraham Payne, Esq., Hon. 
Samuel G. Arnold, Prof. William Gammell, of Brown University, Rev. 
Charles T. Brooks, of Newport, Rev. James M. Hoppin, of Salem, and 
George W. Curtis, Esq., of New York ; but not resulting in pecuniary 
success, a subscription was started and circulated among the members, 
and a sum of money obtained which was deposited in the Providence 
Institution for Savings, to be held as the nucleus of a fund for the erec- 
tion of a monument to the memory of Roger Williams, subject to the 
order of the Association. 

On the 27th Februaiy, 1860, the Association celebrated (he seventy- 
first anniversary of its founding by a festival in Howard Hall. The 
hall was splendidi}' decorated with banners, streamers, mechanical 
designs, etc., and nearl}' 800 ladies and gentlemen partook of a 
sumptuous repast. Hon. Amos C. Barstow, president of the Association, 
presided, and after the viands had been disposed of, toasts and senti- 
ments were offered, which were responded to by Mr. Charles Aker- 
man, Mayor Knight, Rev. Dr. Sears, president of Brown Universit} T , 
Ex-Governor D}er, Hon. Thomas Davis, Rev. G. T. Da} T , Rev. E. B. 
Hall, Ex-Governor Hoppin, Ex-Mayor Rodman, Rev. A. H. Clapp, Rev. 
L. Whiting, and Rev. E. M. Stone. The entertainment was enlivened 
with music by the American Brass Band, and closed by singing a good 
night song, composed for the occasion by Hon. William M. Rodman. 

In 1870 a movement was made for the establishment of a free public 
library in this city. The Association voted their hearty* approval of the 
project, and appointed their president, Zachariah Allen, Esq. to act 
with other gentlemen as a committee to procure an act of incorporation, 
and to take measures to carry the plan into effect. The}' also appointed 
a committee to assist in raising funds for the purpose. The subject was 
frequently considered in meetings of the Association thereafter, a deep 
interest being felt therein, and the zealous endeavors of their president 
being constantly exerted in its behalf. In April, 1874, the Association 

Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. 245 

voted to appoint a committee " to solicit contributions from the mem- 
bers of the society to create a fund to the amount of ten thousand 
dollars, for the proposed free library, and to enable this Association to 
have a trusteeship in said library." In 1875 they voted to donate their 
library to the trustees of the public library, to be estimated at a fair valua- 
tion as a part of the amount contemplated in the above vote. In January, 
187G, the committee on subscriptions reported that the amount of sub- 
scriptions required to make up the sum of $10,000 had been obtained ; 
and the Association is now prepared to make a transfer of the same 
whenever the trustees of the public library are read}' to receive it and 
open the library to the public. 


The Providence Franklin Society should not be overlooked in naming 
the educational institutions of this State. The idea of a society in this 
city for the cultivation of the knowledge of physical science, was con- 
ceived by William T. Grinnell. who interested others in his design, and 
in response to their petition, the ;t Providence Franklin Society " was 
chartered by the General Assembly, at the January session. 1823. 

The interests of the Society were afterwards diligently studied by its 
founder, who made it several liberal donations, and to this day. it is in- 
debted to him for its continued secure, if economical, existence. From 
its organization to the present time, the objects of its pursuits have em- 
braced nearly every department of physical science. It has a cabinet of 
miscellaneous curiosities and specimens of much scientific interest, in- 
cluding an extensive geological collection, in which are representatives 
of nearly all the minerals and fossils found in the State. It has also a 
fine collection of war and other implements trom the South Sea Islands. 
It has also an interesting zoological collection, including birds, beasts, 
fishes, reptiles and insects. It has a small but valuable scientific library, 
to which additions are made from time to time as its funds will justify. 

It has ever been its purpose to awaken interest among its members 
by scientific discussions, and it has sought to extend this interest to the 
public by popular scientific lectures. It is believed to have been the 
first society organization in this city to institute a course of popular lec- 
tures for public entertainment and instruction. Through its lectures it 
has introduced to the citizens some of the most noted scientists of the 
world. It has sought, and not without success, to cultivate a love for 
the study of natural science, by encouraging excursions of small parties 
into the country, under the conduct of competent naturalists. It has 
also organized " field meetings," which are open to all who desire to 
hold communion with nature in her " visible forms." 

A microscopical department has been organized and carried on with 
commendable zeal and success for several years past. 

The members of the society now number over three hundred, among 
whom there appears to exist a good degree of esprit de corps. 



The Franklin Lyceum was established in the summer of 1831, by 
Levi M. Holden. Daniel A. Jackson and William B. Shove. By the 
records of the twenty-first of April. 1832, the society then consisted of 
Messrs. Holden, Jackson and Shove, together with Charles Gushing, 
Frank Gushing. Crawford Nightingale and Geron'mo Urmeneta. These 
were all scholars in Mr. De Witt's school on Waterman street, at the 
time of the organization of the society, and the first meetings were held 
at their homes on Friday evenings, after the labors of the school were 
over. The officers were elected quarterly. The exercises consisted of 
lectures and debates. The first regular room occupied by the Lyceum 
was in the basement of Mr. Shove's house on Benefit street, nearly op- 
posite the Central Congregational Church, where a library and a cabinet 
of minerals, shells, chemical apparatus and antiquities were commenced. 
The first room hired by the society was in a small building opposite Dr. 
Hall's church, on Benefit street. Their next room was in the third story 
of the arcade, which they occupied until April, 1835, when they removed 
to the De Witt building, on Waterman street, where the meetings were 
held regularly until 1849. At the meeting held April 28. 1^32. the name 
of 4 - Providence Lyceum," wr.s adopted, which, on the twenty-second of 
the following December, was changed to that of the ** Franklin Lyceum," 
the name retained ever since. The first recorded annual meeting was 
held on the fifth of Jauuary, 1833, at which the officers were elected. 
Between the years 1839 and 1842. " The Franklin Lyceum Review and 
Miscellany." appeared, under various editors, and the copies have been 
preserved. In July, 1833, there were thirteen active, and two correspond- 
ing members. In the latter part of this year steps were taken towards 
the formation of a library. The first public anniversary was held on the 
first of January, 183G. at which Henry C. Whitaker delivered an address, 
and William M. Rodman a poem. The first public lecture before the 

248 Providence . 

Lyceum was delivered in 1839, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Tn January, 
1843, the legislature granted an act of incorporation, under which the 
Lyceum now exists. The societ}- at this time, contained thirty-one ac- 
tive, and twenty-four corresponding members. In the autumn of 1848, 
the Lyceum received an important accession to its numbers by its union 
with the Westminster Lyceum, a newly formed society, which merged 
its separate name and existence in the Franklin Lyceum. 

On the first of January following, the society, desiring a more central 
location, removed to the hall No. 19 Westminster street, which they 
continued to occupy until November, 1858. On the nineteenth of No- 
vember, 1858, formal possession was taken of the present rooms. The 
dedicatory exercises consisted of a procession ; the uncovering of the 
statue of Franklin, the first public statue in Rhode Island ; an oration 
by Francis E. Hoppin, and a poem by Henry C. Whitaker, delivered 
in Dr. Hall's church, and concluded with a supper in Railroad hall. In 
the autumn of 1859, a catalogue of the library, which then numbered 
about three thousand volumes, was published. In the war for the Union 
a large number of the members of the Lyceum enlisted in the army or 
the navy ; many of whom attained high positions of honor and of com- 
mand. During the past ten years the growth of the society has been 
rapid in every department. For several years members' courses of lec- 
tures were held in Lyceum hall, all the lecturers being members of the 
Lyceum, which were largely attended and of great interest. The debates 
have been earnest, spirited, and, at times, exciting. The library has in- 
creased from three, to upwards of nine thousand volumes, and many 
new magazines and newspapers have been added to the reading room. 
Recently, a change was made in the b}'-laws, so that women may be ad- 
mitted as members, on the same terms and conditions, and with the same 
rights and privileges as men, and several have become members, 

Such is a brief sketch of the more important events and principal 
landmarks in the history of a society, which has risen from the very 
humblest of beginnings to be recognized as an honor to ourcit}', and one 
of its most valuable institutions. There are, at present, belonging to 
the Lyceum, eight hundred and forty-seven active members, besides a 
large number on the corresponding list. The library contains upwards 
of nine thousand volumes, and is constantly increasing bj' the addition 
of the best books in every department. The reading-room is well sup- 
plied with all the leading newspapers and periodicals. The meetings 
are held in a hall devoted to the exercises of the Lyceum, while the 
library occupies a separate room. A room handsornelj r furnished has 
recently been opened for social conversation, chess, etc., which has 

Franklin Lyceum. 249 

become a popular feature. Earnest and spirited debates are regularly 
held every Monday evening, from October to June, in whichall the 
members are cordially invited to participate. Many of those who have 
been active in these debates, now occup}- high places in our city, state 
and national councils. As a school in which to gain an accurate knowl- 
edge of parliamentary law and a read}- skill in parliamentary tactics the 
Lyceum probably has no equal. From the ex-officers of the Lyceum 
have been chosen several governors of Rhode Island, mayors of Provi- 
dence, members of Congress, secretaries of State, professors of Brown 
University, law officers of Rhode Island cities, etc., while iu both city 
and State governments many members of the Lyceum are always to 
be found. 

The membership includes many of the leading lawyers, editors, 
teachers and merchants of Providence, and the annual election of offi- 
cers creates as great excitement as an ordinary municipal election. 

The system of annual public lectures and entertainments is one of the 
oldest and most successful in the entire country. The lectures are usu- 
ally by the most eloquent and famous orators ; the re: dings b}- distin- 
guished elocutionists, and the concerts by the highest musical talent 
that can be secured. To these the members are furnished with free 
tickets and the general public are admitted at reasonable rates. 








The early school histor}- of Newport is detailed with sufficient fullness 
in the " History of the Common Schools of Rhode Island." It is neces- 
sary only to continue that sketch from the time when local schools were 
absorbed into the general school S}~stem, in 1828. It will, however, be 
better to go back three years earlier than this, to the time when the 
town was authorized by the assembly to raise a tax of $800 " for educa- 
ting the white children of the town who are not otherwise provided with 
the means of instruction," and to apply to this purpose the avails of 
certain lands which had been bequeathed to the town.* 

~By vote of a town meeting held in Februaiy, 1826, a lot in Mill street 
was bought for a school-house and a committee was appointed to erect 
a building. This committee reported in March, 1827, as follows : 

"The committee appointed by the town to superintend the building of a 
public school-house respectfully report : That, having purchased a very eligible 
lot in Mill street, they have erected thereon a school-house 60 feet long and 36 
feet wide, of brick and stone, two stories high, which is now so far completed 
that the upper room intended for boys is nearly ready for the reception of the 
school; the cost of the lot and building up to this period is about $2,750. To 
defray this expenditure has absorbed the funds placed at the disposal of the 
committee, consisting of the following items, viz. : 

Xet sales of Gallow field, 

Appropriation by tax of 1825, . 

Net balance of rent of theatre, 

Donation of Mr. Wm. Vernon, 

Appropriation for 1826, .... 

* See ante, p. 42. 





180 00 

100 00 

800 00 



254 Newport. 

"The committee are of opinion that to finish the upper room for the accom- 
modation of the boy's school, and fence in the lot will require about $200 
additional resources." 

At the same time measures were taken by the town to establish a 
fund from the sale and rents of school land, the avails of licenses, etc., in 
aid of the public school of the town. 

At the same meeting, March 25th, 1827, the following resolution was 
adopted, which was the opening of the first public school in Newport 
on the present system : 

" Resolved that a school for boys on the Lancasterian or monitorial system 
be commenced as soon as may be under the following regulations, viz. : 

" 1st. That a committee (to be hereafter annually chosen at our June town 
meeting) consisting of live persons, one of Avliom shall be a resident in each of 
the town wards, be immediately appointed to be denominated the 'public school 
committee,' who shall have power to appoint school masters and assistants, fix 
their compensation, regulate the admission and discharge of scholars, (having a 
special regard to the laws of the State on this subject,) provide books, stationery, 
etc., and in general superintend and manage the schools in conformity to the 
laws and orders of the town. 

"2nd. The school committee shall be, and they are, hereby authorized to 
draw on the town treasurer for any sum necessary to meet their expenditures, 
not exceeding the annual appropriation for school purposes, and they shall also 
receive the tuition money hereinafter named, and apply it to the current expenses 
of the school, and shall present their accounts to be audited by the town council 
on the first Monday in June in each year. 

"3d. In order that the benefits of the school may be extended not only to 
the most indigent of our citizens, but those also whom industry and economy 
place above want, the following very low rates of prices for tuition shall be 
established, viz. : Tor the alphabet, spelling and writing on slates, 25 cents per 
quarter. Continuance of ditto with reading or arithmetical tables, 50 cents per 
quarter. Continuance of the last with writing on paper, arithmetic, and defi- 
nitions, $1. The preceding, with grammar, geography, with the use of maps 
and globes, book-keeping, etc., $2. No additional charge for fuel, books or 

" 4th. Scholars shall be admitted at any time, on application to the com- 
mittee and payment of the tuition money. 

" 5th. The regular quarter days, however, shall be the first school days in 
February, May, August and November, oil which days payment will be required 
in advance, of every child in school for the ensuing quarter. 

" 6th. Of scholars admitted on other than the regular quarter days a ratable 
payment will be required until the end of the current quarter, unless the admis- 
sion be within the first two weeks of the quarter, in which case the whole quarter 
must be paid for, or within the last two weeks, when the coming quarter must 
be paid for, without including the fortnight. 

" 7th. The object of the foregoing scale of prices for tuition is to foster and 

Report for 1828. 255 

encourage the honorable feeling of independence in those parents who wish to 
educate their children at their own expense, but whose limited means are in- 
sufficient to pay the customary rates. But it is at the same time hereby 
expressly provided, that no child shall be excluded from the benefits of the 
school merely from inability to pay for his tuition. 

" 8th. The public school committee shall perform their duty gratuitously, 
the honor of the station and the gratitude of their townsmen is to be their only 

"Oth. Until recurrence of the June town meeting the following persons shall 
compose the committee, viz. : Nicholas G. Boss, Edward W. Lawton, George 
Engs, James B. Phillips, Theophilus C. Dunn."* 

The following is the first repoit of a Newport School Committee : 

" Report for 1828. 

" The public school committee of the town of Newport respectfully report, 
that since the commencement of the public school in Mill street on the 21st day 
of May, 1827, the number of applications for admission has been 337: 

Of which there has been rejected as not coming within the provisions 

of the law, . . . . .33 

Suspended for further consideration, ... 25 

Admitted, . . . . . .279 

Of the scholars admitted G7 have been withdrawn or dismissed, leaving the 
present number 212. 

: ' In the selection of the scholars the committee have endeavored strictly to 
comply with the resolution of the town, and the law of the State, in admitting 
those only who were 'not otherwise provided with the means of education.' In 
considering the list of applicants the most needy, according to their best infor- 
mation, were first admitted, and it is gratifying to them to state that, although 
at first some apprehensions were entertained that the room would not accom- 
modate all who were entitled to admission, they have been able (after every 
exertion on their part, both by public advertisements and personal representa- 
tion to obtain suitable applications) to receive all those candidates whose cases 
came within the spirit of the law. The pupils have generally been attentive to 
the duties of the school, and have made considerable progress in their several 
studies. The greatest difficulty the committee has met has been in enforcing 
constant attendance at school, and the same culpable indifference to the benefits 
of education which prevented some parents from making application for admis- 
sion of their children, has been shown by other parents in not using their per- 
suasion and authority to compel the punctual attendance of their children after 
they were admitted, instances in the later class have been comparatively very 
few, and wherever remonstrance or representation on the part of the instructor 
or committee has been ineffectual, a suspension of the delinquent from school 

*Barnard's Journal of R. I. School Institute, III, 147-8. 

256 Newport. 

lias been resorted to. The small amount required quarterly of each scholar has 
been found to have a very salutary effect, for those who pay are, generally speak- 
ing, the most attentive — there are some exceptions, and the school in some 
instances is a blessing to those who are quite destitute of the means of pay- 
ment. The committee consider it advantageous to the school to require 
payment of all those who can by any means afford it (as the sum required is 
insufficient to defray the expenses of books, slates, etc.,) and they are fully of 
opinion that if the school was rendered quite free it would be less beneficial, and 
would probably be regarded like other common bounties of very little value. 
The Lancasterian system adopted under the resolution of the town, was, to 
most of our fellow citizens, as well as to ourselves, a novel mode of instruction. 
But whatever doubts may have been entertained as to its efficiency they have 
been entirely dispelled by the success of the school during the past year, which 
has surpassed the expectations of its most decided advocates, and has satisfied 
them of the superiority of the monitorial system for a large school, over all 
others. The school, under the superintendence of its present able instructor 
(to whose abilities, attention and perseverance the town is greatly indebted for 
its success,) bids fair soon to be numbered among the most useful of the system, 
and to be the means of educating and training to habits of industry that part of 
our population who so much need, and who are so well entitled to the oppor- 
tunity of obtaining instruction. The lower room in the building is nearly 
completed for the reception of pupils and the committee, believing it to be 
the wish of the town, have engaged a young lady who is well qualified for the 
business to take charge of the girls' school, who will probably be ready to com- 
mence in about three weeks, and the committee take the liberty to recommend 
the same plan of discipline and instruction for that school as has qeen practiced 
in the boys' department. 

"The accounts and vouchers for the past year were presented to the town 
council yesterday, and by them audited, leaving a balance due to the committee 
of $202.01, as will appear by the following abstract: 

Received from town treasury under the appropriation of 1827, 
Scholars' pay, first quarter, 
Scholars' pay, second quarter, 
Scholars' pay, third quarter, 

Balance, ..... 























Paid Instructor's salary, 

Printing, advertisements, &c, .... 
Interest on acceptances, .... 
Books, slates, stationery, &c, .... 
Stovepipe, fuel, benches, book-case, painting, &c, 

$988 87 
" The balance of the appropriation of 1827, being $200, was expended by the 
building committee in completing the building. 

" For the committee, 

" Nicholas G. Boss, Secretary. 
"Newport, Juie 3d, 1823." 

Report of 1844. 257 

$100 00 













" Condition of the public school fund in 1828 : 

Donation by Governor Fenner, 

Donation by Governor Collins, 

Licenses, . 

Legacy of Constant Taber, 

Sale of Warden (school) lot, 

Estate I. Begna, Laving no being in the United States, 

In 1844, a committee made a report from which the following extracts 
are taken : 

" The committee have been astonished to learn that there are nearly 900 chil- 
dren in this town, between the ages of live and fifteen, for whom no schooling is 
provided. Mr. Manchester reports the whole number of children in town, over 
live and less than fifteen years of age, to be nearly 2,000 ; of these G80 are pro- 
vided for by the existing public schools ; and the 30 private schools which they 
have ascertained to exist, averaging 15 pupils, give 450 more, making in all 1,130 
capable of being seated in the existing schools, and leaving 87G unprovided for. 
Evidently, then, there is an irresistible call for schools, and the committee con- 
sider that two primary schools are immediately wanted, one in the lower part 
of the town, near the factories, and the other in Broad street, whence too many 
children now seek admission into the Point schools. The committee also feel 
that another intermediate school is needed for those pupils who have to leave 
the primaries, and yet are not lit for the grammar schools. But this they do 
not at present so strenuously insist upon, as on the increase of primary schools, 
for which they have been inundated with applications they could not meet. 

" In relation to the other point suggested, namely, the character of the school- 
ing given, the committee feel bound to express the opinion, that the time is 
come for an advancement in our upper schools, upon higher branches of study 
than have yet been pursued. In one or two of the schools many of the scholars 
have for some time been expressing a strong desire to remain at school longer, 
and go on with certain of the more interesting and important of the advanced 
branches. And the committee would respectfully ask if it is not time that some- 
thing of natural and mental philosophy, of political economy and of the import- 
ant subject (particularly in this country) of the science of government, and the 
duties of citizenship, should be taught to our pupils before leaving schools, at 
which most of them may receive their last instructions, except the bitter ones of 
experience? The committee would ask, if such subjects as these they have 
named are not something more than mere accomplishments — if they are not es- 
sential parts of a common school education ; essential parts of that education 
which every free community ought to be trying, at least, to devise some way of 
furnishing its rising generation? Is it not time, in short, that we began to think 
seriously of carrying our school system to its proper height, while w T e attend to 
the enlargement and expansion of the base. 

* Barnard's Journal, III, 148-9. 


258 Newport. 

" If any ask why these higher branches, to which the committee have alluded, 
are not already taught in the upper schools, they reply, that it would be crowd- 
ing too much upon the teachers and depriving the lower studies and students of 
the attention due to them. They cannot be pursued without some additional 
provision being made. * * * 

" With a few specific statements and suggestions, the committee will now 
close their report. The treasurer reports the receipt during the past year, of 
$1,766.59 from the State; #1,600 from the town, and $203.21 from the tax levied 
on the scholars, amounting in all to $3,569.80. Of this sum, 83,000 have been 
paid for salaries ; 8113 for fuel; $228.24 for stationery in 1842-3; and $228.41 
for incidental expenses; $190.54 remain in the town treasury, and the outstand- 
ing debts amount to about 8400. 

" The committee close, therefore, with recommending — That two new primary 
schools be established, one in Broad street, or thereabouts ; and the other in the 
extreme lower part of the town; and that the sum of $2,000 be appropriated by 
the town for the coming (town) year to the purposes of public education. 
" All of which is respectfully submitted, by 

R. J. Taylor, C. G. Perry, 

William Brownell, William Gilpin, 
C. T. Brooks, Augustus Bush, 

Joseph Smith, Thatcher Thayer, 

David Kino, James A. Greene, 

C. F. Newton, 

School Committee.'"* 

Four 3'ears later (1848), the committee reported in part as follows : 

" The school committee of the town of Newport, in rendering the account of 
their stewardship for the year now closed, respectfully report : That there are 
under their care, seven primary schools, a school for colored children, three 
intermediate or grammar schools, and a boys' and girls' senior department; the 
last of which, from necessity, embraces in it an intermediate school and is 
taught by a principal and assistant, and has accommodations for ninety pupils. 
These schools, containing nearly nine hundred pupils, are under the direction of 
qualified and diligent instructors. They have not only maintained their former 
good standing, but most of them have made advances. Since the last report, 
the course of studies has been enlarged in every department, a more rigid classi- 
fication of scholars instituted, and a more close and careful examination exacted 
for admission to the higher schools. (For the details of which, the committee 
refer to the rules and regulations recently published and distributed). The re- 
sult of these arrangements is seen in the high appreciation of the schools by our 
townsmen ; and the increased desire and more numerous applications for admis- 
sion to a share of their advantages. 

"For the first time since the establishment of the public schools, the com- 
mittee have found themselves so straitened for accommodations and means, as 
to be compelled to refuse admission to some applicants, while at the same time 
a parochial school, attached to one of the religious societies, has withdrawn a 
large number of boys who were formerly in our schools. Private schools, which 
have heretofore met the wants of the wealthier classes, no longer compete with 

♦Barnard's Journal, III, 141-3. This report was also printed in pamphlet form. 

Report of 1848. 


those of the town. The advantages afforded by the latter, in the nicer classifi- 
cation of pupils, in the uniformity of school books, as well as in the constant 
and zealous supervision of the school committee, are all understood by the 

'•In this condition of things the committee believe that their fellow-citizens 
will not only justify them in the suggestion of measures for greater improve- 
ment, but that they will meet these suggestions with a response. 

" The first step, and not the least important in the economy of education, is 
the provision of convenient and comfortable school-rooms. The essential ele- 
ments in these are location and space. * * * 

" In view of these circumstances, with the most careful consideration of the 
best means of providing for present exigencies, the committee earnestly recom- 
mend to the town, the erection of a school house large enough for two hundred 
pupils, in someplace which shall be found most expedient. 

" The committee are fully persuaded, that this is not only the best course, 
but that it will prove to be altogether the most economical in a pecuniary point 
of view. It is not meet or just that an}' child in the town should be denied its 
lawful share of the moneys appropriated to public schools, yet this must be 
done, unless there be provided ample accommodations. 

" The committee append the report of their returns, from which it will be 
seen that they are compelled to ask of the town an increased appropriation of 
five hundred dollars. 

" Amount on hand from last year, . . . . . 82 83 

Received from the State, 
" " town, 

" " registry tax, . 

" " school tax, . 

" Amount paid for salaries of teachers, 

Stationery, . 

Rent, . 

Fuel, . 

Repairs, . 

Incidentals, . 

Cash on hand, . 












3 7 













84.075 7 

Mr. Barber's bill unpaid, 

''Newport, June, 1848."* 
* Barnard's Journal, III, 153-6, 

John Sterne, 
S. Ward, 
Ed. Clark, 

C. L. Brooks. 

8282 00 

A. H. Dumont, 
A. Bush, 
I. Smith, 
C G. Perry, 

William Brownell, T. C. Dunn, 
William Gilpin, Joseph B. Weaver, 

School Committee. 

260 Newport. 

There apparentl}- exists no full series of State report?, even at the 
office of the Commissioner of Education ; and the early reports moreover 
gave, in respsct to local school systems, only the statistics, and not always 
even those. The full report of the Newport school committee appears 
for the first time in the State report issued January, 1856 ; and there are 
similar local reports in the State reports for January, 1861, 1864, 1865 
and 1866 ; since which time the Newport reports have been annually 
printed in pamphlet form, for the use of the citizens. 

Going back to the earliest of the aboVe reports, we shall find that in 
April, 1855, there were in Newport 873 public school pupils distributed 
among 17 schools, these being taught by 22 teachers. There were two 
high schools, four grammar, (two of these having an intermediate depart- 
ment,) two intermediate and seven primary; besides separate primary 
and grammar schools for colored children. The receipts were $9,729.25, 
leaving a deficit of $696.28. The school committee recommended a city 
appropriation of $10,000, instead of $6,500 as before. 

At that time the Farewell street school-house had been for some time 
in use, having been built about 1833, while that on Clarke street had 
been built in 1852. No others remain to us of the school-houses of 
that day. The Thames street building w:ts finished in 1860 ; those on 
Willow street and Edward street and the Parish school - house in 
1863 ; that on Cranston street in 1867, the Coddington in 1870, and the 
Rogers high school in 1873. It has just been voted (April, 1876) to erect 
a new brick school-house on or near Broad street. 

The high school seems to have undergone a varied and fluctuating 
existence, having been originally established under that name ; then 
reduced for economy, to a " senior department " of the grammar 
schools; then reorganized, in 1863, as a high school, the sexes being 
separated; then consolidated into a a mixed school" in 1864-5; then 
expanded, in 1873, by the aid of the munificent Rogers bequest, to its 
present proportions. 

With the consolidation of the high schools into one, there came a 
general movement to unite the sexes where this had not been previously 
done; and there has not been, for ten years, a separate school in the 
town, for either sex, at the public expense. So entire has been the suc- 
cess of this change th:tt there never has been any movement to revoke 
it, nor has there been so much as a petition, from an\ T source, to that effect. 

Another important change, that occurred about the same time, was 
the introduction of individual ownership of school books in-tead of 
theii being supplied by the city, as previously. This met with some 
opposition, but there has never been the slightest effort to revive 

Course of Study. 261 

the earlier plan. Precisely the same occurred in regard to the abandon- 
ment of separate schools for colored children, which was effected in 1865i 
before the passage of the State law on the subject. 

The most important event in the history of our schools was, however, 
the introduction of the school superintendency. This office was created 
in 18G5, the first incumbent being Rev. M. J. Talbot. He was suc- 
ceeded, after one year, by F. W. Tilton, Esq., since principal of the 
Rogers high school. He effected a great work in the grading and 
elevation of the schools ; a work industriously carried on by his successors, 
A. D. Small, Esq., and T. II. Clarke, Esq. 

Course of Study. 

The schools are now graded as follows : primary, intermediate or secondary, 
grammar, and high. There are three grades primary, two intermediate, and four 
grammar, making with the high school, 10 grades. The course pursued in the 
various grades is as follows : — 

Tenth Grade. 

To be admitted to this grade a child must be Ave years old. 

Reading. Alphabet and simple words from blackboards and word cards ; 
formation of words and sentences by the use of the composing stick ; printing 
on slate and blackboards, and reading in Analytical First Reader. Counting from 
1 to 100 by use of abacus and objects prepared for the purpose. 

Writing and reading numbers containing two figures, and addition of num- 
bers below 10. 

Drawing. Definitions of lines, angles, triangles, drawing them and naming 
when drawn by the teacher, drawing lines of different lengths, as, one inch, two 
inches, five inches, etc. Cultivation of perception in regard to form and size of 

Music. Rote singing. Use of National Chart No. 1. Oral lessons on general 
topics daily. 

Ninth Grade. — Second Primary. 

Beading. Analytical Second Reader completed, and Third Reader, same series, 
taken up. 

Special points : expresssion, clear enunciation ; distinct utterance; interest or 

A thorough comprehension of the lesson. Exercise never prolonged to 

{The above points apply to all grades.) 

Writing and reading numbers below one hundred. Addition and subtraction 
of units and tens. Tables of addition, and subtraction written upon blackboard 
involving the 9 digits. Simple examples in mental arithmetic. Exercises on 
slate, and oral lessons as in previous grade. 

Drawing. Free hand from copy on cards, enlarged on slates ; dictation and 
memory drawing; definitions of lines, angles, etc. 

262 Newport. 

Music. Sounds, long and short; idea of measure; development of measure ; 
beating and counting measures ; rests, long and short ; the scale ; the staff. G 
cleff and six sounds of G scale. Singing by note, using pitch names ; idea of 
pitch ; names of notes ; signs ; beating time ; component parts of scale. 

Eighth Grade. — Primary. 

Analytical Third Reader completed. Questions on lessons ; analysis of same ; 
general information. 

Spelling. Words from reading lessons, Worcester's Elementary Speller, 
selections of words in common use, names of trees, flowers, articles of manu- 
facture and commerce, and implements of industry. Use of capital letters, 
name and use of each of the following points :,;:.?! 

Arithmetic. Thorough drill on first two processes involving numbers of first 
period. In next two processes with easy numbers ; multiplication table, 
measures of weight, value, capacity, extension, time. Eaton's Primary Arith- 
metic completed. Analysis of examples involving dollars and cents, making 
change, etc. ; examples constructed by pupils. 

Geography. Cornell's First Steps. Form, size, motions of the earth; compo- 
nent parts; natural divisions; definitions; examples; naming those seen; 
location of natural divisions ; points of the compass ; political divisions of 
North America — physical divisions, mountain systems, river systems — formation 
of river systems. 

New England States ; outline; capitals; occupation of inhabitants. Agricul- 
ture, manufactures, commerce, defined and examples given. Oral lessons. 

Writing. Duntonian Writing Primer No. 1. Thorough drill on method of 
holding the pencil, requiring the letters to be made by the movement of the 
fingers rather than by the movement of the hand; tracing copy; formation of 
letters in marked spaces ; drill on curves ; word tracing and the writing of 

Drawing. Practice same as in previous grade, with thorough drill on lines, 
angles, and definitions of the same together with the formations of right line 
figures. Occasional attempts at designs. 

Music. Primary Music Reader. Review of previous grade. Key of C. Middle, 
uiper and lower scale, the chromatic scale, ascending and descending; singing 
by note, using syllables through several keys for cultivation of voice ; signs for 
ending, repeating, and abbreviation used in common music. 

Seventh Grade. — Second Intermediate. 

Beading. Analytical Intermediate Reader. Thorough drill in expression as 
in previous grades ; emphasis ; pauses ; inflections. Analysis of lessons ; 
general information, etc. 

Spelling as in previous grades, words from lessons — speller and words in 
common use. 

Arithmetic. Work of previous grades reviewed. Thorough drill in writing 
and reading numbers of three periods, and in addition and subtraction. Con- 
struction of examples. Primary arithmetic completed. Mental arithmetic to 
accompany the written. 

Course of Study. 263 

Geography. Thorough review of previous grade. Motions of the earth — 
what they cause : why ; mathematical geography ; climate ; plants ; animals ; 
races of men ; conditions ; occupations. General outline. 

Writing. Duntonian Freehand Series, No. 1. 

Drawing. Free hand from copy on cards to be enlarged ; blackboard 
exercises ; dictation and drawing from memory ; definition of plane geometry ; 
simplest forms of designs, combining previously drawn forms to form new 

Marie. Review of previous grades. Thorough drill in science of music — 
Key of C. Time ; movements ; one part finished. 

Sixth Grade. — First Intermediate. 

Beading and Spelling, from the whole of First Intermediate Reader. Thorough 
drill in analysis and spelling; practice on combination of consonant sounds. 
Use of capital letters and punctuation marks. Dictation exercises. Lessons in 
Language. Construction of sentences. 

Written Arithmetic to reduction. Thorough drill in general principles with 
practical applications. Roman notation ; principles ; uses ; review of tables, 
weights, measures, etc., class exercise on blackboard. Mental arithmetic to 
correspond with the above. 

Geography. Warren's Primary, through the United States. Oral lessons on 
general topics. 

Writing. Duntonian Freehand Series, No. 2. 

Drawing Work of previous grade advanced, blackboard dictation and 
memory drawing, and simplest form of designs. 

Music. Practice singing at sight in key of C. Ascending and descending 
forms of chromatic scale explained. Science of music. Thorough drill in 
definitions, reading music, use of terms, and writing measures. 

Fifth Grade. — Fourth Grammar. 

Beading. Analytical Fourth Reader ; Exercises in phonic analysis. Exercises 
in concert for elocutionary drill. Thorough understanding of the lessons- 
General information on various topics. 

Arithmetic. Reduction; definitions; measures of value, weight, capacity, 
extension, surface or area, volume, time, and circular. The difference and uses 
of measures of weight and capacity. Thorough drill in examples involving the 
above. Examples prepared by pupils. Mental arithmetic to accompany the 
written through the various processes. Drill on general principles; relation of 
numbers, factoring, greatest common divisor and least common multiple. 

Grammar. Language. Sentence making, principal parts of a sentence, modi- 
fiers ; parts of speech, properties, examples, sentences involving examples, 
dictation exercises, use of capitals and punctuation marks ; drill on definitions ; 
number of nouns, gender, elements of parsing, drill from reading book. 

Geography. Thorough review of preceding work; climate, races of mankind, 
conditions of society ; productions of different zones ; government, different 
forms ; most preferable, analysis of republican form ; United States, state, city, 
town, district. Mathematical geography. Political geography — North America 
and its divisions. 

Writing. Duntonian Freehand Series, Nos. 3 and L 

264 Newport. 

Drawing. Freehand from copy, using Walter Smith's Intermediate Drawing 
Book, Nos. land 2— exercises as in previous grades ; definitions of plane geometry ; 

Music. Key of G. Reading at sight. Blackboard exercises and drill, com- 
position. First Transposition. 

Fourth Grade. — Third Grammar. 

Beading, with exercises, as in fourth grade. 

General Information. Familiar science, etc. 

Written and Mental Arithmetic through common and decimal fractions. Thor- 
ough drill in analysis of principles. Work of previous grades reviewed. 

Geography, Warren's Common School. Plants — distribution, uses, food, cloth- 
ing, medicine, other uses. Animals — distribution, most useful, classification. 
Inhabitants — races of mankind, condition, occupations. Minerals — distribution, 
most useful, etc. Study to include general outline and political division of North 
and South America and part of Europe. General information. 

Grammar, construction of easy sentences, sentences containing parts of speech 
having certain properties; compound sentences, complex; corrections of false 
syntax ; dictation exercises, composition. 

Writing in writing books Nos. I and 5 and other drill, twenty minutes daily. 

Drawing. Same as in previous grades, advanced. 

Music. First and second, third and fourth transposition by sharps. Drill on 
terms, signs, abbreviations and musical composition. Singing at sight, keys of 
G, D and E. 

Third Grade.— Second Grammar. 

Beading. Analytical Fifth Reader ; particular attention to variety of expres- 
sion, occasional recitations and declamations, elocutionary drill, spelling from 
reader and speller; words, selections, etc. Words defined. 

Written and Mental Arithmetic through denominate numbers, United States 
money ; duodecimals, longitude and time, percentage to exchange. The pupil 
to be familiar with business forms, principles of interest and discount and to 
construct examples involving principles of any of the preceding rules. Thorough 
analysis of problems required. 

Course in geography completed at the end of second quarter. History of 
United States taken up at the beginning of third quarter. 

Grammar. Construction of sentences as in previous grades. Thorough drill 
in syntax, and analysis of simple sentences. Dictation exercises, composition, 
general information. 

Writing daily. Writing books, Duntonian Freehand, Nos. 5 and G, and general 
exercises on paper, notes, letters and other drill. 

Drawing. Freehand from copy in book No. 4, plane and geometrical drawing. 
Analysis of forms, definitions, design. 

Music. Transposition, four keys, singing at sight, key of F, E flat, B flat, A 
flat. Musical composition in the above keys. Review of definitions, terms, etc. 

Course of Study. 265 

Second Grade. — First Grammar. 

Beading. Analytical Fifth, Sixth and other readers. Thorough drill in artic- 
ulation, enunciation, and analysis. Elocutionary drill, recitation, declamation. 

Arithmetic, through mensuration of surfaces and solids. The pupil to be 
thoroughly acquainted with general principles, powers of numbers, and able to 
construct, solve and analyze problems under any process in common or high 
school arithmetic. To be thoroughly acquainted with business forms, concise 
and most approved methods of discount ; construction and discussion of notes ; 
exchange, reason of different rates, etc., partnership and companies and other 
organizations, involving capital or stock ; dividends ; assessments ; measurements 
of lumber ; walls of a house ; areas of triangles, circles and other geometrical 
figures. A thorough analysis of the principles of arithmetic. 

Grammar. Analysis and construction of sentences, simple, compound and 
complex, etc. Dictation exercises, composition, etc. English grammar completed. 

Writing. Nos. 7 and 8 of freehand series, daily drill in writing books or on 
paper. Exercises in arithmetic, grammar, etc , to be marked, taking penman- 
ship into account. 

History of United States completed. Study of the constitution of the United 
States. State constitution, etc. 

Drawing. Freehand drawing from copy in book; blackboard, dictation and 
memory drawing, alternating with the freehand; model and object drawing; 
also definitions of plane and solid geometry, and design. 

Music Singing and reading music in any key. Three parts, chords, triads, 
common chords of fifth, fourth, second, sixth and third degrees. Harmonies 
in the various keys, definitions, terms, etc., musical composition in any key. 


Junior Class. 

English History; Hitchcock's Anatomy and Physiology; Ilarkness' Latin 
Grammar, coarse print; Ilarkness' Latin Reader, 40 pages; Bradbury's Algebra, 
187 pages ; Otto's French Grammar, part I ; Translation of " Mere Michel et son 
Chat ; " Book-keeping, (no text book) ; English composition, reading, drawing, 
vocal music. 

Second Middle Class. 

Bradbury's Geometry, plane; Ganot's Physics, with constant use of apparatus ; 
Ilarkness' Latin Header completed, grammar continued; Caesar's Gallic war, 
four books ; Otto's French Grammar, part II, to lesson XVIII ; translation of 
" Le Conscrit," exercises in conversation; English composition, elocution, 
drawing, vocal music; in the classical department students commence Greek at 
the middle of this year ; Goodwin's Greek Grammar ; Xenophon's Anabasis com- 
menced; two extra recitations per week in Latin. Students taking Greek may 
drop philosophy or part of the work in French, at their option. In the scien- 
tific department, students who desire to enter a scientific school at the end of 
their third year, will be allowed to take extra work in mathematics. 

First Middle Class. 

French History ; Ancient History ; Roscoe's Chemistry ; Eliot and Storer's Man- 
ual of chemistry, used in the laboratory; Gilman's English Literature, with study 

266 Newport. 

of choice selections; Cicero, four orations; Virgil's iEneid, books I, II, and VI; 
Otto's French grammar finished; exercises in conversation; translation of "La 
Poudre aux Yeux," " Athalie ; " Otto's German Grammar to lesson XXVI ; En- 
glish composition, elocution, drawing, vocal music. In the classical depart- 
ment three extra recitations per week in Latin; Sallust's Catiline; three ora-. 
tions of Cicero ; Goodwin's Greek Grammar ; Xenophon's Anabasis, three books ; 
Latin composition; Ancient History. Students taking this course are allowed 
to omit the work assigned for this year in French, German, English Literature 
and French history. In the scientific department, students are allowed to sub- 
stitute extra work in mathematics for parts of the regular course. 

Senior Class. 

Astronomy by lectures, with frequent use of the telescope ; Eliot and Storer's 
Chemical Analysis, pursued in the laboratory ; Bradbury's Trigonometry; Bot- 
any; English Literature — critical study of parts of the writings of Milton, Shak- 
speare and Goldsmith; also of extracts from Chaucer and other writers of early 
English; Abercrombie's Intellectual Philosophy; Moral Philosophy, by lectures; 
Mrs. Fawcett's Elements of Political Economy ; Rhetoric, by lectures ; transla- 
tion of " Les Doigts de Fee;" one of Moliere's plays; exercises in French con- 
versation ; translation of a part of the Odes of Horace ; Otto's German Grammar 
completed; translation of Eigensinn ; two acts of Wilhelm Tell ; English com- 
position, drawing, elocution, vocal music. In the classical department, substi- 
tutions are made for all the above work, except English composition, elocution, 
and music, as follows: — Virgil, iEneid continued, Eclogues ; Cicero's orations 
continued; Xenophon's Anabasis continued; Homer's Iliad, three books; Greek 
and Latin composition; Ancient Geography and History; review of mathematics, 
and of Latin and Greek authors. In the scientific department, students are al- 
lowed to substitute extra work in mathematics for parts of the regular course. 
The requirement for admission to the Junior class is the ability to pass a satis- 
factory examination in arithmetic, English grammar, geography, United States 
history and spelling. 

There is one feature of the course of study tor the high school, as given 
above, to which especial attention is called. A portion of every class 
leaves the school before the beginning of the second year, and the num- 
ber is farther reduced before the beginning of the third year. It is very 
important that each scholar's connection with the school shall be a source 
of direct and lasting benefit to him, be the period long or short. With 
this end in view, the strictly practical and disciplinary studies have been 
very evenly distributed throughout the four years. There is no point in 
this course at which it can be fairly said that a pupil, leaving the school 
at that point, has spent his time upon studies valuable, in the main, only 
aspreparatoiy to higher work. 




By David King, M. D. 

Among the causes of American civilization, the formation of early 
colonial libraries, naturally occupies a prominent place. The early 
libraries were connected with the churches, or with the universities, or were 
formed by associations of gentlemen in the different colonies. Among 
the former, the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, 
undoubtedly effected much for the general enlightenment of the colonies 
by the distribution of books and tracts, and by the establishment of 
Libraries in connection with the principal Episcopal churches. 

Thus, from 1702 to 1728 that society had distributed among the 
inhabitants of the colonies above eight thousand volumes of books, and 
above one hundred thousand small tracts of devotion and instruction. 
The other churches and the various colleges 03- their libraries must have 
likewise contributed to promote the early intellectual and moral 
improvement of the people. Indeed the best portion of English litera- 
ture, in that age, was presented to the American mind, and grasping it, 
as it did with eagerness, all its powers were quickened b}' the learning 
and senilis of the mother country. 

Among the libraries that accomplished a good work for American 
civilization was the Redwood Library, founded in 1747, at Newport* 
Rhode Island. Its members had formed an association for literary 
purposes in 1730 under the auspicies of Bishop Berkley, who resided at 
Newport from 1729 to 1731. The association gradually aspired to the 
formation of a library company. In 1747, through the generosity of 

268 Newport. 

Abraham Redwood, Esq., there was placed at their disposal the large 
sura of £500 sterling for the purchase of standard books in London. 
From Henry Collins, Esq., they received an appropriate building site 
for their libraiy, then called Bowling Green. For the erection of a 
library building five thousand pounds were almost immediately sub- 
scribed by one hundred gentlemen, who constituted the association. 
The library building, which was a beautiful specimen of the Doric order, 
was begun in 1748, and completed in 1750, from a plan furnished by 
Peter Harrison, Esq., the assistant architect of Blenheim house, Eng- 
land. While the libraiy was in process of building, the catalogue 
which had received much careful consideration from its members, was 
transmitted to London, where with a few alterations by Peter Collinson, 
Esq., it was, immediately, at the full cost of £500 sterling, purchased. 
In 1750, it had arrived and was placed on the shelves of the library, and, 
was generally considered b}' American scholars as the finest collection 
of works on theology, histoiy, the arts and sciences, at that time in the 
American colonies. An examination of the statistics of American 
libraries, shows, that the Redwood Library stands in the front ranks, 
as a colonial libraiy, which, from the first, was endowed with a charter 
of incorporation, possessed of an appropriate and well-designed libraiy 
building, and furnished with books, that involved the expenditure in 
London, of a larger sum of mone} r , than, had at any time previously, 
been transmitted from an}- of the colonies, for that purpose. It would 
be interesting to give here, the catalogue of the English and classical 
works which were deemed at that time, a complete and well-appointed 
libraiy — did space permit our so doing. The names of the liberal 
founders of the Redwood Libraiy — a colonial one, at an early period of 
our civilization, should at least be preserved.* 

The beneficial influences of this libraiy in colonial times, must have 
been great. The Rev. Dr. Ezra Stiles has acknowledged his indebted- 

* Abraham Redwood, Rev. James Honyman, Edward Scott, Simon Pease, Thomas 
Moffatt, M. I)., John Brett, M. D., William Paul, John Charming, Jahleel Brenton, David 
Cheeseborough, William Vernon, John Brown. Daniel Updike, Daniel Ayrault, Jr., 
Abraham Borden, Henry Collins, Joseph Jacob, Samuel Rodman, Samuel Wickham, 
Thomas Ward, Josias Lyndon, Peter Bours, Charles Wickham, John Easton, Joseph 
Sylvester, Thomas Wickham, John Tillinghast, Joseph Harrison, Clark Rodman M. D., 
Rev. William Vinal, Walter Rodman, M. I)., James Honyman, Jr., Samuel Ward, Rev. 
John Callender, John Bennet, Joseph Scott, Ebenezcr Gray, M. D., Joseph Phillips, 
Benjamin Hazard, Rev. James Searing, Samuel Vernon, Benjamin Wickham, John 
Gardner, Jonathan Nichols, Stephen Wanton, Patrick Grant. 

November 4, P>47. Gideon Wanton, Joseph Wanton, Joseph Whipple, Jr., William 
Ellery, Walter Chaloner, Jonathan Thurston, Samuel Holmes, Godfrey Malbone, Jr. 
Charles Bowler, Gideon Cornell, Robert Crooke, John Collins, John Dennis, Abraham 
Hart, Matthew Robinson, Wiiliam Dunbar, John Chaloner, John Jepson. 

Redwood Libkary 269 

ness to it for his useful, curious, and recondite hearing. It was from 
this library that he furnished himself with armor for the gre*,t and 
growing contest in American colonies. The late Dr. William Ellery 
Channing, saj-s of him. " To the influences of this distinguished man, 
in the circle in which I was brought up, I ma}* owe in part, the indigna- 
tion which I feel towards every invasion of human rights. In m\ T 
earliest }*ears I. regarded no one with equal reverence." A similar 
auspicious influence, on the character, intelligence and public spirit of 
the town, on her rising statesmen, her liberal merchants, her cultured 
scholars and her able lawyers, must be attributed to the Redwood library. 
It should likewise be recollected that it attracted many of our literary 
men in the English colonies, who availed themselves of its treasures, 
while enjoying the delights of our climate. From the Carolinas, from 
the West Indies, from New York and Boston, they came here as to a 
paradise on earth to replenish their stock of health and their stores of 
knowledge, ere the} T returned to their native climes. " The library 
of Rhode Island though built of wood," says a fellow of Trinity College, 
Dublin, who passed his youth at Newport before the revolution, in the 
" still air of delightful studies," was a structure of uncommon beauty. 
I remember it with admiration, and I could once appeal to the known 
taste of an old school-fellow (Stuart the painter) who had the same feel- 
ing towards it." 

From 1778 to 1785 the tumults of war interrupted the meetings of the 
librar\ T company, while the town was occupied successively by the 
English, the American and the French forces. 

The libraiy undoubtedly suffered some losses by the occasional 
purloining of books, but considering its exposed position, from the dis- 
persion and occupation of its natural guardians, it was remarkably 
preserved from injury and depredation. But at the close of the war it 
was discovered that many of the books were missing from the shelves, 
that the building and fences had fallen into deca}* ; that in consequence 
of death or removal from the State, thirty-three members and proprietors 
onl} r , were left to manage the aflfaiis of the compaiy, and to cany out 
the generous and noble intentions of its founder and of its other gener- 
ous benefactors. With a view to restore the institution, an able com- 
mittee was appointed in September, 1785, to apply to the legislature for 
a renewal of the charter. They were not successful till October, 1790, 
when the charter was renewed, and still farther amended in May, 1791. 

In September, 1806 it was resolved to apply to the legislature for a 
lottery to raise three thousand dollars, and for the admission of thirty 
new members on paying twenty-five dollars each for a share in the 

270 Newport. 

libraiy. On the 13th of March, 1810, the compan} 7 adopted a success- 
ful measure for the revival of the institution, in the admission of so 
many new members, on the payment of fifteen dollars each, as should 
carry the whole number of proprietors to one hundred. This number 
was long considered as fulfilling Mr. Redwood's ideal of a library com- 
pany. In October, 1810, the proprietors appointed a committee con- 
sisting of William Hunter, Benjamin Hazard, Edmund Waring, David 
King, William Marchant and John L. Boss, Jr., to prepare an address, 
and to present the same to the public, for the purpose of obtaining 
donations of books to the library. This direct appeal to the public 
contributed to revive the interest, already directed towards the Library, 
and to encourage the spirit of liberality now re-awakened by the example 
of generous and high-minded individuals. 

In January, 1810, James Ogilvie, Esq., a great rhetorician of that 
da}', visited the town and delivered several lectures on the advantages 
of public libraries, which contributed essentially to awaken the public 
to the claims to the Redwood Library on their generosity and support. 

In 1813 Solomon Southwick, Esq., of Alban} T , gave to the library 
one hundred and twenty acres of land in the State of New York, for 
the purpose of advancing the institution, and thereby perpetuating the 
memory of Henry Collins, Esq., one of its principal founders. 

In 1834 Abraham Redwood, Esq., of Dorset Place, Marylebone, 
England, being desirous of promoting the institution founded by his 
honored grandfather, gave to the company, the homestead estate, 
situated in Newport which he inherited from his father Jonas L. Red- 
wood, Esq. Through the instrumentality of Robert Johnston, Esq., 
the public records of England, as far as then published consisting of 84 
volumes, viz. : 72 large folios and 12 octavos were presented by the 
British government. It is to be regretted that the volumes subsequently 
published have not been obtained by the libraiy. 

In 1837, Baron Ilobbing, a distinguished banker of Paris, who was 
connected by marriage with the Redwood family, presented to the com- 
pany 1,000 francs for the restoration of the building. 

In 1840 the honorable Christopher G. Champlin bequeathed to the 
compan}* 100 dollars and some valuable books. 

In 1844, the library company received from Judah Touro, Esq., of 
New Orleans, (a native of Newport), the gift of 2,000 dollars, which 
sum according to the wish of the donor, was appropriated to the repairs 
of the portico of the building and to the laying of a sidewalk in East 
Touro street from the library building to the corner of Ka}^ street. Mr. 
Touro at his death in 1854, left a bequest of three thousand dollars to 

Redwoqd Library. 271 


promote the interests of the institution. The Centennial Anniversary 
of the incorporation of the Redwood Library company was celebrated 
August 24, 1847 by the delivery of an able and eloquent discourse by 
the Hon. William Hunter, and by an appropriate and beautiful poem by 
the Rev. Charles T. Brooks. 

In September, 1855, it was resolved to promote the usefulness of the 
institution by increasing its resources, viz. : by the sale of four hun- 
dred new shares at twenty-live dollars a share for the purpose of enlarg- 
ing the library building, increasing the number of books, attaching a 
reading room to the Library, and opening it daily to the public. A circu- 
lar was prepared by Dr. King, the president, exhibiting the condition 
and resources of the institution and presenting the proposed plan for 
improving the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, and the terms of 
admission to its present and prospective privileges. 

In January, 185G, the charter was amended, so that the compan}' were 
enabled to elect from the members, at the annual meetings, a president 
and eleven directors, instead of Jive directors, as formerly. In 1861, an 
additional act was passed by the legislature, authorizing the corporation, 
annually, to elect a vice-president, and not exceeding, eight additional 
directors. In January, 18G7, an act was adopted by the legislature, 
allowing the Libraiy company to issue " preferred " shares, and to 
increase the number of directors to twent}'-five. It was not till Septem- 
ber, 1858, that the whole stock of new shares was taken. It is not 
more than just to mention with praise the zeal and energy of the Hon. 
"William C. Cozzens and on this occasion the liberality of subscriptions 
of Messrs. Charles H. Russell, Edward King, William S. Wetmore 
Sidney Brooks and James Lenox. The whole subscription was highly 
creditable to all the proprietors who then participated in increasing the 
power and resources of the institution. With these funds, the directors 
proceeded to enlarge the building, preserving as far as possible the 
original design of Mr. Peter Harrison, the first architect. By the 
aid of Mr. Snell, of Boston, the architect, they were enabled to add a 
principal room, fifty feet long, twenty-eight feet wide ami nineteen feet 
high, lighted by six windows on the north and south facades and Iry an 
octagonal dome, or lantern light, the whole beautifully frescoed, supplied 
with gas lights and warmed by a furnace. The room for books was still 
further increased by the extension of the original wings and try central 
openings into the old Library room. The corporation also expended in 
the purchase of valuable books about 4,000 dollars with the assistance 
of Joseph G. Cogswell, Esq., of the Astor Library. They added a 
gallery of paintings, being enabled to enrich the gallery, b} T the munifi- 

272 Newport. 

cent donation of Charles B. King, Esq., a native of Newport with 
upwards of 200 valuable paintings, many of them by his own hand, and 
some by other distinguished artists. In the gallery of pictures are to 
to be found paintings given by David Melville, Miss J. Stuart, Mrs. 
Catharine Allen, Usher Parsons, M. D., Augustus N. Littlefield, C. H. 
Olmstead, of New Haven, Russell Coggeshall, George C. Mason, 
William N. Mercer, M. D., and John Purssord, Esq., of London. The 
library building was opened to the public in Jul} T , 1859. 

In the winter of 1859-CO an inaugural discourse on the advan- 
tages of public libraries was delivered by the Hon. Geo. G. King, presi- 
dent of the institution, who was followed bj- various gentlemen, in a 
course of free lectures instituted at that period by the directors. 

In 18C0 was presented to the Library by Sidney Brooks, Esq., a 
valuable collection of French books, illustrative of art and military life, 
embracing a donation of eighty-one volumes — 3 folios, 3 quartos and 
75 octavos. 

A donation was presented by the Hon. David Sears, consisting of 
seven volumes quarto of Plymouth colony records ; G volumes quarto of 
Massachusetts records, and eighteen volumes octavo of Massachusetts 
Historical Societ}' collection. Also by James Lenox, Esq , his privately 
printed copy of the "Opusculum de Insulis Nuper lnventis" by Nicolaus 
Lyllacius, first published in 1494. Also was presented by John Purssord 
of London, a portrait of Abraham Redwood, the grandson of the 

In August, 18G2, twenty pictures were received from the executor 
of the estate of Charles B. King, Esq., in addition to a donation of 
forty-two made b} T Mr. King the year before. Also a specific donation 
of the Library of Charles B. King, Esq., consisting of 391 volumes of 
books, of which 31 volumes arc illustrated works ; 14 volumes of bound 
engravings of various sizes from large quarto to large folio. Also three 
portfolios of unbound engravings. Also Mr. King bequeathed to the 
Redwood Library one-quarter of the residuary portion of his estate, 
real and personal. 

In 18G4, it was announced by the President, the Hon. George G. 
King, that the whole sum received by Library from the late Charles 
B. King, Esq., was in cash, $8,913.70; the whole sum being paid in 
18G3 and 18G4. And that in addition to this sum must be added, the 
estimated value ot books, engravings and paintings — the mere inventory 
price of which was $2,000. Among the donations received this year, 
were two hundred and nine volumes of the best authors, from James 
Lenox, Esq., some of these are rare reprints relating to the early history of 

Redwood Library. 273 

our country. From the widow of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, the bequest 
of the portrait of her late husband and the portrait of Gilbert Stuart the 
artist, both Iry Stuart, were received. 

In April, 1865, Dr. William I. Walker, a temporary resident of New- 
port, left the generous bequest of ten thousand dollars to the library. 
This year the Clarke estate was purchased for the sum of fifteen thousand 
dollars, toward the purchase of which the library received. 8500— the 
generous gift of Alfred Smith, Esq. 

In 1867, cork models of the coliseum, models of the fragments of two 
Roman temples, and a model of the arch of Constantine, all from the 
estate of Miss Sarah Gibbs, were presented through the instrumentality 
of lion. W. C. Gibbs, administrator. 

Iu 1868, Mr. Charles IT. Russell and Mr. II. Hoppin, presented plans 
for the enlargement of the Library edifice, as devised by Mr. R. II. 
Hunt. In 1869, Dr. David King, in behalf of Miss Elizabeth F. 
Thomas and other descendants of Peter Harrison, Esq., the first archi- 
tect of the Kedwood Library, presented the portraits of Mr. Harrison 
and his wife 

In 1863, Mr. Edward King had offered his valuable collection of statuaiy 
to the Library, on condition that a suitable place should be provided for 
it. This year, he consented to place the statuaiy in the Library build- 
ing ; hoping that more room would be given when the building should 
be enlarged. The subjeets are copies in marble from the antique, of the 
" D}Mng Gladiator," and the busts of the " Venus of Milo," " Ariadne," 
"Demosthenes," " Cicero," and the "Young Marcellus," — all being the 
work of Paul Akers ; also an original work by James Mozier, the " Ameri- 
can School-boy." The president and eighteen members raised at this 
time, $1,600 to pay off a debt of the institution. 

Hon. George G. King, the president, at his death, July 17, 1870, 
left the Society a bequest of one thousand dollars, to constitute a part 
of the permanent fund for the purchase of books. In December, 1869, 
through Henry Ledyard, Esq., the Library received two noble offers 
from George W. Gibbs, Esq. ; first, that if the Directors would raise by 
subscription the sum of five hundred dollars for the purchase of books, 
he would subscribe five hundred dollars more. Whereupon in the course 
of 1870, twenty-five individuals subscribed nine hundred and fifty dollars, 
which, added to Mr. Gibbs' five hundred made, a fund of $1,450 for the 
purchase of books. The second proposition was, that if the Library 
would raise by subscription ten thousand dollars for enlarging the build- 
ing, he would contribute an additional ten thousand dollars. 

274 Newport. 

In 1871, the Library received a benefaction from Mrs. Maria D'Wolf 
Rogers, consisting of three thousand dollars' worth of rare and valuable 
books, and a special fund of one thousand dollars, the income to be used 
onlj' for the purchase of books. The benefaction is to be perpetually held 
as a memorial of the late Robert Rogers, Esq., of Bristol. It was an- 
nounced that Edward King, Esq., the executor of the late Hon. George 
G. King, had paid over the legacy in full, and that it had been invested 
in the savings bank as the nucleus of a book fund. Twenty-eight shares 
had been converted into $100 shares, the holders surrendering the $25 
shares, and paying in cash, $75 each, and four shares were taken by new 
parties, at $100 each. Seven of the " preferred " shares had been taken 
in the previous years. 

During the year 1872, two special shares were taken at $100 each, 
and fourteen were taken by original shareholders, on the payment of 
sevent\ T -fi ve dollars and a surrender of a present twenty-five dollar share, 
thus making the special share fund on deposit in the savings bank 
$4,075. The Gibbs building fund was made up this }'ear, and placed 
in the Trust Company on deposit, the whole sum being $20,025. Wil- 
liam Sanford Rogers, Esq., of Boston, a native of Newport, left a bequest 
of four thousand dollars, the income to bj applied to the purchase of 

In 1874, a generous bequest of $5,000 was left to the library by John 
Carter Brown, Esq., as a librae fund. The library companj' adopted 
this year a plan presented by George C. Mason, architect for the en- 
largement of the building. The}' appointed C. II. Russell, Sidney Brooks, 
and John T. Bush, Esqs., the building committee to superintend the 
erection of the new structure. The master builders, Perry G. Case & 
Co., contracted to have the new building constructed of stone and 
brick, and to have it completed by December 1, 1875, according to the 
plans and specifications, for which purpose $25,000 were appropriated. 

In 1875, Mrs. Lucy K. Tuckerman presented to the Library the 
works of the late Henry T. Tuckerman, Esq., also a framed photograph 
of Mr. Tuckerman. These volumes, enclosed in a casket of ebon} 7 and 
cedar, will be perpetually preserved in the library in memory of that 
accomplished scholar and good man. During this year, the society 
seem to have Inen saddened and appalled by the frequent demise of 
many of their prominent friends ; among whom were John Carter Brown, 
Robert H. Ives and Edward King. 

From 1861 to 1875, inclusive, the additions to the Library have been 
constant and numerous, ranging each year from four hundred to fifteen 
hundred volumes, besides many pamphlets. During these fifteen years 

Redwood Library. 275 

the total acquisitions have been nearly twelve thousand volumes, for the 
larger portion of which, by far, the Library stands indebted to generous 
donors, prominent among whom are Messrs. Robert H. Ives, James T. 
Rhodes, George A. Uammett, David Sears, Sidney Brooks, James 
Lenox, Henry Ledyard, J. Carter Brown, R. C. Winthrop, George Cal- 
vert, J. R. Bartlett, William Hunter, E. D. Morgan, H. B. Anthony and 
T. A. Jenckes. 

During these years, also, valuable and interesting additions have been 
made to the art treasures of the Library, including statuary, paintings 
and engravings. The paintings are mostly portraits of persons having 
either a local or national fame, thus rendering the gallery one of rich 
historical interest. 

In the early part of the }~ear 1876, the new structure of stone and 
brick was completed. It furnishes an admirable room for library and 
gallery purposes, 30 feet wide, by 48 feet long, and thirty feet high ; and 
a room on the south, 17 feet by 22 feet, for the use of the directors. Thus 
ample room is supplied for pictures, statuary, and library purposes for 
many years to come. The whole structure ma}' be considered as classi- 
cal and ornate ; and though planned by three successive artists, has been 
made to conform as much as possible to the design of the original archi- 
tect. The library company has expended $31,696.03, to which sum 
must be added the subsequent expenses of re-arranging the gallery and 
library, of repairing the fences and of ornamenting the grounds, and 
now offers to the public admirable galleries of painting and sculpture ; and 
a library of twenty-one thousand volumes, many of them costly works, 
and the rare acquisitions of generations of growth. 

We have traced in few and brief words, the career of one of the oldest 
institutions in the country. The liberality of individuals has sustained 
it through periods of adversity and prosperity, through changes in politi- 
cal and social life, and vicissitudes in the fortune and character of indi- 
viduals and families. From the beginning to the present time, the Red- 
wood Library, always from the first, highly respectable in the public eye, 
has gradually increased in true power and in growing adaptation to the 
wants and necessities of the communit}-. It is now placed on a firm 
foundation, with ample means of progressive improvement. It sprung 
at first almost full armed, from a period of great commercial prosperit}\ 
It is associated with our first attempts in America at culture and schol- 
arship, with early recollections of learning and piety, and with splendid 
memories that ma} T never die. Whatever may be its position and re- 
sources in the future, it can never forget the debt it owes to the thought- 



fulness, the learning and the intelligence of the past. We conclude with 
a list of the presidents from 1747 to 1876 

Abraham "Redwood, 
Henry Ma reliant, 
William Vernon, 
John Bours, 
Jonathan Easton, 
Robert Stevens, 
David King, 
Audley Clarke, 
George G. King, 
William Hunter, 
David King, 
George G. King, 
William C Cozzens, 
Henry Ledyard, 
Edward King, 
Francis Brinley, 

om 1747 to 1788. 

" 1791 to 1796 

" 1790 to 1801 

" 1801 to 1809 

" 1809 to 1813 

" 1813 to 1830 

" 1830 to 183G 

" 1836 to 1844 

" 1844 to 184G 

" 184G to 1849 

" 1849 to 1859 

" 1859 to 1870 

" 1870 to 1872 

" 1872 to 1874 

" 1874 to 1875 

" 1875 to 187G 

Errata.— On page 2G9, for 
read " Hottinguer." 

hearing " read " learning." On page 270, for " Robbing,' 


Mr. Christopher Townsend, while in the prime of life and in the 
enjoyment of his usual health, conceived the purpose of appropriating 
a considerable share of the property which he had acquired by his 
industry, and saved by his prudence, to objects of public charity. 
He first gave liberally to The Association of Aid for the Aged, and then 
provided and endowed A Home for Friendless Children. 

Aware of the benefits received by General Greene from books bor- 
rowed of Dr. Stiles, and that Channing " studied theolog^y in the Red- 
wood Library without an instructor," he resolved to establish a Free 
Library for the benefit of the people of this, his native cit}\ 

He matured his plan after years of deliberation, and finalh T devoted 
upwards of fifty thousand dollars of his fortune in carrying that plan 
into effect. 

With this sum he purchased and fitted up the substantial edifice which 
contains the library, and selected and purchased, with rare discretion 
and judgment, seven thousand volumes of standard books. 

With a modesty only surpassed by his generosit}' and public spirit, he 
has declined to have his name in any way associated with the name of 
the charity which he has thus established. Fie has donated the library 
to the use of the people of Newport, has given it their name, and has 
enjoined upon the trustees whom he has charged with carrying his 
charit}- into effect, to see to it that the Library is made what its name 
denotes, The People's Library and nothing else. While Mr. Townsend 
was deliberating upon the project of founding the The People's Library, 
other charitably disposed persons, by generous and disinterested efforts, 
(aided somewhat by Mr. Townsend,) became incorporated for the pur- 
pose of establishing a free library. They leased a room and gathered 

278 Newport, 

a miscellaneous collection of books, containing some three thousand 
volumes, which they magnanimously turned over to thecustod}' of " The 
People's Library," thus making with the volumes donated b} T Mr. Town- 
send a collection of about ten thousand volumes. 

Ample provisions have been made for regular additions to the librar}-, 
and at the present time the whole number of volumes is over sixteen 

As an evidence of the need of such an institution, and also of its 
appreciation by those for whose benefit it was founded, the report of the 
librarian for the past year shows that the whole number of volumes 
circulated within that time was 29,995. 



f^oaW$ otf sjfU/c^ioK 




By Isaac F. Cady, 
Superintendent Tublic Schools. 

The first settlers of the present town of Barrington brought with them 
the true Puritan spirit on the subject of education. Coming, as they 
did flora Plymouth and neighboring towns in Massachusetts, the picture 
of the school-house standing in the shadow of the church held a vivid 
place in their imaginations, and served as a powerful incentive in the 
moulding of their social character and civil polity. Hence the establish- 
ment of " a godl}' ministry " and an efficient arrangement for the edu- 
cation of the young was a subject which received their early and earnest 

Soon after obtaining from the Indians a deed of " Sowams and parts 
adjacent," they proceeded to set apart certain lands called pastors' and 
teachers' lands, the proceeds of which were to aid in the support of the 
ministry and the schools. The deed referred to, bears the date of 
March 29, 1G53, and is signed by Ousamequin, generally known as Mas- 
sasoit, and his son Wamsetto. This is supposed to be the last deed 
signed by Massasoit, who, to the last, remained an unwavering and 
invaluable friend to the early settlers of New England. 

The lands obtained under this deed were held by the purchasers under 
the [title of proprietors. They embraced the present towns of Somerset 
and Swansea in Massachusetts, and of Warren and Barrington in 
Rhode Island, all of which were originally included in the town of New 
Swansea, which was established by the court of New Plymouth in the 
year 16G7. The history of Barrington, is therefore included in that of 
Swansea until it became a separate town in 1717. 

282 Barring ton. 

"In 1673, this town voted to establish a school for the 'teaching 
of grammar, rhetoric, and the tongues of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, 
also to re*.d English, and to write.' " 

Its first teacher was Rev. John Myles, a native of Wales. He was a 
Baptist clergyman, and is represented as the ablest and most successful 
preacher in his country ; but he was virtually compelled to become an 
exile 1)3 T the acts which followed the restoration of 1662. He emigrated 
to America, and came to Swansea, where, at a salary of " fort}' pounds 
per annum," he rendered services in the capacit}' of both minister and 
teacher until the breaking out of King Philip's war in 1675. 

From this humble school one pupil entered Harvard College, and 
graduated with the degree of A. M. in 1684. He afterwards became 
rector of King's Chapel, Boston, where he remained during a period of 
forty years. 

Among the successors of Rev. Mr. Myles, as teacher, we find the 
names of Jonathan Bosworth, engaged at a salary of £18 per annum, 
in the year 1698, and of Mr. John Devotion in 1702, at a salary of 
£12, u current money of New England, to be paid quarterly, and the 
town to pa^' for his diet ; and they also allow him £20 to be paid by 
the town for the keeping of his horse." In 1709 he was re-engaged for 
a term of six years. His services proved so satisfactory that the select- 
men were authorized to engage him for an additional period of twenty 
years, " to teach our youth to read English and Latin, and cipher as 
there may be occasions." The school was to be kept five months each 
year, and he was required "diligently and steadily" to attend to his 
duties. He can hardly have completed this long term of service, since, 
in 1722, u the select men were authorized to see that the town be pro- 
vided with a schoolmaster to teach to read, write and arithmetic, for 
four months from the first of November." Twenty pounds were raised 
in 1723, to pay a Mr. Andrews for twelve months' teaching. In 1724, 
twenty-five pounds were raised for the payment of the teacher's wages 
for one year. John Webber was school-master in 1729 and 1730. For 
this last year his wages were five pounds per month for nine months. 

With occasional interruptions, one or more schools have been main- 
tained at public expense, from the last named date until the present. 
The schools were somewhat itinerant in character, being maintained for 
a series of months in one quarter of the town, and then removed to 
another for the purpose of furnishing equal chances for improvement to 
the youth in all parts of the town. 

I have not been able to ascertain the precise date of the division of 
the town into districts. It was probably made soon after the final 

1844—1875. 283 

separation of the town, in 1770, from Warren, with which it had been 
blended in 1747 by the formation of the town of Warren from a portion 
of Rehoboth and Swansea, in Massachusetts, and the whole of Barring- 
ton in Rhode Island. The original number of three districts remained 
unchanged until 1873, when, owing to the increase of population in 
Drownville and vicinity, a fourth district was formed to accommodate 
the citizens in that quarter of the town. 

The buildings in which the schools were kept belonged to individuals, 
and were held by joint ownership. I think no buildings were owned by 
districts previous to 1840. The best of the older school buildings, that 
in the first district, was transferred to the district b} r its proprietors in 

It is a well-known fact that Rhode Island was tardy, compared with 
the other New England States, in establishing an efficient S3'stem of 
public schools. It was not until what may be called the awakening of 
1843 that the subject received a degree of general attention at all pro- 
portioned to its importance. The movement then inaugurated in the 
State Legislature by the Hon. Wilkins Updike, and the appointment of 
Hon. Henry Barnard, as school commissioner of the State, b} r Governor 
Fenner, lie at the foundation of nearly all, in the history of public 
schools in our State at large, that can be reviewed with any high degree 
of satisfaction. Since that period, no 'friend of education in our State 
need be ashamed of the progress made and the success that has been 

Of this movement, Barrington was one of the first to reap the advan- 
tage. Two new school buildings were soon erected, and a third was 
repaired and refitted. The new building in the second district was one 
of the best of its grade in New England. Its furniture and fixtures 
were after the best models of the time. Through the efforts, chiefh', of 
two members of the district, the school was furnished with an excellent 
library of five hundred volumes, which, in connection with other influ- 
ences, ushered in an era of unwonted success. 

A comparison of a few items in the statistics of the town in 1844 
with those of 1875 will throw some light upon the progress of the 
cause of education during the intervening period. 

In 1844, the population of the town was 549 ; the number of children 
under fifteen years of age, 188 ; the aggregate value of property in the 
town, $310,733 ; the amount expended for public schools, $241.56, of 
which $115- was raised by taxation. 

In 1875, the population of the town was 1,185 ; the number of chil- 
dren under fifteen years of age 332 ; the aggregate value of property in 

2S4 Barring to>~. 

the town. -S1.494.S05 ; the amount expended for public schools, 
61.501.93. of which SI. 107. 55 was raised by taxation. 

From this comparison it will be seen that the amount expended for 
each pupil in 1875 is more than three times as great as in 1844. The 
difference arises chiefly from two sources ; first, from an increased length 
of the schools, and second, from the increased compensation of teachers. 

Within the last two years, two new school buildings have been erected 
at an expense of neaily $8,000 each. These are very complete in all 
their appointments. The school-rooms are large for the number of 
pupils to be accommodated, are supplied with elegant furniture and 
fixtures and with ample means for warming and ventilation : and. 
what is a matter of primary importance, with a separate seat and desk 
for each pupil. 

During the last year the schools have been under the charge of 
specially faithful and eompetent teachers. Two of these are graduates 
of our State Normal school, and a third, of the Normal school in Bridge- 
water. Massachusetts. The fourth, although not a graduate of any 
Normal school, is doing excellent service in the school where she is 

For several years, ladies have been almost exclusively employed as 
teachers in our schools, and have won a measure of success which con- 
firms the wisdom of their employment. 

During the last five years, a private school has afforded an opportunity 
for pupils to pursue an advanced course of study at a moderate expense. 
During this period upwards of one hundred pupils in the town, have 
been in attendance for periods varying from a single term to five years. 
Four have graduated to enter college, three have pursued a course of 
study in our State Normal school, and one is at present a teacher in 
the Normal school in New Hampshire. 


By Eleaxoe R. Lutitee. 

The history of the public schools of Bristol, as of most New Eng- 
land towns, dates almost as far back as the -history of the town 
Indeed, for the first half century or so, the most conspicuous items in 
its annals are the minister and the school-master, the •• meetinsc-house " 
and the school. The irrepressible school-master appears at every con- 
ceivable point: sometimes leading the van of the whipping-post and 
stocks, sometimes bringing up the rear of a procession of •' Gun- 
powder. Lead. Flints. Muskets. Drum- and Colors "—like the citizens 
and strangers in a Fourth of July parade, with this difference, that he 
was always there, and they are usually not. 

On the 14th of September, 1680, John Waller, Nathaniel Bvfield, 
Nathan Oliver and Stephen Burton, bought of Josiah Winslow, Thomas 
Hinckley and William Bradford, the tract of land known as Bristol, for 
£1,100. This tract included the two peninsulas, Bristol Neck and 
Poppa-quash, lying between Taunton — now Mount Hope— Bay on the 
east, and Xarragansett Bay on the west, and extending from Bris 
Ferry some six miles to the _ I ier with a few small islands in the 

vicinity, of which the one at the mouth of the harbor, long known as 
" Hog Island," but now by its more musical Indian name •• Chessa- 
wanock," is the largest. This island is now part of the town of 

286 Bristol. 

The first town meeting of the newly erected borough was held Novem- 
ber 10, 1681. At the fourth town meeting, held September 7, 1G82, the 
following vote was passed : 

kt Voted, That each person that hath Children in town readj T to go to 
School shall pay 3d. the week for each Child's Schooling to a School master, 
and the Town by Rate according to each Rateable Estate shall make the 
wages amount to twenty-four pounds the year. The Select Men to look 
out a Grammar School master and use their endeavour to atain five 
pounds of the Cape Mone}' granted for such an end." 

In accordance with this vote, Mr. Samuel Cobbitt was engaged to take 
charge of the school. A house-lot, ten acre lot and " commonage " 
were bought for the use of the " school-master," as he is invariably 
called. Mr. Cobbitt held his position from 1685 to 1694. From time 
to time during this period of nine 3-ears he appears as constable, rater 
of estates and grand juryman. In 1694 a committee appointed for that 
purpose agreed with Mr. Josiah Hervey to the effect that he would take 
the position left vacant b} r Mr. Cobbitt. His salary was fixed at £25, 
and he was to have whatever benefit might accrue from the school land, 
which w r as to be considered his by virtue of his office. It is to be feared 
that during his first 3'ear of service, this added nothing to his regular 
salary, for it was not until August, 1695, that Mr. Cobbitt appeared 
before the town meeting, and then and there " did renounce " his office 
and the school property. 

Mr. Hervey's stay among the youth of the town seems to have been 
short, for it stands recorded that in 1699 Mr. Easterbrooks was 
"re-elected" school-master with a salary of £30. Part of this was to be 
paid by the scholars themselves, u 3d. a week for reading and writing, 
and 4d. for Latin ;" the remainder to be made up by the town. Towards 
the end of this }*ear, it was thought desirable, on account of the increase 
of inhabitants on the outskirts, to divide the town into two school dis- 
tricts, the " North Creek," over which the town bridge now stands, 
being the dividing line. The success of this plan depended upon Mr. 
Easterbrooks's willingness to " condescend to be and abide with Mr. 
Allen or thereabouts," one-third of the year and the remainder of the 
year in town. This proposal met an absojute and uncompromising 
refusal from Mr. Easterbrooks, and the plan came to nothing that year. 
But the farmers and others who lived north of the bridge complained 
that they paid taxes for the support of a school in town, and yet lived 
at such a distance from it, that their children received no benefit from it. 
It was only fair that they should have a school of their own at least 
three months of the year. So effectual were their representations, that 

School Lands. 287 

in a town meeting held in November, 1700, a vote was passed that £20 
should be given to that part of the town south of North Creek, provided 
they maintained a school, or in the quaint phrase of the town records 
"improved a school-master" eight months of the year, and £10 to the part 
north of the North Creek, on condition that they " improved a school- 
master " four months of the year. Either part}* failing to observe this 
condition was to forfeit to the other. Mr. Easterbrooks was elected to 
the south district and Mr. Williams to the north. 

In 1701 Mr. Severs succeeded Mr. Easterbrooks. In 1702 steps were 
taken for the first time towards the erection of a school-house within 
the limits of the compact part of the town. For this object £20 were 
appropriated. Previous to this time, the school had been taught in 
private rooms hired for the purpose, the town records showing that at 
various times, certain sums of money were paid for -' the use of the 
west lower room in Mrs. Wilkins her house," and also for a " room in 
Mr. Berge his house." It is by no means clear, however, that such a 
school-house was built. 

Mr. Severs remained until 1705, and was succeeded by Mr. Pease, 
who in his turn was succeeded by Mr. Samuel flowland, in 1709. Mr. 
Rowland proved more manageable than Mr. Easterbrooks in the matter 
of " abiding at Mr. Allen's or thereabout." He taught on the neck 
during the three winter months, and in town the remainder of the year. 
He was -'persuaded to tarry" until 1712. Upon his resignation of 
office, Mr. Timothy Fales was installed '* school-master." The total, 
expense of maintaining the town government at this time was £G0, forty 
of which went to the school-master. Mr. Howland was afterwards 
town clerk for man}* years. 

In 1714 Mr. By field, " for and in consideration of a due regard which 
he had for the advancement of learning and good education," conveyed 
to John Nutting, who was the teacher of the grammar school at that 
time, for the use of the schools forever, certain land known ever since 
as the " school lands." These are in four lots or parcels ; a lot lying 
between Church and By field streets and extending west of High street 
to the estate of the late John Hoard ; a lot at the east of the town, 
bounded on the west by the old burying ground and the estate of the 
late Leonard Waldron, on the north by State street, on the south by the 
Mount road, and extending east as far as the property of Mr. John 
Barney ; a lot between State street and Bradford street, extending west 
from Wood street one hundred and sixty-five feet ; a lot on the main 
road to Warren. A part of this land was rented the very next year, 
and most of it has been productive of more or less income ever since, 

288 Bristol. 

much of it being at present leased for a long term of } r ears. For a very 
long time the school was mainly supported by this income. The people 
were never taxed directly for this purpose after this gift, until far into 
the present century. It must have been some time between 1830 and 
1840 that the committee first asked for a special appropriation from the 
town for the support of the school. The sum asked was S500. The 
request was grauted without difficulty. Year by year this sum has 
increased with the growth of the town and the needs of the schools. 
The amount received from the rent of the lands was, previous to this 
appropriation, eked out in various ways. In 1718 a source of revenue was 
developed, in allowing certain persons to keep houses of entertainment 
on condition of their paying certain sums of money for the benefit of 
the school. These licenses varied from 21s. to £4. 

In 1729, the school-master was instructed to receive from each scholar 
4s., or in default of the mone}', which was not always easil}' obtained, its 
value in firewood. The mone}- thus raised was called '» wood money." 
Whether this practice of carrying "wood mone}*" was kept up year 
after year cannot be determined, but it certainly was a common one in 
Captain Noyes's timet Again, in 1818, a vote was passed that all 
money which was due to the town from the property of u strangers 
deceased and actually resident in the town " should be for the increase 
of the school fund. By this act, if a man not a native of the town died 
and loft no heirs, his property was devoted to school purposes. From 
time to time, considerable sums came into the treasury in this way. In 
the same year, the following appears on the records : 

" Voted, That the town council be instructed to exact a reasonable 
sum from ail persons who may dance the Slack rope or wire or perform 
an}' feats of Activity, or exhibit any animal or Wax figures or other Shew 
in this town who exact pay from their spectators, and to collect double 
the sum exacted in case an\- Person shall presume to exhibit without 
their permission, and that the mone} r arising under this act be appro- 
priated to the support of free schools." 

Still again, in 1832, the committee was instructed to demand of each 
scholar a small sum of mone}-, to be paid before he could be entitled to 
a seat for the term. This sum was not to exceed twenty-five cents, and 
even this was remitted to those whose parents were unable to pay it. 
This act remained in force until 18C7. The money thus obtained was 
used to purchase books, paper, and such other articles as were necessary 
for the use of the scholars. At the time of the abolition of this 
practice, this sum was sufficient to suppl}' all the books and stationery 
needed in the schools. Notwithstanding that this source of revenue has 

Free Text Books. 289 

ceased to be available, all articles of this kind are now supplied by the 
town without any expense to the pupil, so that a scholar may go the whole 
course from the first year in the primary to the kist year in the High 
school, without the direct outlay of a single cent. Our schools are con- 
sequently precisely what their name purports, free schools. Besides 
Bristol, there are few, if any, towns in New England where the members 
of schools are not expected to provide their own books. 

In the year 1724, it was " y e mind of y e town" to settle a school- 
master for a term of years — to take a lease of him, as it were. The 
time fixed upon was seven }-ears, the salary to be £50 if he was single, 
sixty if married. Mr. Amos Throope was invited to take the school 
and was persuaded to do so in consideration of an addition of £10 to 
the salary and the use of the school lands, and the fathers of the town 
breathed freely in the belief that that business was off their hands 
for seven years at least. But alas ! for human hopes, in seven months 
Mr. Throope appeared in town meeting and asked a release from his 
engagement, having received a call to the work of the ministry in Wood- 
stock. He offered to accept his salary at the rate of £50 a year in view 
of tiie trouble caused by his withdrawal. His proposal was accepted, 
and again the town found the vexed question of the " Grammar school- 
master " before them. All along the early history of the schools, there 
are intervals sometimes extending over months, between the going of 
one teacher and the coming of the next, which are probably to be 
accounted for Irv the delay unavoidabl}' attendant upou the filling of the 
vacancy. Teachers were not as numerous then as now, communication 
between distant settlements by no means easy, and the school system 
not so elaborate as at present, when a vacancy is hardly made before it 
is filled. It was in January, 172G, that Mr. Throope retired from office, 
and it was not until some time in 172S that his successor appeared upon 
the stage of action. This was Mr. John Wight, of Dedham. He was 
put upon probation a year. Having in this year approved himself to 
the town, he was engaged for seven years. 

Some years previous to this time some private individuals had, at their 
own expense, erected on the school land on the Neck, a school-house for 
the use of the north district. In 1727 the town bought it for £20. In 
1750 a vote was passed in town meeting, which does not seem to be very 
intelligible, " that a committee be appointed to regulate the town school 
with respect to its being removed to the Neck and to provide a teacher,*' 
and in 1765 the town sold the building which the}' had bought in 1727, 
for what it would bring, sum not stated. In 1727 they also appropriated 
£50 for a school-house in town. It was to be twenty-six feet by twenty, 

290 Bristol. 

and twelve feet between joints. It was to be located on King street 
between the Court House and High street. This was in " good old 
colony times when* we were under the king," when Church street was 
Charles, State street, King, and Bradford street, Queen street. The 
Court House — which was doubtless a stately structure in those days, but 
which is now a tenement house near the eastern extremity of Bradford 
street— stood in the middle of the street, about half way between Hope 
and High. What idea possessed the minds of our forefathers when they 
selected such a site, is open to question. Whether it was, that educated, 
as the early settlers of the colony necessarily were, in principles of rigid 
economy, the)- regarded the broad streets of the town an extravagance not 
to be tolerated, or that they foresaw a time when Bristol should be an 
emporium of commerce and close packing would be necessaiy, or simply 
that they thought that a building thus situated could not fail to be con- 
spicuous, it is quite certain that more than once they erected buildings 
in the middle of the street. The school-house, whose bearings were 
taken from the Court House did not, however, stand in the middle of the 
street, but on the north side, a short distance east of the present 
Methodist church. While it was in process of erection, the school 
sessions were held in the Court House. 

Mr. Wight's seven years of service were satisfactory, and he was 
invited to remain seven years longer. But in 1738 he was brought be- 
fore the town meeting, charged with not doing his duty as a teacher 
The records, which are not always clear in their statements, leave the 
settlement of the matter in doubt. It would seem, however, that he 
remained until 1740. In that year, Captain Timothy Fales, who was 
himself a former teacher, was sent to Cambridge to procure a suitable 
teacher for a year or less, the seven years plan not having proved a suc- 
cess. The result was Mr. Hovey was elected on a salary of 
£130. In 1742 he was succeeded b} r Shearjashub Bourn. From 1747, 
at which time Mr. Bourn's term of service seems to have expired, until 
1772, the school-master is a very uncertain person, coming and going 
with a capidit}' quite bewildering, sometimes staying no longer than two 
months. The school on the Neck, too, which had hitherto shared the 
teacher with the town school, here asserts itself and employs one of its 
own. The list of these teachers comprises Daniel Bradford, John 
Throope, Bosworth Kinnicut, John Coomer and Samuel Pearse. 
Meantime the school in town was taught at various times by Shearjashub 
Bourn, Israel Nichols, Leverett Hubbard, Bellamy Bosworth, Nathaniel 
Lindall, John Throope, Josiah Brown, Haile Turner, John Barrows, and 
Rev. John Usher. These teachers have a trick of appearing spasmodi- 

Free School Act. 291 

call}', so although the same one may have taught two or three years, he 
rarely taught two in succession. It is recorded that in 1763, £1,050 
were paid to Parson Usher for teaching the town school a year and a 

In 1751 a committee was chosen to manage the prudential affairs of 
the schools. Hitherto this had fallen to the town as a part of their 
yearly business. This committee consisted of Shearjashub Bourn, 
John Howland and Nathaniel Fales, and although at various times 
previous to this, persons had been appointed to engage a school-master, 
whose appointment expired when that business was disposed of, this may 
be considered as the first regular school committee. 

In 1772 the school-master disappears entirety for a period of nine 
years. This was within three years of the breaking out of the Revolu- 
tion and already the approaching struggle loomed on the sight. Doubt- 
less in those " times that tried men's souls," there were more pressing 
affairs to be looked after than the education of the }'oung even, and the 
peaceful school-master gives way to warlike preparations of guns, 
powder and barracks and the no less warlike, although apparently more 
peaceful ones, of provisions of grain and beef. In the year 1781 the 
school was re- opened for four months under Samuel Bos worth. The 
school-house, either from long disuse or the chances of war — which came 
veiy distinctly to our town in the shape of a bombardment in 1775 — or 
both, was so badly out of repair, that it was necessary to procure a 
room in which to hold the school until the school-house could be made fit 
for occupancy. For years school was held, at the most, but five months 
of each year. Samuel Bosworth's name appears for the last time in 
1788, after which the town records give no clue to the name of the 
teacher, and the committee, although some years consisting of the Town 
Council, kept no record. 

At the June session of the State Legislature of 1799, a bill entitled 
"An Act to establish Free Schools" was presented. The represen- 
tatives to the General Assembly from Bristol, were instructed to vote for 
its passage. Among other things, this bill provided for the apportion- 
ment of a certain sum of money from the State to each town, to be used 
in addition to that raised by the town for the support of free schools. 
The sum received from this source for the year 1875, was $1,864.58. 

In 1802 Peter Church, William DeWolf, William Coggeshall and 
others living on the Neck, presented a petition in town meeting, praying 
to be allowed to build a school-house on the ten-acre school lot on the 
main road to Warren. This petition was granted and a brick building 
twenty-two feet bj T twenty was erected. This was used for public school 

292 Bristol. 

until 1841, when a new school-house was built much nearer the town, on 
the west side of the road on a part of the land belonging to the Asylum 
Farm. The town had appropriated $500 for this purpose and in 1843 
the}' sold the old brick house and laid out the proceeds on the new one. 
The old building still stands, without doors and windows, and onl} T minis- 
ters to the instruction of the mind through the medium of posters and 
bills. It belongs to the estate of the late Charles Fales. 

In 1803 a committee of five was appointed to take measures in regard 
to the building of a new school-house in the South District, the old one 
having been a constant bill of expense since the Revolution. But it 
was not imtil the next year that active measures were taken for its 
accomplishment. John DeWolf, Moses Van Doom, and Charles Collins 
were directed to solicit subscriptions for this object. With that dis- 
regard for details which was chronic in the earlier annals, the town 
records fail to give any information of the sum obtained. Some money 
was obtained, however, and the town in company with the St. Alban's 
Lodge of Free Masons, erected the brick school-house which stands at 
the northwest corner of the common, but were obliged to ask for an 
appropriation to complete it. This was in 1809. Originally it was 
about two-thirds of its present size. 

The school lands had thus far been rented annually, being sold at 
auction at town meeting. For obvious reasons it was thought better 
that some other plan of disposing of them should be adopted, and in 
1811 a committee consisting of James DeWolf, Samuel Wardwell, John 
Bourn, Hezekiah Munro and Richard Smith, was appointed to prepare a 
plan for leasing them for a term of from twent} T to fifty years. 

They were also empowered to divide the town into three or more 
school districts for the purpose of having the proceeds of the school 
lands distributed more justly. At the next meeting they reported that in 
their judgment the following was the best plan : that the lands be leased 
for fifty years from March 25, 1812 — the land in town being parcel- 
led into eighteen lots and that on the Neck remaining unchanged ; that 
they be sold at auction on or before October 7, 1811 ; one-fourth of the 
purchase money to be paid in six or nine months after March 25, the balance 
to remain on interest paid annually, under penalty of forfeiting twenty-five 
per cent, of the price, and the improvement of the land if interest were 
not paid within nine months of March 25. They recommended that the 
proceeds of the sales should be invested in bank stock, the revenue 
thereof, together with the interest of the notes, to be applied to the sup- 
port of the schools. In order that the money thus obtained should be 
distributed justly, they had divided the town into three districts, to be 

Formation of Districts. 293 

known as the North, Middle and South districts. The North District 
extended from "Peck's Hill" to Warren; the Middle began at Peck's 
Hill and extended to Poppasqnash Corner and included Poppasquash ; 
the South District comprised the remainder of the town. All of these 
districts stretched from shore to shore. This plan was accepted and the 
sale of the lands made. All of the land was rented except a small lot 
at the corner of High and Church streets and one on the Neck near Mr. 
John Fales's house. Arrangements were afterwards made for letting 
these annually. 

Four years later the inhabitants of the North District erected a school- 
house at their own expense, on the '* sixteen acre lot " on the East road. 
This " sixteen acre" lot was not school land, but town land, and the 
town gave them the rent of so much of it as was sufficient for their pur- 
pose. It has since been known as the " school lot." This was the first 
school-house in this district. In the same year in which it was built the 
office of School Treasurer was created, and the President of the Town 
Council was appointed Treasurer ex-ojficio. It was not until 1844, that 
the school-house known of late years as the North District School-house 
was built. For this purpose the committee bought a small lot of land 
at the north end of the town, on the east side of the main road, a short 
distance south of Crane's Lane. 

After 1788, as has been before said, the town records do not hold 
themselves responsible for the name of the schoolmaster. About the 
the year 1835, the committee began to issue a yearly report of the con- 
dition of the schools. Of these none is known to exist of a date earlier 
than 1838. There is, then, an interval of fifty years, from 1788 to 1838, 
of which there is no written record whatever, and which must therefore 
be filled — as far as it is filled at all — from memory. This poition of 
schooj history will of necessity be somewhat unsatisfactory. No success- 
ful attempt can be made to fix any date before 1825, and there is not 
wanting a reasonably strong suspicion that the list of teachers, especi- 
ally the earlier ones, is not perfect. Daniel Bradford, mentioned before 
as having taught on the Neck — or perhaps his son — is the most remote 
name that it is possible to lay hold upon with any degree of certainty, 
and he must have come a long time after Samuel Bosworth, as he is 
within the memory of people living now. He was succeeded by Mr. 
Swan, who in his turn gave place to Mr. Rawson, and he again to Cap- 
tain William R. Noyes. Of the first three there is nothing to be said 
but that they taught the sphool, managed it with more or less success, 
and were themselves more or less managed by unruly boys who would 

294 Bristol. 

stuff seaweed into the stovepipe, and thought it was a fine thing to 
" thrash " the schoolmaster. But the name of Captain Noyes is a familiar 
one to the older inhabitants of the town, many of whom were his schol- 
ars, lie was as successful as it was possible for an)' one to be in the 
days when everything seems to have been arranged with a view to hin- 
dering and nothing for helping the teacher. Text-books were very 
scarce, one or two of a kind doing duty through the whole school. A 
scholar commenced his education with Alden's Speller. When he had 
mastered this he was expected to learn a lesson twice a week from the 
New Testament. From this he passed to the English Speaker. These, 
together with Daboll's Arithmetic, made up the list of text-books. Oc- 
casionally, to lighten the labors of the teacher, monitors were emplo3 T ed 
for the more advanced scholars, but not systematically. Captain Noyes 
was a remarkably fine penman, the copies which he wrote being almost 
as fine as copper plate. He set all the copies and mended all the pens. 
He taught navigation to young men going to sea, but this was quite 
separate and distinct from his regular work. He was succeeded 03- Otis 

At this point we reach a reliable date. About the year 1826, Mr. 
Storrs came to Bristol and opened a private school in the Academy, on 
what is known as the Lancasterian system. His success was so great, 
that in 1828 the committee asked him t:> take the town school and allow 
girls to go and share his instructions with the boys. Before this, girls did 
not go to the public school. Upon his acceptance, they enlarged the 
brick school-house and fitted it up with reference to the workings of this 
peculiar system. The teacher's desk stood on a raised platform at the 
west end of the room. Down the length of the school-room, through 
the middle, ran a single aisle. On each side of this, were arranged semi- 
circular desks, with seats on the outer curve for the scholars. The desks 
did not have lids but were open in front, and each accommodated eight 
scholars. On the inner curve was a bench, where they sat to recite. 
The monitor who heard the recitations, had a stool in the centre of the 
circle. The teacher heard the monitors recite and had the supervision 
of the school. This sjstem was veiy popular at the time. Mr. Storrs 
was succeeded by John Cross, and he by ^ames E. Hidden. Mary 
Allen was Mr. Hidden's assistant. 

In 183G Dennis S. Gushee became teacher of the Grammar School. 
The lower part of the Academy was hired for the use of the school, but 
the number of scholars became so large that in the spring of 1837, it was 
removed to the brick school-house, which was again altered, Mr. Gushee 
not being a supporter of the Lancasterian system. The teacher's desk 

Gradation of Schools. 295 

was placed on the north side of the room. There were four rows of desks 
running east and west, with aisles from north to south, separating them 
into four groups. At the rear was a narrow, raised platform for classes. 
The east room was partitioned off from the main room tor a recitation 
room and used by both assistant teachers. These were at this time 
Hannah II. Easterbrooks and Sarah G. Munro. In the summer of the 
same .year, Martha Diman was appointed third assistant and used the 
unfinished room above for her classes. At the beginning of the winter 
term, so man}* more scholars entered that the room proved too small 
for their accommodation, and the younger ones, in charge of Miss Diman, 
were placed in Dr. Briggs's hall at the rear of his house on State street. 
In the spring of the following }*ear the schools were reunited. 

At this time the committee were working with much vigor and interest 
to reduce the schools to something approaching system. These efforts 
were much crippled by want of means and by lack of general personal 
interest on the part of the towns-people. Nevertheless, the foundation 
of the present school organization was laid at that time. The orders of 
the schools were the Select, the Intermediate and the Primary, besides 
the district schools. 

Mr. Gushee's school was called the Select School, until the formation, 
in 1848, of a more advanced one, which received that name, and this one 
was always after known as the Grammar School. It was so large that 
one assistant was always employed, often two, and sometimes three. 
Mr. Gushee and his assistants did not always teach in the same room or 
even in the same building. Sometimes he was in the lower part of the 
Acadeim* and they in the upper ; sometimes they were in the brick 
school-house. Finall}-, however, he settled down with one assistant in 
this building, where he remained until he left Bristol. He had the 
charge mainly of the larger and more advanced boys, while his assistants 
taught the advanced girls, and it happened more than once that his as- 
sistant teachers were really conducting a higher grade of school than 
he himself. 

I have by me a cop}* of one of the earliest committee's reports. It is 
a very modest affair ; a single small sheet of paper folded twice, like a 
Lilliputian New York Tribune, and signed by William Throop, Francis 
Peck, Thomas Shepard and Zalmon Toby. Judge Throop was " moder- 
ator " of the body, according to the custom of that time, having been 
the first member chosen at town meeting. This report is for the }*ear 
ending April, 1838, and records an average attendance of 240 scholars 
in the " Grammar School," from which we may judge that the exact 
grade of the school was not settled, since this is the same one that is 
elsewhere known as the " Select School." 

296 Bristol. 

In considering this number of scholars, it must be borne in mind thai 
it includes all the school children of the town, there being neither Inter- 
mediate nor Primary school in 1838, and, although on account of its 
great numbers, it was often separated and kept in different places, it 
was one school. 

After disposing of the necessaiy statistics, the committee present for 
consideration the opinion that it would be much better that the boys and 
girls should be accommodated in separate rooms. This state of affairs 
was brought about to a certain extent, although lack of room prevented 
a thorough accomplishment of the plan. Still, even when they were in 
the same room, conversation between them, even upon lessons was so 
discouraged, and so strict a watch was kept upon them, that they were 
virtually educated apart from each other. Even as late as Dr. Cooke 
was at the head of the High School, this theoiy was acted upon, and the 
most trifling intercourse interdicted. 

This report shows the following teachers : Select School — Mr. Gushee, 
with two, sometimes three, assistants ; Middle District — Hannah B. 
Church, five months ; North District — Miss Cole, five months, Nelson 
B. Tanner, four months ; North East District — Mr. Mason and Mr. 
Boutelle ; Poppasquash — Martha Taylor. The committee's reports were 
afterwards published with considerable regularity in the Bristol Phoenix, 
until it again began to be customary to issue them in pamphlet form. 

In the 3'ear 1840, Bennett Munro was delegated to purchase the 
Academy of Captain James DeWolf. The town had hired part of it 
from time to time, and although it was unfinished and in anything but 
good condition, they determined to buy it and fit it up for a public school. 
Upon Mr. Munro's application for a deed of it, Captain DeWolf pre- 
sented it to the town. With a number of alterations and additions, it 
was used by various schools until 1873, when the occupation of the 
Byfield School, made it of no farther use. It was therefore sold at auc- 
tion. The belfry was purchased by Bishop Howe, and, surrounded by 
shrubbeiy, ornaments the lawn near his house, looking like a small sum- 
mer house. The building itself was sold in two parts, one of which 
stands at the corner of High and Franklin streets and the other near the 
head of Catherine street. Both of them are now dwelling houses. 
About the time of this purchase of the Academy, primary schools were 

There had always been, since there had been any committee at all, a 
general committee to regulate the affairs of all the schools. But in 1847 
they were instructed to allow the North and Middle districts to manage 
their own a.; airs, without any reference to those of the South District. 

Abolition of Districts. 297 

The North District was allowed one committee man and the Middle, two. 
In 1853 the North District was divided, and a portion of it set off and 
known thereafter as the Northeast District, and managed by a committee 
of one. This general arrangement remained in operation until 1864, 
when the plan of consolidating the interests of the schools by placing 
them all under the whole committee was resumed and has been retained 
to the present time. This committee was to consist of nine, three of 
whom were to retire at the end of their first year, three at the end of the 
second, and three at the end of the third. The places of those retiring 
were to be filled by others chosen for a term of three years. The num- 
ber of these was afterwards increased to fifteen. From the beginning, 
certain ones have been set apart as an examining committee. This at 
present consists of five, including the Superintendent, ex-officio. 

The year 1848 seems to have been a year of exceptional activity in 
educational matters. No less than four school-houses were in contem- 
plation, with more or less prospect of completion. Byron Diman, Sam- 
uel Sparks, Ephraim Gifford and George B. Monro were instructed to 
procure a lot of land on a long lease, or else to purchase one, on which to 
erect a one-story wooden school-house large enough to accommodate one 
hundred scholars. This was to be for the use of the South Primary 
School, which was at that time holding its sessions in a little building 
belonging to Governor Byron Diman, near the corner of Hope and Con- 
stitution streets. At the same meeting Rowse Potter, William Pearse 
John Peekham and Ilezekiah Wardwell received like instructions with 
regard to the North Primary School, which was then occupying a small 
building formerly used as a store, standing in the yard south of Mrs. 
Ruth Bosworth's house. 

Oliver Mason, Elijah Gray and John C. Rich were appointed a com- 
mittee to erect a one-story wooden school-house in the Northeast Dis- 
trict, capable of seating fifty scholars ; and Joseph L. Gardner, William 
B. Spooner, John Norris and Nathaniel Bullock were commissioned 
to inquire into the expediency of building a new one in the South Dis- 
trict for the more advanced scholars. This last committee reported the 
project inexpedient for the present, and the matter rested. But with 
the addition of the School Committee to the committee on building in 
the South District, and the change in the material of the two school- 
houses in that district from wood to stone, the other plans were carried 
out to their accomplishment. These buildings stand, one on the north 
side of Franklin street, a short distance west of High ; the other on the 
east side of High street, north of Union. They were erected at an ex- 
pense of twelve hundred dollars each. That in the Northeast District 
cost something over three hundred dollars. 

298 Bristol. 

The next year, 1849, the School Committee was authorized to elect 
a Superintendent of Schools and to pay him a salaiy not exceeding two 
hundred dollars Rev. Thomas Shepard was the first to hold this office, 
and he immediately commenced keeping a quarterly report of the con- 
dition of each school. The following is a list of the Superintendents : 
Rev. Thomas Shepard, 1849-1855; George B. Monro, 1855-1859; 
Robert S. Andrews, 1859-1862 ; John N. Burgess, 18C2-18G4 ; Robert 
S. Andrews, 1864-1876. 

In this same year of 1849, the following entry was made in the town 
record : 

"Voted, That the encouraging condition and prospects of our Public 
Schools are a source of honest pride and satisfaction, and that we will 
use every effort consistent with wise legislation and sound judgment, in 
sustaining them with zeal and fidelity." 

Doubtless much of this encouraging condition was due to the fact that 
three of the schools were then occupying their new quarters. 

For a long time some of the more liberal minded of the citizens of 
Bristol had felt the need of a higher course of study than that pursued 
in the Grammar School. But the least suggestion of such a thing was 
met by violent opposition. It was much the same story that is to be 
found in mam' newspapers to-day, with this difference, that in addition 
to the opinion that it is not possible to educate all up to a high standard, 
and therefore that the many should not be taxed for the benefit of the 
fexv, there was an aristocratic feeling on the part of a large number that 
such an advantage for the mass of the people was an infringement on the 
privileges — not to say the rights — of the select few. And so the war of 
words was long and sometimes bitter. But the project had among its 
supporters three men of culture and influence, whose own liberal educa- 
tion enabled them to appreciate more clearly than most, the influence of 
a higher system of study, not only upon the students themselves, but 
also on the general intelligence and cultivation. These were Rev. 
Thomas Shepard, Rev. James W. Cook and Rev. James Sykes. Sup- 
ported by the other members of the School Committee, the}' did valiant 
service for the cause, and although met on all sides by persistent and 
unreasoning opposition, they at length won the victory — won it but did 
not dare to acknowledge that the}' had. 

In tlie autumn of 1848, the Committee were holding their regular 
meeting in Mr. Shepard's stud}-. The}' had debated whether it was pos- 
sible to establish a High School. There had been expressed a good deal 
of doubt, both on account of want of means and lack of general friendli- 
ness towards the undertaking. All present were strongly in favor of it, 

High School Established. 299 

yet all were taken b} T surprise when Mr. William B. Spooner rose and 
moved that such a school should be organized. The subject was now 
fairly before them, and although the}' were frightened almost by the 
audacit}' of the scheme, when it came to assume a tangible shape, the 
motion was seconded and carried without a dissenting voice, and the 
" Select School " became a fixed fact — the " Select School," for they 
did not choose to offend the prejudices of the town by calling it the 
" High School." The}' were contented for the present with the fact, 
the name would come all in good time. 

The scholars who were to constitute this school were selected from 
the various schools in the town. They were fort3'-five in number, and 
they occupied the lower part of the Academy. The school opened aus- 
piciously, with William E. Jillson at the head. The committee were 
most fortunate in the selection of this, the first teacher. He was a man 
of genial disposition, easily accessible, and regarded his pupils as his 
personal friends. His success was such as to win the admiration of even 
the enemies of the school. To the extreme regret of the committee and 
of the school, the connection came to an end in the Fall of 1849. Mr. 
Jillson was afterwards Assistant Librarian at the Congressional Library, 
at Washington, and later, Librarian at the Public Library, Boston. He 
was succeeded 03- Lafa} T ette Burr, under whom the school went on pros- 
perously something over two years. 

In the Spring of 1851, Dr. Nathan B. Cooke was elected to fill the 
place left vacant by Mr. Burr. Doctor Cooke was a Doctor of Medicine 
and a minister of the Baptist Society, but owing to an affection of the 
throat, he was obliged to give up preaching for a number of years ; dur- 
ing which time, the committee were so fortunate as to secure his services. 
A more faithful, thorough and interested teacher no school ever had. 
While it was under his charge a systematic plan of stud}' was adopted. 
This together with the fact that the school had increased greatly in 
numbers, rendered an assistant teacher necessaiy, and created a demand 
for more room. The Academy was therefore enlarged in 1852, and the 
school moved up stairs. The east end of the upper part had been sep- 
arated from the main room by a partition and sliding doors, and was 
used for a recitation room, and Mary W. Shepard was installed assistant. 
Not long after, a small sum of money was expended 03- the committee 
for philosophical apparatus. For the space of nine 3'ears Dr. Cooke re- 
mained in the position. At the end of this time, he removed to Newton, 
Massachusetts, where he taught two 3 T ears. While there he met Profes- 
sor Lewis Monroe, the elocutionist, wdio encouraged him to think that it 
was possible for him to resume preaching. It had alwa}-s been a source 

300 Bristol. 

of deep sorrow to him that he was debarred from following his chosen 
calling, and upon Professor Monroe's decision, he removed to Leicester 
to take charge of a parish, and thence to Lonsdale, Rhode Island, where 
he remained until his death in 1871. His remains were brought to 
Bristol and laid in Juniper Hill Cemetery. 

Upon Dr. Cooke's withdrawal, in 1860, Thomas W. Bicknell, of Bar- 
rington, was elected to the office. He remained three years, and then 
left to accept the principalship of one of the grammar schools of Provi- 
dence. Henry S. Latham, a most accomplished scholar, succeeded him. 
At the end of four years, the committee paid Mr. Bicknell the deserved 
compliment of asking him to become the principal of the school again. 
He accepted the invitation and remained two years. In 1867, the year 
of Mr. Bicknell's return, a case of valuable minerals was presented to 
the school by Mr. Allen J. Gladding, a native of Bristol, residing in 
California. Mr. Bicknell received the office of Commissioner of Public 
Schools in 1869, which he retained several years. He is now editor of 
the New England Journal of Education. 

In 1869, Frank G. Morley was chosen principal. Although young, he 
developed a remarkable ability for imparting information and unusual 
talent for controlling the school. Dr. IShepard used to remark that " the 
machinery ran easily." He was especially genial in the school-room ; in 
that respect resembling Mr. Jillson more than any other of his predeces- 
sors. He spared no pains to make school attractive, believing that if 
a scholar loved school he would be a better scholar for it. For nearly 
six years he labored with his whole heart and strength for the 'school. 
At the end of this time his health failed, and he sent his resignation to 
the committee, to take effect at the end of the term. But so rapid were 
the inroads of disease, that he was forced to leave soon after the middle. 
He went to l J ittsfield, Massachusetts, where he died of consumption at 
the residence of his father, Rev. J. B. Morley, August 1st, 1875. The 
following is a copy of the resolutions drawn up by the committee upon 
the occasion of his leaving : 

" Whereas, Mr. Frank G. Morley, on account of ill health, necessitating rest 
from active labor, has tendered his resignation as principal of the High School, 
to take effect at the close of the present term ; 

" Therefore, Besolved, That we regretfully accept the same, and express our 
cordial sympathy with him in his affliction. 

"Resolved, That we bear cheerful testimony to the zeal, fidelity, and success 
which have characterized his labors in the position which he has held here for 
the last six years, and we commend him to the sympathy and confidence of any 
with whom his lot may hereafter be cast. 

" Besolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to Mr. Morley." 

Opposition to Classical Studies. 301 

During the remainder of the term the school was without a principal. 
Miss Anna Andrews kindly volunteered her services to the assistant 
teacher, upon whom the school devolved, which were most gratefully 
accepted. The summer term of 1875 Charles Fish taught the school, 
and at the beginning of the fall term he was succeeded by the present 
principal, Walter F. Marston. 

It ma}- be a matter of interest to note, that before the higher course 
of study was introduced into oar schools, all or nearly all of their 
teachers came from abroad. There was in truth, no one in town capable 
of filling such a position. But it was not long after the first really 
advanced school under the Misses Sanderson was organized, before there 
were more applications from our own townspeople for schools than there 
were schools for them. At this present time, of the fifteen teachers in 
the schools of the compact part of the town, with the exception of the 
principal of the High School, all are former members of the High 
School, and all but four graduates. 

For six months of each year, from 1850 to 1854 inclusive, a school 
was taught on Poppasquash by Harriet 10. Norris. This school was 
really in the Middle District, but was called the Point Pleasant District 
School, and was held in a small wooden building which stands upon the 
road leading to the North Point. 

There had always been a prejudice against Latin as a study in the 
Select School. Where the whole school was an object of distrust, this 
much-abused study might be expected to receive at least its full share of 
dislike. The town yielded at length to the popular feeling, and in 1850 
instructed the committee in town meeting to exclude it from the school* 
It was afterwards permitted the principal to teach it, together with 
Greek, to such as were fitting for college, and gradually it was reinstated 
and came back to its own. In 1852, the name of the school was changed 
from " Select" to " High." 

In 1851 a school for colored children was opened in a building on 
Wood street erected for a Methodist Church by the colored people. The 
town hired this building for this purpose several years. Afterwards the 
school was held in the Advent Chapel on State street. In 18G4, by an 
act of the State Legislature, this distinction of color in the public 
schools was abolished. In 1867 the town bought the Advent Chapel for 
$1,200. It has been in use nearly ever since for a primary school. 

In 1853 a Second Grammar school was formed — second only in point 
of time, however, scholars passing from it immediately to the High 
School, as from the first. The two schools were quite as often called the 
North and South Grammar, as the First and Second. The South Gram- 

302 Bristol. 

mar was accommodated in the lower part of the Academ} T . In the 
autumn of 1856 a junior department of the Grammar School was 
organized, and held its sessions in the upper east end of the brick school- 
house. It would seem that this was partially intended to take the place 
of the Intermediate School, since this was dispensed with during this 
year. It certainly was inferior in grade to the Grammar School, 
although it was known as the Branch Grammar. In 1863 its character 
was somewhat changed, although it remained under the same teacher, 
and it was known until 1866 as the Ungraded School. Since then it has 
been reduced to the grade of Third Grammar. 

For many reasons it was thought best that the State Normal School 
should be removed from Providence. Many towns of the State made 
advantageous offers for its location, Bristol among others. The Con- 
gregational Society had lately erected a new church, and several of the 
proprietors of the former one offered to surrender all their interest in it 
for the use of the school. A committee, consisting of Byron Diman, 
\V. H. S. Bayle}', John Norris, Samuel W. Church, Nathaniel Bullock, 
Robert Rogers, William B. Spooner and Messadore T. Bennett, was 
appointed to confer with them and to make all necessaiy arrangements 
for the reception of the school. The building in question stood in Brad" 
ford street, just east of Hope. The committee bought a lot of land on 
the north side of Bradford street of Allen T. Usher for which they paid 
$2,067.50. The building was moved upon this land and the upper part 
fitted up for the use of the school. It was divided into four rooms, a 
school-room, with two recitation rooms and a library at the rear. The 
total expense, including the lot, was $2,496.65. In Ma} r , 1858, the 
committee was discharged and the rooms put in charge of the School 
Committee. In the same year the General Assembly of the State 
removed the school to Bristol. Dana P. Colburn was at that time prin- 
cipal. At his death, Joshua Kendall was appointed to fill the office, and 
in 1862 was elected Chairman of the School Committee. At the end of 
the summer term of 1863, the schools of the South District were regraded 
under his superintendence. The primar\ T schools remained unchanged, 
but in place of the two grammar schools, with two teachers each, three 
were established with one teacher each, and known as the First, Second 
and Third. Two Intermediate schools were also organized. In 1870 a 
third was created. In 1868 the great number of children in the primary 
schools made another school of that grade necessary, and one was estab- 
lished, known as the Advanced Primary. In 1875 still another was 
formed. Its sessions are held in the school-house on State street. The 
schools of the South District are now : one High School, three Gram- 

Thomas Shepard, D. D. 303 

mar, three Intermediate, one Advanced Primary, and four Primaiy 

Mr. Kendall retained the office of Chairman until his removal to 
Cambridgeport in 1864, where he still resides, and where he is at the 
head of a school for training boys for Harvard. With Mr. Kendall's 
resignation of the prineipalship of the Normal School, the school came 
to an end for several 3'ears and the rooms which it had occupied were 
left vacant. The High School at this time was held in the upper rooms 
of the Academy. In the spring of 1865 the committee decided to place 
it in Normal Hall, where it remained until its removal to the By field 
Building in 1873. 

In 1859, by vote take in town meeting, the particular course of study 
to be pursued in the different schools, was left to the discretion of the 
committee. In 1862 Dr. Shepard, who for twenty- five years had been 
an active member of this bod}-, sent into town meeting a message 
declining a re-election. Once before, in 1849, he had sent a similar 
message, but had, at the urgent solicitation of the town through a com- 
mittee appointed for that purpose, consented to remain. The town, 
therefore, at this time, felt compelled, however unwilling, to accept his 
decision. John B. Munro, Charles Sherry and James DeWolf Perry 
were instructed to frame a set of resolutions expressive of regret at his 
withdrawal and of appreciation of his services in behalf of education. 
They reported the following : 

" WJiereas, Thomas Shepard, D. D., having- in a written communication to 
the electors of Bristol, declined being a candidate for re-election to the School 
Committee ; and 

" Whereas, He has served actively and faithfully for a term of twenty-five 
years in that capacity ; 

Therefore, Besolved, That the citizens hereby express their grateful apprecia- 
tion of his services, and regret that he feels compelled to withdraw from a tield 
of duty which he he had so long, ably and acceptably occupied. 

"Besolved, That these resolutions be entered on the Records of the Town, 
and a copy be presented to the Rev. Dr. Shepard, and that the same be published 
in the Bristol Phenix. 

John B. Munro, 

J. D'W Perry, j- Committee." 

Charles Sherry, Jr., J 

Dr. Shepard's interest in the schools remained the same, notwithstand- 
ing his withdrawal from the committee, and in 1867, under great pres- 
sure, he was again induced to accept an election to that body. He 

304 Bristol. 

remained a member of it two years, doing a great deal of work in the 
wa}' of visiting schools — much more indeed than during an} T previous 
time of the same length. In 1869 he retired finally. 

It is impossible to estimate too highly Dr. Shepard's influence upon 
the public schools and the interests of education generally in the town. 
It is rare that a man remains long in a position, at once so laborious, 
responsible and thankless as that of an active member of a school 
committee. Yet for nearly thirty years Dr. Shepard was on this com- 
mittee, sometimes as Superintendent, sometimes as Chairman, some- 
times with no office at all, but always foremost in every good work and 
word for the schools. For more than a quarter of a century they had 
his cordial personal support and the benefit of his large experience, 
sound wisdom and reliable judgment. He found a single school, 
impeded in its work by lack of a well regulated plan of operations ; he 
left a system of schools that do honor to him. 

Mr. Gushee, of the First Grammar School, was succeeded by Mr. E. 
Rich. He had previously taught in the North District, and also in the 
Second Grammar School. In all he taught seventeen years, with one 
or two short intervals of rest on account of delicate health. During one 
of these intervals, the first term of 1856, the two schools were consoli- 
dated under the care of Aaron Porter, the teacher of the Second Gram- 
mar School. Mr. Rich's health forced him to leave altogether in 1867. 
Upon his resignation the town passed the following resolution : 

"Whereas, The citizens of the Town of Bristol, in town meeting assembled, 
have heard with deep regret of the resignation of Mr. E. Rich as teacher of one 
of our schools, on account of failing- health ; 

"Therefore, Unsolved, That the citizens of the town do hereby tender to Mr. 
Rich a vote of thanks for the very faithful and earnest services he has rendered 
the town during seventeen years of labor as a teacher." 

At a committee meeting held in October, 1871, the subject of evening 
schools was considered, and it was decided to be most desirable that two 
such schools should be established, one for bo}'s and one for girls. On 
the 6th of November these schools commenced their sessions, the boj's' 
school in the school-house on State street, under Henry U. Sayles and 
Hattie Frisbie, and the girls' school in the brick school-house, under H. 
Augusta Coggeshall aad Annie P. Waldron. More teachers were soon 
needed, and sometimes as many as six have been employed at once. 

These schools have been held regulatTy every winter since. r Ihe ses- 
sions last from seven to nine, and are held four evenings in the week, 
for five months of the year. This is a much longer term than is common 

Evening Schools. 305 

in schools of this kind, three months being the usual time. No children 
under twelve years of age are admitted, except under peculiar circum- 
stances ; the theory being that up to that age the}* are not in any of the 
factories and are in some of the day schools — a theoiy which, like a 
great many others, is not wholly sustained by facts. These scholars 
are mostly operatives in the manufacturing establishments of the town, 
and considering the disadvantages of the long interval of seven months 
between two successive terms, their progress in some instances has been 
very gratifying. This is especially true of the advanced classes of young 
men of 1872-'73-'74. The studies pursued are Arithmetic, Reading and 
Spelling. Oral instruction in Geography is given, and the advanced 
class studied English and American histoiy, higher Arithmetic and 

As long ago as 18-18 the subject of a new school-house, to be situated 
on the Common was discussed, and the town went so far as to appoint a 
Committee to inquire into the expedienc}* of building one. They re- 
ported unfavorably to the project. Since that time the subject has come 
up several times in a desultory way. But it was not until 1871, that 
the citizens of Bristol really girded themselves up for the undertaking. 
At a town meeting held on the 18th of March of tint year Mr. William 
J. Miller, after some discussion, introduced the following resolution 
which was passed unanimously : 

-• Resolved, That there is urgent need of more and improved accom- 
modations for the public schools of this town." 

In consequence of the passage of this resolution, the School Com- 
mittee were appointed a special committee to take the subject into con- 
sideration, to ascertain the condition of the school buildings and to re- 
port upon the advisability of erecting a new building centrally located, 
and capable of accommodating all the schools in the compact part of the 
town, together with an estimate of the probable expense of the same, 
and such other suggestions as might be of interest in the premises, and 
report at the town meeting to be held on the first Wednesday of the fol- 
lowing month. 

On the 5th of April this committee, in the person of the Chairman, 
Rev. George L. Locke, reported to the following effect : That after 
thorough consideration and careful investigation, the}* w r ere forced to 
say that the condition of the school buildings of the town was far from 
what -they could wish ; that the High School was the most favorably 
situated, having large, airy and well lighted rooms, but that its location 
was objectionable on account of the Town Hall below, and that an}* plan 
for a new school building should include this school ; that the three pri- 

306 Bristol. 

mary school-houses, although by no means all that could be desired, 
were not as bad as the remaining two ; that these — the old brick school- 
house and the Academy — were too far gone to be put into proper repair ; 
besides this, that the}' were badly defaced by scratches and coarse figures 
cut either by the scholars or by outside loungers. The committee sub- 
mitted that not only the taste, but also the morals of the pupils, must 
be lowered by continual contrct with such coarseness, and while they 
were far from advocating needless expenditure, the}" believed that a 
judiciously liberal sum expended on a new school-house would be better 
for the health, the minds and the morals of the pupils and the town gen- 

The report was long, exhaustive and very carefully prepared, and met 
the approbation of those assembled to hear it. A sub-committee of five 
had been appointed to inquire into the expenses of such a building as 
was required. They visited and carefully examined school buildings 
in Providence, Fall River and Newport, and finally decided that, all 
things considered, the Coddington School-house, in Newport, most 
nearly met their needs. They would have liked to recommend a two- 
story brick building with a French roof, but decided that three stories 
were needed, as the} 7 wished to put the Primary School into it. They 
recommended that a brick building containing twelve rooms and a hall, 
on the general plan of the Coddington School-house, be immediately 
erected on the southwest corner of the Common, and asked for an ap- 
propriation of $40,000 for the purpose. 

The town, in special town meeting, voted the amount asked for, 
$40,000, though not without considerable opposition. The opponents 
of the measure offered a resolution for a special tax to be levied, cover- 
ing the whole amount of the appropriation, and that it be assessed pre- 
viously to June 6th, 1871, and payable on October 1st of the same year. 
This, the friends of the new school-house, readily accepted, and the res- 
olution was adopted. A Building Committee consisting of five citizens 
was elected, and things seemed to be in train now for a new school-house 
speedily. But the affair was not yet settled beyond a peradventure. 
The opposition, taking advantage of their own proposition, used the fact 
of the large special tax that was to be levied upon the tax-payers, to 
increase the discontent, and at a special town meeting, held April 22d, 
rescinded the vote, and discharged the committee. 

The friends of education were too thoroughly in earnest to let the 
matter rest here. They were satisfied that a large majority of the 
tax-payers of the town were in favor of the new school-house, and they 
took prompt measures by the circulation of a petition for another spec- 

Byfield School. 307 

ial town meeting, to show this. This meeting was held on the 6th 
of June, and a resolution was adopted to appropriate 825,000 for the 
erection of a new school building, two-stories high, with a French roof, 
to be paid for in not less than live years. James Lawless, John R. 
Slacle, Solon IT. Smith, John B. Munro, William H. West, James M. 
Gifford and Alfred Pierce were chosen as a Building Committee. 
The* Town Treasurer was instructed to hire money from time to time on 
the town's notes, to meet their requisitions. The armory (formerly the 
Methodist Meeting House) now occupied b}- the Light Infantiy, was 
removed as soon as possible, in order that work might commence at 
once. The plan submitted by C. T. Emerson, architect, of Lawrence, 
Massachusetts, was adopted, and proposals for contract received. That 
of J. W. Osgood, of Pawtucket, was accepted, being in all respects the 
most favorable ; but before commencing operations, the committee were 
obliged to ask a farther appropriation of $15,000, making the sum forty 
thousand, as originally proposed. This was granted, and obtained on 
the same terms as the first appropriation. The furnishing of the build- 
ing cost $4,700 additional. On the 30th of August, 1873, the first day 
of the Fall term, the schools which w T ere to hold their sessions in it, 
moved into their respective rooms. These were the High School, the 
three Grammar, the three Intermediate Schools and the Advanced Pri- 
mary School. The building was formall}- dedicated to school purposes 
Saturda}', September 6th, 1873. The following account of the dedica- 
tion services is taken from the Superintendent's report for 1873 : 

" Saturday morning at eleven o'clock, September the 6th, the exercises com- 
menced by an introductory address by R. S. Andrews, Chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Arrangements, after which the ' Jubilate Deo,' was chanted by a 
select choir. 

"Selections from Scripture were read by Rev. II. M. Jones; Dedicatory 
prayer, by Rev. James P. Lane ; address and delivery of the keys by Captain 
James Lawless, Chairman of the Building Committee; response by Rev. George 
L. Locke, Chairman of School Committee ; an address by Rev. Thomas 
Shepard, 1). D. 

A flue portrait of Col. Nathaniel Byfield was then unveiled. As no mention 
of this was found upon the programme, William J. Miller, Esq., was called upon 
for an explanation. Mr. Miller, after speaking of the character of Judge Byfield 
and stating why it was eminently proper to call the building the ' Byfield School,' 
stated that after seeing the original painting in the house of the Hon. Francis 
Brinley, in Newport, he thought it very desirable to have a copy placed in the 
new school-house. A few citizens of Bristol contributed the necessary amount 
and the work was accomplished. 

" Addresses were made by Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, formerly of this town, 
and Hon. Francis Brinley, of Newport, a descendant of Judge Byfield. ' Amer- 

308 Bristol. 

ica' was then sung by the choir and by the audience. Right Rev. M. A. D'W. 
Howe, D. 1)., of Pennsylvania, a native of Bristol, made an interesting address. 
The Bishop was followed by Hon. T. W. Bicknell, Commissioner of Public 

"The 'Dedication Ode,' written for this occasion by Right Rev. Dr. Howe, 
was then sung : 


" When first upon this rock-bound strand 
Our pilgrim fathers made their home, 
Beside their huts with pious hand 

They built for prayer an humble dome. 

Soon in the forest-clearing rose 

The Village School of logs unhewn, 
The roof was green with hemlock boughs, 

Through creviced w T all the light was strewn. 

The fathers toiled and fought by turns 

To break the soil — repel the foe ; — 
Th' heroic fire that inky burns, 

Was fanned to flame that roof below. 

The House of Prayer, the Village School, 

These were the muniments of power, 
The strength to hold — the skill to rule, 

Were drawn from these in needful hour. 

0, shades of holy men and brave, 
Whose dust lies buried round these w r alls — 

Wake from your tranquill rest we crave, 
And hover o'er these votive halls. 

The full-grown Village School behold, 

Planted in faith by works displayed ! 
Your logs have sprouted, and we hold 

Our festal clay beneath their shade. 

Come, thronging generations, come, 

Here gird your souls for generous strife, 
Beneath this roof find Learning's home, 

And near it seek the Tree of Life ! 

God of our Fathers, still maintain 

The heritage their prowess gave ! 
Churches and Schools henceforth remain 

Th' armories of the free and brave ! 

Pee sent Organization. 309 

" Addresses were afterwards made by Professor J. Lewis Diraan, D. D., of 
Brown University, and by His Honor Lieutenant-Governor Van Zandt. 

" The Doxology was then sung, and Rev. William T. Harlow pronounced the 

"Messrs. R. S. Andrews, George L. Locke, and John B. Munro were the 
Committee of Arrangements. 

" The day was remarkably fine; the large hall was completely filled with an 
attentive and an intelligent audience, and the exercises proved of an interesting 
character. One of the most pleasing incidents of the occasion was the vigorous, 
earnest and appropriate address of the venerable Thomas Shepard, 1). D., to 
whose watchful care, judicious management and deep interest, during the last 
thirty-five years, the Public Schools of Bristol are largely indebted for what- 
ever merit they possess. 

" The opening of the Byfield School-House was considered extremely pro- 
pitious by those who were present at the Dedication exercises. 
" For the Committee, — 

" R. S. Andrews, Superintendent." 

At the same time that the schools moved into the new scbool-honse, 
the Centre Primary School was removed from State street to the brick 
school-honse. On the 8th of December, the committee for the first time 
held their meeting in the Superintendent's office. They had been in the 
habit for many years, of using the Town Council's room for their meet- 
ings. Mr. William J. Miller announced that a portrait of Dr. Shepard 
had been presented to the school. It hangs in^'the hall, on the east side, 
near the stage. It was painted h\ Miss Jane Stuart, of Newport, who 
also painted the Byfield portrait. She is the daughter of Gilbert Stuart, 
so renowned as the painter of the portraits of Washington. 

The Town Treasurer's report for this year, 1873, shows the following 
condition of the school funds : 

Fifteen shares Bank of Bristol $75 00 

Thirty-eight shares Commercial Bank Value unknown. 

Savings Bank 028 00 

Town Treasurer's note 750 00 

Bristol now comprises three school districts : the Northeast, contain- 
ing one school ; the Middle, containing one ; and the South, containing 
twelve. The whole number of scholars is 766 ; of schools 14 ; of 
teachers 18. The following is the list of the committee under whose 
control the schools are : Rev. George L. Locke, Chairman ; Rev. 
James P. Lane, Rev. Howard M. Jones, Rev. Charles J. Rogers ; 
Robert S. Andrews, Superintendent ; Isaac F. Williams, William J. 
Miller, John B. Munro, Jonathan D. Waldron, John Turner, Lemuel A. 
Bishop, LeBaron Bradford, William Kimball, William Manchester, Seth 
W. Thayer. 


By Rev. William Fitz. 


This town is seventy years old, the act incorporating it having passed 
in the 3-ear 1806. By a line drawn from east to west through the middle 
of the town of Glocester that town was divided ; the southern half 
retaining its original name, and the northern half taking the name which 
it now bears, to the perpetuating of the memory of Hon. James Burrill, 
who after serving his native State of Rhode Island at the bar, on the 
bench, in the General Assembly and in the Senate of the United States, 
closed his earthly life in 1820. 

In the year 1799 a memorial respecting the " establishment of Free 
Schools throughout the State," was presented to the Legislature by its 
author, John Rowland Esq., of Providence. The Legislature referred 
the subject to a Committee, who reported a bill at the October session of 
the same year. " This bill," says Mr. Howland, "embodying a general 
school system, was drawn up by James Burrill, Jr., Attorney General of 
the State." Here in this scrap of history Burrillville is united with the 
cause and patrons of public education, and she is thus placed under an 
historical, as well as other bonds, to maintain the union. 

That there were schools within the territory which took the Attorney 
General's name, previous to the division, is probable. The earliest date 
at which any school-house was built was the year of the division, 1806. 
Other houses were doubtless erected about that time, though the exact 
date does not appear. Within eight or ten years after, a few other 
school-buildings were put up, of whose histor}^ we have obtained some 
facts, though by no means so many as to make anything like a com- 
plete record. Some schools in the earlier history of the town were held 
in dwellings, corn-cribs and shops. Quite a number of the older citi- 

First Schools. 311 

zens attended such schools, traveling miles in some instances in order 
to "read, spell and cipher." 

Some of these citizens too, incline to the opinion that those days of 
" doing the chores and going to school" two or three months only in a 
year, were better than the present, because of the physical exercise 
necessarily required, and the closer application of mind to the fewer 
studies. A few dwellings in which schools were kept are standing to- 
day, and the sites of others are pointed out. Hon. John Walling of 
Pascoag, now of more than four-score years, went as a scholar to a 
school kept in the house of Welcome Sayles, Esq., situated east of the 
Pascoag Reservoir, and near the dividing line of the town. Into that 
school-room the woman of the establishment would come once a week, 
in school time, to do the baking for her family in the long brick oven, 
built by the side of the ten-feet wide fire-place. The scene thus pictured 
for us, may be looked upon as a specimen of the olden time. 

There were also "Proprietors' Schools" in buildings used for school 
purposes only, and owned by one person or by several persons of a 
neighborhood, in whom dwelt, and by whom were exercised, all the 
rights and powers of Commissioner, Superintendent, Committee and 
Trustee. But with the growth of the idea that every chili in a com- 
munity should be aided freely in the elementary principles of a thorough 
education, these limited opportunities of instruction disappeared, as but 
ripples on the Lake Superior of our Public School system. In certain 
districts there were nevertheless what were called /ree-schools, but they 
were made such through the enlightened liberality of the districts, 
rather than 03- confoimity with the laws of the State enacted as early as 
1800 and re-enacted with revisions in 1828, 1839 and 1845. 

Nothing relating to schools appears upon the records of the town 
until the year 1828. At the June town meeting of that year, two Com- 
mittees were chosen. One, consisting of twent}'-three men for dividing 
the town into districts. Another of twenty-one (the largest number 
allowed by the act of the Legislature passed in the same year) to consti- 
tute the School Committee. September 8th, 1828 town appropriated 
for schools $300. Money received from the State in 1828, $199.80. 
The Committee were authorized to make alterations in any dissatisfied 
district, u the expense to be borne by the district that complains." 
" Voted that James Paine's house be a bound in district No. 8, and said 
Paine has his liberty to go where he pleases." Eleven school-houses 
with schools in all, in winter, only one kept all the year, were reported. 

Number of inhabitants in 1828, 2,164. In the following year, 1829, 
sixteen persons were elected as School Committee, and the same num- 


ber was annually chosen until the year 1846, when the number was 
reduced to six. From 1847 to the present time, the number has been 
three. The yearly appropriation for schools by the town from 1828 to 
184 6 inclusive, was $300. In 1847 one hundred dollars was added. In 
November, 1846, the Committee were authorized " so to divide the 
districts as not to divide any man's home farm," and the home farms were 
included with the houses in the several districts. In June 1847, the 
working Committee of six reported ; 500 copies of the report were ordered 
printed, and the Committee were allowed " one dollar a da}' for their 
services the past year." This Committee was a favored one. No record 
of any allowance for the Committee appears again until 1855, when they 
v\ere allowed "one dollar a day and the expense of visiting the schools." 
In the same }-ear the town appropriated as in the year preceeding $600. 
From 1847 to 1857 the reports of School Committees were "read, 
accepted, and ordered to be filed." Since 1857 the}' have been printed 
each year. To Francis II. Inman, Esq., of Worcester, the writer of the 
first printed report, whose father was a member of the Committee of 
1S28, we owe the pleasure of its perusal. Among the good things in it 
we extract the following : 

"Although the Committee have found many things not as they would wish in 
the schools, and the place they occupy in the feelings of the people ; yet there 
are some redeeming qualities which have come to light during the past year. 
Among these they would mention, as not the least, the increased sobriety and 
consequent industry of the people. By the returns they see that all the schools 
have been visited much more frequently than heretofore. The increase of the 
school-fund from the town of one hundred dollars is also a move in the right 

District No. 1. 

A more extended investigation than has been made for this paper, 
might have revealed the location of the first school-house in town. 
It may have been in District No. 1, known as the " White School 
House," from the color of its paint. Just in front of the present house, 
in this District, there stood on the "Commons," surrounded b}' the high- 
way, a one stoiy house, of antique architecture, and old fashioned ar- 
rangements ; its seats on three sides, and an open fire-place. This 
served until 1823, when the one-story having been raised up, a lower 
was added, and a house with two-stories, a belfry and steeple was dedi- 
cated both to sound learning and the worship of God. Then and there, 
surely, religion and learning were joined together. The citizens of the 
district were assisted, says Mr. H. A. Keach, the author of " Bnrrill- 
ville as it was and as it is," by Nicholas Brown, Esq., of Providence. 

White School -House. 313 

u He gave the glass and nails, the cash articles, for the White School 
House." Here taught in their turn, and in their own way, several citi- 
zens of the town who are now living, together with others who have 
passed away. Among these were Rufus Smith and his son Jarvis, after- 
ward a physician in Chepachet. Of this man we learn that he was 
much esteemed. Though enforcing his authority in school by a liberal 
use of the ferule, yet he would play ball with the scholars when study 
time w:is over. Israel Tucker, Charles Mowry and Miss Betsey Brown 
also directed the minds of the youth who gathered there. " My first 
school," says Miss Brown, " was taught in the White School House, in 
the summer of 1840. This building, besides being used for a meeting- ^ 
house, also contained the Burrillville Library ; teachers were not then 
required to pass an examination, or have a certificate. I think that the 
Trustee was the only school officer, and there was no law requiring him 
to visit the school, consequently it was not officially visited during the 
term. My pay was one dollar and a half a week, and board round." 
The library thus brought to notice is further described by Mr. H. A. 
Keach, who himself taught in this district, as did also his father, Eddy 
Keach, Esq. : " In 1823, the farmers collected a library of three hundred 
volumes. Rufus Smith was the first librarian. For a while it was kept 
at his hotel, which was the old red house in the corner of the roads near 
the Tar Kiln Saw Mill. It was afterwards kept at the Smith Academy 
(or the school-house), and finally removed to the dwelling of Coomer 
Smith, who for many years had it in charge. In 1845 it was divided, 
and the shareholders took the books to their homes. 5 ' This school-house, 
library, academy and meeting-house combined, was at length removed. 
The house now used for a school, is located on a spacious lot, bounded 
on one side onh r by the highway. It was erected and occupied in 
18G3 at a cost of $7G0. Whole number of scholars in 1847 was 42, aver- 
age attendance, 28 ; whole number of scholars in 1875, 28, average 
attendance, 23. 

Had the Democratic prox of 1876 been successful, the town would 
have been related to another Attorney General of the State, in the per- 
son of Oscar Lapham, Esq., a native of this town, and a former teacher 
in District No. 1. 

District No. 2. 

This District, called the " Mount Pleasant," probably because of its 
elevated situation, pleasantly overlooking the village of Slatersville, 
is in the eastern part of the town. The school-house formerly stood 
on the " commons." The School Committee in their report for 1857 


say : u The location of the school-house, with a highway on four 
sides of it and no play-grounds, is decidedly bad." In 1858 they say 
" the benches ought to ' front face ' to the teacher." In 1860 they felt 
compelled to state that " the high wa}^ still surrounds the school-house, 
occupying the play-grounds which the scholars ought to enjoy. Some 
unsuccessful efforts have been made to remedy this evil. If nothing 
better can be done, tue Committee respectful^ recommend that prompt 
and efficient means be taken to move the highway from the house" In 
1866 the district voted both to move and repair the house. 

The Committee of 1867 say : " In No. 2 a most excellent work has 
been accomplished. The school-house has been removed from the high- 
wa} T , and placed on a pleasant site surrounded with a substantial and 
ornamental fence. The inside of the building has been entirely remod- 
eled, and furnished with seats and desks for the pupils, and also for the 
teacher's platform, made after the latest and most approved pattern. 
Large blackboards and convenient recitation seats have been supplied. 
The exterior of the building has also been repaired, repainted and fur- 
nished with blinds, making it an ornament to the district." More recent 
efforts have further contributed to make this a neat and well furnished 
school-house. It is the only one ever owned by the district. 

Here excellent teachers have labored. One of them who taught twenty- 
five years ago, was such a strict disciplinarian that having two large boys 
to punish he procured a large hickory stick, and ordering the offending 
parties to join hands through the elevated oven of the stove, which was 
heated several times hotter than usual, he stood by with uplifted hickory, 
threatening its use if they unclasped. Thus were they melted into peni- 
tence. Whole number in 1847 was 21, average 13 ; whole number in 
1875 was 14, average 7 ; size of house 20x20, 11 feet high in the arch. 

District No. 3. 

The district which first bore this number was known as the " Esten," 
the house belonging to it standing in the vicinity of " Cripple Corner." 
This house is still standing, though it is as old as the town itself, 
having been built in 1806. The dimensions are 18x18, 8 feet high. 
The internal arrangements were of the old style. In 1847 (though we 
sincerely wish we had its history previously) the whole number of 
pupils was 48, average 30. In the winter of 1848-9, we find William 
A. Mowry, then 19 years of age, teaching in this school, having 31 
pupils, 20 boys, 11 girls. He showed their "young ideas how to shoot" 
through the alphabet, spelling, reading, geography, grammar, mental 

Esten District. 315 

and written arithmetic, penmanship, book-keeping, algebra, natural 
philosophy, compositions and declamation, showing plainly that he was 
even then possessed of many and varied attainments. 

He reported the house as " ventilated in every part." Mr. Mowry 
was from Uxbridge, Massachusetts. One of his sisters, who, in the re- 
port of 1857, is called " a teacher of experience and good attaiuments,' , 
taught in this district. For several 3-ears the teachers came mostl}' 
from the same, or adjoining towns in Massachusetts. Mr. M. L. Esten 
gave " perfect satisfaction for several terms," though he was a native of 
Burrillville. In years subsequent to 1860 there was a rapid decrease in 
attendance, so that in 1863 the whole number was 20, the average 8. 
1864, total 15, average 7. 

In 1867 the house needed thorough repairing. In 1868 the committee 
briefly state that it " needs some repair and should be remodeled." 
Total for the same year, for the Summer term, 17, average 6 ; for the 
Winter term, whole number, 6, average, 2. The next Winter, 1868, the 
average attendance was only one, and the Committee thought it advisable 
to discontinue the district. 

In 1871, No. 3 was given to District No. 16, known as the " Nason- 
ville," which number it still has. Reviewing the history previous to the 
erection of the present school building, we learn that schools were kept 
in private houses and shops. One building used for a school was con- 
sumed by fire thirty-five years ago. James O. Inman, Esq., went to 
school in this village, since which time he has taught school as well as 
acquired the enviable reputation of manufacturing all wool goods of a 
superior quality. Here too, we believe, Mr. Mowry taught his first 
school, in a room which he describes as 22x12 and 8 feet high with five 
long desks and benches for smaller scholars, having registered 53, with 
an average daily attendance of 35. He w T as not then teaching such a 
variety of studies as we afterwards found him engaged in, for his term 
here ran from December 6th, 1847 to April 7th, 1848, and in the other 
district through the winter of 1848-9. Here, he had in money, $12 a 
month, there, $15, and perhaps felt that he could afford to teach three 
more branches, for the extra three dollars. The size of the black- 
board in each place was 3x3J feet. It may encourage youthful and 
aspiring teachers to know that Mr. Mowry did not attain eminence with- 
out some cryiiig as well as trying, and the tears which he shed over the 
dullness and demerits of his pupils, are carefull}' bottled in their mem- 

For the following, Mr. Mowry merits and will please accept, our hearty, 


Providence, April 1, 1876. 
Rev. Wm. Fitz, Superintendent Public Schools : 

Dear Sir : — You ask nie to give you some reminiscences of my teaching in 

I have a vivid recollection of my first crude attempts at teaching school, of 
my inexperience, and ignorance of methods, but of honest purpose and earnest 
desire to do my best, and to win success by deserving it. 

My first school was at Mohegan in the winter of 1847-8. I had been encouraged 
by my teacher, Alexander Meggett, Esq., now of Wisconsin, to "keep school." 
In accordance with his suggestion, I made application in November 1847, in 
several districts of that vicinity, but in most of them found that the " master'' 
had already been " hired." Failing elsewhere I applied to Mr. Isaac Walling, the 
Trustee in the district which comprised Nasonville and Mohegan. I gave him 
my references, and he was to inform me of his decision. A few days later he 
called at the school-house where I was a pupil, in Slatersville, and said that he 
had concluded to give me a trial. The school was to commence on the " Mon- 
day after Thanksgiving," according to custom. I was to have §12.00 a month 
ami board. 

On the morning to begin I presented myself at the school-house in Mohegan, 
armed with my " certificate of approbation," signed by Rev. Mr. Lord and 
Lyman Copelancl, Esq. 

The school was a large one, numbering over fifty, and was kept in a room in 
Mr. Harvey Thayer's house, just over his boot shop. Imagine a school of that 
number, of all ages from four to twenty, in all studies, and in all parts of the seve- 
ral books, from a large class in A B C's to parsing, cube root, and history ; 
packed into a room 11X22 feet, and about 7 feet high, over a shop where a deaf 
and dumb man made boots. There was one good thing about the arrangement. 
We could not disturb him by our noise. 

There, witli temporary long desks and plank seats, we labored with the 
utmost fidelit} r — teacher and scholars— through the long winter term of sixteen 

General good feeling prevailed between pupils and teacher, and I have often 
thought, that in spite of my youth and inexperience, it was the best school I 
ever kept. We worked hard. We cyphered through the rule of three, square 
and cube root, we bounded every country on the globe, we attended spelling 
schools, speaking schools and parties, indulged in sliding, snow balling and 
skating. The pupils tried to give the "master" a "sum" that he could not 
" do," and in turn the teacher would try to find words that the big girls and 
boys could not spell and conundrums that they could not guess. I was but 
eighteen, not large, wore a cap and a circular cloak. 

As I passed through the village on my way to the school-house the first 
morning of the school, some one who saw me, remarked to the Trustee : "Is 
that boy going to keep our school? He never will succeed." It was very grati- 
fying, however, when the Trustee told me the circumstance at the close of the 
tour months' term, in the spring, to hear him emphatically say: "But nobody 
says anything about the boy now. Everybody says it is the best school we ever 

Letter from Wm. A. Mowey. 317 

I boarded through the winter at Mr. George Walling's, in the old house, at 
what was known as " Cripple Corner." " It was a pleasant family and a good 

The following winter I taught the school in the " Esten Neighborhood," the 
district adjoining. 

The school-house was an old one, having been built, I think, in 1806. On the 
west side was the entry, the great chimney and the clothes closet. On each of 
the other sides was a long desk, reaching the whole length of the room, with a 
seat behind it, the wall forming the back, and a low seat in front, for the little 
children. The seats were two inch chestnut plank, as black, and some portions 
as smooth, As poiished ebony. 

The stove stood in the centre of the floor. When one wished to leave his 
seat, he must jump over the desk, or make all the others between him and the 
end of the seat move out to let him pass. 

There was a black-board nearly two feet wide and three feet long. The 
teacher's desk was perhaps a foot wide and eighteen inches long, and was nailed 
up against the wall. 

Windows, with no curtains, let in the light on the three sides, and the sun 
aided the lire in the stove in keeping the room warm. This was quite necessary 
on account of the generous provision for ventilation. Many holes and large 
cracks were visible in the floor, and as the underpinning on either side was 
quite open there was always a good draft of air upward through the 
floor. There were holes also in the sides of the building, especially along the 
edge of the scat next the wall. And there were openings in the ceilings above, 
giving a good draft when you did not want it. 

The school was not as large as that at Mohegan, but numbered, if I remember 
rightly, about thirty. The scholars were of a very respectable class, generally 
intelligent, coming from families of sober, honest, New England yeomanry of the 
old stock. The descendants of Hon. John Esten, formerly judge of the old time 
court, formed a majority of the families and the scholars. 

The history of this district furnishes a striking illustration of the change that 
has come over New England during the last twenty-five or thirty years. 

Of the children of lion. John Esten, the following settled on farms, either 
upon, or adjoining, the old homestead, and there passed their days, died and were 
buried, only one of them, I think, being alive at the present time: John, Jr., 
Benjamin, Buffum, and Amasa. I cannot now recall a single family in the district 
at that time, whose parents did not live in that immediate vicinity : showing the 
general disposition in those days to remain near the old homestead and to follow 
farming. Now nearly all of the children of these four sterling men have gone 
away, to the east and the west, to the factory villages or the cities, and are en- 
gaged in The various callings and professions of life. Among them maybe found 
teachers, doctors, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics etc., but very few of 
them are cultivating the land; while the old school district, which forty years 
ago numbered between forty and fifty scholars in school, I understand is now 
abolished, there being only three or four children of proper school age in its 

After finishing the long term of four months in this school, during which time 
I "boarded around," and became well acquainted with the families of the dis- 


trict, and receiving my salary, $15.00 a month; I was invited to "keep out," i, e., 
to finish the term in the Mohegan district; the master whom they had hired 
not having been able to carry on the school, by reason of the superior physical 
strength of some of the larger and older boys. I accepted the offer, and finished 
the school, "keeping out" the money. Here, also, I boarded around, to make 
the money last the longer. When the money was expended, I remained through 
the spring and into the early summer, keeping a private school and receiving 10 
cents a week tuition for the younger pupils and, I believe, lGf cents a week for 
the older ones. During the summer and fall following I taught in the Mount 
Pleasant District — a very agreeable school, though smaller than either of the 
others and consisting of a younger set of pupils. This completed my experience 
in the schools of Burrillville. 

In those days there were but very few foreigners in the rural districts, nearly 
all the families being of the good old sturdy class so well known as the New 
England yeomanry. A single winter following the experience above mentioned, 
completed my teaching in district schools, but rarely have ever I met more earn- 
estminds, or witnessed greater progress than among those boys and girls of the 
three north-eastern districts of Burrillville. 

Very respectfully, 

William A. Mowry. 

In consideration of his " desire to assist in diffusing the benefits of a 
good common school education among the inhabitants" of this district, 
Leonard Nason, Esq., deeded to them a lot of land for a school-house in 
December, 1849. There is a tradition that he also contracted to build 
the house for a stated price. He built larger than the specifications re- 
quired, intending to donate what was in excess of the contract. But the 
district would not accept the gratuitous enlargement, wherewith Mr. 
Nason proceeded to tear it down, confining himself strictly to the dimen- 
sions of the contract. He would, but they would not. The present 
house in the district, which is the one he built, was completed in 1850 
at an expense of $800 or $1,000. In the winter of 1852-3, J. O. Inman 
taught for $18 a month, boarding around; pupils, 45 — average, 37. 
Report of School Committee for 1857 refers to removals from the dis- 
trict as lessening the attendance at school. Parents declared themselves 
satisfied with the school and therefore did not visit it. Mr. Thomas B. 
Staples, of this town, taught successfulty in 1858-9. " The district is in 
possession of a very good house. Its location is pleasant and its inter- 
nal arrangements very convenient." 18G2. — " The morals of the 
pupils w r ere sadly neglected." " It has been intimated to the Com- 
mittee that the parents in this district objected to having their chil- 
dren property corrected ; if so, the blame is not wholty with the teacher." 
1864. — Ellen M. Steere, " one of our good teachers." 1867. — Summer 

Glendale. 319 

school ; whole number, 96 — average, 56 ; " the house will soon need en- 
larging to accommodate a graded school." 1872. — The number not so 
large since 1870. Mrs Ellen M. Walling had been employed for two 
years ; Committee speak in her praise and regret that she was to retire 
from her profession. 1873. — Committee announce death of Mr. George 
D. Colwell, -' one of our most promising teachers," who taught a spring 
term. 1874. — Winter term taught by Miss Dora Walling. Whole 
number, 33. 

District No. 4. 

Formerly called " Ne well's Mills," there being a grist mill here at the 
time ; subsequently it was the " Hines " district, now " Glendale." In 
1814 Mrs. Lydia Brown taught there, being then eighteen, and now eighty 
years of age, yet still bright, active and good. She states that on the 
last da}* of her school the parents, being duly notified, came together at 
the school-house to pay her for her services. She received in money, 
eight shillings a week, her daughter Betsey, of whom we have already 
spoken, received only one shilling more in 1840. How much to be pre- 
ferred was the custom of that da}* than that other method, which compels 
one to collect his own salary. The return for 1848 describes as follows : 
-' Date when school-house was built?" --not known." "First cost?" 
u do." --Arrangement of seats?" --on the most approved plan." 
" Play ground ? " -' the highway." " Size of school-room ? " -- 20 x 20, 
13 feet high." 

The returns for 1847 and 1849 differ from this, as also from each other 
in the height, one giving 11 feet, the other 12 feet. The reporter for 
1856 disagrees still further, giving size of room 19x19, 8 feet high. The 
same in answer to the question, when the house was built, says, " I 
should think in the year 1." Plow ventilated? -'By cracks and other 
open places." It remained, however, for the writer of the Committee's 
report for 1857 (the next printed after 1847), which writer was undoubt- 
edly Doctor S. O. Griffin, to convey to coming generations the most 
graphic description of the place where the school was held : " Both 
terms were taught by Miss Mary R. Sayles," (afterwards Mrs. J. L. Phil- 
lips, having already, 1876, served ten years as a Christian Missionary in 
India, but just now in this country,) " who performed her part in a very 
satisfactory manner. Her mode of discipline was good, and she mani- 
fested a readiness to teach, a thoroughness and degree of ease in impart- 
ing instruction, seldom excelled. The scholars, too, were active, well 
disposed and made very respectable proficiency in their studies. But 


when we consider the place where the school was kept, we are utterly at 
a loss to understand how teacher or scholars did anything at all. It is 
a little ' 7 b} T 9 ' structure, jutting into the lots from the road side, 
forming a ver\ T respectable rod of fence to the highwa} r , presenting the 
appearance of a necessary appendage to its neighbor opposite, with ca- 
pacity inadequate to the accommodation of ten scholars, and not a foot of 
pla3'-ground not liable to be encroached upon at an}' moment by what- 
ever may travel the road ; in short, minus all the attractions that ought 
to grace a modern school-house, and in this sad plight, set apart as a fit 
place to educate fifty-two human beings." Mrs. Phillips also mentions 
a time when, on account of water which had risen over the floor of the 
school-room, herself and pupils were obliged to circumnavigate on the 
benches and desks. Mrs. Martha Wilcox also taught in 1847. In other 
districts of the town, also, this lady performed efficient services as a 
teacher. Mr. S. B. Keach, in 1854, at 18 years of age, was an instructor 
there. Since then he has obtained a good report in the world of letters, 
and his flag, bearing the motto, " The friend of all — the servant of none," 
floats for the special protection of the Prohibitory party, over " Town 
and Country." From the report of the Committee, 1858, we learn that 
the house was condemned in July of the preceding year. 'I he vote, 
however, was revoked, on account of the financial crisis, in the hope 
that a more commodious house could be secured in more prosperous 
times. In 1859, there was a " proposition to form a new district from 
the villages of Plainville and Oakland and their immediate surroundings." 
In 1860, the Committee say : " In our last annual report we alluded to 
the action of the Committee in relation to the division of the district. 
That decision was appealed from by the district, and overruled by the 
State Commissioner. Under the present state of affairs the district is 
erecting a new house, centrally located, sufficient for all the pupils aud 
in every respect creditable to all concerned." In 1861, this district had 
erected " a beautiful and commodious house." Whole number, 99, 
average attendance, 70. This is the house which is being used by the 
district now. The " Patriarch," against which so many shots were fired, 
still stands on the original site, having been converted into a dwelling 
house. "Within three years the present school-house has been well re- 
paired and painted. In 1867, an enlargement was thought of, in order 
to establish a graded school, the whole number being 82, average, 51. 
In 1868, the district was divided by the Committee, an appeal was 
taken, and the Committee sustained by the Commissioner. There was 
no public school in the district this year, the house being let for a pri- 
vate school. The voters being dissatisfied with the decision of the Com- 

Maple ville District. 321 

missioner, applied to the Court. In 1870, the report sa} T s : "We are 
gratified that a final decision has been reached on the appeal of parties in 
District No. 4, which settles so far as judicial authority can, the ques- 
tions involved in the division of that district. This decision harmonizes 
with that previously given by the Commissioner, and sustains the ac- 
tion of the Committee." The Committee opened a school in No. 4, May 
31, 1869, which was continued during the year. Since 1870, though 
the attendance has not been as large as previous to the division, yet the 
facilities for an education have been regularly furnished. 

District No. 5. 

This is the " Mapleville " District, once called the " Friends," 
because the Friends' meeting-house is situated within its boundaries. 
The original school-house is still standing, altered and used as a dwelling. 
From what date this building was used does not appear exactl}-, though 
the probable \-ear is 1830. Mr. Nelson Armstrong states that previous 
to that year a school was kept in the small building belonging now to 
him, and standing near the roadside in front of his present residence. 
In 1847 the older part of the house now used, was built at an expense 
of $800 or Si, 000, including fence. The land belonging to it was given 
b} T D. S. Whipple, Esq., on condition that it should revert if used for 
other than school purposes. A " dance " which came off in the house 
about the time of its dedication raised the question whether that was 
not a diversion from the original intent. In 1849 two terms were 
sustained ; one third of the money for the Summer, and two-thirds for the 
Winter. It was customary in this district for several years to prolong 
the school by levying a tax equal to one cent a da}- on each scholar. 
Another act of this people showed the grateful politeness which they felt 
oward their school officers, for in 1864-5 thanks were voted to Trustees 
and Clerks for their efficient services ; the only instance discovered of 
"thanks" being voted to any school officers, For some time this was 
esteemed the best school in town, and especially so during Miss Lydia C. 
Armstrong's connection w r ith it. Her name is honorably mentioned by the 
Committee. Much interest was shown on the part of the parents. In 1847 
the whole number registered was fifty-one. In 1857, the whole number 
registered was one hundred and six, and an enlargement of the school- 
housa was recommended. Through several successive years the school 
sustained its well earned reputation chiefly under the instruction of Miss 
Armstrong. In 1864, the Committee speak of the leading business men 
as not only attending meetings of the district, but as subscribing 


liberally for the purchase of standard books and apparatus used in the 

In 1867, the matter of enlargement was again agitated, the whole 
number in the summer term being 105. 

In 1870, the Committee report an addition to the school-house, at a 
cost of about Sl,300. 

In 1872, the school was a success, giving evidence of faithfulness on 
the part of teachers, and application on the part of the pupils. The 
average attendance in the winter term reached 95 per cent, of the whole 
number." Miss Emma F. Bullock and Miss Alice B. Clarke were 

District No. 6. 

This is the most northern and one of the oldest districts. It 
is said to derive its name, "Round Top," from the shape of a grist mill 
which formerly stood in it. Only one school-house is remembered which 
is the one now in use, built in 1808 at a cost of $300. At first it 
occupied the corner now covered b} T the house belonging to Mr. Jndson 
Sherman, but was removed to its present location a few rods to the north 
of the old site. The reason for the change ma} r have been that a corner- 
lot in the village was regarded as too valuable for a school. In 1867, 
the Committee report the house condemned as unfit for use. In 1868, 
" great improvement had been made. The house had been remodeled, 
painted and furnished with new windows and blinds at an expense of 
$300." Former customs and teachers are mentioned, which show some 
things curiously done in by-gone da}-s. It is said that some teachers 
imbibed too freely and would go to sleep in the school-room, and while 
they took their rest the scholars had their fun. On one occasion of this 
sort a moderator was chosen and a motion for adjournment put. Both 
teachers and pupils would sometimes devote the school hours to games 
of chance and cheat, in an adjoining building, going out with impunity. 
Unruly girls were punished by seating them between two boys, the boys 
being told b} T the teacher to u crowd up." This, however, was no punish- 
ment to the girl if she was sandwiched between those boys who were 
her favorites. Girls were made to stand on the desks with a body's cap 
on, in order to improve their deportment. Holding nails down was also 
assigned to disobedient boys, though one of them thought aloud that it 
was useless, as the nail was " alreadj- down." Asa Paine, Esq., one of 
the Committee of 1846, went to this school sixt} T years ago. In his 
school days teachers brought sticks eight and ten feet long into school, 
so long that the offending scholars could sometimes be reached by the 

"Round Tor." 323 

teacher, without leaving his desk. Heads have been struck together, 
doubtless for the purpose of kindling a fire among the brains, and 
blisters raised on hands by a ferule so that the possessor might kk take 
hold " with the mind, and palm off no more tricks. Very few girls 
studied arithmetic in his boy-hood. The Bible was read twice a day by 
the school, but there were no devotional exercises at the opening of the 
morning session. "• Boarding round" was the fashion, according to the 
number of children. One man told a teacher that his proportion would 
be paid when the dinner was half eaten. Mrs. Martha Wilcox, to whom 
we are indebted lor some of these recollections, is of the opinion that 
"boarding round" was conducive to a better acquaintance between 
teachers and parents than the present system, though it had its dis- 
advantages ; other persons speak of the narrow seats, " about as wide 
as a handsaw," on which the little children would go to sleep, often 
rolling off on the floor, to be picked up and soothed by older pupils or 
teachers. Children have been sent to this school as early as three years 
of age. and for whose sleep}' heads, pillows were sent to, and kept at, 
the school-room. Of the teachers, Edward Babcock, Catherine Harris, 
the Misses Sayles, Annie Shumway, and others, are among the long and 
worthy list. In 1847, the whole number registered was 26. In 1875, 
14. One of the earlier Trustees of this district, Daniel M. Salisbury, 
Esq., shows a large manuscript volume filled with problems from 
Daboll's Arithmetic, with ornamental headings and adorned throughout 
with plain and colored drawings of things in heaven, earth and under 
the earth, which he executed when a boy in another district. Mr. 
Archer Thayer also executed a similar work, which has been shown us by 
Mrs. Thayer, to whom we owe additional thanks for the use of six copies 
of the School Committee's Reports for as man}' different years. 

Mrs. Emeline Eddy Salisbury recalls the days of her schooling in the 
old house when it stood on the corner. Here at noon the scholars (the 
master usually being respected enough to have cooked food put into his 
pail) would procure a forked stick from the surrounding birches and 
roast their sausages, holding them before the open fire. " Up into the 
Arch " was the aim of the large boys, i. e., standing on desk or bench 
they would spring upward with outstretched arm and extended fingers in 
order to touch the centre of the arched ceiling. In this way the father 
of the present Trustee, Stephen Arnold, " made his mark," both upon 
that ceiling and the memory of those of his fellow students who 
witnessed the transfer of blood from the end of his fingers to the arch, 
as an infallible proof that he had touched it. 


District No. 7. 

This is the Harrisville District. The original house stood where 
the "Air Line " railroad intended to cross the carriage road leading 
south from the depot of the Providence and Springfield Railroad, 
then " in the woods." Moved out of the woods it took a situation in 
the highway or "forks of the road," fronting the present school-houses in 
this village. Whole number registered in 1847 was sixt}--seven. This 
first building was standing and in use in 1848, being described as 20 by 
20, 8 feet high, with the old style arrangements within. The territorial 
extent of the district, as given in return of 1850, was, " length, 2| 
milds ;" "breadth, 2 milds." In 1849 a new building was erected on the 
site of the residence now owned b} T Mr. J Eagan. This was 32 x 26, 
10 feet high. The location not being satisfactory to all parties this 
building never was occupied there, and at length was moved to the lot 
now holding the Primary school-house. It was afterwards raised up and 
a new stoiy added as it is to-day. As far back as 1831-2, Miss Abby 
Owen (who became the wife of Whipple Sayles, Esq., in after 
time) introduced grammar and geography into the school for the first 
time. Several persons bear cheerful testimon}* to Miss Owen as a model 
teacher in those days. Females were not then employed in winter schools. 
Mr. Dike is named also as a very good teacher, highly respected for 
his piet} T and high-toned moral character. Thayer Bellows, son of Dr. 
Bellows, of Glocester, though " small in stature," was considered 
" enough " for the largest pugilist who went to school. Having chas- 
tised one of the larger girls on a time, the larger boys were inclined to 
take her part against him ; but using his ferule with rapid severity until 
it broke over the backs of the rescuers, he sprang to the stove and seiz- 
ing a stick of wood, assumed such a warlike attitude that the rebellion 
was completeh' crushed ; and as if he would have a fair trial, he told the 
bo}'s he would meet them in the woods, through which he was obliged to 
go for a mile or two on his wa} T home. Those were days when physical 
courage was essential in a teacher. 

For the following sketch of another teacher, of more than usual 
prominence, we are indebted to Charles L. Steere, Esq. of this town : 

Among the most noted and longest to be remembered teaeliers of this town, 
was Calvin S. Keep. Noted for his zeal in the cause of education, his versatility 
of talent, and the peculiar and thorough method of transmitting his knowledge 
to others, as well as his modesty of manners, purity of morals, and great love of 
science, he is remembered for his tall, gaunt person, stretching, when erect, to 

Calvin S. Keep. 325 

upwards of six feet, and being so slender and loosety put together as to give him the 
appearance of being much taller than he really was, — so tall he seemed, that it was 
said, he had to stoop to hear it thunder. But above all, he is remembered for his ex- 
treme oddities, not only odd in appearance, but odd in everything that appertained 
to him ; every word and movement being original. His legs and arms were long 
and bony, his neck after the same pattern, always incased in one of those con- 
trivances (doubtless of the inquisition), a stock, that came plump to his chin, 
as if to add firmness to the foundation of his head, the crowning glory of all. 

The head as remembered now, after thirty years, was somewhat peculiar. It 
was small and oddly shaped, with eyes large and prominent, a retiring chin, 
largely overshadowed by the under lip which, to his pupils possessed peculiar 
interest, for to them this lip was as the barometer to the signal service, or its 
signals to our merchant marine ; when that fell, every urchin understood they 
must look out for squalls. He was a rigid Congregationalist of the old Puritanic 
stock, and believed implicitly in the sayings of Solomon, especially in this, 
" spare the rod and spoil the child," which was often recited in school, doubt- 
less in order to give accent and dignity to the many occasions when he felt 
called upon to obey its sentiments. 

Mr. Keep came to Burrillville, if our memory serves us, in the Winter of 
1842-3, from the town of Monson, Massachusetts, and commenced his labors in 
District No. 8, one of the smaller, and at that time, not the farthest advanced 
in the sciences, in the town. It would be interesting to know with what feel- 
ings this singular man, then at the age of about thirty, a stranger in that 
sparsely settled, uninviting territory, on the confines of Wallum Pond, and the 
forests of Buck Hill and Douglass, commenced teaching the rude ideas of 
this region the paths to eminence, in that little school-house, dropped in 
the forks of two rough country roads, innocent of paint or enclosure, and 
little larger than the adjacent corn-crib. But whatever his feelings might have 
been, we know that his spirit was equal to every emergency. Did the door lack 
a hinge, or the window-sash its glazing, or the chimney refuse to conduct its 
smoke upward, his ingenuity remedied the evil in the most effectual and speedy 
manner, and no carpenter's, blacksmith's, or machine shop in the vicinity where 
he happened to be located but contributed its facilities to further his plans. He 
was original and eminently progressive in his modes of teaching, and here was a 
rugged field for the exercise of his abilities. No map or chart hung on the walls 
of this school-room, no blackboard added its conveniences. It must be remem- 
bered, however, that this was more than thirty years ago, when our public 
school system was in its infancy, and before Henry Barnard improved and de- 
veloped it. 

It is difficult to comprehend at this day how a school could be conducted with- 
out a blackboard or its substitute, and so thought Mr. Keep then, therefore, 
with his own hands he constructed one, the first introduced into the schools of 
this town, and it was done, we imagine, with no small degree of satisfaction, as 
he was exceedingly skillful in the art of drawing, and made good use of it with- 
all. But it seems the introduction of this " new fangled contrivance" was not 
very highly appreciated by the simple yeomanry of this section, and he was 
severely taken to do for spending so much time in figuring and marking on this 
board when there were several slates owned by the older scholars. Whether 


this was the cause of his early departure from this field we know not. but he 
remained there but one term, when he applied for and obtained the school in 
District No. 7, where he commenced at the next Winter term, teaching about 
four years. In this district there was a better and more congenial field for the 
prosecution of his calling, the school was larger and no opposition was made to 
any branch or mode that he chose to pursue, the people seeming rather to enjoy 
his peculiarities. Here he introduced the blackboard without opposition, as 
well as many other modern aids to instruction. With the help of some mechan- 
ical contrivance of his own construction, he made outline maps that would do 
no discredit to those hanging in our schools to-day— and from an old brass 
clock he built a very serviceable Morse telegraphic machine, the first seen in 
these parts by any resident, lie was wont to operate it across the school-room 
with wires, for the admiration of parents and scholars, explaining at the same 
time its whole modus operandi. Electricity was his hobby, and many were the 
ingenious and interesting arrangements he devised to illustrate it. 

At one time the eye and its functions, with the theory of light, was the subject 
of investigation. Eyes of different animals were dissected and the uses of its 
various parts illustrated by such admirable drawings upon the blackboard as to 
impress the whole matter upon our minds so vividly as never to be erased. 

Mr. Keep was not given to levity, seeming to look upon life as of too serious 
a matter to be trilled away, yet he enjoyed a certain kind of fun, especially what 
partook largely of the ludicrous. One source of amusement as well as instruc- 
tion was a magic lantern or stereopticon, which Mr. Keep procured, no one 
knew where or how, but he had the lantern, and many pictures, a considerable 
portion of which were made b}' his own hands and in a masterly manner. These 
were exhibited at the evening meetings of the school, which were held as often 
as a sufficient number would attend. But of all sources of recreation or diver- 
sion known to him, the violin was-the most complete. Did life become burdened 
with discouragements and disappointments it was the charm of the violin that 
dispelled the cloud. Did everything go wrong in school, and scholars, as they 
often will, become restless and inattentive, the spirit of the viol was invoked 
and with school song, in which all were required to join, the demon discontent 
was speedily cast out. 

In conclusion, Ave will relate a snow-balling incident wherein our hero was 
somewhat conspicuous. There had been considerable difficulty experienced 
during the snow-balling season, from the abuse of this amusement; it had become 
quite a serious evil and one very difficult to remedy. However, it was deter- 
mined by the teacher to make certain bounds around the school-house, inside of 
which should be a perfect asylum for all non-combatants of whatever sex or 
condition, "but," said the teacher, " whoever is hit with a snow-ball while out- 
side these bounds, except when going to, or returning from school, must not 
complain even though it be myself who is the sufferer." Now there was a boy 
among the larger scholars who never forgot a wrong or an opportunity to re- 
taliate, and who had been nursing a little grudge for sometime. It so happened 
a few days after, at noon time, all the school were coasting down a steep hill, 
near by the school-house. It was a glorious day, and the track was hard and 
glassy, while the sleds went like the wind ; it was a clay to be enjoyed, thought 
the children, and doubtless so thought Mr. Keep, as he appeared upon the scene 

Letter from Hon. George H. Browne. 327 

and asked the loan of a sled for a ride. The largest and best was freely offered 
for his use, by its owner, the young- rebel who had been watching an opportu- 
nity which now seemed to have presented itself for revenge. So, while the victim 
was stowing his long frame upon the sled, word had been given by the avenger, 
and behind his back twenty boys were preparing for action, and as soon as he had 
passed beyond the bounds, hostilities commenced, and such a shower of snow- 
balls as rained upon that luckless back might have pounded the breath from an 
ox. There was some anxiety felt for the result among the more timid ones for 
a while, but Mr. Keep had too much good sense to treat it as anything more 
than a joke. 

Hon. George H. Browne is also remembered as a teacher of great 
thoroughness and patience in this district. He has kindly furnished the 
following reminiscences : 

Providence, April 9, 187G. 

Dear Sir : — I have little to communicate about the Harrisville school, except 
the mere fact that I did " keep school " in that district once, so long since that 
I cannot recall the exact time, much less anything of interest that occurred. I 
think it must have been forty years ago; at any rate, most of those who now 
are the fathers, magistrates, legislators and prominent citizens of your town 
and community were school boys and school girls, and many of them were my 
pupils. I wish I could flatter myself that some of them, at least, owed, in some 
small degree, the eminence they have since attained and the usefulness they have 
exemplitied, to my teachings or the precepts I endeavored to inculcate. 

It was in those good old days when the "schoolmaster boarded round," and I 
have never been reconciled to the abolition of that most beneficial custom. It 
carried the teacher to the fireside of every family. He learned to take an interest 
in the children from the interest and anxiety the parents displayed. In the long 
winter evenings, by the blazing open fireplace, he had much time to question 
and talk with his pupils, discover what were the peculiarities and needs of each, 
and if he had any tact, awaken in them a love for their studies and for books, 
which the school-room furnished comparatively little opportunity fordoing. The 
feelings and opinions of the parents, too, were freely observed, and events or 
processes of teaching in the school explained and thus a thousand of the petty 
difficulties of "school keeping" avoided. 

But, as I have said, I do not remember anything of note that occurred, save a 
great snow storm, and which made me realize vividly that touching description of 
a man perishing in the snow which used to be in the old school readers. 

The Laphains, the Woods, (both Otis' and Tenner's children,) the Clarks, 
Smiths, Harrises, Mowrys, Steeres, and many others, were constant, and before 
the school closed, interested and studious scholars. Your town clerk, trial jus- 
tice, senator and others, who have since acquired distinction and wealth and 
reflected honor on their town, were pupils of mine and whom I am proud to call 
my life long friends. 

I formed also in "boarding round" an intimate acquaintance in each family, 
which in almost every instance, endured as long as the} T lived. 


One other feature of the old school machinery we practiced quite thoroughly 
that winter, viz., the " spelling-school," on moonlight evenings. It was a feature 
that I always touched with much hesitation. Unless a "lively" interest and em- 
ulation in the exercises of the evening could be awakened, they were apt to affect 
the discipline of the day school. In this case I do not remember that any such 
result followed, on the contrary my recollections are that they were a decided 

Yours, etc., 

George II. Browne. 

Miss Betse}' Brown taught here as in several other districts. Such 
service as she has given to the town cannot have been otherwise than 
useful, both to the cause of education and religion. She recalls sixteen 
of her scholars who have become teachers ; two manufacturers, one law- 
yer, one editor, and one militaiy officer. The first set of outline maps 
used in Harrisville were placed there by her in 1851 or '52. From 1850 
to 1856 this district was disturbed b} T differences which, however, were 
happily adjusted, so that the Committee of 1857 congratulate the people 
upon the return of an amicable state of affairs, and " trust that the same 
friendly feeling will continue to exist, and that the school will continue 
to rank, as it really does now, among the first in town." Mr. William 
Wilcox was Trustee and Misses N. R. and Ellen J. Saylos were teachers. 
In 1860 both terms were taught by Mrs. E. M. Steere, an excellent 
teacher, who has " seen service," not only in this but other districts of 
the town, which has been pronounced " acceptable." In 1867 there were 
scholars enough for three departments and room for only two. Whole 
number in Summer, 159 ; Winter term, 176. In 1869, whole number, 
Summer, 183 ; Winter, 187. In 1870, the larger of the two houses now 
in use was completed, at a cost of about $4,500. The report of 1872 speaks 
of Miss Emily A. King as having had k * large experience, and a thorough 
disciplinarian." This is the first district in town which established three 
grades of schools in as man}^ rooms. For the last year the Primary has 
been m charge of Miss Dora Walling ; the Intermediate, of Miss Evehn 
Steere, and the Grammar, of Miss Ellen F. Knight, whose work has been 
rewarded by the devotion of the school, as well as by her appreciation 
in the minds of all concerned. 

District No. 8. 

In this, the " Logee" District, there was a school before the present 
school building was occupied as the property of the district. The num- 
ber in attendance in 1847 was 29, with 27 in the }*ear following. The 
history of the present house seems to be, that it was originally a store 

Wallum Pond District. 329 

situated near Wallum Lake, and was subsequently purchased b} T Mr. 
Dorphin Logee and moved at such great expense and trouble that those 
engaged in the work called it " The teacher's sinking fund." This was 
about the year 1825, and cost $300. In 1848, there was some talk of 
building a new house, but finally this house was purchased, moved about, 
and an addition of 6 x 18 made to it. Mr. Logee proposed to plant trees 
about it, but the}' have not been set out yet. It is interesting to read 
with what particularity the agreement was drawn up between Charles 
F. Albee, who put on the addition, and the parties acting for the dis- 
trict. A reading of this document leads one to think it. to have been 
rather hard for Charles and quite eas} r for the district. The attendance 
in this district has been variable ; sometimes equal to the number in 
1848, but oftener less. The reports from 1857 run on with brief notices. 
Some excellent teachers have had their first experience here. They 
could not have commenced in a more quiet and well disposed neighbor- 
hood. Here Mrs. J. L. Phillips taught for $1.50 a week, and so anxious 
was she to teach that rather than have been disappointed, she would 
have taught for less. In 1867 the house was reported in tolerable 
repair. In 18G9 it was thought large enough for the scholars of district 
No 9, and a consolidation recommended. For the remaining years 
until the last the attendance has been small, yet the school has been 
uniformly successful. 

District No. 9. 

The house now used for a school in Wallum Pond District, is believed 
to have been preceded by one other in the early part of the century. 
When this present one was erected is a matter of some doubt. The 
writer of the return for 1848, says it was built in 1838, and cost $400. 
In 1850 a return says it was built in 1842, and cost $250. This return 
also states that the school was 20 weeks long. Number of pupils 
registered, 37 ; average attendance, 21. The return for 1855, reports 
the house as built in 1841, at a cost of $300. Attendance of pupils for 
this year, registered 21 ; average 9. This return is for a school of 29 
weeks. A petition protesting against the setting off of certain resi- 
dents of the district, to District No. 8, presented to the town com- 
mittee in 1846, assigns as a reason for the protest, " that a new school- 
house has been recently erected in the district and these certain residents 
have not paid their tax on the same." So much for the date of the 
building. There is also a variety of statements in regard to the size of 
the building. One authority gives the size as " 15 X 15, and archt" 
another as " 20 x 20, and 10 feet high." 


Report for 18G0, speaks well of the teachers, also notes improved 
attendance of pupils, but still complains of want of interest on part of 
parents. Also, says " the house is unfit for school purposes. It is out 
of repair, location is any thing but desirable, and all its surroundings 
are unpleasant. It is hoped the district will at once adopt measures to 
improve the condition of things. If this matter is not attended to 
soon, it will become the duty of the committee to condemn the house." 

In 1869, the house was condemned, and consolidation recommended 
with No. 8. 

In 1872, committee report the school as the least satisfactor}' of any in 
town. The school for the last two or three years has been as good as 
could be expected, considering house and location. The attendance, as 
for several years previous, has been small, ranging from 16 to 27 regis- 
tered, with the average from 10 to 16. During this time it has been 
under the care of Mrs. Mary M. Prouty, a motherly instructress. 

District No. 10. 

Overlooking Wilson's Pond, at the corner of a road about one mile 
north of the school-house in " Laurel Hill " District stands the building 
which was used for school purposes in earlier da}'s, known as the 
" Jonah Steere house." The present house, or one-half of it, was built 
in 1847, costing S700. Size of room then finished was 35 X 25 and 
10 feet high. Whole number in attendance in 1849 was 5G. The 
character of the school in previous years is hinted at in the report of 
the year 1857, which says : "This has of late been considered a hard 
school to govern, but during the last year no difficult}* occurred. The 
summer term was taught by Miss S. M. Steele, a teacher of fine literary 
acquirements." -' At the close of the winter term considerable time 
was spent in preparing for an exhibition. This is a matter of doubtful 
propriety, for we are disposed to think the time could be more profitably 
spent in the regular studies of the school." The number registered 
in 1858, was 80. In the winter term there were many large scholars 
who did what no scholar ought to do, viz. : " questioned the authority of 
the teacher in regard to the assignment of lessons. The teacher was 
sustained by both the committee and commissioner, though the com- 
mittee kindly suggest that more firmness and activit}* on her part would 
have made her position more acceptable. The following winter saw a 
master installed as the head of the school, but failing to maintain order 
be was succeeded by a mistress, under whom orderl}' and studious habits 
were secured. Miss Ann E. Crurf, the successful teacher, was retained 
through the next }'ear, in which pupils and parents showed a good degree 

Laurel Ridge. 331 

of interest ; whole number 63. Two more than this number are reported 
for 180 1, who were instructed by Miss A. M. Shumway who had a 
" happy faculty of imparting instruction," and Miss L. M. Smith a 
graduate of the Providence High School. " She required thorough recita- 
tions, and close stud}'." The same person was in charge the following 
3'ear. It is not said that she was too strict and thorough for the good 
of the school, but too much so for popularity. In 1863 we find the 
whole number to have been 173, with an average of 82, and the house is 
declared too small and poor. Other accommodation was provided and 
Miss II. N. Bates who was a "faithful" teacher, took the grammar 
department. From this time till 1871 everything was pronounced 
" good," though the committee were not forgetful of the better and the 
best, and consequently the} T say : " The school at Laurel Ridge, one of 
the best in the town, is worthy of a better house, and a better loca- 
tion than the present. Aside from its uninviting aspect, within and 
without, its mudd} r surroundings, and its cramped accommodations, it is 
so arranged as to be especially perilous to the eyes of the pupils. An 
opinion shared b}~ subsequent committees. The report of the following 
year, 1872, announced the names of Miss Ida M. Gardner, since graduated 
at the State Normal School, and Miss Dora V. Brown (now Mowiy), 
" whose employment in the same school for a series of years is the best 
evidence that she merits the approval of her patrons." A shadow 
rested on the school this year in consequence of the death of three of 
its members of small pox, which invaded the town, and shortened the 
term. In 1874, the shaky building and unsuitable furniture are men- 
tioned as in keeping with the location, which is "altogether too much on 
one side of the villages furnishing nearly all its scholars." In 1875 
slight, but insufficient, repairs were made. Number in Fall term, 61 in 
Primary ; 26 in Grammar school. 

District No. 11. 

This is the Pascoag District. The children of this neighborhood in 
the early part of this century in some cases attended school in private 
houses. In other cases the} T went to a school-house which stood near the 
farm of Welcome Sayles. This, however, was not much used after the 
division of the town. About the year 1824, the house which has long 
been known as the " old red," was built in the village, not far from the 
residence of the late Joel Paine, Esq. That the date is correct the 
following copy of a paper written fifty-two years ago will show. 


" Burrillville, December 24th, 1824. 
" ]\Ir. James Irons we have got in warm debate about a school-house to be 
sot near Henry Andrews, And we want you should write how much you will 
give towards Building the same. Our western nabours want to git it on the 
hill by Nicholas Sayles, but if you will Sine pritaliberly we can have it near your 
house. We have sent you a copy of the Siners and how much cash has sinecl." 

It is fair to infer that the recipient of this epistle did '« 'Sine pritaliberly ," 
for the writer and his coadjutors gained their point. Twent} T -one years 
later, the bouse having attained its majority, was reported as "very bad." 
Mr. Emor Smith, in that year, reports himself as thirty-six years old, 
having taught sixteen years, mostly in this State. Whole number, 68 ; 
average, 40. From 1857 to 1863, schools were held as a variable at- 
tendance required, either in the " old red," in school-house No. 2, situ- 
ated on the opposite side of the same road westward, but used for a brief 
period only, or in the vestry of the Baptist church. The report of 1862 
informs us that "District No. 1 1 is entirety destitute of a house that will 
accommodate more than a fraction of its scholars." Immediately fol- 
lowing, without waiting for a formal vote of condemnation of the old 
house, the citizens of the district took hold of the matter, and a new 
house arose with ample room for the time, costing about S3, 000. The 
committee, in speaking of this house, make some very judicious remarks 
in relation to the planting of shade trees around, but not too near school- 
houses. In most instances the people have been very careful about 
not planting them too near. The effect of this house erected in 1862-3, 
then the best in town, was beneficial. The year after, the committee 
are warm in words of commendation, both of teachers and scholars. 
Emily A. King of Southbridge, Massachusetts, and Lucy W. Smith, 
were the happy teachers. Total, 133 ; average, 96. From this year this 
district, and to its honor let the fact be rehearsed, has voluntarily taxed 
itself to lengthen the terms beyond the limit allowed b} T the State and 
Town appropriations. This tax was for a while approved by the whole 
Committee, but in Februaiy, 1872, the chairman or clerk were authorized 
to approve any such tax provided that no school should be kept longer 
than ten months. For several terms Miss C. Pierce, a teacher of some 
celebrity, instructed in the grammar department. She is still a resident 
of the town, teaching in a select wa}-, and interested in the practical 
questions relating to the better education of the attendants upon our 
public schools. In 1871 appears the name of Mrs. E. F. Harris, 
for most of the time since, and at present, the much esteemed and 
efficient teacher in the grammar school. The primary department has 

Pascoag Disteict. 333 

also been adorned by well chosen and laborious teachers ; one of whom, 
Miss Alice Logee, (Angel!,) has recently ended her labors on earth. 

For some time the primary required an assistant teacher, and the 
growth of the school made a larger place for it an imperative necessity. 
In the month of October, 1874, a new house with three stories, in mod- 
ern style, and with modern furniture, costing about $7,500, was dedi- 
cated by appropriate services, there being in attendance, and delivering 
addresses, the outgoing and the incoming Commissioners, Hon. T. W. 
Bicknell and Hon. T. B. Stockwell. The occupancy of the second stoiy 
of this house bj* the grammar school, allowed an intermediate grade to 
be constituted in the room vacated, and thus afforded the needed relief 
to the Primary. This change increased the number of schools in the 
town to twenty-one, the number of districts being fifteen. 

There have been four school-houses proper built and used by this dis- 
trict, besides the use of the Baptist vestry, which was fitted for a school 
in which Rev. D. P. Harriman was the first teacher, who was also chair- 
man of the committee of 1846. He was succeeded in the vestry b}* Rev. 
A. R. Bradbury, Mowry Arnold, Emeline E. Arnold, (now Steere,) and 

Mr. Moses Salisbuiy, the "General," b} T which title he is familiarly 
known, himself well skilled in naming things, furnishes some facts out of 
his clear and retentive memory, for which we are grateful. He first at- 
tended school in "Clark " Daniel Smith's shop, having Rufus Boulster 
for a teacher, who in the use of his rod one da} T struck off a steel button 
from an urchin's coat, which, spinning across the room, came so near 
the "General's" knowledge box, that he never forgot it, though he w T as 
then only six years old. Nicholas Jenks, John W. Wood, Mr. Clark, 
William Col well, Caleb Crosby are named among his other masters. 
The last-mentioned taught in "Daniel Sayles' Shop," in which was a 
large oven, and beneath, according to the custom, a wood hole. During 
a brief absence of Crosby, one Smith S., " a good scholar, but a great 
rogue," mounting the back of the negro boy Pollock, rode him around 
the school-room. The master's coming being announced while the fun 
was at its height, Smith drove his horse into the open wood hole and 
closed the door ; Pollock, too, enjoying the joke. The master enters, 
misses P. and inquires for him. The tell-tale face of Smith led Crosby 
to ask him particularly, who promptly replied, "I guess if you look in 
the wood hole, you'll find my black colt." 

On a time when a strict law against whispering was in force, a 
roll of paper was pushed over the desk by the finger of another lad, 
which the master seeing, the "General " picked up, put into his mouth, 


gave a "chaw" and swallowed. "What was on the paper?" asked Crosby. 
Of course, the " General" knew not, and the other boy said, "An odor," 
meaning order, " for tobacco." Better in all cases were only the order, 
and not the tobacco swallowed. 

In 1*24 Mr. Salisbuiy finished the inside of the "old red." He was 
Trustee in 1828. He made blackboards as soon as any, "fitted 
up" the Baptist vestiy and assisted in starting the first Sabbath School 
in the old red school-house, from which time a Sabbath school has been 
sustained in the village. He was never corrected for misdemeanors in 
his school days, which may confirm to the initiated that he was even 
better than "a four-pence between two cents." 

District No. 12. 

The first distri it having this number was formerly the " stone school- 
house " because of the material of which it was constructed. At a later 
da}' it was called the " Eagle Peak." " Eagle Pick," according to the 
" General," for when Henry Clay was a candidate foi the presidenc}- a 
political meeting was held in this district. Some one with chalk drew 
a picture of an Eagle, picking at the head of Clay, and hence " Eagle 
Pick," the " Peak" being a corruption. From some equally trivial 
circumstance sprang the colloquial appellations, " Monkey-town," 
" Turkey-ville," " Stub-ville," etc. The land was deeded by Mr. Wash- 
ington Logee to revert in case of a diversion from school purposes. 
The original cost is set down at $200. Of its history in other parti- 
culars we have no record until 1847, when the whole number attending 
was 50 — average 35. One hundred and twenty dollars were expended 
in repairs in 1848. In 1855, the number had diminished to 
27; average 15. School reported "good" in 1857, though there were 
no visits from the parents/ Arrangement of seats in 1861, " bad," 
otherwise in good repair. In 18G4 change of teachers every term. In 
1867 had made needed improvements. In 1870, the report says : " The 
house in Eagle Peak is sadly out of repair. The reason w r hy a renova- 
tion of this house has not been urged, is a decided conviction that the 
educational interests of the people in this district can be secured by 
another and a better arrangement. A large part of the pupils in this 
district arc within a short distance of the Pascoag school, and the 
remainder are quite near to the Laurel Hill School. If there are any in 
the western part of the district who cannot attend either of these 
schools, they can be accommodated in the Jackson District." In 1871, 
the report further says : " At the commencement of the year 3-our 

Jackson District. 335 

committee abolished the Eagle Peak District and divided its territoiy 
between Nos. 10, 11 and 13. We regarded it as a waste of money and 
a positive injury to the scholars to continue a school a\ eraging only 
twelve pupils, located within three-quarters of a mile from two graded 
schools, which rank among the best in the town." From the committee 
the district appealed to the commissioner, who, after fully hearing the 
case, sustained the committee. About this time the kt Plainville " 
district through the action of the committee dropped the No. 17 and 
took the No. 12, in order to fill the blank in the tables of school statis- 
tics. The second No. 12, known as the kt Plainville " or a Oakland,'' 
(though the present house is nearer the latter than the former village), 
was formed by a division of No. 4, and a recent alteration of adjacent 
boundaries. For some time a school was kept in the rear part of a 
tenement house in Oakland, and taught by Abbie J. Mowry (Reynolds). 
The place was poor, the teacher good. In 1873, as the school was still 
continued in the same place, and no ground of hope of a proper school- 
house, the superintendent recommended the abolition of the district. 
But it would have been unwise to have abolished it. So the district 
thought. Steps were therefore taken which resulted in the giving of a 
lot by CMiarles Whipple, Esq., and the erection, largely through the 
liberality of Mr. Whipple and John L. Ross, Esq., of u a neat and 
attractive school-house, with a pleasant location between the villages 
of Oakland and Plainville, which, with its modern furniture and fixtures, 
cost about $2,000." The erection and use of this house puts an end, 
let us hope, to that period of our school history when private dwellings 
shall be employed for purposes of public education. 

District No. 13. 

This district is situated in the south-western part of the town, and 
was for a time called the " Mathewson." This name is given in a return 
for the term commencing December 18, 1848, and ending April 6, 1849. 
The number of families then in the district, was fifteen, all engaged in 
agriculture. Ten boys and four girls attended school, no one of whom 
was provided with all the books necessary in the studies pursued by 
them. Books used, were the Practical Speller, Russell's and Angell's Se- 
lect, and Angell's No. 2 Readers, Colburn's Mental Arithmetic, Emer- 
son's second part Written Arithmetic, Morse's, Smith's and Mitchell's 
Geographies and Smith's Grammar. The teacher was Miss Ruth J. Can- 
ney, from Dover, N. II., who received $10 a month and board. Ten out 
of the fourteen scholars engaged in declamation, which must have in- 


eluded all the boys, for whom the wa} T to oratorical distinction was thus 
prepared. In a return for 1854, the district is called "Jackson," in 
honor, so far as appears, of Gen. Andrew Jackson. The honor came too 
late, however, to be of any comfort to the General, who died in June, 1845. 
Number of families given in this return, twenty, all engaged in agricul- 
ture. Sixteen boys, nine girls ; teacher, Miss M. L. Joslin, from 
Thompson, Connecticut, who received $16 a month, lfy this return we 
learn the school-house was built in 1835, and repaired in 1854, at a cost 
of $150. The dimensions were 18x18 and 8 feet feet high. 

According to report of 18G7, the district made the needed improve- 
ments. In 18G8, the school is reported as usual in interest, with an 
average attendance of nine. In 1874 the district had the honor and 
benefit of a trustee, who did his dut}' with charming fidelity, and the 
school-house and school soon began to brighten. For the last year it 
is to be reported that the school-house has been thoroughly repaired, 
inside and out. The Winter of 1875-G saw a larger attendance than 
usual, and a more satisfactory school in eveiy particular. 

District No. 14. 

This is the most western district in the town, and is bounded by the 
Connecticut line. It is called " Buck Hill," probabl} T because of the nu- 
merous bucks who formerly roamed proudly over the long, well wooded 
hill, which must be crossed in order to reach this remote district. A 
return of 1849 tells us the number of families in the district was fifteen, 
all engaged in agriculture. Extent of territory of district, length 6 
miles, breadth 2 miles. School-house built in 1832, cost $200., repaired 
in 1848 at a cost of $225. Dimensions of school-house, 1G X 18, 8 feet 
high. Number of pupils registered, 22, 12 boys and 10 girls; average 
attendance, 11. None of pupils fully provided with books. Teacher's 
name illegible, age eighteen ; wages $8. a month and board. Trustee, 
Jacob Lewis. 1849. — Teacher, Almira Tourtelotte, wages $1.50 a week 
and board ; average attendance 16. In 1852 the Town Committee were 
requested to take charge of the school, the request coming from the ma- 
jority of legal voters to the number of two. In 1855 Miss Ann E. 
Crulf, of Thompson, taught three terms for 810. and $12. a month and 
board; average attendance, 15. There were three teachers the following 
3"ear. Total number of pupils each term, 14 ; average, 8 The 
parents aie said to have interested themselves very much in the educa- 
tion of their children. 1860. — Total number of pupils, 23 ; average, 16. 
Mary 11. Sheldon, of Thompson, Connecticut, was retained for several 
terms, and was regarded as a very eiheient teacher. 1862. — Total 

Harris District. 337 

number pupils, 12 ; average 8, showing a decrease in numbers. 1863. — 
Total number pupils, 17 ; average, 14. In 1864, total number pupils, 
20; average, 17. The school report for this }'ear, after mentioning 
teachers' names, says : " We know of no cause of complaint, but from 
the remote situation of the district and a failure on part of the Trustee to 
notify us of the times of closing the school, it was not visited as many 
times as the law requires,— the Trustee having the frankness and honesty 
to tell the Committee that both school and teacher could get along about 
as well without them as otherwise," which is prett}- good for a district 
which, in 1852, asked the Town Committee to help them. In 1867, 
school-house condemned, small number in attendance. 1868. — Measures 
were taken to repair the school-house ; average attendance, 9. 1869. — 
No school during the Spring or Summer terms. Attendance of Winter 
school : total, 12 ; average, 7. Taught by Miss Mary Lewis, (colored), 
to whose " careful and thorough training " the committee call particu- 
lar attention. In 1872 the school enjoyed eight and one-half months of 
schooling under an experienced teacher. Total number pupils for Sum- 
mer term, 12 ; average, 8 : for Winter term, total, 9 ; average, 8. 1875. 
— For Summer and Fall terms, total, 6 boys ; average 4. Winter term, 
7 boys ; average, 5. 

District No. 15. 

This district is called " Harris District," probably for the reason that 
there were several lamilies of that name residing within its limits. It is 
situated about one and one-half miles from Harrisville. Its extent, two 
and one-half miles by one and one-half. The inhabitants formerly held 
their schools in private dwellings. The present house is their first 
school-house; its dimensions being 16 X 1G and 8 feet high. It was 
built in 1840 at an expense of $134. The land donated for this. building 
was only so much as the house might cover ; the builders did not seem 
to be governed by the idea, more house, more land. The district has no 
out-building, no play ground on its own land. Two windows, which may 
be lowered at the top, furnish ventilation. Iu 1847 Job Steere, Esq., 
taught four months, having 27 pupils. In 1857, the total number of 
pupils was 19, average 13. The school report for this year speaks 
highly of the teachers and says : " Though small, the school is one of the 
best in town. We always find a good average for the number registered. 
This fact shows an active interest on part of parents, an interest which 
renders the school pleasant and easy for the teachers, and profitable for 
scholars. In 1858 we learn from the report that the parents are inter- 
ested and " not unreasonably fault-finding" In 1862 "gratifying suc- 


cess, under charge of Miss A. M. Shumwa}'," is recorded. In 1864, the 
school-house is condemned as unfit for use. 1866. — The house is re- 
ported in good order. In 1872 the school report for this year thus 
speaks of this school: "Though small, it is thoroughly alive and suc- 
cessful, and abundantly proves the wisdom of continuing a good teacher 
term after term in the same school. Miss Ida E. Steere, who has won a 
fine reputation as a first-class teacher for schools of this grade, taught 
the school seven and one-quarter months at an expense of $247.33. 

Evening schools for several years have been provided, for those who 
could not attend the day schools, in three of the larger villages, with 
good results. 

There is at present no free public library in the town. 

The care of the schools has employed on the school committees during 
the successive years of their history, nearly four hundred citizens of the 
town. To give even the names of so many would occupy more space 
than can be allowed. Something was done certainty previous to the year 
1846, when the work was divided between sixteen persons. More was 
done, perhaps, when the number was six, and it ma}- be as much has 
been accomplished siace 1857, when the number was lessened to three. 
The names of the present Committee are James S. Cook, Chairman ; 
Oliver A. Inman, Secretary ; and Isaac Steere. 

The visiting of schools and the examination of teachers was attended 
to sometimes by the Committee as a whole, at other times by some one 
appointed for the purpose. Both of these duties, hojvever, were subse. 
quently assigned to the Superintendent. The first person elected to this 
position was Rev. Mowry Phillips, July 11, 1871. He was, at the time, 
the esteemed Pastor of the Baptist church at Pascoag, and continued to 
discharge the functions of his important offices, until failing health made 
it needful for him to seek its recover}- by change and repose. He re. 
signed the Superinteuclency in October, 1<S73. It is gratifying to know 
that restored health enables him to hold the same office to-day in the 
mother town of Glocester. 

In conclusion, it may be said that what is here presented does not 
claim to be anything more than "a plain and unvarnished" notice of 
some persons and some things belonging to the history of the schools of 
Burrillville. The material for a complete history is scanty and imper- 
fect. This is the result of a limited inquiry and a rapid glance, such as 
could be made within the narrow circle of twelve days. The writer begs 
leave to congratulate his feliow citizens on the advance steps which have 
already been taken in matters of education, and to remind them that we 
still occupy " that greatest room in the world," — the room for improve- 

Moxey Expended. 339 

A tabular view of a portion of money expended is appended : 

Year. State Appropriation. Town Appropriation. 

1828 S199 80 $300 00 

1839 644 70 300 00 

1844 4G9 06 300 00 

1847 400 00 

1854 865 86 80188 

1857 1,495 78 600 00 

1858 1,481 62 \ 800 00 

1859 : 1,487 62 800 00 

1860 1,487 62 800 00 

1861 1,478 10 1,000 00 

1862.. 1,478 10 1,000 00 

1863 1,459 97 1,000 00 

1864 1,459 97 1,000 00 

1865 1,459 97 1,500 00 

1866. , 1,459 97 2,000 00 

1867 1,459 97 2.000 00 

1868 2,032 26 2,500 00 

1869 2,576 93 2,500 00 

1870 2.571 97 2,500 00 

1871 2,592 99 3,000 00 

1872 2,526 91 3,500 00 

1873 2,529 16 3,500 00 

1874 , 2,515 76 3,500 00 

1875 2.513 57 3,500 00 


By W. F. Tucker, 


At the August session of the General Assembly, held at Newport in 
1738, an aet was passed dividing the town of Westerly into two towns, 
the same to be known and distinguished by the names of Westerly and 
Charlestown. At this period, Charlestown extended from Westerly 
on the west, to South Kingstown on the east ; and from the town of 
Exeter on the north, to the Atlantic on the south. But on the eight- 
eenth of August, 1747, an act was likewise passed, dividing the town 
of Charlestown into two divisions, to be distinguished by the names of 
Charlestown and Richmond ; and the Pawcatuck river was selected as a 
natural and fixed boundary between the two towns. At the first census, 
taken in 1748, Charlestown had a population of 1,002 ; and in 1774 a 
population of 1,821 ; while the present population, according to the last 
census, taken in 1875, is 1,054. 

Narragansett Indian School. 

As early as 1815, the first school building was erected in this town, 
and named the Narragansett Indian School-house, in honor of the fa- 
mous tribe of Indians, whose descendants still hold a small portion of 
the land by reservation. It ma}' seem strange that the Indians owned 
the first school-house, but it is nevertheless true. This structure stands 
on a small knoll at the north end of a pond, formerly known to the tribe 
as Cockumpaug, but more recently named the School-house pond. It is 
an old wooden building, having the following dimensions : — length, thirty 
feet ; width, twenty four feet; and height, seven feet between Moors. 
There is a rough stone chimne}' in the building, which gives it an ancient 
appearance. In this house the few surviving members of the Narra- 
gansett Indians hold their annual council, and it is here that the}' also 
have their school. 

District System. 341 

Facilities before Public Schools. 

Educational facilities prior to the establishment of public schools were 
exceedingly feeble in this vicinity. The people supported what were 
then recognized as private schools, the majority of which being* kept in 
dwelling houses. In selecting a situation for a school it was expedient 
for them to obtain a central location in the neighborhood, but this was 
not always done, as there were very many obstacles in the way. 

Teachers at this time were hired for stipulated sums ; receiving their 
wages from the parents and guardians, who paid them in proportion to 
the number of pupils that each one sent to school. In this community, 
forty years ago, the practice was as common for a school officer to go 
into Connecticut to hire a teacher as it is now customary for a person to 
pay taxes. The school committee often granted certificates to persons 
whose qualifications and abilities to instruct and govern a school were 
quite inadequate for the task ; and they seldom visited the schools to as- 
certain the results. Consequently, the schools were taught, many times, 
by very incompetent teachers ; by those who could not perform all the 
examples in the arithmetics, and what is much more discreditable, were 
unable to give satisfactory explanations of such as they could perform. 
It frequently happened that persons taught school who had no knowledge 
of grammar, or in other words, had never studied it. The average 
length of schools, was between three and four months ; for which reason, 
educational resources were quite limited. 

District System. 

In 1828, the General Assembly passed an act to divide the several 
towns into districts, with whicn the people readily complied. The Dis- 
trict system, in this town was established, June 2d, 1828 ; and a subdivi- 
sion made November the 19th of the same year, separating the town 
into six districts. 

Next j'ear, on the fifteenth of April, a portion of the district at Cross' 
Mills, and at Quonocontaug, was set off forming a new district, which 
was added to the catalogue as No. 7. 

The last district subdivision in Charlestown, was made in 1871, w T hen 
Carolina was taken from Pasquesett, and organized as the eighth school 
district. In the meantime, perplexities frequently grew out of the im- 
perfect divisions and records of the districts ; and, in 1874, the school 
committee re-bounded all the districts, giving more definite boundaries to 
them, and caused the same to be placed on record in the town clerk's 

342 Charlestown. 

Washington. — In 1828, Joshua Card, Joseph Cross, David Clark, 
Elisha Greenman, William Card, Dan King and others, purchased a 
piece of land of Henry Greene, containing twenty-two square rods, and 
erected thereon a building for school purposes. According to date, this 
was the first school-house built by the white people of Charlestown ; and 
it was named Washington, in honor of the first President of the United 
States. This district is situated in the north-eastern part of the town. 

In 1871, Jason P. Greene, George W. Cross, Amos P. Greene, and 
Henry S. Greene sold the property to the district ; and in the same year, 
the house was thoroughly repaired, and supplied with modern desks and 

Shumuncanuc. — Here in the north-western part of the town, the surface 
is very hilly, and the people named the district after the most important 
hill. The citizens of this section met pursuant to notice on the premises 
of Abram Allen, Esq., and selected a pleasant location for a school. Mr. 
Allen gave, then and there, the land on which the building was to be 
erected ; and Mrs. Elizabeth Allen, wife of Abram, named it ; ' Union 
Hill," and paid one dollar for the honor of naming it. 

This building was raised on the sixteenth of September, and dedicated 
by having a meeting in it, on the thirteenth of November, 1831. The 
first structure, however, was burned clown, and on November the 10th, 
1845, Arnold and Nanc}' Hiscox, deeded a parcel of land to the district, 
nearer the centre, whereon the present school-house stands. Mrs. Eli- 
zabeth Allen, who was born June 22d, 1772, is now living and enjoying 
good health ; and possesses a remarkable memory for a person who has 
lived to see one hundred and three years. 

Quonocontavg. — In this section of the State, some of the hills, streams, 
rivers and ponds, retain, at the present time, the original names given 
by the Indians. Quonocontaug is situated in the south-western portion 
of the town, and this name appears first applied to a pond in the neigh- 
borhood, from which the district received it. Edward Wilcox, who was 
Lieutenant Governor from 1817 to 1821, transferred a lot of land to the 
district, upon which a school-house was built in 1838. Although a re- 
spectable number of teachers have gone forth from other schools, 
still this school is entitled to the honor of educating an unusual number 
of good and faithful teachers. 

Coofatoivn. — This division joins the town of W^esterlj-, and it is really 
a rural district. The first school officers elected were the following: — 
1'owen Briggs, Moderator ; Joseph W. Taylor, clerk ; Benjamin F. Wil- 
cox, Matthias Crandall, and Rowland Peckham, trustees ; Perry Ilealej-, 
treasurer; and Gardner Crumb, collector. Bowen Briggs and Gilbert 

District System. 343 

Stanton conveyed a piece of land to the district in 1839 ; and a school 
building was erected during the year. 

Wdtchaug. — The people of this district erected a school-house in 
1840, but a deed of the land on which the house stands was not granted 
until August 15, 1864. Watchaug is located in the south part of the 
town, and derives its name from a large pond on the western boundary, 
so called by the Indians. There is no other district in Charlestown 
which has such a grand expanse of water within its limits, or bordering 
on its territory. 

Cross' Mills. — This district is situated in the south-eastern section of 
the town, and named after the village within its limits. The citizens 
of the neighborhood built a house for educational purposes in 1843. 
From 1845 to 18G0, perhaps no school in the town excelled this one in 
literary attainments, and in reference to teachers, without doubt this 
school has produced nearly as many as all the other schools combined. 
The school building was repaired and re-seated in 1874. 

Pasquesett. — The citizens of this communit}* were in meditation a 
long time before any conclusion was reached; and, finally, in 1850, 
they purchased thirty rods of land of Robert Hazard, and built a school- 
house thereon. The district, which is situated in the northern and central 
part of the town, takes its name from a small pond, lying on its eastern 
border. In 1874, the school-house was enlarged and thorough^ 
renovated, and furnished with desks and seats of the latest pattern. 
The extent of territory and the advancement of the school, considerably 
exceeds that of any other in the town. The Indian school-house, here- 
tofore mentioned, is located in the southern part of this division. 

Carolina. — In 1845, Rowland G. Hazard, Esq., erected a school-house 
in Richmond, a little north-west of the village ; and, on the 13th 
of May, 1871, the property, consisting of a house and lot, was sold to 
the district for $700. Meanwhile, the children from the northern part 
of the district of Pasquesett, attended school here, as it was more con- 
venient so to do, and paid their proportion of the school fund of Charles- 
town to the school in Richmond. But on the 27th of January, 1872, 
district No. 8 of Charlestown, and No. 2 of Richmond, were consolidated 
and named Carolina joint district. At this period, an addition was 
made to the school-house at a cost of $2,487.63 ; making it a very com- 
modious and useful school building. Immediate!}- after the completion 
of the house, the school was divided into a primary and a grammar 
department, establishing a graded school. 

344 Chaelestown. 

Improvement and Present Condition. 

About fort3 T -eight years ago, the public school system was established 
in the State of Rhode Island". It was truly the beginning of a new era 
of educational improvements ; and the State, like a living bod}' which 
is sensitive in every member, was touched by the noble and generous 
act, in all its sub-divisions. Indeed, literary interests were perceptibly 
awakened in the minds of the people ; and, from that period onward, 
education has been steadily advancing in the direction of both a higher 
and a broader culture. The establishment of the permanent school fund 
and public schools, gave life and vitality to the cause of education, and 
incited the people to a more united and determined effort, to give better 
means of instruction to the rising generation. A few soul-inspiring 
men, faithful servants of a worthy cause, have taken hold of this 
National work, and have carried it forward to its present condition. 
The broad foundation of our common schools is favorably fixed, and, 
with wise legislation and prudent management, improvements will be 
made as long as time and necessit} T demand them. The common school 
is the place where a child should be taught the moral as well as the 
literary lessons of public life, for morality and learning are indispen- 
sable to a nation's success. Charlestown has now resident teachers 
enough to supply all her schools, and about fifty per cent, of them, 
have attended State Normal schools. The average length of schools 
for the year, is little more that eight months, showing quite a contrast 
in comparison with the schoolyear of one half century ago. The present 
advanced condition has been reached mainly through the activity and 
perseverance of the school committee. 

School Supervision. — The school committee which appointed the first 
town superintendent were elected in April, 1871, and organized soon 
after b} T electing Samuel B. Hoxie, chairman ; B. F. Greenman, clerk, 
and Dr. A. A. Saunders, superintendent. The emplo3 r ment of a person 
to thoroughly inspect the schools, and to direct and assist the teachers 
in their daily labors, was an important step in educational progress. 
School supervision is the foundation on which the whole system of popu- 
lar instruction rests. Unquestionably, what is most needed b3 T our 
public schools, and what is most essential to their efficiency, is a con- 
stant, thorough and impartial supervision. I believe that the more 
direct and frequent this oversight is, when judiciously exerted, the more 
satisfactory will be the results. 

Evening Schools. — At Carolina Mills, an evening school taught by 
Messrs. Tanner, Ilolden, and Collins, has been in successful operation 

Distinguished Persons. 345 

for several weeks, but is now closed. An average of 60 pupils shows 
the general interest, and under the present administration the cause of 
education is advancing. 

Distinguished Persons. — In connection with the public schools, 
perhaps, it may be proper to mention some of the persons who have 
labored faithfully for the advancement of education ; and those who 
have become distinguished for their ability. Dan King was an earnest 
advocate for popular education, and his sons were educated for various 
professions. Joshua Card was a notable aid in the cause of public 
instruction. He was himself a teacher of good repute, and his youngest 
son, David Card, is now a physician at Willimantic, Connecticut. Dr. 
Joseph II. Griffin was an earnest laborer for the advancement of schools 
aud the education of his children. Louis P. Griffin, his son, completed 
a course of studies in medicine, and began his practice in Chicago, 
Illinois. Samuel J. Cross was an able educator. He moved from 
Rhode Island to New York, -where he became connected with a college 
during the remainder of his life. Wm. II. Perry, a teacher of large 
experience, has done much to promote the best interests of our schools. 
Kate Stanton, daughter of George A. Stanton, and a lecturer of some 
note, was formerly a teacher in this town. 


By E. Iv. Parker, 


The town of Warwick originally included in its territory the town of 
Coventry. Settlements had been begun, in what is now the latter town, 
before it was set off from Warwick. Simultaneous with settlement, the 
work of education began. Probably about one hundred and ten (110) 
years ago the first school-house was erected in the town of Coventr}-. 
Previous to that time the schools were convened in rooms in private 
houses. As scholars then went two or three miles to school, it is to be 
presumed that the number of schools was less than at the present time. 

The modus operandi of establishing and maintaining schools at that 
period appears to have been as follows : The people of a neighborhood 
signed a certain agreement, known as articles. By this act they indicated 
the number of scholars that each would send to school, and also, they 
were bound (by the act) to meet the expenses in proportion to this num- 
ber. The wages of the teacher varied from $5 to $10 per month and 
board. The teacher boarded with the various families which patronized 
his school. The citizen who furnished the room in his house for the 
accommodation of the school received, as compensation, the tuition of 
one scholar. With rare exceptions the qualifications of the teachers were 
xevy meagre. But few books were to be obtained. Indeed the spelling- 
book was nearly the only kind of printed book known to the school- 
room in the early times. This contained, in addition to the lessons in 
spelling, lessons in reading. Usualty no printed text-book on the 
science of arithmetic was used. The master had what was called his 
''ciphering" book. This was in manuscript — a copy of some other 

First Schools. 347 

master's book. Probably originally it was a copy of a printed text- 
book on the subject, with the addition of the solutions of the problems. 
The scholars copied the definitions and rules. Usually the master wrote 
the problems in the books and then the learners solved them, if able, and 
copied the solutions into their books. Fractions were omitted as being 
useless. Much stress was placed upon the " Rule of Three" — especi- 
ally, what was called the u Double Rule of Three." The abilit} 7 to make 
a good quill pen was one of the first essentials of a master's qualifica- 
tions. For writing, the scholars used loose sheets of paper, or a number 
of sheets stitched together. Copies were written by the masters, some 
of whom have left proofs, in this form, of wonderful caligraph\\ Sixty 
years ago, the present chairman of the School Committee, Mr. Joseph 
Tillinghast, and his brothers, Pardon and George, owned in partnership 
the only copy of Daboll's Arithmetic inside the school-room where they 
attended, except the teacher's. The length of the school term was 
about three months in Winter, and from two to three months in Sum- 
mer. The branches pursued were reading, spelling, writing and arith- 
metic. The schools were often very crowded and very uncomfortably 
seated. Stoves were unknown, and as a consequence, the huge chimney 
with its broad fire-place insured the best of ventilation, thus furnishing the 
sturdj' boys of the olden time an abundance of pure air. In those days, 
as a general thing, the bo3*s only were sent to school ; for the reason, as 
a venerable yeoman of the period said — " In Winter the distance is too 
great for them (the girls) to walk, and in Summer they must needs stay 
at home to help their mothers." 

More than a century ago there were built in the town at least three 
houses which were used exclusivel}' for schools, "and it may be, at irregu- 
lar periods for religious worship. One was located at the foot of the 
eastern declivity of Waterman's Hill, on the main road ; another near 
what is now known as Spring Lake, probably on the present location of 
the public school-house ; and a third on the same main road leading from 
Washington over Harkney Hill to the Connecticut lin^, and about south- 
west from Summit station. These houses were of rude construction and 
but poorly adapted to the purposes for which they were designed. 
Still they marked an educational advance from the crowded room of the 
private residence. They also served as striking monuments to indicate 
where the greatest local educational interest prevailed. The men who were 
especially prominent in the matter of education at this period were the 
three brothers Bowen — Aaron, Israel andlchabod, — Richard Waterman, 
Joseph Matteson and Caleb Vaughn, Jr. 

From the revolutionary period up to 1830, the interest in education 

348 Coventry. 

continued steadity to advance. Two years previous, 1828, the General 
Assembly had re-established free schools throughout the State. At that 
time there were as many school-houses in the town as at this writing, 
wanting two or three. All school-houses built before 1846, were If eld in 
shares, and the owners were called proprietors. In regard to the 
masters, as they were called, of this period tradition has handed down 
but little. Before 1800, masters Crocker and Knox, natives of Ireland, 
taught school at Bowen's Hill and vicinity. Some of the oldest citizens 
of the town now living, who attended school soon after the present 
century began, tell of Master Lemuel Spaulding, from Plainfield, Conn., 
who taught in a number of the different school-houses for a period of 
years. His qualifications were superior to most of his fellow teachers. 
He not onl} T taught the branches commonl} T pursued, but carried scholars 
through surveying and navigation. He is described as a strict discipli- 
narian of dignified deportment and usually silent. Mr. James Mathew- 
son, now living, a citizen born in West Greenwicn, about this time 
taught a school in what is known as Whale}' Hollow, at $5 per month. 
At a date later there came along a teacher known Irv the nomme tie plume of 
Mr. A. B. It is a mystery to this day unexplained what the true name 
of this man was. He came like a phantom, proved himself a superior 
teacher, received no compensation, furnished his scholars with books, 
won the hearts of old and young, and at the close of his school disap- 
peared as mysteriously as he came. Soon after the re-establishment of 
free schools, other branches were introduced, — such as English grammar 
and geograph}'. Among the foremost teachers to encourage these new 
studies were the Rev. James Burlingame, now living, who taught 
evening schools, for his older pupils' benefit, two or three nights in the 
week, and for which he received no extra pay ; Charles Horton and his 
brother Benjamin ; Asa Stone, son of Asa, who was for a long time 
town clerk ; all, with the exception of Burlingame, having been pupils of 
the Rev. Richard Stone, a native of Coventry, and who for a number of 
years taught a select and Normal School at Bridgewater, Mass. Thus 
the free schools continued to increase gradually in efficienc}- and 
interest. * 

The next important date in the history of educational affairs is 1846. 
Radical reform was introduced at that time by the enactment of the 
new school law. To the credit of the town, it can be said, that but few 
of its citizens made any effort to obstruct the execution of this law. 
The people were generoush 7 enthusiastic in its support. The school- 
houses were mostly purchased by the school districts, thoroughly repaired 
and entirely re-seated. In some instances new houses were built, and 

Distinguished Persons. 349 

furnished with a degree of usefulness and elegance before unknown in 
this part of the State. An efficient School Committee was appointed, 
which carefully examined candidates for teachers' places, and generally 
lent its aid in carrying out the various changes that the new law 
enjoined. Better wages were paid teachers, better talent took the field, 
and better schools resulted. The citizens of the town who were especi- 
ally active, indefatigable and self-der^ing in educational affairs, at this 
period, were Elisha Harris, Peleg Wilbur, Thomas Whipple, John J. 
Kilton, James G. Bowen, Stephen Waterman, Caleb Waterman, Isaac 
G. Bowen, Israel Wilson, Robert N. Potter, in addition to the members 
of the first School Committee under the new law, whose names were 
Samuel Arnold, Cromwell Whipple, Oliver G. Waterman, James A. 
Fenner, Caleb Nicholas. 

For the thirty years succeeding 1846, the advanced ground taken at 
that date has been held, and a general forward movement has been going on. 
In addition to what is said above in regard to superior school-houses 
and equipments that had place in 184G-47, we would add that at Wash- 
ington Village and at Bowen's Hill k ' District School Libraries " were 
established. These two districts, with Coventry Centre, were also fur- 
nished with a complete set of school apparatus. The Spruce District 
(now Summit) and the Town House district had nearly a complete set. 
In the winter term of 184G-47, Israel Wilson, Esq., offered as a prize, 
a complete set of Mitchell's Outline Maps, to be competed for by three 
schools, Nos. 5, 7 and 9. The judges were announced to be the School 
Committee, and their published report the decision. The school that 
received the most favorable report was to take the prize. No. 7 re- 
ceived it. 

From the scholars of the public schools, at different times, have come 
forth those in whom was instilled so great love of learning that they 
have been led to successfully pursue a full course of liberal education. 
This list comprises Hon. Henry B. Anthon} T , dow senator in Congress, 
Rev. Harris S.Inman,Rev. A.K.Potter, Charles Matteson, now Associate 
Justice of the State Supreme Court, Samuel H. Aluro, Eugene War- 
ner, all graduates of Brown University, and Ezra K.Parker, a graduate of 
Dartmouth College. Again out of the long list of business and profes- 
sional men, who in their boyhood attended our public schools and who 
have been particularly successful in their own chosen walks of life, we 
deem it neither inappropriate nor invidious to mention Tully D. Bowen, 
Christopher Whitman, and David Hopkins, manufacturers, William 
Bowen, the lawyer, John McGregor, the surgeon, and Thomas A. Whit- 
man, the banker. 

350 Coventry. 

Having thus traced imperfectly and briefly the progress of education 
in our town, it will be our purpose to examine its present status, and to 
suggest what ma}' seem necessary to improve it. 

Popular Interest. 

The people of Coventry appear to be fully sensible of the value of the 
public school. The}' seem to understand thoroughly that the boy or girl 
who is sent into the world unable to read and write, or who has not a 
common school training, however endowed with superior natural abilities, 
has not an equal chance in the battle of life. Most of the illiteracy in 
the town is confined to foreigners. 

School Houses. 

Many of the school-houses are in good condition, all are planned after 
good models, a few need slight internal repairs in order to render them 
more attractive. One district has no house ; maps, charts, globes, etc., 
are wanting in a few. The two libraries, before referred to, established 
in 1846, have not been replenished, and in consequence have lost nearly 
all attraction. 


Three gentlemen now constitute the School Committee. All engage 
in the supervision of the schools. There are eighteen districts in the 
town ; each member has six schools assigned to him, which he visits 
twice each term, and oftener if opportunity is presented. A superinten- 
dent is appointed who performs all other executive duties of the Com- 
mittee. It would be a decided improvement in the system of supervision 
to have appointed a superintendent with a salary sufficient to enable him 
to devote most of his time to the schools, especially during the winter 

Evening Schools. 

Coventry raises b} T direct taxation $3,000, for the support of public 
schools. By a vote of the legal electors one-sixth part of this sum is ap- 
propriated to the support of evening schools. These schools do a good 
work in our manufacturing districts. The principal difficulty in regard 
to them, appears to be that very often a class of scholars not entitled to 
be admitted to evening schools get seats. It should be one of the 
special duties of trustees to remedy this evil. 

Teachers should be able to make teaching a business. The great need 
at the present time is an increase of the public funds so that schools can 

Length of School Year. 351 

be continued, at least eight months in the }*ear. To secure this result it 
is necessary either to increase directly the educational fund, or letting 
that remain the same, to reduce the number of schools. It might be 
objected to reducing the number of schools, that the distance would be 
too far for scholars to attend them. We have before remarked in this 
narrative that scholars went two or three miles to school before the time 
of free schools. It is true that the school law provides for a district to 
vote to tax all its ratable property to sustain its public school, but like 
many another statute law, on account of the want of public sentiment to 
sustain it, it is inoperative. Whether or not it is better to reduce the 
number of schools, or whether or not it is not better to increase in some 
way the general school fund, we will not attempt to answer, but leave 
the questions with the few remarks already made. 

We will call attention to the great advantages of having our schools 
continue bight months or more in the year, with a fair compensation for 
teachers, Now, in most of our schools we have a male teacher in the 
Winter terms and a female in the Summer. Thus there are usually two 
teachers called upon to continue the school in a single district for a 
single year. The male teacher usually works upon a farm or upon 
odd jobs during the Summer, waiting for a school to instruct through the 
Winter term of four months. He takes the greater portion of the public 
money. The district then, to make out two or three months more of 
school, engages a lady of little experience in teachiug, at low wages, to 
go through with what is called the Summer term. Under such an ar- 
rangement it will be impossible to have our teachers keep up to the 
times in regard to qualifications. The}' get along try hook or Irv crook 
during the time they are not engaged in teaching, and consider it all a 
pecuniary gain if fortunate enough to secure a term of school to teach. 
On the other hand, teachers should not be censured too much. The 
young lady or young gentleman who is well prepared to discharge the 
responsible duties of a teacher, who has had the advantages of a thorough 
preparation for the work, should have a field in which to exercise their 
accomplishments. The situation should be so that such a teacher could 
make teaching a business and by it live, at least comfortably. Could a 
teacher be able to find employment for three-fourths of the year at a rea- 
sonable compensation, we have no doubt but that young men and young 
women of the best natural endowments would spend their lives in the 
honorable service of teaching the public schools. 


By P. G. Kexyox, 


Before the establishment of public schools, the educational facilities 
of the town would probably compare very favorably with those of other 
towns in the State. There were private schools during the winter 
months, established at convenient places, usually in dwelling houses, 
throughout the town, which all children could attend by the payment of 
from two to three dollars for the term of three months ; while often 
during the summer, especially in the more thickly settled portion, there 
would be opened what would now be called a primary school under the 
management of a lady. Miss Coggeshall became quite noted as a 
teacher in schools of this class. 

Previous to 1812, Master Franklin was familiarly known as a school- 
master of considerable reputation, but George Anderson Casey, or 
Master Casey as he was better known, took the lead for nearly fifty 
years. The remark is often made by the pupils of half a century ago, 
" When I went to school to Master Casey, he did not allow his scholars 
to do so and so, or in other words we had to toe the mark every time, 
and teachers of the present da}- might profit by his example as regards 
discipline and thoroughness." He taught 011I3' reading, spelling, w T riting 
and arithmetic. 

In the early part of the present century a school of higher grade was 
established, wmere pupils could obtain a classical education, or prepare 
themselves for college. This school was known as the 

Establishment of Public Schools. 353 

Kent Academy. 

In 1802 a number of individuals prominent in this communit}' and 
State, procured a charter from the General Assembly for a school, to be 
located at East Greenwich and called Kent Academy. In the preamble 
to their articles of association they assigned as their reason for this en- 
terprise, their anxiety to promote the happiness of posterity, and to 
continue the blessings of a free and equal government ; believing that 
well conducted seminaries of learning, in which youth may acquire 
knowledge, with the advantages of places of public worship to incline 
their minds to morality and religion, are the means most likely to effect 
this design. This was a worthy motive and that was a noble faith by 
which it was supported. As the Kent Academy, the institution made an 
honorable record for itself for thirty-seven years, the students in at- 
tendance varying from fifty to one hundred each }*ear. 

In 18o ( J the institution passed into the hands ofllvev. Daniel G. Allen, 
the present efficient Superintendent of Public Schools of North Kings- 
town. He conducted the school as proprietor and principal with consid- 
erable success for about two years, when it became the property of the 
Methodist Providence Conference, and was called the Providence Confer- 
ence Academy. In 1848 it was styled the Providence Conference Sem- 
inar}', and in 1862 the name was extended to Providence Conference 
Seminary and Musical Institute. In 1873 the management of the school 
was transferred to the Boston University, and it became known as the 
Greenwich Academ}', under the proprietorship of the Boston University. 

Establishment of Public Schools. 

At a town meeting holden May 27th, 1828, it was voted and resolved^ 
that a committee of six be appointed in conformit}- to an Act of the 
General Assembly relative to public schools. Dr. Charles Eldredge, 
Thomas Ilowland, Thomas Tillinghast, Job R. Greene, Joseph P. Briggs, 
and Daniel G. Harris were elected to be known as the School Committee 
of the town of East Greenwich. 

Their first report was submitted to the freemen of the town at their 
Town Meeting, August 26th, 1828, as follows: 

"Your Committee beg leave to report that they have attended to the duty as- 
signed, so far as to divide the town into five Districts : 

"The first to commence at the north-east corner of the town on the Warwick 
line, and continue on west to the dwelling of Daniel Ilowland, from thence south 
in a direct line to the dwelling house of Jonathan Hunt to the Warwick line ; all 
that part of the town east of the said south line to compose one district, and to 
be called District No. 1. 


354 East Greenwich. 

" District Xo. 2 to commence on the Warwick line above District Xo. 1, and 
run west on said line to the house now owned by the Widow Maplot Rice, thence 
southerly until it intersects the middle road above the Widow Hannah Spencer's? 
thence east, including all the inhabitants on the said middle road, until it inter- 
sects the west line of District Xo. 1. 

"District Xo. o to commence at the south-west corner of District Xo. 2, up 
the middle road, including all the inhabitants on the said road, to the West 
Greenwich line ; and is to include all that part of the town north of the middle 
road and west of District Xo. 2. 

"District Xo. 4 commences opposite the house of Joseph P. Briggs, running 
south by Card's Saw Mill across the French Town road to the Hamilton corner, 
from thence due south to Xortli Kingstown line, including all the inhabitants on 
both sides the said road. To include all that part of the town west of the above 
mentioned line and south of District Xo. 8. 

" Distrtct Xo. 5 to include all that part of the town not included in the above 
named Districts. 

" Your Committee have not attempted to locate any school-houses in the dis- 
tricts, hoping that the inhabitants would relieve them from that duty and agree 
among themselves upon a location better adapted to their conveniences than the 
Committee could. 

" The town's proportion of the fund appropriated by the State for the support 
■of Free Schools amounts to §181 and some cents. Your Committee think that, 
with a further appropriation of one hundred dollars by the town, they would be 
able to procure a teacher in each of the live districts for four months. 
" Recorded and compared with the original by 

James Miller, Town Clerk. 

At a town meeting May 26th, 1829, the School Committee presented 
their second report, as follows : 

" To the Firemen of the Town of East Greenwich in Town Meeting assembled: 

"Your Committee appointed to superintend public schools within said 
town, respectfully report : That it has, by virtue of said appointment, after having 
divided said town into live districts as before reported, opened schools, which have 
been kept three months in each district. The cost of employing teachers (other ex- 
penses attendant on the schools having been paid out of the treasury) amounts 
to two hundred and nine dollars, leaving a balance in the treasury of seventy- 
two dollars, which your Committee have appropriated equally in each district 
for keeping schools during the Summer, agreeable to the original design in 
establishing public schools. 

" Your Committee generally being satisfied that schools of this description 
promise much public usefulness, provided there can be suitable houses obtained 
in which they may hereafter be held, and a regular system of arrangements in 
regard to them established, take the liberty to recommend to the consideration 
of the town in its corporate capacity, the propriety of erecting, or purchasing, 
suitable buildings the present season, or as soon as conveniently may be, to be 
held as the property of the town ; or otherwise, to earnestly recommend to the sev- 
eral districts to furnish themselves with such accommodations ; trusting that by 

Erection of School Houses. 355 

such means much of that jealously and individual dissatisfaction which lias very 
unhappily been exhibited in some localities during this short experiment would 
be avoided, and a warmer interest be felt to co-operate with the State Govern- 
ment in their benevolent design to promote and facilitate the education of our 
youth, and that the location of such houses be under the direction of such com- 
mittee as the town may appoint to superintend said schools. 
All of which is respectfully submitted, 

Thomas Howland, 

In behalf of the Committee. 
East Greenwich, 5th Mo., 2Gth, 1829. 

It was therefore voted and resolved at this meeting, that whenever the 
citizens of the several school districts shall build a school-house or houses 
in either or all of said districts, and complete the same to the satisfaction 
of the standing committee, they shall or may draw out of the town 
treasury one hundred dollars towards the expense of each school- 
house so built. A committee of five citizens of the town was appointed 
to confer with the School Committee on the best ways and means of 
building school-houses and the probable expense of the same, and report 
at the next town meeting. 

At a town meeting in November, 1831, it was voted that the repre- 
sentatives of the town in the General Assembl} T be instructed to procure 
an Act of said Assembly to empower the town to build school-houses in 
the several districts, and to pay for the same b} r a tax on all the ratable 
property of the town. 

In May, 1833, the School Committee were requested to estimate the 
probable expense of building school houses in the several districts, and 
report at the next town meeting in August. 

The committee reported that, in their opinion, the sum of thirteen 
hundred dollars would be sufficient to build school- houses necessary in 
the five districts, consequently it was voted to build school-houses of 
equal size in the several districts, and the School Committee were ap- 
pointed to superintend the building of said houses. The town treasurer 
was authorized to make sale of all the public and school lands belonging 
to the town, the proceeds of said sale to be used for the purpose of 
building school-houses. 

The school committee report in April, 1834, that schools have been 
kept in four of the districts during the winter ; but for want of a suitable 
room for the winter season, there has been no school in district No. 2. 
They likewise report that the}' have contracted for four school-houses to 
be completed by October 1st ; each house to be twenty-five feet long by 
twenty feet wide with eight feet posts, for Si, 060. The committee did 
not feel themselves authorized to proceed farther, the balance remaining 

356 East Greenwich. 

of the sum voted by the town, being insufficient to pa}' for another, 
which is to be located in district No. 1 . This district will require a 
house of larger dimensions, as there are more than double the number of 
children than are in any other district. 

The town treasurer was instructed to sell the school and public lands 
belonging to the town at public auction on the third Monday of June, 
apply the proceeds to the erection of the several school-houses. On 
November 19, 1834, the town voted that $150 be paid out of the town 
treasury, for the purpose of enlarging the school-house in district No. 1. 
It was also voted "that no person should have the privilege of sending to 
the public schools who refuses to furnish his proportion of wood, and 
board of teacher, and that said proportion of wood be furnished before 
sending unless such parties be very poor, then the school committee 
may admit their children into the schools." 

The school committee reported to the town May 26th, 1835, that there 
had been school-houses built in districts Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 the past year, 
and schools of three months each kept in them during the winter. No 
public school in district No. 1, during the year for want of suitable 
accommodations. The}', however, state that there has been erected in 
said district, a school-house 30 by 40 feet, with 10 feet posts, 
with a good cellar underneath, the cost of which, over and above the 
sum appropriated by the town, has been furnished by donations from 

There is no record ot any vote being taken by the town regarding 
public schools or school property belonging to the town from May 26th, 
1835, to May 30th, 1843. A school committee consisting of five mem- 
bers, one from each district, was appointed annually. 

At the town meeting, May 30th, 1843, the town treasurer was in- 
structed to pa}- the registry money to the public school committee, to be 
used by them according to law. April 3d, 1844, it was voted, that the 
school committee shall make the necessary repairs for the perservation 
of the school-houses in the town under the advice of the town council, 
and shall prosecute for all destruction of the same. Also voted at this 
meeting, that the temperance society be allowed the use of the several 
school-houses for holding their meetings, whenever it did not interfere 
with the schools, or religious meetings previously appointed. The 
above act was repealed at the next town meeting, May 28th, 1844. 

The first public school tax ordered by the town was April 1st, 1846. 

Below is a statement showing the amount appropriated by the town 
for the support of public schools each year from 1846 to 1875 : 

ArrROPRiATioxs. 357 

1846 $150 00 1857-8 $275 00 

1847 112 50 1859-66 400 00 

1848 112 50 1867 520 20 

1849 150 00 1868 . 510 20 

1850-3 115 00 1869 500 00 

1854 189 60 1870 620 05 

1855 181 60 1871-5 1,200 00 

1856 181 00 

A town meeting was called August 8th, 1846, by fourteen electors of 
the town, headed by Dr. James H. Eldridge, — 

1st. To determine the manner in which any money, either raised by 
tax over and above the sum received from the State, or derived from 
registry tax, funds, grants, or other sources of revenue appropriated 
to public schools, shall be apportioned among the districts of the town. 

2d. To make such orders upon the subject of the school-houses, as 
may enable the several districts, or an}' one of them to repair and 
enlarge the said school-houses, either by conveying the right of the town 
to the districts, or otherwise as the citizens of the town may determine. 

The first vote taken on the proposition to convey the several school- 
houses to each district was almost unanimous in the negative. 

The second proposition to convey the school-house in district No. 1, to 
said district was lost. 

Third. It was voted and resolved, that the school-houses belonging 
to the town may be used for keeping public schools therein, until further 
orders of the town, and that the money ordered to be raised b} T the town 
by tax at the April town meeting for the support of public schools, and 
all sums of money now in the treasuiy received from the registry tax and 
other sources of revenue appropriated to public schools, and also all 
sums hereafter raised by the town by tax for the support of public 
schools, or which may hereafter be received by the town from the 
registty tax or other sources of revenue appropriated to public schools 
be divided equally among the districts for the support of public schools 
therein, and that the same be divided by the school committee. 

November 7th, 1848, it being understood in town meeting that the 
school-house in District No. 2 was very much out of repair, it was voted 
and resolved, that the school committee be instructed to make such 
repairs as are only necessary for the comfort of said school, the expense 
not to exceed from $6 to $10. 

At a town meeting holden Ma}' 28th, 1850, it was " voted that the 
town treasurer be authorized and required to execute and deliver a quit- 

358 East Greenwich. 

claim deed of the school-house and lot on which it is situated in District 
No. 1, belonging to the town, to said district." He was also instructed 
to execute and deliver deeds of the other school-houses belonging to the 
town to the several districts in which they are situated, whenever said 
districts shall organize as school districts and become bodies corporate 
in accordance with law. 

Maxwell School Fund. 

A notice was given to the electors of the town to meet at the school- 
house in the village of East Greenwich, on Wednesda\ T the 31st of 
October, 1849, at 2 o'clock P. M., u To hold a town meeting for the 
purpose of transacting any business that might be necessary in order to 
get the legacy bequeathed to the town by Mary Maxwell, late of Phila- 
delphia, deceased, widow of Robert Maxw ell. Said bequest will amount 
to about twenty-four hundred dollars, and is to be invested in bauk or 
other stocks, the interest to be applied to the support of public schools." 
It was voted and resolved that the principal of said bequest shall always 
be kept unbroken and entire, according to the intentions of said Mary 
Maxwell, the donor thereof. That the dividends or interest arising 
therefrom, shall be drawn by the town treasurer and be applied by the 
school committee to the suppoit of public schools, to which the children 
of all the inhabitants, and particularly of the poor, shall be admitted? 
and instructed in such manner as to make such admission and instruc- 
tion as nearly equal as possible for all the children of the town. 

In January, 1854, Dr. James II. Eldredge was appointed trustee of 
the above named fund with orders to sell the stock in the Rhode Island 
Central Bank and invest in some other manner. 

His first report was submitted to the town May 30th, 1854, viz. : 

Agreeable to the orders of the town, the trustee of the Maxwell School Fund 
presents the following report : 

On the 14th clay of February, 1854, one hundred and sixty shares in the Rhode 
Island Central Bank, belonging to this fund, were sold at public auction at §15 
per share, and transferred on the 17th to Christopher Hawkins; on the 21st of 
the same month the dividends, amounting to -$812, were by order of the school 
committee transferred to the trustee to be invested with the principal. Whole 
amount of principal and interest $2,712. On the 22d February, 1854 twenty- 
live shares in the Arcade Bank, Providence, were bought for §55 per share, with 
interest from the last dividend amounting to $1,360. Also same day, twenty- 
five shares in the Bank of North America at 853.50 per share, with interest from 
the last dividend amounting to 81,347; Total §2,707; leaving in the hands of 
the trustee five dollars. The dividends are payable in July and January. 
Respectfully submitted, 

J. II. Eldhedge, Trustee. 

District Organization and Progress. 359 

Dr. Eldredge was the sole trustee of this fund until June 6th, 1874, 
when he presented his final report to the town and requested permission 
to transfer the account to the town treasurer, which was granted. The 
principal has been kept unbroken ; amount $2,712. The yearly income, 
amounting i n all to 83,150.58 from July, 1854 to January, 1875, has 
been appropriated b} T the school committee yearly to the several districts 
according to the average daily attendance. 

School Supervision. 

Previous to 1857, the supervision of the schools in the town devolved 
upon the school committee, it being customary for each member io have 
charge of the school in the district in which he resided ; he was also 
trustee of the district, employed the teacher, etc., in those districts which 
were not organized. In the above year Jeremiah Slocum was appointed 
by the town to visit the public schools and to receive one dollar for each 
visit, not to exceed two visits to each school during the year. After 
1857, until 1872, the school committee usually appointed some person to 
visit the schools in the town and report to them. June 1st, 1872, the 
town elected a superintendent of public schools and voted his salary for 
the first time, and has continued to do so yearly up to the present time. 

The last vote of the town in regard to dividing the money was in 
June, 1859, which was as follows : " Voted and resolved that the money 
appropriated from the town treasury, and that from registry tax, be 
divided equally among the scholars, according to the daily average 

District Organization and Progress. 

The first district meeting ordered by the school committee in District 
No. 1, under the new law passed in 1845, was holden at the school-house, 
May 30th, 1846. A moderator, clerk, treasurer, collector and three 
trustees were elected for the }'ear. The trustees were "instructed to ascer- 
tain forthwith what school-house and what repairs are necessary on the 
present school-house ; what land can be purchased for a location and 
what tax will be necessary, and report at the next meeting." At the 
next meeting, June 8th, 1846, it was voted that each pupil be required 
to pay the sum of one dollai for every three months' schooling, with the 
proviso that no child should be excluded whose parents or guardians 
were unable to pa} T . The trustees were authorized at this meeting to 
raise the school-house one stoiy, and make such repairs in and around 
it, as they might deem advisable. But the school committee did not 

360 East Greenwich. 

approve of the alterations and improvements, consequently the proposed 
repairs were never made. 

In 1848, the school-house having become too small to accommodate 
all the pupils, the trustees were instructed to hire another room and 
have two public schools. From this time the number of pupils increased, 
and another school was opened in a short time, but the district could not 
for a long time agree upon a location, or what size and kind of a school- 
house was needed. Committee after committee was appointed to select 
location, plans for building, etc., etc. ; their report received and the 
committee discharged. 

At a school meeting, Ma}- 24th, 1858, a committee was appointed and 
the}' were instructed to purchase the building known as the Old Acad- 
emy, to have it moved to a suitable location and to put it in good repair. 
The committee immediately proceeded to act in accordance with their 
instructions, had the building completed in a short time, and schools 
were opened in the building in November. The school-house has been 
enlarged and repaired since. During the past term every room was full, 
and if the scholars continue to increase there will soon be need of another 

District No. 2. Organized August 11th, 1855. The school-house be- 
longing to the town was burned a short time before the district was 
organized, consequently the first business of the districl was to furnish 
themselves with a suitable building for school purposes. 

August 20th, 1855, the Trustees were appointed a committee to build 
a school-house on or near the lot where the old town school-house stood, 
and the treasurer of the district was instructed to hire such sums of 
money as might be necessary to pa}* for building the same. The school- 
house was completed near the close of the year at a* cost of four hundred 
and twenty-five dollars, above the underpinning. 

There being some objections to the location, in 1857 the house was 
moved to the opposite side of the road. Rev. William P. Place donated 
to the district a lot 100 X 50 feet, with the privilege of using the 
whole field of several acres for a play-ground, since which time the build- 
ings have been kept in repair by tax assessed upon the property of the 
district, and schools have usually been in session eight months in each 

District No. 3. Organized in 1854. Schools have been kept eight 
months in every year, with few exceptions. The school-house was never 
thoroughly repaired until 1875, when over five hundred dollars was ex- 
pended upon it and the out-buildings. 

District No. 4. Organized November 13th, 1854. The school-house 

District Organizations. 361 

was burned in January, 1865. A building committee was appointed 
February 18th. 1865, and a new school-house was completed in April, at 
a cost of about one thousand dollars, located thirteen rods east of the 
old school-house. This district has had at least eight months' school 
every year. The school-house in this district is now needing paint upon 
the outside, but aside from that, is in better condition than any other in 
town, except in No. 1. 

District No. 5. Organized March 11th, 1854. April 14th. 1855, a 
deed was received of the school-house from the town. In 1861 a lot 
was purchased containing one quarter of an acre, near where the school- 
house stood, (it then being within the limits of the highway,) and the 
school-house was removed there. An addition of several feet was put on 
the front ; the outside was thoroughh' repaired, and a high board fence 
was built on three sides of the lot ; all of which make it the most pleas- 
ing, from the outside, of any school-house in town. The inside has never 
been thoroughh' repaired, but it is in great need of it. Eight months 
is the usual time schools are in session, four months in the Winter and 
four in the Summer season, 


By Rev. E. II. Paine. 

The town of East Providence is of so recent birth that her educational 
history can but be short. On the first of January, 18G2, she was re- 
ceived into Rhode Island, being that portion of the town of Seekonk, in 
Massachusetts, which was at that time set off from Massachusetts, and 
annexed to Rhode Island. The earlier educational movements belong to 
the histoiy of the town of Seekonk, which at one time contained a semi- 
nary of great reputation, situated within the limits of this present town. 
Upon the organization of East Providence, a generous policy was adopted 
in regard to public schools, and the town replaced the oldest school build- 
ings with new and better arranged ones within the first four or five years 
of her history. All the districts were provided with new school-houses, 
except District No. 1, where the building was twice enlarged, increasing 
four-fold its capacity. 

There are eight districts. In 1872, the town built a Union Grammar 
school-house for Districts Nos. 2 and 8, in which a flourishing school has 
been held up to the present time. In 1875, the school population in Dis- 
trict No. 1 had so increased that the building, capable of holding two hun- 
dred scholars, was inadequate for the accommodation of the numbers wish- 
ing to attend school, caused by the rapid increase of that portion of the 
town, (Watchemoket,) and a new grammar school-house was ordered, at a 
cost of $12,500. This was built of wood, and is capable of seating two 
hundred and fifty pupils. 

The old building now intended for primar}' scholars, is full. About 
one hundred and forty attend at the new grammar school-house. 

Several of the districts are inhabited mainly by a farming population, 
and are sparsely settled. The schools are liable to great fluctuation in 

Evening Schools. 363 

numbers from 3-ear to y eta-, as at one time there is but a small school 
population, and again, in the same districts, in a few years, a large num- 
ber of scholars. It is the endeavor to have equally good school- in each 
of the districts, and therefore the cost of education is sometimes more 
})er capita in one district than in another, but this, evidently, in a short 
C3*cle of years, will equalize itself, and all the youth, at all times, have 
virtually the same advantages. 

At the present time District No. 1 has about three hundred and fifty 
pupils ; No. 2, fifty ; No. 3, seventy ; No. 4, twenty-five ; No. 5, twenty ; 
No. 6, seventy ; No. 7, fifteen ; No. 8, twent} r ; Union grammar school, 

Evening schools have been held during the past autumn and winter in 
the village of Watchemoket and at School-house No. 2. These schools 
had each one term of ten weeks. That at School-house No. 2 was 
especially attractive, from the fact that the major part of the scholars 
were natives of Northern Europe, who gladly availed themselves of this 
opportunity to acquire the language and modes of expression of our 

This makes the third year that evening schools have been supported 
by the town and State appropriations. 

In looking back over the fourteen years of our town's existence, we 
may see that advance has been made. A strong stand in favor of edu- 
cation taken at the first has resulted in a thoroughly good system of 
schools throughout the town. 

But this has not been done without a large expenditure of money. 
At first the town supplemented the district taxation for the support of 
the schools, but since 1873 the town has undertaken, without any special 
district appropriation, the expenses both of school buildings and that of 
maintaining the schools, meaning to furnish enough for a school year of 
forty weeks. 

The appropriations, including that for evening schools, for the year 

ending April 30, 1876, are , §8,100 00 

To which is added our proportion of the State's money 1,443 00 

And registry taxes of 140 00 

In all $9,683 00 

There are about seven hundred children attending school, making the 
cost not far from 813 per scholar. 


By Rev. Mowry Phillips, 

The object of this sketch is to give a brief statement of the origin 
and growth of our public schools ; and also the condition of the town 
with respect to educational matters, prior to their establishment. This 
seems especially fitting on this Centennial }-ear of our national life. 
When the garnered treasures of an hundred 3-ears are before us we 
should not overlook or underestimate the factors which have produced a 
prosperity which is unparalleled in the history of nations. 

Among these, and in the front rank, may be assigned the cause of 
popular education. This has been, and must continue to be, the glory 
and strength of the nation. Without this no such prosperity would 
have been possible. Our na f ural resources, great as they confessedly 
are, would have found no such development as the past has witnessed 
without that general intelligence which popular education has tended to 
produce. It is mind that lifts the nation, and manhood that constitutes 
its glory. Our richest mines are not those entered by ttie " Golden 
Gate," but those entered by the door of the unpretending school-house. 
These are mines of thought where the precious ore is brought out, 
separated from the dross and coined into qualities which require no 
governmental endorsement to give them value throughout the civilized 

More than half the century, however, passed before free schools were 
established in this town. Prior to 1828. the only schools were private 
ones, depending for their support on the tuition fees collected from their 
pupils. These private schools were few in number and generally small, 
in attendance. There being no school-houses, they were kept in private 
houses and as these were generally no larger than the families needed, 
the schools were often crowded into garrets or backrooms, some of 

Free Schools. 365 

which were so low that the larger scholars could not stand erect, and so 
dark that on cloud}' days, they would take turns in sitting at the only 
casement that admitted the light. That such schools, kept in such 
uninviting places, and taught by persons who weie required to pass no 
examination, and whose work was under no official supervision, could be 
sustained, is proof of a strong desire for education on the part of the 
people. In the villages, however, these schools were of a higher grade. 
The increased patronage called for a higher order of talent on the part 
of teachers, and ampler and better accommodations for the pupils. 
Aside from a few who had tastes and means to send their children 
abroad for a higher culture, a large proportion of the people enjoyed no 
other educational advantages than those afforded by these private 
schools, and imperfect as these were, they were closed against all who 
were unable, or unwilling to pay the required fees. 

Free Schools. 

In August, 1828, the town voted to raise by tax a sum equal to that 
furnished by the State according to the provisions of a law passed by 
the General Assembh' for the establishment of free schools in the 
several towns of the State. The amount raised was small, but it inaugu- 
rated a new era, and was an advance step which has never been recalled. 

Measures were speedily taken to divide the town into districts, build 
school-houses and open schools in each neighborhood. From this time, 
the poorest child, for a brief term in each year, had the priviledge of 
attending school. For nearly a score of years, the amount raised for 
free schools was very small. The amounts expended for the three 
decades ending with the present year, are as follows : 

From 1846 to 1856 812,604 15 

From 185G to 1866 16,253 05 

From 1866 to 1876 32,727 83 

These figures do not include the amounts raised by rate-bills and 
private contributions to lengthen the schools, nor the amounts raised to 
build, furnish and repair school-houses. 

As the school population has not materially changed, the increased 
expenditures is a fair index to the improvement made in the public 
schools in the town. 

Larger pay has secured better teachers, and these, working during 
longer terms and with better appliances in the school-room, such as 
wall-maps, blockboards, artificial globes, etc., have produced correspond- 
ing improvement in the scholarship of the pupils. 

366 Glocester. 

The average age of the scholars is less than in former years. A 
larger proportion of the older and more advanced are sent away to 
higher institutions in other towns. 


Formerly the supervision of the schools was in the hands of the 
committee and was generally divided among its members. But since 
the enactment of the law requiring the appointment of a superintendent 
the care of the schools has been committed to that officer This gives 
unity to the work and secures better results. 


By W. II. Gardner, 


The first school-house whose dale can be remembered, was erected in 
December, 1802. Some of the oldest inhabitants can remember the 
ruins of one, that must have been built from twenty to fifty years 
earlier, made of stone. 

I learn from the oldest inhabitant, that eight}' years ago, the schools 
were kept in private houses, supported by different families, and only 
kept in winter. 

Fifty years ago, there were three school -houses on the island ; at 
present there are but two, which were built about twenty years ago. 
They are in good repair, arranged with seats fronting the teacher's desk, 
two scholars at one desk. Blackboards are provided, but no globes or 

The schools at present are smaller than they were, owing to there being 
no foreign population on the island, and the families being smaller than 
in olden times. Our schools now average about fourteen, registering 
from twenty to twenty-three. Twenty years ago, the average was twenty, 
and we registered twenty-eight or thirty ; further back, still more. The 
cost of tuition for scholars, fifty years ago was $2.00, at present it is 

The first record of an}- money appropriated by the town, or received 
from the State, was in 1846. Probably there was some previous to this 
date, but no record of it can be found. 

In the aforesaid year, the appropriations from the State were $66.33 ; 
from the town, $24.57. In 1875, received from State, $218.60, 
from Town, $400.00. Registry taxes, $27.00, besides a small surplus 
of clog taxes. 

We have one district library, established in 1850. At first it was 
located part of the time in one district and part in the other. For the 
last few years, it has been used but very little. Having received the 
grant of $50 this year from the State, that sum has been expended for 
new books, and it is now in a flourishing condition. 


By Rev. S. S. Griswold, 

The cause of education received the early support of the first settlers 
of Hopkinton, and it may be appropriate to consider briefly the develop- 
ment of this cause, from its beginning up to its culmination in the pres- 
ent s}-stem of our common schools. 

Educational Facilities before Establishment of Public Schools. 

The facilities for education before the establishment of public schools 
were few. At first, private schools were kept in unoccupied rooms of 
dwelling-houses, accommodated with rude fixtures, not the most conven- 
ient. Within the bare walls of these cold, but well ventilated school- 
rooms, were gathered the children, the youth, and the full grown 3'oung 
men and women, with their Testaments, Dilworth's Spelling Book and 
Arithmetic, Murray's Third Part, slate and pencil, and two sheets of fools- 
cap, goose quill and ink blotter. 

In the midst of these groups of rustic scholars stood the schoolmaster, 
ferule in hand, ready to rule their writing paper, or spat the hand of the 

The three sciences, commencing with an " R," " readin', 'ritin', and 
'rethmetic." constituted their curriculum of study. Yet, with all these 
disadvantages, man}' obtained a good practical education. 

To read the Testament, to write a large, fair hand, to cast " intrust," 
and to "cipher as fur as the Rule of Three" in Daboll's Arithmetic, was 
the ultima thule of scholarship in those days. 

Such were the facilities, and such was the result, prior to the appro- 
priation by the State for the benefit cf public schools. And 3-et, many 

Establishment of Public Schools. 369 

still believe that under that system of disadvantage, more practical bene- 
fit was gained, than under the present. Most children went to school 
then to learn, and as they had to pa} T their tuition, that became a strong 
incentive to improve their time to the best advantage. 

And must it not be confessed, that when the facilities of those da} r s 
are compared with those of the present, the verdict will be more favora- 
ble to the former than to the latter? Then the cost of schooling enhanced 
its value and forbade the idling of time, while now the very opposite 
seems to prevail. Then only the substantials of education were taught, 
while now the substantials often give place to the mere ornamental. 
Then the stern ruggedness of New England, that required indomitable 
toil and untiring perseverence, was well calculated to grow men and 
women, even from such a soil, while the easy circumstances of to-day 
tend to effeminacy and indolence. Such were the educational opportu- 
nities for obtaining knowledge prior to the establishment of the public 


Public schools were first established in this town in the year 1828. 
Previous to this time most of the schools were held in private houses, 
and all were sustained by private contributions. As an evidence of the 
interest the inhabitants had in the cause of education, five school-houses 
had been built prior to the appropriation of money by the State for school 
purposes. Up to this time the town had not been divided into districts. 

The following is taken from the records of the School Committee, b} r 
which it will be seen that the first school committee was probabl}' ap- 
pointed at the town meeting in June, 1828. Said Committee held their 
first meeting July 7th, 1828. 

"At a meeting of the School Committee holclen within and for the town of 
Hopkinton, on the 7th day of July, in the year 1828. 

" Members present, (viz.), Elder Matthew Stillman, James Wells, Edward 
Barber, Isaac Collins, Jesse Brown, Nathan Lillibridge, Peleg Maxson, Jonathan 
N. Hazard, Daniel L. Langworthy, George H. Perry, and Christopher C. Lewis. 

" Voted, That Elder Matthew Stillman be and he is hereby appointed President 
of the Committee for the year ensuing. 

Voted, That Christopher C. Lewis be Secretary of the Committee for the year 

Voted, That this Committee proceed to divide the town into suitable school 
districts, without reference to the school-houses which are now built. 

Voted, That this meeting be and the same is hereby adjourned to the third 
Monday in September next at this place, (Joseph Spicer's Inn,) at 10 o'clock, a. m. 

Witness, Cimis'n C. Lewis, Secretary." 


370 Hopkinton. 

At the adjourned meeting September loth, 1828, the Committee pro- 
ceeded to divide the town into eleven districts, which number was subse- 
quently increased to thirteen. 

From the record of a still further adjourned meeting, we find that 
Elder Amos R. Wells, Christopher C. Lewis and Jesse Brown were the 
first committee appointed to examine candidates for teaching in the pub- 
lic schools, and the following named persons were the first who were 
authorized or certificated by said examining committee to teach in the 
public schools during the Winter of 1828-29 : 

Nathan York, Jr., teacher in 1st School District. 

Joseph Crandall, " 2d " " 

David Stillman, Jr., " 3d " 

John T. Paine, " 4th 

Latham Hull, Jr., " 5th 

Amos R. Wells, " 0th 

Harriet Wire, " 7th " " 

George Newton, " 8th " " 

Amos W. Collins, " 9th " 

Thomas R. Holden, " 10th 

Christopher Brown, " 11th " " 

From the further records of the School Committee we find that the first 
apportionment of money from the State for school purposes was in the 
year 1828, and that the amount appropriated to this town was $329.80, 
apportioned among the several districts as follows : 

Districts. Statement. (to wit) Proportion. 

No. 1 9 $28 27 

No. 2. 9 28 27 

No. 3 9 28 27 

No. 4 9 28 27 

No. 5 9 28 27 

No. 6 11 •••• 34 56 

No. 7 9 28 27 

No. 8 9 28 27 

No. 9 11 34 55 

No. 10 10 31 40 

No. 11 10 31 40 

105 $329 80 

Here, then, in 1828, was the commencement of that system of public 
schools, with an appropriation from the State of onl}' $329.80, and 
with such incipient arrangements as were necessarily subject to great 
future changes, which has now expanded into such large proportions, 
that the State now appropriates annually more than $1,500, while 

Present Condition of the Public Schools 371 

the town raises an equal amount for the same purpose, and the districts 
raise in addition to the above amounts from the State and town, annually 
from two to three thousand dollars. 

Justice demands that a tribute of respect be paid to those honorable 
and honored names, who composed the first School Committee, and the 
sub-committee for examining teachers. 

The memories of Elder Matthew Stillman and Poller Amos R. Wells are 
3 T et fragrant with the rich perfume of the gospel ministry ; that of Chris- 
topher C. Lewis as the honored town clerk for over forty years ; that of 
Jesse Brown as a worthy citizen, magistrate and postmaster ; that of 
George H. Perry as a skillful physician, and worthy deacon of the 
Seventh Day Baptist Church in Hopkinton city. The other members 
of that honorable School Committee, though not as publicly known, ex- 
pressed the wise selection of the town in their appointment to that 
important office ; while ever}' teacher of the present day will sympa- 
thize with those pioneer schoolmasters who first passed the fiery ordeal 
of examination unscathed and unscorched. 

Growth and Improvement. 

The development of the school s\*stem toward a more perfect s} T stem 
was slow. Like all progress in human arrangements it has required a 
semi-centennial season to perfect the germ into blossoms and fruit. The 
distance between the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear, isoftener 
measured b}' centuries than by years. But though of slow growth our 
public schools have made progress in the right direction. The rough 
and rude houses with slab seats, diminutive windows, and yawning fire- 
places, have given wa}- to elegant edifices, surrounded with beautiful and 
ample phvy grounds, and internal!}*, conveniently and tastefull}* seated 
with chairs and desks, and walls decorated with maps, charts, and orna- 
mental pictures, and presiding over all, is the teacher rather than the 

Present Condition. 

The present condition of our public schools is most promising. 

With some three or four exceptions the school-houses are large, com- 
modious, and well arranged inside, with modern improvements ; sur- 
rounded without by ample pla} T grounds. 

The curriculum of study is enlarged, and the methods and manner of 
teaching greatly improved. Teachers of more enlarged and thorough 
education are now employed. 

The graded schools are attaining a deserved reputation for good order, 

372 Hopkinton. 

mild but firm discipline, thoroughness in class recitations. Corporal 
punishment is seldom resorted to, and those schools which have entirely 
dispensed with it rank highest for good order and behavior of the pupils. 

The important position our public schools occupy, and their relation 
to the best interests of the community are being better understood and 
appreciated. The curriculum of study is becoming more comprehensive, 
and the examination of teachers now embraces a most thorough series 
of written questions upon nearty all branches of an academic course ; 
while school officers are made to feel the responsibility of their duties. 

It is not too much to say that our schools are taking high rank among 
the public schools of the State. And, while there is a spirit of conserva- 
tism among us, that may retard for a while, yet the public sentiment of 
a large majority is toward the highest possible attainment, the nearest 
approximation toward the perfect. 


Schools, like every other organization, need to be supervised ; and few 
more responsible duties are devolved upon a town, than in select- 
ing its school supervisors. The}' should be men or women qualified 
either by nature or education, for that important position. 

School supervision should be parental rather than dictatorial. The 
entrance to the teacher's position should be carefully guarded by the 
supervisors of our schools, so that none but those who are competent be 
permitted to sit at the teacher's desk, For, let it not be forgotten, that 
every teacher will daguerreotype himself more or less upon his pupils. 
His manner, habit, demeanor and method of teaching will be reproduced 
in the scholar. Hence a most strict examination of all candidates for 
teaching, both as respects their literary attainrhents, their demeanor, 
their habits of thought, their method of instruction and their system of 
discipline, should be instituted. 

So, also, each school should be most carefully yet tenderl}' supervised, 
and should be made to feel that it is under the ever watchful eye of the 
Superintendent. Hence the wisdom of that statute that makes it imper- 
ative upon School Committees to make rules and regulations for the 
attendance and classification of the pupils, for the introduction and use 
of text-books and works of reference, and for the instruction, govern- 
ment and discipline of the public schools, and to prescribe the studies 
to be pursued therein, under the direction of the School Commissioner. 

But a still farther supervision by the State seems to be necessary, in 
order that our public schools ma}' secure still greater advantages to the 
children of the State ; that is, such a supervision as will require a 

Academies. 373 

regular attendance for a certain length of time of all children within 
certain ages upon the instruction of our public schools. 

Thus under the fostering care of the State, and the wise supervision of 
the town through its school officers ma}* our public schools realize their 
fullest ideal of an Alma Mater to our children. 

School Libraries, Apparatus and Other Instrumentalties. 

There are two libraries in this ty)wn. The Manton Union Library of 
nearly 1000 volumes at Hope Valley, seems not to be appreciated as 
fully as it might be, owing probablj' to its lack of the works of modern 

The Ashaway Library and Reading Room Association, located at 
Ashaway, Hopkinton, was organized b\ T the adoption of a constitution, 
November 5, 1871, for the purpose of furnishing to the inhabitants of 
Ashaway and vicinity the advantages of such a library. The Associa- 
tion furnishes a reading-room with the current periodicals free to all. 
» The library contains between GOO and 700 volumes of the latest 
standard works. The association also provide for an annual course of 
lectures. Doubtless one reason why libraries are not more patronized 
at the present da}', may be in part accounted for by the universal flood- 
ing of the community with newspaper literature ; yet every community 
should have a library well furnished with the most improved standard 
works, both ancient and modern. 


In 1858 the enterprising citizens of Potter Hill and Ashaway erected 
the first academical building in the town ; in which a school was 
opened December 1st, under the supervision of the Rev. J. W. Morton 
as Principal, and Mrs. L. E. Coon, as Preceptress, with other teachers 
as the school might require. 

In 1862, Prof. Morton resigned his position, and was succeeded 
by Prof. H. C. Coon. 

In 1864, Prof. Coon and his accomplished wife resigned their positions, 
and were succeeded by Prof. A. A. Palmiter, who in 1866 resigned, and 
was succeeded b\ T Prof. Amos C. Lewis, who in 1869, on account of ill 
health, tendered his resignation. 

Thus closed the school work of Hopkington Academy, after a struggle 
of ten years against financial embarrassments, and some want of experi- 
ence in managing such institutions. 

With no endowment funds, and no aid from the public treasury, it had 
to succumb to an inevitable fate. Yet the school has done a noble work 

374 Hopkinton. 

and man} r of its students have taken higher and better stations in life, 
and become more useful for its having been. Among the names of those 
who have become somewhat noted, and who perhaps are equally deserv- 
ing of as honorable mention, is that of Julia Crouch, author and pub- 
lic lecturer. 

But the daj-s of academies are ended and graded schools have been 

In 1873 Districts Nos. 2 and 4 of Hopkinton and 8 of Westerly, 
resolved themselves into a Joint School District, for the purpose of 
establishing a graded school, and the stockholders of Hopkinton Acad- 
emy generously donated their interest in it, to said joint district for the 
above purpose. And in the fall of 1873 was opened a graded school 
in this Joint District, under the instruction of Prof. 8. S. Scammel as 
Principal, and Miss Sarah E. Chester, in the Grammar Department, and 
Miss Emma E. Kenyon, in the Primary Department. 

This graded school at present, 1876, under the instructions of Prof. 
J. A. Estee, his accomplished wife, and Miss Emma E. Kenyon, has at- 
tained a high reputation for good order and class recitations. Its future 
is full of promise. 

In this connection it is proper to mention the graded school at Hope 
Valley. This school also has attained a deservedly high rank. Under 
its present corps of teachers, Prof. E. F. Lanphear, as Principal, and 
Mrs. Joanna Dockre}*, in the Intermediate, and Miss Hattie E. Frisbee, 
in the Primary Department, this school is taking a high position. Its 
future also is full of promise. 

At Rockville there is a school of two grades. The Higher Depart, 
ment is under the instruction of Miss Sarah A. Hoxie, and the Prima- 
ry, under the care of Miss Lillian Gray. 

This school has only been graded for the last term, and therefore has 
not had the opportunity of time as yet, which the other graded schools 
have had. It however affords sufficient evidence of the utility of the 

The other schools, though of only one grade, give proof that the 
cause of education in our public schools, is making progress in the 
right direction. 

In conclusion, the cause of Education, and especially as it stands 
connected with our public schools, is advancing. And the citizens of 
Hopkinton may congratulate themselves that their Common Schools 
will rank not inferior to others of this State, at the Centennial Ex- 


By Wm. A. Phillips, 

Claiming no merit as a historian, I simply give such facts, as it is 
possible to glean from records as found in this office, with such com- 
ments as the occasion may demand, to show that public education within 
our borders has improved during the last half century, and to illustrate 
the fact that public sentiment in regard to schools has advanced in the 
same proportion that science has, in the same time. 

To begin, it will be hardty fair to compare our present status, as a 
town, with what it was fifty years ago, from the fact that so many addi- 
tional advantages are now offered by academy and high school (not to 
sa} r college) that many of out' advanced scholars avail themselves of 
these privileges at an earl}- age, and keep up a continual drain upon our 
public schools, thereby lessening our numbers and average ; }'et we 
think the comparison, notwithstanding this drawback, will be in our 

The first meeting of any school committee, of which any record can 
be found, was on the second day of June, 1828 ; and was holden at the 
inn of Resolved Waterman, at which twelve members were present, and 
of that twelve, but one remains alive to day. The Hon. James F. 
Simmons was elected chairman, and Lyndon Knight, secretary. 

At this time, it seems no district, or schools supported by the town, 
existed according to the record, or if such did exist, they were cared for 
in such a way as to require no committee of the town especially for that 

On the second Saturdaj' in August, the first attempt to divide the 
town into districts was made, and metes and bounds for ten districts 
were recorded. For some months following, alterations were made to 
accommodate any and all parties who might petition the honorable 

376 Johnston. 

The first Saturday in September, 1828, the school-houses were located 
and established, and strange to say, with but few exceptions, the}" re- 
main to-day as then located — one of those particular exceptions, being 
in District No. 7, at the village of Manton. 

The first location was on a bleak hill, with an unbroken country upon 
every side, and the writer hereof, has many a day sat shivering before 
an old-fasioned fire-place, while the wintry blast swept around, seeking 
admission at every corner and crevice ; but the old house has passed 
away, as have many of the occupants ; the new house has found a new 
location, one far more humane as well as economical. 

It seems to have been the idea of our forefathers, to locate their 
institutions of learning upon land that was worthless for any purpose, 
much more so, for school purposes, as many a school-house to-clay will 
testify. The first advance in public sentiment, is shown in the locations 
now selected. While formerly the black, rocky, almost precipitous hills 
received the highest mark of civilization ; to-day the most level fertile 
spot that can be produced is thought almost too poor for the houses in 
which our children are to receive their first impressions. The eye is 
first educated, and through the eye the mind. So much for the first 

At the time of forming the districts and locating the different houses, 
the question of remuneration for teachers was thoroughly canvased, and 
wages from twent}- to seventy cents per day, were settled upon. We 
have no doubt that, even at that price, their labor was as fairly remuner- 
ated as that of the teachers to-day at the present high rates of eveiw- 
thing purchased. 

The highest appropriation made at this time to any one district was 
forty-two dollars, and the lowest thirt}*-eight dollars, for the use of the 
schools for the year, and by the records I find that three members of the 
committee were appointed to visit each school. In this connection we 
find the following vote recorded in the doings of the school committee: 

" Yoted and Resolved : That the several sub-committees heretofore appointed 
to engage teachers for the several districts, be, and they are hereby appointed 
the visiting committees for their respective districts, and that said committees be, 
requested to invite a clergyman to attend to that duty with them." 

Thus it was evidently intended that the moral and religious culture of 
the child should not be neglected. We also find a vote recorded repeal- 
ing the vote of the last meeting, whereby the appropriation was made, 
and that the appropriation shall now be fifty cents less in each district. 
We also find than appropriation of six dollars and seventy-five cents 

First State Aid. 377 

was " allowed the inhabitants of the northeast part of the eighth dis- 
trict, on and north of the powder mill turnpike, to be by them appro- 
priated to educating their children, at such school as the}' think proper, 
and a bill for their education to that amount, being signed by the commit- 
tee for said district and recorded and countersigned by the secretary, 
shall be considered as duly certified by this committee." 

The custom of appropriating a certain amount to that locality con- 
tinued for some years, to be expended as above stated. 

All bills for teaching were sent to the committee for pa}-ment. The} T 
had to be signed by the several committees, countersigned by the secre- 
tary, and recorded in the book of records, before the amount was 

We find no record of how much money was appropriated for school 
purposes by the town or State, until March 1, 1833. Although money 
had been derived from some source, and had been most judiciously 
expended, yet the amount was left off the record, until this year when 
we find the following entry : 

Money appropriated by the Town for the year 1833 $355 00 

Money appropriated by the State for the year 1833 241 98 

Making a total appropriation of §596 98 

This we believe was the first assistance from the State for public 

In September, 1831, two schools were established in District No. 4, 
on account of the long distance the pupils had to walk to attend the 
one which was situated at the extreme south side of the district ; a 
house being hired for the use of th