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many who have received all the advantages for instruction which our schools could give them. And the third division of these circumstances consists of the temptations and facilities to intemperance, to dishonesty, and to corrupting passions and pleasures, which are directly offered to the young, or which are most reprehensibly left in their way, by those who have the charge of them. The exposures are peculiar, in these respects, of the children under fourteen years old, who are not in school; and of those from fourteen, or fifteen, to twentyone years of age, who have no regular and useful employment. But through the negligence or the evil example of employers or masters, they are many, and great too, even with respect to some who are apprenticed to useíul occupations. Vague assertions on these subjects are of
We must appeal to facts,
I. Let me say a few words of those who are not receiving the education, which is necessary to qualify them for apprenticeship at some useful employment.
We have so long been accustomed to think and to speak with exultation of our school system, that many are brought to believe it is quite perfect. And not only
There are not a few who reason from ourselves, in this respect, to our whole country, and can hardly believe that there is an American citizen who cannot read or write. But in all this there is a very great mistake. Disguise it as we may, there are many native Americans who are as ignorant of letters even as the untanght of the older countries of the world. And if it were not so, -. if every adult American could read and write, and if we could prove all the utterly illiterate
among us to be foreigners, or the children of foreigners, what consolation would there be in the thought, when threatened with, or suffering under any public calamity, which has been brought upon us by an ignorant population, that this part of our population consists only of foreigners, or of the descendants of foreiguers ? Is not our country equally the home of many ten thousand foreigners, as of those who were born here ? I have not been able to obtain information of the number of children in our State, who are growing up without receiving any of the advantages of our schools. The last published Abstract of School Returns, prepared by order of the Senate of the Commonwealth, is that of 1829. But by the kindness of the Secretary of State, I have been permitted to examine the unpublished Abstract of 1830." In the Abstract of 1829, it appears that returns were made only from 131 towns; and in 1830, only from 97 towns. In the former year, 173 towns failed to make the returns required of them; and in the latter year, no returns were received from 207 towns. Nor is this the only defect in these important documents. From the 131 towns which made returns in 1829, and which include Boston, Salem, Marblehead, Danvers, Newburyport, Gloucester, Concord, and other large towns, only fiftyeight of those between fourteen and twentyone years of age, are reported to have been unable to read and write; and in the towns above named, except Boston, not one! Nor, with the exception of Boston, does it appear from the Abstract of 1830, that
town in the State contains an individual, between the ages of fourteen and twentyone years, who has not received a good common-school education. Of Boston, it is said
in the Abstract of 1829, 'few, if any native citizens, between fourteen and twentyone, are unable to read and write. How many foreigners is unknown.' And in the Abstract of 1830, the umber between fourteen nd twentyone, who are unable to read and write, is small, and principally foreigners. But, including truants, who, if neglected, will soon be as illiterate as the most untaught, the number of children in our city, between five and fourteen years of age, who go to no school, is little short of four hundred. Nor do I doubt that there is an equal, or even a greater number, in the other towns in our State, who are growing up in equal ignorance. I hope, therefore, that our Legislature will neither be satisfied with such returns as have hitherto been received from towns respecting their schools, and the children who should be in them, nor lightly pass over the neglect of towns to make the returns required of them. It is true that a large number, but it is far from being true that the whole, of the uneducated among us, are foreigners. These foreigners, however, will live and die among us; and will act their parts, for weal or wo, in our communities. Let us then look at a few statements, which I believe may be relied upon, of the nunbers, not far from us, who have grown, or are growing up, as ignorant of letters, even as are multitudes of the paupers of whom we hear and read, in other sections of the world.
First. In a memorial of the Pennsylvania Society for the promotion of public schools, presented to the Legislature of that State in 1830, it is said, 'there are at least 400,000 in Pennsylvania, between the ages of five and fourteen years; and of these, that not 150,900
were in all the schools of the State.'* This fact, I am aware, will hardly be thought to be credible. But it has been reported to the Legislature, with at least an apparent belief of its truth, by the Governor of Pennsylvania.t The number of uneducated children in the city of Philadelphia, it is well known, is very great. But I am not willing to publish conjectures on this subject, and I have not been able to obtain any satisfactory information respecting it.
Again. At a public meeting of the friends of education in New Jersey, in 1828, a Committee was appointed to procure and publish information, in regard to the condition of the schools in that State. And from the Report of that Committee it appears, that 11,742 children were entirely destitute of school instruction; and that 15,000 adults were unable to read. In one county there were 1200 children who were not in any school; and in two other counties, forty districts were destitute of schools. I Once more.
Returns are made to the Superintendent of common schools in New York, from the towns in that State; and the Superintendent makes an annual Report of these schools to the Legislature. The State is divided into 9062 school districts, of which 8630 have complied with the conditions of the statutes, by having schools kept by an inspected teacher, and by making returns to the commissioners of common-schools. In
* American Annals of Education, V. 1, 360.
† Gov. Wolf's Message to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, Dee. 8, 1830.
# American Annals of Education, V. 1, p. 362, 363.
these schools, 499,424 children have been taught during the year preceding the first of January, 1830; and the average time of instruction has been about eight months.' I believe, indeed, that in respect to its schools, the State of New York is in advance not only of Massachusetts, but of any State in the Union. The city of New York, however, is in this respect very far behind the rest of the State. We have the authority of the Superintendent of the common schools in the State, for the assertion that it is admitted there are 10,000 children in that city, who do not attend any school."*
Is it asked, what are the inserences I could make from these statements? I answer, simply, that as far as the knowledge and the babits which are acquired at school, are salutary in their influences in the formation of character, and as far as a want of this knowledge and of these habits, tends to pauperism and crime, so far we are instructed by these facts respecting one of the means of preventing these great and terrible evils.
I would neither make any overcharged statements, nor press any facts to the support of a theory beyond their obvious and unquestionable bearing. If, therefore, there be any error in the above stated numbers, I shall very gladly see it corrected. And, should any one say that the number is great of those who can neither read nor write, and who yet have not fallen in
* Report of the Superintendent of Common Schools in the State of New York, 1831. pp. 4. 16. 25. In Scotland, the proportion of the educated is one to every ten of the inhabitants. In England, one to every fifteen and three-tenths. In France, one to every seventeen and six-tenths. In Ireland, one to every eighteen. lu Poro tugal, one to every eightyeight. In Russia, one to every three hundred and sixtyseven. American Annals of Education, V.1, p. 115.