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Let us turn to New Orleans. During this period the city was divided into four school districts, with a board of directors and a superintendent for each district. This arrangement insured most officient management. The attendance in 1858 was 20,000-nearly as many as in all the country parishes-and Dr. Samuel Bard, after an examination of the city schools during this year, reported to the general assembly that “the discipline was admirable, the attainments of the scholars wexpectedly extensive, and the teachers of raro ability.” Hon. William 0. Rogers, who did splendid work for the schools at this period, and who later became city superintendent, has often in my presenco corroborated the testimony of Dr. Bard.
It was at this very timo, also, that an important advance was made in educational methods. As early as 1853 Superintendent Nicholas had recommended the establishment of a normal school, declaring, however, that there was none in the United States and only ono in Canada. Finally in 1858, largely through the exertions of Mr. Rogers, a normal school, the first in Louisiana, was opened in New Orleans. Unfortunately its career of usefulness was soon cut short by the rapidly approaching civil war.
Mankind has often boen accused of viewing the past throngh a roseate hazo, which, while it lends a new charm to that which was already beautiful, also clothes with its own light even that which was dark and unbeantiful. It will not be wise, therefore, in looking back over the period of fifty-six years which we have just reviewed to speak too favorably of the system of public schools in Louisiana. Certainly, however, the Stato in 1860 had great reason to congratulate herself on the advance that had been made over the period previous to 1815. Up to that date, as we have seen, the school system was not organized at all; for the schools were not under proper supervision and outside of New Orleans thoy were not free except to a small class of indigent pupils. With the new constitution and the advent of Alexander Dimitry, Louisiana entered upon a new era of educational progress, especially it New Orleans. In the country parislies down to 1860 it must be admitteil that the success of the system was only partial-a result, that was due to the size of the plantations, the too conservative character of the old planters, the abolition in 1852 of the office of parislı superintendent, and especially to thé appropriation of public funds for the benefit of private schools.
PUBLIC SCIIOOLS DURING AND SINCE THE WAR.
During the great civil war it was but natural that the public schools of Louisiana, especially in the country parishes, should languish, for men were engaged in a strugglo which left little time for the consideration of the educational problem. In most of the parishes the schools for several years were entirely closed. One of the school directors wrote that from his parish there were no reports to make except war reports. In New Orleans, however, and in the neighboring parishes, which were in the possession of tho Fouleral troops, many schools were kept open, and provision was made by the Freedmen's Bureau of Education to give instruction to the newly emancipated slaves. Under these new conditions there was a sirong effort to open schools in which the two races should be educated together. But this policy, so repulsive to Southern sentiments, ended in failure and it was abandoned.
The history of our State after the war is too well known to need repetition here. In a few years the public debt of Louisiana was increased by the sum of $40,000,000. More. over, in 1872, the Government sold at public auction the whole free-school fund, which has been invested in Stato bonds, and wbich had been ropeatedly declared a sacred and inviolable trust for the benefit of the public school. This fund, derived from the salo of public lands, amounted to more than $1,000,000. After it had been accomplisheil there followed a period of “storm and stress”-a fierce struggle for supremacy, which, during the year 1877, ended in the triumph of the more conservative elements of the State, under the leadership of Francis T. Nicholls.
Wo can point with pride to ono of the first acts of the legislature under this new administration. It was as follows:
“The education of all classes of the people boing essential to the preservation of free institutions, we do declare our solemn purpose to maintain a system of public schools by an equal and uniform taxation upon property as provided in the constitution of the State, and which shall secure the education of the white and the colored citizens with equal advantages.
“Louis Busii, Speaker.
“FRANCIS T. NICHOLLS, Gorernor." It is to be noted here that the State assumed formal charge of the education of the freedman, pledging him the same advantages as the whites. This pledge has been faithfully kept; the number of colored pupils las gradually increased until there are now enrolled in the public schools of the State more than 60,000.
In March, 1877, a few months before the act above quoted, the general assembly had established a State board of education, consisting of the governor, the lieutenantgovernor, the secretary of state, the attorney-general, the State superintendent, and two citizens of the United States, residents for two years in Louisiana.
As you know, this board was reorganized some years later, so as to contain one representative from each Congressional district-a change most wisely made.
The most important step, however, in the reorganization of the public school system was taken in the constitution of 1879. This is the constitution under which we are now living, but which we all hope to see radically amended in the near future. It provided for the appointment of parish boards, and declared that these boards might appoint at a fixed salary a parish superintendent of public schools.
Thus, after the lapse of twenty-seven years, Louisiana restored the office of parish superintendent-an office which under Alexander Dimitry was found to be all important, and which since 1879 has proved essential to the very existence of public schools in Louisiana. May the parish superintendent, one of the strongest pillars of public education in our State, be a perpetual institution among us, and may his office in the future receive that meed of respect and remuneration which his zealand devotion so richly deserve.
While the constitution of 1879 is entitled to our gratitude for the reinstatement of the parish superintendents, one is forced to adıit that it made no adequate provision for the support of the public schools. It is true that the free-scliool fund, the bonds of which were sold in 1872, was placed among the perpetual debts of the State, but the interest to be paid was reduced from 6 to 4 per cent, and it was further declared that this interest and the interest due on the seminary and the agricultural and the mechanical funds should be paid, not out of the general revenues of the State, but out of the tax collected for public elucation. This was a wholesale “robbing of Peter to pay Paul.”
Moreover, though provision was made for a supplementary tax to be levied for public schools by the police juries of each parish, even this was not obligatory, and if it were levied it was to be kept within very narrow limits.
These unwise articles of the constitution bave received such repeated and such hearty condemnation from every superintendent of education that it is not necessary for me to add my own opinion. I would only remind you that when that constitution was adopted in 1879 the State had just passed through the period of reconstruction, her finances were in a prostrate condition, and some constitutional limitation of taxation seemed absolutely necessary. Those conditions no longer exist, and it is to be hoped that the amendments recently proposed by the board of education will be unanimously adopted.
It may be added that the constitution of 1879 ended its provisions for the public schools with one article that has received universal approval and should be widely acted upon. It declares that women over 21 years of age shall be eligiblo to any office of control or management under the school laws of Louisiana. This is simply an act of justice to that sex which furnishes so large a proportion of our teachers throughout the State.
The history of the public schools since 1879 is so well known that I can not pretend to any knowledge wliich this audience does not already possess. A simplo outline, therefore, will suffice to refresh your memories.
The first result of the insufficient support granted by the constitution, you will remember, seemed to be the ruin of the public school system.
In spite of the splendid efforts of Hon. R. M. Lusher, a devoted and untiring worker in the cause of public education, the school receipts for 1882 allowed only 15 cents for each educable child in the State; and the Louisiana Journal of Education for that year gloomily but forcibly declared that the public school system was as “dead as Hector.” The teachers even in New Orleans were often unpaid, my schools had been closed, and the double obligation of educating both whites and blacks seemed too great a burden for the State to bear. But the exertions of Lusher, Easton, and Jack, together with the efficient aid received from the parish superintendents and the State board, were not without avail. Defeat was at last changed into victory, and the record of the past decade, illuminated by the labors of these men, is a most interesting chapter in the history of our educational progress. The school fund, especially in the country parishes, has been largely increased, and so has the attendance. Not only has public sentiment, without which laws avail naught, been brought over to the side of education, but the teachers themselves, though often receiving scanty remuneration, have shown greater ability and greater enthusiasm than ever before in the history of the State. This I attribute largely to the splendid work done in the Normal School of New Orleans under Mrs. Mary Stamps and in the State Normal of Natchitoches under President Boyal. I am sure you will believe that lack of space, and not lack of appreciation, has prevented my giving a detailed account of the valuable aid rendered to this normal work by the Peabody fund. A tribute to Dr. Curry's wise administration of this fund is certainly due from anyone who writes the history of public education in Louisiana. Lack of space must also be my plea for omitting the history of the McDonogh fund, to which New Orleans owes its array of splendid school buildings.
1 In 1870 the Republicans had established a State board of education, consisting of the State superintendent and six livision superintendents. The Stato was divineri into six districts under these "division superintendents."
It may safely be declared, therefore, that the year 1894 records progress in every direction, but I can not do more than name some of the chief influences at work for the advancement of the public schools. They are the Association of Parish Superintendents; the State Teachers' Association, with its reading circle and its official journal; the State and parish institutes for teachers, the Louisiana Chautauqua; and last, but not least, the Louisiana Educational Association. Surely this is a goodly list-one that any State might be proud of.
In glancing over the incomplete sketch of public education in Louisiana, the progress of which I have traced through ninety years, I am struck with the fact that the State has followed what is called the general trend of education. This trend, as laid down by Dr. William T. Harris, is as follows: First, from private, endowed, and parochial schools there is a change to the assumption of education by the State. “When the State takes control, it first establishes colleges and universities; then elementary free schools, and then it adds supplementary institutions for the afflicted; then institutions for teachers, together with libraries and other educational aids. In the meanwhile increasing attention is paid to supervision and methods. Schools are better graded. In class work there is more assimilation and less memorizing. Corporal punishment diminishes, and the educational idea advances toward a divino charity.” Such, amid a thousand difficulties and vicissitudes, has been the history of public education in Louisiana. I am persuaded that we are on the right path.
The question still remains, however, Is Louisiana abreast of the other States of the Union in her provision for the education of her youth? The highest authorities declare that she is not. Let us for a moment examine the conditions as they exist.
In 1818 the educable youth of the State numbered only 41,500; in 1894, with the aclition of the colored pupils, they numbered more than 378,000. Of these only 115,000 attend any schoo], either public or private. What is the consequence? I answer that in seven of our prosperous parishes, out of 13,000 voters, it is stated that 6,858 white voters, more than 50 per cent of the whole number, can not read and write; and it is a well-known fact that Louisiana now leads all the Southern States in illiteracy. What shall we do to reinove this lamentable condition of things?
Evidently, though we now spend nearly $1,000,000 a year for our public schools, that sum, in view of the increased population, is grossly inadequate. We need higher salaries for our teachers, better remuneration for our parish superintendents, and longer sessions for our schools. The machinery of our public school system, as far as the officials and their relations to each other are concerned, is excellent. But what we require above everything is the privilege of local taxation beyond the present constitutional limitation. We have reached a point in Louisiana where local pride has been aroused. We are beginning to feel that however grateful we may be for the beneficent work of such fuuils as the Peabody, we must first of all help onsel ; we must demand our indep ence--the most glorious privilege granted to
Mary HEMENWAY. [At a meeting held by the Boston public school teachers at the Old South Meeting House May 2, 1894, in honor of the memory of Mrs. Mary Hemenway, warm and loving tribute was paid to her personal character and worth, her services in the cause of education were reviewed, and the reforms instituted by her recalled to remembrance by those who had been her associates and coworkers and who were specially qualified to represent the different phases of her activity. The addresses made upon this occasion were afterwards incorporated into a memorial volume, under the editorial supervision of Dr. Larkin Dunton, head master of the Boston Normal School. From this volume the following extracts have been made to illustrate her life and work. They are succeeded by a more detailed account of the Old South work from another source.]
[From the introductory remarks by Dr. Dunton.] Mrs. Hemenway was born in the city of New York December 20, 1820, and died at her home in Boston March 6, 1894. She was the daughter of Thomas Tileston, from whom she seems to have inherited her remarkable business ability. She married Mr. Augustus Hemenway, a great shipping merchant. Several years before his death his health had so failed as to throw much of the oversight of his immense business upon Mrs. Hemenway. By this means was developed that remarkable talent for the
directing of affairs which subsequently proved so useful in carrying on ver great benevolent enterprises. She certainly possessed business ability of a high order.
Her insight into the causes of suffering among the people, far and near, present and future, and into the remedies for this suffering, was wonderful. Her breadth of view was only equallod by the warmth of her heart. It was the generosity of her nature that so endeared her to the teachers of Boston. They came to know her as a feliow-worker for the good of the people. Pride, hanghtiness, and condescension, which too often accompany tho possession and even the distribution of wealth, were so conspicuously wanting in her nature that every teacher who was brought into contact with her in her benevolent work felt only the presence of a great heart beating in rympathy with all mankind.
Her beneficent plans were never set on foot and then left to the management of others. She not only followed her work with lor thought and her kindly interest, but she stimulated and cheerel lier coworkers with her inspiring personality. It was her clear head, hier warm heart, and her cheerful presence that gained for her admiration and affection. [Resolutions presented by Robert Swan, master of the Winthrop School, and adopted by the meeting.)
Whereas it is fitting, at the close of Mrs. Mary Hemenway's useful life, that the Boston public school teachers, assembled in the old South Meeting House, which she loved so well and did so much to save, should place on record their profound appreciation of the noble work she has accomplished for the practical education of the children under their care, by which the pupils, and through them the homes from which many of them come, have been elevated both mentally and morally: Therefore be it
Resolred, That through lior viso foresight and long perseverance in the introduction of a systematic training in sewing, by which girls in tho public schools are made proficient in neellework, the first step toward manual training, now acknowledgeil by all to be an essential part of our school programme, she exhibited an almost intuitive sense of the needs of the community, and enabled tho children to relieve their mothers of many weary hours of labor.
Resolred, That by the introduction of the kitchen garden and, later, the school kitchen-á long step in progress-she accomplished by this wise provision of lier stulious care an inestimablo benefit to the city, the children being thus taught not only to cook intelligently and economically, but also to buy understandingly the various articles required, by which the manner of living has been changed, healthful food and proper servico displacing uncomfortable and unhealthful methods.
Resolved, That by the introduction of the Ling system of gymnastics, in which Mrs. Hemenway's liberality and care for the physical development of the children were the principal factors, tho city is greatly indebted for another advance in education.
Resolred, That by the establishment of tho Normal School of Cooking and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, furnishing qualified teachers to inaugurate tho work in other cities, by which the full advantage of Boston's experience is reaped, her beneficial influenco has made instruction in these branches national instead of local.
Resolred, That hy her contribution in money and intelligent helpfulness in promoting the Boston Teachers' Mutual Benefit Association in the days of its inception much was done to insure the success of the enterprise.
Resolred, That by the purchase of Dr. John D. Philbrick's library anıl its presentation to thó Boston Normal School she has made easily accessible to the pupils the choicest works on educational subjects, thus making the valuable information acquired a part of their equipment for their chosen profession.
Resolred, That by hier prizes for essays on subjects connected with American history, awarded to graduates of the Boston high ochools on Washington's Birthday in the Old Sonth Meeting Blouso, she has caused a thorough research into our colonial and national life that can result only in inspiring patriotic ardor which inust conduco to the best citizenship.
Resolred, That by these and many other acts which can not be enumerated at this time ber name is justly entitled to rank with the names of Pratt and Drexel, who have established institutes in Brooklyn and Philadelphia that will confer incalculablo benefits on the people of this country.
Resolred, That Mrs. Hemenway, in these varied interests, gave what is infinitely more important than inoney-her constant sympathy in and enthusiasm for the work, which is an invaluable memory to all who were blessed with her assistance.
Resolved, That in tendering these resolutions to the family of Mrs. Hemenway ve desire to express our deep sympathy in their bereavement.
[Address by Ldwin P. Scaver, superintendent of schools.] How the Old Sonth Meeting Houso was saved from threateneil destruction is a well-known story that needs not now to be repeated. Mrs. Hemenway's interest in
that patriotic enterprise did not end with her giving a largo share of thio purchase money. That generous gift was but the beginning of a larger cnterprise, the prolude to a nobler history.
These ancient walls had been saved. What should bo dono with them? They might have been allowed to stand as mute witnesses to the events of a glorious past. They might have been used merely as a shelter for curious olil relies, which antiquarians love to study and passing visitors cast a glance upon. And so the old meeting house might have stoo: many years more-a monument to religion and freedom, not unworthy, indeed, of its purpose, but yet a silent monument.
Tho plans of Mrs. Hemen way were larger and more vital. The old building should bo not only a relic and monument of the past, but a templo for present inspiration and instruction. The thoughts and the liopes that aforetimo hal thrilled the hearts of men assembled in this house should live again in the words of eloquent teachers. Here should young people gather to learn lessons of virtue and patriotism from the lives of great men whose deeds have glorified our nation's annals. What has now become known throughout the country as "the Old South work” is tlo outgrowth of this fruitful idea. Let us brietly review the particulars of this “Old South work,” keeping in mind as wo do so its main purposes, which are first to interest young people in American history, and then, through that interest, to inspire them with a loro of their country, and to instruct them wisely concerning the duties and privileges of citizenship under a free government. Can any instruction moro vital to the public good bo thought of?
First, wo may notice that Washington's Birthday has been appropriately celebrate«l in this house every year from 1879. Other national holidays have been celebrateil likewise, or may hereafter bo celebrated, for tho idea is a growing one.
Next should be noticed “the Old South lectures.” As early as 1879, anıl in the two years following courses of lectures on topics of American luistory were delivereil in this house by Mr. John Fiske, who has since become so well known as a brilliant writer on historical subjects. That these lectures would be intensely interesting to the adult portion of the audiences was naturally enongli expected at the time, but it was hardly foreseen that the young people woull be so thoroughly fascinated as they were with a lecturer who bail been known chietly as a writer on deep philosophical subjects. Mr. Fisko has been a frequent lecturer on this platform from 1879 down to the present time.
In 1883 “the Old South lectures," properly so called, were organized on a definite and permanent plan. Each year the work to be ciono is laid out in a systematie manner. A general topic is chosen, anıl particular topics nuder this are assigned to different speakers, who are invitol becauso their special knowleilge of the topics assigned them gives great interest or importance to what they may have to sily. The great interest awakened by theso lectures has led to the repetition of many of them in other cities.
“The Old South leaflets" are an interesting auxiliary to the lectures. A practice was early adopted of providing in printeil form the neang of further studying tho matters touched upon by the lecturer of the day. The leailets so provide contained not merely an outlino of the lecture, but the texts of important historical doculments 110$ otherwise easily accessible, and references to authorities with critical note: therenpon, and other interesting special matter. These leaflets have proveel to bo so useful to teachers in their school work that the directors of the Old South work” have published a geveral series of them, which are to be continue, and are supplied to schools at the bare cost of paper and printing.
Perhaps the Old South essays" touch the Boston public schools more inmediately than does any other part of the Oll South work." Every year, beginning with 1881, have been offered to high school pupils soon to become granates, and also to recent graduates, four prizes, two of $10 and two of $25 cach, for the best essays on assigned topics of American history. The usual objection to the plan of encouraying study by the offer of prizes, that many strive and few win, so that the joy of victory in the few is more than offset by thodisappointment of failuro in the many, was met in the present case with characteristic wisdom and liberality; for every writer of an essay not winning a money prize has received a present of valuable books in recognition of his worthy effort. The judges who make tlo a wards of prizes state that crude essays, betraying a want of study and care on the part of the writers, are extremely rare. On the other hand, there are often so many essays of the highest general excellence that the task of making a just award is a difficult one.
Some of these essays lave been printeil in the New England Magazine and in other periodicals. Some lavo been published in pamphlet form, and havo received the favorable notice of historical scholars. It is now the custom to invite at least one of the prize essayists each year to deliver one of “tho Old South lectures."
Among the more distinguisheid of the essayists may be named Mr. lleury L. Southwick, a graduate of the Dorchester High School, whose prize essay of the year 1881, entitled "The policy of the carly colonists of jlassachusetts toward Quakers and