Page images

seat of Government, and the schools of the District of Columbia were divided into eight groups, designated divisions, and a supervising principal was assigned to take charge of each division. The following is the list of names of the first corps of supervising principals:

Henry N. Copr, Nathaniel P. Gage, Alexander T. Stuart, John E. Thompson, Bernard T. Janney, Joseph R. Keone, Henry P. Montgomery, and Winfield Scott Montgomery; all but two of these, Mr. Copp and Mr. Thompson, are now in the service.

By an act of the city council approved as far back as Novomber 1, 1838, the establishment of a high school was ordered to go into effect Soptember 1, 1861, or as soon thereafter as the corporation should provide accommodation for the same. That accommodation was never provided by the corporation, and, consequently, as the schools increased and were improved, one after another high-school study was added to tho grammar-school curriculum until it became overcrowded and burdensomo. Meanwhile public sentiment had veered around and was quite strong against spending public moneys on high-school education, for the present at any rate. On the other hand tho advent of the normal school had emphasized the necessity of furnishing candidates of higher qualifications for that school, whose course of study, limited to one year, was designed to bo entirely professional; in fact there was no time for academic studies.

In 1876, therefore, all the pupils in the girls' eighth-grade schools sufficiently advanced to take up high-school studies were placed under a competent teacher in one school, designated as advanced grammar school, with a ono year's course of study. This first modest step toward a high school fortunately alarmcd no ono, and at the end of the year the experiment had been so successful that there was a general and urgent demand for a similar school for the boys; it was accordingly established in 1877. In 1879 the course of study in both schools was lengthened to two years; in 1880 they had become so popular that it was safe to namo them high schools; and this was formally done. As I havo already stated tho Congress had provided for a high-school building in 1881, and it was ready for occupancy in 1882.

It was located on a portion of the western half of the square Lounded liy O, P, Sixth, and Seventh streets NW., which liad been purchased at an earlier date by the corporation as a sito for a market, but the Congress having been convinced that the city needed schools more than markets, appropriated it to the use of the former. The Henry and Polk schools also are located on the same half square. The fact that the corporation already owned ground that could be utilized for a site greatly facilitated the passage of the appropriation for a building. A like circumstance favored the appropriation for the Jefferson School at an earlier date. A part of the sito already belonged to tho corporation, having likewise been purchased a few years before for a market.

In 1882 the two high schools were united and installed in their new building, with three courses of study, business, English, and classical, the latter lengthened to threo years. As the cost of education in a high school is niore than twice as great per pupil as it is in elementary schools, it was deemed best to have a high standard of qualifications for entering tho high school and a shorter course of study after admission rather than a low standard for entering followed by a long and more expensive high-school course.

This arrangement was based upon the theory advanced by Professor Henry, quoted above, that the simple but most important arts of reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic should be thoroughly taught in the lower grades of the schools and not be postponed to the high-school course, where, to say nothing of other disadvantages, the expenso of acquiring these arts would be doubled.

Having a high standard for admission, the high school, with its three years course, had no difficulty whatever in preparing its pupils to enter any college in the country. The school was thoroughly equipped with physical, chemical, and other laboratories and all necessary appliances, and, as the nucleus of a reference and general library, more than 5,000 valuable books of the old Washington Library Association, which had suspended operations a few years beforo, were turned over to the high school.

Mr. Edward A. Paul, an excellent organizer and executive officer, was appointed the first principal of the new high school, and he had to assist hini a faculty of the brightest young men and women that could be found in the country. They were all full college graduates, and some of them had pursued post-graduate studies and taken the degree of doctor of philosophy. They were selected with reference to teaching special subjects, buč at the same time were all-round teachers, as it was important they should be at that early stage of the school, when there was no money available for the employment of exclusive specialists. There was Mr. F. R. Lane, the present efficient and accomplished principal of the high school, who organized the course in English literature; Mr. George R. Israel, who organized the course in chemistry and the military training which has become so prominent and popular a feature of the school; Mr. Frank Angell, who organized the athletics, football, baseball, Indian clubs, etc.; Mr. C. Herschel Koyl, who organized the course in physics and the manual training; Mr. Elgin R. L. Gould, who organized the course in history and economics; Mr. Edward L. Burgess, who organized the courses in Greek and botany; Mr. William Bernhardt, who organized tho course in German, and Mr. Camille Fontaine, who organized the course in French; and the eminent success which the high school at once achieved in all these and other lines of its undertakings was due to the intelligence, enthusiasm, and energy of its corps of bright young teachers.

But few of these first teachers are now in the school; some have died and others are filling high positions elsewhere. Mr. Angell is a professor in Leland Stanford Junior University, California; Mr. Gould, a lecturer in Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, and a well-known writer on economics; and Mr. Burgess, a professor in the New York Normal College.

The colored schools of Washington and Georgetown, wbile an independent organization, had established a high school at an early date, and a normal school for them followed close in the wake of that for the white schools.

Tho schools were growing so rapidly and making constant demands for new schoolhouses at a heavy expense that in the winter of 1883 the writer devoted much time to the study of plans of schoolhouses, both in this country and abroad, with the view of combining the best pedagogical and hygienic arrangements in a safe, plain, substantial schoolhouse at the least possible expense consistent with those essential r. quiroments. The best authorities on shape and size of schoolrooms, arrangement of cloakrooms, space required for pupils, size and location of windows, ease and safety of stairways, location and size of ventilating shafts, placing of registers for heat and ventilation, location and construction of closets, and, in short, all the details of a good schoolhouse, were carefully studied.

After each detail had been decided upon and represented by floor plans, statements, figures, etc., this material was placed in the hands of an architect in this city, Mr. John B. Brady, now inspector of buildings, to be put in architectural form, with instructions that no architecture was to be indulged in that would in the least increase the expense of construction. There were two designs, one for a schoolhouse three stories high with 12 schoolrooms, and one two stories high with 8 schoolrooms. He very kindly undertook the work without any assurance of compensation for his services, and devoted a great deal of time and labor to tentative efforts before reaching results entirely satisfactory to us both.

It happened, fortunately, soon after, that he was appointed to a position, requiring a competent architect, in the office of the inspector of buildings, upon whom was devolved the duty of preparing the plans of new schoolhouses. These plans already prepared by him and approved by the school board were at once adopted by the Commissioners and the two buildings were shortly after erected—the Analostan with 12 rooms and the Amidon with 8 rooms. The Analostan, in the vicinity of the island bearing that name, was so named after unusual consultation with citizens especially qualified to give advice in such a matter. The namo was cuphonious and derived from a race who were supposed to havo held their great councils near by for generations before the white man camo here. For somo unaccountable reason the Commissioners subsequently changed the name to Grant. Opportunities in abundance to honor the great Union general in this way are afforded in the several new schoolhouses built each year, and it is to be hoped that the original name of this building will yet bo restored.

When the large school building on Capitol Hill fronting Stanton Park was erected it was named L'Enfant School, and tho name was carved on the bluestono panel, corresponding with the other stone trimmings, especially designed for this purpose. The citizens of that section of the city, as soon as the name appeared, vigorously protested against it, on the ground that it would always bo mispronounced, and called “Tho Infant School.” In deference to their wishes a change was made, and so a gray marble slab, inscribed “Peabody School," was placed over the original name. In a distant future some explorer may lift that marble slab and find buried beneath it the honors intended to be paid to Charle Pierre L'Enfant, the great engineer, who in planning this city left that reservation, which has now become a most beautiful park for the benefit of the hundreds of children attending tho Peabody School.

Tho plan of the Analostan, the 12-room building, was in somo respects the better one, but it was proportionately more expensive. An open court from the center of the building to the rear gave great advantages in keeping the central corridors supplied with puro air. The difficulties and expense of keeping an assembly room at all times supplied with pure air without the aid of window ventilation has been abundantly demonstrated in the two Halls of Congress, and everyone familiar with schoolroom ventilation fully understands this. In these two buildings, in order to havo the assistance of window ventilation without harmful drafts upon the children, the upper part, about one-fourth of each window, was hinged at the bottom on a transom so that it could be opened from tho top inward at any required anglo by means of a fixture easily accessible, and thus any amount of fresh air desired could bo admit. ted at the top of the room in a way that avoided all injurious drafts on tho pupils. This arrangement gave tho highest satisfaction to the schools, but the fixtures sometimes got out of order and became troublesome to tho inspector of buildings, who had charge of such matters, and so, I regret to say, ho ordered them to be taken off and the transoms to be permanently closed. In wy judgment the fixtures should be restored, or some better means be found for making the intended use of these transom windows. A second building on the plan of the Analostan was erected, but the two-story plan has been the most popular for the time being, and all the buildings for elementary schools since constructed in tho city havo taken the Amidon as a type. The Amidon cost only about $20,000, and somo incidental conveniences and architectural embellishments have been added to its successors from time to time as larger amounts of money have been available for construction.

In 1884 a voluntary effort was made to obtain a small library of reference and suitable reading books for each school of tho higher grades. The books were to be obtained by loan, gift, and purchase, so far as funds were contributed for this purpose. In three months 212 schools had each succeeded in getting a very useful library of its own, making an aggregate of 10,176 volumes.

The schools became deeply interested in establishing and managing their little libraries, as well as in reading and consulting the books obtained through their own efforts.

The development of the school system during this period in respect to courses of study, methods of teaching, and improvements in supervision and disciplino, does not admit of presentation in tabular form and must be gathered from what has been

ED 95- -54

said already, but the material growth of the schools is shown in the following statement:



Whole number of teachers
Whole number of pupils
Value of school property


565 4,500 31, 362 $30,000 $1,500,000

I have aimed to sketch only a correct outline of the origin and growth of the school system of this city for eighty years, commencing with two little schools in rented rooms, free only to poor children, progressing at first “with wandering steps and slow," and at last reaching the high American ideal of the public education required to make citizens useful and intelligent enough to maintain our form of government. A subbase of kindergartens for children between the ages of 4 and 6 years, especially for those who unfortunately have little or none of the parental care and training that belongs to a well-ordered home, was the only part of the plan not carried out as designed, and that is still in abeyance.

This sketch would not be complete without some note of the most valuable services rendered to the schools from 1870 to 1885 by the Hon. John Eaton, then the United States Commissioner of Education. His personal interest could hardly have been deeper and more practically effective had the schools by law, been placed under his official charge.

In conclusion, if you ask what was the most important factor of all in this work, I answer, unhesitatingly, the corps of teachers; intelligent, progressive, faithful to duty, and loyal to their leaders as ever were the famous "six hundred.”




Tho influences upon the being of mankind-intellectual, physical, and social--that are exerted by geographical, political, and other accidents are interesting to study, It seemed curious how unlike were the Greeks of Attica to those of Laconia, and how unlike were both these to the Baotians, all dwelling not remotely apart. Not less unlike were the settlers of the middle to those of the southeastern regions of tho State of Georgia. The latter consisted of English, Salzburgers, Vaudois, Piedmontese, Portuguese-Hebrews, and considerable numbers from the Hebrides Islands. Among the communities neighboring to Savannah, the mother city, particularly in the county of Liberty, which was settled by the most cultivated among the immigrants, a few reasonably good schools were commenced under the lead of educated masters.

Very different from these were the carliest settlers of the region now being considered. Before the war of independence considerable numbers had migrated to this region, beginning their settlements on Broad River, in the southeastern portion of what is now Elbert County, and extending south ward between the Savannah River on the east and the Oconee on the west, through (now) Hancock, where tho primary geological formation in the State ends. It had a salubrious climate, and à deep-red, exceedingly fertile soil. Undulating with small bills, extensive tablelands, and narrow valleys, well watered with rapid creeks and rivulets, despite its nearness to the Indians it became as choice an abode as any in the whole South. A region thus early occupied on the border of savago existence must have been unusually attractivo. Not unfrequently a forage was made upon the two counties most exposed-Greeno and Hancock. These and other dangers were such as only an adventurous, even rather audacious, peoplo had hardihood to encounter.

Those settlers had come, many from North Carolina, but mostly from Virginia. Somo were from Maryland, and a few from the Middle States and New England. Among them were almost none very prominent in property holding or mental culture. At the breaking out of the rebellion a few here and there sided with Great Britain, but most of these, called Tories, a namo still odious, found it not safe to remain in a community wherein open manifestation of their sentiments was not seldom followed by an improvised hangman's rope and gallows in the open day or a rifle shot through the window under cover of night. Several individuals became noted for specially daring important services during the campaigns in the State, for which they were richly rewarded afterwards.

When the war was over great numbers of new settlers came in, many with considerable and a few with extraordinary gifts of understanding. Then began an astonishingly rapid development of the State's abundant resources. Probably at no period since has that region, less than 100 miles square in extent, had a larger number of men of distinguished ability. It is noteworthy that during a very brief period came the Crawfords, Gilmers, Cobbs, Lumpkins, Campbell's, Doolys, Waltons, Watkins, Nisbets, Lamars, who soon became illustrious in Federal and State politics, and tho Mercers, Marshalls, Andrews, and Pierces in the palpit.

Evolutions in social living were such as must always spring from admixture of classes in such conditions. None were very rich, and none very poor. Fortunately for the peculiar social development so beneficial to the whole State, there were no cities nor large towns, as in the adjoining State of South Carolina. Augusta (itself more convenient of approach to Carolinians than to the inhabitants of this region), on the Savannah River, with its population of four or five thousand, could be reached only after a journey of three or four days over roads the reddest, worse worked, and in winter the muddiest and toughest perhaps in the whole country, South or North. 1 By Richard Malcolm Johnston

« PreviousContinue »