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Chapter 8: Education.

Religion, and love of liberty, brought our pilgrim ancestors to Medford; and as these principles sprang in them from intelligence and virtue, so they revealed to them the need of intelligence and virtue in their offspring. To educate, therefore, was to legislate for the future. The establishment of schools, during the first years of their residence, was an impossibility; and, consequently, domestic instruction was the only alternative. The Bible and Primer were the reading-books. In those towns or plantations where a clergyman could be supported, he usually occupied much of his time in teaching the young; and it was common for boys to be received into the minister's family to be prepared for college. Those pastors who had been silenced in England, and who came here to minister to the scattered flocks in the wilderness, were men of strong thought and sound scholarship; and they kept up the standard of education. From the necessities of their condition, however, it is apparent that the children of our ancestors must have been scantily taught, and their grandchildren still greater sufferers; for learning follows wealth.

The first movement for the establishment of schools took place under the administration of Governor Prence; and, at his suggestion, the following order was passed in the Colony Court, 1663 :--

It is proposed by the Court unto the several townships in this jurisdiction, as a thing they ought to take into their serious consideration, that some course may be taken, that in every town there may be a schoolmaster set up, to train up children in reading and writing.

In 1670, the Court did freely give and grant all such profits as might or should accrue annually to the Colony for fishing with a net or seines at Cape Cod for mackerel, bass, or herrings, to be improved for and towards a free school, in some town in this jurisdiction, for the training up of youth in literature, for the good and benefit of posterity,--provided a beginning be made within one year after said grant.

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