The occupants of the Medford plantation
, being few and poor, secured instruction to their children by domestic teaching, and by using the schools of the neighboring towns.
Towards the support of those schools, they were required by law to contribute; and that they were benefited by them, is apparent from the fact, that all the persons who appear, through a series of years, as officers in the town, were well educated.
The leading idea of emigration to this country, and the spirit of the age, would not allow them to neglect education.
They provided for it in a way that did not require public record at the time.
In 1701, the penalty imposed by the Legislature upon towns for neglecting to provide grammar schools was twenty pounds. It was required that “the schoolmaster should be appointed by the ministers of the town and the ministers of the two next adjacent towns, or any two of them, by certificates under their hands.”
These early resolves concerning schools and education indubitably prove two things: first, that our Puritan Fathers believed that the establishment of schools was a duty they owed to justice and humanity, to freedom and religion; and, second, that they had resolved that these schools should be free.
Here, then, was a new idea introduced to the world,--free schools
! And, from free schools and congregational churches, what could result but republicanism
? They held our republic as the.acorn holds the oak. It is important to state that free schools originated in Massachusetts
In 1671, Sir William Berkeley
, first Governor
, writes to the king thus:--
I thank God there are no free schools nor printing-presses here, and I trust there will not be this hundred years; for learning breeds up heresies and sects and all abominations.
God save us from both!
Now look at Massachusetts
. The Rev. John Robinson
, before the Pilgrims left Leyden
, charged them to build churches, establish schools, and read the Bible
without sectarian prejudice.
He said, “I am convinced that God has more light yet to break forth out of his holy word.
Receive such light gladly.”
Our fathers acted on this wise, Christian
, and republican advice, and engaged Philemon Purmount
“to teach the children; for which he was to be paid thirty acres of ground by the public authorities.”