Its object was to efface all political or civil distinctions, and to abolish all institutions founded upon birth. ‘All men are created equal,’ says the Declaration of Independence. ‘All men are born free and equal,’ says the Massachusetts Bill of Rights. These are not vain words. Within the sphere of their influence no person can be created, no person can be born, with civil or political privileges, not enjoyed equally by all his fellow-citizens; nor can any institution be established recognizing any distinctions of birth. Here is the Great Charter of every human being drawing his vital breath upon this soil, whatever may be his condition, and whoever may be his parents. He may be poor, weak, humble, black—he may be of Caucasian, of Jewish, of Indian, or of Ethiopian race—he may be of French, of German, of English, of Irish extraction—but before the Constitution of Massachusetts all these distinctions disappear. He is not poor, or weak, or humble, or black—nor Caucasian, nor Jew, nor Indian, nor Ethiopian—nor French, nor German, nor English, nor Irish; he is a man,—the equal of all his fellow-men. He is one of the children of the State, which, like an impartial parent, regards all its offspring with an equal care. To some it may justly allot higher duties, according to their higher capacities, but it welcomes all to its equal, hospitable board. The State, imitating the divine justice, is no respecter of persons. II. I now pass to the second stage of this argument, and ask attention to a further proposition. The Legislature of Massachusetts, in entire harmony with the Constitution, has made no discrimination of color or race, in the establishment of Public Schools. If such discrimination were made by the Laws, they would be unconstitutional and void. But the legislature of Massachusetts has been too just and generous, too mindful of the Bill of Rights, to establish any such privilege of birth. The language of the statutes is general, and applies equally to all children, of whatever color or race. The provisions of the law regulating this subject are entitled, Of the Public Schools. (Revised Statutes, ch. 23.) The first section provides, that in ‘Every town containing fifty families, or householders, there shall be kept in each year, at the charge of the town, by a teacher or teachers of competent ability and good morals, one school for the instruction of children in Orthography, Reading, Writing, English Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic and Good Behavior, for the term of six months, or two or more such schools for terms of time that shall together be equivalent to six months.’ The 2d, 3d, and 4th sections provide for the number of such schools to be
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