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to rely, and determined to submit them to the publick in their present form. I have not assumed the principles hastily; but the circumstances above named, together with my daily avocations, and the impossibility of examining the whole in a connected form, before it was sent to the press, may fairly claim some indulgence in the execution. In selecting your name as a medium, through which to make my communications to the publick, I was guided not merely by the reasons, to which I have already alluded. These, although sufficient to determine my choice, only came to corroborate a decision, which my personal feelings had already suggested. With all their imperfections, and no doubt many will be detected, the following Letters are submitted to your perusal, and if found worthy, to your protection and encouragement. The highest ambition, I have dared to form in regard to them, will be answered, if they meet your approbation, and are the means of turning the public attention more to the important subject, to which they relate. I cannot, however, but indulge a secret hope, that they may be a remote cause of interesting minds more commensurate than my own, with the magnitude of the object.

Most respectfully, I remain,

Sir, your obliged and

Obedient servant,

Lancaster, 13 August, 1824.





THE system of free schools in New England, has long been the subject of almost unqualified praise; and those, who have had largest experience of its excellence, have felt themselves privileged to be most eloquent, in setting it forth to the world. The great degree of complacency, with which we dwell upon this favorite institution, has drawn upon us some illnatured remarks from our less fortunate brethren in other sections of our country. They would, no doubt, be glad to beg a truce from the subject, even at the expense of believing all that has been said. And if no object were proposed, but a vain ostentation of some little advantage, which we may happen to possess in this respect, I should spare myself the useless task of saying more upon the subject. No trait in the character of our legislation, deserves more admiration, than the liberal and high-minded policy adopted by the Federal and State

governments, in regard to provisions for early education. New England may well offer her most hearty congratulations, that the system of free schools, originating with her, has been introduced into most of the States of the Union; and in some has been carried to a good degree of perfection. I am, certainly, not disposed to detract any thing from so good an establishment. It is, indeed, the richest inheritance, we enjoy from our ancestors; and the value, we attach to it, is enhanced no small degree, by a knowledge of the sacrifices, it cost its pious founders. The first and imperious wants of a people in a "strange land," were but indifferently supplied, when provision was made by authority, for the universal instruction of the young. We must not analyze, too closely, all the motives, which induced such provision. We might, perhaps, find, that a zeal for the faith, which they believed to have been once delivered to the saints, made no small share; for it must be confessed, that little was taught in the schools of the puritans, but catechisms containing their faith. At least, this was the grand object, and every thing else was subsidiary. The youth, who had been taught subjection to his superiors, by arguments summarily addressed to his back, and was well versed in the creed of the then orthodox church, was sent into the world, with perfect confidence in his competency to surmount all difficulties, which might occur in the various relations of life. But this was not long the state of things. The

religious zeal of the puritans, which, to say the least, approached to bigotry and intolerance, was much qualified in its influence upon the early institutions of the country, by their love of civil liberty. Their political creed was hardly less heretical than their religious; and they were as impatient of control in the capacity of a body politick, as their consciences were wayward and obstinate in matters of religion. Their attachment to free institutions was devoted and enthusiastick; and they had the wisdom to discover, that "knowledge is essential to freedom." These two causes, zeal for their faith, and love of free institutions, conspiring, led to the adoption of a policy for the general diffusion of knowledge, which showed practically and efficiently, how much they loved their institutions, and how well they understood, what constitutes the basis of free govern


New England was first granted by letters patent from King James, in 1621, to "diverse of his loving subjects," to wit; the Council established at Plymouth, and embraced that moderate portion of the American continent, "lying and being in breadth from Fourty degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctiall line, to Fourty eight Degrees of the said Northerly Latitude, and in Length by all the Breadth aforesaid, throughout the main Land from sea to sea. One would think, by the liberality of this

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grant, that his Majesty did not very well understand

* Haz. Hist. Coll. vol. i. p. 105.


the geography of this continent, or that he did not set a very high value on his extensive acquisitions here. The Council of Plymouth, soon after, made large grants of territory to different companies for the purpose of settlement in New England. Sir Henry Roswell and others, they gave the part called Massachusetts Bay ;* and this grant was confirmed in 1628, by the Colony charter from King Charles. The Colonies of Plymouth,† Connecticut,‡

*The original grant of Massachusetts Bay embraced, "all that Parte of Newe England in America, which lyes and extends betweene a greate River there, commonlie called Monomack, alias Merriemack, and a certain other River there, called Charles River, being in the bottome of a certayne Bay there commonlie called Massachusetts, alias Mattachusetts, alias Massatusetts Bay, and also all and singular those Lands and Hereditaments whatsoever, lying within the space of three English myles on the South parte of the said Charles River, or of any or everie Parte thereof; and also, all and singular the Landes and Hereditaments whatsoever lying and being within the space of three English myles to the southwarde of the southermost Parte of the said Bay, called Massachusetts, alias Mattachusetts, alias Massatusetts Bay; and also all those Landes and Hereditaments whatsoever, which lye, and be within the space of three English myles to the Northwarde of the said River called Monomack, alias Merriemack, or to the Northwarde of any and every Parte thereof, and all Landes and Hereditaments whatsoever, lying within the lymitts aforesaide, North and South in Latitude and breadth, and in Length and Longitude, of and within all the Breadth aforesaide throughout the Mayne Landes there, from the Atlantick and Western Sea and Ocean on the Easte Parte, to the South Sea on the West Parte," &c.-[Haz. Hist. Coll. vol. i. p. 241.]

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