Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

time in the school-room, but, when school hours are over, they go round visiting families, giving instruction in all things that pertain to a good household and the elevation of adults, as well as to the intellectual improvement of the children. As one fact, to show the great change that is going on in the households of these people, I will mention that in the island of St. Helena and Ladies' Island, during the year 1863, fifty thousand dollars' worth of West India goods, wooden, earthen, and iron ware, was sold to the negroes for their household comfort and convenience. On Port Royal Island, five hundred thousand dollars' worth of the same articles have been sold to the negroes ; — for you must remember there are no refugee families there; they are all negro families, except a few in Beaufort, who came from Florida.

These facts speak for themselves, and they show to us that a great change is going on among these people; and if they can be left free to labor, and yankee school-masters and school-mistresses are permitted to continue among them to do this work, a great change will be wrought, such as will astonish the nation and the world. And I wish to say that this people have minds, and they are ready and willing to use them and cultivate them whenever the privilege and opportunity are given them. We must remember that mind is mind, let it be under a black skin or a white one. I believe enough has been already done to show the capacity for intellectual improvement in these people; and my firm conviction is, that time will show that they will make good citizens, as those who have been clothed in Uncle Sam's uniform have made good soldiers. God bless them, and give us the heart to labor to raise them to that position which they should occupy! (Applause.)

Mr. Perkins, of New York, responded for the Empire State. He said, I feel unable to speak in fitting terms for the great State of New York. We of the Empire State are proud of our greatness, our position, our commercial prosperity, and our educational institutions; but we are greatly indebted and deeply grateful to New England for the origin and the growth of public free schools. New York, true to her motto, -“Excelsior," — has adopted the thoughts of New England's gifted men and the noble Mann, and they have been like good seed in good soil. Year by year she has been perfecting her educational system, 'her free public schools, and she has been gathering into those schools the children of the laboring classes, the children of those ignorant masses who have been sent from the old world to our shores, and teaching them the duties of citizens of a great republic. A great work has devolved upon the State, especially upon her great cities, — to teach to their heterogeneous population the true meaning of democracy, — the difference between liberty and license, - and enable them to discharge their duties to themselves, to the country, and to humanity.

I will not, at this late hour, enter into any statistics in relation to the schools of New York. We are proud of them. For myself, personally, I may say, that with pleasure, year after year, have I come to the American Institute, sat at the feet of our educational sages, and listened to the words of those who could speak wisely and well; but never have I had a pleasanter experience than the present one, when I have returned to the State of my nativity. shall go home strengthened and cheered, to engage with greater earnestness in the work of our noble profession. (Applause.)

Mr. Colton, of Middletown, Conn., was called upon to speak for that State, and responded as follows: I can hardly represent the State of Connecticut, with regard to her schools, because for the last seven years I have been pursuing the subject of education so privately, that I hardly know the progress

that our State has made; but, if I were to say anything to such a respectable body of fellow-teachers as this, I should like to say that in Connecticut, slow as we are, we are thinking more about the development and improvement of all the faculties of the mind than we are about the external arrangements of comfort and of ease. I made up my mind, seven years ago, when, baptized by the spirit of Arnold, I resolved to become an educator, that the great work for us to do was to solve the problem of a complete education. We are to take the child, make ourselves familiar with his capabilities, and settle this question: What ought this child to become ? We are to isolate that child from his fellows, and not treat him so much as a particle of an aggregate mass of matter, but as an individual, living thing; and, until we have done that in reference to every scholar, we only deal in the general, and not in the particular. I appeal to every one here, whether our grandest relationship does not centre on the individual. I abhor, and cast out as a nuisance, the doctrine that the individual was made for society. I reverse the proposition. I say that all that matter and mind are good for is to develop the individual, and prepare him for his own personal development, and for his responsibility to that Creator into whose presence he is to be summoned. Consequently, it seems to me we should strive to develop the child as a being, and ask what that being can be made the best and the most of.

My friends, another point. I came into this work as a Christian minister. God forbid I should ever feel it less sacred than that of a minister of righteousness! I feel that it is even more sacred. I feel that until we shall enter this work with the same spirit of conscientious devotion to duty with which the true minister enters upon his work, we shall fail to feel the power and glory and beauty of the profession. Everything great, everything sacred, takes hold of the soul; and until we rise above all questions of profit, until it is enough for us that we are teachers, whether we become rich or not, and glory enough that we evolve minds, and build up great mental structures as temples to the Deity, — until we reach that point in our estimate of the grandeur of the profession, we are not fit to enter it. We must feel that this is a great work, and that we are utterly unworthy of it, as we do when we preach the gospel of God.

The President. We have had representatives present from twelve different States. Several, however, have been obliged to leave. The only one remaining upon whom I shall call at this time is Mr. Stevens, of Maine, who has contributed so much to the interest of our meeting on this occasion.

Mr. Stevens, of Portland. Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen of the Institute : We have been very happy to see you here, and our only regret is that we have not been able to do more for you. We wish that you might stay with us longer, and learn more of our school system and of our schools. The impression has sometimes gone abroad, that although Maine claimed to lead in some things, yet, being so far off and out of the way, she did not lead in educational matters. If she does not lead, we claim that we have as good schools in Maine as there are anywhere else. We claim that the schools of Bangor, of Augusta, of Portland, and other cities of the State, will compare favorably with the schools of other States.

I have collected a few statistics in regard to the schools of our State; but I will not detain you with them. I cannot forbear, however, from referring to the position of Maine in reference to the great struggle in which our country is engaged, in comparison with other States to which allusion has been made here. The efforts that have been made throughout the loyal North have been so commendable, so much has been done by all the States, that it seems almost invidious to institute a comparison. But Maine has sent more than thirty thousand of her best sons and daughters to the battle-field; the sons to fight, the daughters to care for the wounded. Many of our institutions of learning have been more than decimated by the calls upon their ranks. General Chamberlain, who is to-day but just recovering from a sickness which came near being fatal, caused by a wound received in battle, is a most excellent teacher, and, I believe, a member of this Institute. And General Chamberlain is not alone. The teacher of the Phillips High School carries an armless sleeve in consequence of a wound received while nobly leading his company to battle.

I can only say, further, that when again the Institute shall come to Maine, whether to Portland, or to some other of our cities, we hope to be able to show you, as I believe we have on this occasion, the evidences of progress, and that our teachers are increasing in number and becoming more and more fully developed into all that charity, that love, that benevolence, that true nobility, that Christ-like patience, which constitute the true teacher. (Applause.)

Hon. Joseph White, of Massachusetts. I have rejoiced and felt proud as our friends from Illinois and Iowa have spoken of their zeal and their enthusiasm in the matter of volunteering, and thus avoiding the draft. They may justly be proud that they have not submitted to a draft. But, Mr. President, they have made a draft. Twelve years ago, fifteen years ago, twenty-five years ago, they began it, and continued remorselessly. They have dragged from us the young men of New England, so that we have now thirty thousand more young women than young men in these New England States; and all I have to say is, send back those young men, and we will submit to no draft. (Applause.)

« AnteriorContinuar »