« PreviousContinue »
THE ALLIANCE OF EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT.
This spacious animated scene survey,
Say, then, through ages by what fate confined
With grim delight the brood of winter view
brighter day, and heavens of azure hue, Scent the new fragrance of the breathing rose, And quaff the pendent vintage as it grows. Proud of the yoke, and pliant to the rod, Why yet does Asia dread a monarch's nod, While European freedom still withstands Th' encroaching tide, that drowns her lessening lands; And sees far off with an indignant groan Her native plains, and empires once her own. Can opener skies and suns of fiercer flame O'erpower the fire that animates our frame; As lamps, that shed at eve a cheerful ray, Fade and expire beneath the eye of day? Need we the influence of the northern star To string our nerves and steel our hearts to war? And, where the face of nature laughs around, Must sickning virtue fly the tainted ground? Unmanly thought! what seasons can control, What fancied zone can circumscribe the soul, Who, conscious of the source from whence she springs, By reason's light, on resolution's wings, Spite of her frail companion, dauntless goes O'er Lybia's deserts and through Zembla's snows? She bids each slumb'ring energy awake, Another touch, another temper take, Suspends th' inferior laws, that rule our clay : The stubborn elements confess her sway; Their little wants, their low desires, refine, And raise the mortal to a height divine.
Not but the human fabric from the birth Imbibes a flavour of its parent earth. As various tracis enforce a various toil, The manners speak the idiom of their soil. An iron race the mountain-cliffs maintain, Foes to the gentler genius of the plain : For where unwearied sinews must be found With side-long plough to quell the finty ground, To turn the torrent's swist-descending flood, To brave the savage rushing from the wood, What wonder, if to patient valour train'd They guard with spirit, what by strength they gain'd ? And while their rocky ramparts round they see, The rough abode of want and liberty, (As lawless force from confidence will grow) Insult the plenty of the vales below? What wonder, in the sultry climes, that spread, Where Nile redundant o'er his summer-bed From his broad bosom life and verdure dings, And broods o'er Egypt with his wat'ry wings, If with advent'rous oar and ready sail The dusky people drive before the gale; Or on frail floats to neighu'ring cities ride, That rise and glitter o'er the ambient lide.
NATHAN GUILFORD, the leader of the movenient by which the first liberal school-law for Ohio was secured, was the son of a physician, and was born in Spencer township, Worcester county, Massachusetts, on the nineteenth day of July, 1786. In his boyhood he worked steadily on his father's farm, during the spring and summer months, and attended a district school in the fall and winter, of each year. A marked disposition for reading and study led his father to determine that he should have a liberal education. Nathan was accordingly sent to a classical school, at Leicester, where he fitted himself for college. He entered Yale College when he was twenty-two years of age, in 1808, and graduated with a respectable position in the class of 1812. He was not distinguished for any special aptitudes or powers, but was regarded as a young man of good habits and fair talent, who would devote healthful energies, of mind and body, to some good work.
For a few months Mr. Guilford conducted a classical school at Worcester, Massachusetts. He then determined to make the practice of law his business, and entered at once upon the study of his profession. When he had been admitted to the bar, looking toward what was then the goal of many an earnest ambition, he emigrated to the West, and settled in Kentucky, with the probable intention of entering actively into political life ; but opportunity did not occur, or bis intentions changed, and in 1816 he removed to Cincinnati. There Mr. Guilford opened a law-office; but he soon engaged also in other pursuits. Following those inclinations which led the friends of his youth to trust that he would distinguish himself by useful identification with some enterprise for public welfare, he became known as a zealous advocate of a liberal system of common schools. As fast as his acquaintance extended, he impressed his views of what ought to be done for popular education in Ohio upon his friends, and he opened an extensive correspondence with gentlemen of influence in the middle and northern portions of the state.
Having once fairly decided that his plans ought to be accepted, he was not disposed to give up their advocacy because he found but a few willing listeners. Opposition and indifference alike urged him to closer thought and more active efforts. The laws then existing were incompetent for, and the people generally were opposed to, any thing like an active movement toward the establishment of an efficient system of free schools. Not satisfied with the slow progress his conversation and his correspondence made, Mr. Guilford conceived the idea of securing the attention of the people by means of an almanac. “Solomon Thrifty's Almanac” was immediately issued. It contained the calendar, the “ weather," and the astronomical changes, duly set down and certified to; but in addition to these, and to paragraphs of direct service to the husbandman, it bad, on every page, something about free education—the value of common schools—the importance of gen. eral intelligence. It was a good almanac, and for seven years had an extensive circulation.
Meantime Mr. Guilford had opened a book-store in Cincinnati, and had become a publisher of other works as well as “Solomon Thrifty's Almanac.” Wherever an opportunity offered, or could appropriately be taken, those works contained good words for free schools.
In the year 1820, Mr. Guilford was in correspondence with a considerable number of influential men who sympathized with, and were proud to act for, the movement to which he had been calling public attention. The first general school-law for Obio, authorizing directors, committees, and clerks, with power to assess local taxes, build schoolhouses, and employ teachers, was passed by the legislature of 182021. The next year a committee, of which Caleb Atwater was chairman, recommended the appointment of seven commissions, to devise and report an efficient system of common schools. That committee was authorized; and Governor Allen Trimble appointed Caleb Atwater, Rev. John Collins, Rev. Janies Hoge, Nathan Guilford, Ephraim Cutler, Josiah Barber, and James Bell. Atwater, Collins, and Hoge agreed upon a report, and presented it to the legislature of 1823–24. It recommended a school system based upon the one then existing in the State of New York, making no provision for a general fund, other than that which might arise from the sale and lease of school-lands.
Nathan Guilford openly refused to co-operate with the committee. He said their plans were inadequate. In order that his position might be understood and widely made known, he addressed a letter to the committee, and a memorial to the General Assembly, in which he advocated with zeal and force the assessment of a general county tax, ad valorem. That was the first public appeal in Ohio for a legislative enactment requiring general taxation for school purposes. Mr. Guilford's memorial was printed, by order of the legislature, with the report of the committee. Its propositions were strenuously opposed
by a majority of the legislators, and the school-law of 1821 was not amended.
But Mr. Guilford, and the few who were willing to act with him, were not discouraged. They appealed from the legislature to the people. Mr. Guilford announced himself as a candidate for the state senate, and was elected by a bandsome majority. When the legislature organized, he was appointed chairman of the school committee. He had prepared an elaborate report, arguing the cause of popular education, and urging his plans as not only practicable but as economical; and to that report he added a bill, which required a tax of one half-mill, to be levied by county commissioners, made township clerks and county auditors school officers, and provided for school examiners.
This report and bill were the subjects of animated discussion. Mr. Guilford did not content himself with public defense; but he devoted all the hours he could spare from other duties in explaining his bill privately to members of the legislature, and to influential men at the capital. When the final vote was takeu in the senate, it was announced that the bill had passed, without amendment, by a vote of twenty-eight to eight.
Immediately Mr. Guilford, most actively assisted by Ephraim Cutler, of Washington county, devoted his energies to the preparation of the house of representatives for proper attention to the school-bill.
Various amendments were offered when the bill was reported to the house; but so decidedly had all, who were willing to take a step forward in school legislation, been impressed that what Mr. Guilford had prepared was wise and practicable, that his bill was passed, with out the change of a word, by a vote of forty-six ayes to twenty-four nays—twenty-two majority.
Mr. Guilford returned to his constituents, in Hamilton county, determined that, whatever reception the law might have in other portions of the state, it should not fail to be useful in Cincinnati.
Public schools did not exist in Cincinnati in 1825. Private schools were numerous. The public money was not sufficient to keep open the schools more than six weeks in a year, and, to make up the deficits in the expenses of a term, rate-bills were assessed on all who sent pupils. The law of 1824-25, in a considerable degrée, relieved the embarrassments of those who were laboring for the establishment of free schools, but it did not afford an income half sufficient. Mr. Guilford, taking counsel with wise friends, devoted himself to the then unpromising labor of making city free schools popular and efficient. In 1827, he called a public meeting for the purpose of discussing the school wants of the city, and devising ways and means by