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lawfully employed to labor in any business whatsoever, unless such child shall have attended some school at least three months in each year of such service. The penalty for the violation of this law is one hundred dollars for each offense.

Realizing that the efficiency of the law would depend largely on the department of education, I determined it should not be a dead letter; but, instead of threatening proseentions at the outset, I sought to conciliate our manufacturers, conferring with them courteously as friends of education and assuming that they would heartily co-operate in the enforcement of the law. To this end, I drew up the following pledge: “We hereby agree that we will employ no children under 14 years of age, except those who are provided with a certificate from the local school-officers of actual attendance at school the full term required by law." I first presented it to ex-Governor James E. English; then to Governor Marshall Jewell; next to ex-Governor William A. Buckingham, who each extensive manufacturers-cheerfully signed it. I then started to get the signatures of manufacturers generally; but the work proved so great and important that a gentleman was appointed as agent of the board of education to canvass the State. He visited the leading manufacturers throughout the State, and, with one exception, they all cheerfully signed the above pledge. This law has proved beneficent in its results. During the five years of its operation it has met general and cordial approval and brought large numbers into our schools. Instances of remissness sometimes occur. Vigilance is needful.

The agent of the State-board of education is now chiefly occupied in visiting schoolofficers and manufacturers in all parts of the State for the purpose of securing the attendance of children at school.

In a circular sent to every township, I have requested the local school-officers to communicate to me any facts they may learn as to neglect in the schooling of children. It is not believed that any one of the signers intends to repudiate the agreement above cited. They have shown a degree of liberality and interest in education worthy of commendation. A courteous reminder from the agent or secretary of the board has been sufficient to remedy an occasional remissness attributed to inadvertency.

Nearly four years ago a law of compulsory attendance at school was passed in Connecticut applying to all parents of children who were employed to labor at any business in this State and who were discharged for the purpose of attending school. This class of children was supposed to comprise nearly all "non-attendants." The next year this limitation was removed. Our law now requires that "every parent, guardian, or other person having control and charge of any child between the ages of 8 and 14 years, shall cause such child to attend some public or private day-school at least three months in each year, six weeks at least of which attendance shall be consecutive, or to be instructed at home at least three months in each year in the branches of education required to be taught in the public schools, unless the physical or mental condition of the child is such as to render such attendance inexpedient or impracticable." The penalty for the violation of the above provisions is a fine of five dollars "for every week, not exceeding thirteen weeks in any one year, during which any parent or guardian shall have failed to comply therewith." As French Canadians are very numerous in many of our manufacturing-villages, printed posters in both French and English, giving the substance of the law both in its application to parents and employers, were widely circulated and posted.

The following notice, neatly printed, was also sent to the manufacturers of the State, to be posted in some conspicuous place :

"In accordance with the statute of the legislature of 1869, no children under 14 years of age can hereafter be employed in this factory except those who present a certificate from the local school-officers of actual attendance at school the full time required by law, which is at least three months of the twelve next preceding any and every year in which such children shall be so employed.""

Printed blank forms of complaint against negligent parents were prepared. In a few instances a legal process was begun against delinquent parents; but, when it was seen

that the law was imperative and its officers in earnest, the law was complied with. Many evasions of this law no doubt occur, but, as a general rule, the people of Connecticut approve its provisions and mean that they shall be observed.

The more thoroughly this law is executed, the less of course will be the average attendance. The greater the number who attend school only the time required by law, the less will be the average for the whole year. Three months' schooling a year is not enough, but it is a good beginning. "Half a loaf is better than no bread." It is hoped that such interest in school and fondness for books will be awakened as to induce many to attend longer than the time required by law.

Our aggregate attendance last year was 95.65 per cent. of the whole number enumerated, the highest figures ever reached in this State. The whole number enumerated in 1874 was 133,528; the whole number in schools of all kinds was 127,720; since 1869 the increase in enumeration is 9,878; since 1869 the increase in number registered at school is 19,908. The increase of attendance above the increase in enumeration is 10,030.

This result has cost work. We have not leaned upon the law alone, but it surely has been of great service. It has awakened no opposition. Both political parties equally favor it. No suggestion for its repeal has been made in the legislature, nor, so far as I know, in any Connecticut paper. The people of Connecticut plainly sanction the legal prevention of illiteracy.


Instead of falling back upon the law to do the whole work, we have made argument, persuasion, and conciliation our main reliance. Any statute which should lessen these primal forces I should deprecate. But, with growing faith in moral suasion, I prize the sterner sanctions of the law as a dernier ressort only in cases otherwise incorrigible. When paternal pride, interest, or authority fails, and parental indifference or intemperance bars the way to school, legal coercion may be wisely employed.

Whatever may be true in monarchical governments, in our country there is every motive to kindness and conciliation in the execution of such a law. The plan is truly democratic, for its entire management is by the people and for the people, through school-officers chosen by the people and responsible to the people. Such a law, in our country, should command popular sympathy more than in any monarchy, for it is not pressed upon the people by some outside agency or higher power, but is their own work, embodying their judgment and preferences. The form of compulsory education which existed in Connecticut for more than a hundred and fifty years was not forced upon the people as "subjects." It was rather a living organism, of which they as SOVereigns" proudly claimed the paternity, growing up with their growth and recognized as the source of their strength and prosperity. After the utmost use of kindness, tact, and persuasion, and every effort to awaken a dormant parental pride, if not a sense of duty, and showing that education will promote their children's thrift and happiness through life, we find that such persuasions are the more effective when it is understood that the sanctions of the law might be employed. We have used the right to enforce mainly as an argument to persuade an authoritative appeal to good sense and parental pride. As thus used, we know in Connecticut that our law has been a moral force. It is itself an effective advocate of education to the very class who need it most. The people of Connecticut plainly approve this law, stringent as are its provisions. It has already accomplished great good and brought into the schools many children who would otherwise have been absentees. Since its enactment no objection has been made to it in the legislature, and no article, editorial, or contribution in any Connectient paper has expressed disapproval of it, so far as I know.

Individual instances of neglect or evasion still occur, occasioned by poverty or indifference of parents, or by the oversight or selfishness of employers, who do not, however, deny the justice and necessity of the law.


It is objected that compulsory education is monarchical in its origin and character. This is erroneous. Massachusetts and Connecticut may justly claim to be the first States in the world to establish the principle of compulsory education. Before the peace of Westphalia, before Prussia existed as a kingdom, and while Frederick William was only elector of Brandenburg, in 1650-two hundred and twenty-five years ago-Massachusetts and Connecticut adopted most rigid laws for coercive education. The selectmen in every town were then required to see that so much "barbarism" was not permitted in any family as that their children should not be able perfectly to read the English tongue, upon penalty of twenty shillings for each neglect therein. Repetition of the offense was punished with still higher fines or by taking children away from their parents and apprenticing them where they would be sure to be educated. In the early history of Massachusetts and Connecticut this law was strictly executed. It was so heartily approved by the people and the education of all children was so generally desired and secured, that attendance lost its involuntary character. Created by public opinion, it tended to deepen that sentiment. The demand that the barbarism of ignorance should not be tolerated helped to make it disgraceful to keep even an apprentice from school. To bring up a child or ward in ignorance was shameful and barbarous in the eyes of the fathers of New England. This is still the sentiment of their genuine descendants. High appreciation of education is one of the most precious traditions of New England. This old law greatly aided, both in awakening and perpetuating this public interest and in fixing the habits, associations, and traditions of the people. For one hundred and seventy years after the adoption of this law an adult native of Connecticut, of sound mind, unable to read the English language, would have been looked upon as a prodigy. Such a citizen of the old New England stock I have never met in Connecticut, though I have mingled freely with the people and visited every township of the State.

Judge Daggett, long professor of law in Yale College, on finding any witness on the stand or criminal in the dock who could not read and write, used always to ask "where were you born?" and with only three exceptions, during his long judicial service, did he receive the answer "In Connecticut." But recently immigration has caused startling figures of illiteracy, especially in our manufacturing-centers. With this ignorance comes indifference to education, and hence the new need of coercion.


The right of the State to enforce attendance will hardly be questioned by any in this body. It is a corollary from the compulsory school-tax. The power that claims public money to educate all classes may justly provide that such expenditure should not fail of its end through the vice, intemperance, or perverseness of parents. The State has the same right to compel the ignorant to learn that it has to compel the penurious to pay for that learning. Tax-payers pertinently say, "If you compel us, who have no children, to support schools for the good of the State, you must provide that the children fail not to share the advantages thus furnished." The question really is one not of right, but of expediency. "The people will not bear compulsion" is the main objection. In some States this may yet be true, and there coercion would be unwise. On this subject public sentiment is often misunderstood and the discernment of the masses is underrated. It is a significant fact that the labor-unions, both in this country and in Europe, favor obligatory education. Mixing much with the laboring classes for the purpose of promoting school-attendance, I have the best means of knowing their sentiments, and have been greatly encouraged by their appreciation of education, whether Americans, Germans, Swedes, or Irish.


The workingmen of Europe, in their various organizations, show their approval of compulsory education. At the International Workingmen's Congress, held at Lau

sanne, in Switzerland, the sentiment cordially adopted after full discussion was, "that education should be universal, compulsory, and national, but not denominational." In England they are earnestly advocating this measure. The opposition comes from the large farmers and property-holders. Attending the National Trades-Union Congress, held for five days at Nottingham, I found that body strongly favoring such a law. One of the members, a leader in the labor-league-movement, habitually addressing large assemblies of workingmen in all parts of the country, said he everywhere found among them great unanimity on this subject and never heard the objection that obligatory education would be a usurpation of parental or popular rights. No man in England so fully represents the sentiments of that most oppressed and depressed class, the farmlaborers of England, as Joseph Arch. He is a most earnest advocate of universal and compulsory education. Denied all early school-advantages, his own bitter experience has taught him to condemn the virtual exclusion of children from school by their constant employment on farms or in factories. His motto is, "Child-labor means pauperism, crime, ignorance, immorality, and every evil." The latest reports from England show that school-attendance has increased most in those towns which adopted the compulsory system. The absence of opposition from the lower classes and the good effects already witnessed are commending this measure to general favor.

The motto of the National Educational League, supported largely by the common people, is, "Education must be universal, unsectarian, and compulsory." This was the unanimous sentiment expressed at the great annual meeting of this association held in Birmingham two months ago. The compulsory plan is now in operation for about 78 per cent. of the borough-population of England, and, as the last number of the National Educational League says, it is working with great success and growing in public favor. After many inquiries among the laboring classes in Germany, I could nowhere get from them any objection to compulsory education. They evidently favor it, and so generally regard the school as a privilege that attendance is voluntary, in fact, and few think of coercion. Said a resident of Dresden: "Were the question of compulsory attendance to be decided by a plebiscitum to-morrow, it would be sustained by an almost unanimous verdict."

It is a significant fact that Guizot during the last three years of his life stoutly advocated that compulsory system which he successfully opposed when minister of public instruction in 1833. The logic of events had refuted his old theory, that such "coercion was the creature of centralization and bore the marks of the convent and the barrack.” A similar conversion occurred in the case of Canon Kingsley, just deceased. He long took a lively interest in the improvement of the working classes, an interest deepened by his service as government-inspector of schools. On finding that the working-people favored compulsory attendance, all his objections vanished.

Switzerland, the country most jealous of liberty and averse to any form of usurpation, has long maintained compulsory attendance in all of her twenty-two cantons, except in four of the smallest. In the recent revision of her constitution this law was made universal in its application. This country-proud of being so long the home of freedom in Europe, glorying in free schools, free speech, free press, free trade, freedom of traveling, and freedom of religion-has now chosen anew for all its people the system of compulsory attendance. No further facts are needed to show that the prepos sessions of intelligent workingmen are not against obligatory education.

At the conclusion of the reading, Mr. Northrop said:

I have some circulars such as we have sent to every town in the State in large numbers and I have copies of a notice such as we have had posted in the factories of Connecticut. These have been put forth in English and in French, as the French Canadians are the persons whom we wish especially to inform on the subject. These papers, or sample copies, are here for distribution, if any of the members care to see them.

Mr. JOHN D. PHILBRICK, of Boston. I have listened with the greatest interest and pleasure to the paper which has been read and the accompanying remarks. It seems to me scarcely possible that any subject of greater importance in connection with the educational interests of the country can be presented for our consideration at this meeting; and I am especially glad that the matter has been brought before us in this practical way, in illustrating what has been so successfully done in the State of Connecticut. I rise more especially to make one inquiry of the honorable secretary. That inquiry is in regard to direct compulsion. If I have understood the remarks that have been made, they have reference mainly to what our English cousins call "indirect compulsion;" that is, provision for compelling manufacturers to desist from the employment of children who have not had a certain prescribed amount of schooling. I should like to inquire, therefore, whether in Connecticut there is any provision of the school-law requiring children to attend a certain number of months; and, if so, whether there has been provision made for executing that law directly, bringing the children into school, compelling their attendance. I understand that the manufacturers are liable to fines or some other penalty for the employment of children who have not received during the year the prescribed amount of schooling. But is there no provision going directly to the child or to its parents, requiring attendance during the prescribed term in the public schools? Is there no provision for punishing the parent if the child does not attend the given number of months?

I will

Mr. NORTHROP. I am much obliged for the inquiry. In the circular to which I have referred, you will find the law on the subject. read it:

All parents, and those who have the care of children, shall bring them up in some honest and lawful calling or employment and shall instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, English grammar, geography, and arithmetic. And every parent, guardian, or other person having control and charge of any child between the ages of 8 and 14 years, shall cause such child to attend some public or private day-school at least three months in each year, six weeks at least of which attendance shall be consecutive, or to be instructed at home at least three months in each year in the branches of education required to be taught in the public schools, unless the physical or mental condition of the child is such as to render such attendance inexpedient or impracticable.

The penalty for the violation of the above provisions is a fine of five dollars "for every week, not exceeding thirteen weeks in any one year, during which any parent or guardian shall have failed to comply therewith."

At the outset we began with what may be properly called indirect legislation on the subject. We commenced with a stringent enforce. ment of the law in regard to the employment of children who had not attended the public school for the proper period. I have spoken of our action under that law. When we had this law in our hands, and were able to specify a penalty for disobedience to its provisions, we went to the manufacturers, in a conciliatory way, and secured their voluntary


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