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attendance of children, so that, in any particular city, district, or neighborhood, the subjects of Great Britain may have compulsory education if they desire it." And they draughted that measure in accordance with these sentiments, expecting that it would result in a practical adoption in hardly any instance. This was a feeler. It was thrown out as a tentative provision, to see what the result would be. Now, what has that result beep? Why, sir, the facts which are recorded before us are something scarcely less than astounding. The whole city of London has been canvassed, and the name, and age, and residence of every child taken with reference to the execution of a compulsory law. Every portion of that great city has been districted by boundaries of convenient size. And every one of these districts is furnished with truant-officers, appointed solely with the official view and authority, under the law of the kingdom, to go from house to house and see that the children are at school. And over them are local superintendents, whose work is supervised by a general superintendent. So that we may say that, so far as the system is concerned, they are not behind any of our States in this movement; and especially may we say this from the mere fact of the law being upon the statute-book. There they make laws to be enforced and enforce laws that are made. They do not pass laws there to be disregarded. They are well known as peculiar in that respect. To pass a law in view of its being ignored or disregarded is something that they cannot exactly comprehend. They do not know what that means.
When, under the statute, the boards of education adopted these rules, they adopted them with the purpose of executing them. The law and the rules under the law are being executed there, and compulsory education is as fully and completely enforced throughout the whole city of London as it ever was in any part of Prussia, or Saxony, or Brandenburg. And that is only one example. Such is the condition of affairs there. Attendance has already been reported which reaches 79 per cent. of the enumeration. But the most extraordinary thing in connection with this whole matter I am about to state. Mr. W. E. Forster, a man who came up from the people, the father of the educational law, really the great promoter of this work which is being carried on by the national board of education-Mr. Forster, who is, I may say, the coming statesman of England-on a public occasion in England, in August, in Sheffield, at the dedication of the new school-house-declared that he placed himself squarely on the platform of universal compulsory education. Mr. Forster said that he hoped the Disraeli government would have the honor, which they could not claim, but which they would be glad to claim, of making compulsory education universal. Now, it is within the discretion of the school-boards to adopt the system. Now, I say this is the lesson for America to study, for we are of the same race. We have the same literature and the same general ideas of advance in civilization.
It is said that this may be considered as a question of expediency.
Look at the history of this matter in other countries. There is Belgium; forty-four years ago they adopted a system of education somewhat similar to the one that has been considered. But it was determined that the people were opposed to compulsory education. The law was not executed, even as it stood. Where is that people now? These very people have made a careful survey of the illiteracy of the country and spread it before the world. What story does that tell? We have the astounding fact that half of the population of Belgium is unable to read and write to-day. Compare this side by side with the reports from Switzerland. In every country where education is compulsory the ability to read and write is universal. And look at the reports from Prussia, where the system has been so thoroughly enforced. We find that out of the great population of the city of Berlin, only two out of one thousand were unable to read and write, while, from reports coming from France, we discover that twenty-nine out of every one hundred cannot read and write. This, sir, tells the story. And as a great philosopher said thirty or forty years ago, when he urged the introduction of this system in Prussia, with a prophetic vision of the future, "The compulsory features of the law will only be required for the first generation. When the system is once fairly inaugurated, as it will be in one generation, very little compulsion will be needed or known." That proved to be literally true, and it proved to be exactly the same in Saxony. And I will say here, without desiring to impeach the general historical accuracy of my friend, the secretary, that I think, if he will go back, he will find that this principle was promulgated in Saxony and in Massachusetts at the same time. I see that he places Connecticut in the same category with Massachusetts.
Mr. NORTHROP. I put Massachusetts first.
Mr. PHILBRICK. I see that a famous gentleman-a gentleman who has become pretty well known lately-Mr. Henry Ward Beecher, made a speech the other day, in which he said that Connecticut had the honor of inaugurating compulsory education. A law was passed on this subject in Massachusetts in 1847, but that was not the first. The principle of the law was declared and adopted in France in 1580, but it was not carried out. So it was in Saxony, but it was not carried out until about thirty or forty years ago. There was a great pressure in regard to it at first, but now, in these European countries, although it is on the statutebooks, it is not necessary to enforce it.
I may speak a word in regard to the system which we have in Boston. We have there a number of truant-officers. The law was passed providing for this system in 1850. The people were afraid to touch it at first. They went up to it, or were led up to it, as a horse goes up to a lumber wagon at first and takes a little smell of it, and by and by they began to consider that it was not such a very bad thing after all. But it could not be enforced. We could not get a law that would stand the test of judgment of an old gentleman who sat on the bench. Finally
we got a lawyer to draw up a law; but that would not work. We finally got one of our judges to draw a law which he was willing to execute. Then we took hold of it. In 1863 the system of bringing in the absentees had a practical commencement, and since 1863 the work has gone on very well. There are now fourteen truant-officers, with a superintendent at their head, in the several districts. The provision is, of course, for compulsory schooling during three months in the year, and we had some circulars printed for distribution among the parents. But the officers advised against their distribution. And for what reason? I will tell you, sir. They are really practicing there what might be called a species of pious fraud. Many, and perhaps the majority, of the parents think that under the law their children must go to school the year round. The officers say that if they take these circulars or cards around the parents will become better informed on the subject, and, finding that their children need not go but three months in the year, many will not send them beyond that time. [Merriment.] As it is, they think they must go all the year round. And one of the most curious and happy effects which I have observed from this work, among the very class of people to whom I have just referred, is the cultivation of such a sentiment and feeling among the children that they consider themselves disgraced by voluntary absence from school. They have come to that belief to a great extent. They want knowledge. They are becoming proud of their school-privileges.
For one, I must say that I am thoroughly in favor of the compulsory system, and believe it will be more and more approved in proportion as it is thoroughly executed.
General EATON. The committee desire to state that they have informa tion that the President of the United States will be pleased to receive the members of the association between 12 and 1 o'clock. The com mittee would suggest that the members pay their visit at half-past twelve o'clock. It is understood that the department will proceed, under the lead of President Wilson, to the Executive Mansion. Before that time, however, there will probably be a further report from the committee on the order of business.
Mr. NEWELL, of Maryland. I have sometimes been classified as opposed to compulsory education; but if compulsory education is to be understood as it is explained by my friend from Connecticut, as I have heard him here to-day, I must say that I have very little fault indeed to find with it. We really do not need, however, a compulsory law until the public sentiment has been thoroughly conciliated in every State; for after this thorough conciliation and consolidation of public sentiment the law is to be carried out in a spirit of preservation. Then, sir, with regard to such a system, I should be inclined to place myself among its most sincere and hearty advocates; but what I do object to is the introduction of compulsion before the people are ready for it. What I object to still more is the idea that the mere placing of such a law upon
the statute-book will prove a panacea for all the evils of which he complains. There would be very little difficulty in having enacted a compulsory law in any State of this Union. The difficulty lies in the enforcement of it; and unless you are prepared to thoroughly organize a body of officers to carry out the requirements of your law, then your law is just so much waste-paper. With regard to the advantages that are alleged to have followed during the past few years, in Connecticut, from the enforcement of a compulsory system, as I understand it, I may say, or may suggest, that it is very doubtful whether all the increase of attendance has resulted from the enactment of the compulsory statute At all events I will give you a figure on the other side. We have no compulsory law in Maryland. The increase of attendance during the past year has been six thousand and some-odd persons. That may be put in comparison with an increase of four thousand which has been stated as the result of the compulsory system in Connecticut. But really the figures do not mean anything. I do not put these figures in opposition. I do not mean to say that they show that the increase would be greater with or without compulsory law. My object is merely to show that the statement given for Connecticut does not prove anything at all in the matter.
I think, Mr. President, that the arguments and facts advanced by our friend from Massachusetts, drawn from his experience and from the history of the European countries, are not exactly in point. There is an institution with which I have been connected in the State of Maryland, the president of which entertains a very exalted notion with regard to the abilities of the English and Welsh people as farmers, and he made up his mind that he would introduce somewhat of the English system of farming into the institution with which he was connected. He entered into correspondence with a friend in England, and had sent over to him a first-class English farming-man. This man understood everything about agriculture in a scientific way, as far as it was developed in the country where he was born and from which he was imported. Being asked to approve the proposition in regard to the salary of this gentleman, I said that I would make no opposition to it. But I desired the gentleman who was responsible in the premises to consider that there was a vast difference between the climate of England and the climate of that part of the United States in which this farm-manager was expected to operate; also that he would find a great difference in the kind of labor in which he was employed; also that familiarity with the crops raised in England was a very different matter from understanding our American soil and adaptibilities. I expressed my belief that unless the president exercised great superintending care his English farm-manager might get him into trouble. Notwithstanding these doubts the gentleman was employed, and things went on after his arrival swimmingly during the winter. [Merriment.]
The season for corn-planting was approaching. The English farm
manager was told to commence his work. He did not know exactly what to do. He went around to the neighboring farms and talked with the common laborers; and, finding one of the most intelligent of the number, he said to him, "Can you tell me how you plant this corn? Do you plant it with the point downwards or the but-end downwards?" That is what he knew about raising corn. Now, had it been wheat he would have been perfectly at home. He knew everything about the raising of that crop, for which Englishmen are celebrated, but in regard to corn he knew nothing at all; nothing in regard to our most important crop; and when our friend was making an application of the history and prog ress of this movement in England I was thinking that perhaps the condition of our social institutions, and social interests, and social habits was such as to render the argument, he would deduce illogical and inapplicable.
I think the whole question of compulsory education has been in one sense given up by the elastic and conciliatory management of it which has been proposed by my friend from Boston. Not only is it not sufficient that we have a compulsory law; not only is it not sufficient in Boston that this compulsory law be executed by a number of truantofficers; but in order to have it thoroughly executed it must be carried out by a "pious fraud." Now I would not call attention to this but for this single purpose and to emphasize the fact that the amount of education we are able to obtain by statute amounts, in the long run, to nothing at all. We need a pious fraud to make it worth anything. Mr. President, what is three months in the year? What is three months in the year, then, to the child who is honestly anxious to be educated and for the parents honestly anxious to send it to school? This absolutely amounts to nothing in the nine months that intervene. Supposing these three months to be consecutive, your child will lose during the nine months he is absent from the school all that he has acquired during the early portion of the year. It is a very different matter where you take a person of 15, or 16, or 17, or 18 years of age; then three months at a night-school or at a day-school may effect a great deal; but your child of 6, or 7, or 8 years of age will most certainly forget in the nine months nearly all that he has learned in the three months. But in regard to the other classes whom you wish to benefit by this law it may be said that you cannot get these three months of schooling consecutively. Their names are upon the books, but their bodies are not in the school-room, and in many instances they will be unable to attend school three consecutive months. There are accidents and sickness or injury to be considered, reducing the amount of actual attendance. I have heard it said that, if a compulsory law does no good, it will do no harm. I say it will do no harm if it is executed as our friend has just described, but it will do a great deal of harm if the people think that that is all that is necessary. I might throw a light chair to a drowning man and say, if it does him no good it will do him no harm; but it may do him a great deal of harm if he trust to it,