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a time for showering well-earned benedictions upon her head, for crowning her with wreaths and garlands, and for laying offerings of love and honor at her feet.
Our association is not here to glorify itself or to magnify the records of its own attainments, but rather to present its tribute of kind wishes, sincere respect and abiding good-will. And yet my brethren of the association will, I suppose, expect me to justify the wisdom of the invitation extended to us, by referring modestly to the circumstances of its birth and the details of its honorable career, and by setting forth some of the directions in which it has, with varying success, wrought to
CORRECT THE DEFECTS AND ENHANCE THE EFFICIENCY
of the school system at the head of which stands our noble University. I have planned so to do; but 1852, the birth year of our association, is the central point of a brief period, including not more than a twelve month on either side, which marks the beginning of a great and fruitful school revival in Michigan, a revival which profoundly affected the interests of all our schools and the University not less than the rest. I have chosen this renaissance in education, with a few of the more conspicuous events that ushered it in, as the subject of my address to-day. As I proceed, I shall have occasion to refer to the birth and organization of our association.
The date to which I have referred marks a period of unparalleled activity in the educational history of Michigan. The labors of the fathers, notably the wise and intelligently directed efforts of the first superintendent of public instruction and of his immediate successors began, at this time, to show promise of bearing fruit, long desired and anxiously waited for. Since the adoption of the first constitution there had been skillful and laborious planning for the future, but actual results had been meager and unsatisfactory. Not yet had the people become aroused and awakened. The common schools, in general meanly housed and inadequately equipped and supervised, suffering from the administration of untrained and often incompetent teachers and burdened by the heavy weight of the rate-bill system of support, had made little progress. The University, now fifteen years old, counting from the date of its organization, and eleven years, counting from the time of the reception of its first class, had as yet accomplished little to justify the hopes of its founders and had given no sign of the brilliancy of its future. But now, after a period of deep depression and discouragement, there was hope of better things. The framers of the new constitution had learned wisdom from the past, and its provisions in reference to public instruction gave new hope and courage to the friends of education. Among other excellent provisions contained in it was one of transcendent value and importance, namely, a mandatory clause requiring the legislature to provide for a system of free primary schools, with doors open alike to all, within five years from the date of its adoption. Up to this time the schools had not been free. From the beginning their support had come largely from the collection of rate bills. This is
A WRETCHED AND RUINOUS SYSTEM
of support. No schools can prosper under it. It is a premium paid for irregularity and absenteeism, and it had been for years the chronic and
crowning discouragement of the friends of education. At the opening of a term there would be, perhaps, a fair attendance, which continued until the primary school fund and money raised by taxation for school expenses were exhausted, and then the stampede began. There was no certainty as to the amount for which the rate bill would call. The poor were obliged by necessity to withdraw their children, and the mean and avaricious were sure to do 80. Every withdrawal increased the cost of tuition to the pupils who remained. Then came the final panic and the school house was deserted. Under such a system progress was impossible, studies were interrupted, heart burnings and district quarrels were engendered, and frequently the schools were broken up long before the proper date for closing them. From the beginning intelligent friends of the schools had protested against such a system and had earnestly sought a remedy for its evils. State superintendents in their yearly reports had a standing chapter in which they bewailed and deplored the mischiefs of the rate bill and pointed out to the people and leg. islature that no real progress or improvement could reasonably be hoped for until there should be a radical reform in the method of meeting the expense of instruction. But protests were unavailing and for a time it seemed as if this ruinous policy had come to stay forever.
But the new constitution recognized the pestilent evils of such a method, and had provided a cure for them. It is not easy at this time, and for persons whose memory does not cover the date of which I am speaking, to understand the delight and approval with which the school men of those days hailed this new and most promising departure and how heartily the convention was applauded for placing Michigan side by side with those who take the safe ground that education is one of the rights of man in civilized communities, that the highest safety of a State lies in the intelligence of her citizens, that the child does not belong exclusively to the parent but to the State as well, and that it is right, as a measure of self defense, if for no higher reason, to tax property in order to add to the value of man.
This was a case in which, as it turned out, the familiar debating school question, “ Resolved, that
THE PLEASURES OF ANTICIPATION
are greater than those of participation,” had to be decided in the affirmative, for these rejoicing friends of the school did not know that it would take nineteen years of steady, judicious and well-merited prodding to convince the legislature that it was best to obey the constitution, for not until 1869 did the representatives of the people take measures to execute through appropriate legislation, the plain mandate of the supreme law of the State.
One among the many events that made the epoch of the revival notable was the organization of the Michigan State Teachers' Association, which began its career on the 12th day of October, 1852. Immediately after the formal dedication of the State Normal School, of which I shall speak hereafter, a state teachers' institute of three weeks' duration was held in its main hall. More than 250 teachers were in attendance, and the whole session was characterized by great and well-sustained interest. The organization of our association was an incident of this institute, brought about by some of its members who builded better than they knew. Its chief projector and first president was A. S. Welch, a graduate of this University of the class of '46, and later the worthy recipient of its degree of doctor of laws. He is still living, if existence outside of the State of Michigan can truthfully be called living, and still active and influential as an educator. Now that occasion has compelled me to name him, I can hardly forbear saying more concerning his splendid services in these earlier days. But such mention might seem invidious and unjust to other living men who also stoutly bore the burden of the times and deserve well of the commonwealth for their devotion to the interests of her schools. To those who are familiar with
THE HISTORY OF OUR ASSOCIATION
it will not, I am sure, seem boastful or vain glorious in its representative to name its inception and organization as an event well worthy of note among others that give interest and significance to the epoch of the Renaissance. It has boi ne an honorable part in many conflicts waged in behalf of free education and the interests auxiliary to it. Undoubtedly in the development and perfection of our system, it has been efficient and helpful, always pulling a laboring oar, and its claims to recognition by all friends and promoters of the great cause in Michigan will hardly be disputed. I note first the part which it had in the establishment and maintenance of the Journal of Education, which, during the eight years of its existence intervening between 1854 and 1862, was a powerful auxiliary to the state department of instruction and of great value to the cause generally, in arousing public sentiment, in directing public opinion and in securing wise and helpful legislation in the interests of the schools. This journal was launched upon its successful career by a committee of the association. Afterward, Dr. J. M. Gregory, a member of the editing committee, assumed editorial and financial charge, but another committee, by a memorial address to the legislature, obtained for it such substantial financial aid as to secure its permanent success.
Again, I invite attention to its earnest and effective advocacy of the right of women to the advantages which this University, up to the year 1870, had offered only to men.
lasted fifteen years, during which the association righteously took sides with the legislature and with advanced popular sentiment in favor of the movenient rather than with the feeling of distrust and even of opposition which for years prevailed in the councils of the University itself, a distrust and opposition which a few years of trial and favorable results were sufllcient to uproot and destroy. Perhaps it was mere coincidence, but I cannot forbear mentioning the fact, noted by the historian of the association, that the association's final shot in the campaign, a resolution declaring “ That ladies should by right and for the proper enhancement of educational interests, enjoy equal privileges with men in our University and in every other institution of learning in the state,” was fired at a meeting held on the very last days of December, 1869, and that the action of the board of regents, conceding that women are persons, bears date in the first week in the succeeding January.
Further, many will remember the determined and long continued efforts made by the association in favor of suitable and responsible supervision for the common schools and its final victory made temporarily barren by unfortunate and ill-considered legislation.
I have heretofore spoken of the rate bill, of its blighting effects upon the schools, and of the tenacity with which it persisted for fourteen years after the date set by the constitution for its abolition. The records will show that in this conflict the association was always at the front waging stubborn battle until the final winning of the victory.
In the matter of the township as the territorial unit of the common schools the conflict is still on. Wait awhile and see if we do not persist, until victory shall perch upon our banners.
Another noteworthy event of the year of the Revival was the dedication and formal opening of the State Normal School. Long before, in 1836, the first superintendent of public instruction in Michigan began the agitation of this subject by urging upon the attention of the legislature and the people the value of training schools and the imperative need, in any system of instruction, of means for the special preparation of teachers for this work. A careful student of the German system and a firm believer in its excellence, the Hon. John D. Pierce recommended for Michigan the adoption of a similar scheme for special pedagogical training. His immediate successors in the superintendency were urgent in the same direction.
In 1849 the lion. Ira Mayhew, the superintendent of public instruction, supplemented appeals already made in his previons reports with one which was so strong and convincing that it, at last, made its impression upon the legislature and, in that year, an act was passed providing for the establishment of
A STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
and for the creation of a state board of education, under whose control it was to be organized and operated.
This board secured a site at Ypsilanti and proceeded to the erection of a suitable building, which, completed and ready for use, was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on the 5th day of October, 1852. The chief address was delivered by the Hon. John D. Pierce, the beloved and venerated father of the Michigan system of education.
It seems at this point that a moment should be spent in recalling to mind this central and conspicuous figure in the earlier history of our schools, and especially so since it was he who, with great foresight and intelligent skill, not only outlined and suggested, but set forth in considerable detail the plans upon which the University has been conducted from that day to this. Michigan owes him sincere thanks and grateful remembrance. Soon after the adoption of the first constitution the legislature trusted to him the duty of devising a complete scheme of public instruction, including plans for the organization of the University. No man ever executed a great and laborious task more wisely and faithfully. Grasping in its fullness the greatness of the work committed to his hands and the magnitude of the problems he was set to solve, and profoundly impressed with the responsibilities of his position, he spared no labor to fit himself for his great task. He brought to the performance of his duties all the resources of his far-seeing wisdom, persevering and self-sacrificing industry, and the full energy of a noble enthusiasm born of love for his fellow-men and an abiding confidence in the value of universal education.
He saw, as the framers of the old constitution had not seen, that the schools must be free in order to work out the highest and best results, and he never ceased to urge this cardinal doctrine upon the people and upon successive legislatures. To him Universities had their justification, not alone in their direct and obvious advantages, but also and emphatically in the truth that elementary education must wither and finally perish without them. The people trusted him to the uttermost, and the legislature, confident in his wisdom and integrity, followed, almost without deviation, the course which ne marked out. Let us remember that he wrought almost without precedents or means of comparison for his guidance. I saw him first on the occasion of the dedication to which I have alluded. He was even at this time white haired and venerable in mien and bearing, although he was hardly past the prime of his years. To one looking upon his benevolent face and his snowy locks and into his kindly eyes, it was easy to see good reasons why those who knew and loved him had, as by common consent, come to call him “Father Pierce.” His place in history is among the foremost of Michigan's real benefactors. I am sure that this University will cherish his memory and see to it that the story of his life and the record of his works shall not be forgotten.
I have already alluded to the fact that up to the time of
the University had led a languishing existence. As yet it gave no hint of the vast possibilities which succeeding years have revealed and realized. Under the administration of executives whose term of office lasted only a single year, there was no possibility of a fixed and continuous policy or of any adequate provision in its councils, and this great institution, now the pride and glory of the State, was showing signs of decadence rather than growth. The regents, appointed under the old constitution, had established branches or preparatory academies, scattered about the State, isolated from the parent institution and having no close administrative connection with it. They should have remembered what the Scripture says of the fruitlessness of the branch "except it abide in the vine." These were the only acknowledged preparatory schools and they did little toward supplying the University with properly prepared candidates for admission.
In 1848 the number had dwindled to four, and the last one had ended its miserable existence before the beginning of the year to which I have called attention. They had sadly disappointed the expectations of their projectors.
A chief cause for their failure to meet the need for which they were established and the reason for their early dissolution and disappearance, was thus set forth by Dr. Zina Pitcher, in a memoir written in 1852 for the purpose of bringing before the new board of regents information concerning the condition of the University. “From this experimental, though abortive effort, to build up and sustain branches of the University, the board have learned, and they deem the lesson of sufficient importance to have it on record, that local institutions of learning thrive best under the immediate management of the citizens of the place in which they are located, and when endowed and 813tained by their immediate patrons.” The failure of the branches left a great gulf between the primary schools and the University, and for years there were idle attempts to bridge it by means of private seminaries and a preparatory department. But few were wise and bold enough to look in the right direction for the coming remedy. Four years before, the superintendent of