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Lansing, December 15, 1861. To His EXCELLENCY, Austin BLAIR,
Governor of the State of Michigan : I have the honor to submit, herewith, tbe Annual Report required by law from the Department of Public Instruction, for the year 1861. Very respectfully, your, &c.,
J. M. GREGORY, Superintendent of Public Instruction.
DOCUMENT NO. 5.
ANNUAL REPORT of the Superintendent of
When the tempest shakes our dwelling and threatens its destruction, we point with more than wonted pride and joy to the firm foundations, and to the massive beams that brace the walls and bear aloft the roof. So when a great political convulsion, like the monstrous and wicked rebellion which now rages in our country, arises and threatens to hurl us down from the high places of national freedom and power, of Christian civilization and peaceful prosperity, and to everwhelm us in the rent fragments of the benign government which has so long sheltered us, we may turn with a new and deeper veneration to that great system of public education which our fathers so wisely instituted, and in whose issues of common learning and virtue our political fabric finds its strongest safeguards and eurest supports. ]
Flung, in one rude hour, from the peaceful repose of nearly eighty years, out into the midst of a strife whose wide proportions and intense bitterness are scarcely paralleled in the history of our world, -pushed suddenly to the utmost strain of our national energies, to suppress a rebellion as cruel as it is causeless, how grandly have the people of the land, tutored to free thought and free speech by nearly a hundred thousand col. leges and schools, risen up to meet the tremendous brunt and burden of this war; and how magnificent and clear the testi- . mony which their prompt and wise-hearted patriotism renders back to the institutions which have nursed their youth to so noble a manhood. Away, in the classical colleges, and among the myriads of the busy common schools, not forgetting the Christian homes of which these schools are at once the offspring and support, have been forged the mightiest weapons for this war—the quick feeling of public good and public dan ger, and the ripe love of freedom and of right, which now arm our soldiers with so true a courage and so invincible a purpose. As the world has never before witnessed the assemblage of so large an army of volunteer soldiers so easily and so quickly gathered, so no army ever before embraced in its ranks so large a number of educated men. “ There are many single reg. iments,” said the Chief Magistrate' of the nation in his message to Congress in July last, "whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of the arts and sciences and professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known to the whole world ; and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court abundantly competent to administer the Covernment."
Nor ought it to pass unnoticed how from these very halls of learning, and fresh from the lessons of their daily instruction, hosts of ardent and intelligent youth have gone forth to the defence of a beloved country. It is a most significant fact that no department has yielded so large a proportion of its members to the service of the Republic as have our higher schools and colleges. Teachers and pupils, college presidents and professors, true to the lessons of a sound learning, and to the instincts of a rightly educated manhood, with a love of country hightened by all they know of history and all they
hope for humanity, and with a sense of duty and honor that stays not to debate when the great interests of society are in danger, have promptly resigned the quiet school room for the noisy camp; and many a one already fallen in the fight, fills at once the scholar's and the soldier's grave.
And better even than all these priceless contributions to the present war, these splendid donations of scholarly thought and scholarly hands to the fighting forces of the country, is the certain and glorious promise given by the schooled intelligence of our people, that whatever the issue of this struggle, the cause of human liberty and republican government is safe. The lessons taught in our schools, through a hundred years, must be sadly forgotten before the American people will consent to forego the enjoyment of personal liberty, or will assist to establish or maintain any other than a free, representative government.
But mounting to still higher conclusions, and sending our glance beyond these patriotic uses and values of our schools, how is their work seen to link itself with the very heart and hope of our humanity-with life as life, and with souls as souls! There are interests belonging to us as men, older and dearer even than the Union-interests which will survive when a thousand Unions may have perished. Nay, is not the Union itself dear and worthy of our mightiest efforts to preserve it, simply because, like a noble and strong casket it is essential to the safe keeping of the great jewels of life and liberty lying within it? Humanity lives on, even when nationality crumbles into dust. Its grand column'might be staggered and its march diverted from the pathway of advancing civilization, into a long detour of barbarism, by the destruction of a government so benign and free as ours; but the march will still go on. Souls will be born into the world and grow and toil and die. Hunger will still gnaw human stomachs, and ambition and love will continue to inspire human hearts. The great problems of earthly happiness and of heavenly bliss will still press upon the minds of men, and restless many-sided life will not eease to