Gazetteer of New York, 1860 & 1861 page 136
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libraries, free to every person in the district, generally comprise books on scientific and literary
subjects and affording means of information which would otherwise be unattainable.

Tlie State Normal School was established in 1844, for the instruction and practice of
teachers of common schools in the science of education and the art of teaching. It is supported
by an annual appropriation from the literature fund, and is under the immediate charge of an
executive committee appointed by the Regents of the University. Each county in the State is
tntitled to send twice as many pupils to the school as it sends members to the Assembly. The
pupils receive tuition and the use of textbooks free, and also receive a small amount of mileage.
The school is located at the corner of Howard and Lodge Streets, Albany.1

The law makes provision for the establishment of Union Free Schools wherever the
inhabitants may desire it, and for the formation of Colored Schools in districts where the
presence of colored children is offensive to a majority of the people of the district.2

Previous to the Revolution no general system of education was established. All the schools
that had been founded were of a private character or the result of special legislation. The
necessity and importance of common schools had not been recognized, and education was princi¬
pally confined to the wealthier classes. At the first meeting of the State Legislature, in 1787,
Gov. Clinton called the attention of that body to the subject of education, and a law was passed
providing for the appointment of the Regents of the University. In 1789 an act was passed appro¬
priating certain portions of the public lands for gospel and school purposes. In 1793 the Regents
in their report recommended the establishment of a general system of common schools; and in
1795 Gov. Clinton in his message to the Legislature strongly urged the same.3 On the 9th of
April of that year a law was passed “for the purpose of encouraging and maintaining schools in
the several cities and towns in this State, in which the children of the inhabitants of the State
shall be instructed in the English language, or be taught English grammar, arithmetic, mathe¬
matics, and such other branches of knowledge as are most useful and necessary to complete a good
English education.” By this act the sum of £20,000, or $50,000, was annually appropriated for
5 years for the support of these schools.4

The beneficial result of this system, imperfect as it was, became at once apparent; and from time
to time measures were taken to increase the funds and to improve the system.5 The successive
Governors nearly all strongly recommended the passage of new laws for the encouragement and
support of schools ;6 but nothing definite was accomplished until 1811, when 5 commissioners were

because they incidentally and indirectly betray the religious
opinions of their authors.

“ 3. Works, avowedly on other topics, which abound in direct
and unreserved attacks on, or defense of, the character of any
religious sect, or those which hold up any religious body to con¬
tempt or execration by singling out or bringing together only
the darker parts of its history or character, shall be excluded
from the school libraries. In the selection of books for a dis¬
trict library, information, and not mere amusement, is to be
regarded as the primary object. Suitable provision should,
however, be made, for the intellectual wants of the young, by
furnishing them with books which, without being merely
juvenile in their character, may be level to their comprehension
and sufficiently entertaining to excite and gratify a taste for
reading. It is useless to buy books which are not read
of Public Inst.,
1856, p. 326.

i Males are admitted at 18 and females at 16 years of age;
and upon entering each one is required to sign a pledge that
he intends to become a teacher. The number of graduates up
to the close of the thirteenth year, 1856-57, was 999, and the
number of pupils at that time was 223. The school for several
> ears occupied the building near the head of State Street, now
known as “Van Veehten Hall.” In 1818 the present building
was erected, at a cost of $25,000. The experimental school
taught by.the graduating class numbers somewhat over 100
pupils. These pay tuition, and are elected or appointed by the
Executive Committee.

s Under thb Union Free School law a large number of schools
have been established in different parts of the State. These
schools are supported by a direct tax upon the property of the
district, and the rate hill system is discarded. Free schools are
established in ail the cities and in most of the larger villages in
the State by special laws. In most cases the free schools are
graded, and comprise 3 or 4 distinct departments, furnishing
instruction from the primary to a full academic course. Being
entirely free and within the reach of all, they afford to every
child, regardless of his position in life, an opportunity to secure
a thorough English education. These free schools rank among
the best public schools in the country; and they have thus far
proved superior to those in which the rate bill system is retained.

3 I- his message Governor Clinton uses the following lan¬
guage.—“While it is evident that the general establishment
and liberal endowment of academies are highly to be com¬
mended and are attended with the most beneflcial consequences,
yet it cannot be denied that they are principally confined to the
children of the opulent, and that a great portion of the commu¬
nity is excluded fi-om their immediate advantages. The esta¬
blishment of common schools throughout the State is happily
calculated to remedy this inconvenience, and will therefore en¬
gage your early and decided consideration.”

4 The principal features of the system inaugurated by this act
were as follows:—

1. The public money was to be appropriated to the several
counties in the proportion of their representation in the Legis¬
lature, and to the towns in proportion to the number of taxable
inhabitants in each.

2. The Boards of Supervisors Jwere required to raise by tax
one-half as much as they received from the State.

3. Each town was to elect not less than 3 nor more than 7
commissioners, to take general charge of the schools, to examine
teachers, and to apportion the public moneys in the several dis¬

4. The people in each district were authorized to elect 2 or
more trustees, to employ teachers, and to attend to the special
interests of the school.

5. The public money was to be divided among the various
districts in proportion to the number of days’ instruction given
in each.

6. Annual reports were to be made from the districts, towns,
and counties.

The returns of 1798 show a total of 1,352 schools organized
and 59,660 children taught.

6 An act was passed in 1799 authorizing the raising of $100,000
by 4 lotteries, $87,500 of which was appropriated for the support
of common schools. In 1801 $100,000 more was raised by lottery
for school purposes, of which sum $50,000 was devoted to com¬
mon schools. In 1800 a bill appropriating $50,000 to the sup¬
port of common schools passed the Assembly, but was defeated
in the Senate.

6 Gov. Jay, in 1800, Gov. Geo. Clinton, in 1802, Gov. Lewis, in
1804 and ’05, and Gov. Tompkins, in several successive years,
urged upon the Legislature the necessity of revising the school
laws and of making more liberal appropr iations for the support
of schools. Several bills were introduced into the Legislature;
but they were all defeated in either the Senate or Assembly. In
the mean time the school moneys gradually increased, and were
funded by the Comptroller, laying ftie foundation of the present
large school fund.


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