TRADITIONS AND REMINISCENCES OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF EARLY 1800's DETROIT.

BY WILLIAM D. WILKINS.

READ BEFORE THE TEACHERS' INSTITUTE OF DETROIT, FEBRUARY 13th, 1871.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Teachers' Institute:

It wants but a few months of ten years since I last had the honor of appearing to speak before the assembled teachers of the Detroit Public Schools.

The occasion was the presentation of a sword, sash, and epaulets by those teachers through Mr. Bradford Smith, then principal of the Eighth Ward Union, to the retiring President of the Board of Education.

The sword and equipments are again in Detroit, somewhat dimmed, but desirable enough to give to the next President who goes to the next war.

But of the corps of teachers then associated how few do I see before me! Except Mr. Nichols (the Nestor of the Public Schools), Prof. Cheney, and Misses Young, Crossman, Mackay, Clark, Sanders, and Snow (the ladies will pardon this incourteous reference to the lapse of time), all the others have passed from our rolls, and are widely scattered, never to meet again.

And now I, a layman, have the boldness to stand before an audience of teachers and discourse of schools—to talk of war in the presence of over a hundred Caesars!

I must plead the garrulity of old age as my excuse, for (counting by continuous service) I am by far the oldest School Inspector in Detroit.

And as retrospect is the chiefest pleasure of age, so you will pardon me if I detain you for a short time with a few traditions and reminiscences of the Detroit Schools.

It is a custom with some writers, when entering upon the consideration of a favorite subject, to endeavor to trace back its origin into remote antiquity, a custom not altogether divested of dread to the reader who must explore "The Rise of the Dutch Republic" through the mazes of Roman and even of Scythian antiquity, or preface the history of the United States with an examination of the Great Reformation and the revival of civilization after the dark ages, or the records of Limerick with the archives of Phoenicia or Carthage.

This pedantic method, much affected by Motley and Bancroft, disgusts the hasty but earnest seeker for information of the present age, who longs to come at once into the medias res and scorns circumlocution.

Fortunately the most ambitious of essayists is limited to a narrow space of time in exploring the history of the schools of Detroit.

We can safely deny the statement that La Mothe Cadillac did bring over from Normandy with his hardy peasants, and their horses equally hardy, with their patois and pear-trees, any such educational institutions, although the Jesuits may have imparted of their learning to the children of the officers and of the wealthier immigrants. "Jaques Bonhomme" was not much given to study, and the youth of the pretty village took early to the woods and waters.

Nor had Major Gladwin and his successors much leisure, in their constant struggle against environing foes, to teach the young idea how to shoot, other than through flint-locked and smooth-bores.

And when the treaty of Paris brought the important frontier post, with the insignificant trading village attached, under Uncle Sam's dominion, we may infer that the pursuit of wealth and the paths just opened to enterprise through the boundless fields of the Northwest were more attractive than the unexciting and meagerly paid profession of the pedagogue, and the greater number of the youth grew up unlettered, and found early employment on the farm, at the trader's counter, in the canoe, or in the backwoods.

And, alas! woman as a teacher was then unknown, save in those home lessons where she has ever found her chiefest pleasures and one of her noblest spheres.

We find but scanty and unfrequent mention of schools either in our records or in tradition, until quite a recent period.

From conversation with old residents, and through the kindness of Hon. C. I. Walker (long and conspicuously connected with our public schools), I have been able to collect what a painter would call some "Sketches of the Old Masters."

The Rev. David Bacon (father of Dr. Lemuel Bacon, of New Haven) came here as an Indian missionary, and lived here while learning the Indian language, and in 1802 he and his wife taught a school at his own house on St. James Street.

Our venerable citizen, David Cooper, was one of his pupils.

On June 10, 1816, Mr. Danforth, from New England, commenced what was called a "common school," and on July 1st he had 40 scholars.

Under the "Catholepistemiad act," hereinafter referred to, an ordinance was passed prescribing the studies in primary schools, of reading, writing, arithmetic, and English grammar, and on the same day another ordinance established a primary school in Detroit.

In 1818, Hugh M. Dickey commenced teaching the classical department of such institution. He was a graduate of Jefferson College.

Pennsylvania, and died February 16,1819, much regretted.

A Mr. Peyn, taught a school in 1812-13, in the lower part of the town.

He was a fine classical scholar, and the dead languages were then deemed the essentials even of a rudimentary education.

The late Ferdinand William was one of his pupils.

The Rev. John Monteith, a Presbyterian clergyman and one of the trustees of the first university, succeeded him, and was prominent as the only teacher in Detroit for a number of years, and as late as 1818.

Writing paper was scarce and dear in the little town, and of copy-books there were none, and he trained his pupils in calligraphy, on the smooth surface of a large shallow box of dampened sand, kept in the center of the school-room.

In 1818 Lemuel Shattuck was invited to take charge of a popular school on the "Lancasterian Plan," and did so, and continued his school until October, 1821, when he was succeeded by Mr. John Farmer, who was followed in the classical school by Mr. Clapp, and he was succeeded in April of the same year by the Rev. Mr. Wallace; a Mr. Brookfield, assisted by his wife, kept a school in the vicinity of May's Creek in 1823, and for some years afterward, and Mr. and Mrs. Kinney had a large boys' and girls' school from 1823 to 1825.

It was at first successful, and promised to become a permanent and conspicuous institution in the town. But Mr. Kinney became very dissipated in his habits, and frequently came to his school-room so obstreperously intoxicated as to scare away the girls, and this finally broke up the school.

Father Gabriel Richard, the head of the Catholic Church in the Territory, a man of political power as well as fine education, did not approve of educating the masses, and I cannot find any early promise of the thronged spacious church schools which now ornament the city in so many quarters, until the opening of a large school in the basement of St. Ann's stone church on Larned street.

Between 1823 and 1830, Miss Williams, a sister of General John R. Williams; Miss Lyons, Miss Angelique Campau, and Miss Monica Labadie (afterward Mrs. Antoine Beaubien), who either were, or were preparing to be nuns, kept a free girls' school under the supervision of the Catholic clergy, on the enclosure on Larned street, near St. Ann's Church, and had three dozen spinning wheels in the institution to teach the girls how to spin.

They petitioned for, and received from the Governor and Judges a lot for a school on the corner of Larned and Randolph streets.

Here is the first instance of a free school in Detroit.

On April 1, 1823, Mr. John Farmer commenced teaching the school which Mr. Shattuck had had charge of. He took it for one year from Feb. 2, for the tuition.

He afterward maintained a school on Monroe Avenue, and was long and conspicuously connected with public education as a member of the Board.

He is more particularly known to fame by the many exact and valuable maps prepared and published by him.

Mr. Wells taught in Detroit for three years.

Mr. C. E. Sears was appointed teacher in 1826 at a salary of $500 a year, and on May 28. 1827. it was directed that a Mr. Carl should be put in possession of the public schools.

In 1831 or 1832, Mr. George Wilson taught a school termed the "English Classical School," of which George B. Porter, E. P. Hastings, John Norvell, Henry Campbell, Joshua Howard, John Biddle, and Peter Desnoyers were trustees.

He was succeeded in October by the Rev. D. L. Coe, who was in possession of the school for two quarters at $600 a year; and he was succeeded by J. B. Howe (now a leading lawyer of Indiana), who was employed at the same rate.

A ladies' seminary was started in 1834, in a yellow brick building erected by a board of trustees for school purposes, on the site of the new city hall, under charge of Wm. Kirkland and his wife, who was afterward well known as an authoress.

They professed to impart a complete English education, with extra lessons in French and music, all branches to be taught on the inductive method.

In November, 1836, Mr. George Wilson, heretofore mentioned, returned to Detroit and took charge of this Ladies' Seminary, and continued until 1839.

Mr. Washinton A. Bacon, a native of Vermont, who had been for the three years preceding a teacher at Fort Brady, Sault Ste. Marie, came to Detroit in 1836, and in July of that year commenced teaching a select school in a cottage on the corner of Jefferson avenue and St. Antoine street, where the Cathedral now stands.

He has presided over this school regularly and unassisted for four quarters a year ever since, making 38 years, or 152 quarters of consecutive teaching, an instance, I submit, without a parallel in western annals.

He is still engaged in the same occupation, as vigorous, clear-headed, and exact (perhaps as exacting) as ever.

I may, from my own experience, say with Goldsmith:

"A man severe he was, and stern to view.

I knew him well, and every tyrant knew;

Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was in fault."

Whatever he undertook to teach was taught most thoroughly, and many youth who have since become prominent in the pulpit, the army and the navy, and at the bar, and in business, were among his pupils. We schoolboys used to vow vengeance upon him whenever we got to be men, but I know of no instances where his old pupils, now risen to man's estate, are not rejoiced to meet their old preceptor, who labored so zealously and took (and gave) such pains for their permanent welfare.

If the schools established in the infant Territory were few and of little general benefit, there was no lack of abundant legislation on the subject, of the loftiest aims and couched in the most eloquent language.

To read the laws passed and compare them with their fruits shows how much easier it is to write about education than to teach school.

By the ordinance of Congress of 1785, every sixteenth section of land in crude townships in the Western Territory was reserved for the maintenance of public schools within such townships.

And the celebrated ordinance of 1787 (the magna charta of the Northwest) declared that "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged."

In the act of 1804 an entire township of land is set apart for educational purposes in that portion of the Western Territory which is now Michigan, and in 1817 the Governor and Judges (being the Territorial Government) fired by a noble zeal, and apparently having dieted on a course of the largest dictionaries, passed an act to establish the "Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigan."

This tremendous institution was to have thirteen "Didaxiim" or professors, among whom were a Didaxia of "Catholepistemia," one of "Anthropoglossica," one of "Physiognostica," one of "Iatuca," one of "Polemitactica," one of "Diegetica," and one of "Ennceica," embracing all the Epistemiim or sciences relative to the minds of animals, the human mind, to spiritual existence, the Deity and religion.

Of course to support such sonorous names the public taxes were increased 15 per cent, and the Catholepistemiad was authorized to "prepare and draw from lotteries" into the bargain.

Provision was made for the payment by the State, of the honorarium of indigent scholars, and the honorarium for a course of lectures was fixed at $15, for classical instruction $10, and for ordinary instruction $6 a quarter.

While all this bombastic legislation was going on, there was hardly a decent primary in the Territory.

Like these Mexican and South American armies, which abound in generals of lofty rank and lordly name, who issue mighty proclamations, but never do any fighting; so I cannot discover that the Catholepistemiad ever came to anything, and a perusal of the act referred to has so filled me with confusion and dismay that I have resolved to desist from any further investigation into the University system of Michigan, and to confine myself to the humbler task of searching the modest records of the Detroit common schools, wherein no such huge goblins and spectres shall rise to affright my steps.

In 1827, four years after the organization of the Legislative Council, an act was passed providing that every township containing fifty inhabitants should provide themselves with a schoolmaster of good morals to give instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, orthography, the English and French languages, as well as decent behavior, for such terms as should be equivalent to six months in the year; the township incurring for neglect to procure and support such teacher, a penalty of from $50 to $150.

These schools were to be supported by a poll and assessed tax, to be assessed and collected with the county taxes.

But any township had the reserved right, by a two-thirds vote at the annual meeting, to decline compliance with the act.

Meetings of the freeholders to deliberate upon school matters were to be summoned by a township inspector handing a written notice of the time and place of meeting to one of the freeholders residing in the district, liable to pay taxes, who was obliged under a penalty of $5, to notify every freeholder of the district by reading the notice in his hearing or by service of a copy.

The schools were to be supported by rate-bill.

This law was succeeded by another in 1833, which provided for the election in each township of three commissioners and ten inspectors, with duties similar to those of our present inspectors, and gave them charge of the school section in their township.

They had power to order orphan children, and the children of indigent parents, to be instructed at the expense of the district,—the first step towards free Schools in 1835.

Michigan, admitted as a State, received from the general government section numbered sixteen in every township (or its equivalent when disposed of) for the use of schools; and this is the source of our State school fund from which we have annually derived a steady support, once very material, and still quite acceptable.

The constitutional convention which followed, gave the Legislature power to provide for a system of common schools, by which schools should be kept in each district at least three months in each year, and provided also, in the same article, for the establishment of township libraries to be maintained from the sums paid for military exemptions and the clear proceeds of all criminal fines.

In 1836 branch universities were provided for and located in the principal towns.

They were to contain three departments for the education of teachers, for the higher branches of English education, and for classical learning, and at a cost for tuition of $10 for the English and $12 for the classical department.

The county was to raise for the support of the "Branch" located in it a sum equal to that which should be appropriated for it from the University fund, and on so doing was to receive from the University fund an appropriation of $,"500 for the purchase of apparatus and books.

The old "Branch University." on Bates Street, corner of Congress, was quite an important educational feature in my boyhood days.

It was intended to supply the place of the proposed State University until it could be erected, and then to fit scholars for that institution.

The High School Department was under the superintendence of Prof. C. W. Fitch (now a chaplain in the United States army), assisted by Mr. E. C. Walker.

A middle department in classics and mathematics was in charge of Andrew Harvie, Esq., afterward a lawyer of eminence at Chicago; and rudimentary instruction in the Latin and English tongues was given by Mr. Wilson Gray, now, I believe a judge in Australia.

These were all gentlemen of fine education and broad culture, and the school attained a deservedly high standing.

But the discipline, although old-fashioned, was not as strict as it might have been.

Between the scholars of the "Branch" and those of the large church across the street in the basement of St. Ann's, an irrepressible conflict of missiles and fisticuffs raged, and one favorite method of provoking it was to assemble on our school steps, when both schools were out at recess, and chant in sounding tones, after the manner of the priests conducting the church service, the list of Latin common nouns.

"Conjux atgue parens infans patroclis et haeres, afflnis, vindex. judex, dux, et hostes," and about this time the brickbats generally came in.

On one occasion, towards the end of a term not particularly marked by good conduct, we were notified that "examination day" was to be conducted by the Board of State Visitors, and that each scholar's name, with his merits and demerits, was to be publicly read from rolls already prepared and then in the teacher's desk.

This was a terrible prospect for those whose exhibit would be anything but flattering; and Major Kearsley, the chairman of the visitors, was the severest and most merciless of examiners.

Something had to be done to avert our impending humiliation.

The teachers, fearing some trick, were unusually particular in fastening and barring the doors and shutters at night.

But one night a slender and agile boy was hoisted through the broken pane of a fan light over the main door; he opened to the rest; the stairs were all carefully smeared with slush from a neighboring engine house, so that a cat could not ascend them without fear of breaking her neck; assafoetida and red pepper were mixed with the ashes of the stoves; the demerit rolls were extracted from the principal's desk, and, together with ferrules, straps, and other instruments of torture, were solemnly burned, and—well, there wasn't much of an examination next day.

Of course there was a great disturbance, constables and justices were put at work to detect and punish, but the secret was well kept, and it is only of late years that it has been told above a whisper by the conspirators.

And I don't think I would tell it now, did not the statute of limitations protect me.

Wasn't it awful?

I wonder that you do not all rise up in a body now and de mand my immediate and condign punishment.

I can only offer in excuse the truant's plea, "I'll try not to do so any more."

In 1839 St. Philip's College at Detroit was chartered by the Legislature, and a petition of John R. Williams, John Biddle, J. McDonnell, and others was presented "to constitute the colored citizens of Detroit into a separate school by themselves," which was followed by a law passed in 1840 to the same effect, and in 1841 a colored school was organized in Detroit with eighty-eight scholars, and the rent of the school-house free, the school being usually kept in one of the churches of that people.

The preceding legislation seems to have failed in its object of establishing an efficient system of district schools.

The law was hardly known in many districts before it was repealed or amended; great negligence in raising the tax, or rate-bill, was the rule; and in Detroit especially, where the people found some relief in the few private and church schools, the public school system languished exceedingly.

Mr. Franklin Sawyer, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, strongly urged an effort at a better state of affairs, and Dr. Zina Pitcher (who had before this time been associated with Lucius Lyons and H. R. Schoolcraft in publishing the Journal of Education at Detroit, a copy of which was ordered by the Legislature to be furnished each Board of Inspectors and each School Director) procured the common council on Nov. 23, 1841, to appoint a special committee to examine into the operations of the common school system as affecting Detroit.

This committee was composed of Zina Pitcher as chairman, Charles Moran, and D. W. Fiske, and they set diligently and systematically to work, and, going from house to house and school-room to school-room, ascertained-and reported to the common council that there were 1,850 children in Detroit who ought to be at school at least half of the year; that there were 27 schools within the corporate limits, in which were 714 scholars, who were educated at a cost of $12,600 per annum, averaging $18 apiece.

This embraced one French and one German school, and were all exceedingly limited in numbers and scarcely deserving the name of schools, excepting the one connected with St. Ann's (Catholic) church, which embraced nearly all the children of Catholic families then resident in the city, and the select school of Mr. Bacon, attended by the children of the wealthier Protestants.

Dr. Pitcher recommended that the common council, with the assent of the freemen, petition the Legislature to amend the city charter so as to give the council power to raise a fund for the support of the schools by direct taxation, and the freemen the right annually to choose at the charter election two persons from each ward as a school committee, which committee, when sitting as the "Board of Education," with the Mayor as president, "shall be authorized to organize school districts, appoint teachers, and do such other acts as the public good may require."

The press of the city warmly seconded the mayor's recommendation, and urged speedy and favorable action on his report.

The council petitioned the Legislature as suggested; a public meeting was called by Dr. Pitcher and Father Kundig (a most influential and estimable Catholic priest); John R. Williams presided, and the resolutions were moved by Dr. Douglass Houghton.

It was urged that a school tax was the cheapest insurance that could be put upon property; and that, if the school tax was omitted, then the jail tax and criminal court costs must take its place.

But the movement was warmly opposed, and nearly all the large property-owners were in opposition.

A remonstrance was circulated against the passage of the law, signed by many tax-payers, and headed by a man who signed with "his mark," which gave a good handle to the advocates of the schools.

The question found an issue at the charter election, where Douglass Houghton was chosen mayor as a public school candidate.

A bill was drafted by Dr. Pitcher, based upon the reports and regulations of the New England schools, and was presented and its passage urged by Hon. Cornelius O'Flynn, who was the only member of the Wayne county delegation who supported it.

It finally became the law on the 18th of February, 1842, under which, with a few amendments, the schools of Detroit were carried on until replaced by the law of 1858, which is more in keeping with the progress of the age, but whose leading provisions are almost identically the same as those of the old statute.

On March 18, 1844, Dr. Pitcher received the sincere and hearty thanks of the Board of Education "for his able and efficient services rendered in the cause of education."

While we have properly perpetuated in our school edifices the names of Houghton the president, Barstow the advocate.

Bishop the builder, and Duffield the organizer, let us not forget to do justice to history and credit to ourselves by attaching also to one of our new edifices, as yet unnamed, the name of Pitcher, the founder of the system.

At the time of the change from the old to the new system, there were seven school districts in Detroit, one of which was the colored school above referred to.

The new board came into possession of but one school-house, the old Fourth Ward building on Fort Street, costing $500; but they had a quantity of desks, benches, and stove-pipe, and the cost and nominal amount of all the school property in the city, over and above liabilities, was $2,156.79.

In the district where they owned the schoolhouse they owed the unfortunate teacher $200, which I hope he got.

Their funds, in the hands of Treasurer Farmer, consisted of $851, the greater part of which was in funds of the Bank of Michigan, which had just suspended payment, and which they afterwards sold at 25 cents on the dollar, in notes of the banks of Homer, Atica, and other wildcats, and, as the Treasurer frankly says, the "remainder uncertain," though what could have been more uncertain than the wildcat notes it is hard to imagine.

But in this "uncertain" remainder he classes a note for £636.05, drawn by Israel Noble and endorsed by Chauncey Hurlbut and John Owen, a security which we would now consider preferable to either the wildcats or the bank of Michigan.

There was further due from A. H. Stowell, Collector, $5.34, and the County Commissioners had generously resolved to grant them "a lot at will, viz.: the triangle on which the county jail stands, on certain conditions."

If the "Commissioners" had only carried out their resolve, it would have been "a good thing to have had in the family," as this triangle was what is now Center Park, opposite Dr. Duffield's church.

Even after the new schools were opened without cost, so great was the apathy and indifference felt by many of the citizens that it required the personal and individual effort of those interested to bring this portion of the community to see the great advantages , they were able to derive for their families from the common schools.

It is reported that Supt. Doty labors under no such difficulty at present.

The new Board of Education went promptly to work on March 15, 1842, (about one month after the passage of the bill), and organized with Mayor Houghton as President, Recorder Witherell member ex officio.

John S. Abbott as Secretary (he wrote a most awful hand), and Daniel J. Campau as Treasurer.

Samuel Barstow (destined to weave his name forever in our school history) was an Inspector from the first ward, and Charles Pitcher from the third.

There were twelve members in all. They proceeded to adopt quite a comprehensive code of rules, which are copied into the records in the exquisite calligraphy of George Robb, an Inspector from the sixth ward, who occasionally (I wish it had been permanently) acted as secretary.

They generously appropriated $5 for stationery for the use of the Board and its officers during the year (I fear that this sum would not now even pay for Mr. Doty's school blanks).

They resolved that school should not be kept on Saturday afternoons; they directed that the school tax should be collected in specie or its equivalent, "because the reception of any other funds would be a fraud upon the sacred object of free schools" (the current funds at this time being "wildcat" and "shinplasters," the latter a corporation promise to pay, which was justly held in great scorn by the citizens).

They resolved to present a copy of their rules to each of the editors of the newspapers in the State.

They rented buildings in four of the six wards of the city, at a rental in all of $166 per annum. (Their own buildings did not become valuable enough to insure until 1846.)

They adopted as text-books Webster's Spelling book, Sanders' Reader, and Peter Parley's Histories for the primaries and Hale's Histories for the middle schools, and also the time-honored names of Daboll's Arithmetic and the English Reader.

Reveling in bright anticipations of the future, they also adopted Haskins' Astronomy, but I doubt whether it was for some time taught with success.

They appointed Thomas Grant, Joshua N. Alvord, Dennis O'Brien, John H. Anderson, and Charles W. Hayes as teachers of the middle schools at $30 per month; and six female primary teachers at $18 per month.

They resolved that notice of opening the school should be printed on a slip of paper and left at each dwelling-house in every ward (a plan which I would respectfully present to the consideration of messenger Cousins).

On May 12, 1842, they engaged Wm. C. Monroe as teacher of the colored school.

He was a colored Episcopalian clergyman, generally respected throughout the city, and well known as "Father Monroe," and he continued, off and on, in the employ of the Board for many years.

Mr. James H. Wellings took the first school census, in which the fourth ward showed the largest number of children, being 515, and the fifth ward the smallest, being 187.

The total number of children in the city between 5 and 17 years in September, 1847, 2,239.

Mr. Wellings, who also prepared and published several city directories, seems for years to have held a somewhat similar position to that now filled by Mr. Cousins.

Certain property owners having contumaciously refused to pay their school-tax and given the collector to understand that the Board of Education "would not dare to prosecute and collect by law," the board ordered the collector to proceed and collect by levy and sale of goods and chattels forthwith, and ordered him to report in writing the name of every individual so refusing, for publication in the daily papers (pour encourager les autres).

Friendly relations seem to have existed with other corporate friends, for they "offered their sincere thanks to the Common Council for their magnanimity in not only authorizing the use of the late Washington Market-House for purposes of education, but for the general interest manifested in the moral worth and character of Detroit."

They were a punctual board, for they fined every member who was not present within twenty minutes after roll-call the sum of fifty cents, and they enforced and collected these fines into the bargain.

They were in advance of their age, moreover, for they appointed a standing committee of three ladies from each ward to examine the primary schools, and among them I find the names of Mrs. John Hulburt, Mrs. H. S. Cole, Mrs. J. A. Van'Dyke, Mrs. Robert Stuart, Mrs. A. W. Buel, Mrs. A. S. Williams, and Miss E. S. Trowbridge.

They were in continual hot water about their colored school, which was up for consideration at almost every board meeting for years.

At one meeting complaints would be preferred against the teacher, backed up by a petition; these would be rebutted at the next meeting by warm denials, also supported by petitions.

Special committees were appointed, reported, and were discharged, and new committees tried their hands at it, teacher followed teacher in rapid succession, and chosen alternately from the rival denominations of Episcopalians.

Methodists, and Baptists, until the board, after trying in vain to satisfy all gave up the effort and resolved to satisfy themselves regardless of petitions, and appointed Mr. John Whitbeck in 1850, who continued to teach until last year.

On April 22, 1844, they reduced their establishment to three middle and six primary schools, and the same day appointed a committee to submit a plan for the establishment of a high school, which committee subsequently reported in favor of establishing a free high school in the old Branch University building, to be limited to 25 male scholars of at least 11 years of age, and who had previously attended some one of the public schools for three months.

But the teacher was authorized to take in other scholars on such terms of payment as suited him; the high school, however, was not opened until 14 years afterward.

In the spring of 1844 the board encountered a storm which came very near wrecking their whole system.

The introduction of the reading of the Bible as a text-book in the schools was vigorously and earnestly contested; the religious feelings of the citizens were thoroughly aroused in the matter; lines were openly drawn between Protestants and Catholics; petitions with innumerable names signed poured in upon the board, some asking positively for the introduction of the Bible as a text-book, others soliciting the very contrary and insisting "upon its total exclusion.

The excitement ran so high that citizens on both sides did not hesitate to declare openly that unless their particular views were carried out in this matter, they would gladly see the entire school system swept away from,, the city.

The board were much divided upon the subject, and considered many and various resolutions on the subject, and took many votes thereon; made many ineffectual attempts at a compromise, and finally on Feb. 3, 1845, resolved that it was their opinion that there was nothing in the rules conflicting with the right of any teacher to open his or her school by reading without note or comment from any version of the Bible they may choose, either Catholic or Protestant, and that any teacher who should in any way note, comment, or remark in school, upon passages of Scripture should, upon proper proof thereof, be removed from his or her school and so the matter blew over without injury.

In 1847 the board took a great step in their progress by the occupation of the building formerly used as the Territorial and State Capitol and ceded by the State to the common council, on the removal of the capital to Lansing.

The council turned it over to the board for educational purposes, and Messrs. Barstow and Duffield proceeded on the very night of the transfer (May 1, 1848), to take possession in the name of the board. A graded or union school, the pioneer of its kind, not only in Michigan but in the northwest, was opened with Mr. Wm. Francis as principal, Miss Maria Rockwell as assistant in the senior department, the Misses Brown and Holman as subordinates, and Miss Theodosia Gillett as a volunteer assistant.

This school soon attained a great reputation, which it maintained during its entire existence.

It was the favorite school in the city, and was always crowded with the children of it’s best citizens. Among its first graduates, of whom I can just mention, are Prof. Moses Coit Tyler, Judge Weir, Dr. S. P. Duffield, Eugene Robinson, H. M. Duffield, J. W. Finney, and Hoyt Post, Esq., and a great many ladies of prominence in the social world.

It possessed special popularity as a girls' school, under the efficient charge of Miss Rockwell (Now Mrs. Birchard), who taught with great success for ten years, and left in 1857, to the great regret of the board, to establish a young ladies' seminary.

Mr. Francis was in time succeeded by Mr. Nicholas and Mr. Alcott, under whose charge the school continued to progress in reputation and high standing, and it was the great success and popularity of this school, and the stronghold which it gained for the cause among the people, by the practical illustration which it constantly afforded of the merits of the school system, that the board acquired the "constant popular support which enabled them to triumph over all adversaries, and extend their system to its present fair proportions.

Many are the pleasant memories which cluster around the old capitol school.

All honor to its name, as the pioneer of a system, now so vast and mighty throughout our western land.

In connection with the old capitol school, I have mentioned the name of Mr. John F. Nichols, and any sketch of our public schools would be incomplete that omitted reference to one who has been so long and so conspicuously connected with the system.

He has by no means become a historical character yet; and the 28 teachers and 1,650 scholars under his charge will testify that he is still a very lively veteran; and the singling out with the long index finger of ''that boy" or "that girl" will still bring the culprit up with a start, as it did in the "brave days of old."

Yet he commenced on May 1, 1848, as teacher of the First Middle School at a salary of $400 a year, and has taught continuously in the Detroit public schools ever since, a period of 23 years and a term of service which is, I believe, without a parallel in the public school history.

During all this time he has always been at the head of one of our largest and best schools.

Thousands of his scholars are now in the active paths of adult life, many conspicuous in business, in the professions, and as heads of families, whose children are thronging in numbers to the precepts of the same teacher.

It is difficult to find any public charter in our community, whose influence (and influence for good) has been more extended; and when we think how his teaching and training has entered into the life and formed the character of such a great number of the intelligent and influential men and women of our city, we may say of him in the words of the Holy Writ:

"Whole generations shall rise up, and call him blessed."

And here, in speaking of the worthies identified with our system, proper mention should be made of Samuel Barstow, a member of the board when organized in 1842, and continuously thereafter until his sudden death in July, 1854; always present at its meetings, and generally at the head of its most important committees; for several successive terms its presiding officer, and everywhere and on all occasions the warmest friend and the most zealous and eloquent advocate of the common school system,—of rugged features and unprepossessing appearance, he was notwithstanding a most fiery and convincing orator, and he threw all his fine abilities, and gave most largely of his time, to the cause of public schools.

He was the pilot who weathered the two storms which most seriously assailed the cause.

The Board of Citizens sincerely deplored his death, and pronounced him in their resolutions, as upright, true, frank, sincere, sound, and reliable.

His death was regarded as a public calamity, and his name was affixed to one of our most prominent public schools, where let it long remain, the fitting monument of a good man.

Mr. Barstow was succeeded as President in March, 1854, by Mr. Levi Bishop, who filled that post until his resignation from the board in August, 1858, and proved a worthy successor to Mr. Barstow.

Under his administration the Barstow and Bishop schools were erected, the latter a most signal step in our progress; and then, and now, regarded with pride by all friends of education.

Its location was at first objected to by many as being too distant from population, and on a remote and bleak common, but I believe time has proved the wisdom of its site.

Mr. B. personally and constantly superintended the erection of both of these buildings in every detail, and husbanding all our resources with most rigid economy, would hardly allow a cent to be expended for any other object until these buildings were completed.

He was of indomitable courage and of most tenacious disposition, and these qualities brought the board successfully through many a hostile common council, and many a lukewarm freemen's meeting.

His name is properly borne on the beautiful edifice he labored so industriously in erecting.

Mr. Bishop was succeeded in 1858, as President, by Mr. D. Bethune Duffield, who had been an active member of the board, and a hard and efficient worker on all its most important committees since his election as Inspector in 1847.

Mr. Duffield continued as Inspector until 1861, and his history as an officer and member is the history of our public schools for 14 years.

To him, next to Mr. Barstow, the schools of Detroit are indebted for being what they are.

For very many of these years he gave daily—(I am speaking from personal knowledge)—nearly half his time to public business.

His logical mind, his eloquent tongue, his rapid pen, were always placed at the service of the cause, and were always at work in that service.

We made constant and heavy demands upon him, and he always met them cheerfully and effectively.

A hard-working and ambitious lawyer, he would promptly put aside pressing and lucrative engagements to defend a teacher in a justice's court; to plead the cause of schools before a higher tribunal, or before the assembled freemen, to inspect a new school or a candidate for a teachership, or to preside at a school examination.

The only reward he ever asked was the consciousness that he was laboring for a beloved cause.

Fittingly does the beautiful building, which crowns the highest point of our city and first catches the eye of the traveler as he approaches it from the east, bear aloft the name of one who has labored so long and so well in the cause.

In 1852. the school system was again assailed by a most formidable at- tack.

The annexation of the ninth and tenth wards to our corporate limits occasioned an extensive remodeling of our charter, and induced many of the Catholics, headed by Bishop Lefevere, to ask that what they deemed an injustice might be remedied.

They complained that notwithstanding the constitution guaranteed liberty of conscience to every citizen, yet the public school laws compelled them to violate their consciences, or deprive them unjustly of their share of the public school fund, and imposed upon them taxes for the support of schools, which, as a matter of conscience, they could not allow their children to attend; and that the fealty of the child to the doctrines of the Catholic church was weakened by attending the common schools of the city, and they prayed that a pro rata distribution of the school fund might be made so that the schools of the Catholic church might receive a share in proportion to the number of children educated in them.

These and other arguments were ably and forcibly presented by Win. O'Callaghan, Esq.; and in a series of well-written communications to the city press by Miss Mattie M. Jacobs, it was answered that it formed no part of the duties of the government.

State or national, to inculcate or foster a national or State religion, and that the State constitution provided that no law should be passed to compel any person to pay taxes, or other rates, for the support of any teacher of religion.

The Legislature was flooded with petitions and pamphlets on the subject; conspicuous among the former was one signed by Bishop McCoskry, of the Episcopal church, in which while he protested that he had no wish nor desire to interfere with the system which was the pride of the State, yet, insisting that if such system should be overturned, the church of which he was the representative head should have her proportion also of the school moneys; avowing that such funds should be carefully used in teaching the doctrines and principles of such church, under charge of so many of its clergy as he could secure; and that no other principles or doctrines should find place in such schools.

This petition conclusively showed to what result a division of the school fund must inevitably lead, and the Legislature finally refused to act as prayed for.

The contest was then transferred to the polls; the regular democracy nominated a Recorder. Alderman, and Inspectors in favor of a division of the fund; a meeting of the independent democracy nominated like officers opposed to such a division; the Whigs made no nominations, but supported the independent ticket.

The contest was a very warm one, and for days and weeks the newspapers rang with appeals and communications on one or the other side, and great numbers of applicants for naturalization were brought by both parties through the courts.

It was entirely divested of a partisan complexion; and the issue was squarely made upon the continuance or abandonment of the existing system of public schools.

The "regular" or "division" ticket was headed by Mr. L. H. Hewitt as candidate for Recorder; the "independent" or "school ticket" by George V. N. Lothrop, Esq. (then, as on many occasions since, and now, a most zealous, effective, and powerful advocate of the system), who threw into the contest all the power of his fiery, controlling, and stirring eloquence, and for a fortnight before the election, his entire time.

The struggle came on March 8, 1853; the independent ticket swept every ward but one, and its standard-bearer was chosen Recorder by 2,000 majority.

The question of the division of the school fund has never been agitated since.

I became a member of the Board in February, 1856, and have since remained a member, except during my absence from the city from 1861 to 1863.

My first service was as member of the committee on schools, of which Judge J. V. Campbell was chairman, and here I first learned to know and admire the purity and integrity, as well as sweetness and amiability of character which has made this eminent jurist so beloved and respected wherever he is known.

We had then no Superintendent or messenger, but the duties of these officers were cheerfully performed by Inspectors.

Mr. J. C. Warner, for year’s chairman of the school-house committee, kept a horse and buggy solely for the purpose of enabling him to discharge the duties of that post, and he personally superintended every purchase and repair.

The Board was poor.

The only resource they had for building was to take advantage of the occasional extra tax of $1.500, and add to it whatever they could manage, with the strictest economy, to save from their annual receipts.

These receipts for all school purposes were a tax of one dollar per head on all the children between five and eighteen, and the proportion of moneys received each year from the State school fund, which barely exceeded $2,000.

Yet they urgently needed school accommodations in the tenth ward.

Dr. L. H. Cobb, on its behalf, purchased the building of the "Ladies of the Sacred Heart" on Elmwood avenue, and personally supervised its moving across the commons to its present site on Lamed street, and when there, laid down the sidewalks and built the fences and out-houses principally with his own hands. Inspector Case, of the ninth ward, in charge of the carshops of the Michigan Central Railroad, and a skilled architect, gratuitously designed and superintended the building of the third ward and Trowbridge schools.

It was not the fashion to charge the board for any services. Inspectors who were lawyers, always rendered legal services gratuitously; and merchants often abated their bills when informed that it was for the cause of education.

The influence and example of Campbell, Barstow, and Duffleld were effectual in obliterating party lines in the Board, where they have long been, still are, and I hope will long continue to be unknown, although members are chosen at hotly contested elections, yet, on entering into the Board, they always drop all political distinctions, and a party allusion or taunt if used would be looked upon with extreme disfavor.

The elections of officers are almost always unanimous.

The citizens have evidently approved of this course, and have always at three freemen's meetings granted every request made by the Board.

The long terms of a majority of its members, arising from frequent re-election by the people, have given to the Board a character of permanence and stability which has worked much good.

Members have become familiar with the operations of the system, with its needs and the character of its employees, and while experience gives them knowledge of those things in which experience is needed, the conservatism which results from long service makes them averse to experimental changes.

And this conservatism has produced the permanent tenure of all its employees, in which feature and its results it may be favorably compared with other schools, boards, and other corporate State or national organizations.

The teachers are appointed solely for merit and efficiency, ascertained upon a rigid and impartial competitive examination.

Once inscribed upon the permanent roll, they hold office during good behavior, and promoting and removal are dependent entirely upon their ability as evidenced in the results of their teaching.

Here is the much discussed "Civil Service Reform" accomplished, carried into actual work, and into successful operation.

The Board does not know and does not wish to know the religious creed or political preferences of any of its employees, from superintendent to janitor.

Their only object is to get the right men and women into the right places.

The result is a thoroughly efficient corps of teachers, especially trained for the service, owing office to no man but solely to their own merit, holding it by the same tenure, exercising from long and constant contact with the neighborhoods in which they teach, a great influence, and producing a system of public schools which challenges and covets examination, and which we proudly claim as second to none in the land.

I have mentioned that for many years we had no superintendent, and that the duty of visiting schools devolved upon inspectors.

Some of the incidents which occurred in our inspecting tours may seem strange to our present well-trained corps of experts, who teach on a defined and exact system, and govern by tap of the bell.

On one occasion, in passing by a public school-house in a rented frame building on Monroe Avenue, my attention was arrested by a discordant mingling of cries of distress and loud singing of children's voices.

Glancing in at the window, I perceived the cause: a delinquent boy was firmly held by two assistant lady teachers, in the proper position for receiving punishment, while a third applied the ruler with a vigorous arm, and his loud wailings were lost in the voices of the school, who were singing in chorus to drown the noise.

I am not prepared just now to recommend this as a proper method for adoption in our present schools. One of our buildings, still occupied and doing good service, was annexed to our system into a certain extension of the city limits; and its male teacher, of rather mature years, and of ideas on school government both obsolete and imported, was annexed with it.

He ruled his school with a large shillelagh, and, when examined by visiting inspectors, never allowed a class to recite, but answered all their questions himself.

After repeated trials the board removed him and sent down a lady teacher to fill his place, but he refused to vacate or allow his successor even to enter the building, alleging that he was under contract with his former employers of the township board for a period still unexpired.

Affairs remained in the revolutionary state for a fortnight, until finally the chairman of the committee on schools went down in person and obtained access to the building about half an hour before the time of opening.

The teacher arrived, waxed indignant, and tried to oust the chairman "vi et armis," but as he was a small man, and the chairman weighed 200 and upwards —well, he stayed there, and kept school himself the rest of the day; and he knows, by personal experience, what a hard thing it is to teach an "omnibus school."

We once rented the basement of the German school on Monroe Avenue as a colored school.

The teacher was a lady of large stature, and much given to the use of the rod.

She probably found King Solomon's method a failure, and resolved to try moral suasion, or at least to make her scholars happy by diversifying the tedium of study with amusement.

At any rate, on visiting the school quite unexpectedly one day, I found the scholars at their seats with their books and the teacher at her table on the platform playing cards with three of her larger pupils.

If this had occurred during the present term, it would perhaps be published in the papers as "ill-treatment of colored children in the public schools," particularly if the teacher followed the example of Bill Nye in his celebrated game with the Heathen Chinee, and had her sleeve full of trump cards.

When the old "Branch University" was occupied as a public middle school, two inspectors, having occasion to visit it one day, found the Principal presiding over his room, in the most dignified manner, with his hat on, and on privately inquiring the reason, were informed that the roof was so ruinous that he feared the ceiling would fall in. and wanted .to protect his head.

Perhaps, if Mr. Potter had tried this experiment in the old Barstow building, we might have got one new school-house sooner than we did.

After the heated discussion over the reading of the Bible, teachers were allowed to open their schools by reading from any version of the Bible without note or comment.

To this exercise some teachers began by degrees to add extempore prayers, in which were occasionally introduced sectarian and even political allusions.

This, of course, and justly, gave offense, and to avoid any possible difficulty, the proper committee gave directions that the only prayer which might be used should be the "Lord's prayer" repeated by the teacher and scholars in concert, which they thought was an exercise in which all denominations might cheerfully unite.

But one morning the chairman was summoned hastily to a small Primary, whose teacher informed him that nearly half her scholars refused to united in this exercise, and pleaded their parents' command.

The astonished chairman asked the children why they objected to the Lord's prayer, and was more astonished by the answer: "If you phase, sir, we are Jews."

One of our lady teachers, who is still with us. and presides with success and usefulness over an important school, once sent a scholar to my house in great haste, to urge my immediate presence at her school, as one of the pupils was openly resisting her.

I left my dinner (just commenced) and hastening to the school-house, found a large, strongly built French hoy of about 16 years, who would persist in chewing tobacco in school, and expectorating on the floor, and who refused to desist or to receive punishment from the teacher.

I told her that as her authority had been defied before her scholars so the punishment must take place in the same presence, but, on her approaching with her rod, he "squared off" at her, after the manner of the prize-ring.

I waxed indignant, and started for the boy myself, meaning to chastise him on the platform, regardless of suits for assault and battery.

But, as I drew near, he ran out of the door into the street, and I ran after him.

We had considerable of a running match, but he dodged me over one or two fences and through several mud-puddles; and as he was a long-legged, light and agile youth, his agility surpassed mine, and he escaped.

I went to his father, and on relating the circumstances, he said that he would take all the skin off the boy's back, but this I showed him would not do, and convinced him that as the resistance to the teacher was made before the school, it was his duty to take the boy to her, or see that he submitted to be publicly punished by her.

This was accordingly done, with a fine moral effect upon the other scholars, but the boy went to the bad, and was afterwards sent to State prison—a just retribution for beating a school inspector at a foot-race.

Many of you have seen the official seal of the board as appended to high-school diplomas and teachers' certificates, representing a genius in female form, leading a child up the hill of knowledge, and pointing to the star of hope overhead, with the motto "Sic itw ad astra."

It was designed by President Duffield, but a member of the committee who raised an objection on the subject submitted another design in opposition.

It was also a female figure, also with a child, disposed in proper position across her lap, while from on high the avenging rod descended, and the motto was, "so shall he see stars."

From the commencement it was thought best to put each separate school under charge of a male teacher.

Women were employed as assistants, or in the primary departments, but the idea (which still prevails in England and on the continent) was that women might teach but could not govern.

The first board commenced their work with six schools, all under charge of males; and, down to 1860, all our schools, except a few detached primaries, remained under such charge.

The larger ones, the old Capitol. 8th ward, Barstow and Bishop, had males for senior and junior principals: those of the second class, such as the Lafontaine street, and the "Old Branch," the Miami avenue, and the colored school, had each a male principal, while the smaller detached primaries were placed in convenient groups, under the supervision of a neighboring union school principal, who visited them once a week, or oftener, to look after their condition and to attend to the governing.

The pioneer in the cause of the employment of women as a governor was a medium-sized, slightly built girl of 17 or 18 years, an assistant in the senior department of the Bishop Union School.

At this time we had a primary on First Street in the First ward, which, from the class of scholars attending it, and the neglect and incapacity of its teachers, had got into a very bad condition.

The neighbors had petitioned that the school might be closed as a nuisance.

It was admitted to be the worst in the city.

Having learned something of the remarkable governing qualities of the young lady referred to, we took her without a word of warning, from her pleasant assistant's part, and sent her to this school.

In one term it became the best primary in the city, and the neighbors, who had petitioned for its removal as a nuisance, now pestered Inspectors because their children could not get in.

But the Junior Department of another school had by this time got into bad order.

The 50 large, rough boys who attended it, had got into the way of running the machine to suit themselves.

We had sent there two male teachers in succession, and each proved unable to manage them.

Against the counsels of the majority of the Board, who threw all the responsibility of the step upon them, the Committee on Teachers, much doubting themselves, resolved upon the unheard-of innovation of trying a female Principal for this large Junior Department of 115 scholars, and the young girl from the First ward was sent there.

The scholars received her, at first with ridicule, afterwards with amazement, finally and lastingly with complete obedience, and that prompt, eager attention to her every word, which implies affectionate regard.

The school which the rawhide, wielded by the vigorous hand of a male, had failed to subdue was ruled with ease by the tap of a bell in the hands of a slight girl.

Yet she was no moral suasionist; she had a will of iron, and-when it was disputed, the rod would come, and come smartly too.

But she was a born governor, a steam-engine in petticoats.

There is no telling where she would have stopped, had she remained with us.

She might have been Principal of the High School, President of the Board, or Mayor of the city.

There was nothing that that little woman wanted to do, that she couldn't do.

This experiment, which we then tried so timidly, has now become such a recognized suc cess as to be looked upon as a matter of course.

For we have now large schools, of many departments, and hundreds of scholars, which are like fine pieces of machinery, and are governed with ease by women who have the faculty of organization and the talent of command in a high degree, united to their sex's delicate perception and quick comprehension of character.

Women like these are able, if need be, to organize and command regiments or govern states.

I would that the talkers who "rave, recite, and madden round the land," scolding because they say they are unappreciated, and cannot find fitting labors, could look at these "doers," whose well regulated minds and well balanced tempers find their proper fields in the school room, the home, the church, the Sunday school, and among the poor as angels of mercy; without whose assistance our great American public school system would inevitably break down; whose repressive control is greater than that of the policeman or the magistrate; whose influence for good is equal to that of the clergyman; whose power and precept and example is not confined to the school-room or the school hours, but goes home with the scholar and lightens and gladdens many a household.

Is woman's field limited or her energies cramped, when whole generations grow up and take shape and form, and are molded under her despotic but gentle rule?

Who can tell how many an adult has been softened, improved, and bettered at home by the school children's evening hour, to me one of the pleasantest of home sights - when the scholars gather with their books around the evening lamp, preparing their lessons for the morrow; when in the brief audible hour of study the pleased parents listen, and sometimes assist and puzzle over the physical features of Siberia, the course of the Amoor, or whether the active participle when predicated constitutes with the coupla the progressive form of the verb, or whether eighteen lazy men can do as much work in one day as one active man can do in eighteen days.

Compare such a winter's evening with the picture of the old Roman's winter fireside, as painted by Macanlay:

"When in the nights of winter, when the cold north winds blow.'

And the long howling of the wolves is heard amidst the snow;

When round the lonely cottage roars loud the tempest's din.

And the good boys of Algedus roar louder yet within;

When the oldest cask is opened, and the largest lamp is lit;

When the chestnut glows in the embers, and the kid turns on the spit;

When the good man mends his armor, and trims his helmet's plume:

When the good wife's shuttle merrily goes flashing through the loom;

When old and young in circle around the fire-brands close,

And the girls are weaving baskets and the boys are sharpening bows."

The progress of the Detroit public schools may be traced in the architecture of their school buildings.

The old Fort Street building in the Fourth ward was a specimen of the primitive order of architecture, and was standing at the time of the organization of the Board.

I remember it well, when it stood by itself away out on the "commons," remote from any other building, and, in time of spring thaws, nearly surrounded by water, on which we boys used to disport ourselves with temporary rafts.

The Abbott street building, still occupied, in the First ward, marked another step in our progress.

It was erected in 1846, under the supervision of Hon. Henry Ledyard, as chairman of the building committee; cost, $1,233; was the first substantial building owned by the Board, and was regarded by its builders with pride and complacency.

At this date all the school property of the Board was insured for $2,200.

The old "Barstow," when as yet it was wingless, marked yet another period, and divided with its rival, the "Capitol Union," the attention and pride of our citizens; and when they put wings and a portico to the Barstow, and yet more, when they proudly reared the Eighth ward building, then, peerless amongst its fellows, and enjoying the unrivaled dignity of being heated by a furnace, the Board thought they had reached the summit of perfection as school builders, and with honest exultation they had its likeness engraved and appended to their annual report.

And now we, like our predecessors, think we have earned the thanks and admiration of posterity with our "Bishop," and "Cass," and "Duffield," and "Ninth Ward," and new "Barstow" and "Washington" schools; and that future inspectors can but repeat and copy our achievements, while they admire our skill and enterprise.

Perhaps, thirty years hence, some Board of Education of the Imperial City of the Straits, as they plan new school houses on the banks of the Rouge, or Connor's Creek, may look upon these edifices of ours with the same pitying complacency with which we regard the old "Abbott Street" of 1844, and wonder if those old fogies of '71 couldn't do any better than that.

We have thus traced the history of the Detroit public schools from their modest beginning in 1842, through many struggles and embarrassments, amidst frequent and strong opposition, but always steadily advancing in their path of progress, until a period so recent as to be within the knowledge of all who have any interest in the subject.

It is interesting to contrast the six primary and middle schools of the first period, in old buildings, rented at an average of $40 a year each, with their twelve teachers, all told, whose salaries amounted in all to $3,456, with our present establishment, numbering 156 teachers, whose salaries amount to $70,000, and who give instruction in 23 spacious and convenient buildings, costing, with their lots, $433,000.

It would, perhaps, be equally instructive could we compare the qualifications of our present teachers and the quality of their instruction with their predecessors of 30 years since.

But it is a prouder reflection to think of the thousands of children who these schools have trained up into honest, intelligent, and valuable members of society, and who now, actively participating in our home government, and loving the system which has made them what they are, have placed it upon a firm and enduring foundation, and constantly give it a zealous and effectionate support.

The public schools of Detroit, which painfully struggled into existence and hardly attracted notice in 1841, are, in 1871, the bright jewels of our city, of which every public-spirited citizen speaks with pride, which he fears not to compare with those of any city in the land, and which, while they are studied, praised, and imitated by our sister cities, have commanded the admiration of thoughtful and intelligent visitors from beyond the sea.

Their value to the community and the result of their good work cannot be computed in money.

Their cost, however, can be determined, and those few of our citizens who object to this may be surprised to know that the total cost of our school buildings is about one-eighth of one per cent on the assessed valuation of the city of which they are the ornament and pride.

Viewed in this light alone, and compared with other objects of taxation how insignificant does this sum appear!

About two miles below our city, on the banks of the beautiful river which gives us our name, formidable with fosse, and escarpment, and ravelin, and bastion, and all the resources of military engineering, stands a fort which never has been and never can be of the slightest use, and which requires for its garrison and its preservation from decay a large annual expenditure.

Standing on its eastern bastion not long since, I compared the benefit and usefulness of this work, costing over $700,000, with the incalculable benefit of the buildings, costing little more than half as much, scattered in my view throughout the stately city which stretched in beauty on the bend of the river above, and whose bells, summoning thousands of children to their studies, were faintly sounding in my ears, and the words of the poet recurred to my memory:

"Were half the power which fills the world with terror.

Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,

Driven to redeem the human mind from error,

There were no need of arsenals or forts!"