town the choice of complying with the law and receiving its benefits
and bearing its btirdens, or of refusing such compliance. Under these
provisions many towns had refused compliance with the act, to the
i^reat detriment of the system. The superintendent suggested that it be
made obligatory upon the towns to comply with ^ the act, and also on
the Boards of Supervisors to levy on the respective towns a sum equal
to the sum "which shall be apportioned to such towns out of the public
money to be distributed. " These suggestions were promptly carried
out by amendments to the act.
The founding of this school system was an educational jnovement of
the greatest importance and its benefits became at once a]3parent. In
his second report (1815) Mr. Hawley said:
But the great benefit of the act does not lie in any pecuniary aid which it may
afford. . . It consists in securing the establishment of common schools wherever
they are necessary ; in organizing them on a suitable and permanent foundation;
and in guarding them against the admission of unqualified teachers.
In the mean time, in 1813, the Albany Academy was incorporated, as
described further on; and was succeeded later by those at Rensselaer-
ville, Knoxville, and Coeymans. (See town histories).
In his sixth annual report the superintendent renewed his recom-
mendation before made, for a revision and consolidation of the existing
school laws. On the 19th of April, 1819, accordingly, the Legislature
re-enacted the "act for the support of Common Schools," making the
various amendments suggested by Mr. Hawley. To him is given the
honor and credit of having done more than any one person in the
founding of the common school system in this State. John Van Ness
Yates was secretary of state and superintendent ^.r officio of common
schools from 1821 to 1836, the separate office of superintendent of
schools having been abolished by the Constitution of 1821. The Con-
stitution, provided, also, "the proceeds of all lands thereafter to be
sold, belonging to the State, with the exception of such as might be re-
served for the public use or ceded to the United States, together with
the existing school fund, were declared to constitute a perpetual fund,
the interest of which should be inviolably appropriated and applied t,874, in forty-two of the fifty-nine counties of the State; In the re-
maining- seventeen counties the majority against repeal was 71,912,
leaving a majority of 25,088 against, repeal. Thus the beneficent free
school system was permanently, established. The majority in favor of
repeal in Albany county was 0,798.
The number of districts in the State reported in 1850 was 11,397, and
the number of children taught was 735,188. The number of districts
in 1895 was 11,121.
In 1856 the provision of the law of 1851 appropriating annually
$800,000 was repealed and a tax of three-quarters of a mill on the
dollar of real and personal property substituted for payment of teach-
ers' wages, and the rate bill was continued; the school commissioners
to be elected by the Boards of Supervisors.
A law was passed in 1853 providing for union free schools, authoriz-
ing the inhabitants of two or more districts to elect trustees and levy a ,
tax on the property in the united districts for the payment of teachers'
wages and other expenses.
The general school law was revised in 1861, and in 1867 the rate bill
was abolished and a tax of one and a quarter mills on the dollar of val-
In 1860 Albany county had 169 district.s. At the present time (1896)
the number is 151. Most of these are supplied with comfortable school
houses, some of which are commodious and modern in style. The
town histories on later pages of this volume contain such reference to
the local schools as has been found available.
The first attempt to establish an educational institution of a general
character in Albany was made in 1767-8, when Eleazer Wheelock came
from Lebanon, Conn., where he had taught 'an Indian school, and en-
deavored to establish one here. The Common Council took an inter-
est in the undertaking and voted to raise $7,500 for the ei-ection of
the necessary buildings. For some unknown reason the project failed.
During 1779 an attempt was made to incorporate Clinton College at
Schenectady. The proposed list of incorporators included the names
of the following citizens of Albany: Eilardus Westerlo, Philip Schuy-
ler, Robert R. Livingston, Abraham Ten Broeck, Abraham Yates,
jr., Robert Yates, John Cuyler and Robert Van Rensselaer. Thi.