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perished in the prison ships in New York harbor dur-
ing the war of the revolution*, $25,000.

For the care of Stony Point reservation, $3,000.

Fort George reservation. — Within the year the
State acquired a title to the lands which include
the old battle-field of Lake George (1755) and Fort
George, which is still in a fair state of preservation.
This fort was built by Sir William Johnson in 1757,
and was for many years an out-post for protection
against I'rench invasion.

The forest^ fish and game law. — A comprehen-
sive law for the preservation of our remaining forests,
and fish and game was passed at this session. The act
repeals most of the previous laws on these subjects,

*The monument is to be erected in Brooklyn, and
the chief expense is to be borne by New York city.

486 The Palisades [Period XI

and is a serious effort to save from destruction those
forests of the State which still border our rivers and
clothe our mountains.

The Palisades. — Just complaint has long been
made against the constant encroachment upon the
Palisades of the Hudson. The legislature of 1900
passed a law which creates a commission having
power to locate a " Palisades interstate park ", and
gives to this commission authority to purchase or con-
demn the necessary lands for the purpose of such park.

Compulsory education for Indian children. —

For many years philanthropists have felt that some-
thing should be done for the improvement of the In-
dians on the Allegany and Cattaraugus reservation.
It was reserved for the legislature of 1900 to pass a
stringent compulsory education law for the children
of these reservations.

It requires that every Indian child between the ages
of six and sixteen shall be a regular attendant upon
school during a considerable portion of the year. In
this way it is intended ultimately to prepare them for
full citizenship.

Colored children in public schools. — In 1894 a
law was passed which permitted the school authorities
of any incorporated city or village to establish separate
schools for colored children. This act was repealed
in 1900 and the following enacted in its place: " ISTo
person shall be refused admission into or be excluded
from any public school in the State of New York on
account of race or color."

The canal enlarj^enient. — The question of enlarge-

1900] Great Enterprises 487

ment or ultimate abandonment of the State's remaining
canals is still pressed for settlement. The opposition
to enlarging and improving them comes from the same
quarter as did the opposition to their original con-
struction and the arguments are the same — with the
addition of the active cooperation of the railroad in-
terests against the enlargement.

The legislature went no further than to authorize
the State engineer and surveyor to make the necessary
surveys and estimates for a canal of such dimensions
as shall carry and lock boats 150 feet in length, 25 feet
in width, and of 10 feet draft. For expense of such
surveys 1200,000 was appropriated*.


The new Brooklyn bridge. — This structure, now
under way, will be if not the handsomest, at least the
largest and staunchest of the notable suspension
bridges of the world.

Its dimensions are to be as follows: Total length
7,200 feet; suspended span 1,600 feet; extreme width
118 feet; height of the towers 310 feet.

New York rapid transit.— On March 24, 1900,
the first spadeful of earth was removed for ^ew
York's great underground railway. This, when com-
pleted, will exceed in magnitude anything of the kind
ever before undertaken. It is to be of four tracks, in
two stories, two above and two below, will be 13| miles
in total length, is to be completed in three years and
will cost 35 millions. "

* It is estimated that more than 160,000,000 would
be required to build such a canal.

488 Nomination OF Gov. Roosevelt [Period XI

The Hudson tunnel.— This great enterprise, un-
dertaken in 1873, has been long delayed. After 4,077
feet of it had been completed work stopped and the
entire property was sold for 1300,000, with a debt
against it of $4,000,000. The company which now
owns the franchise expects to complete it within one

The total distance from Jersey City to the ^ew
York terminus at Fifteenth street is 5,690 feet. The
tunnel is for the use of a double-tracked electric road
— designed to carry both freight and passengers.

New York and the vice-presidency.— At the
republican national convention held in Philadelphia,
June 19-21, in spite of his very frankly expressed
wishes to the contrary. Governor Roosevelt was unani-
mously nominated for the office of vice-president.


1. Republican predominance at Albany.

2. Legislation of 1899.

3. Taxation of franchises.

4. Legislation of 1900.

5. Appropriations for 1900.

6. The Fort George reservation.

7. The palisades.

8. Education of Indian children.

9. Colored children admitted to all public schools,

10. Enlargement of the Erie canal.

11. Great enterprises under way.

12. Gov. Roosevelt nominated for vice-president.

Education ij^^ New York

Under the Dutch. — The history of the schools of
New York begins with the settlement of the State by
the Dutch, who in their own country appreciated the
importance of popular education.

Says Brodhead: " Neither the perils of war, nor the
busy pursuit of gain, nor the excitement of political
strife, ever caused them to neglect the education of
their children." As early as 1629, the Dutch West
India company, in its charter enacted that the patroons
and colonists should " in the speediest way possible find
ways and means whereby they might supply a minister
and a schoolmaster."

With the Dutch, schools were free. They had no
other idea of a school. But they were economical,
and until the year 1633 the offices of minister and
teacher were often united.

By the end of Stuyvesant's administration there
were in New Amsterdam three public schools, a dozen
or more private schools, and one Latin school. The
first schoolmaster of whom we have any knowledge
was Adam Roelandsen, who taught from 1633 to 1639.
He was succeeded by Jan Cornelissen, and he in turn
by William Vestius *.

Of what was taught in those early Dutch schools
we know little, but we find that the schoolmaster often

* A school was established in Brooklyn in 1661, in
Flatbush in 1659, and in Albany in 1650.


490 Education under the Dutch

conibi]ied teachinj^ witli some odd, outside occupation,
and that he took in payment wliatever liis ])atronfi
could si)are. Uoelandsen, for example, did wasliin.*;- to
eke out his sahiry, as we lind that he brought action
against one De Voocdit for "washing his linen ". De
Voo(dit did not refuse to pay, hut insisted that pay-
ment should not l)e made till the end of the year, and
tlie court sustained him, holding the schoolmaster to the
year's washing. We also know that lioelandsen was a
carpenter, for he contracted to build a house "thirty
feet long, eighteen feet wide and eight feet high ",
whicli house was to have an "entry three feet wide,
two doors, a pantry, a bedstead*, a staircase and a
mantel-piece " ; for all of which he was to receive $IM).

After the Eiiji^lisli coiiqiiest, the Dutch were al-
lowed to continue their schools, but received for their
sui)port no municipal aid. (Jovernor Micolls did very
little to increase their iium])er, as it was suflftcient for
him, he argued, to see that ministers were sup])orted.

There was some excuse for this in the fact that the
Dutch language was used entirely in business. An
English teacher could not be jdaced in the Dutcdi
schools. The English knew nothing of free schools
and did not care to })eri)etuate the Dutch language in
the colony.

Governor T^icolls did, however, in l(ir»r>, license one
John Shute to open an English school; and in 1687 a
free grammar school was also licensed, but there is
no evidence that it was o])oned until KO-t when, under
Governor Cornbury, it was taught hy George Muirson.

* Bedsteads were often let into the wall of the house.


I'ndkk THi: Kn(;i,isu


(u)von\i>r (\>i'nbiirv was active in tho csln'olishnuMit
of both e'luirrhos aiul sohools, chiotly, it is supposed,
for tlie ineuleati(>u (>f \\\v doetrines t>f the ehureli of

In ITU), the ''Soeiety f(>r the rro[)a^u:ition (>f [\\v
(Jospel " estahlislied Trinity sehot)l in New York, aiul
here forty pupils were taught free. Tlie stanihinl
studies were then reading, writing, arithtnetie, and {\\v
cateehisni of tlu^ English eluireh.

(Umiii of Coliiiiibia uuivcrsit}. An a^ t was
passiul in 1 7 ")'M o " encourage a public sclu>i>l in Nimv
York city'' for teaching Latin, (ireek, anil matho-
niatics; this was the germ of Colnnibia university.

The idea of taxing tlu' ptM)pU> f(>r the suppi>rt of
schools was new to the Knglish. To tluMu it setMued
proper to rais(> money for forts and guns and tlu^ pay-
ment of soldiers, but not fi>r educational pur[)oses.
In 174(> a lottery was established to raise .i'v,*-350
'' for the eiu'onragenumt of
"^ learning aiul the founding

of a college ". Later, this
sum was increased to CM, 44)5,
;ind trustees wore appointed
to conduct the atTairsof tho
proi)osed colh>ge. The Ivev.
Samuel Johnson was elected
its first president * at rt sal-
ary of £'2tA), ami the royal
I'harter establishing King's
(Columbia) college bears date Oct. 31, 1754.

* The pic^tnre on page 19'3 is of the son of Samuel
tlohnson. lie was the first president of Columbia

Sami'KI, Johnson, I()5K)-177-J

492 Regents of the U:n'iversity

Regents of the University. — One of the first
cares of the colonial legislature after the close of the
revolution was the promotion of popular education.
In May, 1784, King's college was re-chartered as
Columbia college, and its management placed in the
hands of a board called " regents of the University".
This board was authorized to found schools and colleges
in any part of the State.

In 1787 the college was placed under a board of trus-
tees and the title of the old board was changed to " The
regents of the University of the State of New York".
It was authorized " to hold property to the amount of
the annual income of 40,000 bushels of wheat", to
incorporate academies and colleges, and to confer de-
grees. The first four chancellors were all governors —
George Clinton, Jay, Lewis, and Tompkins — and the
board has always included some of the most eminent
citizens of the State. To this board of regents the
State owes a great debt for the inception and guardian-
ship of what is best in her school system.

Public schools. — In their annual report for 1793,
the regents recommended the establishment of a sys-
tem of public schools, and in 1795 in his message to
the legislature. Governor Clinton urged the establish-
ment of common schools throughout the State. In
response to this appeal of the governor, the legislature
on April 9 passed a law entitled, " An act for the pur-
pose of encouraging and maintaining schools in the
several cities and towns of the State in which the

college under that name, but the third president of
what was at first called King's college.

Public Schools 493

children of the inhabitants of the State shall be in-
structed in the English language, or be taught Eng-
lish grammar, arithmetic, mathematics, and such other
branches as are most useful and necessary to complete
a good English education." The sum of $50,000 a
year for five years was appropriated for the support of
such schools.

Here was the foundation of Xew York's system of
public schools, conceived by the board of regents,
recommended by Xew York's first governor, and
founded by the legislature of the State*.

The carefully worded act of appropriation, the
smallness of the sum granted, and its limitation to
five years all show that this was considered an experi-

The free school society of Xew York city was
organized in 1805. It grew out of the " historical
society ". The first meeting was held at the house of
John Murray, jr., in Pearl street.

The membership fee was fixed at eight dollars, and
the subscription list, still preserved, is headed by the
name of DeWitt Clinton with $200.

A permanent foundation. — ^^ot until the year
1812, did the legislature make permanent provision for
a system of schools. Acts had been passed establish-
ing more lotteries, and various schools and colleges
had been founded by their aid; but in this year a law
was passed appropriating $50,000 annually thereafter,
and authorizing each town to levy a tax equal to its
share in this appropriation.

* The reports for the year 1798 show 1,352 schools
in operation with an attendance of 59,660 pupils.

494 The School Fund

In 1814 it was found necessary to direct that each
town should raise this amount under penalty of for-
feiture of its share in the State appropriation. As
Xew York city did not share in the benefits of the
general act of 1812, a supplementary act was passed
in 1813, admitting the city to the benefits of the com-
mon school fund.

The school fund. — How are schools supported ?
As the school system developed, three separate per-
manent funds were established, the incomes from
which are still devoted to the support of the public
schools of the State; and these have, in later years,
been supplemented by a State tax and by local taxation
in any district.

1. The literature fund came originally from the pro-
ceeds of the various lotteries established by legislative
enactment in 1801, and has been increased from differ-
ent sources since that time, chiefly by appropriations
made by the legislature. This was managed by the
regents until 1832, when it was transferred to the
care of the State comptroller *.

2. The common school fund originated in 1805, when
the legislature, at the suggestion of Governor Lewis,
ordered that the proceeds from the sales of 500,000
acres of vacant lands should be set aside as a per-
manent school fund.

3. The United States deposit fund has already been ex-
plained on page 393.

The battle for free schools. — All this had been

* Judge Peck of Otsego county may be called the
author of the literature fund.

The Schools made Free 495

done by the State, and yet the schools were not free.
Two customs prevailed. One was to hire a " cheap "
teacher and pay only what the district received from
the State, in what is called " public money " ; this pro-
vided a free school, but usually a poor one. The other
plan was to use all the public money received, and
make up the deficiency by what was called a " rate
bill "; in other words, require each parent to pay an
amount in proportion to the number of children he
sent to school.

This did not make a free school, and it kept out of
school the children of both the poor and of the penu-

In 1849 the legislature passed a law abolishing the
rate bill; but such an opposition developed that this
law was repealed by the very next legislature (1850),
and in place of the free school bill, there was sub-
stituted an appropriation of $800,000. The next year
this was changed, and the proceeds of a tax of three-
fourths of a mill was substituted. But the people of
New York were determined to have free schools, and
in 1867 the odious rate bill was finally and forever

School supervision. — Gideon Hawley, an excellent
organizer, was elected superintendent in 1814, and
served until 1821, at a salary of 1300. His salary
was in no way proportionate to his services, but the
officious " council of appointment " wanted even that
position and removed him to make a place for one of
their dependents. The legislature was helpless, so far
as Mr. Hawley was concerned, but at the end of sixty
days it abolished the office and turned the schools over

496 Systems of School Supervisio:n'

to the secretary of state, in whose care they remained
33 years. Among men who filled this double office
with especial acceptance may be named John A. Dix
(1833-39, see page 448), afterward governor, whose
"decisions" (1837) made what was practically the
first Code of Public Instruction.

In 1854 the office of State superintendent was
again established, and has since been maintained.

Among the many improvements introduced may be
mentioned the establishment of normal schools and
teachers' training classes, a system of grading and a
course of study for common schools, and especially
the system of uniform examinations.

The law of 1822 gave the right of appeal to the
State superintendent in all questions arising under the
school laws. This, one of the wisest of all our State
laws, has since that date practically kept school mat-
ters out of courts of justice, and provided a speedy
and equitable adjustment of all differences.

Town commissioners. — By the law of 1795, each
town was to elect three or more commissioners, whose
duty it was to take general charge of the schools,
license teachers, and apportion school funds to the
several districts. By the law of 1812, each town was
required to elect three commissioners of common
schools, whose duty it was to organize the town into
districts and supervise as before, and also to elect one
or more inspectors who licensed teachers and inspected

The law of 1841 created the office of county superin-
tendent. A law of 1843 abolished the offices of town

Present Features of School System 499

commissioners and town inspectors, and created the
office of town superintendent.

In 1847 the office of county superintendent was
abolished, and district reports were made to the
county clerks.

In 1856 the office of town superintendent was
abolished and that of school commissioner was created.
This still continues.

These changes have been experimental. The depart-
ment of superintendence is now simple but effective,
there being but three divisions: the trustee, or board
of education; the school commissioner; and the State
department of public instruction, with a State superin-
tendent at its head.

Normal schools. — Xew York was the second State
to make provision for the systematic training of teach-
ers, by founding at Albany in 1844 the State normal
school (now the Normal college). Eleven more schools
have since been created.

Training classes for teachers. — In order to in-
crease still further the efficiency of the public school,
a system of "teachers training classes" was estab-
lished. In these some of the advantages of profes-
sional training are placed within the reach of every
teacher. The requirements for admission have been
steadily raised and their efficiency increased.

There were, in 1898, 11,738 school districts in the
State in which one or more teachers were employed.
There were, in the same year, under the supervision of
the regents, 797 high schools, academies, colleges,
and universities. In the public schools of the State


1,203,199 pupils were taught by 34,363 teachers. In
the year 1897, the State expended for the education of
its children $26,689,856.


1. The Dutch and education.

2. Growth of schools under the Dutch.

3. The first schoolmasters and their pay.

4. Schools after English occupancy.

5. The first English schoolmaster, 1704.

6. Trniity church and school, 1710*.

7. The first " school-law ", 1732.

8. Lotteries and schools, 1746.

9. King's college, 1754.

10. Schools after the revolution.

11. The board of regents, 1787.

12. Governor Clinton and common schools, 1795.

13. Foundation of public schools; the board of re-
gents; Governor Clinton; the legislature.

14. The free school society of 1805.

15. The permanent foundation, 1812 and 1814.

16. School funds; the three sources.

17. Battle for free schools, 1849-1867.

18. School supervison, 1814-1854.

19. Gideon Hawley.

20. Progress in supervision.

21. Town and county supervision.

22. Normal schools; the first; present numbers.

23. Eegents of University; organization of.

24. Number of institutions and pupils, and expense
of schools.

Four Colok^ial Families

Four families. — The early history of ^ew York
was greatly influenced by four families, prominent
not only in early colonial times but through the
revolution and the struggles of the commonwealth in
the succeeding period.

Often rivals, they were all steadfastly loyal to their
State and nation, and by their ability, their wealth,
and their high social position were able to render most
important service.

These were the Schuylers, the Van Rensselaers, the
Livingstons, and the Clintons.

The Schuylers. — The first Schuyler who became
prominent was Colonel Peter Schuyler (page 132), the
son of Philip Pieterson Schuyler, a German immigrant
who settled on the estate of Patroon Van Rensselaer.
Pieterson Schuyler reared a remarkable family. His
wife was a daughter of a Van Sclechtenhorst. Their
eldest daughter, Gertrude, married a Van Cortlandt;
the second, Alida, a Livingston, and after his death
a Van Rensselaer. The eldest son was Peter Schuy-
ler, the first mayor of Albany, the Colonel Peter
Schuyler so influential with the Iroquois Indians.

The second son, Philip, settled in Albany and was
influential in all the affairs of that frontier town.

The youngest son, John, became a soldier, and at

502 The Van Eensselaeks

twenty-three was a captain in the American forces
during the French and Indian war. He was the
grandfather of General Philip Schuyler of revolution-
ary fame. (See pages 178, 264).

The Yan Rensselaers. — The founder of " Eensse-
laerwick " was Killian Van Rensselaer, a diamond mer-
chant of Amsterdam, and an influential director of the
Dutch West India company. He never visited this
country, but managed his vast estate through a com-
missary. He is described as an " educated, refined
gentleman ". See page 52.

On his death his sous removed to this country, his

eldest son, Jeremias, being

the first resident patroon.

: ' ', This patroon married a Van

Cortlandt, and the family


I", early became allied by mar-

riage with both the Schuylers

and the Livingstons. The

Van Rensselaers brought to

\ ^ New York all their posses-

jkkkmia. \an ia.N.M.LAKR ^ious, which were a perma-

^'-1674 nent addition to the wealth

of the colony. The early members of this family

built elegant residences and lived in true baronial style.

Jeremias Van Rensselaer was a member of the

"landtdag" of 1664. Later, he claimed the whole of

Albany as a part of his possessions. It was to him

that Governor Nicolls made the historic remark, " Do

not grasp at too much authority. If you imagine

that there is pleasure in authority, I wish that I could

The Livingstons 503

serve your appetite, for, in it, I have found only

As time wore on, the Van Eensselaers ceased to
maintain their baronial cus-
toms and identified them-
selves with all the interests
of the colony. In the French
and Indian war General Rob-
ert Van Rensselaer became
prominent. Stephen Van
Rensselaer was lieutenant-
governor in 1795, was a re-
stephen va7 Rensselaer gent of the University, and
1764-1839 in the war of 1812 did good

service at Niagara. In 1844, Stephen Van Rensselaer,
the last patroon, broke up the great estate.

The name, always conspicuous, is still an honored
one in the State.

The Livingstons of New York originated with
Robert Livingston (see page 116), who came from Scot-
land about 1675. His ability was recognized by Gov-
ernor Andros, who made him Indian commissioner at
Albany. He is described as a "bold, adventurous
man", and will be remembered, for his contest with
poor Jacob Leisler. He married a Van Rensselaer
and soon acquired an estate second only to that of
the patroon. Sixteen Livingstons were prominent
enough to be mentioned in a history of Xew York
city. Of his grandsons, Philip (see page 216) repre-
sented New York in the colonial house of assembly
1758-1769, and signed the Declaration of Independ-

504 The Clintons

ence. His is one of the five figures usually grouped
in the centre of the group of signers. Robert R.
Livingston (see page 260), another grandson, was a
member of the stamp act congress and of the revolu-
tionary correspondence committee, and first chancellor

Edward Livingston, 1764-1836 liROCKHOLST Livingston. 1757-1823

of the State. Edward, his brother, was a congress-
man and minister to France. A great grandson,
Brockholst Livingston, served at Ticonderoga and in
the campaign against Burgoyne, and was at his death a

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 34)