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same important results have followed the experiments here, which he describes to have taken place in England. It will convey to our citizens information respecting an institution which they have been instrumental in establishing, and of which many of them are members; and it may possibly serve to stimulate the charitable and humane, of other large cities, to similar undertakings.
The most satisfactory mode of accomplishing this task will, perhaps, be to present a series of reports and other documents, interspersed with such remarks as may be necessary to connect them with each other. Some of these papers will be found interesting only as they relate to the origin of a Society, which may rank among the most important and useful in our country.
Before entering on these, it may be proper to premise that a few philanthropic characters, in New-York, had long been solicitous to provide for the education and improvement of those poor children, who, not being members of any religious society, were not entitled to an admission into any of the various charity schools of our city. Accordingly, in the early part of the year 1805, a consultation took place on this subject, between two or three indivi. duals, which terminated in a conclusion to call a meeting of such persons as would be likely to promote the plan. At this meeting twelve , attended. The proposition was very favourably received ; and a committee was appointed to take it into further consideration, to devise such plans for accomplishing the object in view as they might deem expedient, and to report at a future meeting. In a few days the second meeting was convened to hear the report of the committee. It was here determined, agreeably to that report, to apply to the Legislature for a charter. A Memorial was accordingly prepared, and offered to the citizens generally for their signatures. In a short time the names of about an hundred of the most respectable characters were obtained. As this Memorial explains the object contemplated by the institution, it may with propriety be adduced.
To the Representatives of the people of the state of
New-York, in Senate and Assembly convened, The Memorial of the Subscribers, Citizens of New
“ THAT, impressed with a solicitude for the general welfare of the community, they feel it their duty to address your Body on a subject, which they regard as of deep concern.
"Your Memorialists have viewed with painful anxiety, the multiplied evils which have accrued, and are daily accruing to this city, from the neglected education of the children of the poor. They allude more particularly to that description of children, who do not belong to, or are not provided for, by any religious society; and who therefore do not partake of the advantages arising from the different charity schools, established by the various religious societies in this city. The condition of this class is deplorable indeed : reared up by parents who, from a variety of concurring circumstances, are become either indifferent to the best interests of their offspring, or through intemperate lives, are rendered unable to defray the expence of their instruction, these miserable and almost friendless objects are ushered upon the stage of life, inheriting those vices which idleness and the bad example of their pa: rents naturally produce. The consequence of this neglect of education, are ignorance and vice, and
all those manifold evils resulting from every species of immorality, by which public hospitals and almshouses are filled with objects of disease and poverty, and society burthened with taxes for their support. In addition to these melancholy facts, it is to be feared that the laboring class in the community is becoming less industrious, less moral, and less careful to lay up the fruit of their earnings ! What can this alarming declension have arisen from, but the existence of an error, which has ever been found to produce a similar effect—a want of a virtuous education, especially at that early period of life, when the impressions that are made, generally stamp the future character ?
“ The rich having ample means of educating their offspring, it must be apparent that the laboring poor, a class of citizens so evidently useful, have a superior claim to public support.
“The enlightened and excellent government under which we live, is favourable to the general diffusion of knowledge ; but the blessings of such a government can be expected to be enjoyed no longer than while its citizens continue virtuous, and while the majority of the people, through the advantage of a proper early education, possess sufficient knowledge to enable them to understand and pursue their best interests. This sentiment, which must meet with universal assent, was emphatically urged to his countrymen by WASHINGTON, and has been recently enforced by our present Chief Magistrate, in his address on the necessity of supporting schools, and promoting useful knowledge through the state.
“ Trusting that the necessity of providing suitable means for the prevention of the evils they have enumerated, will be apparent to your honourable Body, your Memorialists respectfully request the patronage and assistance of the Legislature in establishing a free school or schools in this city, for the benevolent purpose of affording education to those unfortunate children who have no other mode of obtaining it.
“ The personal attention to be bestowed on these children, for the improvement of their morals, and to assist their parents in procuring situations for them, where industry will be inculcated and good habits formed ; as well as to give them the learning requisite for the proper discharge of the duties of life, it is confidently hoped, will produce the most beneficial and lasting effects.
“The more effectually to accomplish so desirable an object, your Memorialists have agreed to form an association under the name of “ The Society for establishing a Free School in the City of NewYork.” They therefore respectfully solicit the Legislature to sanction their undertaking by an Act of incorporation, and to grant them such pecuniary aid or endowment as, in your wisdom, may be deemed proper for the promotion of the benevolent object of your Memorialists.
All which is respectfully submitted.” New-York, 25th, February 1805.
The importance of the subject contained in this Memorial was perfectly apparent to the Legislature; and the following act of incorporation was therefore, without any opposition, immediately granted. This act, as it defines the power of the Society, and, necessarily, contains many of its rules, will interest those who may desire any information respecting them.
An ACT to incorporate the Society instituted in the
City of New-York, for the Establishment of a Free School for the Education of poor Children, who do not belong to or are not provided for by any religious Society.
Passed April 9, 1805. WHEREAS De Witt Clinton and others, have associated themselves for the laudable purpose of establishing a free school in the city of NewYork, for the education of the children of persons in indigent circumstances, who do not belong to or are not provided for by any religious society : And whereas the said persons have presented a petition to the legislature, setting forth the benefits which would result to society from the education of such children, by implanting in their minds the principles of religion and morality, and by assisting their parents in providing suitable situations for them, where habits of industry and virtue may be acquired, and that it would enable them more effectually to accomplish the benevolent objects of their institution, if their association were incorporated : Therefore,
“ I. BE it enacted by the People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That De Witt Clinton, Samuel Osgood, Brockholst Livingston, John Murray, junior, Jacob Morton, Samuel Miller, Joseph Constant, Thomas Eddy, Thomas Pearsall, Robert Bowne, Matthew Clarkson, Archibald Gracie, John M'Vicker, Charles Wilkes, Henry Ten Brook, Gilbert Aspinwall
, Valentine Seaman, William Johnson, William Coit, Matthew Franklin, Adrian Hegeman, Benjamin G. Minturn, Leonard Bleecker, Thomas Franklin, Samuel Russell, Samuel Doughty, Alexander Robertson, Samuel Forbes, John Withington, William Edgar, George Turnbull, Daniel D. Tompkins, William Boyd, Jacob Mott, Benjamin Egbert,