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strongly urged thereby to appoint a superintendent of the State of Illinois." 26
The legislature, however, passed no law creating the superintendent of common schools. But the Peoria convention of 1844 took up the question again with the result that the Secretary of State was made ex-officio state superintendent of common schools.
A whole reorganization of the school system was demanded from the legislature by the Peoria meeting. Discussions and reports were made on the subjects of a board of education; a board of county superintendents; district trustees; school districts; town superintendents; the school fund; gradation, and taxation.
On the last point, the memorialists argued at great length to overcome the hostility of the legislature and the people they represented, to taxation. Even if schools should be supported by taxation, the State was deeply in debt and times were hard because the effects of the panic of 1837 had not passed. But the objection to a tax for the education of other people's children was natural. The following paragraphs illustrated the attitude of the Peoria convention:
"We come now to consider finally, the one great requisite of the proposed plan-taxation. Each of the other parts is considered essential, yet they are but the machinery to work this result. We come out frankly and boldly, and acknowledge the whole system, every effort is intended only as a means of allurement to draw the people into the grasp of this most awful monster-a school tax."
"But start not back in alarm. After all he may not be so terrible as some have perhaps imagined. Used with skill and judgment, and no other power can accomplish what he will; no other can work such changes in your common schools, and it is in vain that we attempt to dispense with his services. All experience throughout the Union is in favor of his employment. We do not, however, propose coercing any to employ him, who prefer to let him alone. All we ask is to give those permission to use him who are so inclined; and others when they witness his subordination, and power to
State Supt. Rep., 1885-6, p. 136.
work for the cause of education, will doubtless desire themselves to try his services"
'Our position is that taxation for the support of schools is wise and just, that it is in fact the only method by which the deficiency for defraying the expenses of popular education beyond that supplied by the public funds can be equalized amongst those who should pay it."
The schools of the State, by the law of 1845, were permitted to receive a tax for their support provided it was levied by a vote of two-thirds majority in any district. The amount of tax, however, that could be levied in any way was not to exceed fifteen cents on the one hundred dollars.
Four agencies by which the common school was aided in its development, and in its establishment as a free public institution have been discussed. (1) Prominent educational leaders were: most of the governors, who were nobly assisted by the untiring labors of Peck; the Illinois College men; such editors as Judge Hall, John S. Wright, Charles E. Hovey; the missionary circuit riders and resident ministers; state superintendents; legislators; state agents; and a few nationally prominent men of other states in the persons of Jefferson, Clinton, Mann and Barnard. (2) Many of the newspapers of the State, the Illinois Monthly Magazine, the Common School Advocate, the Prairie Farmer, and the Illinois Teacher were the literary means devoted to the interests of the common schools. (3) Institutions that increased the general intelligence of the people and created a desire for better educational opportunities were, the Ladies' Aid Association for the Education of Females; workingmen's organizations, public libraries, Sunday schools and academies. (4) Enthusiasm, harmony, and cooperation among the friends of the common school in the cause of general enlightenment, were developed by educational conventions. An ex-officio state superintendent of common schools was created in the person of the Secretary of State upon the recommendation of the Peoria Convention. But the legislature only conceded the right to levy taxes for the support of schools when a two-thirds majority of the people of any district so decided. The next chapter shall show how the common schools were made free, and shall indicate what the attitude was toward them.
The Free School Law of 1855.
The friends of education were not satisfied with halfway measures. If districts were allowed to decide whether a tax should be voted for the support of schools, there would be few free schools. As a result, agitation was continued by educational associations for the appointment of a state superintendent of common schools, separate from the Secretary of State, and a compulsory ad valorem property tax. Accordingly, the Chicago school convention in 1846, resolved, among other things, to make a survey of the State in order to determine the qualifications of teachers in the service of common schools, the condition of schoolhouses, what amount of money was raised in each district for the support of schools, what was the attitude of the people toward general property tax, and what sum was paid for tuition by subscription.1
The Springfield Teachers' Association in the same year took a little different course. They resolved "that a committee of five be appointed to report to the convention a plan for the organization of a State Education Society." That society was immediately organized, and began to create auxiliaries in the counties of the State for the purpose of aiding common schools.
The discussions by members of all the conventions, since the first in 1833, had finally awakened the public to the need of a more adequate school system. The people had seen the necessity for the revision of the state constitution and had assembled in a constitutional convention in Springfield in 1847. The fundamental law of the State ought to recognize the allimportant subject of a system of education. Accordingly, the convention appointed a large representative committee
1 Prairie Farmer, v. 6, p. 351.
Ibid., v. 7, p. 73.
to consider the subject. To them, petitions were pouring in, chiefly from the newer counties of the North and West, settled by Easterners. Represented in the list, were Livingston, Madison, Cass, DuPage, DeKalb, McLean, Knox, Fulton, Peoria, Mason, Brown, Winnebago, Carroll, Crawford, Rock Island, Marshall, Whiteside, Stephenson, Pike, McHenry, St. Clair, and Sangamon counties.
It was but natural, therefore, that a resolution was intro+duced in the constitutional convention for the creation of a state superintendent of common schools: "Believing that important measures are necessary to advance the cause of education, the basis of our republican form of government, and to elevate the moral standard of common schools, the only source from which most of our youth derive their education; therefore. Resolved, That an article be ingrafted into our state constitution creating the office of state superintendent of common schools, who shall be elected by the people and hold his office for the term of four years, and until his successor is elected and qualified, and receive the salary of $ whose duty it shall be to have the general superintendence of common schools in this state, and report the conditions of the same in a manner and as often as may be required by law."'
Next, a resolution was passed by the convention which provided for the support of schools by taxation and a superintendent to make the system effective: "Resolved, That the committee on education be instructed to consider and report as to the propriety of a constitutional provision for the security of the college, seminary, and common school funds from conversion or destruction by the legislature. Also, for the establishment of a system of common schools as well, by taxation combined with state funds, afford the means of education to every child in the state, and the appointment of a state superintendent, with an adequate salary, to give effect to such system."
Whereupon, the educational committee of the constitutional convention introduced a bill, which passed the first reading, and which should become a part of the organic law of the State. By this, the legislature should create a free, uni
3 Jr. Const. Conv.. p. 31.
4 Ibid., p. 78.
versal system of common schools, at the head of which should be a state superintendent, appointed by the governor for a term of two years.
"Sec. 3. It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to provide for a system of common schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as may be throughout the State, and such common schools shall be equally free to all the children in the State, and no sectarian instruction shall be permitted in any of them."' 5
"Sec. 4. The superintendency of public instruction in this State shall be vested in an officer to be styled 'the superintendent of common schools,' and such county and local superintendents as may be established by law."
"Sec. 5. At the first session of the General Assembly after the adoption of this constitution and biennially thereafter, it shall be the duty of the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate (a majority of all members elected thereto concurring therein), to appoint a superintendent of common schools, who shall hold his office for the term of two years and shall perform such duties and receive such salary as the General Assembly shall prescribe." "
After so much discussion in the constitutional convention of the establishment of a free school system with its proper officers, the constitution of 1847 is singularly silent on educational provisions.
Nevertheless, the common school leaders in the State kept right on trying "to erect upon a permanent basis a plain, practical system of Free Common Schools. The great fundamental principle of this action should be, that our schools be free to every child (native or adopted) in Illinois, free as the genial showers and sunshine of heaven.""
The State Educational Society authorized the publication of a magazine, the Illinois Teacher, devoted to the cause of common schools and resolved, "That the property of the State should be taxed to educate the children of the State."8
The same attitude toward taxation was shown by some of the educational associations of the northern and western
5 Jr. Const. Conv., p. 352.
Jr. Const. Conv., p. 352.
'State Supt. Rep., 1885-86. p. 166.
Prairie Farmer, v. 8, p. 81.