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Religious Influence. In spite of the academic legislation provided by the state, little machinery existed for the administration, organization, and supervision of education outside of the church. In colonial days, a close relation existed between the church and the school, and that intimacy continued to about the middle of the nineteenth century. It was but natural that the minister should direct and supervise instruction because he was well educated, entirely qualified, and had sufficient leisure time. The aim of education, the subject matter, and teacher certification, all, had a religious tone.
The grammar school had grown up under the religious denominations in the colonies. But there came a time of religious revival, about 1740, in England and her colonies, when the established mode of worship was questioned. New denominations could only perpetuate their religious beliefs by establishing schools. Likewise, there was a revival in education so that new institutions were necessary, in education as well as in religion, to meet the new ideals, one expression of which was the academy. The connection of the church with the academy was somewhat different than its relation to the Latin grammar school. No longer was a religious test required of the teachers, no longer was religion the primary subject of study, but the churches still kept a large part of the control and organization of the academy in their hands. There was no other body yet developed that could assume the responsibility.
The Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists sent missionaries to Illinois who established schools as well as preached the gospel. One of the chief institutions established by the pioneer
preachers, with the exception of the Catholics,' was the academy, because the missionaries came to Illinois at the time of the academy period. Home organizations sent representatives to the new West to establish branches, convert the Indian and the pioneer, and to educate the children of the forest and of the newcomers. How conscientious and faithful those talented missionaries were, is evidenced by the individual schools that they established and maintained, frequently at their own expense. They paved the way for the later tides of emigration, the latter making it possible to maintain a local system of academic education. The frontier was not free from jealousies for the hospitable southerner hated the shrewdness of the Yankee. Religious disputes naturally arose between the former and the latter, traces of which are found in the struggle for and maintenance of the academies. Although the Yankee left his mark on those institutions, he forsook them for the common school. A closer survey of the religious educational influence, therefore, is relevant.
The French Jesuits exerted the earliest religious and educational influence in the territory that is now the state of Illinois. Rev. J. M. Peck had this to say of Kaskaskia under French rule: “In olden time, Kaskaskia was to Illinois what Paris is at this day to France. Both were, at their respective days, the great emporiums of fashion, gayety, and I must say, happiness also. In the year 1721, the Jesuits erected a monastery and college in Kaskaskia, and a few years after it was chartered by the French government.”2
Kaskaskia, in 1796, though mostly French in population, but under English control, had degenerated to such an extent that Austin Ville said the Jesuit college in that city was then in ruins, although the city and the college were very flourishing under the French government.”
However, the Catholics maintained, from time to time, in the French settlement of Kaskaskia, a convent for the education of young ladies. In 1828, this school is spoken of as
* The Catholics had a college at Kaskaskia in the early part of the 18th century, but it fell into disuse at the end of the French period. In the early part of the 19th century a similar institution was revived in the same town, but that was not typical of Catholic activity in other parts of the state until about the close of our period.
· Powers, History of Springfield, p. 6. quotes Peck. * Doc. Am. Hist. Rev., April, 1900, p. 538.
being at the zenith of its influence for the people of the West, and was deservedly very popular.
The leaven of the whole educational movement in the beginnings of Illinois was the work of the Protestant preachers and missionaries. According to Rev. J. M. Peck, a Baptist minister, his denomination had these missionary preachers in the state: Josiah Dodge, 1784; James Lemen, 1784; David Badgley and Joseph Chance, who organized the first church in 1796; John Clark, 1797, and W. Jones, 1806. By 1807, five Baptist churches had formed an association.
Governor Reynolds mentioned these Methodist missionary ministers: Joseph Lillard, 1793; Hosea Riggs, 1796; Benjamin Young, 1804; T. Harrison, 1804; J. Oglesby, 1805; C. R. Matheny, 1806; Jesse Walker, 1806; Bishop McKendree, 1807; Peter Cartwright, 1824. By 1815, four MethodistEpiscopal circuits had been established.
As was stated in the discussion of early education in Illinois, James Lemen, a Baptist preacher, opened one of the first schools. Father John Clark was á conspicuous and efficient character in the pulpit and the schools. He taught many of the rising generation of that day the general principles of education.
Smith and Mills, in their missionary tour of the West, showed that preachers would be welcomed to keep schools “Governor Edwards assured us, that a preacher of popular talents would receive a salary of $1,000 per annum, for preaching a part of the time, and instructing a small school."
The constitution of the Foreign Missionary Society of the Valley of the Mississippi gave one of its objects to be the promotion, “by all suitable means, within the Valley of the Mississippi, the missionary spirit in theological seminaries, colleges, academies, and the community."
The legislature of the state, in 1821, passed an act to encourage learning in White county, making the township trustees and church trustees coordinate bodies in conducting a school for the township: “Whereas, there is a society of Christians, called Cumberland Presbyterians, who have erected a meeting house for public worship on the sixteenth
• Reynolds, My Own Times, p. 194.
section in township five south, of range eight east, of the third principal meridian, in this state, and whereas, the said house may serve to have the gospel preached therein, and likewise may be used for a schoolhouse for the township. Therefore,
“Sec. I. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, that two or more of the county commissioneers of White county are hereby authorized and required to lease five acres of land of said section sixteen, in township five south, range eight east, including said meeting house and burial ground, to the trustees of the township for ninety-nine years, for the use of said society of Cumberland Presbyterians, and for the use of schools of said township.”
“Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, that the said school which may be taught in said house shall be under the direction of the trustees of the township and said society of Cumberland Presbyterians. There shall never be given any preference to one sect of people over another in said school, but at all times, the said society of Cumberland Presbyterians shall be entitled to hold divine service in said house during said lease."
Perhaps one of the most influential men in the religious, social, and the educational life of the people of early Illinois, was John Mason Peck. He was born at South Farms, Conn., in 1787, and received his education in the common schools and the academy of his town. He studied science, literature and medicine in Philadelphia. The year 1818 found him teaching school in St. Louis. Settling in Illinois soon after, he preached and taught school. January 1, 1827, he invited all those favorable to the establishment of a college or seminary to meet at his home, in Rock Spring, St. Clair county, which was situated on the principal stage route to Vincennes, seventeen miles east of St. Louis.
Peck was engaged a year in raising funds for the institution to be established. He and his hired men cut the timber and built the school. Five hundred dollars and twenty-five acres of land were contributed by Peck himself. Nine trustees were appointed and one hundred shares of stock at ten dollars a share were to be sold to support the two departments to be established.8
* Session Laws, 1821, p. 153.
Rock Spring Theological and High School was the name given to this institution. “The general plan of study is accommodated to the circumstances of the preachers of the gospel, and to the wants of the country. Ministers, who have families, and those who are somewhat advanced in life, may attend the Institution as may suit their convenience. It is established on liberal principles, though under the particular control of the Baptist denomination. *»9
“The second department is to be a scientific and literary institution for the accommodation of any class of students of approved character, and it is to be conducted on the principles of a High School. A professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, who shall be the principal of the High School Department, and direct the studies in languages,” is to be appointed.''
Joshua Bradley, holding an A. B. degree, Brown college, was the first president, and John Russell was principal of the high school. This department was conducted upon the plan of an academy “with modern improvements in education; and admitting students without distinction of age or previous
The first annual report said that there were about sixty scholars. “An unusually large proportion of the scholars have attended to writing, arithmetic, grammar, and geography. Five young gentlemen have mastered the difficulties of algebra, one of whom is now studying geometry. Three students are pursuing the study of Latin."12
Other denominations in this early period and, in fact, until after the Civil War, conducted religious-public schools of a similar nature. Three Methodist ministers, Wm. Beau-champ, Thomas Hinde, and Wm. McDowell, founded the town of Mt. Carmel in 1817 in order “to build a city on liberal and advantageous principles and to constitute funds for the establishment of seminaries of learning and for religious pur
& Quart. Reg. Am. Ed. Soc., Nov., 1830, v. 4, p. 354.