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ACCOUNT OE THE COLLEGE, ACADEMY, AND CHARITABLE
SCHOOL OF PHILADELPHIA, IN PENNSYLVANIA.
In the Year 1749, a few private Gentlemen of Pennsylvania, observing the vast accession of people to that place, from different parts of the world, became seriously impressed with a view of the inconveniencies likely to arise from their being destitute of the necessary means of instruction. As sundry circumstances rendered it improbable that any thing could be speedily done among them, in a public way, for the advancement of knowledge, and at the same time but very few of so great a multitude could af. ford the expense of educating their children in distant places, they saw with concern that their country was not only in danger of wanting a succession of fit persons for the public stations of life, but even of degenerating into the greatest ignorance.
To prevent these dreadful evils, they published proposals for erecting the English, Latin, and Mathe. matical Schools of this institution, under the name
of an * Academy; which was considered as a very proper foundation, on which to raise something far. ther, at a future period, if they should be successful so far. And in order to carry this design into execution, twenty-four persons joined themselves together as Trustees, agreeing never to exceed that number.
The scheme being made public, with the names of the gentlemen concerned in it, all was so well ap. proved of, that in a very short time the subscription for carrying it on, amounted to eight hundred pounds per annum, for five years; a very strong proof of the public spirit and generosity of the inhabitants of that place!
In the beginning of January 1750, the three schools above mentioned were opened, namely the Latin, the Mathematical and English School. For it had always been considered as a very leading part of the design, to have a good school in the mother tongue, and to have a person of abilities entrusted with the care of it.
Oratory, and the correct speaking and writing of English, are branches of education too much ne. glected, as is often visible in the public performances of some very learned men. But, in the circumstances of this province, such a neglect would have been still more inexcusable than in any other part of the British dominions. For being made up of so great a mixture of people, from almost all corners of the world, necessarily speaking a variety of languages and dialects, the true pronunciation and writing of our own language might soon be lost, without such à previous care to preserve them in the rising generation.
* Many gentlemen of the first rank in the province gave their coun. tenance to this design, as soon as it was mentioned to them, and afterwards became Trustees for it; but those on whom the chief care of digesting and preparing matters rested, were--Thomas Hopkinson, Tench Francis, Richard Peters, and Benjamin Franklin, Esqrs ; by the latter of whom the original proposals were drawn up and published.
At the opening of the above schools, which were intended to be preparatory to the higher parts of learning, a suitable sermon was preached, by Mr. Peters, provincial secretary, from St. John viii. 32. " And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This reverend and worthy gentleman (who, amid all the labours of his public station, as well as the many private labours in which his benevolence continually engages him, has still made it his care to devote some part of his time to classical learning, and the study of divinity, to which he was originally bred) took occasion, from these words of our blessed Saviour, to shew the intimate connexion between truth and freedom, between knowledge of every kind, and the preservation of civil and religious liberty.
The institution, thus begun, continued daily to flourish; and at length the trustees applied for a charter of incorporation, which they obtained in July 1753, from the honourable proprietors; who, at different times, have contributed in lands and money, to the amount of three thousand pounds sterling, for carrying on the design-a very noble and even princely benefaction, truly worthy of persons so
closely concerned in the essential interests of the country!
Things having proceeded thus far, it was soon found that many of the youth, having gone through their course of grammar learning, would be desirous of proceeding to philosophy and the sciences; and this being represented to the trustees, they began to think of enlarging their plan, as they had promised at the beginning. The were very sensible that the knowledge of words, without making them subservi. ent to the knou ledge of things, could never be considered as the business of education. To lay a foundation in the languages, was very necessary as a first step, but without the superstructure of the sciences would be but of little use for the conduct of life.
In consideration of this, they determined to complete the remainder of their plain, and applied for an addition to their charter, by which a power of conferring degrees and appointing professors in the various branches of the arts and sciences, was grant. ed to them. By this means, a college was added to, and ingrafted upon their former academy; a joint government agreed upon for both; the style of the trustees changed to that of —"Trustees of the College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania;" and the professors constituted under them into one body or faculty, by the name of “the Provost*, Vice Provost and Professors, of the Col.
• It was about a year before the obtaining this additional charter, viz. May 25th, 1754, that the author was settled as head of this seminary.
lege and Academy of Philadelphia." This charter bears date May 14th 1755.
Having given a short account of the rise of this institution, I proceed now to give a view of the different branches thereof, as they are at present; and shall begin at the lowest, which consists of two charity schools. In one of them forty girls are taught reading, writing, sewing, &c. In the other, eighty boys are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, in order to fit them for the various sorts of business and mechanic arts.
The second branch is properly an English academy, and consists of two parts; an English and writ. ing school, and a school for the practical branches of the mathematics, drawing, &c. In the former, besides writing, the pupils are taught the mother. tongue grammatically, together with a correct and just pronunciation. For attaining this a small rostrum is erected in one end of the school, and the youth are frequently exercised in reading aloud from it, or in delivering short orations; while the professor of English and oratory stands by to correct whatever may be amiss, either in their speech or gesture.
Besides this rostrum, which is in their private school, there is also a large stage or oratory erected in the college-hall, where the speakers appear on all public occasions, before as many of the inhabitants as please to attend.
This part of the institution is of singular benefit. It corrects unbecoming bashfulness, &c. gives the youth presence of mind, habituates them to speak