HENRY WARD BEECHER (a graduate of 1834) wrote in his Norwood as follows: --
"The nearest approach to a line drawn between the common people and the aristocratic class in New England is that which education furnishes. And there is almost a superstitious reverence for a 'college education.' If a man has been to college, he has a title. He may be of slender abilities, he may not succeed in his business, but at least he has one claim to respect -- he has been to college. It is like a title in a decayed family. It saves the pride and ministers pleasure to the vanity long after it has in every other respect become utterly worthless."
The eagerness with which our forefathers started their various colleges is a fair indication of the value that they then placed upon a college education. In New England's First Fruits, 1643, it is said: --
Therefore Planted early Colleges.
After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear'd convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government; one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministery to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust."1
The preambles to the constitutions and charters of all the colleges show that learning was something to be provided for, if possible, and to be obtained if it was within human reach. The clergyman of the old New England town was its chief citizen, followed by other college-bred men. A good education could be gotten here except at college. Formerly boys went to college gotten nowhere except at college. A good education could be from the small hamlets and frontier towns of the colonies. It was a matter of much prayer and thought as to which boy of a large
Only seLected boys Could have Privilege.