GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION, ESPECIALLY BY IMMIGRATION
WE cannot even dimly appreciate the educational task set before our country and the wonderful results of our labors therein until we carefully study our alien immigration. European countries have had to educate only their own people; but we have almost been the schoolhouse of the world, with the task of Sisyphus -- never finished.
In 1790 we had a white population of about 3,000,000, scattered from Maine to Georgia, in a narrow fringe along the seacoast, with an average population of four whites to the square mile. Upon this small stem, thus widely extended, there have been engrafted, since 1800, over 25,000,000 alien immigrants and their descendants, -- an immigration undreamed of elsewhere in the world's history. For the year 1906, the number thus landing on our shores was 1,100,735.
We may well be thankful for the devotion of our forefathers to the cause of education, even though it was, like the times themselves, narrow and bigoted. The high value set in early days upon a college course, both by those who could and those who could not get it, has proved one of our greatest heritages. It has led the general and state governments to make large grants of lands and money to provide funds for present and future educational needs. It has induced cities, towns, counties and school districts willingly to tax themselves heavily for the same purposes. It has prompted individuals, rich and poor alike, to give of their substance that all our youth might have that boon of education for which the forefathers provided the schoolhouse at the same time that they founded their place of worship. We may well stand amazed at the task which our country has had set before it,