History of Higher Education in Rhode Island by William Howe Tolman

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William Howe Tolman
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Excerpt from History of Higher Education in Rhode Island

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for publication the monograph entitled "History of Higher Education in Rhode Island," by Dr. William Howe Tolman. This monograph is No. 18 in the series of "Contributions to American Educational History," edited by Prof. Herbert B. Adams. The present circular, relating to the history of one of the original thirteen States, whose colonial history goes back to 130, is of interest to the student and reader because it raises the question whether religious freedom reacted favorably on the establishment of a system of education in the early colonial days of the New England colonies. It is claimed that union of Church and State existed among the Puritans, and the educational system became the care of the Government through the clergy, who were in civil authority and gave their attention to education and educational systems. In Rhode Island no person was molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for any matters in religion that did not actually disturb the civil peace of the colony. By reason of this emphasis placed on the separation of Church and State, and the consequent feeble efforts toward united action in founding schools, a large number of the clergy were found to be without any special training, and this led to the agitation which resulted in the establishment of Rhode Island College (now Brown University) in 1704, in order that members of the Baptist denomination might have an institution where a liberal education could be acquired.

The first part gives an account of colonial and later education. The personal influence of Samuel Slater, who opened his house as the meeting place of the first Sunday-school in the colonies, September, 1799, and Stephen Hopkins, of whom President Manning said: "Few men in public life at that time had so thoroughly applied themselves to the study of books and men," furnish interesting studies for the historian of education. The name of Dean Berkeley (George Berkeley, Dean of Derry, and afterwards bishop at Cloyne) is prominent in the origin of the first public library in the colony, 1730.

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History of Higher Education in Rhode Island

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