Page:History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century Volume 3.djvu/319

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CHAPTER XVI

IN the State in which the per cent. of illiteracy is so small as in Iowa inquiry is naturally made as to the causes of this comparatively high grade of intelligence being found so far from the acknowledgedcenters of culture. One reason may be found in the fact that the pioneers of this section were largely from the New England and Middle States where the standard of intelligence has always been of a high order. These men and women being largely dependent upon their own resources, often engaged in school teaching as the means to the study of a profession. This made a class of teachers rarely equaled in intelligence and enthusiasm. Another cause of the low per cent of illiteracy in our State may be traced to the men who enacted the early laws and secured the grant of public lands for the support of free schools. This early care in legislation enabled Iowa to build up a school system of which her citizens may be justly proud.

Glancing back to Territorial times we find Governor Lucas a champion of higher education, recommending in a message to the Legislative Assembly the adoption of the township system as a basis of school organization. The office of Superintendent of Public Instruction was established in 1841 and William Reynolds of Iowa City was the first to occupy the position. The following year the office was abolished and previous to 1846 Iowa had no definite free-school system owing to the rigid economy necessary in the pioneer period, leaving no money for school taxes, rather than to indifference or willful neglect of the people.

The Constitution under which the State was admitted as well as the first General Assembly dealt with the sub-