Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/412

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ience, and elegance of life; in the chief manufactures relating to any of these things, and finally to lead them from the study of nature to the knowledge of themselves and of the God of nature, their duty to Him, themselves and one another and everything that can constitute to their true happiness, both here and hereafter.

Though this programme was set forth by President Johnson, the chief advocate of these views before the public was Dr. William Smith, who was largely instrumental in the founding of King's and who became the first provost of Pennsylvania. In 1753 he published his College of Mirania, a Utopian educational scheme containing the ideas advanced in the curriculum given above and in fact the germ of a reformed higher education. The underlying principle of Smith's proposed reforms is one which has been repeated by educational innovators of many generations, the realization of which must be attained anew by each generation. "The knowledge of what tends neither directly nor indirectly to make better men and better citizens is but a knowledge of trifles. It is not learning but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness." The most revolutionary part of his scheme was the proposal of a mechanics academy, as a counter part of the collegiate school for the learned professions. This academy was to formulate an education for those "designed for the mechanic professions and all the remaining people of the country." The essential features of the curriculum of this type of schools are what in present times we should call the sciences, theoretical and applied. Franklin s scheme in the English academy was essentially the same.

But the dawning of political revolution eclipsed the rising educational one, the new colleges fell back into the easier ways of the old, and educational advance awaited a new nation, a new century, and a new vision.

Problems of political construction, of economic development, of national expansion and protection thoroughly absorbed the interests and energies of the Americans for the first half century of their national existence. Education was left to individual initiative or to quasi-public philanthropic interests. During this period there is no literature which may be termed educational except by loosest interpretation, and the references to education in such literature as was produced are few.