| American History Stories, Volume I|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of early exploration and founding of American colonies, conflicts over religion, and troubles with the Indians, culminating in the French and Indian War. Ages 8-12 |
EDUCATION IN THE COLONIES
 Governor Winthrop, the first Governor of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony, had, living in England, a sister, of whom he was
very fond. He often wrote letters to her and to her
husband, who was also a warm friend of Governor Winthrop,
begging them to leave the old country and come with their
children to the new colony where there was more than enough
of all the good things of life.
The sister, and her husband, too, would gladly have come,
and indeed were often almost persuaded to do so; but they
were very intelligent people for these times and prized
education above all things.
On this account, because there were no
 colleges in America in which her boys could be educated, she
hesitated year after year.
Often she would write to her brother, saying that, by and
by, when the little colony should have means for the
education of her boys, she would gladly come. Another time
she would write that she believed the value of education
was above all things, and that therefore she must stay in
England until the boys were educated.
All these letters set Governor Winthrop to thinking. Would
it not be well for the colony to found a college? Surely
there were other youth than his nephews who would be glad
of a college education.
At last a letter came which seemed to set Governor
Winthrop to work as well as to thinking. This letter,
written in the early part of 1636, was but another appeal
 sister for a college in Massachusetts. It is a quaintly
written letter, spelled after the fashion of the times.
In it she says, "If
only there were some place of learning
for youths, it would make me go far nimbler to New Englande
if God should call me to it than I otherwise shoulde; and I
believe a colledge would put noe smal life into the
In October of this very year, Governor Winthrop had
convinced those who controlled such things in the colony
that a college should be built. The money was raised, and
work on the building was begun at once.
The college building, a square, red brick building, with low
ceilings and little windows, was considered a very elegant
structure at the time. It still stands on the college land
in Cambridge, surrounded by the great brick
buildings which have from time to time been added to it.
This will show you how much these early colonists thought of
education. In fact, as early as 1635, only five years after
the settlement of Boston, steps were taken to open a
public school for the children of that town.
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