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A PART of the vision of William Penn was a free education for all the boys and girls of all the people, and this was not the least element in the lure that drew the colonists from Old England to the new land.

According to Penn’s original plan for his colony the laws of the Province were to be “one of the books taught in the schools of the Province.”

This, the first mention of schools in the colony, was followed in 1683 by the order of the Assembly in Philadelphia that “all persons having children and all the guardians and masters of orphans, shall cause such to be instructed in reading and writing, so that they may be able to read the Scriptures and to write by the time they attain to twelve years of age, and that then they be taught some useful trade or skill, that the poor may work to live, and the rich if they become poor may not want.” The provision made to enforce the law was “the first compulsory education law in Pennsylvania.”

That this early law was not a dead letter is clear from the fact that when an apprentice asked the court to see that his master John Crosby teach him to read, “which he hath not freely performed,” it was ordered that the master “put said servant to school one month, and . . . instruct him another month.”

The first schoolmaster was provided, by official action, on “the 26th of ye 10th Month, 1683.”

“The Govr and Provll Councill having taken into their Serious Consideration the great necessity there is of a School Master for ye instruction & Sober Education of youth in the towne of Philadelphia, sent for Enoch fflower an Inhabitant of the said Towne, who for twenty years past hath been exercised in that care and Imployment in England, to whom having Communicated their Minds, they Embraced it upon the following terms: to Learne to read English 4s by the Quarter, to Learne to read and write 6s by ye Quarter, to learn to read, Write and Cast ascot 8s by ye Quarter, for Boarding a Scholler, that is to say, dyet, washing, Lodging & Stooling, Tenn pounds for an whole year.”

Before the close of the year the proposed school was opened in a dwelling which was “built of pine & cedar planks.”

The elementary school was good so far as it went, but more was desired, so later, in 1683, the Council proposed “That Care be Takenn about the Learning and Instruction of Youth, to Witt: a School of Arts and Sciences.” At the same meeting it was proposed by those who had charge of the city’s welfare to provide by law “for Makeing of Severall Sorts of Books, for the use of Persons in this Province.”

The first “public Grammar School” was opened in 1689 by Thomas Lloyd, at the request of William Penn. This, it is thought, was the beginning of the William Penn Charter School, which was long known as the Friends’ Public School. The formal charter was granted in 1701. There has been no interruption in this school from the beginning. Wickersham calls attention to the fact that it “ranks with the Parochial School of the Dutch Church in New York and the Latin School in Boston as one of the oldest schools in the country.”

At first the annual salary of the first master, George Keith, was £50, in addition to the use of a house for his family and all the profits of the school. He was to teach the poor without charge. He was promised £120 and perquisites for the second year; but he was not a success, and Thomas Makin was given the position.

Makin must have taught several years without a license, judging from the action of the Provincial Council taken on August 1, 1693:

“Thomas Meaking, Keeper of the Free School in the town of Philadelphia, being called before the Lieutenant Governor and Council, and told that he must not keep school Without a license ...Was therefore ordered to procure a certificate of his ability, learning and diligence from the inhabitants of note in this town by the sixteenth instant, in order to the obtaining of a license, which he promised to do.”

Many illuminating glimpses of Tutor Makin are given in two letters concerning one of his pupils, Israel Pemberton, who did not get along so well with Makin’s assistant or with the master himself. The first of these epistles was dated “5 Mo 22, 1698:


“lest through mistake the abuse I Received at the schoole being noised abroad should be taken to be thee I made bold to write these few lines for the clearing of thee thy Instructions were so mild and gentle as that I never received one blow or strike from thy hand during my stay there tho my dullness at times might have given thee occation for if I wanted Information with boldness I cold always come to thee being always friendly Received but from another, I always found Rough answers where I quickly left to trouble him not finding the Kindness as from thee & Indeed what he did for me from first to last is to be seen in that little ‘Attila book I write at his first Coming which I have forgot at schoole behind me if thee would be pleased to send it by some of the boatmen to be left at Samll Jennings when thou meets with it I shall take it a kindness I do say it was not my Intent to have let it be Known but the anguish of the blows and being Inwardly opprest with greife to think how I was used without having the liberty to spake one word in my defense did so change my Countenance that my sister promptly perceived it who was restless untill I had uncovered the occation who rested not then but would see & when she saw was also so griev’d that she would show me to some others tho I Indeavored much to diswade her but she would not but did cause me to be seen by H: carpenter and Tho: whartons wife, but conterary to my mind tho he never showed any respect to me as a scholar but still frowned upon me the Reason I know not for I never Intended to vex him & therefore never made use of him & thou being out of school he took that oppertunity so to Thrash me. . . I desire not to injure him I would willingly have stayed longer at the Schoole but my sister having told my father how things were & the tokens of his Correction still remaining upon me tho almost five weeks since & are still to be seen & so sore as that I cannot endure anything to press against it ... but I love thee & desire to be with thee & to spend the rest of my schooling under thee, but whether it may be so or no I Know not yet I desire it with my love and send these lines who am thy scholar,


Early in the year 1699 Makin wrote to Phineas Pemberton about the difficulty that had arisen between Israel and the assistant tutor. He was troubled because he had learned that the father proposed to put the boy in another school. In the letter he said:

“I cannot but resent it as some dimunition to my Credit, since thee first committed him to my Pedagogie, now to putt him to another who I suppose will sett him to learn all Arithmetick de novo. . . As for thy great Resentment for F. D. P., I have spoken to him to write to thee also, if possible all we can may prevail to reclaim thee from thy sd Intentions: wd that it may prove successful is ye earnest desire of thy respectful friend & Countryman


The relations between the master and his former pupil continued good, for in 1728 Makin wrote to Israel Pemberton, addressing him as “Honored Frd”:

“Having alreadie sent thee a description of Pensylvania writt in Latin verse, especially for ye use of thy Son, now considering thy self may not understand ye same, therefore now present thee with ye same in English, for wch, being in want, I humbly pray some small reward, for wch I shall be thy thankful! frd”

Enclosed with the letter was a Description of Pennsylvania whose style may be judged from an extract: 

“On Delaware does Philadelphia stand, And does her stately buildings far extend. The Streets laid out directly by a line

And house to house contigiously does joyn. The Governr here keeps his residence, One grave in years & long experience. Four sacred houses in this city are, And one not distant from ye city far. To this long known and well-frequented port From sundry places many shipps resort. In Merchandizing most men are here employ’d: All useful artists too are occupied. The frugal farmer, like ye careful Ant, In Summer ‘gainst cold Winter is provident, His barn, well cover’d to keep out ye rain, Fills wth good hay & divers sorts of grain. Neglecting costly cloathes & dainty food, His own unbought provisions sweet & good. Weary wth labour takes his ease & rest: His homespun cloathing pleasing him ye best. O that such were my happy lot at last, Then all my trouble past would be forgott.”

But poverty continued to be the lot of the former school teacher. Finally the Pennsylvania Gazette of November 29, 1733, told how “on Monday evening last Mr. Thomas Meakine fell off a wharf into the Delaware, and before he could be taken out again, he was drowned.” The Weekly Mercury, in its brief account of the accident, called him an “Ancient Schoolmaster,” and added that he was trying to fill a pail of water from the river when he fell from the pier.

The main building of the Friends’ school in which Makin taught was long located on Fourth street, near the Friends’ meeting house. Branches for charity were in different parts of the city. The Penn Charter School, its successor, is now located on Twelfth street, between Chestnut and Market streets.

In 1743 Benjamin Franklin began to talk about an Academy. Six years later he wrote his pamphlet “Proposals Relative to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania.” In this the proposition was made “that the house for the Academy should be located not far from a river, and have connected with it a garden . . . and be furnished with a library, maps of all countries, globes, some mathematical instruments, an apparatus for experiments in natural philosophy and mechanics.” The pupils were to be “frequently exercised in running, leaping, wrestling and swimming.”

The Academy was opened in 1751 in a building constructed in 1740 for use as a “Charity School” and as a “House of Publick Worship.” In 1753 the institution was chartered, Franklin being President of the board of Trustees. Two years later it was chartered as a college. The attendance increased rapidly. In 1763 there were more than four hundred students in attendance. The academy and college were merged in the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1779, and in 1791 the University of Pennsylvania absorbed the earlier institution.

David James Dove, the first English teacher in Franklin’s Academy, was one of the most famous characters in old Philadelphia. In a letter to Dr. Samuel Johnson, Franklin said that he was “a gentleman about your age, who formerly taught grammar sixteen years at Chichester, in England. He is an excellent master and his scholars have made a surprising progress.

(Drawn by Benjamin West)
(Original in the possession of the Library Company in Philadelphia)
(1) GIRL’S RED STUFF GOWN, 1730; (2) PRINT GOWN OF 1710;
(The originals of 2 and 3 can be seen at Stenton, Philadelphia)
     ABOUT 1760;

Dove’s salary for his first probationary year was £150, Dr. William Smith, later Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, being the only one connected with the school who had a higher salary. He added to his income by taking boarders into his home. Charles Thomson, later Secretary of Congress, was one of the first boarders. The story is told that when Thomson decided to seek another boarding place he first took the precaution to secure from Mr. and Mrs. Dove a statement that he had been a satisfactory boarder, for he feared that the master would say unpleasant things about him if care was not taken to stop his ceaseless tongue.

Another scheme to add to the Dove income was made by the founding of a school for young ladies, in connection with the academy. The announcement indicated that those who came would be carefully taught the “English grammar; the true way of spelling, and pronouncing properly; together with fair writing, arithmetick and accounts . . .”

Before long Dove was giving so much time to the young ladies — whose tuition payments went into his own pocket — that he had to have two assistants. Accordingly, Franklin and Judge Peters were appointed a Committee of the Trustees to make him see the error of his ways. But the committee soon had to report that they were unable to make Dove appreciate the point of their complaint. “He seemed desirous of being indulged in the practice,” they said. Of course he could not be retained under the circumstances.

The difficulty of dealing with Dove was shown by one of his pupils, a nephew of Judge Peters, who said that he was “a sarcastic and ill-tempered doggerelizer, who was but ironically Dove, for his temper was that of a hawk, and his pen the beak of a falcon pouncing on his prey.”

The later history of this unruly schoolmaster was what might have been expected. After teaching for a time in a school of his own in Videll’s Alley, now Ionic Street, he became English master at the Germantown Academy, where his ungovernable temper drove two assistants from the school and terrorized the friends and the Trustees. Once again he opened a boarding school on the side, and he refused to give this up at the request of the trustees. Finally, in 1763, his overbearing ways became too much for the patrons of the school, and they memorialized the trustees concerning his habit of sending boys on errands and his spending time on private boarders that belonged to the students of the Academy.

When the trustees tried to remove him, he refused to be removed, even though Pelatiah Webster had already been appointed as his successor. Dove held possession of the schoolhouse, and declared that he would not retire. Eight of the contributors to the academy thereupon addressed a letter to the trustees, which came into the hands of James Galloway, who, with Thomas Wharton, was charged with the duty of dealing with Dove. On the letter, which was dated September 26, 1763, Galloway endorsed a reply in which he promised action that would disprove the charge of cowardice made in the letter:


“After meeting this Morning at Seven o’clock we sent a Letter Requesting your Meeting us at Three in the afternoon When our Messenger Inform’d us one was gone out of town and the others so Engaged in their own privet affairs that they Could not attend. Therefore wee take this second Oppertunety (in one Day) to Let you Know that wee have Done Nothing, but adjurn’d till tomorrow at Ten o’clock at which time wee Ernestly Request you will Meet us to Take Possession of the Schoolhouse that Webster may Enter Agreeable to our contract with him. Wee pay so much Respect to you Cityzens that wee are Determined to Do Nothing in the present affairs without you Except you Which wee Cannot Suspect Should prove Cowards in the Day of Battle Untill which time wee Shall Subscribe our Selves your Real friends

“My frd
“I will waite on Thos
Wharton tomorrow
Morning 8 o’clock,
if he goes in a
Chair I’ll take a
Seat, if not attend
him on Horseback,
& Convince those
Gent. at Germt. we
are not cowards
“J. G.”
“George Absetnz,
“Christopher Sower,
“John Jones,
“Rich. Johnson,
“Jacob Nagles,
“Niclaus Rittinghouse,
“John Vandiren,
“Tho Livezey.”

Of course Dove made way after a time for his successor, but for many years he continued to teach a private school in Germantown. Later he advertised that at the “repeated solicitation of many gentlemen and ladies, whom Mr. Dove had formerly had the honor of instructing,” he proposed, “God willing, to open a school at his house in Front street, near the corner of Arch street . . . where youth of both sexes in separate apartments would be taught to read, cypher, and speak our language according to the exact rules of grammar.”

In this school he taught until his death, in 1769.

Alexander Graydon, who was a pupil of Dove in Philadelphia, told in his Memoirs of the master’s methods of discipline:

“His birch was rarely used in canonical method, but was generally stuck into the back part of the collar of the unfortunate culprit, who, with this badge of disgrace towering from his nape like a broom at the masthead of a vessel for sale, was compelled to take his stand upon the top of the form for such a period of time, as his offense was thought to deserve.

“He had another contrivance for boys who were late in their morning attendance. This was to despatch a committee of five or six scholars for them, with a bell and lighted lantern, and in this odd equipage, in broad day light, the bell all the while tinkling, were they escorted through the streets to the school. As Dove affected a strict regard to justice in his punishments, and always professed a willingness to have an equal measure of it meted out to himself in case of his transgressing, the boys took him at his word; and one morning when he had overstaid his time, either through laziness, inattention, or design, he found himself waited upon in the usual form. He immediately admitted the justice of the procedure, and putting himself behind the lantern and bell, marched with great solemnity to school, to the no small gratification of the boys and the entertainment of the spectators.”

Graydon gives further delightful pictures of early school life. At one time he was a pupil of John Beveridge, a Scotchman, who was an exceedingly poor disciplinarian. The boys took advantage of his weakness. In the afternoon Mr. B. was apt to be late. The bell rang, the ushers were at their posts, and the scholars were arranged in their clases. Three or four conspirators concealed themselves without, to watch for the teacher. “He arrives,” Graydon wrote, “enters the school, and is permitted to proceed until he is supposed to have nearly reached his chair at the upper end of the room, when instantly the door and every window shutter is closed. Now, shrouded in utter darkness, the most hideous yells that can be conceived are sent forth from at least three-score of throats, and Ovids, and Virgils, and Horaces, together with the more heavy metal of dictionaries . . . are hurled without remorse at the head of the astonished preceptor — who, on his side, groping and crawling under cover of the forms, makes the best of his way to the door. When attained and light restored, a deathlike silence ensues. Every boy is at his lesson, no one has had a hand or a voice in the recent atrocity. What then is to be done, and who shall be chastised?”

For several days this method of hazing the master was continued. Then the authorities interfered, and there was peace — until the boys thought up some new scheme to plague poor Beveridge.

When Graydon began his school career in Philadelphia he stayed at his grandfather’s house, but later — on the death of his father — his mother moved to the city from Bristol, and Alexander went to school from her house. This was a boarding house, where boys lived who went to the academy, “of which there were generally a number from the southern province and the West India Islands,” Graydon explained.

Through the change of residence from his grandfather’s house to that of his mother he was accustomed to pass many points of interest. “My course,” he said, “generally led me through what is now called Dock street, then a filthy, uncovered sewer, bordered on either side by shabby stable-yards and tan-yards. To these succeeded the more agreeable object of Israel Pemberton’s garden (now covered in part by the Bank of the United States) laid out in the old-fashioned style. Thence turning Chestnut street corner, to the left, and passing a row of dingy two-story houses, I came to the Whale bones, which gave name to the alley, at the corner of which they stood. These never ceased to be occasionally an object of some curiosity and might be called my second stage, beyond which there was but one general object of attention, and this was to get a peep at the race horses, which in sporting seasons were kept in the widow Nichol’s stable, which from her house, (the Indian Queen at the corner of Market street), extended perhaps two-thirds or more of the way to Chestnut street. In fact, throughout the whole of my route, the intervals took up as much as the buildings, and with the exception of here and there a straggling house, Fifth street might have been called the Western extremity of the city.”

It is difficult to turn away from Graydon and his pictures of boy life at school. One more story he told must be repeated:

“The enthusiasm of the turf had pervaded the academy, and the most extravagant transports of that theatre of triumph of a favorite horse, were not more zealous and impassioned, than were the acclamations which followed the victor in a foot-race round a square. Stripped to the shirt, and accoutred for the heat by a handkerchief bound round the head, another round the middle, with loosened knee-bands, without shoes, or with moccasins instead of them, the racers were started, and, bearing to the left round the corner of Arch street they encompassed the square in which the academy stands, while the most eager spectators . . . scampered over the church burying ground to Fifth street in order to see the state of the runners as they passed . . . The four sides of this square cannot be much less than three-quarters of a mile(?); wherefore, bottom in the courses, was no less essential than swiftness, and in both, Lewis bore away the palm from everyone that dared enter against him. After having in a great number of matches completely triumphed over the academy, other schools were resorted to for racers, but all in vain.”

Some of the earlier students at the Academy found sport in baiting Robert Proud, an interesting character who taught Greek and Latin in the institution until the early seventies. His name appears in the catalogue of books published in 1798 in connection with his History of Pennsylvania from 1681 to 1742. The book has been called the most confused and tedious composition that ever tormented human patience. It is easy to imagine how popular he was as an instructor.

Andrew Porter was another of the celebrated school teachers of the eighteenth century. His boyhood was spent on the farm of his father, an elder in Norriton Presbyterian Church, and if his father had been given his way the schoolmaster would have been lost in a very mediocre farmer or a poor carpenter. Whenever he had a chance he would read a borrowed book, and when a neighboring schoolmaster took an interest in him he was in his element. Ile had a special genius for mathematics. In one of the books borrowed from the friendly schoolmaster he became interested in the draft of a sun-dial, and he wondered if he could not make one. At a quarry on the Schuylkill near Spring Mill he found a stone which he thought would answer his purpose. This he carried eight or ten miles to his home. In his brother’s carpenter shop, during the proprietor’s absence, he reduced the stone to proper size and shape by the use of saws, planes and chisels. Of course the tools were ruined; but the sun-dial was finished satisfactorily.

Next he opened a school near his home, and while there he attracted the attention of David Rittenhouse by his application for a book on conic sections. The astronomer, amazed to learn that the boy had studied mathematics but a few months, persuaded him that one of his talents was needed in Philadelphia.

The name of Christopher Dock must not be omitted from a list of early Philadelphia school teachers of genius. While he did not teach in the city itself, his influence on education in the city was large.

His first school was opened on the Skippack, in an old log meeting house of the Mennonites. Here the son of Christopher Saur, the printer, was one of his pupils. Through his son, Saur became interested in Dock’s methods, and he finally persuaded the schoolmaster to write a treatise telling of these. The manuscript of “Schul-ordnung” was the result. The author stipulated, however, that the book must not be published until after his death.

The elder Saur died in 1758, and the son, who had been Dock’s pupil, succeeded to the business. He finally secured Dock’s consent, and the book appeared in 1770, the first educational book published in Pennsylvania.

Martin C. Brumbaugh, in the edition of Dock’s book which he has edited, says that Dock has given by indirection the only adequate picture of a colonial school. “It is not difficult to construct from his writings a picture of life among the people of Penn’s colony,” he says. “One can vision the children living at home preparing for the day’s duties; their march over hill and valley to the school; their entrance, the routine of the day’s work with the teacher and the hearty ‘good-night’ as they turn again to their home; the round of evening duties, and their weary footsteps as they move half asleep to their rest.”

One evening in 1771 Dock did not return from his school at the usual hour. A search was made, and he was found in his schoolroom on his knees — dead. “Thus ended in prayer for his pupils a life singularly sweet and unselfishly given to the welfare of those whom he believed God had divinely appointed him to teach.”

Anthony Benezet has a place of peculiar honor among Philadelphia schoolmasters because he first gave instruction to the negroes. In 1770 he was instrumental in establishing a school for them, and from 1782 until his death in 1784 he was in charge of this. In his will he gave his house and lot, as well as the remainder of his estate, to the support of “a religious- minded person, or persons, to teach a number of negro, mulatto, or Indian children to read, write, arithmetic, plain accounts, needle work, etc.”

Dr. William Smith first attracted the serious attention of the friends of education in Philadelphia by a treatise he published in 1753, in which he gave his views of education and the requirements of an institution of learning in a new country. Some of those who read it invited him to become teacher of Natural Philosophy, Logic, etc., in the Academy which later became the University of Pennsylvania. His strangest schoolroom was the gaol into which he was thrust in 1758 because of his opposition to the non-resistance policy of the legislature of Pennsylvania. For a time his classes resorted to him there.

A picturesque schoolmaster of the early days was Alexander Wilson, the ornithologist, who taught first in Frankford and then at Gray’s Ferry. On February 14, 1802, he wrote:

“On the 25th. of this month I remove to the schoolhouse beyond Gray’s Ferry to succeed the present teacher there. I shall recommence that painful profession once more with the same gloomy, sullen resignation that a prisoner re-enters his dungeon or a malefactor mounts the scaffold; fate urges him, necessity me. The agreement between us is to make the school equal to 100 dollars per quarter, but not more than 50 are to be admitted. The present pedagogue is a noisy, outrageous fat old captain of a ship, who has taught these ten years in different places. You may hear him bawling 300 yards off. The boys seem to pay as little regard to him as a duck to the rumbling of a stream under them. I shall have many difficulties to overcome in establishing my own rule and authority.”

Wilson was of unhappy disposition. No wonder, then, that he wrote, in July, 1802, of Philadelphia:

“Leave that cursed town at least one day. It is the most striking emblem of purgatory, at least to me, that exists. No poor soul is happier to escape from Bridewell than I am to smell the fresh air and gaze over the green fields after a day or two’s residence in Philadelphia.”

(From the portrait by Charles W. Peale in
Independence Hall)

(From a painting by James Wharton in Independence Hall)

It has been pointed out that it was an odd coincidence that in 1803 John J. Audubon, a young man who was destined to share with Wilson fame as one of the greatest naturalists America has produced, also took up his residence near the banks of the Schuylkill, not twenty-five miles away, just across from Valley Forge.

One of the great disappointments of Wilson’s life was the failure of his suit for the hand of Annie Bartram, daughter of John Bartram, Jr., and niece of William, who was in charge of “Kingsess Gardens,” as Bartram’s Garden was then called. To her the schoolmaster wrote poems and sent gifts of drawing materials; but she would not accept him as her husband.

If all parents were as exacting of a schoolmaster as was Thomas Chalkley, the Quaker minister who was active during the earlier part of the eighteenth century, there would be more who would share in Alexander Wilson’s pessimism concerning the calling. When, in 1727, Mr. Chalkley was about to send his children to school in Frankford, he wrote the teacher the following letter:

“Loving friend, Nathaniel Walton, I hope thou wilt excuse the freedom I take with thee in writing this on account of my children in these particulars, viz. Respecting the compliment of the hat and courtesying, the practice thereof being against my professes principles; 1st, because I find nothing like it in the bible, but, as I think, the contrary. Thou know’st the passage of the Three children of God, who stood covered before a mighty monarch; and Mordecai, who stood covered before great Haman: and, 2dly, I believe those practices derived from vain, proud man.

“And as to language, I desire my children may not be permitted to use the plural language to a single person, but I pray thee to learn to say thee, and thou, and thy, and to speak it properly, (divers using it improperly) and the rather I desire it because it is all along used in the divine inspired holy writings .

“The same care I would have them take, about the names of the days of the months, which are derived from the names of the Gods of the heathen, and are not found in the bible .

“As to the school learning of my children, I leave to thy management, not questioning thy ability therein, and if they want correction spare not the rod.”

The result of the training given to his children by Chalkley in his home and by the schoolmaster who was compelled to follow the minister’s directions was seen in George Chalkley, who died in 1733, at the age of ten years and seven days. His father said of him after his death that it was the boy’s custom to write out anything that appealed to him in the books he read or in the Bible. Then he would learn it by heart. “One piece he wrote and got by heart,” the father said, “was this:

“‘As one day goes another comes,
   And some times shows us dismal dooms;
   As time rowls on, new things we see,
   Which seldom to us do agree:
   Tho’ now and then’s a pleasant day,
‘  Tis long in coming, soon away;
   Wherefore the everlasting truth,
   Is good for aged and for youth.
   For them to set their hearts upon:
   For that will last till time is done.’ 

Poor ten-year-old George! His father somehow managed to crush all the joy out of his life.

A student of a different sort was Neddy Burd, of Lancaster, later the husband of Elizabeth Shippen, sister of Margaret Shippen, who became the bride of Benedict Arnold. On April 28, 1765, he wrote a letter in which he told of his entrance to college:

“About three weeks ago our Class was alarmed with the news of being examined by the Trustees. Luckily we had three days to prepare for it all which time we were much afraid of the Issue. I sat up until eleven o’clock & rose before five studying very hard. At length the much dreaded day arrived. We were conducted into the Electricity room, where the Revd. Mr. Duchee, Mr. Stedman, Dr. Alison & Mr. Beveridge were assembled. You may inform Grandpapa that we were first desired to translate a piece out of English into Latin, then we were examined in Horace lastly in Homer . . . The public Examination of the Senior Class was next day; When we were again desired to attend at the Electricity Room. Mr. Stedman spoke as follows, viz on account of your yesterday’s Extraordinary performance you are admitted to Colledge.”

On November 17, 1816, William Irvin Wilson sent to his father, Hugh Wilson, of Deerstown, Pennsylvania, a letter telling of his entrance at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School:

“After a very pleasant but rather expensive journey I arrived here and have succeeded in getting excellent lodging at the rate of Five dollars per week. I could obtain none on more reasonable terms within a proper distance of the University ... There are about seven others in the house besides. There are between four and five hundred students who, when crowded into one room make a pretty respectable appearance. We attend six Professors in the day. . . I have attended the Hospital and Almshouse each once; but I shall not be able to take the ticket of either for want of money; this will be something against me but I must put up with it.

“I will now give you an account of my expenses since I left home. For the journey I expended $15 Dollars including stage hire. For ticket $120. For boarding $10. For wood and candles $6.60. Discount $11. Expenses before I came to my lodging $3. Washing and shoe blacking, &c, $2. . . Which leaving me a very light purse. I expect I shall need some money. . .

“To be here without money is not very pleasant. But I need not speak of this, I know you will do what you can.

Pupils with light purses had little chance to get an education on equal terms with the rich until the passage of the school law of 1818, but until this was amended in 1836 there was still much to be desired. Since that time, however, the schools of Pennsylvania have become noted for their excellence and thoroughness.

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