Introductory 7
every square mile of territory, and were constantly improving; there
were some 3,000 schools in all and more than 100,000 children from
a white population of 553,299 receiving free instruction in them ;
and his hope was that in a short time they would be kept open six or
eight months in the year.5
Although no public elementary school or public high school was
to be found in the State before 1841, education was not altogether
neglected. For primary instruction the planters of the eastern section
often employed governesses for their homes who not only instructed
the children of their employers, but often the children of parents in
the neighborhood who were too poor to provide for their instruction.
In fact, because of the sparseness of the white population this was
about the only way by which many planters could provide schooling
for their younger children. But among the smaller farmers of the
more thickly populated upland districts subscription schools were
usually maintained for a few months every year, in which the boys
and sometimes the girls were taught reading and writing and enough
arithmetic to enable them to cast interest and to keep business
accounts. It was, however, only the more enlightened communities
that regularly maintained such schools or provided teachers of good
ability and character.6
Of schools and academies of higher grade the number was so
5 Wiley, North Carolina Reader, p. 76.
Reverend Brantley York, born January 3, 1805, tells of two of his teachers in
his boyhood days in northeastern Randolph. He says: "The first school I attended I
was only about four years old, and went only one day. The schoolmaster (as
teachers were then called) was a very large, sour-looking man, and seemed to
appreciate very highly the dignity of his position. And the instruments of
punishment lay thick around him in the form of switches, and small paddles called
ferrules, and among switches was one very large one, kept for the purpose of
threshing the floor in order to frighten the urchins and keep them in awe of his
"I was about six years old before I was sent to school again. The teacher was a
very different character from the former; he was clever, kind and indulgent, and
the scholars loved him as a father. When I went to say my lesson he would take
me upon his knees, and speak very kindly to me, and when I succeeded in saying a
good lesson he never failed to praise and encourage me." Autobiography of
Brantley York, p. 5 f.
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