102 History of Wake Forest College
When the program of the education convention of February 11-13,
1873, had been published, the friends of education in the State at once
realized how valuable it would be in fixing attention on education of
all kinds among our people. In making the call Wingate had
emphasized the purpose to make the convention not for the
furtherance of a single object-the endowment of Wake Forest
College-"but, if possible, to move the whole denomination in the State
to greater interest in every form of education." The best place on the
program, the session on Wednesday night, February 12, 1873, was
given to a discussion of the general educational conditions of North
Carolina, with special reference to the public and private elementary
schools. To this meeting the members of the Legislature then in
session and the heads of the various departments of the State
government, as was said above, were given a special invitation. Many
other friends of education, notably, Dr. Barras Sears, who had charge
of the Peabody Fund in North Carolina, were present. The paper of
the evening was by Rev. N. B. Cobb, and the greater part of it devoted
to a discussion of the alarming neglect of education in North Carolina.
Basing his argument on the "Report of the Superintendent of Public
Instruction," by Superintendent Alex. McIver, issued on November 1,
1872, and following in some parts the Superintendent's suggestions,
and using also the national census for 1870, the speaker laid bare the
desperate educational condition of the people of North Carolina.
Superintendent McIver's report, Doe. No. 5, Sess. 1872-73, is one
of the ablest educational documents ever issued in the State. Until
Cobb used it, it had received scant publicity. The paragraph from
which he got some of his alarming figures is as follows:
"According to the census of 1870, there are in this State 38,647
white children and 40,955 colored children between the ages of 10
and 15 years unable to read and write; there are 31,911
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with the conviction that ignorance is making conquests astonishing and deplorable.
Many of our finest scholars are raising their children without education. Many
wealthy and prosperous farmers are making farm hands of sons who might teach
senators wisdom and make their age illustrious by discoveries in the arts and
sciences."
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