294 History of Wake Forest College
While urging that it was the duty of the State to provide for the
common schools the Baptists of North Carolina were coming to the
conviction that it was their responsibility to provide academies and
high schools that would supply the secondary education between the
elementary schools and the colleges. This idea had been growing in
their minds for some years. Already in 1896 the cities and larger
towns of the State, some eight or ten of them, had efficient systems of
graded and high schools,3 but only poor elementary schools were
found in the rural district, and it was before the day of public high
schools. Private high schools were no longer profitable, but the
Baptists of the State were beginning in their associations to encourage
the establishment of denominational academies. An intelligent
observer who had for several years been visiting every part of the
State, stated,4 that in the past six or eight years more academies had
been built in the State than in the previous twenty, and he believed
that 75 per cent of them had been built by Baptist influence and with
Baptist money, but he was careful to say that these schools were still
very few. The movement, once started, continued,
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of the public schools and gratitude that they were doing far more than ever before
for the host of children in twenty-five western counties. In 1900 the report called
attention to the interests of the Baptists in the public schools as instruments of
culture for their children, and expressed "cordial sympathy with the movement
towards a better provision for common school education as indicated by the extra
appropriation of $100,000 by the General Assembly." In 1901 the report declared
that the Baptists were the heartiest supporters of the general educational revival then
in progress. In 1902 the report advised calling on the General Assembly to provide
by special appropriations for a four-months school in every district. In 1903 in the
report written by President Charles G. Meserve of Shaw University it is said: "We
reaffirm our belief that it is the duty of the State to provide a common school educa-
tion for all her children, and we hereby pledge ourselves anew to the education of
all the people as the only safeguard to a democratic form of government. To this end
we believe in better prepared teachers; in higher wages; in the wise consolidation of
country districts; in lengthening the school term." See full reports for these years in
the annuals of the Convention, and also those for the years 1904 and 1905, and the
reports on Education in the minutes of the Cape Fear-Columbus Association for
1903, and
those
of the Liberty Association and Mt. Zion Association for the same
year.
3
Joyner, Address to Teachers' Assembly, quoted above, and Reports of U. S.
Commissioner of Education.
4
Biblical Recorder, June 24, 1896.
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