VI. Tangible Support: Philhellenes, Warriors and Philanthropists

C6. Plan for Promoting Common School Education in Greece Adopted by the Greek School Committee

[Pamphlet Published in New York, May, 1829]


The Committee appointed at a late meeting of Gentlemen, at the rooms of the New York Historical Society, to prepare a plan to promote education in Greece, respectfully present the following to the public.

It is proposed to establish in that country-

I. A HIGH SCHOOL OR NATIONAL ACADEMY, at which young men may be trained for superintending elementary Schools, and for the study of the useful professions.

II. A HIGH SCHOOL FOR FEMALES, designed primarily for the instruction of those who may become teachers.

III. SEVERAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, as models of the most approved methods of instruction.

To give efficacy to these measures, and to promote the general object, means should also be provided for preparing and publishing, and perhaps, to some extent, distributing gratuitously, school-books in the Greek language, and other works relating to education.

The details in the execution of this plan, it was resolved to commit to the following gentlemen, to be designated

The Honorable Albert Gallatin, Chairman.
Rey. M. BRUEN, Corresponding Secretary.
Mr. KNOWLES TAYLOR, Recording Secretary.
SETH P. Staples, Esq.

TO THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES. The Greek Committee believe that the cause of Common School Education needs no advocate in this enlightened nation. The miseries of the southern half of our continent have been prolonged by the want of good common schools. It will be universally admit-ted, that the deep sympathy excited in these United States, in behalf of Greece, cannot expend itself better than in efforts to diffuse there our rich stock of common knowledge. Knowledge and morals constitute a fund of individual and national worth, which may accumulate from generation to generation. By a recent survey, known to this Committee, the common schools of Greece are found to be in that dejected state, which might be anticipated from her long subjugation, and the wars attending her late revolution. American efforts upon that soil have been greeted with the warmest gratitude; and the parents who fed their children with our bread, last year, will rejoice to have them enriched with the intelligence of a country, whose philanthropy is its glory. Already the government of Greece has applauded the first attempt to improve their common schools, and lends the most favorable countenance to our countrymen, embarked in the enterprise. If ten or twelve thousand dollars can be collected here, annually, for a few years, the present plan will be crowned with complete success.

Two learned Greek Professors, already possessed of the confidence of their countrymen, united with several men from the United States, competent to instruct in our best Colleges, and acquainted with all the recent improvements in science and education, can at once open in Greece a Seminary for School-masters; and, as the result, other Institutions will soon be formed, which will diffuse and perpetuate their blessings, co- extensively with the Greek language. In a few years, these Institutions, it may be hoped, will all be assumed and supported by the Greeks themselves.

The Committee beg leave to express their confident persuasion, that, in no crisis of past centuries, could the same amount of good to the human race ever have been purchased at so moderate an expense. And this Circular is issued, that the inquiry may be answered by donations in money, to what extent the plan meets the concurrence of the friends of Greece and of mankind.

Its advantages are,
1. That it is simple and practicable. The proposed field is now a free country, where the whole population, thirst for improvement, and where common school education, and all the useful arts, are waiting to receive the impulse of the age.

2. It is cheap. Few things are so dear as a bad school-master; want of practical acquaintance with teaching is the most obvious deficiency, with those who enter upon this important office; model schools, with superior schools for teachers, are now very earnestly called for by the spirit of improvement among ourselves. At the expense of a few thousand dollars, provision may be made in Greece for a system, which will never after need our nursing care.

3. It is timely. The Greeks, exhausted by a terrible war, with most of the institutions which existed before the revolution destroyed, cannot, for years to come, relieve them-selves from that state of ignorance and degradation which threatens the rising race.

4. It promises great results: not only upon Greece, but ultimately upon the whole region of the ancient Roman Empire. If this appeal meets the co-operation which is confidently anticipated, four or five able Instructors will be sent out in the coming Autumn. We invite the formation of Greek Committees, in different cities and towns, to correspond with this Committee; and especially do we cherish the hope, that Associations of Ladies, for the support of the Female High School, and for the general improvement of the sex, will be formed, wherever it is felt, how indispensable are Female intelligence and virtue to a nation's glory and felicity.

At the end of a year, a detailed Report of the receipts from individuals or Auxiliary Committees, and of the proceedings of this Committee, shall be published, and a new election of a Central Committee be made by the donors.

The translation of our common school-books, than is to be found elsewhere. Our com-mon school system is more perfect that even that of the enlightened country whence we drive our lineage. Education here fits directly for the business of life, and is well suited to a people just emerging from revolution, and among whom equal rights are acknowledged. And now, when school-books for modern Greece are yet to be made, better ones probably could not be produced by the labor of half a century there, than we can carry thither, in their vernacular tongue, in half a year. Shall we not then, help the Greek girl to the best thoughts of our writers on Female Education; as well as those of Maria Edgeworth and Hannah More? And, perhaps, hereafter, the youth to a translation of our larger works of science, and the “Library of Useful Knowledge?"

It will be peculiarly honorable to our free and happy citizens, thus to co-operate in the cause of the common schools, in Greece-the very heart and eye of the world. The keys to the mind of Asia, must ever be on the Hellespont, and in the hands of the Greeks. The elevation of Greece will illuminate all those regions which Christianity early civilized. But the sun of Asia is darkened, while Greece is in eclipse. Our school Geometry is a translation from the language of that remarkable people, whose literature has so eminently refined and controlled public sentiment, and who seem destined by Providence to rekindle the lights of science on those plains and mountains where exist the most ancient seats and the holiest monuments of the race of man. It is believed that an American Institution of the kind proposed, planted at Argos or at Athens, will help to bind two great regions of the globe in fellowship; and will be hailed as a generous pledge of what one continent can do for the intellectual and moral elevation of another.

M. BRUEN, Cor. Sec. of the G. S. Committee
New YORK, MAY, 1829

(Hatzidimitriou 365-368)

Source: Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou, Founded on Freedom and Virtue: Documents Illustrating the Impact in the United States of the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1829 (New Rochelle, New York: Aristide D. Caratzas, 2002).