The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XXIII. Education
§ 4. Pennsylvania
From the harassed Quakers of Penn’s colony came a far more radical and forward-looking statement of the social theory of education, as befitted those persecuted for their ideals. It is obvious, however, from later records that little more was actually accomplished in Pennsylvania than in the South. The Frame of Government of 1682, with greater precision than any other colonial document, required that “to the end that the poor as well as rich may be instructed in good and commendable learning which is to be preferred before wealth” all children should be instructed “that they may be able at least to read the Scriptures and write by the time they attain to twelve years of age.” Then that there should be neither failure to provide the fundamental practical training nor failure to perceive the social theory underlying it, these makers of society add “and that they [all children] be taught some useful trade and skill, that the poor may work to live, and the rich if they become poor may not want.” But in order to meet the wishes of a heterogeneous population, Pennsylvania within a generation adopted the policy of giving to each religious sect the control of the education of its own youth. This plan remained in force until near the middle of the nineteenth century.