Monday, April 14, 2008

John Adams: Massachusetts' First Innovation Cheerleader

I'm reading the David McCullough biography of John Adams now. It mentions Adams' work on our Massachusetts constitution, and that Adams inserted some crucial language about the role of education (and specifically, scientific education) in our schools:

    Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country...

(Emphasis is mine.)

According to McCullough, this paragraph was wholly unique at the time: it was "like no other declaration to be found in any constitution ever written until then, or since." You can see it in context here.

How well are we living up to Adams' hopes?

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