NATIONAL AID TO PUBLIC EDUCATION.
BY HON. H. C. C. ASTWOOD, LATE U. S. CONSUL TO SAN DOMINGO.
(Paper read before the Musical Literary Association of the Ebenezer A. M. E. Church, Washington,
D.C., April 11, 1890.)
THE proposition of national aid to public education has been
almost universally conceded by all civilized nations, since it pre-
pares the citizens to enjoy those high privileges which are the
inherent rights of every member of a community. But on
account of alleged constitutional barriers, it has until now been
denied to the citizens of this country, to the detriment of a large
class of its inhabitants.
The nation is the parent or guardian of all those to whom it
cedes the right of citizenship,which should be jealously guaranteed
and religiously maintained; any dereliction on its part makes it
absolutely responsible for any shortcomings or communistic
ideas of its people. The confederation of States, under the Con-
stitution of the United States, called States' sovereignty, is hereti-
cal when applied to citizenship; because citizenship is above
State sovereignty or any other national consideration. It was
for this that the fathers bled and died, and when freedom and
citizenship were obtained, and before the formation of the
Constitution, or of the States, the infallible declaration was :
" We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
created free and are endowed by their Creator with certain in-
alienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness." The preamble of the fundamental pact of the nation
is even more definite; in the creation of its enactments it begins:
"We, the people of the United States, to form a more perfect
union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide
for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure
the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain
and establish the Constitution for the United States of America."
The Constitution, therefore, clearly defines the right of
the National Government to provide for the education of
all the people; education being the greatest welfare to be guar-
anteed. By it the people become enabled to study its laws, and
acquire the moral, religious and educational requirements so emi-
nently necessary to good and wholesome citizenship.