1647The General Court passed an education law.Government and Public Service, State Government, Education

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Massachusetts; Shurtleff, Nathaniel Bradstreet, 1810-1874; Massachusetts. General Court. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Printed by Order of the Legislature. W. White, 1853, https://archive.org/details/recordsgovernor00courgoog/page/n4/mode/2up, p. 203

The primary purpose of education at this time was religious instruction. In 1647 the General Court passed a law requiring that all towns of more than 50 households teach children to read and write. This act became know as the Old Deluder Satan Law.

“It being one cheife piect of ye ould deluder, Satan, to keepe men from the knowledge of ye Scriptures, as in former times by keeping ye in an unknowne tongue, so in these latter times by pswading from ye use of tongues, yet so at least ye true sence & meaning of ye originall might be clouded by false glosses of saint seeming deceivers, yet learning may not be buried in ye grave of our fathers in ye church & comonwealth, the Lord assisting o’ endeavors, —”

“It is therefore ordered y every towneship in this jurisdiction, aft ye Lord hath increased ye to ye number of 50 households, shall then forthwith appoint one within their towne to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and reade…” (Records, 203)

Any town of 100 households or more was to establish a grammar school. It wasn’t until 1698 that Gloucester took action by establishing a public school.

Massachusetts; Shurtleff, Nathaniel Bradstreet, 1810-1874; Massachusetts. General Court. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Printed by Order of the Legislature, Vol. 2. W. White, 1853, https://archive.org/details/recordsgovernor00courgoog/page/n4/mode/2up.
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