Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, September 23, 1864


The handsome and costly building lately erected on the corner of Bush and Taylor streets, was dedicated yesterday morning. The first part of the ceremonies consisted of some vocal and instrumental music.

Mayor Coon made a plain, sensible speech, pertinent to the occasion, and delivered the keys of the edifice into the hands of Mr. Tait, Superintendent of the Public Schools, who read a carefully prepared and rather interesting document relating to educational matters in the city and county of San Francisco. According to his estimate, there are about 29,000 persons among us under the age of eighteen years; of these, 18,000 were born in California; 6,000 attend the Public, and nearly 5,000 the Private Schools; 2,600 children, old enough to receive instruction, attend no School at all, and would not if they could; and there is a still larger number that would if they could, but are debarred by the want of School accommodations at present. The new Bush Street School contains twelve classes, numbering in the aggregate seven hundred and sixty pupils.

Mr. Denman, the Principal of the School, followed with a brief but interesting history of the rise and progress of the Public School system of San Francisco, and after a song by the girls, the Rev. Dr. Bellows delivered what was probably the ablest address that such an occasion ever called forth, either here or any where else. There were two things in his discourse which marked the profound thinker, and which had in them more of significance and matter for serious reflection than all the speeches and sermons we have heard in a year. He said California had been blessed beyond all other lands in her mild and salubrious climate, and she was proud of it and grateful for it - but let her look to it that this blessing be not turned into a curse. There was danger of it; there was unquestionably great and serious danger of it. There was room for profound apprehension for the future of a land that had no firesides! It was around the home fireside, in the midst of the sacred home circle, when the toils, and the vanities and the cares of the day were over, and the world, with its pomp and wretchedness, and its sin and show and folly, shut out and forgotten, that those sweet and holy influences were brought to bear that trained young hearts in the love of the good and the abhorrence of evil; first impressions that clung to them, and formed and ennobled their characters, and fitted them to mould and purify society and advance the well being of the State in after life. He feared for the future happiness of a land without these fireside influences. In another division of his address the speaker dwelt upon the tremendous responsibilities resting upon those here in whose keeping was entrusted the moral, religious and educational training of the young, and said that in California those responsibilities were incalculably greater than in any other section of the Union, for upon them devolved the work of laying the foundations of a society and a government which, at the end of this generation, must be delivered into the hands of a community of young men and young women, with no old and experienced heads left among them to guide and watch over them with that sound wisdom and judgment which can only be gained by fighting the hard battle of life, and with few among their own numbers who have had an opportunity of getting even a theoretical idea of the worldly knowledge and wisdom that would have fallen to them in a land where old men and old women were numerous. He met only youths and maidens, comparatively speaking, in all the walks of life upon this Pacific Coast - a section of the world where forty years entitled a man to be called venerable. From his observation of the character, and habits, and domestic training of the new generation, full of life and activity, and impatient of restraint, which he saw growing up here, debarred from association with age and from whole some instruction from the experienced, California had need to fear for her well-being when her few remaining veterans shall have passed away, and left this great and powerful State, with its mighty interests, in the keeping of a community who are men and women in age, but merely boys and girls in wisdom and experience. This was why he considered that the teachers of the youth on this coast were burthened with heavier responsibilities than those of any other land. The task before them is to raise up a great and good people, out of an army of youths and maidens springing up in a land where aged men and women are not, and firesides are unknown.

Dr. Bellows uttered many a great and original thought during his oration, but none seemed so new and startling, and withal so pregnant with significance as these two which we have attempted to set down here in outline. The spirit of prophecy was upon him. It will be well if California heeds the warning he has proclaimed to her.


Dr. Bellows was followed by the Rev. Mr. Mingins and Dr. Sawyer. Their addresses contained nothing worth reporting, and only had the effect of postponing the calisthenic exercises of the school girls till two o'clock, thus disappointing many who had come on purpose to see them. Sawyer lauded the Board and the building, but he neglected to mention the salaries of the poor teachers. And he abused the newspapers for censuring the Board of Education - warned the people to disbelieve everything editors and reporters published against that spotless body of men.

Return to Call index


Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search