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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Conference of the colored men of Florida, held at Gainesville, February 5, 1884.
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of the millionaires. That more ample common-school advantages are needed can plainly be seen from, the numbers of persons that have reached their majority without a common-school training, since it has been the duty of the State to provide the same for all persons within its borders. The best public policy demands it. The more general education that there is in a State, the more human liberty. Modern political science touches that the best government is that which governs well but governs least; and that the minimum of education is the maximum of governmental restraint. That is, education substitutes the teacher for the sheriff, the schoolhouse for the prison, and the work-shop for the poorhouse. Another reason why the educational advantages should be improved and made sufficient to overcome the illiteracy that prevails largely among us is, that it is now a fixed fact in contemplation of organic law, that the colored people of the United States are an unquestionable part and parcel of the body politic of this country; and, like the white people, we are here to stay. Some few of us may see fit to make our future homes in some foreign country, as Europe, Africa, or elsewhere, like some few of our white friends, but the body of us will remain here in the land of our birth. For the very reason that the whites needed education as a means of ensuring the success of self-government, for those same reasons it is necessary that the opportunity should be afforded to us of obtaining an education, since we occupy a similar relation towards the government that the white people do.
The question of a uniform system of public schools has been discussed in some of the Southern States in an unfavorable light within the last few years. It has been urged that the revenues raised on the property of white people should not be expended in educating the colored people. This false idea has gained such prominence in public circles as to have taken the shape of a movement in some of these States to divide the school taxes so that the white shall raise funds for their children and make the colored people raise funds for theirs. Such a movement is based on the most unsound public policy imaginable. No public institution, like the uniform system of public schools, which bears such an important relation to the primary idea of free government, can be tampered with without jeopardizing the perpetuity of the Government itself. The adoption of such an unwise measure would overthrow the entire system of common school education, hamper and retard the advancement of the State by
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