Francis Adams, The Free School System of the United States (London, 1875)

Francis Adams The Free School System of the United States 1875 FrontispageThis book carries information on a broad range of aspects of America schools in the mid- and late-19th century. Chapters covers the structure of schooling systems, their cost and revenues therefore, attendance, religion and morals, teachers and their training, and curricula.

The author, who served as secretary of the UK’s National Education League, also treats the topic of governmental relations (federal to state, state to local). These two quotes underscore the centrality of federalism in U.S. schooling.

The dread of “centralisation” which prevails throughout the States has had the effect of checking every movement for enlarging the powers of the National Government. The whole tide of public sentiment in America is in favour of a perfectly unfettered working of the State systems. (pp. 20-21)

The annual meetings of the National Educational Association are attended by the most prominent educationists from all parts of the Union, and all topics affecting education are discussed. At the meeting of the Association held at Washington, January, 1874, it was resolved unanimously, “That this
convention strongly approves the policy hitherto pursued by the Federal Government, of leaving the people and local Government of each State to manage their own educational affairs without interference, believing that the principle on which this policy is based is as sound educationally as it is politically. (p. 23)

This fascinating book can be read freely on the Internet at It is available in a variety of formats, including PDF, Kindle, and EPub.


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