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The officers constitute the body of directors of the Institute, and meet at least once a year, in the winter, to choose a place and outline a programme for the next meeting.
At the meeting of the directors held in Boston, Jan. 1, 1881, an executive committee was appointed to make all arrangements for the holding of the fifty-second annual mceting of the Institute. This committee decided, in accordance with the votes, to hold the meeting at St. Albans, Vt., on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th of July, 1881. Most complete arrangements were made, and all the indications pointed to a very successful meeting. The list of speakers included the names of James A. Garfield, the first teacher-President of the United States, members of his Cabinet, and governors of New England, Judge Tourgee, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, and others, who were to address an open-air meeting on the afternoon of Friday, July 8. The sad news of the assassination of the President of the United States came just as the executive committee at St. Albans was congratulating itself on the complete success of all the arrange
The blow was unexpected and almost overwhelming, but thoughts only of the welfare of the President occupied the mind of all; and for the American Institute of Instruction, President Mowry sent the following telegram to the Executive Mansion :
St. ALBANS, VT., July 3. Col. A. F. ROCKWELL, Secretary:
In behalf of the American Institute of Instruction, officers and members, I desire to express through you, to the President and his family, the great sorrow that pervades all our hearts at the terrible calamity that overshadows and threatens our nation; and our profound sympathy with the President and Mrs. Garfield in these most distressing circumstances
Our own disappointment not to meet the President, his family, and, members of the Cabinet at the approaching session of the Institute, though great, is as nothing in comparison with the deep solicitude which we feel for the recovery of the President and tbe consequent welfare of the country.
We are to-day, however, rejoicing that the President still lives, and hopeful that the encouraging reports flashed to us over the wires indicate his recovery.
The earnest prayers of many teachers go up to-day to our Heavenly Father that He may spare to us our beloved Chief Magistrate, and that his recovery may be speedy and entire.
WILLIAM A. MOWRY, President American Institute of Instruction. Following this sad calamity came the disappointing news to the committee that Judge Tourgee, also, could not come. Great efforts were at once made to fill, at a day's notice, these great gaps in the programme. Letters and telegrams were sent to many leading speakers in all parts of the country. To Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Carl Schurz, G. W. Curtis, and others were telegraphed urgent requests, but from all came the same disappointing replies. Yet, notwithstanding these drawbacks, the committee were able to present a well-filled programme, and as a consequence, the superior teachers came in large numbers, - probably a full thousand. And when there, it was no special virtue to go to every meeting, when each session was arranged with consummate tact to attract the undivided attention. The great audience room of the Congregational church was crowded to its utmost capacity at day and evening sessions, and the interest seemed to gather head to the culminating point in the noble out-door meeting in the public park, on Friday, which proved a great success, and a fitting finale to the exercises of the Institute. As early as 1.30 the grand stand and seats began to fill, and at 2.30 were crowded full, while hundreds were obliged to stand about the outside; making, at a low estimate, at least 3,000 people. Previous to the meeting, the band played several selections. On the platform were seated President Mowry, Gov. Farnham, Gov. Littlefield, Gen. H. K. Oliver, Hon. J. W. Patterson, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Hon. W. C. Smith, C. C. Coffin, Prof. A. Parish, Rev. G. Van Norden, Judge Deavitt, and representatives of the Journal of Education, Boston Journal, Montreal papers, Providence Press, St. Albans Messenger, and the Associated Press.
The speeches - mostly of a political character — were listened to attentively for several hours, and the Institute was closed amidst much enthusiasm. In the evening, a public reception was tendered the members of the Institute, by the Hon. W. S. Smith, of St. Albans, and, as an enthusiastic correspondent writes, “A warm moonlight night, beautiful house and grounds brilliantly illuminated, a cordial host, who entertained in a delightful manner, a band at a little distance discoursing sweet music, and a gay company what need to say that the affair was most pleasant and successful”
As many of the readers of this work may be interested to know more of the president of this most successfu) meeting, we take the liberty of appending a brief sketch of his life, taken from the Journal of Education:
“William A. Mowry, of Providence, R. I, the president of the American Institute of Instruction, is a worthy example of a man who has earned success through merit, and whose elevation to the highest office of honor among New England educators comes from active service in the ranks, and from a ruling desire to render labor values in advance of their rewards. Mr. Mowry's ancestry bear an honored name in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the tribute he has paid to the noble men and women of his name in • The Descendants of Nathaniel Mowry' and 'The Family History of Richard Mowry’is the best evidence that the later stock is loyal to the spirit and traditions of the earlier; and the work he has done in all departments of education attests his fidelity to the family faith.
“Mr. Mowry was born in Rhode Island in 1829. The country school was his best inheritance, next to a good home. At eighteen he commenced his career as a teacher in Mohegan, a country village in Rhode Island. After teaching four years in Burrillville, Uxbridge, and Whitinsville, he fitted for college at Phillips Academy, Andover, under the principalship of ‘Uncle Sam Taylor,' and entered Brown University in 1854. Prevented by ill-health from completing his college course, he left the university and travelled for his health. From September, 1857, to February, 1860, he edited the Rhode Island Schoolmaster, during the most valuable years of that always instructive magazine. From May, 1858, to February, 1864, he taught successfully in the public high school, Providence, with the exception of an honorable service of nine months as captain of Company K, in the Eleventh Regiment Rhode Island Infantry. From 1864 to 1866 he served as superintendent of the public schools of Cranston, R. I. Here, as elsewhere, he did thorough and efficient work in elevating the schools and teaching of that important town. In February, 1864, he opened . The English and Classical School,' a private institution for boys, of which he is senior principal. This school now numbers nearly three hun. dred pupils, whose scholarship and character attest the fidelity and ability of Mr. Mowry and his nearly twenty associate teachers. In 1866, Brown University honored herself and him by conferring the honorary degree of Master of Arts, and subsequently he was made a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
“President Mowry has been active in the educational movements of the State, especially in connection with the Rhode Island Insti
tute of Instruction, of which he has been president. To the re-establishment of the State Normal School, in 1872, he gave valuable aid and cooperation. As a member of the Providence School Board he was a laborious and earnest worker. In the restoration of the American Institute to its pristine vigor and usefulness, Mr. Mowry has given most cordial and efficient work. His educational lectures before institutes and normal schools in all parts of New England have been characterized by clearness, force, weight of argument, and vigor of expression. He has made a success of every enterprise he has yet undertaken, and the conduct of the Institute is no exception to the rule. He well deserves the honor which the teachers of New England have conferred, and his industry, energy, enthusiasm, and unconquerable zeal prove him to be the right man in the right place for these auspicious years of our grand association.”
In conclusion we tender our thanks to the members of the public press, and especially to Miss E. Hatch of the Boston Journal, to whom we are indebted for much of the material in preparing this Preface.
E. NORRIS-SULLIVAN, Stenographic Reporter for the Institute and Editor of this volume.