THE DISTRICT SCHOOLS
T HE years after the Revolution, till about 1840, form the most picturesque period in our educational history. This was preeminently the period of the district school; and while I refer especially, in what follows, to the experiences of Massachusetts, these experiences did not differ essentially from those of the states neighboring. At first the prevailing poverty and rusticity and loose government made it difficult to maintain any school organization that was at all adequate. Many communities had no schoolhouse until the beginning of the nineteenth century, but hired a room in some dwelling and furnished it with desks and benches.
In colonial times, either the town in its meetings chose the master, fixed his salary, and determined the conditions on which pupils were admitted, or else this business was turned over to the selectmen. Now, however, the control of school affairs in each division of the town was delegated to a " prudential committeeman" elected by the people of his own district. The amount of money to be raised for school support was still determined by the town and was assessed with the other taxes, but after its distri-