M OST teachers, even in the days of the first settlers, gave some instruction in mathematics, but it was a long time before such instruction was made obligatory. In Massachusetts only reading and writing were required in the elementary schools until the enactment of a law in 1789, which said there must also be arithmetic, the English language, orthography, and decent behavior. Of these added requirements the first was generally felt to be of the most practical importance, and a reputation as an "arithmeticker" was to any teacher a valuable asset. Nothing was more likely to assist a man in getting a school than the ability to do any sum in arithmetic. To be "great in figures" was to be learned.
Books by native writers in all departments had begun to supersede those imported from England, and in place of Hodder's and Dilworth's Arithmetics, the famous treatise by Nicholas Pike of Newbury-port, published in that town in 1788, gained wide acceptance — an acceptance aided, no doubt, by the flattering testimonials it received from George Washington and other dignitaries. It was a pretentious 8vo of 512 pages with a range almost encyclopaedic, and it served to give tone to all the arithmetic study