Journal of the House of Delegates Session of 1877-8 *
Education is a great blessing when of the proper sort, and properly gained. There is no one who longs for it more than I. There is no one who sees in it more of everything that goes to form the free citizen -- the "consummate flower" of a nation's growth. But a state has no more right to educate its youths than an individual his children, at the expense of creditors. The taint of the source will cling to the education, and instead of nurturing noble men, there will grow up in our midst those who will feel through life, how dark a shadow even their education casts upon the state's history.
Our fathers did not need free schools to make them what they were. Happy this generation could it rival them in those virtues that go to make up the glory of a commonwealth! They would not have tolerated them on the soil of Virginia had they to be established by the denial of their honest debts.
The friends of free schools make a woeful blunder if they by such means as this bill proposes, to build them up on their usefulness. They are striking them, as well as the state's fair fame, a most fatal blow.
Public free schools are not a necessity. The world, for hundreds of years, grew in wealth, culture, and refinement, without them. They are a luxury, adding, when skillfully conducted, it may be, to the beauty and power of a state, but to be paid, for like any other luxury, by the people who wish their benefits.