Resolution regarding Teachers’ Examinations, [2 December 1840]1
Resolved, that the Committee on Education be instructed to enquire into the expediency of providing by law for the examination, as to their qualifications of persons offering themselves as School-teachers, and that no teacher shall receive any part of the ^Public^ School Funds, who shall not have successfully passed such examination; and that they report by Bill or otherwise—2
Com—[Committee] on Education
Dec.[December] 2nd 1840
Dec.[December] 2nd 1840
Com dis[Committee discharged]
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the resolution in its entirety.
On December 2, 1840, Lincoln introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives. The House refused to table the resolution by a vote of 40 yeas to 49 nays, with Lincoln voting nay. The House took no further action.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 46-47.
2Illinois was slow to embrace education reform and teacher training. In 1825, the General Assembly enacted legislation to establish free schools, but this act neither mentioned teachers nor established criteria for their training or certification. None of the colleges or academies incorporated in the 1830s offered teacher education. Only Cook County empowered its school inspectors to vet candidates for teaching positions.
Viewing public education as a vehicle for economic prosperity and cultural solidity, the Whig Party became a staunch proponent of educational reform and teacher training. Lincoln endorsed the Whig belief in the importance of qualified teachers, as evidenced by his proposed resolution. The General Assembly incorporated the substance of this resolution into section 81 of an act establishing and maintaining common schools.
“An Act Providing for the Establishment of Free Schools,” 15 January 1825, Revised Laws of Illinois (1833), 556-62; “An Act relating to Schools in Township 39 North, Range 14 East,” 6 February 1835, Laws of Illinois (1835), 161-63; Robert P. Howard, Illinois: A History of the Prairie State (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1972), 101, 173-82 ;Abraham Lincoln to the People of Sangamon County; Jurgen Herbst, And Sadly We Teach: Teacher Education and Professionalization in American Culture (Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 12-32.
Handwritten Document, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, GA Session: 12-1, Illinois State Archives (Springfield, IL).