South Carolina - Acts on Education Topics

An Act to Establish Free Schools Throughout the State.

December 21, 1811

The Statutes at Large of South Carolina - Volume V, Pages 639-641

I. Be it enacted, by the honorable the Senate and House of'Repiesentatives, now met and sitting in General Assembly, and by the authority of'the same, That immediately after the passing of this Act there shall be established in each election district within this State, a number of fiee schools, equal to the number of members which such district is entitled to send to the House of Representatives in the Legislature of this State.

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in each of these schools the primary elements of learning, reading, writing and arithmetic, shall always be taught, and such other branches of education as
the commissioners to be hereinafter appointed may from time to time direct.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every citizen of this State shall be entitled to send his or her child or children, ward or wards, to any free school in the district where he or she may reside, free from any expense whatsoever on account of tuition; and where more children shall apply for admission at any one school than can be conveniently educated therein, a preference shall always be given to poor orphans and the children of indigent and necessitous parents.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That for the support and maintenance of the said free schools, the sum of three hundred dollars per annum for each school, is hereby and for ever appropriated, to be paid out of the treasury of this State, in the manner hereinafter directed, until other sufficient funds may by law be provided.

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That for the purpose of carrying this Act into effect, there shall be appointed a number of commisioners in each election district, which number shall not be less than three nor more than thirteen.

VI. And be it further enacted hy the authority aforesaid, That the said commissioners shall be appointed by the legislature, by nomination, and shall continue in office for three years from the time of their appointment, and until a new appointment shall be made.

VII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the commissioners of the free schools shall have power to determine the situation of the schools in each district, to appoint masters for each school, and to remove them at pleasure, to arrange the system of instruction until some general system be organized, to decide on the admission of scholars, and the preference to be given in all cases of doubt or difficulty, and to superintend generally the management of schools in their respective districts, and shall have power to draw on the comptroller for the sums appropriated for the schools in their respective districts.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That whenever the commissioners, or a majority of them, in any district, shall be of opinion that the objects of this Act would be better promoted by increasing or diminishing the number of schools allowed to such district, the said commissioners shall be, and they are hereby, empowered to increase or diminish the number of schools in such district, and to draw for and apply the whole amount allowed by this Act to such districts, to the support of the schools so increased or diminished in number.

IX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the commissioners in each district shall meet together annually, on the fourth Monday of January in each year, and quarterly on the fourth Mondays of April, July and October; and at their anniversary meetings shall annually elect a chairman and secretary, and shall fill up the vacancies which may have happened in their board. And on the death, resignation, or absence from the State of the chairman or secretary of any board of commissioners, the members at the next quarterly meeting, provided a majority be present, shall appoint a successor.

X. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the secretary of each board of commissioners shall keep a regular journal of the transactions of the said board, which shall be always open to the inspection of the legislature.

XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in all cases where the sum of money allotted by this Act for the support of each school shall be found insufficient to maintain a master for the whole year, that then the commissioners shall be authorized to employ a master for the greatest length of time for which sum a competent person can be engaged.

XII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every board of commissioners throughout the State shall, at their quarterly meeting, on the fourth Monday of October in each year, make a regular return to the legislature, or to any person whom the legislature may appoint, of the number of months during the year preceding their said meeting which each school in their respective districts has been open for the reception of scholars; of the number of scholars that during each quarter attended the respective schools; of the sums drawn for, on account of each school, with the date of the drafts; and may transmit any observations on the state or regulations of the schools, which may appear to them necessary or important.

XIII. And in order to regulate and check the expenditure of the money which by this Act is appropriated for the support of the free schools; Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That as soon as the commissioners in each district shall have located the schools in their respective districts, they shall designate each school by number or by name, and give notice thereof to the comptroller of the treasury of the State; and every order drawn on the comptroller, for the money appropriated by this Act, for the support of each school, shall be signed by the chairman and secretary of the board of commissioners for the district in which the said school may be situated; shall express by name the school on account of which the order is drawn, and shall not be for a smaller sum than seventy-five dollars, unless on the death, resignation or removal of an instructor, the sum so drawn for shall be the whole amount which may be due.

XIV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That until the number of schools established by the State shall be sufficient to educate the children in every part of each district, the commissioners shall be authorized and required, if they think it expedient or necessary, to remove the schools, annually, into different parts of their respective districts. Provided nevertheless, that no school shall be established in any part of any district, unless the inhabitants shall, at their own expense, provide a sufficient school house for the accommodation of the scholars.

XV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in all districts where a school or schools are already or may hereafter be established by private funds or individual subscription, it shall be lawful for the commissioners of the free schools, at their discretion, to unite such part or parts of the funds provided by this Act for such districts with such school or schools, in such manner as may appear to them best calculated to prromote the objects of this Act.

XVI. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That the number of commissioners of free schools, in each election district throughout the State, shall be as follows, viz: For St. Philip's and St. Michael's, thirteen; for St. John's, Colleton, five; for Prince William's, five; for Winyaw, nine; for All Saints, three; for St. James, Goose Creek, three; for St. Paul's, five; for Williamsburgh, five; for Kingston, three; for St. Helena, five; for St. Luke's, five; for Barnwell, seven; for Clarendon, five; for Chesterfield, three; for Edgefield, thirteen; for Greenville, nine; for Saxegotha, five; for Lewisburg, three; for Marlborough, five; for Orange, five; for Richland, five; for Union, seven; for St. Andrew's, three; for St. Peter's, five; for St. Stephen's, three; for Liberty, five; for St. James, Santee, five; for St. John's, Berkeley, seven; for St. George, Dorchester, three; for St. Bartholomew's, nine; for St. Thomas and St. Dennis, three; for Christ Church, three; for Abbeville, eleven; for Chester, seven; for Claremont, seven; for Darlington, five; for Fairfield, nine; for Kershaw, five; for Lancaster, five; for Laurens, nine; for Newberry, nine; for Pendleton, thirteen; for Spartanburgh, nine; for York, seven.

In the Senate House, the twenty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eleven, and in the thirty-sixth year of the Independence of the United States of America.

SAMUEL WARREN, President of the Senate.
JOHN GEDDES, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Click Here to see a summary of the number of schools authorized and the number of school commissioners to appoint in each district (county) and/or election district. 

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