I fear I have dwelt too long upon this subject. Another presents itself to my mind, which I think is indeed great and important; I mean the education of our children and youth. Perhaps the minds even of infants may receive impressions, good or bad, at an earlier period than many imagine. It has been observed, that “education has a greater influence on manners, than human laws can have.” Human laws excite fears and apprehensions, least crimes committed may be detected and punished: But a virtuous education is calculated to reach and influence the heart, and to prevent crimes. A very judicious writer, has quoted Plato, who in shewing what care for the security of States ought to be taken of the education of youth, speaks of it as almost sufficient to supply the place both of Legislation and Administration. Such an education, which leads the youth beyond mere outside shew, will impress their minds with a profound reverence of the Deity, universal benevolence, and a warm attachment and affection towards their country. It will excite in them a just regard to Divine Revelation, which informs them of the original character and dignity of Man; and it will inspire them with a sense of true honor, which consists in conforming as much as possible, their principles, habits, and manners to that original character. It will enlarge their powers of mind, and prompt them impartially to search for truth in the consideration of every subject that may employ their thoughts; and among other branches of knowledge, it will instruct them in the skill of political architecture and jurisprudence; and qualify them to discover any error, if there should be such, in the forms and administration of Governments, and point out the method of correcting them. But I need not press this subject, being persuaded, that this Legislature from the inclination of their minds, as well as in regard to the duty enjoined by the Constitution, will cherish “the interest of Literature, the Sciences and all their Seminaries.”
Legislation is within your department; yet the Constitution assigns a part to be taken by the Governor when Bills, and Resolves intended to operate as Laws, shall be presented to him, which is, merely to state objections if he has any, of which the Legislature will judge and finally determine. Let me in treat you to dispatch the weightier business, so early in the session, as to afford me opportunity to perform my duty, with due consideration and care.
I have communications to make, such as the state of the Treasury—of the military stores belonging to the Commonwealth, and others, which I will transmit to you by the Secretary.
1 Hancock died October 8, 1793, and Adams became Governor; he was thereafter elected to that office in the years 1794, 1795, and 1796.
FEBRUARY 19, 1794