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In Common Council, June 6, 1861. THE Committee on Public Instruction, to whom was referred the memorial of Robert B. Forbes, for the establishment of a Nautical School, have considered the subject, and beg leave to
That they deem the education of men for the commercial marine one of the most important branches of instruction in fitting men for the business of life. It is a fact well known, however, that the merchant service has greatly deteriorated during late years both in respect to physical and moral qualities; and the proportion of American-born seamen engaged in navigating the vessels of the United States continually diminishes. It requires no argument to convince minds familiar with commerce that the loss of business and of position in relation to other countries must be great, unless some efficient and immediate measures are adopted to restore the character of our sailors to the standard of former days. Already some steps have been taken by other municipalities, and even by State authorities, to establish nautical schools for the express instruction of young men in the profession of the mariner. The interests of the City of Boston are so strongly united with the success of American merchant vessels that she ought, for her own protection and for the advancement of her material wealth, to foster and improve the mercantile marine. The execution of any plan, however, is surrounded with so many embarassments that the Committee have hesitated to make any specific recommendations lest another scheme, upon maturer deliberation, might prove more satisfactory. They have relied in a great degree upon the known wisdom of Commodore Forbes and Captain Sleeper, who represented the Board of Trade and the Marine Society respectively, before the Committee, giving them much valuable information, and offering for their consideration several different plans for the desired establishment. The Committee are in favor of the proposition submitted by Commodore Forbes, known as his second proposition, with some slight modifications. It is substantially as follows:
To purchase a ship of 800 or 1,000 tons, to be fitted with jury masts and yards of a description to be easily handled, and at the same time adapted to illustrate all the manquvres of a ship actually at sea, and if necessary, to have her housed over; to place this ship at anchor in the channel for nine months of the year, and have her lie at some wharf the remainder of the year; to require only the mate, boatswain, and crew to live on board, permitting the captain and officers to be ashore, if they should choose. A vessel of the above-mentioned tonnage would accommodate three or four hundred boys, who could be instructed in the common branches of an English education and in practical seamanship and navigation, as day scholars, to be supported by their parents at home. Such a ship could be purchased and fitted for about $10,000 to $12,000. The remaining expenses would be about as follows:
$ 1,200 1,392
The Committee think it safe to say that, exclusive of the salaries of teachers, cost of books, &c., the expenses would not be more than $5,000 per annum for three or four hundred boys, who would have all the physical benefits arising from constant and healthful exercise, and would be acquiring the elements of education in a useful calling at a less expense to the City than if they were receiving instruction in our grammar schools. Even if all the boys so trained should not adopt the profession of the sea, the physical and intellectual training which they would receive would not be lost to the community. We feel confident that such a school would be a success, and respectfully recommend that measures be taken for its establishment.