Boston Latin School is the oldest school in America. It was founded April 23, 1635 by the Town of Boston (see Footnotes), antedating Harvard College by more than a year. The curriculum of the school is centered in the humanities, its founders sharing with the ancient Greeks the belief that the only good things are the goods of the soul. Edmund Burke referred to America as exemplifying the "dissidence of dissent." From its beginning, Boston Latin School has taught its scholars dissent with responsibility and has persistently encouraged such dissent.
|Establishment of the school was due in great measure to the influence of the Reverend John Cotton, who sought to create in the New World a school like the Free Grammar School of Boston, England, in which Latin and Greek were taught. The first classes were held in the home of the Master, Philemon Pormort (see Footnotes). From the earliest years the town assigned public funds to the support of the school. It was eventually voted "to allow forever fifty pounds to the Master, and a house, and thirty pounds to an usher" (assistant teacher). In 1638, Pormort's assistant, Daniel Maude, succeeded him as Master, and conducted classes in his own home until 1643.|
Little is known of Maude's successor, John Woodbridge, except that he is supposed to have been the first minister at Andover and that he remained in office for approximately one year. In 1650, Robert Woodmansey became the schoolmaster with a salary of "fifty pounds a year." He was followed in 1667 by the famous colonial poet and physician Benjamin Thompson.
On December 29, 1670, the celebrated Ezekiel Cheever was invited to become Head Master. Cheever was well known throughout the colonies, for he had written the famous Accidence, which was the accepted Latin grammar. Upon his death on August 21, 1708, Cotton Mather, the renowned divine, remarked, "We generally concur in acknowledging that New England has never known a better teacher."