Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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LANCASTER, Joseph, educator, born in London, 25 November, 1778; died in New York city, 24 October, 1838. At the age of sixteen he decided to become a clergyman, but afterward united with the Society of Friends, by which he was long afterward disowned. In 1798 he opened at Southwark a school for poor children, whom he taught almost gratuitously. For many years he was actively engaged in delivering lectures, and forming schools in various parts of England on the plan of employing the more advanced pupils in a school to instruct the class next below themselves, a plan that had been originally introduced into England from India by Dr. Andrew Bell. For many years the contest between the friends of these two men as to which was entitled to priority was very acrimonious. His labors in giving this system a notoriety it would not otherwise have obtained, while gaining him applause, kept him poor; and in 1818 he emigrated to the United States. His system had been previously introduced into American schools to a considerable extent, so that he was not pecuniarily benefited by the change. After visiting South America and the West Indies, he went in 1829 to Canada, where the legislature made him some pecuniary grants to enable him to give his system a fair trial. But he soon became embarrassed again; some of his friends purchased for him a small annuity, and he removed to New York, where he was run over by a carriage in the street, and died from the injuries that he received. His family went to Mexico, where, under the name of Lancaster-Jones, several of his grandchildren have attained note in politics. Under the management of a National Lancasterian society his system has been adopted in that country, as it has to a lesser extent in Colombia and other parts of South America. Lancaster published "Improvements in Education" (London, 1803; New York, 1807); "'The British System of Education" (Washington, 1812); and "Epitome of the Chief Events and Transactions of my own Life" (New Haven, 1833). See "Life of Lancaster," by his friend William Corston.
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