The financial panic of 1873 affected the schools disastrously. The high school was abandoned, the colored school discontinued, the school years was shortened, vocal music was dropped, the teachers' salaries were cut— thirty-six hundred dollars were taken from the salaries at one fell swoop, and a policy of retrenchment was entered upon which today seems little short of parsimony.
The people were unduly frightened. The expenses of the schools were made an issue in the election, and the retrenchers won by such a large majority that so able school directors as Elias Willits, Harry G. Harding and Almon Kidder were compelled to yield. G. I. Gordon, the able principal of the East Ward, resigned to accept a position in the hign school of Burlington, Iowa. N. C. Campbell, perhaps the ablest public school man Monmouth has ever had, left because the high school over which he was principal was taken away, and in other ways the schools were crippled. The resident teachers, however, accepted the reduction and remained loyally at their posts of duty. From "the crime of '73" the schools did not recover for fifteen years, and then the recovery came slowly; for it was compelled to make headway against ideas and customs that had been intrenched in the public mind for a half a generation.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois
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