Supreme Court of New Hampshire.
                CLAREMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT and another,


                             GOVERNOR and another.
                                     No. 92-711.
                                      Dec. 30, 1993
    "Property poor" school districts and school children and taxpayers from each of   
        those districts petitioned for declaratory judgment, alleging that the system by   
        which the state financed education violated the State Constitution.   The Merrimack
        Superior Court, Manias, J., dismissed, and plaintiffs appealed.   The Supreme Court,
        Brock, C.J., held that encouragement of literature clause of State Constitution    
        imposes duty on state to provide constitutionally adequate education to every      
        educable child in public schools in state and to guarantee adequate funding.
         Reversed and remanded.
        West Headnotes
        [1] Schools k19(1)
        [1] Schools k148(1)
        Encouragement of literature clause of State Constitution imposes duty on state to  
        provide constitutionally adequate education to every educable child in public      
        schools in state and to guarantee adequate funding;  terms "shall be the duty . . .
        to cherish" are not merely statement of aspiration but, rather, language commands  
        that state provide education to all its citizens and that it support all public    
        schools.  Const. Pt. 2, Art. 83.
        [2] Schools k159
        Free public education is, at least, important substantive right, as education has  
        been compulsory in state since 1647, and State Constitution expressly recognizes   
        education as cornerstone of democratic system.  Const. Pt. 2, Art. 83.
        [3] Schools k115
        [3] Schools k148(1)
        Right to adequate education mandated by State Constitution is not based on exclusive
        needs of particular individual, but rather, is right held by public to enforce     
        state's duty and any citizen has standing to enforce that right. Const. Pt. 2, Art.
        [4] Schools k19(1)
        [4] Schools k148(1)
        State's constitutional duty to provide constitutionally adequate education and to  
        guarantee adequate funding extends beyond mere reading, writing and arithmetic, but
        also includes broad educational opportunities needed in present society to prepare 
        citizens for their role as participants and as potential competitors in marketplace
        of ideas.  Const. Pt. 2, Art. 83.
         **1376 *183 Shaheen, Cappiello, Stein and Gordon, (Andru H. Volinsky and Arpiar G.
        Saunders, Jr. on the brief, and Mr. Saunders *184 orally), Sulloway and Hollis,

        ( John Burwell Garvey on the brief), and Edward Damon, Concord, on the brief, for    
         Jeffrey R. Howard, Atty. Gen. (Leslie J. Ludtke, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., on the brief
        and orally), for State.
         New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Concord (John E. Tobin, Jr. and Abigail Turner on 
        the brief, and Mr. Tobin orally), for Marie Ayer, Charles and Jeanne Watson, and   
        John Bowler, as amici curiae.
         McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton P.A., Manchester (Jack B. Middleton and Wilbur
        A. Glahn, III on the brief), for Ralph Degnan Hough, President of the New Hampshire
         James F. Allmendinger, Concord, Staff Atty., NEA-New Hampshire, by brief for      
        NEA-New Hampshire, as amicus curiae.
         Theodore E. Comstock, Concord, General Counsel, New Hampshire School Boards Ass'n,
        by brief for New Hampshire School Boards Ass'n, as amicus curiae.
         Douglas & Douglas, Concord (Robert J. Rabuck on the brief), for Granite State     
        Taxpayers' Ass'n and Granite State Legal Foundation, as amici curiae.
         John S. Lawton, by brief, pro se, as amicus curiae.
        BROCK, Chief Justice.
         [1] The Superior Court (Manias, J.) dismissed the plaintiffs' petition for        
        injunctive relief and declaratory judgment for failure to state a claim upon which 
        relief could be granted.   The plaintiffs appeal the court's conclusion that the New
        Hampshire Constitution imposes no duty on the State to support the public schools. 
        We hold that part II, article 83 imposes a duty on the State to provide a          
        constitutionally adequate education to every educable child in the public schools in
        New Hampshire and to guarantee adequate funding.   Accordingly, we reverse and     
        remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
         **1377 The plaintiffs are five "property poor" school districts and five school   
        children and five taxpayers, one from each of the school districts. They filed a   
        petition for declaratory judgment alleging, in six counts, that the system by which
        the State finances education violates the New Hampshire Constitution:  in counts (1)
        and (2) that the State fails to spread educational opportunities equitably among its
        students and adequately fund education, both in violation of part II, article 83;  
        (3) that the foundation aid statutes, RSA 198:27 through *185 33 (1989),           
        unconstitutionally restrain State aid to public education by capping State         
        assistance at eight percent;  (4) and (5) that both the State school finance system
        and the foundation aid statutes deny plaintiffs equal protection;  and (6) that the
        heavy reliance on property taxes to finance New Hampshire public schools results in
        an unreasonable, disproportionate,and burdensome tax in violation of part II,      
        article 5 of the State Constitution.
         Part II, article 83, adopted in 1784 as part of this State's Constitution,        
        originally stated:
         "[Art.] 93. [Encouragement of Literature ...]  Knowledge and learning, generally  
         diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free       
         government;  and spreading the opportunities and advantages of education through  
         the various parts of the country, being highly conducive to promote this end;  it 
         shall be the duty of the legislators and magistrates, in all future periods of this
         government, to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and all       
         seminaries and public schools, to encourage private and public institutions,      
         rewards, and immunities for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce,
         trades, manufacturers, and natural history of the country;  to countenance and    
         inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private  
         charity, industry and economy, honesty and punctuality, sincerity, sobriety, and  
         all social affections, and generous sentiments, among the people."
         The provision was amended in 1877 to prohibit money raised by taxation from being 
        used by religious schools and again in 1903 to add language concerning control of  
        corporations and monopolies.
         The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss each of the six counts. 
        Its order states in part:
         "New Hampshire's Encouragement of Literature Clause contains no language regarding
         equity, uniformity, or even adequacy of education.   Thus, the New Hampshire      
         Constitution imposes no qualitative standard of education which must be met.      
         Likewise, the New Hampshire Constitution imposes no quantifiable financial duty   
         regarding education;  there is no mention of funding or even of 'providing' or    
         'maintaining' education.   The only 'duty' set forth is the amorphous duty 'to    
         cherish ... public schools' and 'to encourage private and public institutions.'   
         *186N.H. Const., pt. 2,  art. 83.   The language of pt. 2, art. 83 is hortatory,  
         not mandatory.
         In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that the N.H. Const., pt. 2, art. 83    
         imposes no duty as set forth in count one to equitably spread educational         
         opportunities and advantages or as set forth in count two to equitably and        
         adequately fund education.   Absent such a duty, counts one and two of the        
         plaintiffs' petition fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and  
         therefore, both counts must be dismissed."
         Because we conclude that the trial court's determination that the State had no    
        constitutional duty to support public education so permeated its decision to dismiss
        counts one through five, we will, at this time, address only the question of whether
        part II, article 83 imposes such a duty.   With respect to count six, because      
        petitioners have not had an opportunity to develop a record in support of their    
        claim, we remand that count to the trial court for its further consideration.   Our
        narrow task, therefore, is to determine whether the trial court committed legal    
        error when it concluded that no duty exists.
         "In interpreting an article in our constitution, we will give the words the same  
        meaning that they must have had to the electorate on the date the vote was cast."  
        Grinnell v. State, 121 N.H. 823, 826, 435 A.2d 523, 525 (1981) (quotation omitted).
         In doing so, we must "place [ourselves] as nearly as possible **1378 in the       
        situation of theparties at the time the instrument was made, that [we] may gather  
        their intention from the language used, viewed in the light of the surrounding     
        circumstances."  Warburton v. Thomas, 136 N.H. 383, 387, 616 A.2d 495, 497 (1992)  
        (quotation omitted).
         Numerous state courts have in recent years decided cases challenging, on          
        constitutional grounds, systems of financing public education.   Most of those cases
        are of limited value to this court because the constitutional provisions at issue  
        contain language dissimilar to ours and were adopted under circumstances different 
        from those existing in New Hampshire in the 1780s. Massachusetts, however, presents
        an exception.   Given that New Hampshire shares its early history with             
        Massachusetts, that we modeled much of our constitution on one adopted by          
        Massachusetts four years earlier, and that the Massachusetts Constitution contains a
        nearly identical provision regarding education, we give weight to the interpretation
        given that provision by the Supreme Judicial Court in McDuffy v. Secretary of the  
        Executive Office of Education, 415 Mass. 545, 615 N.E.2d 516 (1993).   See Warburton
        v. Thomas, 136 N.H. at 391, 616 A.2d at 500.
         *187 An obvious starting point in interpreting part II, article 83 is to determine
        what the particular words used meant in 1784:  "Encouragement: Incitement to any   
        action or practice, incentive;  favour, countenance, support," T. Sheridan, A      
        General Dictionary of the English Language 1780 (Scolbar Press 1967);  "Literature:
        Learning;  skill in letters," id.; "Diffused:  Spread abroad, widespread;  dispersed
        over a large area;  covering a wide range of subjects," Oxford English Dictionary  
        (2d ed. 1989); "Generally:  so as to include every particular, or every individual,"
        id.; "Duty:  That to which a man is by any natural or legal obligation bound,"     
        Sheridan supra;  "Cherish:  To support, to shelter, to nurse up," Sheridan supra.  
        See also McDuffy, 415 Mass. at 562 n. 17, 615 N.E.2d at 525 n. 17.
         The Encouragement of Literature clause, incorporating the sense of these          
        definitions, thus declares that knowledge and learning spread through a community  
        are "essential to the preservation of a free government," and that "spreading the  
        opportunities and advantages of education" is a means to the end of preserving a   
        free, democratic state.   The duty of ensuring that the people are educated is     
        placed upon "the legislators and magistrates, in all future periods of this        
        government," and that duty encompasses supporting all public schools:
         "The breadth of the meaning of these terms ('duty ... to cherish'), together with 
         the articulated ends for which this duty to cherish is established, strongly      
         support ... that the 'duty ... to cherish ... the public schools' encompasses the 
         duty to provide an education to the people of the [state].... [I]t is reasonable  
         therefore to understand the duty to 'cherish' public schools as a duty to ensure  
         that the public schools achieve their object and educate the people."
         McDuffy, 415 Mass. at 564, 615 N.E.2d at 526.
         We do not construe the terms "shall be the duty ... to cherish" in our constitution
        as merely a statement of aspiration.   The language commands, in no uncertain terms,
        that the State provide an education to all its citizens and that it support all    
        public schools.   Decisions of this court are consistent with this conclusion.   See
        In re Davis, 114 N.H. 242, 243, 318 A.2d 151, 152 (1974) (State Constitution       
        "imposes upon government the duty of providing for the education of its citizens");
        State v. Jackson, 71 N.H. 552, 553, 53 A. 1021, 1022 (1902) ("the injunction 'to   
        cherish the interest of literature' " intended as "more than a mere sentimental    
        interest");  *188Farnum's Petition,  51 N.H. 376, 378-79 (1871) (constitution      
        "enjoins the duty" to educate in "comprehensive terms ... as one of paramount public
        importance");  cf. Fogg v. Board of Education, 76 N.H. 296, 299, 82 A. 173, 175    
        (1912) (where student claimed right to state-provided transportation, court noted  
        that providing for education of children, through support and maintenance of public
        schools, has always been governmental duty resting on the State).   To suggest that
        the language is not mandatory because other states' constitutions, many drafted over
        100 years after ours, contain more concrete, **1379 tangible standards of quality of
        education and quantity of support is an analysis we cannot endorse.
         An examination of the "surrounding circumstances" at the time the constitution was
        adopted also supports our conclusion that the framers and the general populace     
        understood the language contained in part II, article 83 to impose a duty on the   
        State to educate its citizens and support the public schools.   See Attorney-General
        v. Morin, 93 N.H. 40, 43, 35 A.2d 513, 514 (1943).   The Puritans who settled here 
        were deeply committed to education. They emigrated "chiefly to enjoy and propagate 
        their religion;  but next to this ... to educate their children."   N. Bouton, The 
        History of Education in New Hampshire:  A Discourse Delivered Before the New       
        Hampshire Historical Society 3 (1833) (transcript available at the New Hampshire   
        State Library). The New England Puritans are credited with "contribut[ing] most that
        was valuable for our future educational development, and establish[ing] in practice
        principles which have finally been generally adopted by our different States." E.  
        Cubberley, Public Education in the United States 15 (1919).
         Between 1641 and 1679, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were united as a single    
        province.   See Manual for the General Court 117 (1891).   The first New England law
        on education was enacted in 1642, which ordered that all children should be taught 
        to read.   See McDuffy, 415 Mass. at 570 n. 27, 615 N.E.2d at 529 n. 27.   In 1647,
        an act was passed by which public schools were established in New Hampshire.       
        McDuffy, 415 Mass. at 571 n. 28, 615 N.E.2d at 529-30 n. 28.  The 1647 law expressed
        the principles that private property was subject to public taxation for support of 
        public schools, that schooling was to be provided for all children, and that the   
        State would control education.  "It can safely be asserted that these two          
        Massachusetts laws of 1642 and 1647 represent not only new educational ideas in the
        English-speaking world, but that they also represent the very foundation stones upon
        which our American public school systems have been constructed."   Cubberley, supra
        at 18.   In *189 1669, the towns of Portsmouth, Dover, and Exeter each contributed 
        money to "aid in erecting a new edifice for Harvard College." Bouton, supra at 10. 
        Such was deemed by those towns as "needful for the perpetuating of knowledge both  
        civil and religious, among us, and our posterity after us."  Bouton, supra at 10   
        (quotation omitted).
         When New Hampshire became a separate province in 1680, it reenacted the education 
        laws of Massachusetts then in existence.   In 1693, the New Hampshire Legislature  
        enacted a law requiring the towns' selectmen to raise money by "an equal rate and  
        assessment" on the inhabitants for the construction and maintenance of the schools 
        "and allowing a Sallary to a School Master."   G. Bush, History of Education in New
        Hampshire 10-11 (1898);  see Laws of New Hampshire, Vol. 1 Province Period 560-61  
        (1679-1702).   A penalty was provided for failure to comply with the statute.   Bush
        supra.   Similar laws were enacted in 1714, 1719, and 1721.   Bush supra.
         The law of 1719 required every town having fifty householders or more to provide a
        schoolmaster to teach children to read and write, and in every town of 100         
        householders, a grammar school to be kept.   Laws of New Hampshire, Vol. 2 Province
        Period 336-37 (1702-1745).   A penalty was to be assessed for failing to comply with
        the law, to be paid "towards the Support of Such School or Schools within this     
        Province where there may be most need."  Id.  The law of 1721 stated:
         "Whereas the selectmen of Sundry Towns within this Province often Neglect to      
         provide Grammar Schools for their Respective Towns whereby their youths Loose much
         of their Time, to the great Hindrance of their learning, For Remedy whereof Be it 
         Enacted ... That Not only Each Town but each parish within this Province Consisting
         of one Hundred Families shall be Constantly Provided with a Grammar School....  And
         [if] any such Town or Parish ... is Destitute of a Grammar School for the space of
         one month, the Selectmen ... shall forfeit ... the Sum of Twenty pounds for Every 
         Such Neglect to be paid out of their own Estates, & to be **1380 applyed towards  
         the Defraying the Charges of the Province[.]"
         Id. at 358.
         Although these laws required the towns to fund public education, Governor Wentworth
        made clear in an address to the Council Chamber of the House of Assembly, on April 
        13, 1771, that the duty to educate remained with the State:  "Religion--Learning,  
        and Obedience to the Laws, are so obviously the Duty & Delight of Wise Legislators,
        that their mention, justifies my Reliance on your whole *190 Influence being applied
        to inculcate, spread & Support their Effect, in ev'ry Station of Life."   Governor 
        Wentworth, Executive Papers & Correspondence (1771).   It is also apparent from    
        Governor Wentworth's subsequent message to the General Assembly on December 14,    
        1771, that the local town officials had failed to meet their duties under the prior
        laws and that corrective action was necessary by the State itself:
         "Among other important Considerations, The promoting of learning very obviously   
         calls for Legislative Care.   The Insufficiency of our present Laws for this      
         purpose, must be too evident, seeing nine tenths of your Towns are wholly without 
         Schools, or have such vagrant foreign Masters as are much worse than none:  Being 
         for the most part unknown in their principles & deplorably illiterate."
         New Hampshire Provincial Papers Vol. VII 287 (1764-1776).   The General Assembly  
        replied on December 30, 1771:
         "We beg leave to observe that we think it very a'propos that you have by order of 
         your message plainly pointed out the necessary [connection] between good Education
         & the prosperous state of the People--for as they by the constitution have a share
         in the Governmt it is certainly of importance they should be able to sustain the  
         part they are to bear with honor to themselves & with prosperity to the State which
         without such an Education is hardly feasably But without detaining your Excellency
         with a long detail of particulars, it is with pleasure we observe the extensive   
         care your Excellency discovers for the welfare of the people under your Governmt by
         pointing out many different things as the proper objects of their attention of the
         house, all which they will consider as other necessary affairs will permit and do 
         what they shall after deliberate consultation."
         Id. at 290-91.
         Against this background, the constitutional convention began its work drafting the
        State Constitution in 1781.   The contention that, despite the extensive history of
        public education in this State, the framers and general populace did not understand
        the language contained in part II, article 83 to impose a duty on the State to     
        support the public schools and ensure an educated citizenry is unconvincing.       
        Indeed, in 1795 Governor Gilman addressed the Senate and House of Representatives, 
         "The encouragement of Literature being considered by the Constitution as one of the
         important Duties of Legislators *191 and Magistrates, and as essential to the     
         preservation of a free Government, will always require the care and attention of  
         the Legislature."
         Governor Gilman, Executive Papers & Correspondence (1795).   To which the House and
        Senate replied:
         "The encouragement of Literature is a sacred and incumbent Duty upon the          
         Legislature.   Possessing a Constitution of Government which is founded upon the  
         broad basis of the natural rights of mankind, we feel on our part, the strongest  
         obligation to revere, to cherish, and to support it.   Without a competent share of
         information diffused generally through the community, the natural as well as the  
         acquired rights, and the duties to which the social compact necessarily subjects  
         us, must be imperfectly understood, and consequently will be liable to be perverted
         and neglected.   We shall therefore most cordially embrace all proper measures to 
         diffuse Knowledge and Information, to promote Literature and to cherish seminaries
         of Learning as the most direct and certain means to perpetuate to posterity that  
         Constitution, which forms our Glory, our Safety, and our Happiness."
         Id.  This statement has significant probative value as an indication that the     
        contemporary understanding was that part II, article 83 **1381 imposed a duty on the
        State to provide universal education and to support the schools.
         We are unpersuaded by the State's argument that the fact that no State funding was
        provided at all for education in the first fifty years after ratification of the   
        constitution demonstrates that the framers did not believe part II, article 83 to  
        impose any obligation on the State to provide funding.   But see W. Gifford,       
        Colebrook "A Place Up Back of New Hampshire" 11 (1993) (resolution of Senate and   
        House approved July 7, 1846, granting 10,000 acres of land to trustees of Colebrook
        Academy).  "That local control and fiscal support has been placed in greater or    
        lesser measure through our history on local governments does not dilute the        
        validity" of the conclusion that the duty to support the public schools lies with  
        the State.  McDuffy, 415 Mass. at 606, 615 N.E.2d at 548.  "While it is clearly    
        within the power of the [State] to delegate some of theimplementation of the duty to
        local governments, such power does not include a right to abdicate the obligation  
        imposed ... by the Constitution."  Id.
         [2][3] Having identified that a duty exists and having suggested the nature of that
        duty, we emphasize the corresponding right of the *192 citizens to its enforcement.
         For over two hundred years New Hampshire has recognized its duty to provide for the
        proper education of the children in this State.   Since 1647, education has been   
        compulsory in New Hampshire, and our constitution expressly recognizes education as
        a cornerstone of our democratic system.   We must conclude, therefore, that in New 
        Hampshire a free public education is at the very least an important, substantive   
        right.   See Carson v. Maurer, 120 N.H. 925, 931-32, 424 A.2d 825, 830-31 (1980);  
        cf. Horton v. Meskill, 195 Conn. 24, 486 A.2d 1099 (1985).   The right to an       
        adequate education mandated by the constitution is not based on the exclusive needs
        of a particular individual, but rather is a right held by the public to enforce the
        State's duty.   Any citizen has standing to enforce this right. See Fogg v. Board of
        Education, 76 N.H. 296, 82 A. 173.
         We do not define the parameters of the education mandated by the constitution as  
        that task is, in the first instance, for the legislature and the Governor. There is
        a wealth of historical data upon which the legislature and the Governor may choose 
        to draw in the pursuit of their duty, spanning more than three hundred years from  
        the 1647 statutory mandate that youths be instructed "so far as they may be fitted 
        for the University," to more recently recommended standards and practices such as  
        the State Department of Education's 1958 report on Minimum Standards and Recommended
        Practices for New Hampshire Secondary Schools.   The Encouragement of Literature   
        clause expressly recognizes that a free government is dependent for its survival on
        citizens who are able to participate intelligently in the political, economic, and 
        social functions of our system.   The duty placed on the State encompasses         
        cherishing the public schools.   The constitution also provides that the legislature
        and the Governor have a duty to encourage "the promotion of agriculture, arts,     
        sciences, commerce, trades, [and] manufacturers" and inculcate "the principles of  
        humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and economy,
        honesty and punctuality, sincerity, sobriety, and all social affections, and       
        generous sentiments, among the people."  N.H. CONST. pt. II, art. 83.   The        
        education necessary to meet the duty to cherish public schools must, of course, "be
        adapted to the various crises of human affairs." M'Culloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 
        Wheat.) 316, 415, 4 L.Ed. 579 (1819) (emphasis omitted).
         [4] Given the complexities of our society today, the State's constitutional duty  
        extends beyond mere reading, writing and arithmetic.   It also includes broad      
        educational opportunities needed in today's society to prepare citizens for their  
        role as participants and as potential competitors in today's marketplace of ideas. 
        Cf. *193Seattle Sch. Dist.  No. 1 of King Cty. v. State, 90 Wash.2d 476, 585 P.2d 71
        (1978).   We are confident that the legislature and the Governor will fulfill their
        responsibility with respect to defining the specifics of, and the appropriate means
        to provide through public education, the knowledge and learning essential to the   
        preservation of a free government.
         **1382 We remand the plaintiffs' petition for further proceedings consistent with 
        this opinion.
         Reversed and remanded.
         THAYER, J. did not sit;  GRIMES, C.J., retired, sat by special assignment under RSA
        490:3;  all concurred.