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FERRER, Francisco. The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School
Translated by Joseph McCabe
Article published on 26 December 2006

by r-c.
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This booklet, translated into English in 1913, was probably less influential than the assassination of Francisco Ferrer by the Spanish State, which triggered an international movement of protest both among Freemasons and Anarchists. The French and American experiences antedate it.

However, some of the American educators may have read the original or a French version of the booklet and, no doubt, it became a source of inspiration.

Bust of Francisco Ferrer
International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam

October 12, 1909, Francisco Ferrer y Guardia was shot in the trenches of the Montjuich Fortress at Barcelona. A Military Council had found him guilty of being "head of the insurrection" which had, a few months before, lit the flame of civil war in the city and province. The clergy had openly petitioned the Spanish Premier, when Ferrer was arrested, to look to the Modern School and its founder for the source of the revolutionary feeling; and the Premier had, instead of rebuking them, promised to do so. When Ferrer was arrested the prosecution spent many weeks in collecting evidence against him, and granted a free pardon to several men who were implicated in the riot, for testifying against him. These three or four men were the only witnesses out of fifty who would have been heard patiently in a civil court of justice, and even their testimony would at once have crumbled under cross-examination. But there was no cross-examination, and no witnesses were brought before the court. Five weeks were occupied in compiling an enormously lengthy indictment of Ferrer; then twenty-four hours were given to an inexperienced officer, chosen at random, to analyse it and prepare a defence. Evidence sent in Ferrer’s favour was confiscated by the police; the witnesses who could have disproved the case against him were kept in custody miles away from Barcelona; and documents which would have tended to show his innocense were refused to the defending officer against the brutal injustice of the proceedings, the military judges found Ferrer guilty, and he was shot.

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