Founding Principles of America 23: Voter Education, key to Free Republic

Voter Education, key to Free Republic

Founding Principles of America 23: Importance of an Educated Electorate

US Constitution series 23

Principle 23: A free society cannot survive as a republic without a broad program of general education

The English colonists in America undertook something which no nation had ever attempted before—the educating of the whole people.

characteredClear back in 1647 the legislature of Massachusetts passed a law requiring every community of 50 families or householders to set up a free public grammar school to teach the fundamentals of reading, writing, ciphering, history, geography, and Bible study.

Importance of Good Local School Boards

The success of this educational effort was due largely to the careful selection of highly conscientious people to serve on the school committees in each community and supervise the public schools.

European and American Literacy Compared

225px-BenFranklin2The unique and remarkable qualities of this program are better appreciated when it is realized that this was an age when illiteracy was the common lot of most people in Europe. John Adams, who spent many years in France, commented on the fact that of the 24 million inhabitants of France, only 500,000 could read and write. (Koch, The American Enlightenment, 213,217.)

In the American colonies the intention was to have all children taught the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic, so that they could go on to become well-informed citizens through their own diligent self-study. No doubt this explains why all of the American Founders were so well read, and usually from the same books, even though a number of them had received a very limited formal education. The fundamentals were sufficient to get them started, and thereafter they became remarkably well informed in a variety of areas through self-learning. This was the pattern followed by both Franklin and Washington. (Skousen, 251,252)

 

Alexis_de_tocquevilleDe Tocqueville Comments on American Education in 1831

In New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution. in the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon.

Education includes Morality and Politics

It cannot be doubted that in the United States the instruction of the people powerfully contributes to the support of the democratic republic; and such must always be the case, I believe, where the instruction which enlightens the understanding is not separated from moral education.

 

constitution1Even Young Children Trained in the Constitution

To appreciate the literal reality of the emphasis on politics in early American education, one need only examine the popular textbook on political instruction for children. It was called a “Catechism on the Constitution,” and it contained both questions and answers concerning the principles of the American political system. It was written by Arthur J. Stansbury and published in 1828.

Early Americans knew they were in possession of a unique and valuable invention of political science, and they were determined to promote it on all levels of education.

 

Early American Educated to Speak with Eloquence

And whatever may be said to the contrary, a correct use of the English language is, at this day [1843], more general throughout the United States than it is throughout England herself. Daniel Webster

It was commonplace for the many people on the frontier, as well as on the Atlantic seaboard, to speak with a genuine flavor of eloquence. Sermons and orations by men of limited formal education reflected a flourish and style of expression which few Americans could duplicate today. Many of these attributed their abilities to extensive reading of the Bible. Such was the case with Abraham Lincoln. Certainly the classical beauty of the Gettysburg Address and his many other famous expressions cannot be attributed to college training, for he had none.

bible1Cultural Influence of Extensive Bible Reading

Not only did the Bible contribute to the linguistic habits of the people, but it provided root strength to their moral standards and behavioral patterns. As Daniel Webster stated, wherever Americans went, “the Bible came with them.” Then he added:

It is not to be doubted, that to the free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty. The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of especial revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow man. ~Daniel Webster

 

In our own day the public schools have been secularized to the point where no Bible reading is permitted. The Founding Fathers would have counted this a serious mistake.

(Skousen, 253-256)

 

Founding Principles of America 22: Rule of Law protects Constitutional Freedoms

reagan-quote-govt-is-problem

‘The book Reagan wanted
taught in high schools’

In “The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World,” you will discover the 28 principles of freedom America’s Founding Fathers said must be understood and perpetuated by every society that desires peace, prosperity and freedom. Learn how adherence to these beliefs during the past 200 years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5,000 years.

This book describes the problems the Founding Fathers dealt with and how philosophies and ideals collided to form the United States of America. The skills and prosperity of the Jamestown settlers in 1607 greatly contrast those of society after the enactment of the United States Constitution.

Shortly after the Constitution was enacted, a free-enterprise system – an economy with little government influence that flourishes with competition of businesses – was established. It is because of this system that America became the most advanced and powerful country that world history has known.

After highlighting the importance of the nation’s foundation, Skousen covers in detail what went into the design of the Constitution. Surveying the original sources for the principles that inspired the United States, the author shows how the Founders developed these principles from the studies of Cicero, Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith.

Skousen also contrasts the affluence of the young United States with that of the present day, showing that it was because of the free-enterprise system that America produced such astounding inventions and ideas, from jet propulsion to the doubling of life expectancy. Within this narrative of success, Skousen weaves the story of America as a Christian nation, guided by divine providence and created for the liberty and rights of mankind.

This book also analyzes problems throughout history (such as national debt) that have come from failing to adhere to the Constitution.

5000leap“The 5000 Year Leap” gives the reader a greater understanding of the origins of the United States of America, the consequences of deviating from the principles on which it was founded and all the characteristics that have made this nation great.

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