The founders of the Republic viewed their revolution primarily in political rather than economic or social terms. And they talked about education as essential to the public good—a goal that took precedence over knowledge as occupational training or as a means to self-fulfillment or self-improvement. Over and over again the Revolutionary generation, both liberal and conservative in outlook, asserted its conviction that the welfare of the Republic rested upon an educated citizenry and that schools, especially free public schools, would be the best means of educating the citizenry in civic values and the obligations required of everyone in a democratic republican society. All agreed that the principal ingredients of a civic education were literacy and the inculcation of patriotic and moral virtues, some others adding the study of history and the study of principles of the republican government itself.
The founders, as was the case of almost all their successors, were long on exhortation and rhetoric regarding the value of civic education, but they left it to the textbook writers to distill the essence of those values for school children. Texts in American history and government appeared as early as the 1790s. The textbook writers turned out to be very largely of conservative persuasion, more likely Federalist in outlook than Jeffersonian, and almost universally agreed that political virtue must rest upon moral and religious precepts. Since most textbook writers were New Englander, this meant that the texts were infused with Protestant and, above all, Puritan outlooks.
In the first half of the Republic, civic education in the schools emphasized the inculcation of civic values and made little attempt to develop participatory political skills. That was a task left to incipient political parties, town meetings, churches and the coffee or ale houses where men gathered for conversation. Additionally as a reading of certain Federalist papers of the period would demonstrate, the press probably did more to disseminate realistic as well as partisan knowledge of government than the schools. The goal of education, however, was to achieve a higher form of unum of the U.S. and on several U.S. coins) for the new Republic. In the middle half of the nineteenth century, the political values taught in the public and private schools did not change substantially from those celebrated in the first fifty years of the Republic. In the textbooks of the day their rosy hues if anything became golden. To the resplendent values of liberty, equality, and a benevolent Christian morality were now added the middle-class virtues-especially of New England-of hard work, honesty and integrity, the rewards of individual effort, and obedience to parents and legitimate authority. But of all the political values taught in school, patriotism was preeminent; and whenever teachers explained to school children why they should love their country above all else, the idea of liberty assumed pride of place.
Question: The passage deals primarily with the
- content of early textbooks on American history and government
- role of education in late eighteenth-and early to mid-nineteenth-century America
- influence of New England Puritanism on early American values
- origin and development of the Protestant work ethic in modern America
- establishment of universal free public education in America
Question: According to the passage, the founders of the Republic regarded education primarily as
- a religious obligation
- a private matter
- an unnecessary luxury
- a matter of individual choice
- a political necessity
Question: The author states that textbooks written in the middle part of the nineteenth century
- departed radically in tone and style from earlier textbooks
- mentioned for the first time the value of liberty
- treated traditional civic virtues with even greater reverence
- were commissioned by government agencies
- contained no reference to conservative ideas
Question: Which of the following would LEAST likely have been the subject of an early American textbook?
- basic rules of English grammar
- the American Revolution
- patriotism and other civic virtues
- vocational education
- principles of American government
Question: The author’s attitude toward the educational system she discusses can best be described as
- cynical and unpatriotic
- realistic and analytical
- pragmatic and frustrated
- disenchanted and bitter
- idealistic and naive
Question: The passage provides information that would be helpful in answering which of the following questions?
- Why were a disproportionate share of early American textbooks written by New England authors?
- Was the Federalist party primarily a liberal or conservative force in early American politics?
- How many years of education did the founders believe were sufficient to instruct young citizens in civic virtue?
- What were that names of some of the Puritan authors who wrote early American textbooks?
- Did most citizens of the early Republic agree with the founders that public education was essential to the welfare of the Republic?
Question: The author implies that an early American Puritan would likely insist that
- moral and religious values are the foundation of civic virtue
- textbooks should instruct students in political issues of vital concern to the community
- textbooks should give greater emphasis to the value of individual liberty than to the duties of patriotism
- private schools with a particular religious focus are preferable to public schools with no religious instruction
- government and religion are separate institutions and the church should not interfere in political affairs
Question: According to the passage citizens of the early Republic learned about practical political matters in all of the following ways EXCEPT
- reading newspapers
- attending town meetings
- conversing about political matters
- reading textbooks
- attending church
Previous PassageNext Passage