Daily Archives: December 7, 2020



Were American public schools ever Christian, I mean really Christian in orientation? Were California public schools, especially, ever even remotely Christian? Take a look at some selections from the California State Series Third Reader of 1886 and see what you think. These selections are reprinted in Pious to Progressive: A Century of American Readers. The first piece in the California reader is America. We may forget that it is a hymn because we so seldom see the final stanza; it reminds us that our only king, is God.


S. F. Smith*

My country! ‘tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty.

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrim’s pride;

From every mountain side,

Let freedom ring.

My native country! thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love:

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees,

Sweet freedom’s song;

Let mortal tongues awake,

Let all that breathe partake,

Let rocks their silence break,

The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God! to thee,

Author of liberty!

To thee we sing;

Long may our land be bright

With freedom’s holy light;

Protect us by thy might,

Great God, our King!

California State Series Third Reader, 1886




Courage, brother! do not stumble,

Though thy path be dark as night;

There’s a star to guide the humble –

Trust in God and do the right.

Let the road be long and dreary,

And its ending out of sight;

Foot it bravely – strong or weary,

Trust in God and do the right.

California State Series Third Reader, 1886



William Cullen Bryant*

When the radiant morn of creation broke,

And the world in the smile of God awoke,

And the empty realms of darkness and death

Were moved through their depths by His mighty breath,

And orbs of beauty, and spheres of flame,

From the void abyss by myriads came,

In the joy of youth as they darted away,

Through the widening wastes of space to play;

Their silver voices, in chorus rang,

And this was the song the bright ones sang:

“Away, away, through the wide wide sky,

The fair blue fields that before us lie;

Each sun with the worlds that round him roll,

Each planet poised on her turning pole,

With her isles of green,and her clouds of white,

And her waters that lie like fluid light.

“For the source of glory uncovers his face,

And the brightness o’erflows unbounded space.”

California State Series, Third Reader, 1886

*Bryant (1794 -1878) was a prominent American poet.




Come, and I will show you what is beautiful. It is a rose fully blown. See how she sits upon her mossy stem, the queen of flowers. Her leaves glow like fire. The air is filled with her sweet odor. She is the delight of every eye.

But there is one fairer than the rose. He that made the rose is more beautiful than the rose. He is altogether lovely. He is the delight of every heart.

I will show you what is strong. The lion is strong. When he raiseth himself up from his lair, when he shaketh his mane, when the voice of his roaring is heard, the cattle of the field fly, and the wild beasts of the desert hide themselves; for he is terrible.

But He who made the lion is stronger than the lion. He can do all things. He gave us life, and in a moment, can take it away, and no one can save us from His hand.

I will show you what is glorious. The sun is glorious. When he shineth in the clear sky, when he sitteth on his throne in the heavens, and looketh abroad over the earth, he is the most glorious and excellent object the eye can behold.

But He who made the sun is more glorious than the sun. The eye cannot look on His dazzling brightness. He seeth all dark places, by night as well as by day. The light of His countenance is over all the world.

This great Being is God. He made all things, but He is more excellent than all that He has made. He is the Creator, they are the creatures. They may be beautiful, but He is beauty. They may be strong, but He is strength. They may be perfect, but he is perfection.

California State Series, Third Reader, 1886



Rev. C. H. Spurgeon*

The world hath its night. It seemeth necessary that it should have one. The sun shineth by day, and men go forth to heir labors; but they grow weary, and nightfall cometh on, like a sweet boon (gift) from heaven. The darkness draweth the curtains, and shutteth out the light, which might prevent our eyes from slumber; while the sweet, calm stillness of the night permits us to rest upon the lap of ease, and there forget awhile our cares, until the morning sun appeareth, and an angel puts his hand upon the curtain, and undraws it once again, touches our eyelids, and bids us rise, and proceed to the labors of the day.

Night is one of the greatest blessing men enjoy; we have many reasons to thank God for it. Yet night is to many a gloomy season. There is “the pestilence that walketh in darkness;” there is “the terror by night;” there is the dread of robbers and of fell disease, with all those fears that the timorous know, when they have no light wherewith they can discern objects.

It is then they fancy that spiritual creatures walk the earth; though, if they knew rightly, they would find it to be true, that “millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth unseen, both when we sleep and when we wake;” and that at all times they are round about us, not more by night than by day.

Night is the season of terror and alarm to most men. Yet even night hath its songs. Have you never stood by the seaside at night, and heard the pebbles sing, and the waves chant God’s glories? Or have you never risen from your couch, and thrown up the window of your chamber, and listened there?

Listened to what? Silence—save now and then a murmuring sound, which seems sweet music then. And have you not fancied that you heard the harp of God playing in heaven? Did you not conceive, that yon stars, those eyes of God, looking down on you, were also mouths of song—that every star was singing God’s glory, singing, as it shone, its mighty Maker, and his lawful, well-deserved praise?

Night hath its songs. We need not much poetry in our spirit to catch the song of night, and hear the spheres as they chant praises which are loud to the heart, though they be silent to the ear,—the praises of the mighty God who bears up the unpillared (not supported by pillars) arch of heaven, and moves the stars in their courses.

California State Series, Third Reader, 1886

*Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 18341892, was an English Baptist Preacher and writer of great influence in his day, and whose sermons are still widely studied.



Joseph Addison*

The spacious firmament on high

With all the blue ethereal sky

And spangled heavens, a shining frame,

Their great Original proclaim.

The unwearied sun, from day to day,

Does his Creator’s power display,

And publishes to every land,

The work of an Almighty hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,

The moon takes up the wondrous tale,

And, nightly, to the listening earth

Repeats the story of her birth;

Whilst all the stars that round her burn,

And all the planets in their turn,

Confirm the tidings as they roll,

And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though in solemn silence all

move round the dark terrestrial ball,

What though no real voice nor sound

Amid their radiant orbs be found,

In reason’s ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice

Forever singing, as they shine,

“The hand that made us is divine.”

California State Series, Third Reader, 1886

*Addison, 1672 – 1719, was a prominent British essayist.



Mrs. Anna Letitia Barbauld*


I have seen the rose in its beauty; it spreads its leaves to the morning sun. I returned: it was dying on the stalk; the grace of the form was gone, its loveliness was vanished away; its leaves were scattered on the ground, and no one gathered them again.

A stately tree grew on the plain; its branches were covered with verdure; its boughs spread wide, and made a goodly shadow; the trunk was like a strong pillar; the roots were like crooked fangs. I returned: the verdure was nipped by the east wind; the branches were lopped away by the ax; the worm had made its way into the trunk, and the heart thereof was decayed; it moldered away, and fell to the ground.

I have seen the insects sporting in the sunshine, and darting along the streams, their wings glittered with gold and purple; their bodies shone like the green emerald; they were more numerous than I could count; their motions were quicker than my eye could glance. I returned: they were brushed into the pool; they were perishing with the evening breeze; the swallow had devoured them, the pike had seized them; there were found none of so great a multitude.

I have seen man in the pride of his strength; his cheeks glowing with beauty, his limbs full of activity; he leaped; he ran; he rejoiced in that he was more than those. I returned: he lay stiff and cold upon the bare ground; his feet could no longer move, nor his hands stretch themselves out; his life was departed from him; and the breath was gone out of his nostrils.

Therefore do I weep because death is in the world; the spoiler is among the works of God: all that is made must be destroyed; all that is born must die: let me alone, for I will weep yet longer.


I have seen the flower withering on the stalk, and its bright leaves spread on the ground. I looked again; it sprung forth afresh; its stem was crowned with new buds, and its sweetness filled the air.

I have seen the sun set in the west, and shades of night shut in the wide horizon; there was no color, nor shape, nor beauty, nor music; gloom and darkness brooded around. I looked again: the sun broke from the east, and glided past the mountain tops; the lark rose to meet him from her low nest, and the shades of darkness fled away. I have seen the insect being come to its full size, languish, and refuse to eat; it spun itself a tomb, and was shrouded in the silken cone; it lay without feet or shape, or power to move. I looked again: it had burst its tomb; it was full of life, and sailed on colored wings through the soft air; it rejoiced in its new being.

Thus shall it be with thee, O man! and so shall thy life be renewed. Beauty shall spring out of ashes, and life out of the dust. A little while shalt thou lie in the ground, as the seed lies in the bosom of the earth: but thou shalt be raised again; and thou shalt never die anymore.

California Third Reader, 1886

*Barbauld, 1743 – 1825, was a prominent English poet, and essayist.


Thomas S. Grimke*

There is a classic, the best the world has ever seen, the noblest that has ever honored and dignified the language of mortals. If we look into its antiquity, we discover a title to our veneration unrivaled in the history of literature. If we have respect to its evidences, they are found in the testimony of miracle and prophecy; in the ministry of man, of nature, and angels, yea, even of “God”, manifest in the flesh,” of “God blessed forever.”

If we consider its authenticity, no other pages have survived the lapse of time that can compare with it. If we examine its authority, for it speaks as never man spoke, we discover it came from heaven in vision, and prophecy, under the sanction of Him who is Creator of all things, and giver of every good and perfect gift.

If we reflect on its truths, they are lovely and spotless, sublime and holy as God himself, unchangeable in his nature, durable as his righteous dominion, and versatile as the moral condition of mankind. If we regard the value of its treasures, we must estimate them, not like the relics of classical antiquity, by the perishable glory and beauty, virtue and happiness of the world, but by the enduring perfection and and supreme felicity of an eternal kingdom.

If we inquire who are the men that have recorded its truths, vindicated its rights, and illustrated the excellence of its scheme, from the depths of ages and from the living world, from the populous continent and the isles of the sea, comes forth the answer: “The patriarch and the prophet, the evangelist and the martyr.”

If we look abroad through the world of men, the victims of folly or vice, the prey of cruelty, of injustice, and inquire what are its benefits even in this temporal state, the great and the humble, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the learned and the ignorant reply, as with one voice, that humility and resignation, purity, order, and peace, faith, hope, and charity, are its blessings upon earth.

And, if raising our eyes from time to eternity; from the world of mortals to the world of just men made perfect; from the visible creation, marvelous, beautiful, and glorious as it is, to the invisible creation of angels and seraphs; from the footstool of God to the throne of God himself, we ask, what are the blessings that flow from this single volume, let the question be answered by the pen of the evangelist, the harp of the prophet, and the records of the book of life.

California Third Reader, 1886

Thomas Smith Grimke, 1786 – 1834, when he died of cholera), was a distinguished jurist, Christian scholar, and writer in South Carolina.


Yes, emphatically Yes! American, even California, public schools were once indisputably Christian. But stealthily at first, then progressively more boldly, over generations, the ideals of public education, the reputation of public education, the institutions of public education, and ultimately, the product of public education have been embezzled, corrupted, and damaged, probably beyond repair, even if a will to reverse course manifested itself. That is a terrible tragedy; for public education, as initially conceived, was a good thing for America. Now it is toxic, and we all suffer.

Bill Kitchens, oldfashionedhistory.com

Bill Kitchens

AMERICA: 1619 OR 1620?

AMERICA:1619 OR 1620?

These are more than significant dates in American history – they represent conflicting world views arising from differing understandings of the nature of man and the role of government, the value of human life, and the nature and character of God. Most of us have heard of the NYT’s notorious ‘1619 Project’, to further harass, shame and debilitate American youth and inflame racial animosity. The 1619 Project, being forced into public schools all over the country, relocates the founding of ‘America’ to the year black slaves arrived in Jamestown, 1619. More than that, it defines America, permanently, as the 1619 Virginia Colony. Why the Times, owned and funded by Jeff Bezos and his Amazon billions, so hates this country as to distort its history is another good question, but not for this moment.

The traditional, and, it once seemed, universally accepted, founding date of ‘America’ as a unique civilization is 1620, with the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, and the successive establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by later Puritan pilgrims. It is quite true that the two founding colonies were very different from one another and often at odds; now, shockingly, it seems quite true that the United States, four centuries later, is still struggling over which, 1619 or 1620, is the real America. But the struggle is not at all as it is depicted by the NYT’s and its anti-American cohorts; quite the reverse in fact.

The truth is extremely complex, but extremely important to understand. The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has established the ‘1620 Project’ in response to the NYT’s damnable lies, and it is a noteworthy and scholarly effort, but I want to contribute something else to the refutation of the1619 Project. That is a compilation of selections from early American public school readers, PIOUS TO PROGRESSIVE: A CENTURY OF AMERICAN READERS. The conflict between the 1619 and the 1620 worlds is as old as mankind, but one current battleground of this war is public education, and it is to the history of our public education that we can look for concrete evidence of how the battle lines were drawn in the days when ‘1620 America’ was on the rise.

Pious To Progressive documents the role of public education as it was conceived in 1620 Puritan America – emphasizing freedom, hard work, and Christian morality – and how that view spread across most of America in succeeding generations; but, unfortunately, not to all Americans. By1635, there were public schools in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and by 1647 the Colony’s Constitution required each community of fifty families to establish a public school.

By contrast, Virginia, established by the English aristocracy strictly for profit, had no public school system until the Reconstruction Era, 1870. Search as I might, I was unable to find any early public school books published in the deep south. Public schools were a New England Puritan project.

The reason for that disparity becomes clear in reading Pious to Progressive. The Puritans wanted a democratic republic of educated and morally sound citizens. The southern plantation aristocracy wanted a land of ignorant, and even debauched, peasants (besides the black slaves) under an hereditary ruling class, along the lines of England, or as close to it as they could get. I make that charge as a Southerner who (being rather ancient) can attest to having observed the suffering the South has endured from rule by the aristocracy, via the Democrat Party.

Also becoming clear from the book’s selections is a line of succession from the Royalist ‘Cavaliers’ and the Parliamentary ‘Roundheads’ of the English Civil War in the Seventeenth Century, through the Union and Confederate leadership in America’s Civil War of 1861–65, to the belligerents of the looming civil war of 2021. To a large extent, the factors of the English Civil War have, and still do, determine America’s destiny. The English Civil War was a formative event in the mind’s of American founders, and was once an focus of American public education. It offers some very good lessons for today. There are still two world views in play: “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”; and government of all the people by a few people, and for a few people.

Bill Kitchens



“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

One of the chief characteristics of public school readers of the post-Civil War era is a deep melancholia, a remorsefulness, and a desire to bind up the wounds of the War and go forward together. Here is a sampling of selections from those readers found in Pious to Progressive: A Century of American Readers. It would be well to consider them in our troubled times.

The last selection is from a pre-Civil War reader. It is a stark, and shockingly prescient, warning of the dangers of treason, by then President Andrew Jackson. It also is well worth considering today.



Into a ward of the whitewashed walls,

Where the dead and the dying lay –

Wounded by bayonets, shells and balls –

Somebody’s darling was borne one day.

Somebody’s darling! So young and so brave,

Wearing still on his pale sweet face,

Soon to be hid by the dust of the grave,

The lingering light of his boyhood’s grace.

Matted and damp are the curls of gold

Kissing the snow of the fair young brow,

Pale are the lips of delicate mould –

Somebody’s darling is dying now.

Back from the beautiful, blue veined face –

Brush every wandering silken thread;

Cross his hands as a sign of grace –

Somebody’s darling is still and dead.

Kiss him once for somebody’s sake,

Murmur a prayer soft and low,

One bright curl from the cluster take –

They were somebody’s pride, you know.

Somebody’s hand had rested there;

Was it a mother’s, soft and white?

And have the lips of a sister fair

Been baptized in those waves of light?

God knows best. He was somebody’s love;

Somebody’s heart enshrined him there,

Somebody wafted his name above,

Night and morn on the wings of prayer.

Somebody wept when he marched away,

Looking so handsome, brave, and grand;

Somebody’s kiss on his forehead lay;

Somebody clung to his parting hand.

Somebody’s watching and waiting for him,

Yearning to hold him again to her heart;

There he lies – with the blue eyes dim;

And the child-like lips apart.

Tenderly bury the fair young dead,

Pausing to drop on his grave a tear;

Carve on the wooden slab at his head –

“Somebody’s darling lies buried here!”

California State Series, Third Reader, 1886





“O mother! What do they mean by blue?

And what do they mean by gray?”

Was heard from the lips of a little child

As she bounded in from play.

The mother’s eyes filled up with tears;

She turned to her darling fair,

And smoothed away from the sunny brow

Its treasure of golden hair.

“Why, mother’s eyes are blue, my sweet,

And grandpa’s hair is gray,

And the love we bear our darling child

Grows stronger every day.”

“But what did they mean?” persisted the child;

“For I saw two cripples today,

And one of them said he fought for the blue,

The other, he fought for the gray.

“Now he of the blue had lost a leg,

And the other had but one arm,

And both seemed worn and weary and sad,

Yet their greeting was kind and warm.

They told of the battles in days gone by,

Till it made my young blood thrill;

The leg was lost in the Wilderness fight,

And the arm on Malvern Hill.

“They sat on the stone by the farmyard gate,

And talked for an hour or more,

Till their eyes grew bright and their hearts seemed warm

With fighting their battles o’er;

And they parted at last with a friendly grasp,

In a kindly, brotherly way,

Each calling on God to speed the time

Uniting the blue and the gray.”

Then the mother thought of other days—

Two stalwart boys from her riven (torn);

How they knelt at her side and lispingly prayed,

“Our Father which art in heaven;”

How one wore the gray and the other the blue;

How they passed away from sight,

And had gone to the land where gray and blue

Are merged in colors of light.

And she answered her darling with golden hair,

While her heart was sadly wrung

With the thoughts awakened in that sad hour

By her innocent, prattling tongue:

“The blue and the gray are the colors of God,

They are seen in the sky at even,

And many a noble, gallant soul

Has found them a passport to heaven.”

New National Fourth Reader, 1884



John R. Thompson*

Two armies covered hill and plain,

Where Rappahannock’s waters

Ran deeply crimsoned with the stain

Of battle’s recent slaughter’s

The summer clouds lay pitched like tents

In meads of heavenly azure;

And each dread gun of the elements

Slept in its high embrasure.

The breeze so softly blew, it made

No forest leaf to quiver,

And the smoke of the random cannonade

Rolled slowly from the river.

And now where circling hills looked down

With cannon grimly planted,

O’er listless camp and silent town

The golden sunset slanted;

When on the fervid air there came

A strain, now rich, now tender,

The music seemed itself aflame

With day’s departing splendor.

A Federal band, which eve and morn

Played measures brave and nimble,

Had just struck up with flute and horn

And lively clash of cymbal.

Down flocked the soldiers to the banks,

Till, margined by its pebbles,

One wooded shore was blue with “Yank,”

And one was gray with “Rebels.”

Then all was still; and then the band

With movement light and tricksy,

Made stream and forest, hill and strand,

Reverberate with “Dixie.”

The conscious stream, with burnished glow,

Went proudly o’er its pebbles,

But thrilled throughout its deepest flow

With yelling of the Rebels.

Again a pause, and then again

The trumpet pealed sonorous,

And “Yankee Doodle” was the strain

To which the shore gave chorus.

The laughing ripple shoreward flew

To kiss the shining pebbles –

Loud shrieked the swarming Boys in Blue

Defiance to the Rebels.

And yet once more the bugle sang

Above the stormy riot;

No shout upon the evening rang –

There reigned a holy quiet.

The sad, slow stream its noiseless flood

Poured o’er the glistening pebbles:

All silent now the Yankees stood,

All silent stood the Rebels:

No unresponsive soul had heard

That plaintive note’s appealing,

So deeply “Home Sweet Home” had stirred

The hidden founts of feeling.

Or blue or gray, the soldier sees,

As by the wand of fairy,

The cottage ‘neath the liveoak trees,

The cabin by the prairie.

Or cold or warm, his native skies

Bend in their beauty o’er him;

Seen through the tear mist in his eyes

His loved ones stand before him.

As fades the iris after rain

In April’s tearful weather,

The vision vanished as the strain

And daylight died together.

But memory, waked by music’s art,

Expressed in simplest numbers,

Subdued the sternest Yankee’s heart –

Made light the Rebel’s slumbers.

And fair the form of Music shines,

That bright celestial creature,

Who still ‘mid war’s embattled lines

Gave this one touch of nature.

McGuffey’s Fifth Reader, 1901

*American Journalist, and a Southerner from Atlanta.



Alexander H. Stephens*

Now that the storm of war has passed, it behooves us all to labor for the establishment of good government, with its resulting prosperity and happiness. I need not assure you, if this can be obtained, that our desolated fields, our barns, our villages and cities, now in ruins, will soon, like the Phoenix, rise from their ashes, and all our waste places will again, at no distant day, blossom as the rose.

Wars, and civil wars especially, always menace liberty. They seldom advance it, while they usually end in its entire overthrow and destruction. Our civil contest stopped just short of such a catastrophe. It is now our duty to retrace our steps and look for vindication and maintenance of constitutional liberty in the forums of reason and justice, instead of on the arena of arms; in the courts and halls of legislation, instead of on the fields of battle.

I have not lost my faith in the virtue, intelligence, and patriotism of the American people, or in their capacity for self-government. But for these great essential qualities of human nature to be brought into active and efficient exercise for the fulfillment of patriotic hopes, it is essential that the passions of the day should subside, that the causes of these passions should not now be discussed, that the embers of the late strife should not be stirred.

The most hopeful prospect at this time is the restoration of the old union, and with it the speedy return of fraternal feeling throughout its length and breadth. These results depend upon the people themselves, upon the people of the North quite as much as the South. The masses everywhere are alike equally interested in the great object. Let old issues, old questions, old differences, and old feuds be regarded as fossils of another epoch.

The old Union was based on the assumption that it was for the best interests of the people of the United States to be united as they were, each state faithfully performing to the people of the other states all their obligations under a common compact. I always thought that this assumption was founded upon broad, correct, and statesmanlike principles. I think so yet.

And now, after the severe chastisement of war, if the general sense of the whole country shall come back to the acknowledgment of the original assumption that it is for the best interests of all the States to be so united, as I trust it will, I can perceive no reason why, under such restoration, we may not enter upon a new career, exciting increased wonder in the old world by grand achievements hereafter made,  than any heretofore attained, by the peaceful and harmonious workings of our American institutions of self-government.

New McGuffey Fifth Reader, 1901

*[Mr. Stephens was an attorney, a member of US Congress from Georgia, and although originally opposed to secession, he was elected Vice President of the Confederate States. He was returned to Congress after Reconstruction. This is an extract from a speech delivered at Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1866.]



Rev. J. A. Ryan*

Take that banner down, ‘tis weary,

Round its staff ‘tis drooping weary.

Furl it, fold it, let it rest;

For there’s not a man to wave it,

For there’s not a sword to save it,

And there’s not a hand to lave (wash) it,

In the blood that heroes gave it,

And its foes now scorn and brave it.

Furl it, hide it, let it rest.

Take that banner down, ‘tis tattered;

Broken is its staff and shattered,

And the valiant hosts are scattered

Over whom it fluttered high.

Oh, ‘tis hard for us to fold it!

Hard to think there’s none to hold it;

Hard, for those who once unrolled it

Now must furl it with a sigh.

California State Series Third Reader, 1886

*[Ryan, “the poet priest of the South,” has written a number of poems distinguished by grace, fervor, and passion, but it is not known that any collection of them has been made in a single volume. His death occurred April 22, 1886, at Mobile, Alabama, where he was buried with military honors.”]



Henry W. Grady*

Some of you saw, and all of you have heard of the grand review of the Northern army at the close of the war. How in the pomp and circumstance of war they came back, marching with proud and victorious tread, reading their glory in a nation’s eyes. But there was another army that sought its home at the close of the war: an army that marched home in defeat and not in victory; in pathos and not in splendor; but in glory that equaled theirs, and to hearts as loving as ever welcomed heroes home.

Picture to yourself the footsore Confederate soldier, as, buttoning up in his faded gray jacket the parole which was to bear testimony to his children of his fidelity and faith, he turned his face southward from Appomattox, in April, 1865. Think of him as ragged, half starved, heavy-hearted, enfeebled by want and wounds, having fought to exhaustion, he surrenders his gun, wrings the hands of his comrades in silence, and lifting his tear stained and pallid face for the last time to the graves that dot the old Virginia hills, pulls his gray cap over his brow and begins the slow and painful journey.

What does he find – let me ask you, who went to your homes eager to find the welcome you had justly earned, full payment for four years’ sacrifice – what does he find when he reaches the home he left so prosperous and beautiful? He finds his house in ruins, his farm devastated, his slaves free, his stock killed, his barns empty, his trade destroyed, his money worthless; his social system, feudal in its magnificence, swept away; his people without law or legal status, his comrades slain, and the burdens of others heavy on his shoulders. What does he do – this hero in gray with a heart of gold? Does he sit down in sullenness and despair? Not for a day. Surely God, who had stripped him of his prosperity,  inspired him in his adversity.

As ruin was never before so overwhelming, never was restoration swifter. The soldier stepped from the trenches into the furrow; horses that had charged Federal guns marched before the plow; and fields that ran red with human blood in April were green with the harvest in June. Never was nobler duty confided to human hands than the uplifting and upbuilding of the prostrate and bleeding South, misguided, perhaps, but beautiful in her suffering, and honest, brave, and generous always.

As she stands upright, full-statured and equal among the people of the earth, breathing the keen air and looking out upon the expanding horizon, she understands that her emancipation came because in the inscrutable wisdom of God her honest purpose was crossed and her brave armies were beaten; and she rejoices that the omniscient God held the balance of battle in His almighty hand; that human slavery was swept forever from American soil; and the American Union saved from the wreck of war.

But what of the North? Will she permit the prejudices of war to remain in the hearts of the conquerors, when it has died in the hearts of the conquered? Will she withhold, save in strained courtesy, the hand which straight from his soldier’s heart Grant offered to Lee at Appomattox? If she does, the South, never abject in asking comradeship, must accept with dignity its refusal; but if she does not; if she accepts in frankness and sincerity this message of goodwill and friendship, then will the prophecy of Webster be verified in its fullest and final sense, when he said: “Standing hand to hand and clasping hands, we should remain united, citizens of the same country, members of the same government, united all, united now and united forever. There have been difficulties, contentions, and controversies, but I tell you that in my judgment:

“Those opposed eyes,

Which like the meteors of a troubled heaven,

All of one nature, of one substance bred,

Did lately meet in th’ inner shock,

Shall now, in mutual well beseeming ranks,

March all one way.”


The New McGuffey Fifth Reader, 1901

*American journalist from Georgia.

These are merely a sample of that genre which saturated school books in the generation after the Civil War, as almost every family suffered loss. Below is a firm warning of that catastrophe, which, unfortunately, was forgotten in a few years.



Pres. Andrew Jackson*

Fellow Citizens of my native State! Let me not only admonish you, as the first magistrate of our common country, not to incur the penalty of its laws, but use the influence that a father would over his children whom he saw rushing to certain ruin. In that paternal language, with that paternal feeling, let me tell you, my country men, that you are deluded by men who either are deceived themselves or wish to deceive you. Mark under what pretenses you have been led on to the brink of insurrection and treason, on which you stand.

You were told that this opposition might be peaceably, – might be constitutionally made, – that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union, and bear none of its burdens. Eloquent appeals to your passions, to your state pride, to your native courage, to your sense of real injury, were used to prepare you for the period when the mask which concealed the hideous features of DISUNION, should be taken off.

It fell, and you were made to look with complacency on objects which not long since you would have regarded with horror.Look back at the acts which have brought you to this state, – look forward to the consequences, to which it must inevitably lead.

Something more is necessary. Contemplate the condition of that country, of which you still form an important part! – consider its government, uniting in one bond of common interest and general protection, so many different states, – giving to all their inhabitants the proud title of AMERICAN CITIZENS, – protecting their commerce, –securing their literature and their arts, – facilitating their intercommunication, – defending their frontiers, – and making their name respected in the remotest parts of the earth!

Consider the extent of its territory, its increasing and happy population, its advance in arts which render life agreeable, and the sciences which elevate the mind! See education spreading the lights of religion, humanity, and general information, into every cottage in this wide extent of our territories and states! Behold it as the asylum where the wretched and the oppressed find refuge and support! Look on this picture of happiness and honor, and say, “WE, TOO, ARE CITIZENS OF AMERICA; Carolina is one of these proud states; her arms have defended, – her best blood has cemented this happy Union!” And then add, if you can, without horror and remorse, “This happy Union we will dissolve, – this picture of peace and prosperity we will deface, – this free intercourse we will interrupt, – these fertile fields we will deluge with blood, – the protection of that glorious flag we renounce, – the very name of AMERICANS we discard.”

And for what, mistaken men! for what do you throw away these inestimable blessings, – for what would you exchange your share in the advantages and honor of the Union? For the dream of a separate independence, a DREAM interrupted by bloody conflicts with your neighbors, and a vile dependence on foreign power? If your leaders could succeed in establishing a separation, what would be your situation? Are you united at home, – are you free from the apprehensions of civil discord, with all its fearful consequences? Do our neighboring republics, every day suffering some new revolution, or contending with some new insurrection, – do they excite your envy?

But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you can not succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed, I have no discretionary power on the subject, – my duty is emphatically pronounced in the constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you, – they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled. Their object is disunion; but be not deceived by names; disunion, by armed force is TREASON.

Are you really ready to incur its guilt? If you are, on the heads of the instigators of the act, be the dreadful consequences, – on their heads be the dishonor, but on yours may fall the punishment, – on your unhappy state will inevitably fall all the evils of the conflict you force upon the government of your country. It can not accede to the mad project of disunion, of which you would be the first victims, – its first magistrate can not, if he would, avoid the performance of his duty, – the consequence must be fearful for you, distressing to your fellow citizens here, and to the friends of good government throughout the world.

Its enemies have beheld our prosperity with a vexation they could not conceal, – it was a standing refutation of their slavish doctrines, and they will point to our discord with the triumph of malignant joy. It is yet in your power to disappoint them. There is yet time to show that the descendants of the Pinckneys, the Sumters, the Rutledges , and of the thousand other names which adorn the pages of your Revolutionary history, will not abandon that Union, to support which so many of them fought, and bled, and died.

I adjure you, as you honor their memories, – as you love the cause of freedom, to which they dedicated their lives, – as you prize the peace of your country, the lives if its best citizens, and your own fair fame, to retrace your steps. Snatch from the archives of your state the disorganizing edict of its convention, – bid its members to re-assemble and promulgate the decided expressions of your will to remain in the path which alone can conduct you to safety, prosperity, and honor, – tell them that, compared to disunion, all other evils are light, because that brings with it an accumulation of all, – declare that you will never take the field unless the star-spangled banner of your country shall float over you, – that you will not be stigmatized when dead, and dishonored and scorned while you live, as the authors of the first attack on the constitution of your country!

Its destroyers you can not be. You may disturb its peace, – you may interrupt the course of its prosperity, – you may cloud its reputation for stability, – but its tranquility will be restored, its prosperity will return, and the stain upon its national character will be transferred and remain an eternal blot on the memory of those who caused the disorder.

May the great Ruler of nations grant, that the signal blessings, with which He has favored ours, may not, by the madness of party or personal ambition, be disregarded and lost; and may His wise providence bring those who have produced this crisis, to see the folly, before they feel the misery, of civil strife; and inspire a returning veneration for that Union which, if we may dare to penetrate His designs, He has chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies, to which we may reasonably aspire.

Sander’s Fifth Reader, 1855

*Andrew Jackson (right) was a penniless frontiersman who rose to leading Tennessee political figure, Tennessee militia Colonel, then US Army General, and President of the United States. His success in holding the US together through his turbulent time was no less remarkable than his defeat of the British army at New Orleans.

1. This is part of President Jackson’s response to the “Nullification Controversy” which threatened to break apart the country into civil war a generation before it actually happened. The particular point at issue here was tariffs on imported goods to help Northern industrial development, but at the expense of the agricultural South.

In addition to his appeal to patriotism, Jackson declared his intention to hold together the Union even if it meant war, and he also urged compromise legislation to mollify the South Carolinians. At the same time, Georgia and Alabama were also threatening to secede from the Union, and carry the rest of the South with them, over federal recognition of Indian land claims within their borders. That led to the Indian Removal Act, which relocated the tribes remaining in the Southeast to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.

This is a significant document in American history, first because it reveals the force of Jackson’s character and how seriously the enemies of the Union regarded his threat; and secondly, it sheds some light on the cause of the Civil War. His repeated allusions to traitors deceiving the people seems in line with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “… that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Not government by a self-styled aristocracy that ruled by political chicanery.

Jackson’s dire prediction certainly proved correct.

The following notes are in the textbook:

[In the year 1832, a state convention of South Carolina passed an ordinance, declaring that certain enactments of Congress, in regard to imposts, were unconstitutional, and therefore null and void, and that any attempt on the part of the United States’ government to enforce them, would produce the withdrawal of that State from the Union, and the establishment of an independent government. This doctrine was promptly met by the President of the United States, ANDREW JACKSON, in a proclamation, which he issued Dec. 11, 1832, from which the following (preceding) is an extract. The sentiments of the proclamation met with a cordial response from all the friends of the Union, and South Carolina with becoming promptness and patriotism receded from her hostile position.

2. CHARLES C. PINKNEY and THOMAS PINKNEY, brothers, were distinguished Revolutionary officers. They were natives of South Carolina, but were educated at Oxford in England. The former was made an Aide de Camp to General Washington, and was also a member of the convention which framed the Constitution of the United States.

3. SUMTER was a celebrated general of South Carolina, in the American Revolution. He was distinguished for his insuperable firmness and courage.

4. JOHN RUTLEDGE and EDWARD RUTLEDGE were eminent Revolutionary Patriots of South Carolina. The former was a member of the first Continental Congress, 1774, and was distinguished for his Demosthenian (name taken form the Greek orator Demosthenes, famous for his debating) eloquence. The latter was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and also an officer in the army in South Carolina.]

Bill Kitchens, from Pious to Progressive: a Century of American Readers.