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Walter Tyler was the leader of the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt in England. While meeting with King Richard II to state their grievances, he was struck down for “offending the king”. Tyler was carried off alive by his supporters, but was later captured and beheaded at the order of the King. The illustration is from a tapestry of 1384. Due in part to the violence and chaos of the revolt, it lost support and was crushed. Some years later, Richard was overthrown by the nobility, imprisoned, and murdered in his cell. Those events are the subject of Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of King Richard II.

The question, again, is what does Wat Tyler have to say to modern America? Let us examine this selection from a 19th Century American public school textbook for relevance to our present situation.


bY Thomas Campbell


King of England,

Petitioning for pity is most weak—

The sovereign1 people ought to demand justice.

I lead them here against the Lord’s anointed2,

Because his ministers have made him odious!

His yoke is heavy, and his burden grievous.

Why do you carry on this fatal war,

To force upon the French a king they hate;

Tearing our young men from their peaceful homes,

Forcing his hard-earned fruits from the honest peasant,

Distressing us to desolate our neighbors?

Why was this ruinous poll-tax imposed,

But to support your court’s extravagance,

And your mad title to the crown of France?

Shall we sit tamely down beneath these evils,

Petitioning for pity? King of England,

Why are we sold like cattle in your markets,

Deprived of every privilege of man?

Must we sit tamely at our tyrant’s feet,

And, like your spaniels, lick the hand that beats us?

You sit at ease in your gay palaces;

The costly banquet courts your appetite;

Sweet music soothes your slumbers: we, the while,

Scarce by hard toil can earn a little food,

And sleep scarce from the cold night-wind,

Whilst your wild projects wrest the little from us

Which might have cheered the wintry hours of age!

The Parliament forever asks more money;

We toil and sweat for money for your taxes;

Where is the benefit—what good reap we

From all the counsels of your government?

Think you that we should quarrel with the French?

What boots to us your victories, your glory?

We pay, we fight—you profit at your ease.

Do you not claim the country as your own?

Do you not call the venison of the forest,

The birds of heaven, your own?—prohibiting us,

Even though in want of food, to seize the prey

Which Nature offers? King! Is all this just?

Think you we do not feel the wrongs we suffer?

The hour of retribution is at hand,

And tyrants tremble—mark me, King of England!

Monroe’s Fourth Reader, 1872

Yes, there is some exotic imagery, but it does seem eerily familiar doesn’t it? It seems the common people (aka ‘peasants’) had plenty of grievances, but ‘no standing’ in Wat Tyler’s time. With their leader betrayed and killed, the revolution was doomed to fail. When the people who mattered had enough of the king, it was different.

Some of you, my astute readers, may be saying to yourselves, ‘Wat Tyler was centuries before Thomas Campbell’s time’. Yes, that’s so. I doubt that anyone knows exactly what Wat Tyler said to Richard II. Englishman Thomas Campbell, actually, was presenting a thinly veiled threat to the tyrant king of his day, our old nemesis George III; who apparently hadn’t learned a thing from his loss of America. Campbell’s diatribe gives us a good idea of what Americans fought to be free of; and what we stand to loose, are losing, or have already lost. That is why, once upon a time, this piece was included in school books.

Times have changed, of course, but the general drift of the grievances are the same all along. The complaints against George III were similar to those lodged against Richard II. England was again at war to impose a hated monarch on France; this time the heir to the king deposed and beheaded in the French Revolution. Being forced to tolerate it in far off America was one thing, but George III and his court were determined to stamp out the very idea of a ‘sovereign people’ on the European continent.

In Tyler’s day, and Campbell’s day, the masses of people were taxed into poverty, with ‘no standing’ before an insufferably arrogant and grasping government—an ‘extravagant court’ (the privileged courtiers and courtesans who actually were the government), to paraphrase Campbell. The reference to being “sold like cattle” probably refers to English peasants being sold into slavery for debts, or some infraction against their hereditary landlords; the ‘nobility’.

Today, we are being sold, en masse, to big tech, big banking, big pharma, big everything, while small business, and any financial independence, is being wiped out. A modern, highly efficient form of slavery. And perpetual war fattens the military-industrial complex at the people’s expense.

Courtiers and courtesans”, did he say? Aren’t they some sort of historical characters? Yes, they are as ancient as Biblical times, — and as modern as the guest lists of all the best parties in DC this week. The style of dress has changed since, let’s say, the court of Elizabeth I in 16th Century England, but the characters remain the same.

Courtiers gather around people and offices of power; flattering, scheming, intriguing their ways up the ladder of wealth, power, and not least, status among their peers. They have in common, for the realization of their ambitions, a dependence upon corrupt systems – call them ‘courts’, ‘politburos’, or ‘bureaucracies’ (or ‘swamps’) – that surreptitiously rule decadent monarchies, socialist “people’s republics”, and careless constitutional republics. Advancement by honest work and merit is a threat to them, because such strivers don’t depend upon the corrupt system, and are not subject to its rule. Arrogance, ruthless ambition, greed, and fear of exposure, form the muck that binds together today’s “Swamp”, uniting Democrat, Republican, Socialist.

Yes, self-styled ‘socialists’ constitute a major part of the Swamp.

What do the corrupt politicians, big tech oligarchs, industrialists, leftist radicals, anarchists, militant atheists, Islamists, and ambitious sexual predators have in common? They crave the power of government to force their agendas upon an unwilling public.

Socialist dogma spouted by the Democrat Party, and its ‘etc.’, is simply camouflage for a movement rolling back both republican3 and democratic4 ideology, returning to a system of absolute rulers and the ruled, something all the above interest groups agree upon.

After all, Marxist dogma, in all its costumes, is a strictly Materialist philosophy. Pay attention to this definition of Materialism: “the belief that only physical matter exists and the spiritual world does not; the belief that money, possessions, and comfort are the most important things to obtain in life.” ( /materialism)

Materialism/Marxism precludes Theistic religion and all transcendent values like justice, good and evil, truth and falsehood; it is a religion unto itself, completely at odds with all others. Marxist theory is all about how wealth is apportioned, not how it is created. In theory, it is about the worker receiving just compensation for his work; in reality, it is about the rulers enriching themselves. It depends wholly upon human nature for its ‘moral compass’, and it is human nature that has betrayed Marxism’s promises. Lenin, Stalin, and their successors moved into the Czar’s palace, Mao and his successors moved into the Chinese Emperor’s palace, Castro spurned the former Cuban dictator’s Presidential Palace, and built a luxury island paradise.

The Kim family in North Korea went the whole way, and declared themselves to be divine. Ironic, socialism/Marxism circling back to rule by divine right. Meanwhile the the masses of people descended further into tyranny and poverty, with the added burden of the loathsome hypocrisy of Marxist propaganda trying to force upon them an obviously false reality.

Even in America, we see the Clintons and Obamas spouting socialist platitudes but retiring from office to enjoy their multiple, multi-million dollar mansions, while the poor are still with us; as is an increased national debt. For instance, the debt of three hundred and fifty million dollars paid by the Obama administration to Pearson Publishing for work on the Common Core baloney (that includes the outrageous sixty five million dollar ‘advance royalty’ another branch of the same company paid Pres. Obama for his memoir.) That’s how the Swamp works, for those who embrace it.

Even avowed Socialist Bernie Sanders has collected enough money from his phony campaigns for President to acquire several luxurious homes. How? Well, it seems the politicians slipped themselves a clever little benefit. They allow a ‘commission’, a percentage of campaign media buys, to be pocketed by the campaign’s ‘media buyer’; often, as in the case of Bernie Sanders, a wife. So the Sanders collected a generous commission on all the money they spent on his so called “campaigns”, including the millions paid by the Clinton and Biden campaigns to “retire” Sanders’ debts; prior to his endorsement. Running for President, or pretending to, can be a very profitable endeavor for “socialists” who don’t want to get their hands dirty with any real work.

And why shouldn’t socialists be corrupt and cynical – in their minds, the world is all about them and what they can get for themselves, anyway they can.

Capitalism, on the other hand, is “an economic, political, and social system in which property, business, and industry are privately owned, directed toward making the greatest possible profits for successful organizations and people.” ( /english/capitalism) It is not all encompassing, as are materialistic ideologies, and does not preclude Theistic religion and recognition of transcendent values. A Christian capitalist can, and many do, limit “the greatest possible profits” to what is left after fair, or even generous compensation to the workers. Nor, of course, does capitalism preclude combining with practical atheism to produce a cruel and godless tyranny; as many businesses also do.

Capitalist theory is about creating new wealth, however, not about redistributing a finite supply. That sets it apart from socialism in its ability to create wealth, potentially for all. Where Capitalism doesn’t fairly distribute wealth, it is the fault of human greed and selfishness, not a defect in Capitalism. It is Christianity that calls these things sin, and makes itself hated by the rulers.

So what did Wat Tyler say to us? “Freedom is not free, then or now.

Bill Kitchens

1. It was a radical idea in even in Campbell’s time, certainly in Wat Tyler’s time, that the people as a whole were ‘sovereign’, that is, endowed with the right to govern themselves.

2. The king, most of the nobility, and most of the common people believed that rulers were ordained by God to their position of authority, a Biblical position. Many people, even besides the kings and their cronies, believed that kings answered only to God. Others, however, believed that the rule of the king was subject to his proper behavior. Tyler, in Campbell’s words, was declaring that Richard, in letting his government oppress the people, had become “odious”, a stench in the nostrils of God, and therefore forfeited his Divine right to rule. That rulers were also subject to God’s law was also a Biblical concept, going back to the Old Testament, But the question was, did the people have the right to overthrow God’s anointed, or did God only have that right? Let it be remembered that the USA does not have a king, but an elected government.

3. Rule by law, restricting government power.

4. Rule by majority agreement.



Stockholm syndrome: psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.


This definition of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is very narrow; it is also applied to many other relationships of unequal power and control, especially abusive work place and familial relations. The abuse may be physical, or psychological—the inducement of fear, guilt, shame, and alienation from all countervailing sources of emotional support. In most cases, the phenomenon of victims identifying with, and even idolizing their abusers and hating themselves, is merely a side effect of the abuser’s agenda. But it can also be a deliberate tactic of mass brainwashing.

What has that to do with white America as a whole? I suggest that ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is an entirely appropriate diagnoses of the tragedy we see enveloping so much of our younger generations as they become more and more alienated from their cultural heritage through deliberate psychological abuse. So what abuses are these, in some ways, coddled and pampered victims subjected to? They have lived their entire lives swimming in such abuse as this:

“Go, [white man]; erase from the Indian nation, the tradition of their wrongs; make them forget, if you can, that once this charming country was theirs; that over these fields and through these forests, their beloved forefathers, once, in careless gaiety, pursued their sports and hunted their game; that every returning day found them the sole, the peaceful, the happy proprietors of this extensive and beautiful domain. Make them forget too, if you can, that in the midst of all this innocence, simplicity, and bliss – the white man came; and lo! – the animated chase, the feast, the dance, the song of fearless, thoughtless joy were over; that ever since, they have been made to drink the bitter cup of humiliation; treated like dogs; their lives, their liberties, the sport of white men; their country and the graves of their fathers torn from them, in cruel succession; until, driven from river to river, from forest to forest, and through a period of two hundred years, rolled back, nation upon nation, they find themselves fugitives, vagrants and strangers in their own country…

“…were I a president of the United States, I would glory in going to the Indians, throwing myself on my knees before them, and saying to them, “Indians, friends, brothers, O! forgive my countrymen! Deeply have our forefathers wronged you; and they have forced us to continue the wrong. Reflect, brothers; it was not our fault that we were born in your country; but now, we have no other home; we have nowhere else to rest our feet. Will you not, then, permit us to remain? Can you not forgive even us, innocent as we are? If you can, O!, come to our bosoms; be, indeed, our brothers; and since there is room enough for us all, give us a home in your land, and let us be children of the same affectionate family.”

Something from today’s political rhetoric, or modern school textbook? No, from 1803 political rhetoric by one of early America’s leading political figures, William Wirt1. More significantly to my point, it was included in one of America’s earliest and most influential public school readers, the American First Class Book, of 1823. Furthermore, the above excerpt is only a sample of the racial calumny heaped on the white man in Wirt’s screed. It could, and probably does, form the pattern for two centuries of attack upon the psyche of white America. Every lawyers’ rhetorical trick of myth, exaggeration, misrepresentation, and guilt by association steeped in hypocrisy are displayed here by Mr. Wirt, the archetypal Attorney General.

Today, Black Lives Matter holds the whip, but only yesterday it was “Lo, the poor Indian” propaganda that flogged us. The philosophy and the goals of both supposedly aggrieved groups are the same — the destruction of America as it was founded, as it has prospered and grown, and as we have loved it. I find this so troubling that I included Wirt’s “Letter From an English Spy” in Pious to Progressive, but I added a rather long rebuttal to Mr. Wirt’s poisonous condemnation of his country and his countrymen. Much of it is applicable to the whole panoply of anti-white, anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-capitalistic, anti-straight, anti-male, etc. so dangerously affecting our society these days.

Lest I also be accused of misleading you, my dear reader, let me admit that I added in ‘white man’ above, as a substitute for ‘Go, Virginian’. Wirt wrote as though the mid-Atlantic and New England states were innocent of any such white man’s transgressions. President Andrew Jackson called out Wirt’s hypocrisy (though not by name) in his first Address to Congress. Nowadays, there are no exceptions to the condemnation of white men by white men; Union General and Confederate General get the same treatment.

Wirt’s goal seems to have been to forestall the growth, and political power, of the frontier, keeping it in the hands of the eastern establishment. At least that is the most charitable explanation I can credit to him. As we recall, 1803 was the year of the Louisiana Purchase, a critical turning point in American history. He came very near to accomplishing that goal some years later with his victory in the Supreme Court; the ruling famously ignored by his bitter political enemy, Andrew Jackson. Wirt’s intentions may have been laudable in so far as he opposed the spread of slavery, and championed protection of Native American rights; but, what would have been the unintended consequences? The westward progress of white/European civilization was inevitable in those days. Had Jackson bowed to the spirit of the Court’s decision, granting nation status to Indian tribes, it would almost certainly have led to civil war, and the balkanization of North America, with a series of new republics (some irrevocably committed to slavery and hostile to Native American claims), rather than new states, stretching one nation from sea to sea. But that was then, what about now? What about this “Stockholm Syndrome” thing?

It is still all about the ruthless pursuit of political power, unmanning those who might refuse to be shorn of freedom, of God given rights, and the fruit of their labor. The only help I can offer is education, and prayer for our country. I highly recommend Pious To Progressive: A Century of American Readers, and Bound For the USA: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Colonies and the Deep South.

Bill Kitchens






The science is settled, reason and experience agree: the pervasive depictions of violence in our ‘entertainment’ media are wreaking havoc on our society, and especially on our children – and yet America passively accepts the bloody torment.

So, you’ve heard that bit about the “science is settled” before, and maybe you are a little skeptical. Ok, don’t take my word for it, let’s review what we know on the subject, and when we knew it. For that project, I’m going to cut and paste-in a few summaries and references without going deeply into the research data for there is so awfully much of it; you can check that out for yourselves if you doubt these authorities.

Let’s start with this good summary from America’s family doctors:

Violence in the Media and Entertainment (Position Paper)

American Academy of Family Physicians

Violence occurs at an alarming rate in the United States. Among Americans aged 15 to 34 years, two of the top three causes of death are homicide and suicide.2 In a given year, more U.S. children will die from gunfire than will die from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, and HIV/AIDS combined.3

Studies demonstrating an association between exposure to violence in the media and real-life aggression and violence began appearing in the 1950s. Since then, various government agencies and organizations have examined the relationship. These include a 1972 Surgeon General’s report,8 a 1982 National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) review,9 and a 2000 Congressional summit which issued a joint statement on the impact of entertainment violence on children.10 In 2000, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a report noting that media violence is a risk factor in shootings in school.11 A 2003 NIMH report noted media violence to be a significant causal factor in aggression and violence.12 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a 2007 report on violent programming on television, and noted that there is “strong evidence” that exposure to violence through the media can increase aggressive behavior in children.13

These reports and others are based on a body of literature that includes more than 2,000 scientific papers, studies, and reviews demonstrating the various effects that exposure to media violence can have on children and adolescents. These include increases in aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, bullying, fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances.14,15,16

Some studies found the strength of association to be nearly as strong as the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and stronger than the well-established associations between calcium intake and bone mass, lead ingestion and IQ, and failure to use condoms and acquisition of HIV.17 Violence is ubiquitous in mass media in the U.S., whether consumed through television, video games, music, movies, or the Internet.

The family physicians had a lot more to say on the subject, which you can read by pasting-in the above address, but let’s look, now, at a few things the shrinks have to say:

American Psychological Association, November 2013

Virtually since the dawn of television, parents, teachers, legislators and mental health professionals have wanted to understand the impact of television programs, particularly on children. Of special concern has been the portrayal of violence, particularly given psychologist Albert Bandura’s work in the 1970s on social learning and the tendency of children to imitate what they see.

As a result of 15 years of “consistently disturbing” findings about the violent content of children’s programs, the Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior was formed in 1969 to assess the impact of violence on the attitudes, values and behavior of viewers. The resulting report and a follow-up report in 1982 by the National Institute of Mental Health identified these major effects of seeing violence on television:

Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.

Children may be more fearful of the world around them.

Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

Research substantiating those three points is continuing, and cited in the APA article. More recently, another violence promoting plague has descended upon the world – violent video games. The APA has quite a bit to say about that new threat. A few of the WHEREAS’s from their 2015 Resolution displays their concern:

American Psychological Association. (2015). Resolution on Violent Video Games. Retrieved from:


Consistent with the American Psychological Association’s mission to advance the development, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives, this Resolution on Violent Video Games finds:

WHEREAS scientific research has demonstrated an association between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive affect, aggressive cognitions and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement;

WHEREAS all existing quantitative reviews of the violent video game literature have found a direct association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes;

WHEREAS research suggests that the relation between violent video game use and increased aggressive outcomes remains after considering other known risk factors associated with aggressive outcomes;

Politicians from Sen. Estes Kefauver in the 1950’s, to Pres. Bill Clinton in the 90’s, have confirmed the negative relationship between media violence and real life violence in their posturing as champions of an abused public. Shortly after signing the v-chip mandate President Clinton laid out the problem in a government/industry summit.

Bill Clinton – Remarks Following a Meeting With Entertainment and Media Executives, February 29, 1996:

…we also know that young people are exposed regularly to numbing and pervasive violence and other destructive behavior when they park in front of the family television.

Even the mouthpiece for the ‘entertainment’ industry, Jack Valenti, in his remarks following Clinton, agreed on the dangers of televised violence, and assured the people of America that the industry was committed to resolving the problem. But the the blather at this publicity stunt touting the ‘v-chip’, which was supposed to be “handing the TV remote control back to America’s parents so that they can pass on their values and protect their children” as Clinton put it, came to nothing in the end. Violent media content has burgeoned since then, and there has been little more heard from the politicos. Let’s examine some of the reasons why.

The entertainment media’s commitment to reining-in violence seems illusory, to put it politely. But they do seem to have a true commitment to promoting radical and violent anti-social behavior that goes beyond ‘bottom line’ issues, and may even be antithetical to their financial interest. We’ll consider that obsession later, but we need also to recognize their political power – it is enormous. The old political wisdom warning pols not to pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel holds equally true in the electronic media age.

The Communications Act of 1934, Section 326, states that “[n]othing in this chapter shall be understood or construed to give the [Federal Communications] Commission the power of censorship over the radio communications or signals transmitted by any radio [or television] station, and no regulation or condition shall be promulgated or fixed by the Commission which shall interfere with the right of free speech by means of radio communication.” The Second Amendment to the US Constitution may not be, but that part of the Communications Act seems sacrosanct to both industry and government, and various means have been found to protect it.

Even the US Supreme Court, in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, found (in the name of ‘free speech’) that the protection of our children was subservient to video game merchants right to sell first person shooter games to nascent psychopathic killers. Perhaps we could consider school shootings as exercises in free speech.

In ploys remarkably like the tobacco industry’s, the violent entertainment industry initially tried to convince credulous politicians that violent entertainment was actually a good thing – the so-called ‘catharsis theory’. That was also the pornography industry’s second line of defense, after free ‘speech’; a line that also has held firm. Then there’s the hyperbolic distraction that ‘everyone who watches televised violence doesn’t go off the deep end, there are other, more important, factors at work’, a favorite of the ACLU. The first of those arguments has been debunked as we read in this section of another summary:


Future research also debunked a belief originally advanced during the 1952 hearings when the “catharsis theory,” which stated that television violence served as a release for aggressive children and was therefore not harmful, was found to be lacking as a suitable explanation of the relationship between television violence and young viewers.86

The second is far more complex. Everyone recognizes that it is the kids at the outer edge of the bell curve of mental stability that garner the bloody headlines, however much the population as a whole is adversely affected. And that common sense understanding has also been underscored by research:

During his 1955 testimony, Dr. Ralph Banay asserted that emotionally disturbed children would be affected by television violence more than stable children. Almost twenty years later the Surgeon General’s Report substantiated his belief with empirical research.85

Both the above quotes are from:

We must now ask ourselves what are those factors that brought on this epidemic of mental instability, and this relatively new phenomenon of cultural violence. Do they include the also relatively new phenomena of family breakdown, alienation, social isolation, and bad outcomes in psychotropic drug therapy?

Yes, those seem to be factors present in many, if not most, high profile shootings, and certainly in the run-of-the-mill daily violence. Those factors, added on top of minds habituated to violence by constant media exposure spells danger.

But let’s also remember the role of the media in creating the emotional disturbances in the first place. The American Academy of Family Physicians summary concluded that the effects of media violence “include increases in aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, bullying, fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances.” That is the very definition of adversely affecting mental and emotional stability. And overt violence is not the only form in which media brainsoiling occurs.

The Creator’s guidebook for mental health recommends:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8 King James Version (KJV)

Yet, what does our ‘entertainment media’ give us: whatsoever things are lies, whatsoever things are fantastic, bizarre, vile, grotesque, shocking, horrifying, destructive, think on these things – and we do! That we all know from our own mental experience. The remarkable thing is not the high level of mental disturbance in this country, but the relative sanity of the majority.

What a telling situation we find ourselves in today; mobs in the streets demanding the disarmament of law abiding citizens because ‘guns’ are killing our people at such an alarming rate, and yet hardly a peep anymore about the deranged minds behind the unthinking, inanimate objects called ‘guns’. One would think it common sense to tackle those factors creating such dangerous mental instability, but no, that’s not the case. In a revealing display of their totalitarian tendencies, the cry in some quarters is ‘gun control’, ‘gun control’, gun control’. Gun violence is useful to their ends, so neither the examination of causes nor responsible gun control are seriously pursued. Total disarmament of the civilian population is their goal, and faked outrage over gun violence is their vehicle for achieving that end. Knowing that, the other side of the gun debate adamantly opposes any effort at gun control as the first step down the slippery slope to forced disarmament of the law abiding citizenry – and dictatorship.

The power of the pharmaceutical industry comes into play in obscuring the relationship of mass murder with that acknowledged few percent of disastrous failures of psychotropic drug therapy. And the powerful dystopian counter-culture is bent on celebrating the destruction of the family, and society. That is the situation our country finds itself in.

If our children and our society are to be protected from violent predators in the media, it is up to families. More specifically it is up to Christian families, for there is spiritual warfare at work here. Those who don’t recognize that fact, or don’t know how to deal with it spiritually, aren’t going to successfully deal with it. The majority of the ‘entertainment’ and ‘mainstream news media’, as well as much of industry, and virtually of all ‘popular culture’ leadership seem bent on destruction, and we know why. In the Creator’s guidebook we read the words of Godly Wisdom speaking:

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Proverbs 8:38 (KJV)

We can have no doubt about that hatred, and that puts those who hate Godly Wisdom under the power of the Enemy of mankind – and their own deadly enemy. It should come as no surprise then, that we find ourselves living in a “culture of death”. To say that we “love death” may seem extreme, but look at us, a large part of us anyway: our entertainment is largely war, murder, vampires, zombies, dystopian fantasies, and sterile, perverse sexuality; and our reality is war, murder, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, drug abuse ‘zombies’, overdoses, drunken mayhem on the roadways, sterile, perverse sexuality, and an increasing atmosphere of nihilism, anger and hatred building to an inevitably deadly storm. Surely we do, many of us anyway, “love death”.


Bill Kitchens



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,

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.



Have we even been taught them? The answer to the immediately preceding question is ‘yes’, at least at one time in our history, as we can see by these excerpts from an 1844 American public school reader (included in Pious to Progressive: A Century of American Readers).

Tragically, though, many Americans, at that time, failed to learn the lessons — lessons about the dangers of politics in a self-governing society. That failure plunged the United States into a brutal civil war from which we have never yet fully recovered. Does that have any bearing on our lives today? Judge for yourself. The Civil War of 1861 arose because the pro-slavery Democrat Party refused to accept the election of anti-slavery Republican Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. The Democrat controlled states seceded from the United States and declared war upon it – only somewhat more openly and recklessly than they are doing today.

Ironically, the parties remain the same, and the basis of the conflict remains unsettled. Chattel slavery1 of Africans was the issue at the forefront of the war, but was not the basic conflict of interests. That underlying conflict was the distribution of political power. Remember that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address does not directly mention slavery, but declares the war to be so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

I won’t conduct an autopsy upon the late Civil War, only observe that history has many lessons to teach; but, not only are young Americans not taught the lessons of that history, they don’t even seem aware that any exist. Let’s look back at some lessons that were offered then, and compare them for relevance with with current events. The following excerpts are all from just one pre-Civil War reader, for about the eighth year student (in ungraded schools).

1. Chattel property is any personally owned property, such as livestock, vehicles, furniture, etc., that is not in a fixed position like lands and buildings (real property).

The following is a very brief excerpt from one of Henry Clay’s speeches, but it sums up his point quite succinctly. When we look upon, often in dismay, the American political scene, we can, perhaps, draw some solace from the fact that it has always been much the same.


Henry Clay

[Extract from a Speech on the new Army Bill.]

They are for war and no restrictions, when the administration is for peace. They are for peace and restrictions, when the administration is for war. You find them, sir, tacking with every gale, displaying the colors of every party, and of all nations, steady only in one unalterable purpose,—to steer, if possible, into the haven of power.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844


William Gaston*

Threats of resistance, secession, separation,— have become common as household words, in the wicked and silly violence of public declaimers. The public ear is familiarized, and the public mind will soon be accustomed to the detestable suggestion of Disunion! Calculations and conjectures; What may the East do without the South, and what may the South do without the East?—sneers, menaces, reproaches, and recriminations, all tend to the same fatal end! What can the East do without the South? What can the South do without the East?

If it must be so, let parties and party men continue to quarrel with little or no regard to the public good. They may mystify themselves and others with disputations on political economy, proving the most opposite doctrines to their own satisfaction, and perhaps, to the conviction of no one else on earth. They may deserve reprobation for their selfishness, their violence, their errors, or their wickedness. They may do our country much harm. They may retard its growth, destroy its harmony, impair its character, render its institutions unstable, pervert the public mind, and deprave the public morals. These are, indeed, evils and sore evils, but the principle of life remains, and will yet struggle with assured success, over these temporary maladies.

Still we are great, glorious, united, and free; still we have a name revered abroad, and loved at home,—a name which is a tower of strength to us against foreign wrong, and a bond of internal union and harmony, —a name, which no enemy pronounces but with respect, and which no citizen hears, but with a throb of exultation.

Still we have that blessed Constitution, which, with all its pretended defects, and all its alleged violations, has conferred more benefit on man, than ever yet flowed from any other human institution,—which has established justice, insured domestic tranquility, provided for the common defense, promoted the general welfare, and which, under God, if we be true to ourselves, will ensure the blessings of Liberty to us and our posterity.

Surely, such a country, and such a Constitution, have claims upon you, my friends, which cannot be disregarded. I entreat and adjure, then, by all that is near and dear to you on earth, by all the obligations of patriotism, by the memory of your fathers, who fell in the great and glorious struggle, for the sake of your sons, whom you would not have to blush for your degeneracy; by all your proud recollections of the past, and all the fond anticipations of the future renown of our nation,—preserve that country,—uphold that Constitution. Resolve, that they shall not be lost, while in your keeping; and may God Almighty strengthen you to perform that vow!

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Gaston, 1778-1844, was a US Representative from North Carolina.


James A. Bayard*

These are short excerpts from the selection carried in the old reader, but it demonstrates the importance of the issue both then, and now.

Sir, the morals of your people, the peace of the country, , the stability of the country, rest upon the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary. … Am I asked, Would you render the judges superior to the legislature? I answer, No, but coordinate (equal). Would you render them independent of the legislature? I answer, Yes, independent of every power on earth, while they behave themselves well. The essential interest, the permanent welfare of society, require this independence: … You calculate on the weakness of human nature, and you suffer the judge to be dependent on no one, lest he should be partial to those on whom he depends. Justice does not exist where partiality prevails.

Let it be remembered, that no power is so sensibly felt by society, as that of the judiciary. The life and property of every man, are liable to be in the hands of the judges. Is it not our great interest to place our judges upon such high ground, that no fear can intimidate, no hope seduce them? The present measure humbles in the dust; it prostrates them at the feet of faction; it renders them the tools of every dominant party. It is this effect which I deprecate; it is this consequence which I deeply deplore. What does reason, what does argument avail, when party spirit presides? Subject your bench to the influence of this spirit, and justice bids a final adieu to your tribunals.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Bayard, 1767-1815) was a US Representative, and Senator, from Delaware, and was influential in the early political life of the country.


Joseph T. Buckingham*

Look abroad, over the face of this vast and almost illimitable continent, and behold multitudes which no man can number, impatient of the slow process of education, wrestling with the powers of nature, and the obstructions of accident, and, like the patriarch1, refusing to let go their hold, till the day break, and they receive the promised blessing, and the recompense of the struggle.

You will perceive, too, in the remotest corners, where civilization has planted her standard, that there the Press, the mightiest engine ever yet invented by the genius of man, is producing a moral revolution, on a scale of grandeur and magnificence unknown to all former generations. By it, information of every transaction of government, and off all important occurrences, in the four quarters of the world, is transmitted with a degree of speed and regularity, that the most sagacious (informed) could not have foreseen, nor the most enthusiastic have dared hope for, fifty years ago. By the Press, every cottage is supplied with its newspapers, and elementary books, in the most useful sciences; and every cradle is supplied with tracts and toy-books, to teach the infant to lisp lessons of wisdom and piety, long before his mind has power to conceive, or firmness to retain, their meaning.

The power of this engine, in the moral and intellectual universe, in inconceivable. There is no ordinary operation of the physical elements, to which its mighty influence can be compared. We can find, only in the visions of the apocalyptic saint, a parallel to its tremendous action.

Guided by truth and reason, like the sound of the seventh trumpet, it opens the temple of God in heaven, and shows to the eye of the faithful and regenerated spirit, within the veil of the temple, in the presence-chamber of the Almighty, the ark of his testament.

Controlled by falsehood and fraud, its force, like the opening of the sixth seal of the mystic volume, produces earthquakes, turns the sun to sackcloth, and the moon to blood, moves every mountain and island out of their places, and causes even the heaven we hope for, to depart as a scroll, when it is rolled together.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Joseph Tinker Buckingham, 1779-1861, was a New England journalist and politician, and a descendant of a Mayflower Pilgrim (Tinker).

1. Jacob wrestling with the angel, Genesis 32:24 ff.

2. Chapter 8 and following, of the Book of The Revelation to the Apostle John.


G. S. Hilliard*

Let no man accuse me of seeing wild visions, and dreaming impossible dreams. I am only stating what may be done, and what will be done. We may most shamefully betray the trust reposed in us,—we may most miserably defeat the fond hopes entertained of us. We may become the scorn of tyrants and the jest of slaves. From our fate, oppression may assume a bolder front of insolence, and its victims sink into a darker despair.

In that event, how unspeakable will be our disgrace,— with what weight of mountains will the infamy lie upon our souls. The gulf of our ruin will be as deep, as the elevation we might have attained, is high. How wilt thou fall from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

Our beloved country with ashes for beauty, the golden cord of our union broken, its scattered fragments presenting every form of misrule, from the wildest anarchy to the most ruthless despotism, our “soil drenched with fraternal blood,” the life of man stripped of its grace and dignity, the prizes of honor gone, and virtue divorced from half its encouragements and supports,—these are gloomy pictures, which I would not invite your imaginations to dwell upon, but only to glance at, for the sake of the warning lessons we may draw from them.

Remember, that we can have none of those consolations, which sustain the patriot, who mourns over the undeserved misfortunes of his country. Our Rome cannot fall, and we be innocent. No conqueror will chain us to the car of his triumph,—no countless swarms of Huns and Goths will bury the memorials and trophies of civilized life, beneath a living tide of barbarism. Our own selfishness, our own neglect, our own passions, and our own vices, will furnish the elements of our destruction. With our own hands, we shall tear down the stately edifice of our glory. We shall die by self-inflicted wounds.

But we will not talk of themes like these. We will not think of failure, dishonor and despair. We shall elevate our minds to the contemplation of our high duties, and the great trust committed to us. We will resolve to lay the foundations of our prosperity on that rock of private virtue, which cannot be shaken, until the laws of the moral world are reversed. From our own breasts shall flow the salient springs of national increase. Then our success, our happiness, our glory, will be inevitable, as the inferences of mathematics. We may calmly smile at the croakings of all the ravens, whether of native or foreign breed.

The whole will not grow weak, by the increase of its parts. Our growth will be like that of the mountain oak, which strikes its roots more deeply into the soil, and clings to it with a closer grasp, as its lofty head is exalted, and its broad arms stretched out. The loud burst of joy and gratitude, which this, the anniversary of our Independence, is breaking from the full hearts of a mighty people, will never cease to be heard. No chasms of sullen silence will interrupt its course,—no discordant notes of sectional madness, mar the general harmony. Year after year will increase it, by tributes from now unpeopled solitudes. The farthest West shall hear it and rejoice, —the Oregon shall swell it with the voice of its waters,—the Rocky Mountains shall fling back the glad sound from her snowy crests.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Presumably George Stillman Hilliard, 1808-1879, a New England lawyer, politician, and author.


Orville Dewey*

One of the circumstances of our moral condition, is danger. Religion, then, should be a guardian, and a vigilant guardian; and let us be assured that the Gospel is such. Such, emphatically do we need. If we cannot bear a religion that admonishes us, watches over us, warns us, restrains us; let us be assured that we cannot bear a religion that will save us. Religion should be the keeper of the soul; and without such a keeper, in the slow and undermining process of temptation, or amidst the sudden and strong assaults of passion, it will be overcome and lost.

Again, the human condition is one of weakness. There are weak points, where religion should be stationed to support and strengthen us. Points, did I say? Are we not encompassed with weakness? Where, in the whole circle of our spiritual interests and affections, are we not exposed, and vulnerable? Where have we not need to set up the barriers of habit, and to build the strongest defenses, with which resolutions, and vows, and prayers, can surround us? Where, and wherein, I ask again, is any man safe? What virtue of any man, is secure from frailty? What strong purpose of his, is not liable to failure? What affection of his heart can say, “I have strength, I am established, and nothing can move me?”

How weak is man in trouble, in perplexity, in doubt;—how weak in affliction, or when sickness bows the spirit, or when approaching death is unloosing all the bands of his self-reliance! And whose spirit does not sometimes faint under its intrinsic weakness, under its native frailty, and under the burden and pressure of its necessities?

Religion, then, should bring supply, and support, and strength. And it thus meets a universal want. Every mind needs the stability which principle gives; needs the comfort which piety gives; needs it continually, in all the varying experience of life.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Dewey, 1794-1882, was a New England educator, writer, lecturer, and Unitarian minister.


S. Reed*

It was the design of Providence that the infant mind should possess the germ of every science. If it were not so, the sciences could hardly be learned. The care of God provides for the flower of the field, a place wherein it may grow, regale the sense with its fragrance, and delight the soul with its beauty. Is his providence less active over those to whom this flower offers its incense?—No. The soil which produces the vine in its most healthy luxuriance, is not better adapted to that end, than the world we inhabit, to draw forth the latent energies of the soul, and fill them with life and vigor. As well might the eye see without light, or the ear hear without sound, as the human mind be healthy and athletic without descending into the natural world, and breathing the mountain air.

Is there aught in Eloquence which warms the heart? She draws her fire from natural imagery. Is there aught in Poetry to enliven the imagination? There, is the secret of all her power. Is there aught in Science to add strength and dignity to the human mind? The natural world is the only body, of which she is the soul. In books, science is presented to the eye of the pupil, as it were, in a dried and preserved state. The time may come, when the instructor may take him by the hand, and lead him by the running streams, and teach him all the principles of Science as she comes from her Maker; as he would smell the fragrance of the rose, without gathering it.

The love of nature; this adaptation of man to the place assigned him by his heavenly Father; this fullness of the mind as it descends into the works of God,—is something, which has been felt by everyone,—though to an imperfect degree,—and therefore needs no explanation. It is the part of science, that this be no longer a blind affection; but that the mind be opened to a just perception of what it is, which it loves.

The affection, which the lover first feels for his future wife, may be attended only by a general sense of her external beauty; but his mind gradually opens to a perception of the peculiar (exclusive) features of the soul, of which the external appearance is only an image. So it is with nature. Do we love to gaze on the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets? This affection contains in its bosom the whole science of astronomy, as the seed contains the future tree. It is the office of the instructor to give it an existence and a name, by making known laws, which govern the motions of the heavenly bodies to each other, and their uses.

Have we felt delight in beholding the animal creation,—in watching their pastimes and their labors? It is the office of the instructor to give birth to this affection, by describing the different classes of animals, with their peculiar characteristics, which inhabit the earth, the air, and the sea. Have we known the inexpressible pleasure of beholding the beauties of the vegetable world? This affection can only expand in the science of botany. Thus it is, that the love of nature in the mass may become the love of all the sciences, and the mind will grow and bring forth fruit from its own inherent power of development.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.


Dr. A. White*

Education is the personal and practical concern of every individual, and at all periods of life.—Those who have been favored with advantages of early instruction, or even with a course of liberal education, ought to consider it rather as a good foundation to build upon, than as a reason for relaxing in their efforts to make advances in learning. The design of early education, it should be remembered, is not so much to accumulate information, as to develop, invigorate, and discipline the faculties; to form habits of attention, observation, and industry, and thus to prepare the mind for more extensive acquirements, as well as for a proper discharge of the duties of life.

Those who have not the privileges of early instruction, must feel the stronger inducement to avail themselves of all the means ad opportunities in their power, for the cultivation of their minds and the acquisition of knowledge. It can never be too late to begin or to advance the work of improvement. They will find distinguished examples of success in the noble career of self-education, to animate their exertions. These will teach them, that no condition in life is so humble, no circumstances so distressing, no occupation so laborious, as to present insuperable obstacles to success in the acquisition of knowledge. All such disheartening obstacles combined, may be surmounted, as they have been in a thousand instances by resolute and persevering determination to overcome.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.


E. Cooper*

The true Christian must show that he is in earnest about religion. In the management of his worldly affairs, he must let it be clearly seen, that he is not influenced by a worldly mind; that his heart is not upon earth; that he pursues his worldly calling from a principle of duty, not from a sordid love of gain; and that, in truth, his treasures are in heaven. He must, therefore not only “provide things honest in the sight of all men;” not only avoid everything which is fraudulent and unjust in his dealings with others; not only openly protest against those iniquitous practices which the custom of trade too frequently countenances and approves;—but, also, he must “let his moderation be known unto all men.”

He must not push his gains with seeming eagerness, even to the utmost lawful extent. He must exercise forbearance. He must be content with moderate profits. He must sometimes even forgo advantages, which, in themselves, he might innocently take, lest he should seem to give any ground for suspecting that his heart is secretly set upon these things.

Thus, also, with respect to worldly pleasures; he must endeavor to convince men that the pleasures which religion furnishes, are far greater than those which the world can yield. While, therefore, he conscientiously keeps from joining in those trifling, and, too often, profane amusements, in which ungodly men profess to seek their happiness, he must yet labor to show, that, in keeping from those things, he is, in respect to real happiness, no loser, but even a gainer by religion. He must avoid everything which may look like moroseness and gloom. He must cultivate a cheerfulness of spirit. He must endeavor to show, in his whole deportment, the contentment and tranquility which naturally flow from heavenly affections, from a mind at peace with God, and from a hope full of immortality.

The spirit which Christianity enjoins and produces, is so widely different from the spirit of the world, and so immensely superior to it, that, it cannot fail of being noticed, so it cannot fail of being admired, even by those who are strangers to its power. Do you ask in what particulars this spirit shows itself? I answer, in the exercise of humility, of meekness, of gentleness; in patient bearing of injuries, in a readiness to forgive offenses; in a uniform endeavor to overcome evil with good; in self-denial and disinterestedness (impartiality); in universal kindness and courtesy; in slowness to wrath, in an unwillingness to hear or speak evil of others; in a forwardness to defend, to advise, and to assist them, in loving our enemies; in blessing them that curse us; in doing good to them that curse us; in doing good to them that hate us. These are genuine fruits of true Christianity.

The Christian must “let his light shine before men,” by discharging in a faithful, a diligent, and a consistent manner, the personal and particular duties of his station. As a member of society, he must be distinguished by a blameless and an inoffensive conduct; by a simplicity and an ingenuousness of character, free from every degree of guile; by uprightness and fidelity in his engagements. As a neighbor, he must be kind, friendly, and accommodating. His discourse must be mild and instructive. He must labor to prevent quarrels, to reconcile those who differ, to comfort the afflicted. In short, he must be “ready for every good work;” and all his dealings with others must show the Heavenly Principle, which dwells and works in his heart.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.


Joseph Story*

If Christianity may be said to have given a permanent elevation to women, as an intellectual and moral being, it is as true, that the present age, above all others, has given play to her genius, and taught us to reverence its influence. It was the fashion of other times to treat the literary acquirements of the sex, as starched pedantry, or vain pretension; to stigmatize them as inconsistent with those domestic affections and virtues, which constitute the charm of society. We had abundant homilies read upon their amiable weaknesses and sentimental delicacy, upon their timid gentleness and submissive dependence; as if to taste the fruit of knowledge were a deadly sin, and ignorance were the sole guardian of innocence. Their whole lives were “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought:” and concealment of intellectual power was often resorted to, to escape the dangerous reputation of masculine strength.

In the higher walks of life, the satirist was not without color for the suggestion, that it was “A youth of folly, and an old age of cards;” and that everywhere, “most women had no character at all,” beyond the purity and devotion to their families.

Admirable as are these qualities, it seems an abuse of the gifts of providence, to deny to mothers the power of instructing their children, to wives the privilege of sharing the intellectual pursuits of their husbands, to sisters and daughters the delight of ministering knowledge in the fireside circle, to youth and beauty the charm of refined sense, to age and infirmity the consolation of studies which elevate the soul, and gladden the listless hours of despondency.

These things have, in a great measure, passed away. The prejudices, which have dishonored the sex, have yielded to the influence of truth. By slow, but sure advances, education has extended itself through all ranks of female society. There is no longer any dread, lest the culture of science should foster that masculine boldness, or restless independence, which alarms by its sallies, or wounds by its inconsistencies.

We have seen, that here, as everywhere else, knowledge is favorable to human virtue and human happiness; and that the refinement of literature adds luster to the devotion of piety; that true learning, like true taste, is modest and un-ostentatious; that grace of manners receives a higher polish from the discipline of the schools; that cultivated genius sheds a cheering light over domestic duties, and its very sparkles, like those of a diamond, attest at once its power and its purity.

There is not a rank of female society, however high, which does not now pay homage to literature, or that would not blush, even at the suspicion of ignorance, which, a half century ago, was neither uncommon, nor discreditable. There is not a parent, whose pride may not glow at the thought, that his daughter’s happiness is, within a great measure, within her own command, whether she keeps the cool, sequestered vale of life, or visits the busy walks of fashion.

A new path is thus opened for female exertion, to alleviate the pressure of misfortune, without any supposed sacrifice of dignity or modesty. Man no longer aspires to all exclusive dominion in authorship. He has rivals, or allies, in almost every department of knowledge; and there to be found among those, whose elegance of manners and blamelessness of life, command his respect, as much as their talents excite his admiration.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Story, 1767-1815, was a long time early and influential Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


Dr. Noyes*

The peculiar religious character of the Psalms, which distinguishes them from the productions of other nations of antiquity, is well worthy of the attention of such as are disposed to doubt the reality of the Jewish revelation. I do not refer to the prophetic character, which some of them are supposed to possess, but to the comparative purity and fervor of religious feeling, which they manifest; the sublimity and justness of the views of the Deity, and of his government of the world, which they present; and the clear perception of a spiritual good, infinitely to be preferred to any external possession, which is found in them. Let them be considered as the fruit of the principles of the Jewish religion, as they existed in the minds of pious Israelites, and do they not bear delightful testimony tot he reality of the successive revelations, alleged to have been made to the Hebrew nation, and of the peculiar relation which the Most high is said to have sustained towards them?

Let the unbeliever compare the productions of the Hebrew poets, with those of the most enlightened periods of Grecian literature. Let him explain, how it happened, that in the most celebrated cities of antiquity, which human reason had adorned with the most splendid trophies of art, whose architecture it is now thought high praise to imitate well, whose sculpture almost gave life to marble, whose poetry has never been surpassed, and whose eloquence has never been equaled, a religion prevailed, so absurd and frivolous as to be beneath the contempt of a child, at the present day; while in an obscure corner of the world, in a nation in some respects imperfectly civilized, were breathed forth those strains of devotion, which now animate the hearts of millions, and are the vehicle of their feelings to the throne of God. Let him say, if there be not some ground for the conclusion, that whilst the corner-stone of the heathen systems of religion, was unassisted human reason, that of the Jewish was an immediate revelation from the Father of lights.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.


C. C. Felton

The greatness of the genius of Aristophanes, is not generally appreciated. The value of his comedies, as illustrations of the political antiquities, the life, morals, and manners of Athens, is not fully understood. The truth is, we are indebted to him for information upon the working of the Attic (Greek) institutions, which, had all his plays been lost, we should have vainly sought for in the works of other authors. With what boldness and vigor does he sketch that many-headed despot, the Demos of Athens1; with what austere truth, does he draw the character of the Athenian Demagogue, and, in him, the Demagogue(s) of all times; how many rays of light are poured from his comedies, upon the popular and judicial tribunals,—the assemblies in the Pnyxn2, the Senate, and the Heliastic courts!

No intelligent reader can doubt, that Aristophanes was a man of the most profound acquaintance with the political institutions of his age; no reader of poetic fancy can fail to see that he possessed an extraordinary creative genius. It is impossible to study his works attentively, without feeling that his was the master mind of the Attic (Greek) drama. The brightest flashes of a high poetical spirit, are constantly breaking out, from the midst of the broadest merriment, and the sharpest satire. An imagination of endless variety and strength, enlivens those lyrical passages which gem his works, and are among the most precious brilliants of the Greek language. In the drawing of characters, his plays exhibit consummate skill. The clearness of his conceptions, the precision of his outlines, the consistency with which his personages are throughout maintained, cannot fail to impress the reader, with the perfection of his judgment, and the masterly management of the resources of his art.

He had the inestimable advantage, too, of writing in a language which is undoubtedly the highest attainment of human speech; and all the rich varieties and harmonies of this wondrous instrument, he held at his supreme command. Its flexibility, under his shaping hand, is almost miraculous. At one moment, he is reveling in the wildest mirth, and the next, he is sweeping through the loftiest region of lyrical inspiration; but the language never breaks down under his adventurous flight. The very words he wants, come, like beings of instinct with life, and fall into their proper places, at his bidding. His wit is as manifold and startling, as the myriad-minded Shakespeare’s. Indeed, although these great men stood two thousand years apart, and moved in widely differing spheres of poetical activity, still many striking points of resemblance exist between the genius of the English, and of the Grecian bard.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Cornelius Conway Felton, 1807-1862, was a Greek scholar, professor, and for a short time before his death, President of Harvard.

1. “Demos”, from which we get the word “democracy”, means ‘the people’. To paraphrase one side of an ancient political argument: ‘Tyranny by a minority is bad, tyranny by a majority is worse’; hence a “many-headed despot”. And so the United States Constitution was designed to limit the power of the government as a limit on the power of the majority over the minority — a Constitutional Republic (“if you can keep it.”)

2. A place of assembly opposite the Acropolis.


Henry Clay*

Who is prepared to say, that American seamen shall be surrendered, as victims, to the British principle of impressment? And sir, what is this principle? She contends, that she has a right to the services of her own subjects; and that, in the exercise of this right, she may lawfully impress them, even though she finds them in American vessels, upon the high seas, without (outside) her jurisdiction. Now, I deny that she has any right, beyond her jurisdiction, to come on board our vessels, upon the high seas, for any other purpose, than in pursuit of enemies, or their goods, or goods of contraband of war.

But she further contends, that her subjects cannot renounce their allegiance to her, and contract a new obligation to other sovereigns. I do not mean to go into the general question of the right of expatriation. If, as is contended, all nations deny it, all nations, at the same time, admit and practice the right of naturalization. Great Britain herself does this. Great Britain, in the very case of foreign seamen, imposes,perhaps, fewer restraints upon naturalization, than any other nation. Then, if subjects cannot break their original allegiance, they may, according to a universal usage, contract a new allegiance.

What is the effect of this double obligation? Undoubtedly, that the sovereign having the possession of the subject, would have the right to the services of the subject. If he return within the jurisdiction of his primitive (original) sovereign, he may resume his right to his services, of which, the subject, by his own act, could not divest himself. But his primitive sovereign can have no right to go in quest of him, out of his own jurisdiction, into the jurisdiction of another sovereign, or upon the high seas; where there exists no jurisdiction, or it is possessed by the nation owning the ship navigating them.

But, sir, this discussion is altogether useless. It is not to the British principle, objectionable as it is, that we are alone to look; it is her practice, no matter what guise she puts on it. It is in vain to assert the inviolability of the obligation of allegiance. It is vain to set up the plea of necessity, and to allege that she cannot exist without the impressment of of her seamen. The naked truth is, she comes, by her press-gangs, on board of our vessels, seizes our native as well as naturalized seamen, and drags them into her service.

It is the case, then, of the assertion of an erroneous principle, and of a practice not conformable to the asserted principle,—a principle which, if it were theoretically right, must forever be practically wrong,—a practice which can obtain countenance from no principle whatever, and to submit to which, on our part, would betray the most abject degradation.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Clay, 1777-1852, was one of America’s greatest political leaders and statesmen during the first half of the 19th Century, a formative period of the American Republic. He served as a US Representative, and Senator, from Kentucky, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and Secretary of State. He was a candidate for President several times, most notably running against Democrat Andrew Jackson in a bitterly fought race. Nevertheless, he cooperated with the Jackson administration to resolve the national crises of the era. If I read history correctly, he was one of a rare breed of politicians who put country before their own political ambitions and personal grievances. This speech, made while Speaker of the House, recites one of the issues that led to the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States. Clay was also one of the negotiators on the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War.


Tristam Burgess*

This is an excerpt from a speech in the US House of Representatives that may seem irrelevant to our time; but its bitter partisanship, hypocrisy, and appeals to hatred and fear are as up to date as today’s Congressional Record. It differs only in its much more elevated, erudite style of invective. It’s interest to us is not just its similarity to today’s politics, but its illustration of where such politics can lead. Remember that this reader is from the Pre-Civil War Era. Such pieces are not to be found in Post-Civil War Readers.

The policy of the gentleman from Virginia, calls him to a course of legislation resulting in the entire destruction of one part of our Union. Oppress New England, until she shall be compelled to remove her manufacturing labor and capital to the region of iron, wool, and grain, and nearer to the regions of rice and cotton. Oppress New England, until she be compelled to remove her commercial labor and capital to New York, Charleston, and Savannah. Finally, oppress that proscribed region, until she shall be compelled to remove her agricultural labor and capital,—her agricultural capital? No, she cannot remove that. Oppress and compel her, nevertheless, to remove her agricultural labor to the far-off West; and there people the savage valley, and cultivate the deep wilderness of the Oregon.

She must, indeed, leave her agricultural capital2; her peopled fields; her hills with culture carried to their tops; her broad bays, her wide transparent lakes, long-winding rivers, and populous waterfalls; the delightful villages, flourishing towns, and wealthy cities. She must leave this land, bought by the treasure, subdued by the toil, defended by the valor of men, vigorous, athletic, and intrepid; men god-like in all making man resemble the moral image of his Maker; a land endeared, oh! How deeply endeared, because shared with women pure as the snows of their native mountains; bright, lofty, and overawing, as the clear, circumambient heavens over their heads; and yet lovely as the fresh opening bosom of their own blushing and blooming June.

“Mine own romantic country,” must we leave thee? Beautiful patrimony of the wise and good; enriched from the economy, and ornamented by the labor and perseverance of two hundred years! Must we leave thee, venerable heritage of ancient justice and pristine faith? And, God of our fathers! Must we leave thee to the demagogues who have deceived, and traitorously sold us? We must leave thee to them; and to the remnants of the Penobscots, the Pequods, the Mohicans, and the Narragansetts; that they may lure back the far-retired bear, from the distant forest, again to inhabit the young wilderness, growing up in our flourishing cornfields, and rich meadows; and spreading, with briers and brambles, over our most “pleasant places.”

All this shall come to pass, to the intent that New England may again become a lair for wild beasts, and a hunting-ground for savages; the graves of our parents be polluted; and the place made holy by the first footsteps of our Pilgrim forefathers, become profaned by the midnight orgies of barbarous incantation. The evening wolf shall again howl on our hills, and the echo of his yell mingle once more with the sound of our waterfalls. The sanctuaries of God shall be made desolate. Where now a whole people congregate in thanksgiving for the benefactions of time, and in humble supplication for the mercies of eternity, there those very houses shall then be left without a tenant. The owl, at noonday, may roost on the high altar of devotion, and the “fox look out at the window,” on the utter solitude of a New England Sabbath.

New England shall, indeed, under this proscribing policy, be what Switzerland was, under that of France3. New England, which, like Switzerland, is the eagle-nest of freedom; New England, where, as with Switzerland the cradle of infant liberty “was rocked by whirlwinds,in their rage:’ New England shall, as Switzerland was, in truth be “the immolated victim, where nothing but the skin remains unconsumed by the sacrifice;” New England, as Switzerland had, shall have nothing left but her rocks, her ruins, and her demagogues.”

The mind, sir, capable of conceiving a project of mischief so gigantic, must have been early schooled, and deeply imbued with all the great principles of moral evil.

What, then, sir, shall we say of a spirit, regarding this event as a “consummation devoutly to be wished?”—a spirit, without one attribute, or one hope, of the pure in heart; a spirit, which begins and ends everything, not with prayer, but with imprecation (curse); a spirit, which blots from the great canon of petition, “Give us this day our daily bread;” that, foregoing bodily nutriment, he may attain to a higher relish for that un-mingled food, prepared and served up to a soul “hungering and thirsting after wickedness;” a spirit, which, at every rising sun, exclaims, “Hodie! Hodie! Carthago delenda!” “Today, today! Let New England be destroyed!”

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Burgess (also Burges), 1770-1853, was Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric at Brown University, and a longtime member of the US House of Representatives from Rhode Island. His rhetorical skills were often in evidence in the House, as in this excoriation of Virginia firebrand John Randolph. His vision of an apocalyptic end of New England was very skillfully woven and affecting; though ridiculously exaggerated to the mind’s of more sophisticated Americans. Drummed up by unscrupulous newspapers, however, it was doubtless effective in moving public opinion. Even Burgess, though, acknowledged Randolph as his equal in the outraged oratory of the day, and the opportunities for rhetorical exuberance their war of words in the House occasioned them may have been satisfying to their egos, but such invective was steadily pounding in the wedges that would eventually split the nation.

Randolph is the more remembered of the two, but as a brilliant though tragic and unstable voice in the halls of Capitol Hill, engaging in wars of words with just about everyone. This one quote illustrates Randolph’s mastery of invective: “He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight.”


In the case of this particular speech, Burgess favored high tariffs to protect the developing New England manufacturing base. Randolph strongly opposed tariffs as injurious to Virginia’s agricultural economy. Other issues also bitterly divided the New Englander from the Virginia aristocrat, although both opposed slavery. Both men were gone from the scene well before the final split in 1860.

1. “Carthage must be destroyed”, a Roman imperative during the struggle to the death between the two great Mediterranean powers; but hardly descriptive of the situation that existed in the United States at that time.

2. Farmland, orchards, irrigation systems, barns, etc. are ‘agricultural capital’.

3. A reference to the brutal civil war and French occupation of Switzerland during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte.


Dr. Humphrey*

[From an Inaugural address at Amherst College.]

Convened as we are this day, in the portals of science and literature, and with their arduous heights, and profound depths, and Elysian fields before us, education offers itself as the inspiring theme of our present meditations. This, in a free, enlightened, and Christian state, is confessedly a subject of the highest moment (importance). How can the diamond reveal its luster from beneath incumbent rocks and earthly strata? How can the marble speak, or stand forth in all the divine symmetry of the human form, till it is taken from the quarry, and fashioned by the hand of the artist? And how can man be intelligent, happy, or useful, without the culture and discipline of education?

It is this, that unlocks the prison-house of his mind, and brings out the captive. It is the transforming hand of education, which is now, in so many heathen lands, moulding savageness and ignorance, pagan fanaticism, and brutal stupidity, revenge, and treachery, and lust,—and, in short, all the warring elements of our lapsed nature, into the various forms of exterior decency, of mental symmetry, and of Christian loveliness. It is education that pours light into the understanding, lays up its golden treasures in the memory, softens the asperities of the temper, checks the waywardness of passion and appetite, and trains to habits of industry, temperance, and benevolence.

It is this, which qualifies men for the pulpit, the senate, the bar, the art of healing, and the bench of justice. It is to education, to its domestic agents, its schools and colleges, its universities and literary societies, that the world is indebted for a thousand comforts and elegances of civilized life, for almost every useful art, discovery, and invention.

In a word, education, regarding man as a rational, accountable, and immortal being, elevates, expands, and enriches his mind; cultivates the best affections of his heart; pours a thousand sweet and gladdening streams around the dwellings of the poor, as well as the mansions of the rich; and while it greatly multiplies and enhances the enjoyments of time, helps to train up the soul for the bliss of eternity.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.



This is a very short excerpt from the original, and very timely to the purpose of this book.

That education is one of the deepest principles of independence, need not be labored in this assembly. In arbitrary governments, where the people neither make the law, nor choose those who legislate, the more ignorance, the more peace. But in a government, where the people fill all the branches of the sovereignty, intelligence is the life of liberty. An American would resent his being denied the use of his musket; but he would deprive himself of a stronger safeguard, if he should want the learning which is necessary to a knowledge of the Constitution.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*No further identification.

1. Information


Wilbur Fisk*

There is a spirit, an active, aspiring principle in man, which cannot be broken down by oppression, or satisfied by indulgence.

“He has a soul of vast desires,

It burns within with reckless fires:”

Desires, which no earthly good can satisfy; fires, which no waters of affliction or discouragement can quench. And it is from this, his nature, that society derives all its interests, and from here also lies all its danger. The spirit is at once the terror of tyrants, and the destroyer of republics.

To form some idea of its strength, let us look at it in its different conditions, both when it is depressed, and when it is exalted. See, when it is bent down, for a time, by the iron grasp and leaden scepter of tyranny, cramping, and curtailing, and hedging-in the soul, and foiling it in all its attempts to break from its bonds and assert its native independence. In these cases, the noble spirit, like a wild beast in the toils, sinks down, at times, into sullen inactivity, only that it may rise again, when exhausted nature is a little restored, to rush, as hope excites, or madness impels, in stronger paroxysms against the cords which bind it down.

This is seen in the mobs and rebellions of the most besotted and enslaved nations. Witness the repeated convulsions in Ireland, that degraded and oppressed country. Neither desolating armies, nor numerous garrisons, nor the most rigorous administration, enforced by thousands of public executions, can break the spirit of that reckless people.

Witness Greece: generations have passed away, since the warriors of Greece have had their feet put in fetters, and the race of heroes had apparently become extinct; and the Grecian lyre had long been unstrung and her lights put out. Her haughty masters thought her spirit was dead; but it was not dead, it only slept. In a moment, as it were, we saw all Greece in arms; she shook off her slumbers, and rushed, with frenzy and hope, upon seeming impossibilities, to conquer or to die.

We see, then, that man has a spirit, which is not easily broken down by oppression. Let us inquire, whether it can be more easily satisfied by indulgence. And, in every step of this inquiry, we shall find that no miser ever yet had gold enough; no office-seeker ever had honor enough; no conqueror ever had subdued kingdoms enough. When the rich man had filled his store-houses, he must pull down and build larger. When Caesar had conquered all his enemies, he must enslave his friends.

When Bonaparte had become Emperor of France, he aspired to the throne of all Europe. Facts, a thousand facts, in every age, and among all classes, prove, that such is the ambitious nature of the soul, such the increasing compass of its vast desires, that the material universe, with all its vastness, richness, and variety, cannot satisfy it. Nor is it in the power of the governments of this world, in their most perfect forms, so to interest the feelings, so to regulate the desires, so to restrain the passions, or so to divert, or charm the souls of a whole community, but that these latent and ungovernable fires will, sooner or later, burst out and endanger the whole body politic.

What has been the fate of the ancient republics? They have been dissolved by this same restless and disorganizing spirit, of which we are speaking. And do we not see the same dangerous spirit, in our own comparatively happy and strongly constituted republic?

Here, the road to honor and wealth is open to all; and here, is general intelligence. But here, man is found to possess the same nature as elsewhere. And the stirrings of his restless spirit have already disturbed the peace of society, and portend future convulsions. Party spirit is begotten, ambitious views are engendered, and fed, and inflamed; many are running the race for office; rivals are envied; characters are aspersed (soiled); animosities are enkindled; and the whole community are (is) disturbed by the electioneering contest.

Already, office seekers, in different parts of the country, unblushingly recommend themselves to notice, and palm themselves upon the people, by every electioneering maneuver; and in this way, such excitement is produced, in many parts of the Union, as makes the contending parties almost like mobs, assailing each other. Only let the public sense become vitiated (weakened or corrupted), and let a number of causes unite to produce a general excitement; and all our fair political proportion would fall before the spirit of party, as certainly and as ruinously, as the fair proportions of Italian architecture fell before ancient Goths and Vandals.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Fisk was a prominent New England Methodist minister, theologian, and educator. He was the first President of Wesleyan University.



Cast your eyes upon the earth that supports us; raise them to this immense canopy of the heavens that surrounds us,—these fathomless abysses of air and water, and these countless stars that give us light. Who is it that has suspended this globe of earth” Who has laid its foundations? If it were harder, its bosom could not be laid open by man for cultivation; if it were less firm it could not support the weight of his footsteps. From it proceed the most precious things: this earth, so mean (lowly) and unformed, is transformed into thousands of beautiful objects, that delight our eyes. In the course of one year, it becomes branches, buds, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds; thus renewing its bountiful favors to man. Nothing exhausts it. After yielding, for so many ages, its treasures, it experiences no decay; it does not grow old; it still pours forth riches from its bosom.

Who has stretched over our heads this vast and glorious arch? What sublime objects are there! An all-powerful Hand has presented this grand spectacle to our vision.

What does the regular succession of day and night teach us? The sun has never omitted, for so many ages, to shed his blessing upon us. The dawn never fails to announce the day; and “the sun”, says the Holy Book, “knows his going down.” Thus, it enlightens alternately, both sides of the world, and sheds its rays on all. Day is the time for society and employment,. Night folds the world in darkness, finishes our labors, and softens our troubles. It suspends, it calms everything. It sheds round us silence and sleep; it rests our bodies, it revives our spirits. Then day returns, and recalls man to labor, and reanimates all nature.

But besides the constant course of the sun, that produces day and night; during six months it approaches one pole, and during the other six, the opposite one. By this beautiful order, one sun answers for the whole world. If the sun, at the same distance, were larger, it would light the whole world, but it would consume with its heat. If it were smaller, the earth would be all ice, and could not be inhabited by men.

What compass has been stretched from heaven to earth and taken such just measurements? The changes of the sun make the variety of the seasons, which we find so delightful.

The Hand that guides this glorious work must be as skillful as it is powerful, to have made it so simple, yet so effectual; so constant and so beneficent.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Not further identified, but most probably the French Archbishop François Fénelon, 1648-1717, a prominent Roman Catholic theologian, scholar, and writer.



The Bible is the only book, which God has ever sent, the only one he ever will send, into the world. All other books are frail and transient as time, since they are only the registers of time; but the Bible is durable as eternity, for its pages contain the records of eternity. All other books are weak and imperfect, like their author, man; but the bible is a transcript of infinite power and perfection. Every other volume is limited in its usefulness and influence; but the Bible came forth conquering and to conquer; rejoicing as a giant to run his course his course, and like the sun, “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” The Bible only, of all the myriads of books the world has seen, is equally important and interesting to all mankind. Its tidings, whether of peace or of woe, are the same to the poor, the ignorant, and the weak, as to the rich, the wise, and the powerful.

Among the most remarkable of its attributes, is justice; for it looks with impartial eyes on kings and on slaves, on the hero and the soldier, on philosophers and peasants, on the eloquent and the dumb (mute). From all, it exacts the same obedience to its commandments, and promises to the good, the fruits of his labors; to the evil, the reward of his hands. Nor are the purity and holiness, the wisdom, benevolence and truth of the Scripture, less conspicuous, than their justice. In solemnity and beauty, in the descriptive and pathetic, in dignity and simplicity of narrative, in power and comprehensiveness, depth and variety of thought, in purity and elevation of sentiment, the most enthusiastic admirers of the heathen classics have conceded their inferiority to the Scriptures.

The Bible, indeed, is the only universal classic, the classic of all mankind, of every age and country, of time and eternity, more humble and simple that the primer of a child, more grand and magnificent than the epic and the oration, the ode and the drama, when genius with his chariot of fire, and his horses of fire, ascends in the whirlwind into the heaven of his own invention. It is the best classic the world has ever seen, the noblest that has ever honored and dignified the language of mortals.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Thomas Smith Grimke, 1786 -1834, when he died of cholera), was a distinguished jurist, Christian scholar, and writer in South Carolina. This is part of a larger work, another extract from which is contained in the California Fifth Reader of 1886. Only the last sentence of the above extract, and the first of the one in the California reader are repeated in this book.


A. B. Muzzey*

The success of all human enterprises depends much on the importance attached to them, the dignity they assume in our view, and the associations which circle round them. The orators of immortal renown, in ancient times, were accustomed to invest the themes they discussed with a peculiar greatness, and to throw a halo of glory around the occasion that had convened their audience. But there is one assembly, unknown to their days, and compared with which, their proudest conventions fade, as the morning star before the coming day. It is the school room in a republic, the place where, in a land favored like our own, the children of the rich and the poor, of the obscure and the honored, are seated side by side.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Artemas Bowers Muzzey, 1802-1892, was an American educator and writer, especially of Sunday School literature.

1. Although capitalized in the title, it is a small r, as in a ‘republic’, not the proper name of a political party.


Samuel H. Stearns*

[Extracts from a letter of a young American to his brother]

London, July 12, 1836

My Dear Brother,—I rose early to enjoy the hallowed hour of devotion. It was my first Sabbath in a foreign land; and a delightful morning it was. The sky was clear, and the air was fresh and balmy. I walked beyond the closely built houses of the town, now closed in silence on their slumbering inhabitants, to spend those halcyon moments among cottages and gardens, fields and hedges all bright with the morning sun, and fresh with the dew of heaven, to be regaled with views as beautiful as they were new, with the fragrance of flowers I had never before seen, and the music of birds whose notes had never before struck my ear and thrilled my heart.

When I had reached the top of a broad, swelling, verdant hill, about one and a half mile from the town, I took my position upon the top of a hedge bank. The town and the harbor were before me; and all around were the neat white-washed, straw-thatched cottages, and blooming gardens, and velvet-like fields, enclosed with green and flowering hedges, and shaded with deep verdant trees, and enlivened with gay birds, which alone, of all animated beings seemed, with inanimate nature, to have caught the spirit of the morning, and to be sympathizing and vying with each other in the worship of their Maker.

I had not stood there long before I enjoyed the principal object of my search. It was the morning lark, rising and singing towards heaven,

—just as Jeremy Taylor1 has so beautifully described it to our imaginations. I could not have a better exhibition of of it. It satisfied, and more than satisfied, my previous, and most pleasing conceptions of it. I saw one rise, and watched its ascent, and listened to its song, till it was entirely above and beyond my sight. I could only hear its note, more soft, more sweet as it was nearer the home of the blest, and the object of its praise, the throne of its God.

I could think of nothing but of some returning angel, or of some sainted spirit released from its service below, and springing from the earth below, and springing from the earth, gaily ascending higher and higher, singing more and more joyously, and resting not from its song or its flight, till it folds its wing and rests its foot by the throne of Him who made it. I could still hear its note, and still I gazed after it, and presently discerned its form, and saw it descend; but its descent was, if possible, more beautiful than its ascent. It returned to earth with such a graceful and easy motion, it seemed as if conscious that it could, at any time, rise again.

I did not intend to give you any description of this hour or of this scene; and you can have no idea of it now. It was altogether the happiest hour I have enjoyed since I left my native land. I returned to my lodgings, satisfied,—filled,—and feeling as if I had had a glimpse, and caught a note, of heaven.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Likely the Rev. Dr. Samuel Horatio Stearns, (1801-1837), a New England minister and writer who died shortly after this letter is dated.

1. Probably the Jeremy Taylor who was a noted writer and cleric during the English Civil War. Taylor was something of a Royalist counterpart to Puritan poet and polemicist, John Milton. They alternated imprisonments as the political winds shifted. Taylor became a Bishop during the Restoration.



The assumption that the cause of Christianity is declining, is utterly gratuitous (without substance). We think it not difficult to prove that the distinctive principles we so much venerate, never swayed so powerful an influence over the destinies of the human race, as at this very moment. Point us to those nations of the earth, to which moral and intellectual cultivation, inexhaustible resources, progress in arts, and sagacity (wisdom) in council, have assumed the highest rank in political importance; and you point us to nations whose religious opinions are most closely allied to those we cherish. Besides, when was there a period, since the days of the Apostles, in which so many converts have been made to these principles, as have been made, both from Christian and pagan nations, within the last five and twenty years? Never did the principles of the saints of the Most High, look so much like going forth in serious earnest, to take possession of the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, as at this very day.

But suppose the cause did seem declining, we should see no reason to relax our exertions, for Jesus Christ has said, Preach the gospel to every creature; and appearances, whether prosperous or adverse, alter no the obligation to obey a positive command of Almighty God.

Again, suppose all that is affirmed were true. If it must be, let it be. Let the dark cloud of infidelity overspread Europe, cross the ocean, and cover our beloved land,—let nation after nation swerve from the faith,—let iniquity abound, and the love of many wax cold, even until there is on the face of this earth, but one pure church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,—all we ask is, that we may be members of that one church. God grant that we may throw ourselves into this ‘Thermopylae1 of the moral universe.’

But even then, we should have no fear that the church of God would be exterminated. We would call to remembrance the years of the right hand of the Most High. We recollect there was once a time, when the whole church of Christ, not only could be, but actually was, gathered with one accord in one place. It was then that the place was shaken, as with a rushing mighty wind, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. That same day, three thousand were added to the Lord. Soon we hear, they have filled Jerusalem with their doctrine.—The church had commenced her march:—Samaria has, with one accord, believed the gospel; Antioch has become obedient to the faith; the name of Christ has been proclaimed throughout Asia Minor; the temples of the gods, as though smitten by an invisible hand, are deserted; the citizens of Ephesus cry out in despair, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; licentious Corinth is purified by the preaching of Christ crucified. Persecution puts forth her arm to arrest the ‘spreading superstition’; but the progress of faith cannot be stayed. The church of God advances unhurt amidst the racks and dungeons, persecutions and death; she has entered Italy, and appears before the wall of the Eternal City; idolatry falls prostrate at her approach; her ensign floats in triumph over the capitol; she has placed upon her brow the diadem of the Caesars.

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker, 1844

*Not otherwise identified, but probably Francis Wayland, 1796-1865, a New England Baptist preacher, university president, and notable economist whose works on political economy are influential even today.

1 A battle in 490 B.C. in which Spartan and other Greek warriors fought to the death to stop a Persian invasion.

The preceding selections are from Chapter 18 of Pious To Progressive; A Century of American Readers, and originally from:

The American Common-School Reader and Speaker

by John Goldsbury and William Russell

Copyright John Goldsbury, 1844

Tappan, Whittemore and Mason

Boston, MA


Halloween Puzzle

Now what goes there, a ‘b’ or a ‘w’? Or does it really matter?

I remember a movie from long ago about a beautiful witch (played by the beautiful Kim Novak) who fell in love with a slightly stodgy character played by slightly stodgy Jimmy Stewart. The witch began applying her enchanting ways to win the reluctant Stewart. Finally realizing what was happening, a frightened Stewart confided to his jealous soon to be ex-fiancée the unbelievable truth that his pursuer was a real witch. The fiancée cynically retorted that he was always a poor speller.

Come to think of it, it doesn’t make much difference, b or w. Witches were once considered ugly, wicked, dangerous, and definitely uncool. Now, we dress our little dears in cutsey witch costumes and send them out to terrorize the neighbors. Oh, but it’s all in good fun we say, everyone knows there is no such thing as witchcraft. Whether there is demonic power at the disposal of witches is a serious question, but I won’t broach it here. The objects of witchcraft are indisputably real however – power over others that is not freely given, wealth and fame that is not earned, a life set apart from the common herd, not subject to the rules of man or God that apply to others.

When we think about it, that’s just what Harry Potter’s ‘Potions Professor’, Severus Snape, offered his class of young witches and wizards:

“…the delicate power of liquids that creep through the human veins, bewitching the minds, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even stopper death.”

If I’m not mistaken, such practices are illegal in the real world and people who do such things are rightly despised. But, unlike real world drugs, magic spells are not detectable by standard analytical methods, and so are not subject to criminal prosecution. Perhaps that is one reason for the rising popularity of fantasy witchcraft. OK, maybe there are no real witches in the magical sense, but there are plenty of self centered, ruthless, scheming, unprincipled people. If female, we might very well apply the ‘b’ word. If male, we might also apply a ‘b’ word, but relating to illegitimate parentage. Why we would encourage such ‘b’ havior is unfathomable to me; but why we have a holiday celebrating our enemy is equally mystifying – the real Halloween puzzle.

St. Paul, in the Letter to the Philippians, advises us thusly: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

But on Hell’s Holiday we dwell on whatsoever things are false, deceitful, unjust, filthy, whatsoever things are grotesque, scandalous; if there be any iniquity, and if there be any slander – we think on those things. And it seems that every day is becoming more like Halloween. Fancy that.


Some Oily Thoughts


The Oil Sheik

The Bedouin chief, with caravan of limo’s sleek,

enjoys the life of oil chic.

Lesser potentates may envy, but can’t afford’er

if they’re too low on the OPEC’ing order.

The Wishing (Oil) Well

No drilling here, not so much as looking there;

from oil’s greedy grime, the earth we must spare!

If only oil’s need we could wish away.

Beggars would ride, they used to say,

if wishes were horses.

If beggars could ride,

they’d probably prefer Porsches;

but think of the methane,

if wishes were horses.


Bill Kitchens 2017

Party Animal

The Primeval Party Animal Indigenous to North America

From some obscure, probably prehistoric, evolutionary turns

our curious creature, its reputation earns.

Note the particular anatomical anomaly of relevance:

one end’s a jackass, the other, an elephant’s.

Its wondrous wings are often in a flap, though never in flight;

for it’s a flap on the left, then a flap on the right.

Doubtless would she soar, but for that double ended condition;

and, of course, a very similar disposition.

Conspicuously carnivorous of porcine provender à la barrel;

modestly though, ‘neath the patriotic apparel.

Often are laid eggs of golden promises, platitudes, and hype;

from which nothing good ever comes – you know the type.

Cute little ‘boondoggles’ then, when they hatch;

but come April, they make us all to scratch.

Why then, of our beast, boast we so; are we out of our mind?

For all its faults, who hasn’t those, it is one of a kind.

So we natives, naturally, are proud as we can be.

Only problem is, all that pork ain’t free.

Bill Kitchens 2017