founding_fathersTHE INFLUENCE OF POPULAR EDUCATION UPON THE NATION An Address By Prof. S. S. Rockwood, Of The Wisconsin State Normal School. Delivered At Janesville, Wisconsin, July 4th, 1876.

Mr. President, Ladies And Gentlemen,—I know very well what I am expected to say, I know what is the proper and conventional story to tell you. I know that the emblematic bird must be plucked to-day in your very presence until he looks like a Thanksgiving turkey on the morning of that inevitable Thursday in November. I know as well as tongue can tell that nothing less than filling the air about you with his Centennial plumes will satisfy your patriotic demands. Nothing less than the veritable “Old Abe” himself, fluttering and screaming in your faces, will fully come up to the requirements of this occasion. But there are two insuperable reasons that stand in my way. In the first place, the glorious old “.War Eagle of the Eighth Wis. Vol.,” is at this moment playing a star engagement at Philadelphia, where he is flapping his broad wings in the face of the world; and in the second place, in the division of labor for this day, the centennialism has been handed over to the silver-tongued lawyers and orators who are to follow me, and quiet themes have been assigned the schoolmasters.

I have always thought that great occasions are never wanting to those who are equal to them, and that fame and honor and the abiding confidence of the country wait upon the man who proves himself equal to every occasion.

I still believe in that doctrine, and on the other hand, I see the oblivion that shall hide the man who speaks on this occasion, and this day, the day of all other days, the occasion of all occasions that have seen the light in this country for a hundred years.

But where is the man who can utter the thought of this supreme moment? Who shall fitly speak the word Columbia has waited a century to hear?

FranklinIt is not you, my friends and fellow-citizens, who alone participate in these exercises; the living heroes of the past, whom we call dead, are coming up from every part of the land and world, to make an unseen audience into whose listening ears the words of every speaker must fall this day.

I consider myself fortunate in the theme assigned me. The last great thought of the world is popular education. The ripe fruit of the wisdom of all the ages is the enlightenment and consequent elevation of the masses.

To have discovered the grand laws of the stellar universe and marked out the paths of the planets, to have, invented movable type, to have solved the riddle of the circulation of the blood, to have tamed the lightning, and turned steam into a beast of burden, to have invented poetry and song, and developed art, were mighty things for mighty men to do, but to have discovered that the divine use of all these was for the education and refinement of the toiling millions, was the mightiest service of all. Knowledge is not only power, it is hope, it is consolation; but the wisdom of its application to the advancement of the common people, is the chiefest treasure of all time.


The ultimate effects of the education of the people, no man can foretell. The gift of prophesy is gone with the lost arts, and therefore I only propose to notice a few results already achieved, and point out what seem to me a few of its chief tendencies. I shall not attempt a history of the idea. I take the district school as a perfectly familiar and accepted fact. I take education by the State as a conceded reality. I shall not try to show how it falls short of a true ideal, nor shall I discuss the means and methods for improvement. I wish to discover, if I can, some reasons for being better satisfied with the past, better contented with the present, and more hopeful for the future.

In the growth of civilization, from time to time, have arisen great enterprises, enormous needs which no private means however freely contributed, were able to achieve, and their attainment has rightfully been among the true functions of government, and the education of the masses is the last great labor of that kind.

It seems to me that the idea of popular education is the outgrowth of the great truth, that, after providing for the support of life, the chief aim of mankind should be spiritual and intellectual culture, and some day we shall all defend education by the State on this high ground.

What is the effect of the enlightenment of the masses in the Old World as far as already felt?

Why, sir, you know and the world knows that it is fast making kings and emperors mere figure-heads; the scepter is rapidly becoming as hollow and brittle as a bamboo walking-stick, and the lack of it puts a nation into the condition of Spain, with its enlightened leaders whom the people cannot follow; or into that of poor old Turkey, where an enlightened and progressive government is unable to keep step with the century because of the ignorant prejudice and degrading superstition of the people.

It was once supposed that he who made the songs of a people was mightier than he who made their laws.

Thirty-six years ago this very summer, the hard-cider and log cabin songs carried “Old Tippecanoe and Tyler too” into the Presidential chair, but where is the imbecile who supposes that could be repeated this summer? Just imagine, if you can, the people of to-day swept along and consumed by the fire of such a purely emotional awakening. Since that time, the school-master has been abroad in the land, and the appeal this summer is to our understanding, and not to our emotions. The political speaker, now, who carries his points and wins our votes, must give us reasons, not sentiments; he must give us logic, not emotion; he must give us facts, not mere fancies; in a word, he must convince our judgments and not simply inflame our passions and prejudices. The influence of popular education, therefore, is to enable the people to do their own thinking.

I know very well that certain would-be philosophers stoutly maintain that the idea of the people’s thinking for themselves is the merest moonshine and nonsense. They declare that you can’t talk with a man ten minutes without knowing what papers he reads and what church he attends, and so can tell who furnishes him his religious and who his political opinions.

In the first place the assertion is only the shadow, ten feet high, of a truth, and a shadow may be cast on a wall ten feet high by a jumping-jack as well as by a man, and though a man has intelligence enough to make him read the papers and go to church, and although he agrees with both his editor and his pastor to-day, it by no means follows that he will not disagree with one or both tomorrow, and for reasons he can state quite as cogently as either of them.

And here let me say that the newspaper of to-day is itself a reality, because the people have been to school, and for the same reason we shall never have imposed upon us a State religion.

To educate the people is to make the state a servant, it is to make the government an employ, and loyalty to the flag becomes fealty to yourselves. To educate the people is to abolish caste. In the district school the problem of race-influence, which is not in the books, is being solved unconsciously, while others of less importance that are in them occupy the thoughts of the scholars.

Benjamin Rush GospelTo educate all is to make each secure. The true relations of mine and thine are appreciated only by an enlightened people. The reign of brute force goes out with ignorance, and the benign reign of law comes in with intelligence. What we put into our schools we shall willingly enjoy in our government. If the men and women who go into the common schools shall teach by precept and example that which gives probity of individual character, there can be only one result to the nation.

The tendency of popular education is to enable the people to know a patriot from a demagogue, a statesman from a mere politician. I think even now we are beginning to discriminate between the master of political questions and the mere juggler with party issues. I am glad to say to you that it appears very much as though the people can tell, even now, the man who can devise and run governmental organisms from the “Boss” who can simply invent and run party machines.

To educate the populace is to make the civilization more complex, and like the animal organism, the more complex the higher. To educate a people is to increase their power of enjoyment, and therefore to increase their wants. What could Shakespeare be to a Modoc, Raphael to a Patagonian, or Beethoven to a Fiji Islander?

Do you say that prisons and poor-houses have multiplied with the increase of schools? You forget that where there are no schools, the beggars and lepers throng the streets, and the thieves and robbers lie in wait for you at every turn. The stimulus to care for the one, and restrain the other class, is the outgrowth of enlightened sympathy on the one hand, and of intelligent justice on the other.

To educate the people is not to make the college man less, but the common man more; it is to level up, and not down.

The effect is not to cheapen culture, but to elevate our standards; it does not impoverish the few, but enriches the many; it only prevents the mountain peaks from appearing so lofty by the mighty uplifting of the foot-hills.

And, finally, my friends, it seems to me that any element in the social and civil economy of a nation, that produces such results and tendencies as I have hinted at, is not only worthy of exaltation and glorification on her hundredth birthday, but on all her birthdays to the end of time.



American-Flag-Cross-1Daniel Webster saw the rising glory of our national government and the adoring admiration of the people of this free country for our national banner, the bright symbol of our liberties and our progress, and in a burst of loyal enthusiasm he exclaimed, “Let it rise! let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of the morning gild it, and the parting day linger and play upon its summit.

flag_and_eagleSo let me say of the Banner of Brotherly love, which is the symbol of so much of hopefulness and cheer to the way-worn servants of the Lord who have done so much to promote the best interests of our country: “Let it rise.” Lift it up! let it float over our beloved Church, let the wayworn missionary from the Orient see its bright folds floating continually to give him a welcome home; let the self-denying missionary on our wide-extended home land see its shining glory as he lays down the sickle in the field of ripened grain, proclaiming to him, after having borne the burden and heat of the day, that there is sweet rest for the weary provided by a sympathizing host of friends; let the widow and the fatherless lift up their eyes and rejoice that a grateful people have hearts and hands open to supply their wants in the days of their dependent widowhood and childhood; and let the friends of humanity, the participants in the merits of the Redeemer’s death, the sharers in the blessings of this Christian land, raise that bright Banner of Brotherly-love higher, and still higher, as the Church of our fathers lengthens her cords and strengthens her stakes on the ever-increasing territory of the conquests of the world for our Emmanuel and Redeemer, and let it proclaim as it waves in heavenly grandeur that our Church is not ungrateful to her faithful servants, but that she will provide for them the comforts of an earthly home as long as God keeps them in the wilderness, awaiting his own time to translate them to the better land and to their rewards in glory.

My thoughts; obviously the government has grown into a state sponsor of religion, that religion being climate change and that faith being in the liberal, marxist, facist, socialist, progressive, ideology that regresses us back to the failed policies of the past where tyranny, oppression, serfdom and slavery reigned.

See also: THE DUTY AND VALUE OF PATRIOTISM by John Ireland 1894
Wide Spread And Growing Corruption In The Public Service Of The States And Nation
THE AMERICAN FLAG! A Poem By Joseph Rodman Drake May 29, 1819
NO SLAVE BENEATH THE FLAG by George Lansing Taylor 1835-1903
OUR FLAG-THE PROUD EMBLEM OF THE REPUBLIC. by Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe July 4th 1876
OUR FLAG by Rev Henry H. Birkins July 4th 1876
TRUE FREEDOM! A Poem by James Russell Lowell 1819-1891
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
THE COST OF POPULAR LIBERTY by Brooks Adams July 4th 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775


Morgan Dix3The Hand Of God In American History. A Discourse By Rev. Morgan Dix, D. D., Delivered At Trinity Church, New York, July 4th, 1876.

Glory be to God! and here, throughout the land, far and near, through all our homes, be peace, good will and love. As one family, as one people, as one nation, we keep the birthday of our rights, our liberty, our power and strength. Let us do this with eyes and hearts raised to the Fountain of all life, the Beginning of all glory and might; with words of praise and thanks to God who rules on high; for He is the living God and steadfast power, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. Wherefore as He is our strength and hope, let all begin and all go on, first and ever, with glory to God Most High. There are great things to think about to-day; the growth of the people, unparalleled in history; the vastness of their empire, a wonder of the latter days; the bands by which the mighty frame is held together—so slight to the eye, so hard to break; the many races welded into one; the marvelous land, with its oceans on all sides, its lakes themselves like lesser oceans, its icebergs and glaciers, its torrid deserts, its mountain ranges and rich, fat valley land, its climates of all kinds, its rivers, which would have seemed of all but fabulous length, its wealth in all that rock, and earth, and water can supply; and then the people—active, able, full of enterprise and force, acting with the power of a myriad of giants, speaking one language, living under one flag, bound by common interests, and, as to-day, kindled by one common feeling of devotion, pride, joy, hope, sure there is enough to think about to-day, enough to fill the soul and almost make the head giddy. But let these things be spoken of elsewhere; let others dwell upon them. We have a definite share in the national celebration: let us not forget our part, which is to lift to God a great voice which He shall hear amid all the other voices of the hour. Why do we gather here? Is it to recount the praises of men and their mighty achievements? Is it to make display of our national greatness, to tell over our victories and conquests in divers scenes of conflict, to celebrate the names and acts of chieftains, statesmen, and rulers of the land, of brave and patient people who gave fortune, life, and sacred honor to the State, of any of those who deserve remembrance to-day? Let this be done elsewhere, as is right and fitting; let men stand up when it is convenient, and set oration and address do honor to the dead and the living, point the moral of our history, hold up the ideals of patriotism, virtue, and unselfish love of home and native land.

Morgan Dix2But we must be about our Father’s business; we have other words to speak, deeper, further-reaching; our work here is to offer praise and glory to God; to bless Him in His relations to the nation as its Lord and King, as Ruler and Governor, as Providence, law-giver, and Judge. Without God nothing of what we properly value to-day could have been. Without God there could have been no nation, nor nation’s birthday. It is He that hath made us and kept us one. The office of the Church is to bless and sanctify the nation’s feast day. She cannot be indifferent nor unmoved. We are citizens of the earthly house as well as of the heavenly. We act in that double capacity in praising God Almighty, while with our brethren we keep the feast. And oh! what ground for thankfulness to-day. Think of the mighty hand that hath led us and upheld us through these hundred years—what it has done for us—what that right hand of the Most High hath wrought I look back to the humble beginnings—to the poor little Colonists with their scant store, and their modest ambitions; think of their long-suffering patience, and also of their honorable resolve not to submit to oppression and injustice; remember the band of men who met together, just one hundred years ago, to sign the Declaration, how they did it—not, as popular legends tell us, with transports of enthusiasm and amid bell-ringing and general jubilation, but in secret session of Congress. With an awful sense of what it meant. With a vision of the gibbet and the axe before their eyes, and well aware of the toil, and blood, and grief that it must cost to maintain their manly attitude before the world. Think with what dread and sinking of heart, with what tears and partings, with what conflicts of spirit, and what doubts as to the duty of the hour, the foundations were laid; and let us have a tender heart toward the old fathers of the State, the men who took their lives in their hands, and so brought the new nation to the birth, and then amid what untold trials and sufferings they carried on their war! Think of the great hearts ready to break, of the starved and ragged armies with that mighty spirit under their hunger-worn ribs, more frequently retreating than advancing, wasted by sickly summer heat, and often in winter standing barefoot in snow; that squalid, sorrowful, anxious force working their sure way through cloud, and storm, and darkness to the victory, perfect and finished, at the end. It is touching to read the memorials of those days, and to think of all that has come since then; how we are entered into their labors, and are at peace because they went through all that; they sowed in tears and we reap in joy. So then let there be thanks to God for the past, out of which He has evoked the present grandeur of our State, and let us remember what we owe to those who went before, for a part of that debt is obvious; to imitate the virtues and return to the simple mind, the pure intention, the unselfish devotion to the public weal which marked the founders of the Republic. It is a far cry to those days, but there still shine the stars which guided them on their way, the light of heaven illuminating the earth, the bright beacons of honesty, truth, simplicity, sincerity, self-sacrifice, under which, as under an astrological sign, the little one was born. Pray heaven those holy lights of morality and public virtue may not, for us, already have utterly faded away. Surely it. is a marvelous thing to see how nations rise and grow; how they gather strength; how they climb to the meridian of their noonday light and glory; how they blaze awhile, invested with their fullest splendors at that point, and thence how they decline and rush downward into the evening, and the night, and the darkness of a long, dead sleep, whence none can awake any more. This history is not made without God. His hand is in it all. His decrees on nation and State are just, in perfect justice, as on each one of us men. And must it all be told over again in our case? Is there no averting the common doom? Must each people but repeat the monotonous history of those who went before? God only knows how long the course will be till all shall be accomplished. But certainly we, the citizens, may do something; we may live pure, honest, sober lives, for the love of country also, as well as for the love of Christ. We may, by taking good heed to ourselves, help to purify the whole nation, and so obtain a lengthening of our tranquility. We want much more of this temper; we need to feel that each man helps, in his own way, to save or to destroy his country. Every good man is a reason in God’s eyes why He should spare the nation and prolong its life; every bad man, in his vicious, selfish, evil life, is a reason why God should break up the whole system to which that worthless, miserable being belongs.

If we love our country with a true, real love we shall show it by contributing in ourselves to the sum of collective righteousness what it may be in our power, aided by God’s grace, to give. They are not true men who have no thanks to bring to the Lord this day. They are not true men who simply shout and cry, and make noisy demonstration, and speak great swelling words, without reason, or reflection, or any earnest thought to duty, to God, and the State. From neither class can any good come; not from the senselessly uproarious, not from the livid and gloomy children of discontent. They were thoughtful, patriotic, self-sacrificing men who built this great temple of civil and religious liberty. By such men only can it be kept in repair and made to stand for ages and ages. No kingdom of this world can last forever, yet many endure to a great age. The old mother country, England, in her present constitutional form, is more than 800 years old—a good age, a grand age, with, we trust and pray, many bright centuries to come hereafter, as good, as fair. Let us remember that for us, as for all people, length of days and long life and peace depend on the use we make of our gifts, on the fidelity with which we discharge our mission. And that is the reason why every one of us has, in part, his country’s life in his own hands. But I detain you from the duty of the hour. We meet to praise not man, but God; to praise Him with a reasonable and devout purpose; to bless him for our first century, for this day which He permits us to see, for our homes, our liberties, our peace, our place among the powers of the earth. It is all from him, whatever good we have, and to him let us ascribe the honor and the glory. And let us say, with them of old time.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

And Blessed is Thy glorious and holy name; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thine holy glory; and to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou that beholdest the depths and sittest upon the cherubims; and to be praised and exalted above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the glorious throne of thy kingdom; to be praised and glorified above all forever.

Blessed art Thou in the firmament of heaven; and above all to be praised and glorified forever.

Yea, let us bless the Most High, and praise and honor Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.

See also: The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Joseph Baldwin: Address 1892, to National Teachers Association in New York
True American Patriotism Defined by Hon. Curtis Guild and H. F. Kinnerney 1876
A PRAYER FOR THE NATION by Rev. William Bacon Stevens July 4, 1876
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876
SCORN TO BE SLAVES by Dr. Joseph Warren 1741-1775