Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780 – 1860


Carl F. Kaestle


Kaestle’s over all argument is that “the eventual acceptance of state common-school systems was encouraged by Americans’ commitment to republican government, by the dominance of the native Protestant culture, and by the development of capitalism.” (x)


A “common school” is an elementary school meant to serve all the children.  There were also common pay schools (charged a small tuition) and free schools (Charity schools).


CHAPTER ONE ::::::::::::::::::::::::: The Founding Fathers

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Government involvement was weak in education until 1830.  Private institutions sprang up due to popular demand. 


Moral, Protestant based, training was to create virtuous, well-behaved citizens.  Not just the three R’s, but an acquaintance with ethics and with the general principles of law, commerce, money and government” said Noah Webster.  But, being a farmer created virtue too. 


A few Founding Father’s – notably Jefferson – wanted government run institutions.  Ironically, the very devotion to liberty that schooling was designed to protect also made local citizens skeptical of the new forms of taxation by the state.



Page 3 is inconsistent.  It says that conditions fostered education and that culture did.  I accept the latter, but reject the former.


Page 4 says that “ . . . in all areas, women, blacks, Native Americans and poor whites were to differing degrees excluded from the culture of the printed English word.”  At this time most education took place within the home or within an apprenticeship.  It is like saying you’ve been excluded from Christmas.  If you were excluded, it was just because people didn’t invite you into their home. 


Page 7 “Political conformity” has such a spin to it (the source uses the word “subordination” to the law).  They are trying to get people to be moral.  Is that negative?  They want people to be active and vigilant members of a republic.  Is that conforming?  If they were trying to keep people from reading, like the Catholic church, that would be oppression or lowering freedom of expression.  This is education.  Question: Do you become freer by compliance or defiance?  If you follow the school system via AP courses, what have you, or rebel and fail your classes, which makes you freer.  Which results in more “conformity.


IDEA - Page 9: Have some folks represent people that don’t want taxation.  Can the class convince them that it is good?  Perhaps publicly funded education is a bad thing.  If you are saying that my son needs to read, I’ll teach him.  If you are saying that the government can teach him to be good better than I can I have three responses, 1) F you, 2) F you and 3) F you.  If the neighbors need to learn to read, they can come to my house.  If my son needs more math, I’ll hire someone.  If a portion of the population can’t read, their community can hire a teacher. 


CHAPTER TWO :::::::::::::::::::: Rural Schools in the Republic

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America was originally rural and had crappy schools in inauspicious places.

The students would come in at different levels and have different texts.  This meant kids working alone on memorization and coming up to prove it was a major technique.  Corporal punishment was also big.  When females came in, the corporal punishment was reduced because the boys were often bigger than them (19).  Reformers found that the teachers were extremely ill prepared.  Tax payers were not that interested in upping their professional status and pay.  Teachers got housing from various local parents.  This meant they could keep an eye on the teachers.  Teachers were tied to neighborhoods by religion and familiarity.  The school houses also served many functions that kept the community involved. 


As we moved from 1790 to 1830 even the rural folks were affected by industrialization.  Numeracy and literacy became more important to all.  Between 1800 and 1825, the percentage of kids under 20 enrolled in school in New York State goes from 25% to 69%.  It is higher in smaller towns.


It is hard to show religious cause and hard to show economic cause.  The rise of education in the rural areas seems to be directly affected by the acceptance of the district system (what caused that?) and an increase of female students.  The spread of these district schools was due to the value placed on educated citizenship in a Protestant republic, the value placed on literacy in a society with increasing written communication, easier travel, and more complex economic networks, and by the value placed on discipline in a volatile society whose leaders were attempting to reconcile political liberty with mobility, ethnic diversity, and expansive capitalism.


Small amounts of funds came from the state, but these were community schools.    


IDEA: Page 27 is interesting.  What does the class make of his use of primary sources?  We could copy this passage and have people look in their books at the original.  What does he not emphasize?  Then we can ask if it is fair?  If not, we can ask what it reveals about the author’s bias.  Each group will discuss it quickly and tell us what they think.


CHAPTER THREE:::::::::::::: Urban Education and the Expansion of Charity Schools

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                In the 1780s there were pay schools and “dame” schools.  Those who could afford neither went to a charity school.  Apprentices who did not provide education were brought to court.  Charity schools were largely religion run and the goal was to produce adults who would be minimally literate, who would have a chance at religious salvation and would act according to the morality the school taught.  But they didn’t reach enough folks.

                In England there was huge debate over whether or not teaching the poor was a good idea.  In America there was no such debate.  Both emphasized collective, not individual, goals (33).  Moral education and the creation of bonds between classes were stressed.  A reason we never doubted educating the poor was that they were immigrants others.  Though the majority of the working class was still native born in 1830, the rhetoric on the coasts was still about immigrant vice, infidelity, and crime.

                As urban life grew more complex after the revolution voluntary organizations, like the Quakers, stepped in to help smooth the world.  Quakers made schools to help freed slaves.

                Unlike rural district schooling, urban charity schooling was designed to intervene between parents and children, to introduce children to a culture and morality that reformers believed was different from that of their parents. 


IDEA - GROUP ONE:  Page 35 Have groups divide their poster paper into three horizontal sections. 

First section on the question - Are people naturally good?  If not, do gangs result from society teaching people to be in gangs?  

      In the second section - Do sex and drugs and moral education have a place?  If people are good then this has no place, if bad, can education help?  I would hope that a larger orientation would make you realize that from a global perspective the street your gang protects is inconsequential and compared with WW II, your gang is not tough. 

      In third section, If moral education is not important, is education just for work ability?  


IDEa – GROUP TWO - Each group will discuss the following and take notes: 

     Are cultures different?  Do some value education more?  Do some value toughness and sexual virulence more?  Do some drink more?  Are cultures taught?  Are the reformer’s ideas of teaching values really that far fetched?  Would you say that being educated and sober is better than not?

                Then each group will report and we’ll have a discussion.  Or, two groups could take the Page 35 questions and two groups could take this one.


                The Lancaster method was used.  It taught self control and was fairly wild, not boring.  It was efficient and made educating many folks affordable. 


IDEA: Lets read the description together and see if we can approximate the system (on a small scale) in our class.  Can the Professor help with this?


Everyone could advance at their own pace. 


Sunday schools also happened.  They were done by lay folk, non-denominational and didn’t happen in schools.  Volunteers just thought that it was better, after a week of manual labor, for the kids than hanging around on the streets.  Kids were rewarded for accomplishments.  The bible was a good prize!


Memorization, as with Lancaster, taught discipline and possibly strengthened the mind.

These charity schools were to rescue the kids from the bad influences of the parents. 


All agreed that social morality was on the backs of individuals.  Governor Clinton hoped education reduced fraud, intrigue, corruption and violence in government.


One group said the poor need kindness more than diligence.  Another said that teaching them thrift would help their wages go farther.  It was an age of outreach the affects of which , other than literacy, are hard to guage.  The New York Free School Society renamed itself the Public School Society in 1825 and allowed in all, not just the indigent. 


The rich had private “independent” schools.  The public schools wanted to veer the children away from the habits of the parents.  The pay schools were leading the kids along the paths the parents would approve of.


The big change in rural schools was the increased enrollment.  The shift in the urban schools was the consolidation of the independent charity schools into public common schools.


It went from many folks going to private schools and other charity to most folks going to common schools.  The percentage of folks going, unlike in rural areas, did not change.  Public support for schooling did not increase the percentage of folks going to school.  This shows the vitality of the private / charitable school system. 


Rural schools kept their independence.  After 1830 more folks agreed with the Founding Fathers about the import of education to disciplined citizens and a united populace. 


CHAPTER FOUR::::::::::: Social Change and Education in the American Northeast, 1830 - 1860

Uniformity, before school systems, was provided by school architecture, strong Protestant religious content of schools and the popularity of some textbooks. 


Between 1840 and 1850 the population went up 35% and the immigration 240%.


Concern about crime, poverty, cultural alienation, and political instability took on anew urgency.  Industry undermines the home life.  We were reading crazy.  There were six times as much newspapers read as in England.  Reading and newspapers had a reciprocal relationship.  This busted rural insularity and helped open the hinter land to common schools by 1860.


Folks argue whether industrialism meant that schools were necessary for literacy or for discipline.  (66). 

Antebellum schools taught morality by the whip so that schools could run smoothly as well as for model citizens.  The silent curriculum was behavioral control. 


There were four developments in moral discipline in the 19th century (67).  1) Moral discipline became increasingly associated with schooling.  2) the state asserted the authority of the teacher over the student.  3) The pedagogies of Lancaster and Johann Pestalozzzi, which aimed at internal discipline via proper motivation, challenged traditional practice.  4) Discussions of the relationship between personal morality and social order greatly increased. 


IDEA: How do public morality and individual morality and social order affect each other?  Does having a lot of vice around you make it harder to be good?  Why are kids in some neighborhoods bad and others good?  How can a society increase public morality?


Saying that it was all to create good workers overlooks that the same emphasis happened in rural schools (68).  Promptness and industry were not just for the manual worker, bu for all. 




Two reasons cited for emphasis on discipline: 1) It is necessary for the school running well and 2) most parents want their kids to be deferential and obedient. 


The emphasis on discipline in schools is best explained, however, by the shift from the family being responsible for raising the kids to society being responsible. 

Population densities and change in lifestyles made social problems more visible.  In cities the prevention of crime and poverty became the leading moral mission of public schools. 

There was also a new diversity unmatched in the Western world.  English and common Protestant morality was emphasized.  Immigrant groups tried to maintain their cultures.  Doing this in schools required power or money. 


IDEA - DIVIDE THE BOARD into four parts.  Diversity: cost / benefit, Unity: Cost benefit. 


IDEA – CAN WE AGREE on common values?  As a class brainstorm on what those might be.  Include we don’t believe in killing.  What does it mean to be an American? Accepting the founding fathers as ours.   If I hate America and wish daily for its destruction, am I an American? 


In Europe, esp Prussia, the idea of compulsory education became popular.  Prussia also certified teachers.  State regulation was also cropping up in other sectors of the nation. 



Reformers, ala Mann, were typically Anglo, middle class and shared views on human nature, nationhood, and the political economy. 

“Ideology” is here used to mean a set of apparently compatible propositions about human nature and society. 


Elements of the by most people were centered on republicanism, Protestantism and capitalism. 


Page 76.  Native Protestant ideology can best be summarize, “. . . in ten propositions: the sacredness and fragility of the republican polity (including ideas about individualism, liberty, and virtue); the importance of individual character in fostering social morality; the centrol role of personal industry in defining rectitude and merit; the delineation of a highly respected but limited domestic role for women; the importance for character building of familial and social environment (within certain racial and ethnic limitations); the sanctity and social virtues of property; the equality and abundance of economic opportunity in the US; the superiority of American Protestant culture; the grandeur of America’s destiny; and the necessity of a determined public effort to unify America’s polyglot population, chiefly through education.”


The Whig party was the strongest advocate of this position.  He calls these folks cosmopolitans.  They were centralist, moralist and assimilationist.  He doesn’t mean cosmopolitan as in secular or pluralistic. 


They were a part of a culture that was insistently didactic. 


On the other hand were Native protestant localists (not cosmopolitan). 


The post revolution generation, of course, worried about the sustainability of our republic.  The history of republics was not reassuring and it seemed better insured by character than military.  Political education concerned stressing common beliefs, glorifying the exercise of intelligence in a republic, while urging respect for the laws and downplaying the issues upon which we might exercise our intelligence. 


In his famous Twelfth Report (1848) Mann said no controversial issues should be taught.  Cautious intelligence was the order of the day.  The survival of the republic depended upon our willingness to sacrifice for it. 


IDEA::: Discuss LEAN ON ME, does licentiousness threaten liberty?  IS AMERICA FRAGILE??

Does immorality lead to poverty and does that threaten freedom? 

 Moral textbooks, such as Rollo at work, were used to convey that the social order and social morality depended upon individual character and that the chief badge of character is work.  (83).

Female education was totally domestic.  This became a veritable crusade. Their raising kids did require education.  They create a softening touch and haven from the rough and tumble world.  And childbearing and rearing were the mother’s job.  Catherine Beecher was the queen of this type of female education.

Too much education for women was said to be dangerous. 

Pestalozzi followed Rousseau in saying that children were not blank slates, but good.  As such the environment is important so that we shield them from an ugly world.   Protecting and molding, not breaking the will were important. 

At the same time genetic inheritance was starting to be seen as setting limits on people’s potential. 

Read Olney’s Practical system of Modern Geography.

Property sanctity was preached and said to lead to morality.  And schools were taught as a way to better your self economically.  But morality trumped mobility as a theme.  You should be happy with your station.  

The success of Protestant nations was tied in to the superiority of the culture and America’s special destiny.  Morality and the introduction to higher culture were the basis of all.

To be against someone’s reform was to be against morality, good order, intelligent citizenship, economic prosperity, fair opportunity and a common American culture. 

To maintain law through moral education was part of the republican experiment.  In conservative hands this doctrine extended to the denigration of labor organizations or the denunciation of foreign culture in America, but generally it was just true. 

The end of education is to make good citizenship, not to impart the way to wealth or make precocious scholars. 

Morality and fairness were seen as Christian ideals.  Grounding morality required grounding them in religion.  Jews largely acquiesced to reading the Protestant bible in common schools.  Catholics dissented.  This convinced Protestants to close ranks.  The whole ideology made an interlocking whole.  National education, character and solvency were the same.



Thaddeus Stevens hoped one day people would fear ignorance more than they feared taxation.  The men who led the battle for common schools rose up via education from humble beginnings and called their work a “crusade.”  Much of their work was a litany of complaints about the shabbiness of local schools.  Enrollment was not their main concern.  Enrollment was around 50 % in 1850 for those under twenty and may have been 85% or more for all between 5 and 15.  Records were not great nor standardized.  Concern for nonattenders was focused on urban slums, factory groups, freed blacks.  By mid-century, poor factory immigrants replaced blacks as the most worrisome nonattenders.    In five points only 10 of 600 kids went to school.  Children often went into the mines at 10 and worked 11 to 14 hours a day, like their parents. 1/3 under 18 in such scenes were illiterate. 

Investigations led to laws requiring a few months of school per year. 

Still the focus was on the youth walking around the city.  The reformers did not want compulsory attendance laws or toddlers to attend school.  Little ones were often in the one room school house.  It disrupted the classroom and was better for them to be at home.  Toddlers didn’t fit the new graded schools.  Irregular attendance and not having uniform textbooks also messed with efficiency.  But coercion on either would be seen as an unwanted intrusion on local and family autonomy. 

They focused on lengthening the rural school year. 

Districts were local and the reformers challenging this source of local control was probably their most controversial measure.  Districts were to be consolidated into towns, the state was to pass rules and private schools were encouraged to go public.  Private schools defeated assimilation.  Increased public schools did “decimate” the number of private schools. They did so by noting that private schools are not egalitarian.   These were three major areas of reform. 

The problem with local control they announced was unprofessional incompetence from teachers to the hiring of teachers to the supervision on up.  Unequal resources district to district and unwillingness for locals to tax themselves were other problems highlighted.  Consolidation gains were mainly in rural areas.  The creation of state education agencies were important.

 Mann was one and called the “Puritan of the Puritans.” 

Still the “better” class continued to send their kids to private school. 

A structural image was often used in selling high schools.  The lower schools were not graded and were misshapen.  120.  After the 1840s this system publicly supported high schools met with increased success.  This required, of course, both enough folks with taxable income and enough folks that wanted to send their kids to them for these to exist.  But few went to secondary school in the 19th century.  They were mostly symbolic of a graded perfect system.  For those who went, they actually did foster upward mobility between generations. 

Replacing the ramshackle schools did strain community resources 122.  One favorite way of saving money was to introduce female school teachers.  Females made 44% of males in 1845 in Michigan.  Opposition was based on their inability to control older rowdy boy students.  But females were seen to be naturally fitted to working with younger kids.  The change was not, however, purely economic as many poor districts stuck with teachers of the proper gender.  But the idea of female teachers was also pursued due to the ideal of having female teachers being guided by male Principals.  124.


 In 1800 most teachers were male. In 1900 most were women.

Women did not teach for many years.  When they married they quit.  Teaching was the only intellectual job available to them.  For professionalization, journals started to exist.  But teachers ignored them.  It is interesting that people taught long before educational researchers.   Still an influential 10 – 20 percent read them. 128.  Teacher’s institutes also started.  These were meetings that consisted of several day’s speeches and discussion.  As these went on people started to press for normal schools (taken from the idea that teachers should be trained to perform according to high standards or “norms”). 129.  Again, Prussia had them. 

The early normal school curriculum was in academic subjects, including moral philosophy.  130.  Another normal school had courses on the “teacher’s social habits and duties as a member of the community.”  131

In 1860 Michigan, still only 4 percent of teachers had been to normal school.  It was a steady but slow growth after the civil war.  Still all these levels of professionalization only touched those that planned to remain as teachers for a while.  Schools only went 3 – 4 months a year.   Graded schools that differentiated elementary from high school were one way to keep teachers around.  It would make the task more manageable.  This development created generations.  Before all the kids were in one school room together.  Now they were with peers.  133.

Getting all using the same textbooks was another advance towards efficiency.   Efficiency and qualtity were the goals.  Assimilation, centralization, and standardization were to make communities similar and Anglo Protestant like. 

Sectarian strife, tax support were stumbling blocks.  But by 1860, a lot of work had been done and institutions had been established. 




By 1860 reformers thought they had won.  What we know about working class resistance comes from middle class proponents.  The upper class were not distinctive antebellum or active in this debate.Between 1825 and 35 workingmen’s associations did help popularize tax-supported common schools.  Workingclass folks were very into self-taught Horatio Alger types.  They wanted quality education too. 

In the hard times of 1840s labor unions turned away from education to wages issues.  In England, working class folk didn’t trust the middle class.  Here they did. 

                Some folk thought that the scheme for public education was unnecessarily complicated (as capitalist production would have it) and had utopian education revolution schemes.  They were outsiders.

                Early working class and white collar worker’s kids went to the same schools.  Workers more often, of course, had to drop out early. 146. 

                In 1860 there was some conflict as the creating of a town wide system meant the destruction of the district system and the hiring of a superintendent of schools would reduce local influence.  Local control is a long time source of resistance to consolidation.  The local’s program is largely negative and variously argued on the basis of tradition, parents’ prerogatives, minority rights, religious freedom, and theories of limited government.  148.  Education was long seen as a private affair.  The habits of the people were formed by the custom which prevailed from the settlement of the province.


IDEA:  BRAINSTORM IN GROUPS – What if schooling in America had remained a private affair? 5 for and five against.   What is the fear of vouchers?  Write five arguments for it and five against it.  Each group.  What if the schools were government supported, but had a fee?  Five for and five against.  Should people who want to send their kids to private school be allowed to opt out of paying taxes?  Five for and five against.   Then we put them on the board and see if the issues are different and if we should have then or should now, go private, blend the two?


If parents don’t want their kids educated is it anyone’s business but their own? 

Should local folk decide how much education to have and how to pay for it?  Free school for rich people?  Some doubted that you could take someone’s money and give it to someone else.  What if there were a mixed system of payment. 

                Step by step power was taken from the locals.  By 1890 it was gone. 

                Mann’s board survived being dismantled by a vote of 240  - 182 in 1840.  The resistance was rural.  Whigs wanted the board, Democrats less so.  Whigs were more protestant and democrats more pluralist.  Democrats were more attractive to immigrants.  Negative liberalism describes the Democrats and positive liberalism (stressing public morality), describes the Whigs.  The Dems called the Whigs Prussian. 

Martin Van Buren was a “Regency” Democrat. 155.  William Sweard, a Whig. He was NY governor in 1840. 

                Dems were also against professionalization.  The teachers in common schools were fine.  The state has just as much right in training and licensing shoe makers and carpenters.  Any educated person could and can teach.  Dems stressed opportunity as Whigs, public morality and stability. 

                Whigs were not consistently against pluralism though.  Seward told NY Catholics that they should be taught by folks with the same language as they and the same faith.

                Packard worried that no morality would remain when all that folks couldn’t agree on at a state level were removed.  Parents, in the local system, had a great deal of control over who was teaching their kids.  Now, with no local control, there could be more animosity between the locals and the state approved teacher. 

                Folks were aware that it took away their rights to decide how their kids were to be raised.  159.  Local committees defended corporal punishment in the face of parental challenges.  They told parents not to come angrily supporting their children’s complaints.  Often the local parents fought with the cosmopolitan modern teacher.  In the trade-off, locals got opportunity, literacy and status for the graduates.  For recent immigrants, the culture of the public school was often alien and the benefits uncertain.  Assimilation was stressed in the urban Northeast.  The Catholics didn’t like the use of the Protestant bible and set up their own schools.  The public school texts slurred immigrants and Catholics.  Public school officials rejected dual language instruction.  You don’t come to this country to become foreigners, but Americans.  The schools made the kids ashamed of their fathers. 

                Germans already had private schools going.  The Midwest experienced more cooperation.  And, in turn, an accommodating position on foreign-language instruction was adopted.  Norwegians had institutions to maintain their culture, but supported common free schools too. 

                Many Catholic schools received public monies.  The line was blurred between public and private and church and stae.   166. 

                Can we convey how rude it is to come into someone else’s country and then start telling them that they refuse to be a part of the culture and try to stop legislation that disagrees with their sensibility? 

                A philanthropist organization, the Public School Society, controlled NY schools until they were replaced in 1842 with a government board.  In some wards, Catholics could do what they wanted, but bible reading without commentary was the rule. Catholics new that religion could not be separated from secular presentation.  Parental responsibility was key to their arguments. 

                In response, public school folks talked of public responsibility and efficiency.  Thirteen died in the Philadelphia Bible riots of 1844.  Horace Mann agreed with the Puritan, to Protestant to Christian watering down to address conflict.  Teachers, in isolated cases, beat kids for not reading the King James bible and no charges were successful.  Still in 1865 there weren’t that many parochial schools.  New York State had the most with 30.  171.

                Before 1820 there were many black charity and pay schools.  Except in New England and New York, blacks couldn’t vote.  Education also had little effect on blacks due to job discrimination.  In 1812 Boston started supporting separate black schools.  Usually, in the 1840s and 1850s, black common schools were finally adopted.  In 1823 there were 10,000 black people in NYC.  In 1827 they established the first black newspaper in the country. 

                Some black organizations wanted integration, but many black and white people were against it.  175.  They argued that in white schools the black kids would be taunted and the teachers would all be white.  Black people would lose employment in teaching.  White leaders mentioned that the black system was set up by the blacks themselves.  The black community of Boston was split on this issue. Separatists were led by a man who hated his white teacher. 


IDEA: We re-enact a debate over segregation!  NOT.  

                Poor blacks and whites in the antebellum South lacked common schooling. 180.  Indians faced extinction and removal, not assimilation.  Hispanics in the West did a similar failing battle as the blacks.  Women were divided as a group.  Many accepted the domestic goals education for women.  They had success and fought for women getting teaching positions. 

                State officials often had little control at the local level, especially in rural small – town America.  But white collar v. blue collar was not a source of battle in the U.S. 

                Reformers encountered enough resistance to make them think they were fighting a war.  But it was a guerilla war against scattered groups that weren’t coordinated.  The reforms won because they served the predominant ideology and folks believed they would add to republicanism, Protestantism, capitalism, individual goals of enlightenment, morality and personal advancement.



                In the 1840s school superintendents were installed in the Midwest in replication of the developments in the Northeast.  Bureaucratic and professional infrastructure followed.  Reporting requirements, teacher’s institutes, libraries etc.  In the South it didn’t happen. 

                The traditional story is that the Puritans woke up to their need to educate all in the 18th, they nurtured the movement to full flower by 1860, they then tried to spread the idea South, but it didn’t work.  The Midwest, succeeded because it had a large influx of Northeasters and their puritan attitudes.  That despite the fact that the region was dispersed.  Southern folks moved upwards too.  Where they went, education didn’t take. 182-183. 

                While there is much truth to this, it creates a homogenous view of every region.  It ignores the opposition in New England. 

                The Northwest ordinance’s provision to rent out 1/36th of the land and give the proceeds to education was a common pattern.  When it failed funds were set up.  The land was too plentiful to provide rent and the funds were robbed repeatedly.  The model of New England homesteaders setting up schools has holes in it.  Rather education was people hiring folks to teach in a living room.  Then folks built the one room school house.  And then they did go along with the reforms of the 1830s but with the same battles over distant control, various levels of enforcement and an eventual strong infrastructure of enforcement. 186.

                Was there Eastern influence?  Many reformers were from the East and locals consulted with them a lot.  That said, many were locals.  They were not passive recipients of Eastern stuff.  Beecher said we don’t want teachers trained in the East, but rather ones that are sensitive to our local culture.  But the Midwesterners shared the cultural values of freedom, self-government, industry and free enterprise.  Children of millionaires and paupers should sit together, it was argued.  We should remove the stigma of pauper schools by making them public.  It was a part of the capitalist nexus. 

                Southern attempts did receive less favorable receptions.  There were many “academies” in the South.  They were in cities and towns.  There were private tutors for the rich, land was more dispersed.  The schools that were in these regions were called oil-field schools.  There were charity schools.  But it wasn’t’ too common.  Pauper schools and other “institutions” gave some poor whites a rudimentary education. 

                But in the time period we are examining, schooling for slaves and poor whites was decreasing.  During the American Revolution some slaves were educated.  We have records of some that were trilingual and intellectuals.  Quakers and the Anglican Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) educated many blacks.  The SPG classes did tell of the rightness of slavery.   The Quakers worked with freed blacks and slaves whose owners didn’t mind but weren’t that into slavery.

                The connection that slaveholders perceived between education and slave’s striving towards freedom were not illusory. 196.  In reaction to the slave revolts of 1820 laws prohibiting the teaching of slaves were passed. 

                Jefferson tried in vain to get public school provisions passed.  But when the Mercer bill gave too much power to the state, in the name of free education, he voted against it.  199.  Attempts continued in Virginia. Folks noted that there were pauper schools for the poor and state monies for the rich at the U of V. But folk in the middle get nothing. 

                `There were attempts to have common schools in the south before the Civil War, but they were uneven.  There was more reluctance to tax.  They did not like state-level supervisory mechanisms.  The explanation must touch on the regions demography, its economy, the ideology and practice of slavery, the politics of seacoast-upcountry rivalry within southern states and North South sectionalism.  203. 

                Schools were all far away.  Fluctuation in cotton prices made it hard for legislatures to plan.  In Georgia when they had upturns in prices, they supported education.  

                Due to slavery, wealthy folks had no incentive to educate white labor.  They didn’t use it.  Tensions between slave owners and non slave owners, between wealthy aristocrats and middle-class democrats also made it hard to agree on anything. 

                Pulpits said that black slavery allowed more equality among whites.  The North’s individualistic, competitive free market economy was not as appreciated.  Thus Protestant education was not.  Slavery created reciprocal responsibilities and community.  Because of slavery, the South could never be fully wed to republicanism.  Education would give slaves and poor whites more anxiety than enjoyment because it would tell them of and make them think of stations to which they were not destined. 

                Of course, this attitude was not monolithic.  But enough wealthy and influential groups held it that . . .   As the Civil War neared the idea that subjugating blacks made poor whites proud and gave them a bond with their wealthy betters, was gaining in popularity. 

Regions within states and class often coincided and blocked legislation.  Those areas with low slave holdings were more for common schools.  210. 

                Only North Carolina had a superintendent by 1860.  He chalks up their difference to differing attitudes about slavery, class, and education. 211.  They were also less favorable to secession.

                The sectionalism caused by the impending Civil War also retarded their adoption of this Northern institution, northern teachers and northern textbooks. 


IDEA - QUESTION: We have seen that diversity, via Catholics, made creating a school system harder.  Sectionalism made it harder for the South to adopt a system.  In what ways was diversity an asset to our pursuit of an educational system?  Is it possible to have a functioning democracy unless there is a large area of overlap about which the people agree?


IDEA – QUESTION: We are considering the view that schooling involved cultural imperialism.  When the Quakers went to teach that slavery was wrong, was that not a form of cultural imperialism.  Are there not some ideas that are better than others.  Must we teach that slavery is right to appreciate indigenous values and diversity? 

The Midwest was also agriculturally spread out.  Not the reason there were no schools in the South. The South was stable and had very few European immigrants coming in. 


Mid-level southern farmers and professionals were the greatest force for common schools as they wanted them and were against the aristocrats.  No where was there solid support for common schools.  But in the South those against it were strong enough to block it. 


Images of progress pervade the pro-school rhetoric.  Most people bought it.  That is why it passed.  By 1860 this was a done deal.  People felt comfortable with this new role of the government.  219.


This was just the beginning.  Many people ignored the laws. 


Women were a big part of the reforms too.  Saving on their wages allowed longer school hours.  The women implemented Victorian ideals with their feminine ways. 


Changes and battles lay ahead.  But what is held over from the common school reform days are the American faith in education and the cosmopolitan ideal of inclusive public schools.  Reformers believed that schools could solve the problems of diversity, stability and unequal opportunity. 


Under cosmopolitanism he would put Ellwood Cubberley urging rural district consolidation in the 1920s, James Conant praising large high schools in the 1950s, Shanker opposing urban decentralization in the 1960s and Judge Garraty ordering crosstown busing in the 1970s. 

Recent cosmopolitanism centers on integration, sexual equality and secularism.  Cosmopolitanism means the conviction that decisions have to be more centrally directed and applied in a standard mode to ensure equality, progress and cultural cohesion.  Few foks want local control or the smashing of school systems to ensure diversity. 223. 

He has been sympathetic to local control in this telling.  He wishes to say that local isn’t good or bad just because it is local and that big isn’t good or bad just because it is big.