II. OUR GREAT HERITAGE: FAMILY AND COUNTRY

A. INSTILLING PATRIOTISM:

 

B. EDUCATION OF THE FAMILY CHILDREN:

During the American Revolution and the Founding Father period education and religion were inextricably mixed. One could not be separated from another. Nor did the citizens want them separated, they wanted religion to be taught in the schools, as the exhibits below reflect very graphically.

THE ONLY TEXTBOOKS IN GRAMMAR SCHOOL IN AMERICA AT THE TIME OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND FORMATION OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS WERE THESE:

1. THE 'HORNBOOK'

THE HORNBOOK IN USE DURING AND AFTER THE REVOLUTION

DURING AND AFTER THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, EVERY CHILD COULD SAY A PRAYER IN SCHOOL ANYTIME HE OR SHE LIKED FOR ALMOST THEIR SOLE GRAMMAR SCHOOL TEXTBOOK FOR OVER 50 YEARS WAS A 'HORNBOOK' CONTAINING THE LORD'S PRAYER.

THE HORNBOOK HAD BEEN USED IN ENGLAND SINCE 1440 AND IN AMERICA UNTIL WELL AFTER THE REVOLUTION WHEN PAPER BECAME CHEAPER.

"The hornbook was a flat board with a handle. On the board was pasted a sheet of paper with the simple lesson of the beginning student.

"On the paper were usually the alphabet, the Benediction, the Lord's Prayer, and the Roman numerals.

"The whole book was covered with a thin piece of horn, through which a person could read the paper. The handles of many hornbooks had holes in them so that the hornbooks could be fastened around the students' necks or fastened to their belts.

"Paper was scarce and expensive during the middle ages and until the early 1800's." (50th Anniversary Edition, World Book Encyclopedia.) Therefore these were almost the only books used.

"After learning from the Benediction, the Lord's Prayer, and the alphabet, the student often graduated to a hornbook containing the Psalter, or Psalms of the Old Testament of the Bible."

"After pupils had completed the hornbook, they were passed on to a primer.

"This was a small book containing prayers, spelling lessons and questions and answers about the Bible and epigrams.

"The primer used in New England for over a 100 years was called The Little Bible or The New England Primer...Pupils who had completed the lessons of the primer were set to read the Psalter, Testament and the Bible." (ibid)

Thus, teachings out of the Bible were standard in the grammar schools in America until well after the American Revolution.

And until 50 years after the American Revolution there were only grammar schools and no high schools in America, with only rare exceptions. None came into existence until after 1820, with only a few exceptions.

Thus, the universally-used textbook contained Scripture verses from the Bible for the student to memorize in public and private schools during the American Revolution and Founding Father periods.

2. THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER:

3. The 'Dame Schools' textbooks: New England Primer

THE DAME SCHOOL TEXTBOOK SHOWN ABOVE IS FULL OF REFERENCES TO GOD

The Dame School was a school often taught by a widow "who gathered her pupils about her fireplace and taught the young boys and girls in the neighborhood to read and write.

"Above the Dame schools were private schools often run by the local minister...paper was expensive and birchbark was commonly used.

"Religion. In many of the colonies, religion was the most important influence in the lives of the settlers and affected all their actions. ...The early New England meetinghouse served not only as a church but also as a meeting place for town meetings and other public gatherings."

The Bible was thus not excluded from teaching in the schools during the American Revolution, unlike today, nor was it precluded by the First Amendment's Religious Freedom Clause in the Bill of Rights. To the contrary, the study of God and the Bible was an integral and essential part of the everyday school life and instruction of school children.

It was part of the curriculum and Scripture verses were contained in the hornbook and other textbooks listed above which each student carried into school and used, in the hornbooks and the New England primer, America's first and only textbooks and which were used until well into the 1800's.


THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CLAUSE OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT 1790

 

James Madison who introduced the Bill of Rights to Congress in June 1789, which he did not favor, said in the Freedom of Religion Clause of the First Amendment it was intended ONLY that there be no one "National Church" (or "Established Church" as there had been in Virginia with the Anglican Church run by the British.)

Neither Madison nor any one else in the debates which followed, from June-September 1789 when the Bill of Rights was passed used the phrase "Separation of Church and State." The debates will be reported in Volume II of this book.

That phase "separation of church and states was not used until 11 years later, and then not by the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress which had approved the Bill of Rights earlier in September 1789.

And Thomas Jefferson who used the phrase 11 years later had not even participated in the debates in Congress in 1789. Jefferson had been in France for the four years preceding and including 1789, and had absolutely nothing to do with the passage of the Bill of Rights.

Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia was responsible for the Bill of Rights ( see World Book Encyclopedia 50th Anniversary Edition), assisted by Governor Clinton of New York and a few other state Governors.

Both Patrick Henry and George Clinton were strong believers in the vital role of religion and religious principles in public and private life and in the life of the government and both demonstrated their Christian beliefs in their public and private lives.

So was our first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay, President of the American Bible Society, and our fourth Chief U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall of Virginia. Both were deeply dedicated Christians. They were the most important justices on the U.S. Supreme Court in its first 40 years which were its formative years.


OUR NATION'S FOURTH CHIEF U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOHN MARSHALL OF VIRGINIA

A Richmond, Virginia publication carried the story that on one occasion John Marshall on a trip from his home to his Supreme Court post in Washington, D.C., and dressed in a nondescript fashion, stopped at an Inn in Richmond for a meal.

While having his meal, a group of young men were loudly discussing Christianity and their views about Christ, pro and con. One loud young man, after a time noticing Marshall at a nearby table asked,

"What thinkest thou about Christ, old man?"

John Marshall in a quiet voice gave a very lucid, concise and brief explanation why one should believe in Christ and then left. The young man in shock asked one of his friends,

"Who was that!"

He was told he was only the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the land.


THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDERWRITES RELIGION FINANCIALLY

The federal government from 1785-1790 and beyond underwrote and financially supported the costs of churches when it set aside in each township in the Northwest and Southwest Territories lots 29 for religious purposes and use.

The lots were provided free to religious institutions. Some of the lots 29 were later worth millions of dollars.

Federal Lot 29 was set aside for religious purposes in each township in the Northwest and Southwest Territories. Lot 16 was set aside for educational purposes. This constitutes federal funding of religion and education.

Some of the lots were later worth millions of dollars. The federal government did not specify any particular religion for the lot 29's use, thus it was not supporting a national denomination or a state church.

"Religion and morality... " were taught in the schools and promoted by the federal government in its Northwest Ordnance of 1789, which was passed by the same Congress which established our Bill of Rights containing our 1st Amendment's Religious Freedom Clause.

Taking part in this legislation and its implementation was George Washington, first President, whose task it was to administer these township set asides, Thomas Jefferson, who was as Cabinet Officer for Washington administered the program, members of the Continental and First Federal Congresses, and other Cabinet members and the First Federal Congress.

The Southwest Territory adopted in total the legal wording in the Northwest Ordnance so it too had the same religious provisions. James McCord, a law enforcement officer in The Southwest Territory was sworn to uphold the federal law containing these religious freedoms and privileges pertaining to Lot 29 and the protection of religious freedoms.

The present-day states then in the 1790 Northwest and Southwest Territories included Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, and parts of other present states, a vast territory which was larger than the 13 original states.


Alexis de Tocqueville

The Frontiersman "with his Bible, his axe and his newspapers"

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) "was a French politician and political philosopher (who) became known for his book, Democracy in America (1835-40). He wrote it after a visit to the United States in 1831 It ranks as a classic observation on American democracy by a person of another country. "

Alexis de Tocqueville in these writings, Democracy in America, 1848, wrote, not only about the frontier pioneers but about religion in general in America:

"At the extreme borders of the confederated states, where organized society and the wilderness meet, there is a population of bold adventurers who...have dared to plunge into the solitudes of America, seeking a new homeland there.

"As soon as the pioneer reaches his place of refuge, he hastily fells a few trees and builds a log cabin in the forest....

"The traveler approaching one toward evening sees the hearth fire flicker through the chinks in the walls, and at night when the wind rises, he hears the roof of boughs shake to and fro in the midst of the great forest trees.

"Who would not suppose that this poor hut sheltered some rude and ignorant folk? But one should not assume any connection between the pioneer and the place that shelters him.

"All his surroundings are primitive and wild, but he is the product of eighteen centuries of labor and experience.

"He wears the clothes and talks the language of a town. He is aware of the past, curious about the future, and ready to argue about the present.

"He is a very civilized man, prepared for a time to face life in the forest, plunging into the wildernesses of the New World with his Bible, ax and newspapers.

"I traveled through part of the frontier districts of the United States in a sort of open cart called the mail coach. We went at a great pace day and night along roads that only just had been cleared though immense forest of green trees. When the darkness became impenetrable, our driver set fire to branches of larch, by whose light we continued our way.

"From time to time we came to a hut in the forest. That was the post office. The mail dropped was an enormous bundle of letters at the door of this isolated dwelling, and we went galloping on again, leaving each inhabitant of the neighborhood to come and fetch his share of that treasure.

"It is hard to imagine how incredibly quickly ideas circulate in these empty spaces."

"Most of English America is populated by men, who, having shaken off the pope's authority, acknowledged no other religious supremacy;

"they therefore brought to the New World a Christianity which I can only describe as democratic and republican. This fact singularly favored a temporal republic and democracy.

"From the start, politics and religion agreed and they have not ceased to do so....

"For the Americans, the idea of Christianity and liberty are so completely mingled that it is almost impossible to get them to conceive of the one without the other.

"It is not a question with them of sterile beliefs bequeathed from the past and vegetating rather than living in the depths of the soul.

" I have known known Americans to send priests out into the new states of the West and establish schools and churches there. They fear that religion might be lost in the depths of the forest and that the people growing up there might be less fitted for freedom than those from whom they sprang.

"I have met rich New Englanders who left their native land in order to establish the fundamentals of Christianity and of liberty by the banks of the Missouri or on the prairies of Illinois.

"In this way, in the United States, patriotism continually adds fuel to the fires of religious zeal."

Footnote by de Tocqueville: "This is how The New York Spectator of August 23, 1831 reported the matter. (Earlier de Tocqueville had written 'While I was in America a witness called at assizes of the county of Chester (New York) declared that he did not believe in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to allow him to be sworn in, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all possible confidence in his testimony')

" 'The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County (New York) a few days since, rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God.

"The presiding judge remarked that he was not before aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice; and they he knew of no cause in a Christian country, where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.' "

de Tocqueville wrote further,

"...I am sure that they (all Americans) think it (belief in God) necessary to the maintenance of republican institutions.

"That is not the view of one class or party among the citizens, but of the whole nation.

"It is found in all ranks."