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I believe that Education in early America to be; not only the greatest in the world but also the means of our success. Here you will find what the Founders believed through their writings and Laws that governed public school. Then we will go on, to the rules that governed our Universities. In addition I have added what the U.S. Supreme Court said regarding education.

Benjamin Rush
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the
"Father of Public Schools"

"Let the children...be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education. The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [removing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools."

Benjamin Rush
Thoughts Upon the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1786

"I proceed...to inquire what mode of education we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all of the advantages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of the youth; and here I beg leave to remark that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid on the foundation of religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments... But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament... Its doctrines and precepts are calculated to promote the happiness of society and the safety and well-being of civil government."

Fisher Ames
First Session Congressman from Massachusetts; writer of the First Amendment

"Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble... The reverence for the sacred book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and, probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind... In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith."

Fisher Ames
Sept. 20, 1789, Palladium magazine

"We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We're starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools... We've become accustomed of late of putting little books into the hands of children containing fables and moral lessons... We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principle text in our schools... The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other manmade book."

Gouverneur Morris
Signer and writer of the final draft of the Constitution

"Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God."

William Holmes McGuffey
Considered the "Schoolmaster of the Nation", published the McGuffey's Reader in 1836. By 1963 125 million copies were sold making it the most used textbook of all times.

From it's foreword McGuffey wrote:

       The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the particularities of our free institutions.

       The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary.

Lesson 37 from McGuffey's Eclectic First Reader entitled—Evening Prayer

       At the close of the day, before you go to sleep, you should not fail to pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm. You ask your friends for food, and drink, and books, and clothes; and when they give you the things, you thank them, and love them for the good they do you. So you should ask your God for those things which he can give you, and which no one else can give you.
       You should ask him for life, and health, and strength; and you should pray to him to keep your feet from the ways of sin and shame. You should thank him for all his good gifts; and learn, while young, to put your trust in him; and the kind care of God will be with you, both in your youth and your old age.

Lesson 62 entitled—Don't Take Strong Drink

       No little boy or girl should ever drink rum or whiskey, unless they want to become drunkard's. Man who drink are glad to have any excuse for doing it... and the man who uses it, becomes a sot. Then he is seen tottering through the streets, a shame to himself and to all his family. And oh, how dreadful to die a drunkard. The Bible says no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Whiskey makes the happy miserable, and it causes the rich to become poor.

In the preface of his Eclectic Third Reader—1837

       In making [my] selections, [I have] drawn from the purest fountains the English ligature... For the copious extracts made from the Sacred Scripture, [I make] no apology.
       Indeed, upon a review of the work, [I am] not sure but an apology may be due for [my] not having still more liberally transferred to [my] pages the chaste simplicity, the thrilling pathos, the living descriptions, and the matchless sublimity of the sacred writings.
       From no source has the author drawn more copiously than from the Sacred Scriptures. For this [I] certainly apprehend no censure. In a Christian country, that man is to be pitied, who, at this day, can honestly object to imbuing the minds of youth with the language and spirit of the Word of God.

McGuffey instructs:

       1. The Bible is evidently to give us correct information concerning the creation of all things, by the omnipotent Word of God; to make known to us the state of holiness and happiness of our first parents in Paradise, and their dreadful fall from that condition by transgression against God, which is the original cause of all our sin and misery...
       3. The Scriptures are especially designed to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus; to reveal to us the mercy of the Lord in him; to form our minds after the likeness and God our Savior; to build up our souls in wisdom and faith, in love and holiness; to make us thoroughly furnished unto good works, enabling us to glorify God on earth; and, to lead us to an imperishable inheritance among the spirits of just men made perfect, and finally to be glorify with Christ in heaven.

Lesson 21 from the Eclectic Third Reader:

       1. The morality taught by Jesus Christ was purer, sounder, sublimer and more perfect than had ever before entered into the imagination, or preceded from the lips of man...

Lesson 31 entitled—On Speaking Truth

       1. A little girl once came into the house, and told her mother a story about something which seemed very improbable.
       2. The persons who were sitting in the room with her mother did not believe the little girl, for they did not know her character. But the mother replied at once, "I have no doubt that it is true, for I never knew my daughter to tell a lie." Is there not something noble in having such a character as this?
       3. Must not that little girl have felt happy in the consciousness of thus possessing her mother's entire confidence? Oh, how different must have been her feelings from those of the children whose words cannot be believed, and who is regarded by everyone with suspicion? Shame, shame on the child who has not magnanimity enough to tell the truth...
       10. How awful must be the scene which will open before you, as you enter the eternal world! You will see the throne of God: how bright, how glorious, will it burst upon your sight! You will see God, the Savior, seated upon the majestic throne. Angels, in number more than can be counted, will fill the universe, with their glittering wings, and their rapturous songs. Oh, what a scene to behold! And then you will stand in the presence of his countless throng, to answer for every thing you have done while you lived.
       11. Every action and every thought of your life will be fresh in your mind. You know it is written in the Bible, "God will bring every working into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." How must the child then feel who has been guilty of falsehood and deception, and who sees it then all brought to light! No liar can enter the kingdom of heaven. Oh, how dreadful must be the confusion in shame, with which the deceitful child will then be overwhelmed! The Angels will all see your sin and disgrace.
       12. And do you thank they will wish to have a liar enter heaven and be associated with them? No! They will turn from you with disgust. The Savior will look upon you in his displeasure. Conscience will read your soul. And you must hear the awful sentence, "Depart from me, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
       1. What is the subject of this lesson?
       2. What did the little girl do?
       3. What did the company think?
       4. What did her mother say of her?
       5. How must the little girl have felt when her mother said she could not doubt her word?...

In McGuffey's 5th Eclectic Reader, 1879,
Religion The Only Basis of Society:

       "How powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God... Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.

       Appetite, knowing no restraint...would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws... Man would become...what the theory of atheism declares him to be-a companion for brutes."

Massachusetts, 1642
Old Deluder Satan Law

"It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time... It is therefore ordered... [that] after the Lord hath increased [the settlement] to the number of fifty householders, [they] shall then forthwith appoint one within town, to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read..."

Motto: "For the Glory of Christ"

"Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Prov. 2, 3). Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein."


"...there are many persons unable to read the English tongue and thereby incapable to read the holy Word of God... it is ordered that all parents and masters shall cause their respective children and servants, as they are capable, to be taught to read distinctly the English tongue."

Yale, 1701

"The Scriptures... morning and evening [are] to be read by the students at the times of prayer in the school... studiously endeavor[ing] in the education of said students to promote the power and purity of religion."

Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon

"Every student shall attend worship in the college hall morning and evening at the hours appointed and shall behave with gravity and reverence during the whole service. Every student shall attend public worship on the Sabbath... Besides the public exercises of religious worship on the Sabbath, there shall be assigned to each class certain exercises for their religious instruction suited to the age and standing of the pupils... and no student belonging to any class shall neglect them."

Columbia College, 1787

"No candidate shall be admitted into the College... unless he shall be able to render into English... the Gospels from the Greek... It is also expected that all students attend public worship on Sundays."

Noah Webster
"Education is useless without the Bible."
Daniel Webster
His defense of Dartmouth College before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1819

"Whereas... the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock [Founder of Dartmouth College]... educated a number of the children of the Indian natives with a view to their carrying the Gospel in their own language and spreading the knowledge of the great Redeemer among their savage tribes. And... the design became reputable among the Indians insomuch that a larger number desired the education of their children in said school [Dartmouth College]... for the education and instruction of youths... in reading, writing and all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and Christianizing the children."

Thomas Paine Criticizes the Current
Public School Science Curriculum

In a speech he delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, Thomas Paine harshly criticized what the French were then teaching in their science classes-especially the philosophy they were using. Interestingly, that same science philosophy of which Thomas Paine was so critical is identical to that used in our public schools today. Paine's indictment of that philosophy is particularly significant in light of the fact that all historians today concede that Thomas Paine was one of the very least religious of our Founders. Yet, even Paine could not abide teaching science, which excluded God's work and hand in the creation of the world and of all scientific phenomena. Below is an excerpt from that speech.

Thomas Paine
on "The Study of God"
Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a
Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists

"It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .

The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal."

While Benjamin Franklin was serving in London as diplomat from the Colonies to the King, Franklin met Englishman Thomas Paine (born 1737, died 1809). Franklin arranged for him to move to America in 1774 and helped set him up in the printing business. In 1776, Paine wrote Common Sense, which helped fuel the separation of America from Great Britain. He then served as a soldier in the American Revolution. He returned to England in 1787, and then went to France in 1792 as a supporter of the French Revolution. In 1794, he published his Age of Reason, the deistic work, which brought him much criticism from his former American friends. Upon his return to America in 1802, he found no welcome and eventually died as an outcast.

Congress of the Confederation
Sept. 10, 1782 in response to the need for Bibles Congress granted approval to print -- "a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools." This endorsement of Congress was printed on its front page:

"Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled... recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize [Robert Aitken] to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper."

—United States Supreme Court, 1844—
Vidal v. Girard's Executors
A Deist from France died in Philadelphia leaving $7 million to establish an orphanage and school with the stipulation that no religious influence be allowed. The city rejected the proposal.

"The plan of education proposed is anti-Christian, and therefore repugnant to the law... The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith—the Bible... There is an obligation to teach what the Bible alone can teach, a pure system of morality...

Both in the New and Old Testaments [religious instruction's] importance is recognized. In the Old it is said, "Thou shalt diligently teach them to thy children," and the New, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not..." No fault can be found with Girard for wishing a marble college to bear his name forever, but it is not valuable unless it has a fragrance of Christianity about it."

Justice Joseph Story gave the court's unanimous opinion:

"Christianity... is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against, to the annoyance of believers or the injury of the public...

It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider the establishment of a school or collage, for the propagation of... Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country...

Why may not laymen instruct in the general principles of Christianity as well as ecclesiastics... And we cannot overlook the blessings, which such [lay]men by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must, impart to their youthful pupils.

Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament... be read and taught as a Divine Revelation in the [school] — its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?

What is there to prevent a work, not sectarian, upon the general evidences of Christianity, from being read and taught in the college by lay teachers? It may well be asked, what is there in all this, which is positively enjoined, inconsistent with the spirit or truths of the religion of Christ? Are not these truths all taught by Christianity, although it teaches much more?

Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?"

—United States Supreme Court, 1948—
McCollum v. Board of Education

"Traditionally, organized education in the Western world was Church educated. It could hardly be otherwise when the education of children was primarily study of the Word and the ways of God. Even in the Protestant countries, where there was a less close identification of Church and State, the basis of education was largely the Bible, and its chief purpose inculcation of piety."

Calvin Coolidge
Address to the Holy Name Society in Washington, D.C. September 21, 1924

"The worst evil that could be inflicted upon the youth...would be to leave them without restraint...at the mercy of their own uncontrolled inclinations. Under such conditions education would be impossible, and all orderly development...hopeless. I do not need to picture the result."

President Coolidge concluded:

"It seems...perfectly plain that...the right to equality, liberty and property...have for their foundation reverence for God. If we could imagine that swept away...our American government could not long survive."

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