Browsing "Education"

Ridding the South of the Incubus

In 1819, Rev. Moses Waddel “was induced to give up his academy business” and take the reins of the University of Georgia. Born in North Carolina, educated in the ministry in Virginia and a preacher in Georgia, he had taught young John C. Calhoun and became the first native-born Southerner to fill the University presidency. It was not unusual then to hear open and reasoned discussion on ending the New England slave trade and repatriating Africans to their homeland.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Ridding the South of the Incubus

“Athens [Georgia] and he Lower South at this time [1810] were in the midst of laying the foundations of that social order and culture, beautiful and polished yet seamy, captivating the elite Englishman and practical Yankee who touched it, the admiration of some, the curse of some . . .

In the excitement of the Federal Constitutional Convention, Georgia had stood for the foreign slave trade, but she no sooner won it than she freely flung it away. In 1819 at a banquet in Athens this toast was drunk: “The [Foreign] Slave Trade – The scourge of Africa; the disgrace of humanity. May it cease forever, and may the voice of peace, of Christianity and of Civilization, be heard on the savage shores.”

At this time the whole subject of slavery was discussed in the Georgia papers with reason and dispassion, and in 1824 the president of the University “heard the Senior Forensic Disputation all day on the policy of Congress abolishing Slavery – much fatigued but amused.” Apparently the students were doing some thinking also.

The trustees, were, likewise not opposed to a possible disposition of slavery, for [Rev. Robert] Finley, whom they had just elected president of the University, had been one of the organizers of the American Colonization Society. He was, indeed, present in Washington at its birth and had been made one of its vice-presidents; and so vital did his work appear to one friend that he later wrote,

“If this colony [Liberia] should ever be formed in Africa, great injustice will be done to Mr. Finley, if in the history of it, his name be not mentioned as the first mover, and if some town or district in the colony be not called Finley.” He, indeed, never lost interest in the project to his dying day – and then it “gave consolation to his last moments.”

The South was genuinely interested in ridding itself of this incubus, realizing, with Henry Clay, that Negroes freed and not removed were a greater menace than if they remained in slavery.”

(College Life in the Old South, E. Merton Coulter, UGA Press, 1983 (original 1928), pp. 27-28)

Southern Academies and the Spirit of Christianity

Moses Waddel’s school at Lillington, South Carolina “was a simple frontier academy of the period which taught grammar, syntax, antiques of Greece and Rome, geography of the ancients, Greek and Latin. Waddel’s graduates included many governors and future statesmen to include John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, Hugh S. Legare, A.B. Longstreet, James L. Petigru, George Crawford, Preston Brooks, Thomas W. Cobb, Pierce M. Butler, and George R. Gilmer. It was later said of Waddel’s reason for taking the presidency of the University of Georgia was first to “raise the University and give it a respectability and usefulness in the State; and second, to communicate to public education the spirit of Christianity.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Academies and the Spirit of Christianity

“In an article printed in the Atlantic Monthly, November, 1929, Count Hermann Keyserling expressed the belief that the South is the only section of America where a real culture can be produced. Only in this region have complete individuals lived. Here and only here can a uniqueness, an individuality which leads to a development of complete souls, flourish.

Writing in a similar vein John Crowe Ransom, a Nashville poet, says, “The South is unique on this continent for having founded and defended a culture which was according to European principles of culture; and the European principles had better look to the South if they are to be perpetuated in this country.”

The same point of view characterizes a symposium entitled “I’ll Take My Stand, by Twelve Southerners,” which has lately been published by Harpers. In the field of education these thinkers criticize our public schools, and desire a return to the ante-bellum system of formal training. Indeed, a great glorification of the academy, which was the most characteristic school of the pre-war South, is presented. With the lapse of the educational system of the Colonial Period . . .

“the South found a means of transmitting to its own people the essential of a good classical education, by the growth of an institution that never, to the same degree, affected the North. This institution was the academy. It was by its means and operation that the older Southern life and culture became what it was, and remained until the catastrophe of 1861-5 . . . The academies solved the problem of the gap between the mere acquisition of mere knowledge and the “acquisition of power for independent work” by putting the pupils into direct contact, not with undisputed masses of information and up-to-date apparatus, but with such teachers as could be found.

Their object was to teach nothing that the teacher himself had not mastered, and could not convey to his pupils. Their training was therefore classical and humanistic, rather than scientific and technical – as most of the available teachers were products of the older European and American schools.”

In America the academy was a “product of the frontier period of national development and the laisse faire theory of government.” Frequently it was motivated by “denominational interest and sectarian pride.” In the South the academies were of two types, the modest local institution which was sometimes called the “old field school,” and the more pretentious, more permanent school with a wider patronage. While fees were commonly charged, the academies were democratic in character, and usually the idea of individual development was dominant. Generally speaking the schools served the educational needs of the entire community.”

(Moses Waddel and the Lillington Academy, Ralph M. Lyon, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VIII, Number 1, January, 1931, pp. 284-285)

 

Feb 18, 2017 - Education, Southen Educators, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Southern Contributions to Philosophy

Southern Contributions to Philosophy

Author Henry C. White of the University of Georgia relates below that: “Deep thinkers were the men of the plantations; wide readers, keen observers and profound reasoners.” Not accustomed to widely publish their thoughts on great philosophical topics, their views were usually “disseminated through oral discussion with friends and neighbors and hospitably-received visitors from abroad upon the great patriarchal estates, by voluminous correspondence, by family teaching, and in the schools and colleges . . . manned by instructors of the same modest and retiring type.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Contributions to Philosophy

“And yet, if the aim of the highest philosophy be the apprehension of the fundamental and eternal principles of governing right living and determining the relations of man to God, his neighbor and Nature, the ideals of conduct exemplified by the men of the South in their individual lives and their social relations, born of their close observation and thoughtful reasoning and commended to their children and their immediate communities, must have had an influence upon current local thought and upon the development of the communal life even greater than that which would have been afforded by technical investigation and publication, no matter how profound.

It is not contended, by any means, that exemplary living was universal throughout the South, nor is it denied that its peculiar social institutions involved something of evil to all concerned and something of injustice in the classification of peoples’ consequent thereon.

But all observers are agreed that, from its early settlement to the time when its intellectual energies were absorbed in the great political disputes which led to the War of Secession, the thought of the South and its communal spirit were directed and dominated by the quiet and profound thinkers of the great plantations and the superb examples of ethical living which they afforded.

Perhaps, therefore, the noteworthy and peculiar contribution of the South to philosophy in its early history was the creation and the fine effort at realization of high ideals of human conduct based upon the essential and immutable principles of truth, equity and justice.

The great teachers of the schools and colleges of the South of the period, many of whom, after the fashion of the times, were clergymen as well, held to these ideals and exalted them in the estimation of their pupils and thus, although contributing but little to the literature of philosophy, they impressed upon the community at large a truly philosophic mode of thought which subsequently became creative and now bids fair to become highly and richly productive.

The various philosophical movements in America became sectionalized in their broader aspects, the North standing for idealism, while the South stood for materialism and the middle West for the philosophy of common sense. [The] earlier writers of the South were some whose works are worthy to rank as original and valuable contributions to the technical literature of philosophy.

The Essays, Moral and Philosophical, of the brilliant and versatile George Tucker (1775-1861), the biographer of Thomas Jefferson and for many years professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, contain, among many other reflections which are valuable, a treatment of the Will which is strikingly original and suggestive.

Other native materialists of the South [were] Joseph Buchanan (1785-1812) . . . another early materialist was Thomas Cooper (1758-1840) . . . another was Frederick Beasley (1777-1845), who was born in North Carolina . . . John Berry Gorman (1793-1864) of South Carolina . . . Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812-1897) of North Carolina . . . Another type of contribution of this period which should be taken into account . . . is furnished by writers of the character of Joseph LeConte and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, some of whose works are more philosophic than scientific.”

(The South’s Contributions to Philosophy, Henry C. White, The South in the Building of the Nation, Volume VII, Southern Publication Society of Richmond, 1909, excerpt, pp. 261-265)

Keep Northern Texts Out of Southern Schools

Major-General Samuel Gibbs French, a Confederate officer born in New Jersey, stated shortly after the war that “woman is responsible for [Confederate] Memorial Day,” noting that the annual remembrance of those who died in defense of American liberty was a “pleasing duty” that the Southern woman took upon herself to perform annually. He added: “I am not unmindful, ladies, of the power you possess and can exercise in preserving the true story of the war and the memory of the Confederate soldiers. Tell the true story to your children. If you do not, their nurses will tell them [their version].”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Keep Northern Texts Out of Southern Schools

“The true cause of the War Between the States was the dignified withdrawal of the Southern States from the Union to avoid the continued breaches of that domestic tranquility guaranteed, but not consummated by the Constitution, and not the high moral purpose of the North to destroy slavery, which followed incidentally as a war measure.

As to the war itself and the result thereof, the children of the future would be astonished that a people fought so hard and so long with so little to fight for, judging from what they gather from histories now in use, prepared by writers from the North. They are utterly destitute of information as to events leading to the war. Their accounts of the numbers engaged, courage displayed, sacrifices endured, hardships encountered, and barbarity practiced upon an almost defenseless people, whose arms-bearing population was in the army, are incorrect in every way.

A people, who for four long years, fought over almost every foot of their territory, on over two thousands battlefields, with the odds of 5,864,272 enlisted men against their 600,000 enlisted men, and their coasts blockaded, and rivers filled with gunboats, with 600 vessels of war, manned by some 35,000 sailors, and who protracted the struggle until over one-half of their soldiers were dead from the casualties of war, had something to fight for.

They fought for the great principle of local self-government and the privilege of managing their own affairs, and for the protection of their homes and firesides.

The facts are that while the South has always been prominent in making history, she has left the writing of history to New England historians, whose chief defect is “lack of catholic sympathy for all the sections of the country.”

They especially treat the South as a section, almost as a foreign country, and while omitting the glaring faults of their own ancestors and their own section, they specialize the faults of the early Virginia colonists and the Southern colonists generally.

They speak of slavery as a crime for which the South is solely responsible . . . and ignore the historical fact that England and New England are as much responsible for it as their brothers of the South; that it was forced not only on New England, but on the South, by Great Britain, and in spite of the protests of Virginia and other Southern colonies.

The histories written by Northern historians in the first ten or fifteen years following the close of the war, dictated by prejudice and prompted by the evil passions of that period, (and generally used in the schools), are unfit for use, and lack all the breadth, liberality, and sympathy so essential to true history, and, although some of them have been toned down, they are not yet fair and accurate in the statement of facts.

Until a more liberal tone is indicated by Northern historians, it is best that their books be kept out of Southern schools. It is therefore important that that the Southern people be aroused and take steps to have a correct history written, a history, which will vindicate them from the one-sided indictment found in many of the histories now extant.”

(Report of the Historical Committee (excerpt), United Confederate Veterans, Gen. S.D. Lee of Mississippi, Chairman, presented at the Houston Reunion; Confederate Veteran, June 1895, excerpt, pp. 165-166)

Dec 28, 2016 - Antebellum Realities, Education, Lost Cultures, Recurring Southern Conservatism, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Statesmen are Schoolboys First

Statesmen are Schoolboys First

Beginning in 1804, Dr. Moses Waddel’s Willington School in South Carolina produced great American leaders which included political giant John C. Calhoun, distinguished Charleston attorney James L. Pettigru, future US Congressman George McDuffie, future governor of Georgia George R. Gilmer, classical scholar Hugh Swinton Legare, and Augustus Baldwin Longstreet — noted preacher, editor and writer, author of ‘Georgia Scenes.” Dr. Waddel was born in Rowan County, North Carolina and licensed by the Presbytery of Hanover to preach in Virginia.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Statesmen are Schoolboys First

“Willington School, so named from a nearby settlement, got its character from its founder, Dr. Moses Waddel . . . [who] later became an outstanding educator in the South as president of the University of Georgia.

Dr. Waddel was a Presbyterian minister who first entered the educational field as a side line. He was a born educator, a veritable champion of learning in a community still emerging from the pioneer stage. It was in the year 1801 that he started his Willington School and at a time when education was not generally regarded in those parts as an essential. Most of the local farmers’ families had more practical uses for strong youngsters with sturdy arms and legs.

Despite obvious financial handicaps from the poor economy of the region, students came flocking to Dr. Waddel’s school, some at great sacrifice. In time there were two hundred and fifty students . . . Many were from poor families who somehow made provision for educating their sons.

The school consisted of a central hall, or “academy,” built of logs. About it were several other cabins, also built of logs and chinked with clay against the chill winds that blew off the river now and then in the winter season. The food was plain, mostly corn bread and bacon. Plain living, devotion to study, and high thinking formed the credo of Dr. Waddel.

[The] boys were turned loose in good weather along the river for study periods. There, scattered about under the oak and hickory trees, singly or in groups, they conned their Latin and Greek. The classics were the bases of Dr. Waddel’s curriculum, which seems to have been an innovation in educational methods for a secondary school. His formula and methods attracted interest among educators all over the country.

The routine was simple. In the early years of the school Dr. Waddel used a horn to arouse the students in the morning . . . [for] changing classes, and as a signal for shutting out lights. These were provided by pine knots rather than candles, then a rarity. [Dr. Waddel would often] step out of the central schoolroom and call the boys from their sylvan study periods with a loud “Books, books young men!” He inculcated a certain amount of self-rule and democracy by holding court every Monday morning to try offenders of the previous week. He acted as judge but the jury was made up of a panel of five students.

To this school here in the woods there came from the Long Cane section of Abbeville [South Carolina] . . . the almost equally austere John Caldwell Calhoun, a humorless sort of fellow, straight out of the rugged, God-fearing Calhoun clan of Scotch Covenanters. At nineteen he was a grown-up young man for those times. To prepare for entrance to Yale it was decided that he should go to Dr. Waddel’s school. Just after John Calhoun had left the school for Connecticut, the same neighborhood sent another promising youngster in James L. Pettigru . . . [though] His homespun clothes and rusty, rural manners were ridiculed by students from wealthier homes who sported broadcloth and fine linen.

Thus, Dr. Waddel’s school, with its emphasis on mental discipline, on the classics, and on history and philosophy, provided a cultural incubation for the politicians and statecraft to which some of its more promising students turned in after years. Its curriculum was conducive to the development of fine, flowing oratory, to the elaboration of closely drawn distinctions about the rights of the States versus the federal government. Its graduates went naturally from the law into politics.”

(The Savannah, Thomas L. Stokes, University of Georgia Press, 1951, excerpts, pp. 252- 260)

Bad to Legislate for Minority Groups

 

Representative Graham A. Barden of North Carolina was adamant that federal aid to education should be controlled by the States, and that no public money should go to private schools. On the other side was Catholic Rep. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who wanted federal money to help pay for bus service to parochial schools. Barden was a strident opponent of growing federal intrusion into States, stating that Federal housing officials are “piling up little caves and cliff dwellings in the city for people who have no jobs and expect to live off someone else.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Bad to Legislate for Minority Groups

“In the 1948 presidential campaign both political parties noted the need for improvements in public education. The Republican platform favored “equality of educational opportunity” and “promotion of educational facilities.” The Democrats forthrightly advocated “Federal aid for Education administered by and under the control of States.”

[Third District of North Carolina, US Representative] Graham Barden had approached the issue of Federal aid with reservations, but by 1949 he had become convinced that Federal assistance was necessary . . . but he was unwilling to accept Federal control or interference and would “not agree to the appropriation of Federal tax money to private or church schools.”

[Barden introduced his bill which] unequivocally prohibited States from allocating money to nonpublic schools. The bill also allowed taxpayers who felt this provision was being violated to bring suit in the Federal courts.

[On] June 14 Dwight David Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, publicly stated his opposition to Federal laid because it would promote more control of the country by the central government. “In short,” he said, “unless we are careful, even the great and necessary educational processes in our country will become yet another vehicle by which the believers in paternalism, if not outright socialism, will gain additional power for the Federal Government.”

Barden, himself fearful of centralization, must have been amused to know that in the mind of the General he was promoting socialism.

The charge that the bill was discriminatory towards Negro children added a new dimension to the debate and was a charge Barden did not understand. He believed in the doctrine of separate but equal schools for Negro children, but . . . equal meant equal. As a member of the North Carolina State Legislature, he had been an advocate of paying Negro and white teachers the same, transporting the children of each race at State cost in the same manner, and providing buildings of the same quality.

Barden replied: “The charge of discrimination against Negroes is simply a piece of manufactured propaganda emanating from those who did not have the nerve to stand on the real objection to the bill, to wit that it prohibited the use of funds for private or parochial schools. Dealing specifically with the Negro question, my approach to this problem differed from the Senate approach. The Senate dealt with the Negro as a minority group. I dealt with them as being Americans for I fear it is a bad precedent for us to continue to legislate for minority groups.

When asked about the possibility of compromise, Barden [replied]:

“If you leave [the bill] open for supporting any private school [with public money], you leave it open for supporting any school that exists or may be organized – by anybody from the communists on up.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 80-83; 86-89)

An Educational Failure

Jefferson wrote in his Notes on Virginia that “every country degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people only,” and to prevent this required education which improved the minds and watchfulness of those governed. He added that though the common perception was that corruption is restrained by restricting the vote to only the wealthy, but would be more effectively combatted by an extension to educated citizens who “would bid defiance to the means of corruption.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

An Educational Failure

“The National Education Association, theoretically representing the teachers of the country, had for years been passing resolutions favoring whatever was before the public of un-American import, especially for getting the imperial Government at Washington, through “Federal aid,” to take over the shaping in school of American ideas.

Under the cloak of “academic freedom” men in the universities belittled those who wrote the Constitution and pronounced their work faulty and outmoded. The schools, while neglecting to give thorough courses in our history, and especially in constitutional history or the history of liberty, admitted objectionable textbooks and periodicals.

The principles of our government are not outmoded, as some say. They are as immutable as those of mathematics. The first of them, so well put by Jefferson, is that the man to whom power is given must be chained. The profound historians at Philadelphia who wrote the Constitution looked back over the centuries and drew that principle from the recurring tyrannies and unfailing breakdowns of governments.

As the constitutional system of the United States was the first that man through all the centuries was able to formulate for the one purpose of controlling those in power . . . It is “the last hope of the world,” as Daniel Webster warned us.

Communism and other alienisms can be met and overcome, not by dollars or arms, but only by superior doctrines, as the teaching of the kindness of Christianity overcame the ideas, the brutalities and the power of the Roman Empire.

By neglecting to indoctrinate each new generation with a knowledge of the superior philosophy of the American system of government, we thereby left the people weakened to attack. Hence, so many of them are taken with the false promises of communism. And so many others want the government at Washington to do things beyond its power and outside of its jurisdiction.”

(Undermining the Constitution, A History of Lawless Government, Thomas J. Norton, Devin-Adair Company, excerpts, pp. xi – xiv, 1950)

 

The Wise But Unschooled Uncle Remus

The antebellum plantation culture informally educated the African workers in European trades and agriculture, customs and traditions; the postwar Southern economy needed people informally schooled in the useful arts of agriculture and mechanics, and little if any use for workers with advanced university degrees and speaking Latin or Greek. Thus Booker T. Washington’s method was far more acceptable and productive than DuBois’ method of political agitation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Wise But Unschooled Uncle Remus

“Southern historians, trapped by the belief that education is a cure-all, have exaggerated the accomplishments of formal schooling. They like to prove that Sir William Berkeley was inaccurate when he said that there were no free schools in seventeenth-century Virginia. They are dazzled that today we have “a triumphant “progressive” education which progresses even faster than the North.” They gloss over the defects of our much-praised educational system.

The historians would be wise to admit the defects of Southern education as measured by the proclaimed goals of American public schools; indeed they might be skeptical of these goals. They might admit that Berkeley was not a complete fool when he inveighed against schools and presses.

In New England the Prussian-type school was loaded with antislavery sentiments and with notions of social reform repulsive to a region of Christians not dominated by hopes of earthly perfection. The leveling tendencies of the new schools ran counter to the Old South’s conception of hierarchy. Their content was more suited for those who need guidance in town life than for a people whose chief task was to subdue a wilderness and to establish farms.

Someone should tell that the South’s resistance to formal schooling did not grow out of laziness or stupidity. Their resistance was vital part of the region’s attempt to survive as a social and cultural entity. The South unconsciously fought against the idea that the school be allowed to iron out provincial differences in order to make the Southern States into undifferentiated units of the republic.

Southerners have preserved their folkways and ancestral superstitions. Thereby they have avoided the fate of the people of Hawaii, a people who have deliberately escaped their ancestral heritage in order to become Americanized through the public schools. Such a people lack creative originality.

Our chroniclers of the past should quit being ashamed of the cloud of illiteracy which once hung over their province. They should wake up to the fact that Uncle Remus was among the wisest Southerners. They have stressed to such a degree the benefits of the schools that they have neglected the triumphs of informal training outside the school.

This informal education was good because it was useful. Our colonial and frontier ancestors put the art of subduing the wilderness first; they learned to use the ax and the rifle extremely well. With some justice they regarded formal education as an adornment of the upper classes.

The dark spot on Southern civilization of denying formal education to the slaves can be wiped out by an understanding of what was accomplished in the so-called school of the plantation in which the barbarian captive of Africa was Anglicized. This was a type of training more effective than anything the South had experienced since.

The slave was so well inoculated with Anglo-American culture that almost all elements of his African background disappeared. The Negro imbibed the rich heritage of European folklore and became so skilled in English handicrafts and in the intricate practices of plantation agriculture that he was perhaps better educated in the industrial arts than those Negroes who had lived since the time of Booker T. Washington.

(Tolerating the South’s Past, Francis Butler Simkins, Address in Columbia, South Carolina, November 12, 1954, The Pursuit of Southern History, George Tindal, editor, LSU Press, 1964, pp. 319-320)