"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people."
Monday, February 19th, will be celebrated as Presidents' Day. One of the recurring themes of most presidents of the United States is the absolute necessity of making sure our people are educated. They have varied opinions on how that is to be accomplished, but most have seemed to agree that a free society can only survive as a republic if the people maintain a program of general education. Can we not hear our first three presidents say this?
"A primary object.should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing.than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?" - George Washington
"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." - Thomas Jefferson
"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.... They have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge -- I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers." - John Adams
Tools needed to educate and inform the people
Of all the possible books from which to draw learning and spiritual strength, the Bible was the prime source for the colonists' education. Not only did it contribute to the linguistic habits of the people, but it provided root strength to their moral standards and behavioral patterns. As Daniel Webster stated, wherever Americans went, "the Bible came with them." Then he added:
"It is not to be doubted, that to the free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty. The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of especial revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man." (The Five Thousand Year Leap, p. 255)
But sometimes the people need additional helps to apply teachings in holy writ to everyday problems. In colonial America, as tensions were increasing between America and England and debates were raging concerning the possibility and practicability of complete independence for the colonies, additional help came in the form of an amazingly popular little pamphlet entitled Common Sense.
Common Sense was written by Thomas Paine . It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, before the American Revolution . Paine donated the copyright for Common Sense to the states, and as one biographer noted, Paine made nothing off the estimated 150,000 to 600,000 copies that were eventually printed (various sources disagree on the number of printed copies in Paine's lifetime). In fact, he had to pay for the first printing himself. Some of the arguments made in Common Sense were:
It is ridiculous and against natural law for an island to rule a continent.
Europe is unlikely to see peace for long and whenever a war breaks out between England and a foreign power, the trade of America would go to ruin due to the economic connection.
Even if Britain was originally the "mother country" of America, that makes her current actions all the more horrendous, for no true mother would harm her children so deplorably.
Remaining a part of Britain will drag America into unnecessary European wars, and keep it from the international commerce at which America excels.
That government is best that governs least.
Society represents all that is good about humanity, government represents all that is bad about it.
The distance between the two nations makes the lag in communication time about a year for something to go round trip. If there was something wrong in the government, it would take a year before the colonies would hear back.
The New World was discovered shortly after the Reformation. This was evidence for the Puritans that God wanted to give them America as a safe haven free from the persecution of British rule.
Common Sense was tremendously popular. Thomas Paine's pamphlet sold as many as 600,000 copies to a population of 3,000,000 (one for every five people) which would be equivalent to 60,000,000 copies sold in present day America. ( Wikipedia )
In keeping with Washington's desire to educate the rising generation as to the science of government, another tool for education was written and published in 1828 by Arthur J. Stansbury.
Arthur Stansbury was the official reporter for the debates in Congress for about 20 years and his reports were published in a 14-volume set entitled Register of Debates . Because of his anxiety to help the next generation appreciate the importance of America's "great new experiment in self-government," he wrote the Elementary Catechism on the Constitution of the United States. It was a series of 332 questions and answers designed specifically for the schools, but was also read widely by many adults who felt the need to know more about the mechanics of our system of self-government designed for a free American society. He also prepared a number of illustrated books especially written for the training of children in good manners and character building.
This and similar tools must have been effective because when Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the early 1830s, he wrote:
"In New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution. In the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon."
He was also amazed about how much Americans knew concerning their own system of self-government. He wrote:
"It cannot be doubted that in the United States the instruction of the people powerfully contributes to the support of the democratic republic; and such must always be the case, I believe, where the instruction which enlightens the understanding is not separated from the moral education."
He interviewed Americans at every level of society and wrote:
"If you question [an American] respecting his own country ... he will inform you what his rights are and by what means he exercises them.... You will find that he is familiar with the mechanism of the laws.... The American learns to know the laws by participating in the act of legislation.... The great work of society is ever going on before his eyes, and, as it were, under his hands. In the United States, politics are the end and aim of education."
Another modern tool to help fulfill the Founders' goal
of educating the whole mass of people
Just as Thomas Paine's Common Sense provided the spark for the American Revolution and just a Arthur Stansbury's Catechism on the Constitution taught a whole generation of young people to know and preserve the Constitution, so can W. Cleon Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap provide answers for millions of concerned Americans who are frustrated with our present-day politicians who are fulfilling biblical prophecy by going to and fro in search of political truth but not knowing where to find it.
As was mentioned above, the saturation of Common Sense in colonial times was nearly one in every five Americans or nearly one per household. If the same level of saturation were to be reached in our day it would take about 60,000,000 copies! As was announced in earlier letters, our goal in 2007 is to distribute 100,000 copies of The Five Thousand Year Leap. This is a book that will help save this country. We at NCCS believe that if we are ready to take this message to the nation, the way will become available for us to do it.
Surely you have been aware of the advances in technology which has made the distribution of the information incredibly fast and cheap. Last year, because of amazingly low replication cost we were able to place More Perfect Union DVD with every school in this nation. In a few weeks we will be releasing an audio (MP3) version of The Five Thousand Year Leap so that Americans can listen almost anywhere at their leasure.
Delivering the "Tools" to State Legislators and Congressmen
No one should have this material more than those who are making our laws and running our government. Each year about 15-20 seniors from our high school visit the state capitol while the legislature is in session. This year we will be personally delivering a copy of The Five Thousand Year Leap to each of our 90 state legislators. Can you imagine getting a copy of this book, including an audio CD, with a personal note inside something like the following?
Dear Representative (name),
I am a senior high school student looking forward to graduating this May. As a senior, I have taken a class on U.S. Government and Constitution where we have learned the Constitution from the perspective of the Founding Fathers. It is amazing to me that the Founders had so many answers to problems our state and nation are facing right now. I am so excited about sharing them with you and know you will be thrilled to hear them also.
This is a book that you will find difficult to put down once you begin reading. Because of your busy schedule, I have marked a few passages in the book that will quickly give you some of the Founders' wisdom as you face difficult decisions in the legislature.
Thank you for giving your time as a public servant and for your support of good education. I would be happy to visit with you at your convenience if you desire. Our class contact information is on the enclosed card.
Student name and signature
You can look forward to a full report on this project in one of our upcoming newsletters. Perhaps some of you could instigate something similar with your state or community officials.
Does this not help fulfill the desire of another one of our presidents whom we honor on Presidents' Day? He said:
"Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation." - Abraham Lincoln
Earl Taylor, Jr.
PS Our Constitution History Tour is filling up. Don't delay in sending in your initial deposit if you want to go with us. Check our website or last month's newsletter for details.