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“Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes;”

So began Thomas Jefferson’s first attempt to establish public education in 1779. Please take a moment to consider that Jefferson’s case for the establishment of a system of public education, at the state level, was not for the purpose of advancing a child’s knowledge in math or language arts. Jefferson believed that learning about historical examples of governments which had been perverted into tyrannical entities would protect the future of the country. In his view, if a child understood that the ambitions of those in power could result in the corruption of the government, the child would be better equipped to resist tyranny and protect his own natural rights.

The attached image is from an 1885 high school textbook entitled History of the US. Does your child’s history textbook contain anything like this? Please scan images related to the American Flag that are in your child’s textbook and post them so others can learn what is being taught to our children.

We will explore Jefferson’s legislation, and others related to public education, in subsequent posts. Jefferson’s desire to preserve the natural rights of individuals by educating the general public is What IS Right With America!

Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. – Get your copy of Everyone’s Guide to the Constitution