February 22, 1861: Get rid of Northern textbooks

New England Primer
A page from the New England Primer

The south wasn’t happy with all those damn Puritan schoolbooks. Now I have to say that they have a point about the Puritans; we still hear a great deal about their desire for religious freedom, when they certainly didn’t want to grant it to anyone who disagreed with them. Nevertheless, I wonder if this is the root of the Texas State Board of Education‘s efforts to purge all the “socialism” from American history texts, or evolution from the biology texts.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch:


Puritan school books in the South.

We doubt whether there is a school in Richmond, from the highest to the lowest, which does not use the works of Puritan authors in the instruction of children. We have lately seen a large volume in use in some of the principal seminaries and a small one in use in primary schools, both of which ignored the founders of the South, and exalted to the Heavens the persecuting Puritans, representing them as flying to this country for freedom of conscience– a worn-out fabrication, which the most brazen-faced falsifier ought to be ashamed to repeat. They went from England to Holland because they could not get the upper hand of men of other religions; and they left Holland because they obtained a fat charter from the King in America, and here they persecuted everybody to the top of their bent.

We observe that the Legislature of Louisiana has appointed a committee with reference to the examination of school books manufactured in the North for Southern use, and the expurgation from them of abolitionism and other things offensive to truth, justice, and decency. We should like to see this admirable measure adopted by our own Legislature and that of every Southern State.

Most of the histories and other school books produced at the North are more or less tainted with insidious assaults upon the institutions and history of the Southern people. It is far more important to the South that the education of her children should be Southern than that the legislation of Congress should be sound.–The South can protect itself against Congress, but not against the latent and subtle poison which is instilled through Northern school books into the minds of its children at school. No doubt one reason of the strong preference which some Southern men give the North over their own country, is the prejudices which they unconsciously imbibed in childhood from the books they used at school.–Neither the Bible, nature, nor common sense, requires any man or any people to love their neighbors better than themselves.

We may and ought to do full justice to the good qualities of a large mass of the Northern people, most of whom, with the exception of the depraved Puritan element, are equal to any other people, but it becomes us to see that we be true to ourselves as well as to others, and this we can never be whilst our children are daily taught the moral and intellectual superiority of other States, and the evil character and injurious effects of their own institutions. It is idle to say that the teacher can explain to the pupils objectionable passages in the school books. There is great magic and authority in print to youthful eyes, and most children will derive their impressions from that, in spite of all that the instructor might teach, or say, or do. No remedy is effectual but that adopted in Louisiana.

Let a system be adopted for the examination of all school books, and the expurgation of objectionable passages. It, would be still better, if we would produce all our own books and have a literature of our own; but, in default of this, let us by all means adopt the Louisiana system.

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One Response to February 22, 1861: Get rid of Northern textbooks

  1. Tom Hilton says:

    Fascinating…great catch.

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