Public education, tax supported public schools, women’s education, literary movements
Public Educational Movement
Originally students were taught by their parents out of the bible or learned on a hornbook.
New England region had highest literacy rate.
The idea that uneducated citizens could ruin the political structure of society scared many republicans into funding public schools.
Blacks were forbidden to learn to read and write in the South and rarely in the North.
Taxation for Education:
Wealthy families funded most public schools.
(1825 - 1850) ~ Strong support for tax supported education.
Free education was a key symbol in the democracy.
Text books promoted patriotism.
Teachers were initially ill-trained, ill-tempered, and ill-paid.
Taught only the three R’s: Readin’, Ritin’, and Rithmetic.
Schools were very inefficient.
Horace Mann (1796 – 1859) “Father of the Common School”
Born on a farm in Massachusetts, educated in mediocre schoolhouse, later a graduate of Brown University.
Lawyer and senator.
1837 – Elected Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.
Improving public schools became his life’s work.
Felt that the Common School would be a great equalizer for society. It was essential for the harmony and stability of society.
“ Education is the only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge.”
Horace Mann Cont.
Created 6 th month minimum school year .
Campaigned in Massachusetts for better school houses, longer school terms, expanded curriculum and higher pay for teachers.
In spite of his efforts though public schooling remained an expensive luxury for many areas.
His ideals regarding educational reform spread to other, mostly northern states, and profoundly effected the public school movement.
People To Know
Noah Webster (1758 – 1843) “School Master of the Republic”
Created American Dictionary of 1828.
Wrote Grammatical Institute of the English Language
John Joseph Hughes (1797 – 1864)
Led movement for denominational public schools so the large Irish – Catholic immigrant population would not have to do things like read out of the King James Bible.
Catherine Beech (1800 – 1878)
Pushed for women’s education in schools in the mid-1800’s.
Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915)
Wanted education and raised social/economic status for African-Americans.
Conditions of the era:
The cult of domesticity, dictating that women’s
place in society was in the home, is very
representative of the attitude towards women
during the 1800s.
Women’s education was frowned upon because it
“ injured the weak female brain, undermined health,
and rendered young women unfit for marriage.”
Women were beginning to bristle under the thumb of their male counterparts. Though they lived in a country founded on basic freedoms and equal rights they themselves were routinely denied these rights and freedoms.
Though the cult of domesticity was the prevailing attitude, even among educated women, the educational movement marked the beginning of political activism known as feminism , headed by (wealthy) white women like Susan B. Anthony.
Collegiate Educational Advances
Major steps were taken in the reform of women’s education when colleges opened their doors to female students. Getting an education further increased the independence of women as well as contributed to a lower birth rate and the beginnings of political activism known today as the feminist movement. Pretty soon after this time we see the suffragists and the struggle by women to gain the vote.
Tory Seminary/ Emma Willard:
Established in 1821 by Emma Willard, located in New York.
Lead to respectability for women’s education at a secondary (collegiate) level.
Originally a seminary, now an Ivy league (all) women’s college, it was established in 1837 by Mary Lyon in Massachusetts.
Traditionally an all male school in Ohio, it opened its doors to women scholars in 1837, becoming the first coeducational college in America.
Before 1820, political essays like The Federalist , Common Sense , and great political orations made up the majority of America’s reading material.
Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography (1818).
Knickerbocker Group (NY) ~ Trailblazers of American Literature.
Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) Born in NY,
first American to win international recognition
as a literary figure. Dutch influence.
1809 – Knickerbocker’s History of New York
1819-1820 – The Sketch Book
Combined American and English themes,
included “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend
of Sleepy Hollow”.
“ The first ambassador whom the New World
of letter sent to the Old.” ~ William Thackery.
A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.
Knickerbocker Group Cont.
James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851)
First American novelist, to become world famous and make New World themes respectable.
1826 – The Last of the Mohicans
Explored viability and destiny of America’s republican expirement. Did this by contrasting undefiled values of “natural men”, with artificiality of modern civilization.
William Cullen Bryant (1794 – 1878)
Puritan, originally from Massachusetts.
1817 – Just 16, wrote “Thanatopsis”, one of the first high-quality poems in the U.S.
Poetry was his passion, but had to make a living editing the New York Evening Post. His brand of journalism was dignified, liberal, and conscientious.
Transcendentalism (1830’s – 1860)
Trandscendentalism nurtured a golden age of American literature in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Especially in Boston (“the Athens of America”) and the New England area.
Literary, philosophical, and political movement.
Stemmed from the liberalization of strict Puritanism, and influenced by German romantic philosophers and the religions of Asia.
Theory : Rejected the idea that all knowledge comes to the mind through the senses. Truth ‘transcends’ the senses, it cannot be found by observation alone. Everyone has an inner light that illuminates the truth and puts them in direct connection with God a.k.a the “Oversoul”.
Self-reliance, self-culture, self-discipline.
Authors of Transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) – Bostonian, poet and philosopher, best known transcendentalist.
Urged other American writers to ignore European traditions and write about America.
Practical philosopher, individualistic mood of expanding America: self-reliance, self-improvement, self-confidence, optimism, and freedom.
1836 – Nature
Collection of essays examining philosophy and religion.
Henry David Thoureau (1817 – 1862) – Associate of Emerson, poet, mystic, nonconformist.
Anti – Slavery.
1854 – Walden: Or Life in the Woods and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849) spawned individualistic, idealistic thought in America and around the world.
Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) – “Poet Laureate of Democracy”
Wrote about S-E-X. *gasp*
1855 – Leaves of Grass
Collection of poems: highly romantic, emotional, unconventional, crazy.
Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888)
1868 – Little Women
Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) – Poet, recluse.
Themes of nature, love, death and immorality.
Never published while alive, but after she died,
much of it was.
William Gilmore Simms (1806 – 1870) –
Most noteworthy literary figure produced
by the South pre-Civil War.
Novelist, wrote 82 books.
“ Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all.”
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) –Gifted lyric poet,
Short stories, horror.
“ The Raven”, “The Black Cat”,
“ The Fall of the House of Usher”,
“ The Tell-Tale Heart”.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864) – Lived in Salem, Massachusetts.
Calvinist obsession with original sin, good vs. evil.
1850 – The Scarlett Letter
1860 – The Marble Faun
Herman Melville (1819 – 1891) - Poorly educated New Yorker.
1851 – Moby Dick
Inspired by his adventures on the high seas in his youth. “A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.”
I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Goodman, Russell, "Transcendentalism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition) , Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/transcendentalism/>.
"The American Renaissance & Transcendentalism." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service . Public Broadcasting Station. Web. 02 Nov. 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ihas/icon/transcend.html>.
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Cohen, Lizabeth, and Thomas A. Bailey. "The Ferment of Reform and Culture." The American Pageant . By David M. Kennedy. 13th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Pub, 2006. 340-45. Print.
"Only a Teacher: Horace Mann (1796 - 1859)." Pbs.org . PBS. Web. 02 Nov. 2011. <http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/horace.html>.
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