Мобильный 1 Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020December 2020January 2021February 2021March 2021April 2021May 2021June 2021July 2021
News Every Day |

America’s founders believed civic education and historical knowledge would prevent tyranny – and foster democracy



The founders believed education was crucial to democracy. Here, a one-room schoolhouse in Breathitt County, Ky.
Photograph by Marion Post Wolcott/Library of Congress

Maurizio Valsania, Università di Torino

The majority of Americans today are anxious; they believe their democracy is under threat.

In fact, democracies deteriorate easily. As was feared since the times of Greek philosopher Plato, they may suddenly succumb to mob rule. The people will think they have an inalienable right to manifest their opinions – which means to state out loud whatever passes through their minds. They will act accordingly, often violently. They will make questionable decisions.

Democracies may pave the way to tyrants. Self-serving leaders will appear. They will seek to rewrite national history by purging it of complexity and inconvenient truths. They will capitalize on the widespread frustration and profit from the chaotic situation.

Should these leaders seize power, they will curtail the people’s participation in politics. They will discriminate based on race, sex or religion. They will create barriers to democratic participation by certain constituents, including moral tests or literacy tests.

So, one way democracies degenerate is because of cunning leaders. But democracies crumble also because of the people themselves. As an intellectual historian, I can assure you that the specter of an ignorant populace holding sway has kept many philosophers, writers and politicians awake.

The American founders were at the forefront in the battle against popular ignorance. They even concocted a plan for a national public university.

A portrait of Thomas Jefferson in his later years, wearing a black jacket, white shirt and looking dignified, as befits a president.
Thomas Jefferson believed the young United States should ‘illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.’
Portrait by Rembrandt Peale, the White House collection

No democracy without education

Baron Montesquieu, a French philosopher who lived from 1689 to 1755, was a revolutionary figure. He had advocated the creation of governments for the people and with the people. But he had also averred that the uneducated would irremediably “act through passion.” Consequently, they “ought to be directed by those of higher rank, and restrained within bounds.”

The men known as America’s Founding Fathers, likewise, were very sensitive to this issue. For them, not all voters were created equal. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton trusted the people – “the people” being, for them, white property-owning males, of course. But only if and when they had a sufficient level of literacy.

Thomas Jefferson was the most democratic-minded of the group. His vision of the new American nation entailed “a government by its citizens, in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority.”

He once gauged himself against George Washington: “The only point on which he and I ever differed in opinion,” Jefferson wrote, “was, that I had more confidence than he had in the natural integrity and discretion of the people.”

The paradox was that, for Jefferson himself, the “natural integrity” of the people needed to be cultivated: “Their minds must be improved to a certain degree.” So, while the people are potentially the “safe depositories” for a democratic nation, in reality they have to go through a training process.

Jefferson was adamant, almost obsessive: the young country should “illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.” More precisely, let’s “give them knowledge of those facts which history exhibits.”

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people,” he kept repeating. It was an axiom in his mind “that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too of the people with a certain degree of instruction.”

Education had direct implications for democracy: “Wherever the people are well-informed,” wrote Jefferson, “they can be trusted with their own government.”

A national university

In 1787, Benjamin Rush, the Philadelphia doctor and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, published an “Address to the People of the United States.”

One of his main topics was the establishment of a “federal university” in which “every thing connected with government, such as history – the law of nature and nations – the civil law – the municipal laws of our country – and the principles of commerce – would be taught by competent professors.” Rush saw this plan as essential, should an experiment in democracy be attempted.

The top floor of the red brick Congress Hall in Philadelphia.
In 1796, President George Washington gave his Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and the House of Representatives at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, seen here. He wanted to alert Congress to the ‘desirableness’ of ‘a national university.’
Montes-Bradley/iStock / Getty Images Plus

George Washington stressed the same idea. At the end of his second term as president, in December 1796, Washington delivered his Eighth Annual Message to the Senate and the House of Representatives. He wished to awaken Congress to the “desirableness” of “a national university and also a military academy” whose wings would span over as many citizens as possible.

In his message, Washington embraced bold positions: “The more homogeneous our citizens can be made,” he claimed, “the greater will be our prospect of permanent union.”

Democracy’s ‘safe depositories’

A national university homogenizing the American people would likely be ill-received today anyway. We live in an age of race, gender and sexual awareness. Ours is an era of multiculturalism, the sacrosanct acknowledgment and celebration of difference.

But Washington’s idea that the goal of public education was to make citizens somewhat more “homogeneous” is worth reconsidering.

Were President Washington alive today, I believe he would provide his recipe for the people to remain the “safe depositories” of democracy. He would insist on giving them better training in history, as both Rush and Jefferson also advised. And he would especially press for teaching deeper, more encompassing political values.

He would say that schools and universities must teach the people that in their political values they should go beyond separate identities and what makes them different.

He would trust that, armed with such a common understanding, they would foster a “permanent union” and thus save democracy.

[Understand what’s going on in Washington. Sign up for The Conversation’s Politics Weekly.]The Conversation

Maurizio Valsania, Professor of American History, Università di Torino

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post America’s founders believed civic education and historical knowledge would prevent tyranny – and foster democracy appeared first on The Moderate Voice.

Read also

Biden: Russia only has nuclear weapons and oil

Walmart To Host Online Event To Promote New Fashion Line

Greg Kelly Goes There – Is First Major News Host to Show Hunter Biden Smoking Crack While Whining on Phone to Family Member and Former Lover (VIDEO)

Слот 7

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

Fishing for Redneck Lobsters Catch Clean & Cook

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here


Интернет

«Хорошая типография» первой в России запустила новую цифровую машину Konica Minolta AccurioPress C12000




Новости России
Game News

9 Лучших Вещей Которые Нужно Делать Перед Тренировкой


Russian.city


Strong Silence

9 Лучших Вещей Которые Нужно Делать Перед Тренировкой


Губернаторы России
АВИЛОН

В Москве начались продажи Audi RS 6 Avant


Почти 10 тыс. новых случаев COVID-19 зафиксировали в России за сутки

Культуру вождения в Нижнем Новгороде оценили на 3,2 балла

Человек погиб при пожаре в центре Москвы

Всероссийский турнир по боксу на Кубок командующего ВДВ прошёл в Пскове


Бывшая солистка "Ленинграда" рассказала об иске к Шнурову

Боец ММА хочет забрать Моргенштерна в Дагестан «на перевоспитание»

Денис Мацуев анонсировал концерт для российских спортсменов после Олимпиады в Токио

Юбилей светского обозревателя и телеведущего Левана Тодуа


Рейтинг WTA. Рыбакина осталась в топ-20, Данилина добилась прогресса в одиночном и парном разрядах

Бублик поднялся на одну строчку в рейтинге ATP

Яна Носкова одержала победу над Притикой Паваде в первом матче турнира по настольному теннису на Олимпиаде в Токио

Россияне Иванов и Созонов проиграли второй матч подряд на Олимпиаде




Castrol представляет новую линейку CO2-нейтральных продуктов, объединенных под единым брендом Transmax

«Деловые Линии» запустили сервис доставки для поставщиков Яндекс.Маркет, AliExpress и LaModa

Коммунисту напомнили о манифесте // Саратовский депутат может лишиться регистрации на выборы в Госдуму из-за ролика в интернете

В Уфе росгвардейцы задержали парня и двух девушек, бурно выяснявших отношения в гостинице


Прокуратура запросила для Соболь два года ограничения свободы

Новый московский стандарт поликлиник внедрили в столице

Глава «Лиги защиты пациентов» высказался о вакцинации и дал совет

Словачка је рекла да су европске земље „засићене“ незадовољством Украјине



Путин в России и мире







Персональные новости
Moscow.media