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Before any more advanced work can be pursued profitably there must be a study of history. Looking at the study of history from the standpoint of political science, we can see how large a place it may have in this special preparation for citizenship, and this view will also aid us materially in determining the best method of study. The historian Freeman has expressed the close relation between history and political science by saying, “ Ilistory is past politics, and politics is present history.” To come to the study of history aright we need a different conception of it from that commonly given by the text-book definitions. They call it a narrative of past events. There is nothing here for the mind to grasp, nothing tangible, no unity. To conceive the idea the mind must scatter its energies instead of concentrating them. The history of a nation is the development of that nation. It is a process. It is one thing — an unfolding from a germ. The United States was once contained in a few scattered hamlets along the Atlantic shore. To-day, it is what we see. Its history is the change from that to this. To study its history is to study this change. To teach its history is to teach how that became this and why.
This unfolding is along several lines. The nation enlarges its territory, increases its numbers, multiplies its industries, develops its resources, establishes its customs, creates a literature, builds up political institutions, and through all develops a distinctive national character. It is an essential part of his preparation for life that the citizen should know this history, and it should be taught with this end in view. The teacher should understand that the story of the past has no value save as it serves to explain the present.
In the course of the lessons upon the local, state, and
national governments, the question will often arise Why? Why do we have such institutions as towns, counties, and states? Why do they have such ofistes with such functions? If the history of the United States has been properly taught in the grammar schools, these questions have been answered. The pupils saw the early settlers of New England clustered around the meeting-house, and early choosing men to manage “ye prudentials ;” and they saw the wealthy planters scattering themselves along the rivers of Virginia, and laying the foundations for a widely different political system. They saw the infant colonies early legislating for themselves in representative assemblies; they watched the growth of the spirit of independence; they saw the separation from the mothercountry, and the slow development of the Union through colonial leagues, committees of correspondence, Continental Congresses, the Confederation, and the Constitution. This story is one, not many. Before the pupils leave the grammar school, they should be led to see it as one, and to see its relations to their study of government.
But this study only furnishes the immediate causes of the present institutions. The high school should carry on the work with the same end and in the same spirit.
There should be first a careful study of English history. We are coming to understand that the line which separates American from English history is an imaginary one. When we look for it we cannot find it. The story of our nation's development did not begin at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, though in arranging our school work we assume it to do so. For more than a thousand years American history was in English history, as the flower is in the bud. The struggle against absolutism, which gave us independence, did not begin at Concord Bridge ; had there been no Runnymede there would have been no Bunker IIill. John Hampden prepared the way for George Washington. Before we can make our own the affirmation of our poet —
“We know what master laid thy keel,
Who made each mast and sail and rope,
we must include in our thought all English history.
Our representative system, duality in legislative bodies, parliamentary law, executive limitation on law-making, legislative limitations on the executive, organizations for administering justice, the county and the courts and their officers, the modes of legal practice, the principles of judicial interpretation, those formal declarations of the rights of citizens embodied in our state and national constitutions — all these had their development and came to maturity in England, and were transplanted bodily. Magna Charta belongs to American as much as to English history.
For the origin of the town idea, a more careful study of the “Making of England” is necessary. The New England people in setting up their local government, instinctively adopted ancient Germanic customs which once flourished in England, but which long years of Norman misrule had almost effaced. The aim in the teaching of English history in the high schools should be to explain all these relations. If this be neglected there can be little excuse for teaching it.
Next in the course would properly come the study of the history of Greece and Rome. While here, as always,
the object of thought should be the development of the people, certain features of the political development should be studied with especial care: the growth of the Demos at Athens, the career of Pericles, the restrictive legislation of Sparta, the Achæan and Ætolian leagues, the organization of the Roman republic, the growth of democratic influence, the grandeur of the senate as shown in the Hannibalic war, the absence of representation as the empire extended, the nature and the outcome of the Gracchan revolution, the character of Cæsarism, the form and spirit of the monarchy. There are facts of history, and facts. Ten thousand things may be learned, these must be, if the work is to bear on American citizenship.
In the subsequent study of mediæval and modern history, again some things must be emphasized : the nature and influence of feudalism, the growth of towns, the rise of representative assemblies, the Italian republics, the Renaissance, the Protestant Revolution, the Ancient Regime, the northern leagues, the Swiss confederation, the Dutch republic, the unification of Italy and Germany.
Such history as this cannot be studied with profit by the average high school class unless the pupil has had preparatory instruction in elementary politics. But following such instruction, much may be accomplished.
Following this work in history, and crowning the course, should come a careful analytical study of the Constitution of the United States. Toward this all the work has been tending. Every teacher of history has had this in view in shaping and carrying on his work. All the materials which the students have been gathering through all their course becomes useful here. We may get a hint of this by reading the Federalist papers. What immense resources of historical knowledge have the writers drawn upon in explaining and illustrating the provisions of the constitution! The historical work in schools should thus richly endow the graduating student; so doing, it would furnish some preparation for citizenship. But this preparation is chiefly intellectual; an Arnold, a Burr, a Davis may have it all.
Besides this equipment the good citizen is a patriot. He loves his country, and serves it because he loves it. Some responsibility rests upon the schools for the culture of this virtue. There is an instinct of patriotism as there is of filial love. The child who says, “ When my mother says a thing is so, it is so if it ain't so,” is father of the man who says, “My country, right or wrong, still my country.”
But excessive civilization tends to deaden this feeling. City life is unfavorable to it, so is business life; the love of money excludes it. An alien population cherishing a worthy love for a mother-country across the sea, experiences but slowly what Chalmers called “the expulsive power of a new affection.” All these considerations point toward danger unless the schools do something. What can they do ? They can use history for this purpose. In the development of nations, progress has been hastened and dangers averted by the labors and sacrifices of individual men and women. In the early historical story-lessons such men and women should be held up to admiration, and in the later topical study such incidents should be selected as most signally display the virtue we wish the children to emulate. When selected they should be so filled out in detail, so clothed with reality, that they will make a lasting impression. If this is done the pupils will be able at the close of the study to make a gallery of portraits of patriots.