Historical Roots of U.S.Education
Two hundred years
after the American Revolution, America is still governed by its first Constitution. We are now the longest-running constitutional republic in the history of the world. To give some perspective, France has had eight constitutions in the same 200 years. Italy has had 54 constitutions in 200 years. Why have we survived so long? It is because our founding fathers built our Constitution according to a set of ideals that are unparalleled in the history of the world.
Harvard is the oldest ongoing university
in the United States. Harvard produced a number of our founding fathers, including John Quincy Adams, John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams.
Harvard’s original stated purpose
for its students was: “To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ….” One requirement of students was that “Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be able to give an account of his proficiency therein.”
Princeton, founded in 1746,
produced people like James Madison, Benjamin Rush and John Witherspoon. John Witherspoon became an ordained minister and was president of Princeton University (1768-1776) until New Jersey sent him to Congress.
During those years at Princeton,
the average graduating class was between 17 and 28 students per year. In the nine years that Witherspoon taught at Princeton, the school graduated one President, one Vice President, three Supreme Court Justices, ten Cabinet members, twelve Governors, twenty-one U.S. Senators, and thirty-nine U.S. Congressmen, plus many who held state offices. A full one-third of the founding fathers were trained at Princeton University.
Yale also produced many founding fathers,
men like Noah Webster, William Samuel Johnson, Abraham Baldwin. One of Yale’s requirements for its students read as follows: “Seeing that God is the giver of all wisdom, every student, besides his private and secret prayer, will be present morning and evening for public prayer.”
What was the philosophy
of an institution that produced so many national leaders? Princeton’s founding statement was, “Cursed is all learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.
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