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I heed not, if
My rippling skiff Float swift or slow from cliff to cliff;
With dreamful eyes
My spirit lies
ALLEGED DISTORTION IN AMERICAN HISTORIES.
The flag of the old Revolution,
Swear firmly to serve and uphold,
“Swear, oh, swear!"
The rights which his forefathers won, He forfeits all claim to the charters
Transmitted from sire to son, Kneel at the graves of our martyrs,
And swear on your sword and your gun; Lay up your great oath on an altar
As huge and as strong as Stonehenge,
"Swear, oh, swear!"
The host which the traitors have slain; By the tears of your sisters and mothers,
In secret concealing their painThe grief which the heroine smothers
Consuming the heart and the brain; By the sigh of the penniless widow;
By the sob of her orphans' despair,
"Swear, oh, swear!" On mounds which are wet with the weeping,
Where a nation has bowed to the sod, Where the noblest of martyrs are sleeping,
Let the winds bear your vengeance abroad; And your firm oath be held in the keeping
Of your patriot hearts, and your God.
While to Baker and Lyon you look;
"Swear, oh, swear!''
The following we take from the Literary Digest:
Two complaints of the distortion of history as taught in schools of the United States have been recently made, one by Samuel Smith, a member of the British Parliament, the other by the New York Sun. The former blames the histories for being the cause of much of the hostile feeling entertained in this country against Great Britain; the latter criticizes the movement in the old Confederate States to exclude all text-books on American history except those written by Southern authors.
Mr. Smith's strictures occur in a magazine article entitled "America Revisited," which has been published in pamphlet form. He discovered on the part of a great many Americans a true affection for the old country, but he found also unfriendly Irish and German elements and inflammable mixed nationalities, and he does not underestimate the sensitiveness of Americans regarding the “Monroe doctrine.” He says:
"There is, unfortunately, one cause which underlies much of this irritation. The history books taught in the public schools too often give the children of America the impression that the main events in human history are the American War of Independence, concluded in 1783, and the war with Great Britain of 181214. It need not be added that Great Britain appears in those histories always in the wrong, and the Americans always right. There is not pains taken to show that the best men in England protested against the policy of George III, and Lord North, and that the British nation to-day esteems George Washington as much as do the people of America. It is not explained that the England of last century was governed by the aristocracy, and that the England of to-day repudiates the fatal policy of the eighteenth century as much as do the citizens of the United States. These truths gradually become clear to all educated Americans, especially to those who visit Europe. But the children of the ignorant foreign population get no correcting education afterward. The newspapers they read perpetuate these prejudices, and there is consequently created a permanent mass of ill-feeling against Great Britain. I spoke of this to sev
From “Drifting.” My soul today
Is far away:
Sailing the Vesuvian bay;
My winged boat,
A bird afloat, Swims round the purple peaks remote.
Round purple peaks
It sails and seeks
Where high ro ks throw
Through deeps below, A duplicated golden glow.
Far, vague and dim,
The mountains swim; While on Vesuvius' misty brim,
With outstretched hands
The gray smoke stands O'erlooking the volcanic lands.
Here Ischia smiles
O'er liquid miles,
Calm Capri waits,
Her sapphire gates Beguiling to her bright estates.
eral Americans, who felt the force of it, and I 'That the people of the north should so soon become think the time has come when this subject
horrified at an institution (slavery) which they themselves
once countenanced, and allow their opposition to it to assume might be approached by the best men and
the character of a fanatical hatred, would indeed be a very women of the United States as they ap- problematical question of itself alone; but when one rememproached the subject of arbitration. It must
bers the innate intolerance of the people-narrow and lack
ing in breadth of judgment and liberality of opinion, tobe apparent to all right-thinking people that gether with the old nature nurtured in the mother country it is unchristian to sow seeds of enmity in the
and transplanted to American soil, and which did not change
nor alter itself with its changed surroundings and condiminds of the young against other nations, es
tions--then the question is no longer a problem. pecially when closely allied in blood and relig- This American Puritan could not appreciate that broad lib. ion. And I am in hopes that the churches in
eral, free civilization that was developing the south, for it
seemed to be rich where his was poor. Its prosperity was America will before long take this view them
a marvel and a wonder to him; the very gladness of its life selves.”
contrasted sharply with his own, which a narrow creed had
settled into such hard places.' The Sun, January 25th, devotes about two
“ The natural and necessary product of a noble civilizacolumns to “American History Distorted for tion is a noble and a princely manhood. Consequently the Southern Use," from which we quote in part: slaveholding states, by sheer force of a superior intellect“For several years past there has been a
uality, dominated the national government and affected the
character of all legislation by the impress of their masterly significant movement in the old confederate minds. The inevitable effect of this upon the north was to states to inculcate in their schools a spirit of
create and to foster that feeling of jealousy that naturally
existed, to add fuel to the fires of slavery agitation, and to sectional hostility to the states which saved
widen sectional lines.'' the Union from disruption.
"'Consequently the southern people would have indeed This movement has been in charge of the
been traitors to all history had they done otherwise under
the circumstances'" [in trying to secede). Confederate Veterans' Associations more espe- " 'After a while the politicians (northern) thought it wise cially, and the means by which its purpose is
and prudent to take advantage of the abolitionist doctrine of
"the sin of slavery," and engrafted it into the r creeds and to be accomplished is the exclusion from the
platforms as a popular catchword to increase the opposition schools of all text-books of American history to the South, which was aggravated by a growing jealousy written by northern authors, and the substi
of her civilization and prosperity.' tution of histories by southern authors only.
“ 'It was bitter (for the northerners] to confess that the
southern leaders were better generals, and the confederate About two years ago the United Confederate armies, tho so much smaller and badly equipped, better solVeterans' Historical Committee unanimously
diers than the hosts they so often defeated."
“ 'Thus ended the long and arduous struggle which the adopted a report which described the use of
south made for the rights which she had under the Constiour standard school histories to be an evil, 'ac- tution, and in this struggle those who wore the gray and tive steps for the correction' of which should
stepped in the inspiring strains of "Dixie," under the ban
ner of the southern cross decked with its stars, have made be taken. It accordingly prepared a list of their uniform a symbol of the sublimest courage of the soleleven histories, and recommended them dier and the truest devotion of the patriot. *without hesitation' as 'suitable for present if “We have given enough of these quotations not permanent use' in southern schools and to show the purpose of these so-called Amerifamilies, to replace the objectionable books.' can histories. It is to justify the lost cause;' Others of the same character were announced and to that end indisputable facts and records as in preparation.
are perverted and falsified. This partizan bias We have taken the pains to procure and is made manifest from the very beginning, and examine carefully these southern histories of it continues throughout.
Instead of being our common country, written for the avowed simple narratives of facts, as such text-books purpose of giving a peculiar mold to the sen- should be, they are partizan pleas in defense timent of the children of the states which tried of the secession movement, whose animus is unsuccessfully to break up the American Un- betrayed in the frequent expression of mere ion. Our first observation is that they treat opinions and prejudices.
opinions and prejudices. They are written to the history of the Republic by states rather make out a case, not to instruct American chilthan as a whole. Next, they all distinguish dren in the actual history of their country. sharply between ‘southerners' and 'northern- Thus they are wholly unlike the text-books of ers,' as if they were two distinct peoples, at- American history in general use in our schools, tributing the Civil War to the aggressions of from which all mere partizanship, unless it be the northerners' on the ‘southerners.' The purely American, is carefully excluded. The march of the union troops to enforce federal offenses against historical truth and the hisauthority and rescue federal property from torical spirit are so constant and so flagrant would-be secessionists is spoken of as an “in- that it would be a waste of words to point vasion.' . .
them out particularly, and correct the obvious "Here are a few examples of this bitter misstatements. southern sentiment taken at random from the "We shall not undertake to follow these different books:
southern accounts of the Civil War. They are all written from the southern point of view pe- reinforced by the enthusiastic admiration with culiarly, and frequently are colored with bitter which young men have read Homer and simisouthern prejudice, sometimes with feminine lar poets, whose genius transforms what is, and spitefulness. The Union armies are described ought always to appear, purely horrid into an as 'ruthless' in their devastating progress, and aspect of grandeur.” It was, hence, a suffithe usual and necessary course of war as pur- ciently frank admission that was lately made sued by them is pictured in a way to provoke in'a leading religious journal by an apologist a revengeful spirit in southern youth.
for the Boys' Brigade scheme, that all healthy “Naturally this spirit of resentment lingers boys have a love of soldiery born in them, ” among the generation in the south which was leaving as not a fair inference the corollary engaged in the long and fierce conflict, but, of that the youth who did not resent an attack course, it is wholly incompatible with the ju- upon his rights or strike back when assaulted dicial and impartial temper which should con- must be weak and unhealthy. trol the historian. Its manifestation in these It is a lamentable but natural sequence of books is only important as indicating a desire this emulation of the false heroic models found to perpetuate feelings of animosity which are so largely in pagan classics, as contra-distinimportant, except so far as they may bring in- guished from those molded upon the pure jury to the old confederate states by segregat- Christian type, which heretofore have been ing them in sentiment from the rest of the Un- kept too much in the background, that the ion, and thus hindering their progress in pros- school history text-books of our day are so perity and civilization. Reasonable men in largely what they are, a compend of the batthose states cannot regard such an attempt to tles of one's country, with a very pronounced isolate the south with other feelings than dis- bias under the label of patriotism for “my approval."
country, right or wrong. That was, there
fore, a much needed testimony penned by RecAGAINST THE TEACHING OF WAR IN HISTORY TEXT. tor Alex. Mackay-Smith in responding to an BOOKS.
invitation to be present at the conference on
international arbitration in Independence Hall Prin. James Currie of the Church of Scot
on last Washington's birthday, in which he land Training School, Edinburgh, in his book
said, “Our children are nurtured on stories of “The Principles and Practice of Common British cruelty in the Revolutionary war; the School Education,” (1884) says:
devil, to them, has a red coat, and carries a School bistory has hitherto been little more than a record Queen Anne musket. My great-grandfather of wars and of the genealogy and personal peculiarities of sovereigns. In giving prominence to wars, teachers have
was an officer in that war, but I wish we could only followed the examples of historians themselves, who forget the whole conflict. My own children have confined their narrative too exclusively to those; whilst are growing up to dislike England because of the personal history of sovereigos has been studied under the idea of their representing the state which they governed,
that old war as told in their school books. and also because from its being biography rather than his- is time to stop it. Patriotism is the noblest tory, it admits of being made more interesting and easily
virtue, but it must not be nourished in hate. intelligible to the pupil. The first reform in the teaching, as in the writing of school history should be to assign to
A little common sense as well as Christian these wars of a nation their true position and character, in- charity on both sides is needed." stead of measuring national prosperity or greatness exclu
At the meeting here referred to, Prof. W. sively by its warlike achievements. We should regard war in general as a divergence from the true course in a nation's
Hudson Shaw of Oxford, England, deprecated history, both on moral and on social grounds.
the undemocratic policy and some of the lanarts of peace, which have been almost overlooked, should be raised to the position of prominence hitherto assigned to
guage of the Premier, believing that they did those of war."
not fairly represent English public sentiment, “Particularly by the study of the ancient which he said was largely in sympathy with poets and historians," it was justly remarked American institutions and for lasting peace by William Ellery Channing, “the sentiments between the two countries. He found fault, in of early and barbarous ages on the subject of a mild way, however, with the text-books used war are kept alive in the mind; and tho Chris- in American schools, which inculcate enmity tian by profession, some of the earliest and toward the mother country in the minds of our deepest impressions are received in the school youth. Felix Adler of New York indorsed of uncivilized antiquity.” On the same theme Professor Shaw's mild protest against uncalledthe eminent essayist, John Foster, wrote: for anti-British sentiment in American text"Who can tell how much that passion for war,
books and said he felt at liberty as an Ameriwhich, from the universality of its prevalence,
ican to make the protest in stronger language. might seem inseparable from the nature of The audience, the newspaper report says, man, may, in the civilized world, have been heartily applauded reference to the subject.
It was to help counteract this most perni- mischievous effect of the present almost unicious method of acquainting our young people versal pollution of schoolbooks and popular with the history of their country, that I brot histories with the war spirit and eulogies of out in 1877 my United States History and, the battle-field, was vigorously presented.
It some years later, my smaller history more es- was declared to be a national curse. "The pecially for the use of schools. (Several edi- war spirit is the evil spirit of schools; and the tions of each of these were issued, but as there war spirit is the evil spirit of the community." are none now for sale, I shall not be charged In Denmark a handy manual of history has with advertising the books.) In the prefatory been lately issued, in which the author, N. L. note to the first issue, the following avowal Hojberg, has forborne to give the warrior a from my personal experience of the pernicious place of honored prominence in comparison pedagogic battle-drilling referred to, is thus with the useful citizen, the philanthropist, the stated:
artist, the inventor, the engineer. In Glas“This persistent indoctrination of warlike gow, Scotland, since the first of this year, the ideas resulted in producing an intensely parti- local school board having been memorialized san feeling, so that the very name of British upon the subject of the presentation of peace or Mexican' became a hateful sound to our and against the teaching of unfriendliness topatriotic appprehensions. Indeed our princi- ward foreign nations, acceded to a request that pal concern appeared to be to learn how much a lecture, illustrated by limelight views of greater was the battle loss in killed and wounded scenes described on the battle-field of eastern on the part of the British, than was that of the France, be given the scholars, and that copies Americans. It is not using too forcible an ex- of the anti-war essay of M. Seve, a governpression to say that there was begotten in our ment schoolmaster of France, which obtained youthful minds something of the malignant the prize offered by the International Arbitrasentiment of murderers. Of the moral loss tion and Peace Association, be distributed to occasioned by a state of warfare, together with the teachers. its exceeding expensiveness, we had no con- In the year 1883, I laid before the then ception. To supply, in a measure, this lack United States commissioner of education, John of information, and to promote the knowledge Eaton, the desirability (as it seemed to me) of of those things in the past and present history issuing a bulletin of the bureau of education, of our country which tend to its peace, pros- supplying data upon this matter for the inforperity and true renown, are the purposes of mation and right stimulation of our teachers, this work. The rule of political action rec- proffering some material if such was desired. ommended may be concisely expressed by that The commissioner, in reply, said that while he vigorous Anglo-Saxon word-straightforward- could not promise to use such material as a ness.”
bulletin, he would be greatly obliged for any We have lately had some very striking ex- statement of facts I might be able to send emplifications of this teaching of international him. antagonism, on the part of the lads and young The present commissioner of education, W. men in some of the public schools, colleges T. Harris, having also been written to on the and universities of Spain and the United States foregoing subject, has replied that he thinks respectively. The Philadelphia Record tells of the presentation of the matter is 'timely," and a sinall boy who made a quantity of crayon- will do good in the way of developing a feelcolored paper Aags of Spain, which, in an ex- ing in favor of international arbitration." The plosion of patriotism, he threw one by one commissioner surely occupies a position wherein into the kitchen fire and then solemnly loaded he can greatly advance this very important rehis Fourth of July pistol with caps and fired a form, and I think it is not hoping too much to salute in honor of the event."
believe that he will be found actively interestFor a number of years Herman Molkenboer ing himself in so furthering it. of Bonn, Germany, has been corresponding In a late number of the Herald of Peace" with editors, essayists and teachers in various of London is a stirring editorial on The Educountries of Europe and America for the pur- cation of the Young in Pacific Sentiments," pose of propagating information upon this wherein cheering recognition is given to the matter, and seeking, by representations to gov- fact that “at peace congresses and meetings ernments and school boards, to effect a change there is being manifested an increasing sense in the usual harmful way of presenting patriot- of the importance of taking definite and sysism in the history text-books. In an address tematic measures to educate the young in palast year to schoolmasters and teachers in cific sentiments and to indoctrinate the minds Stockholm, Sweden, by M. F. Rasmussen, the both of school children and college students, with sound and humane principles in relation "This then," he concludes his theme, is what to the evils of war and the blessings of inter- we want to make our people know, that in the national concord.” Allusion is made to the American Revolution England did not hate us, recent agitation of the subject in some of the but that the best men in England were our friends European States, as well as in England, while from that time to this, the men of the Revoccasion is taken to specially point out how olution and fathers of our Constitution finding our text-books in America in treating of the their greatest eulogists in English statesmen Revolutionary war have sedulously fostered like Brougham and Gladstone.
The the bad feeling in omitting to point out how it English historians Green, Gardiner and the was that the obstinacy and folly of George the rest, tell the story of the American RevoluThird and of Lord North did not rightly re- tion precisely as we desire to have it told; and, flect the prevalent opinion of the British peo- above all, the boys and girls in the district ple generally upon the matters then at issue schools are taught this history from their textwith the colonies. Green's History of the books in the right way, in the way which English People is cited as a historic work of makes them love and admire us and our faththe better, unprejudiced class.
ers instead of hating us." The "Arbitrator," likewise of London, has In our own country, John Bach Mac Master also a valuable editorial which refers to the has given us a history modeled somewhat after visit to the United States, this summer, of that of Green, in making more prominent the Samuel Plimsoll, favorably known for his suc- social and industrial conditions of the people. cessful efforts in connection with the amelio- Arthur Gilman, author of "A History of the ration of the international steerage passenger
American People," wrote me (1885) about the service. The distinct purpose of his visit was time that that work was published, relative to to make examination of a large number of his non-use of battle pictures: “I avoided the our school histories, with the object of obtain- class of cuts upon which you animadvert, being data upon the genesis and perpetuation of cause they are usually not true (being simply an alleged very antagonistic feeling in the imaginative) as well as because I think them United States toward the mother country. improper to be placed before children. I have "Before he left this country [England] he written more or less on historical subjects, and searched thirty-four of the histories used in our find myself constantly drawn away from strife Board Schools without finding any unkind al- toward the contemplation of the peaceful proglusion to the United States, but he asserts that ress of civilization. Wars must doubtless be the opposite is the case in America.
recorded, but let us not emphasize their depractical result of his inquiries, it is reported tails.” that he has persuaded the federal commissioner Nearly seventy years ago (in 1828) that conof education to deal with the subject in his scientious educator, Emma H. Willard of Troy, next report. To a New York reporter Mr. N. Y., deprecating the large space usually Plimsoll sensibly commented upon the sort of given to the wars, made the effort to supply a history he found in American school books. text-book of United States history of a more 'It seems strange to me that you should allow beneficent character than those ordinarily in the ill-feeling caused by a war of one hundred
Some time before the civil war, a Friend and twenty years ago to still exist. You must of New York city (Ruth Murray, I think), remember that nine-tenths of the English peo- made an essay in the same direction. About ple were opposed to the war at the time, and 1880, appeared the compendious class book of that the remaining one-tenth, the governing Dr. Edward Taylor, and two or three years class, was divided within itself on the subject. ago, the one compiled by Prof. A. C. Thomas Why let the acts of a daft old king, who was of Haverford college. This, I understand, is in retirement for insanity two or three times, being revised for a new edition. cause an everlasting animosity toward the Eng- It will not suffice that the history compiler's land of to-day, which has no more to do with standpoint be that of forbearance and amity that time than the United States of to-day between the United States and Great Britain, has?”
or between the Anglo-Saxon peoples the world This matter of the great folly of King over. The conscience of professing ChristenGeorge in his treatment of the claims and griev- dom appears to be slowly coming up to the apances of the American colonies, was well en- prehension that the settlement of the misunlarged upon by Edwin D. Mead, editor of the derstandings and grievances of its component New England Magazine, in an address on “The nations by resort to fighting, is not only exTrue Historic Relations of England and Amer- pensive and barbarous, but that it is morally ica,” delivered not long ago at Lake Mohonk. wrong. When that deeply inquisitive disciple