Antebellum and Civil War America, 1784-1865

 
 

Education

By Misty Bullard, Bridget Crumb, Jason Hall, Eva Pierce, James McMillian, Lisa Reynolds, and Rick Turner  

Education was not a primary focus of Americans within the antebellum period. Robert Church and Michael Sedlak, professors of educational history, state: “Most Americans, apparently, found that the schools, despite their manifest inefficiencies and problems, met their own, and by implication, their country’s, educational needs satisfactorily” (8).  There were three branches of schools:  district schools, academies, and colleges.  The main purpose of district schools was to provide terminal education for students. These schools provided the only education many students would ever receive. Church and Sedlak explain that the educational objectives of these schools were very poor.  They note that there was not any type of established criteria of progress; no one was sure when a child had finished district school (13).  Academies were designed to prepare men for work and women for becoming teachers or housewives.  Church and Sedlak explain that the upper-class men who could afford to go to the academies were taught business skills, but the poorer men were taught trade and industrial skills because of their financial situations (24).  Colleges concentrated on teaching young men about traveling and doing business abroad, preparing them to become professors, doctors,  lawyers, and so on.  According to Church and Sedlak's book, Education in the United States: An Interpretive History, the few women who were allowed into elite colleges had vigorous schedules that were supposed to stop them from achieving the requirements to graduate (25). But, surprisingly, the women completed the course extremely well, Church and Sedlack say (24).  

According to M.A. Vinovskis, public schools were established to allow middle-class or upper-class parents to help their own children and were not intended to ensure proper education for all children, including the poor (313).  He goes on to state that during the antebellum era educational reforms were made solely to help the poor.  Out of these reforms, monitorial charity schools, Sunday schools, and infant schools were formed (317). 

There were four classifications of teachers after schools had come under the care of the state:  preachers, young college graduates, indentured servants, and men and women who dedicated their lives to teaching for many years. "Education," an article in the Dictionary of American History, characterizes teachers of the period as ignorant, incompetent, ill tempered, and lazy (229) and notes that schools in the 18th and 19th centuries lacked adequate supplies, paid teachers poorly, were unclean, and lacked discipline (229).  

Bibliography

“Physical Education.” Encyclopedia of American Education. 1996 ed.  
This section of The Encyclopedia of American Education deals mainly with the origin and history of physical education.  Although it is short, it still has a lot of useful information.  This section was very detailed in its statistical background.  It stated the percentages of how many preteens and teens participate in physical education by grade.  It notes, for example, that Benjamin Franklin introduced physical education to America in 1749.  It also explains that during the 19th century physical education was designed mainly for boys who attended private schools and that it was not until the late 1880s that the curriculum was introduced into public schools. Published in 1996, this book is relatively new. The section on physical education was written by Harlow G. Unger.
 
“Education.”  Dictionary of American History.  1976 ed.  
This article discusses the types and characteristics of teachers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even though this book was published in 1976, it provided a great amount of information needed to get an overall picture of the antebellum period in education. Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing company published eight volumes of the Dictionary of American History
Church, Robert L., and Michael W. Sedlak.  Education in the United States: An Interpretive History.  New York: The Free Press, 1976.  LA 212.C53 
 
This book gives an interpretive historical account of the educational process and progress in the United States from 1776-1975.  It gives the history of the district schools, colleges, and academies.  This book briefly depicts the shift in the focus and significance of education in our country.   In a chapter entitled “The District School,” Church and Sedlak describe how severely limited the schools were before the common school movement began in 1830.  The schools had no established criteria of progress and provided no type of incentive to entice students to learn.  Church and Sedlak supported this by stating that students often studied the same book year after year. Although dated, this book gives an interpretive history of education in the United States. Michael Sedlak is a professor of the history of education and associate dean of academic affairs at Northwestern University.  Robert Church is a professor of educational history at Harvard University. 

Topics

People

  • David Campbell
  • Marianne Finch
  • Jedediah Hotchkiss
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Mary Lyon
  • Horace Mann
  • Patrick  Hues Mell
  • Emma Willard Troy
  • Noah Webster

Events

1785:  Georgia charters first state university 
1795:  University of North Carolina becomesthe first state university to hold classes 
1821:  Troy’s female seminary 
1823:  first normal school established 
1825:  Free School Society established 
1830:  first American high school 
1837:  Oberlin Collegiate Institute becomes first co-ed college  
1839:  Mell becomes principal of  Oxford Classical and English School 
1839: First public teacher training school established 
1850:  Texas has 97 academies 
1850: Hotchkiss founds  Mossy Creek Academy 
1852:  Massachusetts passes first school attendance law in America 
 

 

Education of Native Americans

By Misty Bullard  
Student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke  

Native American education received government aid immediately after the colonists revolted.  Until 1793 Native American education was under the control of missionaries.  Ministers and teachers were put into the Native American communities as government agents.  But during the antebellum period, 120 treaties were signed by the Native Americans and Congress for education provisions. In 1810 the government formed the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions by the Congressional, Presbyterian, and Dutch Reform Churches, eventually known as the American Board.  By 1819 and 1820, there were only two dependable funding sources for Native American education: the Indian Civilization Act and the annuities made specifically for Native American education.  The president appointed teachers in agricultural classes and teachers in childhood education, while the missionaries continued practical and academic training. During the Removal Act of 1830, the Cherokee and Choctaws were forced off their land to reservations, creating the Trail of Tears.  The Cherokees and Choctaws reestablished their schools in 1841 and 1842, respectively.  But by 1852 the Cherokees had an enrollment of 1100 in 21 elementary schools and two academies.  The Choctaws had nine schools, and seven of those experimented with educating adults.  Eastern teachers taught advanced subjects that included music, Latin, elocution, astronomy, and botany. In 1848 there were more than 60 manual labor schools, and seven of those had contracts.  There were more than 3500 students enrolled  in 87 different schools, and adults were taught to make a white man's living. But by 1865 funds began to disappear, and the Congressional Committee that visited the West stated that the government's work failed and schools had no influence on the young Native Americans.  

The Native Americans did not approve of the education that the missionaries were trying to give them.  "Education played a prominent role in the attempts to offset the cultural existence of the tribes as they were being surrounded and partially engulfed by a civilization alien to them," says Evelyn C. Adams in American Indian Education (xii). To Native Americans, going to some sort of school was considered a white man's education, says Frederick E. Hoxie in Encyclopedia of North American Indians (177).  No matter what the white man tried to do to the Native American society, the pride grew because of them receiving an education. 

Bibliography

"Education: Post Colonial." Encyclopedia of North American Indians. 1996 ed.  
 
This section of The Encyclopedia of North American Indians deals mainly with the education of Native Americans after the colonial period. It tells of how the government used missionaries and priests to teach the Native Americans so-called civilized subjects and jobs. Also, the book tells of how the Native Americans received the financial funds needed and what the funds went towards. 
"Education." American Indian. 1995 ed.  

This part of American Indian contains information on the historical background of Native American education. It gives specific examples of what was taught and the number of students and schools during the antebellum period. Although this book was published in 1995, it also gives great details of the educational history of Native American from 1785 to 1865.  
 

People

  • Colonel Richard Johnson  
  • Reverend Cyrus Kingsbury  
  • Jedidiah Morse  
  • John C. Calhoun 

Places

  • Harvard University  
  • Dartmouth College  
  • Choctaw Academy 

Events

1793: government takes control of Native American education, but missionaries still are used  
1802: Indian Education Act passed  
1803: Congress awards $3,000 to civilize and educate the Kaskaskia Indians  
1810: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions by the Congressional, Presbyterian, and Dutch Reform Churches  
1819: Indian Civilization Act passed  
1824: 21 schools and 800 students reported  
1824: 261 teachers, 916 students, 32 schools  
1825: Indian Office reports 6 additional schools opened and nearly 1,000 students  
1830: Indian Removal Act passed  
1832: position of Commissioner of Indian Affairs created  
1837: Richard Johnson organizes Choctaw Academy, first manual labor school, in Kentucky 
1865: Congressional Committee reports that government work was failing, no influences from schools 


 

Physical Education 

By Jason Hall   
Student,University of North Carolina at Pembroke  
 
The subject of physical education can be dated back as early as 500 B.C. during the time of early Greece. However, physical education did not come to America until 1749. It was introduced by Benjamin Franklin in his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania. Even though Franklin introduced physical education in 1749, there was still no real curricula until the 1820's. Physical education during the 19th century was geared toward the male private schools, and the first major school to do so was the Round Hill School in Northhampton, Massachusetts, in the 1820's. Though during this time period physical education was geared mainly for males, there were certain educators who wanted to see a rise in female participation in physical education.  The two main leaders in this movement were Catherine Beecher and Dio Lewis, who were educators as well as activists for women's rights.  Beecher was an educator at Hartford Female Seminary and The Western Female Institute in Cincinnati. Beecher’s goal consisted of a mix of music and calisthenics to improve the carriage and grace among females. Lewis was an independent private educator who also wanted to see a rise in female physical fitness and women's rights to participate in physical education. Though physical education was on the rise during most of this period, most of it was done in extracurricular activities. The bulk of all personal physical education consisted of hobby sports, such as bowling, boxing, dancing, distance running, fishing, and hunting in which people participated on their own time. Though most of the activities were hobby sports, there was one main organized sport that was incorporated into all physical education curricula in schools. The sport of gymnastics was widely accepted in most schools. Daryl Siedentop, professor at The Ohio State University, in his book Physical Education states that "it was not uncommon to find school children using wands, rings, and dumbbells as they performed exercises to music" (29). Gymnastics was not as we know it, during this time; it was more like aerobics with a few light gymnastics exercises. The school at Amherst showed a good example of this style of gymnastics. The program at Amherst consisted of meeting four times a week, where students would participate in light gymnastics as well as run and march with dumbbells, the main implements. The method of gymnastics, although the only form of organized physical education in antebellum America, provided students a way to stay in shape as well as have fun.  

Bibliography

"Physical Education." Encyclopedia of American Education. 1996 ed. 
This section of The Encyclopedia of American Education deals mainly with the origin and history of physical education.  Although it is short, it still has a lot of useful information.  This section was very detailed in its statistical background.  It stated the percentages of how many preteens and teens participate in physical education by grade.  It notes, for example, that Benjamin Franklin introduced physical education to America in 1749.  It also explains that during the 19th century physical education was designed mainly for boys who attended private schools and that it was not until the late 1880s that the curriculum was introduced into public schools. Published in 1996, this book is relatively new. The section on physical education was written by Harlow G. Unger.
Siedentop, Daryl. Physical Education. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown, 1980. GV 341 .S48 
This book  provides a lot of excellent information on physical education. The author did an excellent job in his research on the topic. Siedentop was very thorough in the history of physical education. He did a good job because he started at the beginning when physical education started and went to the present day.  Overall the book was really well written and easy to refer to for information. This somewhat dated book, which was written in 1980, had a lot of information on the time period of antebellum America. The credibility of the author was good because he cited about twenty different sources. He also named a lot of major people for this particular time period.. 

People 

  • Catherine Beecher
  • Charles Beck
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Carles Follen
  • Edward Hitchcock
  • Dio Lewis
  • Francis Lieber

Chronology

1826: Follen opens first open air gymnasium  
1827: Lieber opens first swimming school. 
1830s: organized sports introduced in  schools  
1860s: Lewis invents "new gymnastics" 

Places

  • Amherst College
  • Hartford Female Seminary
  • Harvard University
  • Round Hill School, Massachusetts
  • Western Female Institute, Cincinnati
 


 

The Origins of the High School

By Rick Turner 
Student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke 

Once children were old enough to help their parents out with the work around the house, they were expected to do so until the creation of the high school. The high school allowed for further opportunities for the child to gain more knowledge. Originally, the school system was set up with just a small school house that later progressed into what is known to be first through eighth grade.  It was mandatory to attend the schools.  The first public high school was established in 1805 in New York and was soon followed by the emergence of other high schools. According to William Reese, a professor at Indiana University, many parents were overjoyed with the prospect of their children being able to go to school and learn, while others did not adapt to the change so quickly due to the high costs (60). Many times, the schools met opposition from public leaders who did not see the relevance of sending their children to school for four more years. Another reason the schools met opposition was the course of studies being taught at the schools. Reese notes that farmers expected the schools to teach their children things that could be used on the farm for everyday work, and merchants wanted their children to learn about retail and business (60). Another vital argument against high school, according to Reese, was: ". . . that 'high' schools imparted 'higher' culture to the priveleged classes . . ." (64). That statement was based on the common belief of the common folk, which was:  "You have no right to put your hands in our pockets and extort money to pay for the education of rich men's boys and girls" (60).  Many citizens felt cheated as the taxes on the new school were too high for them to be able to pay.  The only way that they would be able to pay for the high schools was to keep their children at home to help out with the work.  Whatever the reasons for the disputes against high school, they did not last, and thus the high schools stayed. 

Bibliography

Reese, William J.  The Origins of the American High School.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.  
Reese describes, in this timely book, the beginnings of the high school and all the opposition that it faced.  Reese has written many books on the subject and is editor of the magazine History of Education Quarterly.  William Reese is a professor of education, history, and American studies at Indiana University.  
 
Vinovskis, Maris.  The Origins of Public High Schools.  Madison, Wiconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.  
  
Vinovski's book illustrates the progress of high schools by documenting the history of one average high school known as Beverly Public High School.  Vinovskis is a professor at the University of Michigan.  He is the chair of the history department and is involved in many others.   
 
Jorgenson, Lloyd P.  The State and the Non-Public School.  Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987.  
Jorgenson's fairly recent book explains the many different variations between public and non-public schools.  Jorgenson is professor emeritus of education at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  He has written other books such as The Founding of Public Education in Wisconsin.

People

  • DeWitt Clinton
  • Horace Mann
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush

Chronology

1790: Sunday-School Society of Philadelphia 
1805: Free School Society of New York 
1805: first public high school 

Places

  • Ohio
  • New York
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