Friday, June 10, 2011
Dr. Dabney - On the Education and Crime Issues of the Civil War
Dr Dabney, in his letter to the Virginia Superintendent of State Schools (4/18/1876), put it this way as he spoke of the free school he was providing: “No penny of salary of its teachers is exacted by the tax-gatherer from unwilling hands. Your "free schools," like not a few of the other pretensions of Radicalism, are in fact exactly opposite to the name falsely assumed. The great bulk of those who pay the money for them do it, not "freely," but by compulsion. They are virtually thrust down our throats by the bayonet. And the exemplars you most boast and imitate not only make the payment compulsory, but the attendance also, as your consistency will doubtless cause you to do in Virginia also in a few years. The only freedom of your system is your freedom to compel other people's money. ... Our true statesmen always taught us that government should not be allowed to go into any project aside from its direct, legitimate ends, especially if that project would subsidize many persons and create for them a motive of personal advantage to uphold it. Because whenever that project might be wrested to mischief, these interested motives might prevent a wholesome and necessary repeal. ... It is the teaching of the Bible and of sound political ethics that the education of children belongs to the sphere of the family and is the duty of the parents. The theory that the children of the Commonwealth are the charge of the Commonwealth is a pagan one, derived from the heathen Sparta and Plato's heathen republic, and connected by regular, logical sequence with legalized prostitution and the dissolution of the conjugal tie. The dispensation of Divine Providence determines the social grade and the culture of children on their reaching adult age by the diligence and faithfulness of their parents, just as the pecuniary condition of children at that epoch is determined. By the plea that it (the State) is so vitally interested in the intelligence of the citizens that this entitles her to take effectual means for preventing their ignorance. See, now, whither this assumption leads. The morality of the citizens is far more essential to the welfare of the State; and the only effectual basis for morals is the Christian religion. Therefore the State would be yet more bound to take order that all youth be taught Christianity... The fruits of the system show that such is the result, and hence the plea for the State's intrusion is utterly delusive. The regular result of the kind of education which alone it can give is to propagate crime. Allison's History of Europe states that four years ago [from 1876] two-thirds of the inhabitants of France could neither read nor write. In Prussia, at the same time, the government had made secular education almost universal, by compelling parents to send their children to school from seven to fourteen years of age. Statistics of the two countries show that serious crime was at that time fourteen times as prevalent in intelligent Prussia as in ignorant France—volume V., page 15. Again it has been found from the official records of the 86 departments of France that the amount of crime has, without a single exception, been in proportion to the amount of scholastic instruction given in each. Again, we are told that much of the largest number of the lewd women of Paris come from those departments where there is most instruction. In Scotland the educated criminals are to the uneducated as four and a half to one. M. De Toqueville remarked of the united States that crime increased most rapidly where there was most instruction. ... The Northern States of the Union had previously to the war [of Northern Aggression] all adopted the system of universal State schools, and the Southern States had not. In 1850 the former had thirteen and a half millions of people, and twenty -three thousand six hundred and sixty-four criminal convictions. The South (without State schools) had nine and a half millions, and two thousand nine hundred and twenty-one criminal convictions—that is to say, after allowing for the difference of population, the "educated" masses were something more than six times as criminal as the "uneducated." The same year the North was supporting 114,700 paupers, and the South 20,500. ... In the South State school-houses were unknown, and consequently jails and penitentiaries were on the most confined and humble scale. The North is studded over with grand and costly public school-houses, and her Jails are even more "palatial" in extent and more numerous than they. The law which we assert is accounted for by several practical causes. Parents who remain too poor and callous to educate their own children are so because they are ignorant, indolent, unaspiring and vicious. The Children's characters are usually as much the progeny of the parents as their bodies. ... The home education is so much more potential than that of the school, that the little modicum of training which a "common-school" system can give to the average masses is utterly trivial and impotent as a means of reversing the child's tendency. That which costs nothing [tax supported schooling] in never valued.” Discussions by R.L. Dabney, DD. Vol. IV. 1897 Dr. Dabney was Pastor of General Jackson and seminary professor of a Presbyterian seminary.