Mrs. Dorothy Robbins)
is often heard today that Washington was not a well educated
man! If he wasn’t, it is amazing that he had such a large
correspondence with the most educated men of his day. In fact,
if one begins to read the many documents a man of his many
responsibilities had to write, it is doubtful most folks could do as
well as he did. They are well written grammatically and his
vocabulary puts to shame that of most of today’s college
students. (That includes me!)
Lillback tells us that,
(Washington) never received
a college education, given his disciplined and methodical temperament,
he never stopped learning. Washington’s continual self-improvement
by reading, experimenting, and correspondence he continued his
education." (As most of the men of our Founding period did inasmuch as
they were, by and large, what we now call "home schooled."
legacy of his commitment to learning was seen in his extensive
library; the many scholarships he gave to young scholars, his
generous endowments of schools and universities, as well as a
persistent advocacy of the formation of schools of higher education."
writing to clergyman Reverend John Lathrop on June 22, 1788, spoke of
a common vision of both "reason and religion" recognizing
that education is necessary for both. He states:"
pitiful, in the eye of reason and religion, is that false ambition,
which desolates the world with fire and sword for the purposes of
conquest and fame; when compared to the milder virtues of making our neighbors
and our fellow men as happy as their frail conditions and perishable
natures will permit them to be!.... In truth it appears to me
that (the proposed government) will be a new phenomenon in the
political and moral world; and an astonishing victory gained by
enlightened reason over brutal force!"
his First Annual Address to Congress, January 8,1790, the president
explained the importance of knowledge to the new republic." (Simply,
the American experiment would not work if the people were ignorant.
is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. To the
security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways:"
the people themselves the five following things is what Washington
know and to value their own rights;
discern and provide against invasions of them;
distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful
distinguish between burdens proceeding from a disregard to their
convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of
discriminate the spirit of Liberty from that of licentiousness,
cherishing the first, avoiding the last,
uniting a speedy, but temperate, vigilance against encroachments, with
an inviolable respect to the Laws."
other words, a well-educated citizenry is essential to maintain both
the law and liberty, and for having the ability to distinguish between
liberty and license. This discernment comes through
education. Washington insisted that religion and morality were
integral to a sound education.
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