After the American Revolutionary war, the people of the United States were responsible for determining the best course of action within the new republic. The Articles of Confederation were replaced by the new Constitution, which provided a general set of principles the government was to be guided by. This new system was a new and improved integration of historical warnings, hoping to prevent tyranny by individual or the masses and injustice. However, it quickly became apparent that a certain education was necessary to perpetuate this union. Before a new system for education could be introduced, public or private, a common goal and specifics on the different subjects to teach became a question the founding fathers and other prominent individuals of the Jacksonian period needed to answer. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, and Horace Mann held different beliefs regarding the implementation of a necessary education system, but their similar ideas, when united, produce a great solution to a problem of the Jacksonian Period.
George Washington, as the first President of the United States, set the standard for all Presidents. As observed from reading his farewell address, Washington was concerned with the preservation and perseverance of the new republic. This concern did not begin at the end of his presidency. He spoke of his concerns for the new Republic often to bring awareness to the necessity of intentionality in preserving the Union. Washington wrote, “The more homogenous our citizens can be made in these particulars the greater will be out prospect of permanent union”. He observed that unless the people united in education the union would not be permanent.
Washington saw the necessity of a uniting education for the military especially. He writes, “In a republic what species of knowledge can be equally important and what duty more pressing on its legislature than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” Washington observed that there is a necessity to educate and unite the future guardians of the nation. This education focuses on the science of government and military training. This early education movement is a precedent for all moves towards public education, focusing on the necessity of education in the science of the government to preserve the union.
Thomas Jefferson recognized the necessity for education as a form of national improvement. Like roads and canals, schools would unite and improve the nation, but this improvement is greater than roads. Jefferson writes in 1786,
“Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils, and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests & nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the...