Chapter 12 of The Underground History of American Public Education
Membership in the Society is composed of women who are of legal age and the lineal descendant of one or more of the twenty-five Barons, selected to enforce the Magna Carta, those Barons in arms from the date of King John’s Coronation until June 15, 1215. Membership is by invitation only. Within the Society there is an Order of Distinction Committee composed of members who trace their ancestry to Knights of the Garter, Ladies of the Garter and Knights of the Bath.
~ Charter, Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede
A Scientifically Humane Future
In the founding decades of American forced schooling, Rockefeller’s General Education Board and Carnegie’s foundation spent more money on schools than the national government did. What can a fact like that mean? Because they possessed a coherent perspective, had funds to apply to command the energies of the ambitious, possessed a national network of practical men of affairs, and at the same time could tap a pool of academic knowledge about the management of populations held in the universities they endowed, these and a small handful of men like them commanded decisive influence on forced schooling. Other influences had importance, too, but none more than this commitment of a scientifically benevolent American ruling class whose oversight of the economy and other aspects of living was deemed proper because of its evolutionary merit by the findings of modern science. The burden of this chapter is to show how a national upper class came about, what was on its mind, and how schools were the natural vehicle it mounted to ride into a scientifically humane, thoroughly utopian future.
At the end of the nineteenth century, an explosion in the creation of exclusive hereditary societies took place which couldn’t have been predicted from the course of the American past. These peculiar clubs constituted the most flagrant leading edge of a broad-based movement to erect nothing less than a coherent national upper class whose boundary was drawn in bloodlines. This might be better understood as an early manifestation of the genetically charged environment of American life at the advent of the twenty-first century. This social enclosure movement produced orthodox factory schooling for the masses as one of its very first policy thrusts. It produced the licensing phenomenon which echoed the traditional right of English kings to confer a living on some loyal subjects by reserving good things for them which are denied to others. We have been wrestling with many other aspects of class- and caste-based government and society ever since we came out of this period.
Evidence that this movement was organized to concentrate power within a Brahmin caste stratum is caught by the sudden ostracism of Jews from the ranks of America’s leading social clubs in the decade and a half directly following Herbert Spencer’s visit to America. This was far from business as usual. Jesse Seligman, a founder of New York’s Union League Club, was forced to resign in 1893 when his son was blackballed by the membership committee. Joseph Gratz, president of the exclusive Philadelphia Club during the Civil War, lived to see the rest of his own family later shunned from the same place. The Westmoreland in Richmond boasted a Jewish president in the 1870s, but soon afterwards began a policy of rigid exclusion; The University Club of Cincinnati broke up in 1896 over admission of a Jewish member. The point is whatever was wrong with Jews now hadn’t been wrong earlier. Who was giving the orders to freeze out the Jews? And why?
The striking change of attitude toward Jews displayed by Bostonian blue blood and author Henry Adams is a clue to where the commands might have originated, since the Adams family can be presumed to have been beyond easy intimidation or facile persuasion. Adams’1890 novel Democracy illustrated the author’s lifelong acceptance of Jews. Democracy featured Jewish characters as members of Washington society with no ethnic stigma even hinted at. In 750 intimate letters of Adams from 1858 through 1896, the designation "Jew" never even occurs. Suddenly it shows up in 1896. Thirty-eight years of correspondence without one invidious reference to Jews was followed by twenty-two years with many. After 1896 Adams seemed to lose his faith entirely in the Unitarian tradition, becoming, then, a follower of Darwin and Spencer, a believer in privileged heredities and races. H.G. Wells’ The Future in America (1906) called attention to the transformation the English writer witnessed on a visit to this country: "The older American population," said Wells, "is being floated up on the top of this immigrant influx, a sterile aristocracy above a racially different and astonishingly fecund proletariat…." That fecundity and that racial difference dictated that a second American Revolution would be fought silently from the Atlantic to the Pacific about a century ago, this time a revolution in which British class-based episcopal politics emerged victorious after a century and a quarter of rejection.
Divinely Appointed Intelligence
All through the British colonial history of America, the managerial class of these colonies was drawn from Church of England gentry and aristocrats. As you might expect, this leadership shared the British state church’s creative distaste toward education — for the underclasses. And underclass then was a term for which the customary narrow modern usage is quite unsuitable. Every class not included in the leadership cadre was an underclass. The eye-topped pyramid on the back of our one-dollar bill catches the idea of such an episcopate beautifully: divinely appointed intelligence ruling the blind stones beneath.
The episcopal rule of British America is well enough documented, yet it remains largely unremarked how many revolutionary leaders were still communicants of the Church of England — Russell Kirk estimated twenty-nine of the fifty-five delegates attending the Constitutional Convention of 1787. They may have been willing to push the mother country away, but their own attitude toward popular sovereignty was ambivalent. Little-known even today is the long private effort of Ben Franklin to induce British royal government to displace the Quaker Penns of Pennsylvania and take command of the state. Between 1755 and 1768, Franklin labored mightily at this, reluctantly abandoning his dream and jumping ship to the revolutionary conspirators just in time to save his own position.1 After Braddock’s defeat, Franklin joined forces with the influential Anglican priest William Smith in a venture they called "The Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge among Germans settled in Pennsylvania." This association, a harbinger of government schools to come, had nothing much to do with reading and counting, but everything to do with socializing German children as English.
Braddock’s defeat on the Monongahela was the straw that tipped America’s influential Quakers into the Anglican camp; it joined two influential, socially exclusionary sects in bonds of mutual assistance. When the great explosion of elite private boarding academies took place in the late-nineteenth-century period when hereditarian societies were also forming (and for the same purpose), Episcopalian schools made up half the total of such schools, a fraction many times greater than their denominational share of population would have warranted. They still do. And Quakers, at present just 1/2,600 of the American population (.04 percent), control 5 percent of the inner circle of elite private boarding schools (many elite day schools, as well). This constitutes 125 times more participation than bare Quaker numbers would seem to warrant! A managerial class was circling the wagons, protecting its own children from the epic social conditioning yet to come, and perhaps from the biological menace Darwin and Galton had warned about.
The Paxton Boys
How the decisive collaboration in which Quaker men of wealth felt driven by circumstance to seek protection from the Established Church of England happened in the months after Braddock’s army was cut to pieces on October 16, 1755, is a fascinating story. The western frontier of colonial America promptly exploded, after the British defeat. Delawares and Shawnees attacked across western Pennsylvania, burning all forts except Pitt. By November they were across the mountains and the Susquehanna, and in January the whole frontier collapsed. Settlers fled, many running on until they reached Philadelphia, "almost crazy with anxiety." Scots-Irish Presbyterians on the Monongahela blamed their trouble on rich Philadelphia Quakers controlling the legislature who had prevented levies for frontier defense.
An unauthorized Presbyterian militia hastily assembled, the notorious Paxton Boys, whose columns proceeded to march on Philadelphia! I can hardly do justice here to that lively time, except to remind you that Pennsylvania to this day is divided East/West. The net upshot of Braddock’s fatal hauteur was to send Scots-Irish Presbyterians on the warpath against Quakers and to drive important Quaker interests into Tory arms for protection from their fellow Pennsylvanians.
Thus at the very moment British authority and rigid class attitudes came into question for many Americans, conservative Quakers, conspicuously wealthy and in control of the mainstream press, became its quiet proponents. "I could wish," said Thomas Wharton (for whose Quaker family the business school is named at Penn), "to see that Religion [Anglicanism] bear the Reins of Government throughout the Continent." In the exact decade when Americans were growing most fearful of the rise of an American civil episcopate, these Friends "cheered the news of the growth of Anglicanism," according to Jack Marietta, the Quaker historian. So the dormant seeds for a delayed Anglican revival were buried in Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware soil right from our national beginnings. And Philadelphia.
Soldiers For Their Class
These buried seeds sent up no more than stunted shoots until the late nineteenth century, when skillfully induced mass immigration — cheap Catholic labor by the boatload — triggered a perceived need for emergency social action on an Anglican model. At that moment, casting about for a blueprint of order in the disturbing period of mass immigration, the new industrial and commercial elites discarded existing American models: the tentative intellectual meritocracy of the Unitarians, the rude nepotism of the Presbyterians, the libertarian democracy of the General Baptists, the proud communitarianism of Congregationalists and Quakers, the religiously centered communities of the pietists; all had to give way since all were both local and particular forms. None could accommodate a general habit of rule from afar very well. None was able to maintain tight enough class discipline. Congregationalists were closest to this ideal, but even they had radically weakened their own theological discipline with the Half-Way Covenant and then thoroughly liberalized themselves in the Second Great Awakening after 1795. None of these forms would do as a universal blueprint of stable government.
Only one acceptable discipline had for centuries proven itself under fire, able to bend diverse, distant, and hostile peoples to its organization, and that was the Anglican Communion. In India, Africa, Asia, Canada, wherever the British flag flew, it had been capable of the hard decisions necessary to maintain a subordinated order and protect the privileges which accrue to those who manage the subordinate classes.
Peter Cookson and Caroline Persell cast a great deal of light on the Anglican temper in their book Preparing For Power: America’s Elite Boarding Schools, particularly the turn-of-the-century period, which saw the creation of almost all of the 289 boarding schools that matter:
The difference between a public school and an elite private school is, in one sense, the difference between factory and club. Public schools are evaluated on how good a product they turn out, and the measure of quality control is inevitably an achievement score of some kind…. [but] to compare public and private schools in terms of output really misses the point.2
Cookson and Persell, searching for reasons to explain the need for total institutions to train the young, concluded: "The shared ordeal of the prep rites of passage create bonds of loyalty that differences in background cannot unravel."
Collective identity forged in prep schools becomes the basis of upper-class solidarity and consciousness, but sharing alone will not preserve or enhance a class’s interest. As a group, members must be willing to exercise their power:
The preservation of privilege requires the exercise of power, and those who exercise it cannot be too squeamish about the injuries that any ensuing conflict imposes on the losers…. The founders of the schools recognized that unless their sons and grandsons were willing to take up the struggle for the preservation of their class interests, privilege would slip from the hands of the elite and eventually power would pass to either a competing elite or to a rising underclass.
Private school students are enlisted as soldiers for their class, like Viking rowers, tough, loyal to each other, "ready to take command without self-doubt." Cookson and Persell say currently, "Boarding schools were not founded to produce Hamlets, but Dukes of Wellington. The whole point of status seminaries is the destruction of innocence…not its preservation."
I hope this illuminates those esoteric membership requirements of the Daughters a bit. Whatever your personal outlook on such matters, you need to take seriously the creation of over a hundred new hereditary associations, associations with all the birthmarks of secret societies, which gestated and came to term in the decades from1870 to 1900 (or just outside that narrow compass), each designed that it might in a perfectly orderly, fair way, free of any emotional bias, exclude all unwanted breeding stock by the application of hereditary screening and at the same time concentrate biological and social excellence. In the same time frame, five of the Seven Sisters — the female Ivy League — opened their doors for the first time, concentrating the future motherhood of a new race for its class inoculation.
In Darwin’s second important book, The Descent of Man, the fate in store for those liberal societies which allow mongrelization of the racial stock was made clear. They would fall prey to the ruthlessly evenhanded workings of evolution and devolve through reversion. The lesson of Descent was not lost on Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or San Francisco. In one brief instant the rationale for a caste system was born and accepted. No merit system ever after could seriously breach the hereditarian barrier any more than it could budge the "scientific" bell-curve barrier. A biological basis for morality had been established.
One of the hundred new hereditarian societies (all survive, by the way) was "The Aztec Club of 1847," cherishing those who participated in the Mexican War as commissioned officers, and their descendants. The Aztec Club actually anticipated the intense hereditarian period by a few years and so may be considered a pioneer. Had you been an Aztec at the founding dinner in 1880, you would have been at a table with President Grant and Jefferson Davis, as well as a fraternity of names engraved in legend. Presidents Taylor and Pierce and Generals Lee and Pickett were dead, or they would have been there, too. The Aztec Club of 1847. Not a single public schoolteacher of the nearly 3 million in the United States has ever been on its rolls, I’m told. Are we in the presence here of some higher truth?
The Society of California Pioneers was another of these new hereditarian bodies which came to exist in the narrow zone of time just before effective mass compulsion schooling. This particular society celebrates "those memorable pioneers whose enterprise induced them to become the founders of a new State." I don’t think you ought to summon up a mental picture of some grizzled prospector to fit that enterprise. Leland Stanford’s family better fits the bill.
Here is a baker’s dozen of other outfits to allow you to see more clearly the outlines of the new society rising like an English phoenix out of the ashes of our democratic republic:
The Order of Americans of Armorial Ancestry
The Society of Mayflower Descendants
The Society of Americans of Royal Descent
The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers
The Women Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery
The Order of the First Families of Virginia
The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne
The Order of the Three Crusades, 1096—1192
The Descendants of Colonial Governors
The Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of Founders of Norwich, Connecticut
The Swedish American Colonial Society
The Descendants of Colonial Clergy
The popular leviathans of this confederation of special blood were the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, which enrolled eleven of the next twelve presidents as members (Nixon was eligible but declined), and its sister society, the D.A.R.
The yeast of Latin, Slavic, and Celtic immigration falling on the dough of Darwinism provoked the great families of the United States into building a ruling caste with a shared common agenda, a program for national and international development, and a schedule of social regulations to be imposed gradually on the future. If you can’t deduce that program for yourself as it employs mass schooling, you might wish to write the Society of the Cincinnati for enlightenment. The sudden appearance of these associations, excluding from membership all non-Aryan immigrants, provides us with a sign this new caste had consciousness of itself as a caste. Otherwise, development would have been more gradual. It marks a great dividing line in American history. As the hereditarian wave rolled up the beach, even you could have designed the schools it was going to need.
One thing missing from the utopia of diverse hereditarian groups which were gathering — the scientific racists, the private clubs, schools, churches, neighborhoods, secret societies like Bones at Yale or Ivy at Princeton, special universities which served as a later stage in the elite recruitment and production cycle,3 etc. — was a grand secular myth. Something less creepy than a naked assertion of successful protoplasm climbing up biological ladders out of the primordial slime was necessary to inspire the exclusive new establishment that was forming. Some stirring transcendental story to complete the capture and inspiration of the ruling-class mind.
Such a thing had to be found and it was. The creation myth of American caste would appear unexpectedly in the form of an ancient language uniting the powerful classes of the United States into a romantic band of spiritual brothers, a story to which we turn next.
Your Family Tree
In 1896, Latin and Slavic immigration exceeded in body count for the first time the numbers arriving from the ancient lands of the Anglo-Saxons. In certain circles that was deemed a catastrophe second only to the Deluge. This moment had been anticipated for years, of course, and protections for good blood, or "the gene pool" as some preferred to call it, were popping like corn in the form of exclusionary associations you’ve seen and others like them. This was defensive. But other implements of war were being fashioned, weapons of offensive capability, social engines like modern factory schools, standing armies, social work empires designed to remake incoming aliens into shapes more agreeable to the spirit of the "Great Race," a term I’ll explain in a moment. This machinery was grinding out "Americanized" Americans by 1913, just sixty-two years after the Know-Nothing Party of Massachusetts invented the term.
New hereditary societies took a leading hand in Americanization. So did important monied interests. Chicago financial power got the Children’s Court idea rolling at the beginning of the twentieth century, just as Boston railroad, mining, and real estate interests had initiated the compulsion school idea in the nineteenth. The Children’s Court institution was nationalized rapidly, a most effective intimidation to use against uncooperative immigrants. Such courts soon displayed a valuable second side, supplying children to the childless of the politically better-connected sort with few questions asked. The similarity of this transfer function to the historic "Baby Trains" of Charles Loring Brace’s "Children’s Aid Society" fifty years earlier wasn’t lost on the new breed of social engineer graduating from the right colleges in 1900.
These new activist graduates, trained in the Chicago school of sociology and its anthropological variants by Ross, Cooley, Boas, and other seminal figures, had little sentimentality about individual destinies or family sovereignty either. All thought in terms of the collective improvement of society by long-range evolution. In the short run all were environmental determinists who believed protoplasm was wonderfully malleable, if not entirely empty.
In 1898 the D.A.R., best known of all hereditarian societies, began issuing scientifically designed propaganda lectures on American history and government. By 1904, the Society of Colonial Dames was preparing school curriculum. In the same year, the Sons of the American Revolution distributed millions of pieces of historical interpretation to schools, all paid for by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Social Register, founded 1887, quickly became a useful index for the new associational aristocracy, bearing witness to those who could be trusted with the exciting work underway. Tiffany’s started a genealogy department in 1875 to catch the first business from elites made edgy by The Descent of Man and, as the century ended, genealogical reference books — the Gore Roll, Boston’s American Armoury and Blue Book, and more — came tumbling off the assembly line to assist Anglo-Saxons in finding each other.
As late as 1929, even with Mein Kampf in bookstalls telling the story of Aryans past and present, David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford, published his own guide to good blood, Your Family Tree. It provided in painstaking detail the descent of America’s new industrial aristocracy, from monarchs of great Aryan houses. Abe Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, and John D. Rockefeller, said Jordan, came out of the house of Henry I of France; Ulysses S. Grant was in a line from William the Conqueror; Coolidge and Shakespeare descended from Charlemagne. William Howard Taft, J.P. Morgan, and Jordan himself from King David of Scotland! So it went.4 Was this all just simple amusement or did the game have some implications for the rest of us not so blue-blooded? Who were these fabulous Aryans the scholars were talking about? What was this "Great Race"? The answers were to prove both fabulous and chilling.
The Fatal Sound Shift
During the sixteenth century, a studious Italian merchant living in India pointed out to his wealthy friends some striking similarities between ancient Sanskrit and Italian: deva/dio for God, sarpa/serpe for snake, etc. All the Sanskrit numbers seemed related to the numbers of Italian. What could this mean? This early intuition came and went without much of a stir.
Then in 1786, during the early British occupation of India, the subject was addressed anew. In his speech to the Bengal-Oriental Society that year, Sir William Jones announced he believed a family connection existed between Sanskrit and English. It was tantamount to the University of Rome splitting the atom. Sir William declared Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit sprang "from some common source which perhaps no longer exists." Among English and Sanskrit he showed evidence for "a stronger affinity than could possibly have been produced by accident."
What common source might be the parent of Western civilization? Jones could not say, but only thirteen years later Sharon Turner’s two-volume work, The History of the Anglo-Saxons, claimed to provide clues. There, replete with thousands of illustrations, was a record of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes out of ancient Germania as it had been preserved in song and story, Beowulf raised to a haunting power. Hundreds of cognates between modern English custom and ancient prototypes had been tracked by Turner; there seemed to be a stirring continuity between what Tacitus said about Germania and what upper-class English/American eyes saw when they looked into their modern mirrors.
The favorite occupations in antiquity were war, the chase, rough and tumble sports, wenching, and drinking, not unlike the preferences of contemporary Englishmen. When not thus engaged, men often lay idly about leaving all work for women to do. Gambling was common and every free man was expected to bear arms. Could the English be the mighty Aryans of prehistory?
In 1808, Karl Wilhelm Frederick von Schlegel, founder and editor of the Athenaeum, chief voice of German romanticism, wrote a scientific study of Sanskrit which maintained that the languages of India, Persia, Greece, Germany, Italy, and England were connected by common descent from an extinct tongue. Schlegel proposed the name Indo-Germanic for the vanished dialect. We are forced, he said, to believe all these widely separate nations are descendants of a single primitive people’s influence. Oddly enough, Schlegel learned Sanskrit himself at the hands of Alexander Hamilton, his close friend and a close friend to the Prussian government. Schlegel was highly esteemed by both Hamilton and the Prussia regime.
To put yourself in touch with this exciting moment in recent history requires only a visit to a neighborhood library. The language and customs of this ancient Aryan people are caught in Vedic literature — the story of an invading people who forced themselves on the Indian subcontinent. As Americans had forced themselves on North American natives, a resonant parallel. Aryan literature was exclusively a literature of battle and unyielding hostility, the Vedas stirring hymns of a people surrounded by strangers alien in race and religion.
There could be no peace with such strangers; their destruction was a duty owed to God. Full of vigor, the Vedas breathe the attitudes of an invading race bent on conquest, a cultural prescription with which to meet the challenges of modern times. If only a way could be found to link this warrior people with the elites of England and America.
In 1816, the brilliant young Danish scholar Rasmus Rask not only accepted the relationship of Germanic, Hellenic, Italic, Baltic, and Indo-Iranian, but went further and found the missing connection. Rask had seen something no one else had noticed: between some Germanic streams of language and the others a regular sound-shift had occurred transforming the sounds of B, D, and G into those of P, T, and K. It meant an absolute identification could be established between England and ancient Germania. Rask wasn’t prominent enough to promote this theory very far, but the man who stole it from him was — Jacob Grimm of fairy-tale fame. In the second edition of Deutsche Grammatik (1822), Grimm claimed the sound shift discovery which to this day is called "Grimm’s Law." Salons on both sides of the Atlantic buzzed with the exciting news.
Our Manifest Destiny
Now the Aryans became the Anglo-Saxons. Endings in Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and Germanic showed how these people had moved across the world, said another German researcher, Franz Bopp. By 1820, a Gothic vogue was afoot. Even the bare possibility that some of us were offspring of a powerful race out of prehistory inspired enthusiasm, giving credence to the old Puritan notion of "Election," that America had a divine destiny as a people. This incredible Aryan drama, like the notion of evolution a few decades later with which it should be seen in collegial relation, almost instantly began to embody itself in more practical affairs of life.
To New York State University regent John O’Sullivan, Grimm’s tale was the long-awaited scientific proof of an American destiny, a Manifest Destiny, as he and innumerable voices that followed were to call it:
The right of our manifest destiny is to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given up for the great experiment.
In 1851, as Moby-Dick was coming off the press with its parable of Ahab, a year after The Scarlet Letter had plumbed the secrets of Puritan society, regent O’Sullivan personally equipped a war vessel for an attack on Cuba. O’Sullivan’s Cleopatra was seized in New York harbor as she weighed anchor, disgorging several hundred armed Hungarian and German cutthroats, "Kossuth sympathizers," as the press mistakenly called them. Indeed, the scheme to "liberate" Hungary, nominally under Hungarian aristocrat Lajos Kossuth, had been hatched by the same zeitgeist and in the same place, New York City. Charged with violating the Neutrality Act of 1818, O’Sullivan beat the rap. Cuba was safe for another forty-seven years until the battleship Maine blew up mysteriously in Havana harbor.
Buried in the indestructible heart of this imported Aryan linguistic romance was ample justification for a national charter of bold expansionism. In spite of the fact that much of the American nation was empty still, it provided an inspiration to empire, as O’Sullivan’s abortive sortie demonstrated, a racial mandate to enlarge areas of American influence, just as Aryans once had conquered as far as ambition could carry them. Race was the font of our national greatness. But how to preserve the Great Race from miscegenation? It was a question asked long before Darwin lent the query the authority of official science.
The Lost Tribes
As the exciting intelligence from Germany traveled through America, it encountered resistance, for America was a region where class lines were still elastic, based on accomplishment and worldly success, not upon guarantees cemented in blood. Yet the tide was running toward a different form of reckoning. Horace Bushnell, famous Congregationalist pastor of Hartford (where the city park is named for him) thundered from his pulpit in 1837 that noble Anglo-Saxon blood must be preserved against pollution. By 1843, the big book in Unitarian Boston was The Goths in New-England. German schooling seemed right for us because we were Germans! Germany held answers for the grandchildren of Englishmen, who had been Germans long ago.
In 1848, at the height of the Irish Catholic menace, The American Whig Review published "The Anglo-Saxon Race." That same year The North American Review responded with "The Anglo-Saxon Race." Now the Whig Review stirred the pot with its own spoon, "The Anglo-Saxons and the Americans." Interest in the topic wouldn’t quit, perhaps because The Origin of Species finally placed consideration of racial matters in public attention. Racial fervor was still at white heat in 1875 when a popular book, The Anglo-Saxon Race: Its History, Character and Destiny, traveled with Chautauqua to every corner of the nation.
The writings of William Henry Poole showed the Saxon race to be the lost tribes of Israel! To this day, most American Jews are unaware that a number of old-family Anglo-Saxons still consider themselves to be the real Jews — and the nominal Jews impostors! Between 1833 and 1852 Franz Bopp published book after book of his spectacular multivolume work Comparative Grammar, which drove any lingering skeptics to cover. The Aryans were real. Case closed.
Whatever guardian spirit watches over such things assigned to Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, English comparative jurist and historian, the task of presenting Aryan tribal character and tying it to contemporary Anglo-Saxons. Maine graduated from Cambridge in 1844 with the reputation of being the most brilliant classical scholar of all time — Michael Jordan of legal history. His Ancient Law (1861) earned him a world-class reputation in one stroke. In a series of magnificent literary studies which followed, he brought to life the ancient world of Germania with singular felicity and power. Anglo-Saxons and Aryans lived again as one people.
In the crucial year which saw Darwin’s Descent of Man published, Maine’s spectacular Village Communities in the East and West showed the world the rough-hewn genius of the primitive Anglo-Saxon world. Maine reiterated his contention that stranger-adoption was among the critical discoveries which led to Anglo-Saxon greatness. This message fell on particularly fertile ground in a New England whose soil had been prepared for this exact message by centuries of reading The New England Primer, with its grim warning that children are only loaned to their parents.
And what a message Maine carried — society thrived when children were detached from their own parents and cultures! It was a potent foundation on which to set the institution of forced schooling. Appearing shortly after the radical Massachusetts adoption law intended to disassemble Irish immigrant families, Maine silenced the new institution’s critics, paving the way for eventual resignation to long-term school incarceration, too:
The part played by the legal fiction of adoption in the constitution of primitive society and the civilization of the race is so important that Sir Henry Sumner Maine, in his Ancient Law, expresses the opinion that, had it never existed, the primitive groups of mankind could not have coalesced except on terms of absolute superiority on the one side, and absolute subjection on the other. With the institution of adoption, however, one people might feign itself as descended from the same stock as the people to whose sacra gentilica it was admitted….
(Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., "Adoption")
In a grand stroke, Sir Henry provided enlightened justification for every form of synthetic parenting social engineers could concoct, including the most important, mass forced schooling.
Maine built a stronger case in each successive book, Early History of Institutions (1875) and Early Law and Custom (1883). His magnificent tour de force, Popular Government (1885), smashed the very basis for popular democracy. After Maine, only a fool could believe non-Anglo-Saxon groups should participate as equals in important decision-making. At the same time, Maine’s forceful dismissal of the fundamental equality of ordinary or different peoples was confirmed by the academic science of evolution and by commercial and manufacturing interests eager to collapse smaller enterprises into large ones. Maine’s regal pronouncements were supported by mainstream urban Protestant churches and by established middle classes. Democratic America had been given its death sentence.
Sir Henry’s work became a favorite text for sermons, lectures, Chautauqua magazine journalism and for the conversation of the best people. His effect is reflected symbolically in a resolution from the Scranton Board of Trade of all places, which characterized immigrants as:
The most ignorant and vicious of European populations, including necessarily a vast number of the criminal class; people who come here not to become good citizens, but to prey upon our people and our industries; a class utterly without character and incapable of understanding or appreciating our institutions, and therefore a menace to our commonwealth.
Popular Government was deliberately unpopular in tone. There was no connection between democracy and progress; the reverse was true. Maine’s account of racial history was accepted widely by the prosperous. It admirably complemented the torrent of scientifically mathematicized racism pouring out of M.I.T., Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and virtually every bastion of high academia right through the WWI period and even beyond. Scientific racism determined the shape of government schooling in large measure, and still does.
Kinship Is Mythical
Aryans, said Maine, were not overly sentimental about children. They maintained the right to kill or sell their children and carried this custom with them as they spread over the earth, almost up to the outskirts of modern Beijing. These Great Ones had an intensely practical streak, tending to extract from every association its maximum payoff.
This pragmatism led them to extend privileges of kinship to every association in which a good chance of profit might lurk. This casual disregard of blood ties led to powerful alliances much more adaptable to local circumstance than any pure blood-allegiance system could be, such as the one the Japanese practice. In other words, Anglo-Saxons were prepared to call anyone "family" for a price. Similarly, Anglo-Saxon ties to priests and gods were mostly ceremonial. All rules, ethics, and morals were kept flexible, relative to the needs of the moment. This lack of commitment to much of anything except possessions allowed Aryans to overturn local ways in which people held to principles and to local faith.
Pragmatism was an impressive and effective technological advance in politics, if not in morality. In the science of society, the leadership reserved the right to lie, cheat, deceive, be generally faithless wherever advantage presented itself, and not only to do these things to the enemy but to one’s own people if need be — a moral code well suited to a fast-moving warrior people. But a price had to be paid. Over time, the idea of real kinship became more and more fictitious, family life characterized as much by ritual and ceremony as love. And in many places, said Maine, kinship, owing to mass adoption of children from conquered peoples, became mythical for whole clans. Nobody was who they said they were or thought themselves to be.
It is surely one of the grim ironies of history that the root identity of American elites was crystalizing at the turn of the century around blood relationships to a warrior people so indifferent to blood relationships, they often had no idea who they really were. With Anglo-Saxons, the abstract principle always counted for more than flesh and blood.
Once the character of the Aryans was known, there remained only the exciting task of establishing the homeland, the ancient forge of these virile conquerors. The behavioral ideals they willed their descendants — to impose upon lesser peoples — were written clearly enough on the chalkboards of the new schooling. Total submission led the list. But giving the Aryans a birthplace (assuming it was the right one) would complete the circle of triumph. To the elite mind, that job was over by 1880. The ancient ancestor could now be fixed by common agreement somewhere in the cold North around the Baltic Sea. Some said Scandinavia. Some said North-Central Germany. But the chief detectives holding the Anglo/American franchise on truth homed in on that zone between the Elbe and the Oder Rivers, to the lands comprising the regions of modern Prussia!
The Machine Gun Builds Hotchkiss
The widow of the man who perfected the machine gun founded the Hotchkiss School; a Lowell and a Forbes funded Middlesex; the DuPonts were the patrons of Kent; St. George’s was underwritten by the Brown family whose name graces Brown University; Choate looked to the Mellon family for generous checks; J.P. Morgan was behind Groton. Over 90 percent of the great American private boarding schools issued from that short period just after Herbert Spencer’s American visit in 1882 and just before the indirect edict to the National Education Association that it must play ball with the de-intellectualization of public schooling, or it would be abandoned by America’s business leadership.
Elite private boarding schools were an important cornerstone in the foundation of a permanent American upper class whose children were to be socialized for power. They were great schools for the Great Race, intended to forge a collective identity among children of privilege, training them to be bankers, financiers, partners in law firms, corporate directors, negotiators of international treaties and contracts, patrons of the arts, philanthropists, directors of welfare organizations, members of advisory panels, government elites, and business elites.
Michael Useem’s post-WWII study showed that just thirteen elite boarding schools educated 10 percent of all the directors of large American business corporations, and 15 percent of all the directors who held three or more directorships. These schools collectively graduated fewer than one thousand students a year. More spectacular pedagogy than that is hard to imagine.
In England, the pioneer feminist Victoria Woodhull published The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit. And in the States, Edward A. Ross, trained in Germany — University of Wisconsin pioneer of American sociology — was writing The Old World in the New, saying that "beaten members of beaten breeds" would destroy us unless placed under control. They were "subhuman." Ross was joined by virtually every leading social scientist of his generation in warning about the ill effects of blood pollution: Richard Ely, William Z. Ripley, Richard Mayo Smith, John R. Commons, Davis Dewey, Franklin Giddings, and many more. None disagreed with Ross. Morons were multiplying. The government had to be made aware of the biological consequences of social policy.
But while beaten members of beaten breeds had to be zipped up tight in isolation, ward schools and neighborhoods of their own, watched over by social gospelers, settlement houses, and social workers trained in the new social science, a new American social dimension was being created from scratch in which the best people could associate freely, could rear children properly, could reap rewards they deserved as the most advanced class on the evolutionary tree. That was not only justice, it was prudent preparation for an even better biological future.
The way the new shadow society, a universe parallel to the one everyone else could see, had to operate after it had first constructed for itself a theory of establishment and a theology of caste, was by creating a new social structure, corporate in nature, in which man was progressively defined by those with whom he affiliated, his synthetic, associational tribe — not by his independent talents and accomplishments. If these affiliations were only local, then status was correspondingly diminished; the trick was to progressively graduate to memberships which had regional, national, or even international status, and this associational prestige would then be transferred to the individual. What a perfect way of keeping out the riffraff and porch monkeys this would prove to be!
It was no idle boast, nor was the statement a simple expression of snobbery, when John Lupton, director of development at the Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, said, "There is no door in this entire country that cannot be opened by a Choate graduate. I can go anywhere in this country and anywhere there’s a man I want to see… I can find a Choate man to open that door for me," The crucial variables in identifying the right people in the new exclusionary America no longer included high-profile expressions of superiority. What they did include were: 1) Membership in the right metropolitan clubs. 2) An address in the right neighborhoods. 3) A degree from the right college. 4) A membership in the right country club. 5) Attendance at the right summer resorts. 6) Attendance at the right churches. 7) Passage through the right private schools. 8) An invitation to the right hereditary association. 9) Involvement in the right charities. 10) Trusteeships, boards, advisory councils. 11) The right marriages, alliances, a social register listing. 12) Money, manners, style, physical beauty, health, conversation.
I’ve made no attempt to enter subtleties of gradation, only to indicate how the ephors behind public schooling and virtually all significant decision-making in modern American society created, quite self-consciously, a well-regulated world within a world for themselves. Provision was made to allow some movement up from other classes. Clubs, for instance, were also agencies for assimilating men of talent and their families into an upper-class way of life and social organization.
If we are unwilling to face how very far-reaching the effects of this American establishment are to schoolchildren, there is just no good way to think about school reform.5 Darwin’s evolutionary racism, Galton’s mathematical racism, Maine’s anthropological racism, Anglican theological racism/classism, all are deeply embedded in the structure of mass schooling and the economy it serves. They cannot be extirpated by rational discussion; these viruses are carried by institutional structures not amenable to social discussion.
Fountains Of Business Wealth
The new American establishment of the twentieth century was organized around the fountains of wealth international corporate business provides. By 1900 huge businesses had begun already to dominate American schooling, and the metropolitan clubs where business was transacted lay at the core of upper-class authority in every major city in the nation. The men’s club emerged as the principal agency where business agreements were struck and, indirectly, where school policy was forged.
In 1959, Fortune magazine shocked a portion of our still innocent nation by announcing where national policy and important deals really were made in New York City. If the matter was relatively minor, the venue would be the Metropolitan, the Union League, or the University; if it were a middling matter it would be determined at the Knickerbocker or the Racquet; and if it required the utmost attention of powerful men, Brook or Links. Nothing happened in boardrooms or executive suites where it could be overheard by outlanders. Each city had this private ground where aristocracy met quietly out of the reach of prying eyes or unwelcome attendants. In San Francisco, the Pacific Union; in Washington, Cosmos or the Chevy Chase Club; the Sommerset in Boston; Duquesne in Pittsburgh; the Philadelphia Club in Philadelphia; the Chicago Club in Chicago. Once hands were shaken in these places, the process of public debate and certification was choreographed elsewhere for public and press. Government business came to be done this way, too.
The entire web of affiliations among insiders in business, government, and the nonprofit sector operates through interpersonal and institutional ties which interconnect at the highest levels of finance, politics, commerce, school affairs, social work, the arts, and the media. Continuing conflicts of value within the leadership community give an appearance of adversarial proceedings, but each passing decade brings more and more harmony to the unseen community which plans the fate of schools and work.
The General Education Board And Friends
Reading through the papers of the Rockefeller Foundation’s General Education Board — an endowment rivaled in school policy influence in the first half of the twentieth century only by Andrew Carnegie’s various philanthropies — seven curious elements force themselves on the careful reader:
1) There appears a clear intention to mold people through schooling. 2) There is a clear intention to eliminate tradition and scholarship. 3) The net effect of various projects is to create a strong class system verging on caste. 4) There is a clear intention to reduce mass critical intelligence while supporting infinite specialization. 5) There is clear intention to weaken parental influence. 6) There is clear intention to overthrow accepted custom. 7) There is striking congruency between the cumulative purposes of GEB projects and the utopian precepts of the oddball religious sect, once known as Perfectionism, a secular religion aimed at making the perfection of human nature, not salvation or happiness, the purpose of existence. The agenda of philanthropy, which had so much to do with the schools we got, turns out to contain an intensely political component.
This is not to deny that genuine altruistic interests aren’t also a part of philanthropy, but as Ellen Lagemann correctly reflects in her interesting history of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Private Power for the Public Good, "In advancing some interests, foundations have inevitably not advanced others. Hence their actions must have political consequences, even when political purposes are not avowed or even intended. To avoid politics in dealing with foundation history is to miss a crucial part of the story."
Edward Berman, in Harvard Education Review, 49 (1979), puts it more brusquely. Focusing on Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford philanthropies, he concludes that the "public rhetoric of disinterested humanitarianism was little more than a faade" behind which the interests of the political state (not necessarily those of society) "have been actively furthered." The rise of foundations to key positions in educational policy formation amounted to what Clarence Karier called "the development of a fourth branch of government, one that effectively represented the interests of American corporate wealth."
The corporate foundation is mainly a twentieth-century phenomenon, growing from twenty-one specimens of the breed in 1900 to approximately fifty thousand by 1990. From the beginning, foundations aimed squarely at educational policy formation. Rockefeller’s General Education Board obtained an incorporating act from Congress in 1903 and immediately began to organize schooling in the South, joining the older Slater cotton/woolen manufacturing interests and Peabody banking interests in a coalition in which Rockefeller picked up many of the bills.
From the start, the GEB had a mission. A letter from John D. Rockefeller Sr. specified that his gifts were to be used "to promote a comprehensive system." You might well ask what interests the system was designed to promote, but you would be asking the wrong question. Frederick Gates, the Baptist minister hired to disburse Rockefeller largesse, gave a terse explanation when he said, "The key word is system." American life was too unsystematic to suit corporate genius. Rockefeller’s foundation was about systematizing us.
In 1913, the Sixty-Second Congress created a commission to investigate the role of these new foundations of Carnegie, Rockefeller, and of other corporate families. After a year of testimony it concluded:
The domination of men in whose hands the final control of a large part of American industry rests is not limited to their employees, but is being rapidly extended to control the education and social services of the nation.
Foundation grants directly enhance the interests of the corporations sponsoring them, it found. The conclusion of this congressional commission:
The giant foundation exercises enormous power through direct use of its funds, free of any statutory entanglements so they can be directed precisely to the levers of a situation; this power, however, is substantially increased by building collateral alliances which insulate it from criticism and scrutiny.
Foundations automatically make friends among banks which hold their large deposits, in investment houses which multiply their monies, in law firms which act as their counsels, and with the many firms, institutions, and individuals with which they deal and whom they benefit. By careful selection of trustees from the ranks of high editorial personnel and other media executives and proprietors, they can assure themselves press support, and by engaging public relations counselors can further create good publicity. As René Wormser, chief counsel for the second congressional inquiry into foundation life (1958), put it:
All its connections and associations, plus the often sycophantic adulation of the many institutions and individuals who receive largesse from the foundation, give it an enormous aggregate of power and influence. This power extends beyond its immediate circle of associations, to those who hope to benefit from its bounty.
In 1919, using Rockefeller money, John Dewey, by now a professor at Columbia Teachers College, an institution heavily endowed by Rockefeller, founded the Progressive Education Association. Through its existence it spread the philosophy which undergirds welfare capitalism — that the bulk of the population is biologically childlike, requiring lifelong care.
From the start, Dewey was joined by other Columbia professors who made no secret that the objective of the PEA project was to use the educational system as a tool to accomplish political goals. In The Great Technology (1933), Harold Rugg elucidated the grand vision:
A new public mind is to be created. How? Only by creating tens of millions of individual minds and welding them into a new social mind. Old stereotypes must be broken up and "new climates of opinion" formed in the neighborhoods of America.
Through the schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government — one that will embrace all the activities of men, one that will postulate the need of scientific control…in the interest of all people.
In similar fashion, the work of the Social Science Research Council culminated in a statement of Conclusions and Recommendations on its Carnegie Foundation—funded operations which had enormous and lasting impact upon education in the United States. Conclusions (1934) heralded the decline of the old order, stating aggressively that "a new age of collectivism is emerging" which will involve the supplanting of private property by public property" and will require "experimentation" and "almost certainly…a larger measure of compulsory cooperation of citizens…a corresponding enlargement of the functions of government, and an increasing state intervention… Rights will be altered and abridged."
Conclusions was a call to the teachers colleges to instruct their students to "condition" children into an acceptance of the new order in progress. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were to be marginalized as irrelevant, even counterproductive. "As often repeated, the first step is to consolidate leadership around the philosophy and purpose of education herein expounded." (emphasis added) The difficulties in trying to understand what such an odd locution as "compulsory cooperation" might really mean, or even trying to determine what historic definition of "education" would fit such a usage, were ignored. Those who wrote this report, and some of those who read it, were the only ones who held the Rosetta Stone to decipher it.
In an article in Progressive Education Magazine, Professor Norman Woelfel produced one of the many children and grandchildren of the Conclusions report when he wrote in 1946: "It might be necessary for us to control our press as the Russian press is controlled and as the Nazi press is controlled….", a startling conclusion he improved upon in his book Molders of the American Mind (1933) with this dark beauty: "In the minds of men who think experimentally, America is conceived as having a destiny which bursts the all too obvious limitations of Christian religious sanctions."
The Rockefeller-endowed Lincoln Experimental School at Columbia Teachers College was the testing ground for Harold Rugg’s series of textbooks, which moved 5 million copies by 1940 and millions more after that. In these books Rugg advanced this theory: "Education must be used to condition the people to accept social change…. The chief function of schools is to plan the future of society." Like many of his activities over three vital decades on the school front, the notions Rugg put forth in The Great Technology (1933), were eventually translated into practice in urban centers. Rugg advocated that the major task of schools be seen as "indoctrinating" youth, using social "science" as the "core of the school curriculum" to bring about the desired climate of public opinion. Some attitudes Rugg advocated teaching were reconstruction of the national economic system to provide for central controls and an implantation of the attitude that educators as a group were "vastly superior to a priesthood":
Our task is to create swiftly a compact body of minority opinion for the scientific reconstruction of our social order.
Money for Rugg’s six textbooks came from Rockefeller Foundation grants to the Lincoln School. He was paid two salaries by the foundation, one as an educational psychologist for Lincoln, the other as a professor of education at Teachers College, in addition to salaries for secretarial and research services. The General Education Board provided funds (equivalent to $500,000 in year 2000 purchasing power) to produce three books, which were then distributed by the National Education Association.
In 1954, a second congressional investigation of foundation tampering (with schools and American social life) was attempted, headed by Carroll Reece of Tennessee. The Reece Commission quickly ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from influential centers of American corporate life. Major national newspapers hurled scathing criticisms, which, together with pressure from other potent political adversaries, forced the committee to disband prematurely, but not before there were some tentative findings:
The power of the individual large foundation is enormous. Its various forms of patronage carry with them elements of thought control. It exerts immense influence on educator, educational processes, and educational institutions. It is capable of invisible coercion. It can materially predetermine the development of social and political concepts, academic opinion, thought leadership, public opinion.
The power to influence national policy is amplified tremendously when foundations act in concert. There is such a concentration of foundation power in the United States, operating in education and the social sciences, with a gigantic aggregate of capital and income. This Interlock has some of the characteristics of an intellectual cartel. It operates in part through certain intermediary organizations supported by the foundations. It has ramifications in almost every phase of education.
It has come to exercise very extensive practical control over social science and education. A system has arisen which gives enormous power to a relatively small group of individuals, having at their virtual command huge sums in public trust funds.
The power of the large foundations and the Interlock has so influenced press, radio, television, and even government that it has become extremely difficult for objective criticism of anything the Interlock approves to get into news channels — without having first been ridiculed, slanted and discredited.
Research in the social sciences plays a key part in the evolution of our society. Such research is now almost wholly in the control of professional employees of the large foundations. Even the great sums allotted by federal government to social science research have come into the virtual control of this professional group.
Foundations have promoted a great excess of empirical research as contrasted with theoretical research, promoting an irresponsible "fact-finding mania" leading all too frequently to "scientism" or fake science.
Associated with the excessive support of empirical method, the concentration of foundation power has tended to promote "moral relativity" to the detriment of our basic moral, religious, and governmental principles. It has tended to promote the concept of "social engineering," that foundation-approved "social scientists" alone are capable of guiding us into better ways of living, substituting synthetic principles for fundamental principles of action.
These foundations and their intermediaries engage extensively in political activity, not in the form of direct support of candidates or parties, but in the conscious promotion of carefully calculated political concepts.
The impact of foundation money upon education has been very heavy, tending to promote uniformity in approach and method, tending to induce the educator to become an agent for social change and a propagandist for the development of our society in the direction of some form of collectivism. In the international field, foundations and the Interlock, together with certain intermediary organizations, have exercised a strong effect upon foreign policy and upon public education in things international. This has been accomplished by vast propaganda, by supplying executives and advisors to government, and by controlling research through the power of the purse. The net result has been to promote "internationalism" in a particular sense — a form directed toward "world government" and a derogation of American nationalism. [emphasis added]
Here we find ourselves confronted with the puzzling duty of interpreting why two separate congressional committees convened fifty years apart to study the workings of the new foundation institutions, one under a Democratic Congress, one under a Republican Congress, both reached essentially the same conclusions. Both adjudged foundations a clear and present danger to the traditional liberties of American national life. Both pointed to the use of foundation influence to create the blueprint of American school life. Both saw that a class system in America had emerged and was being supported by the class system in schooling. Both called for drastic action. And both were totally ignored.
Actually the word "ignored" doesn’t begin to do justice to what really occurred. These congressional investigations — like Sir Walter Scott’s difficult to obtain Life of Napoleon Bonaparte — have not only vanished from public imagination, they aren’t even alluded to in press discussions of schooling. Exactly as if they had never happened. This would be more understandable if their specific philanthropies were dull, pedestrian giveaways designed to distribute largesse and to build up good feeling toward the benevolence of colossal wealth and power. But the reality is strikingly different — corporate wealth through the foundations has advanced importantly the dumbing down of America’s schools, the creation of a scientific class system, and important attacks on family integrity, national identification, religious rights, and national sovereignty.
"School is the cheapest police," Horace Mann once said. It was a sentiment publicly spoken by every name — Sears, Pierce, Harris, Stowe, Lancaster, and the rest — prominently involved in creating universal school systems for the coal powers. One has only to browse Merle Curti’s The Social Ideas of American Educators to discover that the greatest social idea educators had to sell the rich, and which they lost no opportunity to sell, was the police function of schooling. Although a pedagogical turn in the Quaker imagination is the reason schools came to look like penitentiaries, Quakers are not the principal reason they came to function like maximum security institutions. The reason they came to exist at all was to stabilize the social order and train the ranks. In a scientific, industrialized, corporate age, "stability" was much more exquisitely defined than ordinary people could imagine. To realize the new stability, the best breeding stock had to be drawn up into reservations, likewise the ordinary. "The Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede" is only a small piece of the puzzle; many more efficient and subtler quarantines were essayed.
Perhaps subtlest of all was the welfare state, a welfare program for everybody, including the lowest, in which the political state bestowed alms the way the corporate Church used to do. Although the most visible beneficiaries of this gigantic project were those groups increasingly referred to as "masses," the poor were actually people most poorly served by this latter-day Hindu creation of Fabian socialism and the corporate brain trust. Subsidizing the excluded of the new society and economy was, it was believed, a humanitarian way to calm these troubled waters until the Darwinian storm had run its inevitable course into a new, genetically arranged utopia.
In a report issued in 1982 and widely publicized in important journals, the connection between corporate capitalism and the welfare state becomes manifest in a public document bearing the name Alan Pifer, then president of the Carnegie Corporation. Apparently fearing that the Reagan administration would alter the design of the Fabian project beyond its ability to survive, Pifer warned of:
A mounting possibility of severe social unrest, and the consequent development among the upper classes and the business community of sufficient fear for the survival of our capitalist economic system to bring about an abrupt change of course. Just as we built the general welfare state…and expanded it in the 1960s as a safety valve for the easing of social tension, so will we do it again in the 1980s. Any other path is too risky.
In the report quoted from, new conceptions of pedagogy were introduced which we now see struggling to be born: national certification for schoolteachers, bypassing the last vestige of local control in states, cities, and villages; a hierarchy of teacher positions; a project to bring to an end the hierarchy of school administrators — now adjudged largely an expenditure counter-productive to good social order, a failed experiment. In the new form, lead teachers manage schools after the British fashion and hire business administrators. The first expressions of this new initiative included the "mini-school" movement, now evolved into the charter school movement. Without denying these ideas a measure of merit, if you understand that their source is the same institutional consciousness which once sent river ironclads full of armed detectives to break the steel union at Homestead, machine-gunned strikers at River Rouge, and burned to death over a dozen women and children in Ludlow, those memories should inspire emotions more pensive than starry-eyed enthusiasm.
- As little known as Ben’s skullduggery is the fact that his only son was the Royal Governor of New Jersey, a loyal Church of England man who fled to England during the war and never spoke to his father again (until Franklin’s life was nearly over) because of gentle Ben’s treachery. Even then the breach between father and son could not be healed.
- The inner ring of these schools, which sets the standard for the rest, includes these eighteen: Groton, St. Paul’s, Deerfield, Gunnery, Choate, Middlesex, Lawrenceville, Hotchkiss, St. George’s, Kent, Hill, Episcopal High (not Episcopal Prep!), Andover, Exeter, Culver Military, Milton Academy, St. Marks, Woodberry Forest, and perhaps one or two more. About 52 percent of the elite boarding schools are connected with the Episcopal Church and 5 percent with the Quaker faith.
- Earlier I gave you a list of the inner-circle private boarding schools, the central ones of the 289 that matter most in the calculus of class. This seems as good a time as any to give you an inner circle of American colleges and universities. The sanctum of social power is found at these schools: Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Duke, Cornell, Stanford, University of Virginia, University of Michigan, University of California (Berkeley), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, Williams, Amherst, Colgate, and a tie between Boston College and Boston University. There are other knots of power, but if training of national leadership is the relevant issue, not the training of minds willing to serve as instruments of a national leadership, then the twenty I’ve taken are the heart of the heart of caste in America, much as the Monongahela Valley was the heart of the heart of libertarian America.
- The Crane plumbing family rejected the coat of arms suggested for them, a hand gripping the handle of a toilet chain with the motto "Aprs mois le dluge."
- Nelson W. Aldrich, grandson of Senator Aldrich of Rhode Island, who was one of the principal architects of the Federal Reserve system, put it this way in his book Old Money: "Membership in this patriciate brought with it much besides wealth, of course: complete domination of all educational and cultural institutions, ownership and control of the news media [and a variety of other assets]." Direct and indirect domination of the forced schooling mechanism by the patriciate has never been adequately explored, perhaps owing to its ownership of both the tools of research (in the colleges) and the tools of dissemination (in the media).
Chapters of The Underground History of American Public Education:
- Chapter 1: The Way It Used To Be
- Chapter 2: An Angry Look At Modern Schooling
- Chapter 3: Eyeless In Gaza
- Chapter 4: I Quit, I Think
- Chapter 5: True Believers and the UnspeakableChautauqua
- Chapter 6: The Lure of Utopia
- Chapter 7: The Prussian Connection
- Chapter 8: A Coal-Fired Dream World
- Chapter 9: The Cult of Scientific Management
- Chapter 10: My Green River
- Chapter 11: The Crunch
- Chapter 12: Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede
- Chapter 13: The Empty Child
- Chapter 14: Absolute Absolution
- Chapter 15: The Psychopathology of EverydaySchooling
- Chapter 16: A Conspiracy Against Ourselves
- Chapter 17: The Politics of Schooling
- Chapter 18: Breaking Out of the Trap
John Taylor Gatto is available for speaking engagements and consulting. Write him at P.O. Box 562, Oxford, NY 13830 or call him at 607-843-8418 or 212-874-3631.
John Taylor Gatto is the author of Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling, The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, and Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. He was 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year. Visit his website.