Why I Think Our Kids Should Not Be Taught History

by Br’er Rabbit

When we send our kids off to school we like to say they are being taught things that are useful in life; mathematics, reading and writing being a few of them. However, those subjects are learned primarily by memorization; with certain rules governing over them. For instance, I recall having to learn the rule, “i before e except after c” when learning how to spell words containing the letters ‘i and e’ in the middle of it; such as they appear in the words conceive or believe. It’s the same with math, once you learn the formulas for performing certain tasks the only things that change are the values entered into the equations; 27 ÷ 3 uses the same formula as 1024 ÷ 4. So once you learn the rules you don’t have to think too hard to perform those tasks.

Therefore I think it is fine that we teach our children how to read, write, and perform mathematical equations. However, I dislike it when I hear people say that their children are being taught history or civics. Now before you fly off the handle, let me explain why I say that.

What does the word teach mean? To teach someone means to ‘show or explain to (someone) how to do something.’ Maybe it’s just me, but if we allow our children to be taught history, or civics, it comes close to sounding like they are being indoctrinated. If what they are being taught comes from a history book or a course curriculum what they are learning is not always based on fact; it is often someone’s opinion; which is often biased. If our children progress through the educational system with that bias being repeated and reaffirmed, then when they graduate they will exit school believing what they have been taught is the absolute truth; and proving otherwise proves to be quite difficult; if not impossible.

Now I don’t know if Lenin actually said this, but it is attributed to him, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Hopefully you will see how that premise is possible; once a generation of kids exit school believing something historical, or about their system of government, that opinion will be handed down to the next generation, which in turn establishes a self-repeating cycle where the lie replaces the truth.

That is why I do not like to use the term teach when it comes to history and civics; because when we allow that to happen we allow the opinions of those doing the teaching, (or writing the textbooks), to formulate the opinions of those doing the learning. I would rather that our children undertake a study of history. The word study is defined as, ‘a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation.’ Hopefully you can see how a study of history, or civics, is preferable to having our kids taught someone else’s opinions on the subject. I believe that when you study something you put aside your biases, (hopefully), in search of the truth, but when you are taught something you are learning the biases of the person doing the teaching.

A perfect example of how that takes place is found in what we are taught about the Civil War. We are ‘taught’ that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery. Even if that were true, (which it isn’t), slavery was perfectly legal under the Constitution. Although the word slavery is not found in the text of the Constitution, it is referenced numerous times throughout it.

The first time it is mentioned is in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3; the Three Fifths Clause, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years…”

The next place it is referenced is Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1, “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”

The final time it is referenced is in Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3; wherein it codifies the belief that slaves were ‘property’, “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.”

As evil as slavery is, the supreme law of the land condoned it; making those who wrote and ratified it responsible for legalizing slavery in America for 76 years; until it was abolished by the 13th Amendment. It is interesting that the subject of slavery is not mentioned one single time in the Articles of Confederation; as it was held to be the right of each State to decide for itself if it would allow slavery to exist within its borders. It wasn’t until the honorable, (and I use that term loosely), drafters of the Constitution gathered together in 1787 that slavery was introduced, and legalized, nationwide in the document that established our system of government.

So, if the North was fighting to end slavery, (which I’ll prove it wasn’t), then they were fighting AGAINST the Constitution; and if the South was fighting to protect their right to own slaves, they were fighting to defend something that the Constitution permitted. Not only had the Constitution allowed for the institution of slavery, the Congress had passed, not one, but two Fugitive Slave Acts to assist the slave owners in recovering their property; in 1793 and in 1850.

I wasn’t taught this in school, I had to learn it by undertaking a study of history and the Constitution on my own; but I’ve only scratched the surface on why the facts prove the Civil War was not about slavery.

When I debate people over this subject I inevitably hear people say, “But the 13th Amendment was ratified at the end of the Civil War, so they must have been fighting to end slavery.” Again, if all you know about the Civil War is what you were ‘taught’ in school I could see why people might believe that. However, as I have ‘studied’ history I can disprove that belief quite easily.

How many of you have heard of the Corwin Amendment? After the secession of some of the Southern States the Congress introduced the Corwin Amendment, and it passed both houses of Congress, in an effort to either reconcile the differences between the United States and the seceded Southern States, or to prevent any further secessions. The text of the Corwin Amendment reads, “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” So, had it been ratified it would have done the exact opposite of what the current 13th Amendment did; instead of abolishing slavery it would have made it a permanent institution.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, if the North was fighting to end slavery, why would they propose a constitutional amendment making slavery permanent? Secondly, if the South was fighting only to preserve slavery, why didn’t they just ratify the amendment and remain in the Union? See, that’s why you study history; you undertake ‘a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. If you weren’t taught about the Corwin Amendment, then you were indoctrinated by those who wrote the text books, or those who established the curriculum you were taught from; which is a form of indoctrination because you weren’t given all the facts.

The Corwin Amendment not only passed both houses of Congress, it was supported by both the outgoing and incoming presidents. Outgoing President James Buchanan, although it made no difference in the matter, actually put his signature to the document, and incoming President Abraham Lincoln referred to it in his Inaugural Address, “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service … holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.” Even there Lincoln lied, as he was fully aware of what the document said.

That alone should prove, beyond a doubt, that slavery was not the reason the war was fought; but I have more data solidifying that position. The power to declare war is delegated to Congress, and is found in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11. Yet no formal declaration of war was forthcoming from Congress when the president raised an army and invaded the South.

Instead, the North saw the secession of the Southern States as a threat to its authority over the entire Union; an insurrection against the established authority of the federal government. Therefore, in 1861 both houses of Congress passed resolutions stating their purpose for waging war against their former brethren in the South. Known as the Johnson-Crittendon Resolutions, these resolutions stated the reasons why the North was sending troops to fight against their former countrymen. This is what the Johnson Resolutions state as the reasons for waging war against the South, “Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern States now in revolt against the constitutional Government and in arms around the capital; that in this national emergency Congress, banishing all feelings of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.”

If you’ll notice, there is no mention made of abolishing slavery. In fact, it says quite the opposite, that the North had no intention of ‘…overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States…’ Their sole purpose was to ‘…maintain the supremacy of the Constitution…’, which meant maintain the supremacy of the government established by the Constitution as well.

Finally, let’s see what the man himself, Abraham Lincoln, said were the reasons for waging this bloody war. First off, in his Inaugural Address Lincoln stated, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” So he had no inclination to interfere with slavery where it existed. Well there must have been some other reason, don’t you think?

In 1862 Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to the editor of the New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley, in which he explained his policy for the war against the South, “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

Sounds to me like Lincoln was more concerned with holding the Union together than he was with freeing the slaves; yet that is not what we are taught in school, is it? See, this is why you study history, not have it taught to you; for those who teach are able to withhold facts at their leisure; which in turn introduces a bias in the lesson. In other words, they indoctrinate our youth as to why this war was fought.

In 1864 Maj. General Patrick R. Cleburne of the Confederate Army wrote, “Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision…” Isn’t that exactly what has happened, we have been ‘taught’ the Northern version of the war; making the South out to be the evil slave owners fighting to maintain possession of their slaves? Yet a ‘study’ of the facts proves that not to be the case, not at all.

Lincoln wanted to save the Union; to hold it together even if it meant untold numbers would die in the struggle. He must have had compelling reasons for doing so; considering the horrendous loss of life that was about to occur when he sent his army into the South.

Have you ever heard of Charles Dickens? Dickens is the author of such famous books as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and David Copperfield. In 1862 Dickens wrote, “The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.” Hmm, bet you weren’t ‘taught’ that, not in English Lit or History. I wonder why!

That sentiment was reaffirmed years later by, soon to be president, Woodrow Wilson; who while serving as the President of the prestigious Princeton University. While serving in that position Wilson wrote an epic series of books entitled, A History of the American People, in which he stated, “It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war waged against states fighting for their independence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery…and the world, it might be hoped, would see it as a moral war, not a political; and the sympathy of nations would begin to run for the North, not for the South.”

The South may have mentioned slavery in the declarations of secession, but secession is not war unless the Union they are seceding from refuses to allow them to secede; only then does it become war. The Civil War happened because Lincoln, and the North in general, denied the belief that the States had any right to leave the Union. Yet 12 years earlier, while serving as a member of the House of Representatives, Lincoln stated, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better.” That is what the South did, and Lincoln did an about face and denied his own words by sending troops in to force the South to return to the Union; at gunpoint.

It’s interesting what you can learn from history if you put aside what you have been taught and undertake a study of events. People say history is boring, and maybe they are right if all they are being taught are names and dates. But the study of history is fascinating, and if you don’t know your own history you are, as science fiction author Michael Crichton wrote, “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” As the foremost champion of liberty this country has ever produced, Patrick Henry, once said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.”

I didn’t always feel this way, but now I feel that if you don’t know the history of your country, truly know it inside and out, then you are like a blind man stumbling around in the dark. If you follow the voices of those you hear, you are being led wherever they may take you; which in our current situation is not where you want to go if freedom means anything to you at all. Yet here we are, with a country in which the overwhelming majority of the people believe that they know enough history to make them informed voters; that they know enough about the document that established our system of government to make wise decisions at the polls.

All this leads to a people making the same mistakes over and over again; sacrificing more of their freedom, more of their liberty, with each successive mistake. James Madison once said that knowledge will forever govern ignorance. Well he was right, our governors know that we, for the most part, are ignorant; pathetically so; and they take advantage of that by playing to our fears.

It all has happened because people have not been ‘taught’ the most valuable skill of all; critical thinking. Therefore, as a public service I would like to try to kick start the old grey matter by offering you two quotes to examine. I would then like to hear back from people as to what they found different between the two. Both are taken from the Declaration of Independence; with one being the original draft penned by Jefferson, and the other being taken from the edited version that was submitted to the Continental Congress. Oh, you didn’t know there were two versions? Guess you weren’t ‘taught’ that either.

In any case, here you go; read these two and study them. Then if you feel up to it, post your thoughts in the comment box on my blog; I’d love to hear what you think about the differences.

1) We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness

2) We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There you have it, your first homework assignment from me. Let’s see how well you study the two quotes, and how able you are to think about the differences. Until next time, I bid you a fond adieu…

Post your answers at: http://www.zombie-slayer.com/neal/?p=5567

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