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Washington the Model of Character for American Youth an Address Delivered to the Boys of the Public Schools

Washington the Model of Character for American Youth
an Address Delivered to the Boys of the Public Schools
Title: Washington the Model of Character for American Youth an Address Delivered to the Boys of the Public Schools
Release Date: 2018-12-02
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber's Note: The cover image was created from the title page by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


The Model of Character








Boys of the Public Schools.




Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1846,
in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of Maryland.


Baltimore, July 24, 1846.

Rev. and Dear Sir:

The address delivered by you at the celebration of thePublic Schools of this city was so admirably adapted to theoccasion, and calculated to be of such essential service to theyouth of our city and country, that the committee of arrangementsfeel that they but reflect the sentiments and wishes ofall who heard it, by requesting that you would place a copyin their hands, with a view to publication, in order that itmay be preserved in a convenient and durable form for moreextended circulation and usefulness.

We are, sir, with great respect and esteem,

Your friends,

John R. W. Dunbar,
R. T. Spence,
John F. Monmonier,
R. S. Bowie,
Charles M. Keyser,
Com. of Arrangements.

To Rev. J. N. M‘Jilton.

Baltimore, July 27, 1846.


The address prepared at your request, and delivered tothe pupils of the public schools, is at your service. No objectionof mine shall be interposed between your desire thatit may be useful, and the effort to make it so.

With high consideration,

Your friend,

J. N. M‘Jilton.

To   Dr. John R. W. Dunbar,
  ”   R. T. Spence,
  ”   John F. Monmonier,
R. S. Bowie, Esq.,
Maj. Charles M. Keyser,
Committee of Arrangements.


The address which forms this little book wasnot intended for publication. It was prepared tobe delivered at the celebration of the Public Schoolson the 22d inst. After it was delivered, Commissionersof Public Schools and others regarded it asbeing worthy of a general circulation in someconvenient form, so that whatever benefit might bederived from its use should not be limited to thepupils of the Public Schools, but shared by theyouth of our city and country, so far as the samemay be practicable. With this view the addresswas solicited for publication by the Committee ofArrangements.

As usefulness was the aim of the author in preparingthe address, he hopes that every boy whomay obtain a copy will read it with a view to hisimprovement. Doubtless the model which is presentedin our illustrious Washington will befound to contain what is excellent and valuablein character, and worthy the emulation of theAmerican boy. And if his ambition be excited tothe pursuit of that which is high, and honorable,and virtuous, the expansion of his manly facultiesmay develope such character as shall render him adistinguished man,—distinguished in his deeds, ashe is in the proud name he bears of American citizen.

July 28, 1846.


chapter deco


My Young Friends,
Pupils of the Public Schools of Baltimore:

The motto inscribed upon the beautifulbanner of your Central High School isthe subject of my remarks to you to-day.Palmam qui meruit feratLet himwear the palm who wins it. And when Isay that this is a motto worthy of theAmerican youth, I give it a place far abovethat which it occupied in the proudestdays of Roman honor, or in the brightestdays of Grecian fame. And if you askme for the proof, I point you to the American[10]character, more brilliant in its enlightenedfreedom, and in its patrioticintegrity, than that of Greece or Rome everwas, and to American institutions, blendingrepublicanism, intelligence, and religionin a greater degree than they wereever blended in a nation before. And if youask me for the cause of the difference betweenthe character of those ancient nationsand their institutions, and the Americancharacter and institutions, I direct youto one grand distinguishing characteristic,and that is,


And in directing you to the domesticaltar as the means of effecting this prouddistinction, I would say that it is an altarof such high and sacred character, that itcan be reared and successfully sustainedby no nation, unless that nation be eminentin its encouragement of enlightenment andreligion. I do not mean by this declarationthat the Roman and Grecian boyswanted fathers to point them to the senateand to the field, and mothers to teach thempatriotism at the fire-side. There was[11]scarcely a father among them but hadrather had his son a corpse than a coward.And but few of the mothers of the agewere unlike that noble Grecian who toldher son, when he went to battle, to returnwith his shield, or upon it. But I meanthat the Grecian and Roman youth weretaught patriotism in the neglect of domesticvirtues. They were taught to encouragea thirst for eminence in the state, andfor military renown at the expense of thesocial affections. We have an examplein the noble heroism of Cornelia, the motherof the Gracchii. She infused into thesouls of her illustrous sons the fire of patrioticdevotion, which made them jewelsfor the state, but which lost them to herin the domestic circle for ever. But theAmerican youth live in a very differentage, and their system of instruction, innearly all its departments, is of a very differentcharacter. In their education, thelove for eminence in the state is not neglected,and they are taught to cherish thepatriotism that burned in the bosoms ofthe Greek and Roman youth. And withthis patriotic interest is mingled the trainingof the social affections, under the[12]benign rays of religious enlightenment.And this is the sort of education whichrears its subjects, not only for the domesticcircle, but for their country and their God.And this should be the great purpose ofAmerican teaching in the developement ofAmerican character in the use and for thesustaining of American institutions. Andwhat we have to regret is that it is notcarried out more thoroughly, and renderedmore efficient in practice.

We boast, as we have cause to do, ofour position as free American citizens,and we rejoice in the powerful effect thedomestic altar has upon our nationalcharacter. But we are compelled to minglereproach with our boast, and regretwith our joy, that as a nation we should inany wise neglect that most important ofall teaching—the teaching of character.In this we must acknowledge that we aredeficient, and that the blessings of thedomestic altar are not as profitable, noras extensively diffused as they might be.What we lack is systematic effort in theformation of character. And judging fromour want of systematic effort in this teaching,and our indifference about it, the supposition[13]might be indulged that we are notaware of the importance and necessity ofholding up character before the youthfulmind as a distinctive part of education.Our practice would seem to indicate thatwe regard character as a thing that comesof itself, or that it is induced by the moraland mental training which the youth obtainsat home, and at the schools. It isgreatly to the disadvantage of the youththat, in all the departments of study inwhich he engages, there is not sufficienteffort made to make him what he must beif he would rise to eminence in after life.It is greatly to his disadvantage that he isnot taught in clear, and distinct, and systematicterms, what the American characteris, and of what elements it is composed,and what he must be if he wouldcarry out that character as it should becarried out in active life. The boy shouldbe pointed forward to his position of responsibilityas a man. He should bepointed to the period when he must takehis place amid the busy multitudes of theworld, and wrestle as his fathers have donefor the place of success which he hopesto attain. He must have a place at the[14]social circle, and he should be taught howhe shall adorn it. He must be taught whathe must be in private life, that he may dohonor to his domestic relations. He mustbe taught his duty as a citizen, that, in theperformance of that duty, he may becomeeminent, and that society and the statemay be the better for his having lived inthem. And he must be shown what hemust be in religion, that he may fulfil hisobligations both to God and man, and thathis religious character may have its influenceupon the community in which hedwells. In a systematic course of teachingfor the developement of character in theseseveral departments, we have to acknowledgeour deficiency. And although thedomestic altar stands pre-eminent in ourmidst, and operates powerfully upon theAmerican mind, it is by no means what itought to be, and its influence upon developingcharacter is far less than more systematiceffort would make it. And thisdefect is a serious impediment in the pathof the American boy. He is prepared toact out the character of the Greek andthe Roman, because the elements of thatcharacter are combined in his. But it is[15]a different thing to act out the characterof the American, because it combines theother elements which are sent forth fromthe domestic altar. A prominent and distinguishingfeature in American teaching,should be the full developement of thedomestic character. And when the domesticaltar shall be adequate to the supplyof its own demands, the Americanboy will be properly instructed in hischaracter as an American citizen.


The Greeks and Romans were patriotsmore from passion and impulse, than fromregular and systematic training. Hencethe impassioned and impulsive outburststhat are so frequent in their history. TheRoman seemed ever ready to lay his lifeupon the altar of his country; and the soulof the Greek was unconquerable even bysuperior prowess of some brother Greek,and, as far as the self-sacrificing spirit of thepatriot is viewed, their superiors are notfound upon record. But there is anotherelement that enters into the formation ofthe American character. With the noble[16]traits that raised the Greeks and the Romansabove every other nation of their day,there are to be associated in the Americanthe more refined qualities of characterwhich render him pre-eminent as a socialand religious being. And without thesequalities the American character is incomplete;they are essential to its exhibitionin the perfection of its beauty.

I do not say that the youth of Greeceand Rome were entirely destitute of thosesocial qualities which I recognise as beingthe peculiar adornment of the Americancharacter. These qualities were certainlypossessed in a degree by the men of thosenations. But what I say is, that they werelost sight of in the requirements for theforum and the field, and obscured in thebrilliance of

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