Today’s Children Would Not Understand Something Written in 1886.
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Wouldn’t it be a sign of a regenerating spirit of republicanism and of the primary things that kids ought to be learning as opposed to the compulsory things that we force them to learn — this magazine, my point, is pitched to young people. I just want to read the introduction to the story on Washington. Remember, this is pitched to your teenage son or daughter. See if you think they would read this or could comprehend it today. This was published in 1886.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: What I’d like to call your attention to, and I’m just reading from the title page, St. Nicholas, Volume XIII, Part II, May 1886 to October 1886. This is a magazine that was made for young boys. It would come out twice per annum. It was edited by a woman named Mary Mapes Dodge. In it you will find — I am blown away by this because I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember, maybe when you were children if you’re in your 50s or 60s and you were in the dentist or doctor’s office, they would have Highlights magazine or Boys Life.
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Where did Boys Life go? Boys Life has been replaced by Bieber’s life, or whatever it is that all the cool kids with the pumped up kicks are reading, if they read, these days.
As I explained earlier, I was looking for the artist of the engravings who did so many of the black-and-white engravings of what the troops might have looked like when they were marching through the snow, some of them barefoot, on their way to take Trenton back from the Hessians on Christmas night 1776. It’s quite a story. That’s why I told it in Times That Try Men’s Souls, available on a two-CD set. Again, I hope it’s a story that many people will play and enjoy and pass down to children and grandchildren, or to elder children. I don’t think most people know just what Washington went through.
In any event, I tracked this artist down. I found out who the author was. It took me an entire day of researching yesterday, almost eight hours, but I found it. The guy’s name was Henry Alexander Ogden. Now, he is in the insert booklet on the CD set. I’m going to publish a teaser of what the insert booklet looks like. In finding Henry Alexander Ogden, I found this magazine, St. Nicholas, an illustrated magazine for young folks, conducted by Mary Mapes Dodge. The particular volume I found that has the story of George Washington in it and the Henry Alexander Ogden engravings — because that’s what they would have to do to do a drawing back them.
You didn’t have the photographic means to print something. If you wanted to print an illustration,
you’d actually have to get a piece of wood and take the drawing, impose it on the wood, and then take tools and actually etch it out. That’s what you would have to do. It was very difficult to do. So if you’ve ever wondered why the drawings and lines look the way they do, it’s because what they’re doing is making a relief. The parts they want to print they’re leaving on the block of wood. The parts they don’t want to print they carve away with little, tiny screwdrivers and chisels and what have you. Talk about a laborious process just to print one picture. Today we do it without batting an eye because we have desktop publishing.
In this magazine, it’s all illustrated, we find on page 505 — just think, what kind of a box did this thing get shipped in? On page 505 we find “George Washington” illustrated by H.A. Ogden and others, an essay written by Horace E. Scudder. In the Google book it’s hyperlinked and you can go to the actual essay. I’m reading this and I’m going: Most adults couldn’t read Mr. Scudder’s essay. I just wanted to share the first paragraph with you. I linked to it in today’s Pile of Prep under the Prep Better section. Wouldn’t it be a sign of a regenerating spirit of republicanism and of the primary things that kids ought to be learning as opposed to the compulsory things that we force them to learn — this magazine, my point, is pitched to young people. I just want to read the introduction to the story on Washington. Remember, this is pitched to your teenage son or daughter. See if you think they would read this or could comprehend it today. This was published in 1886.
Chapter XIII. A Virginia Burgess.
Before Washington’s marriage, and while he was in camp near Fort Cumberland, making active preparations for the campaign against Fort Duquesne, there was an election for members of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Washington offered himself as candidate to the electors of Frederic County, in which Winchester, where he had been for the past three years, was the principal town. His friends were somewhat fearful that the other candidates, who were on the ground, would have the advantage over Washington, who was with the army, at a distance; and they wrote, urging him to come on and look after his interests. Colonel Bouquet, under whose orders he was, cheerfully gave him leave of absence, but Washington replied:
“I had, before Colonel Stephen came to this place, abandoned all thoughts of attending personally the election at Winchester, choosing rather to leave the management of that affair to my friends, than be absent from my regiment, when there is a probability of its being called to duty. I am much pleased now, that I did so.”
Here was a case where Washington broke his excellent rule of—“If you want a thing done, do it yourself.” If his regiment was to lie idle at Fort Cumberland, he could easily have galloped to Winchester, and have been back in a few days; but there was a chance that it might move, and so he gave up at once all thought of leaving it. Glad enough he was to have the news confirmed. To lead his men forward, and to have a hand in the capture of Fort Duquesne, was the first thing—the election must take care of itself. That was not a bad statement for his friends at Winchester to make. A man who sticks to his post, and does his duty without regard to his personal interests, is the very man for a representative in the legislature. The people of Frederic knew Washington thoroughly, and though they had sometimes felt his heavy hand, they gave him a hearty vote, and he was elected a member of the House of Burgesses.
Mike: First of all, just the story and the inclusion of Washington’s actions in what we would consider to be a trivial manner. If you’ve got to go back and win the election, go. We got your back, George. Go ahead, man. Washington would have none of it. How many young boys today are raised or reared in that manner? Just imagine the influence of a tender young mind reading that little story that I just shared with you. What would a young boy think about that? Does he admire Washington even today, 2014, in our anti-culture culture? Probably. Even if he’s only seen him on a dollar bill or replica of Washington’s crossing? Probably. What would he think of Washington saying “Duty first” and disobeying one of his own rules “If you want something done, do it yourself”? What would the young lad or lass think about this? Would they think he was weird? Would they want to know why he was so devoted to so silly a task? It was obvious that the army didn’t need him. Besides, when he was back at home running for election, he could update his Facebook page, right? He could post a few pics of he and the boys out on the trail to Fort Duquesne on Instagram, couldn’t he? But George Washington would have none of it.
I only read you three paragraphs from that story “George Washington: A Limited Biography” by Horace E. Scudder. In those short three paragraphs, you get a window into the kind of character that we used to instruct and teach our young people with.
I just read you instruction. You could say it was a magazine all you want. Remember, this was before the dawn of compulsory public schools, for the most part. So what would the young person take away from this? What would he or she be inspired to do? I don’t think they would be inspired to do the things that we inspire them to do today. Even if I could make a modern-day reference to this or bring this story forward, just change the words and bring Washington forward into 2014, would our youth today, mine included, even be amenable to hearing it, or would they reject it as being old, fuddy-duddy and being outdated? [mocking] “He was just being a prude. He was being a square, man. We don’t need squares like that cat around here anymore, man.”
I am just blown away by the public and private conduct of character that the men that were of the founding generations and the ones that came after — this was published in 1886, meaning that there were enough people that still thought that this is the way it ought to be and you ought to learn this story. This had been passed on. It hadn’t just ended when Washington died on 14 December 1799. It’s fascinating stuff. You can read the rest of this volume — it’s a huge volume. It would take you months to read. You can browse through it, St. Nicholas, Volume XIII, Part 2, published in 1886, a magazine for the young. It’s a fascinating window into the way we used to instruct and the things we used to instruct our children on.
End Mike Church Show Transcript