A Celebration of Women Writers

"Synopsis of 'The Making of Citizens'." by Mrs. Harriet Earhart Monroe (1842-1927).
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 311-315.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 311] 

SYNOPSIS OF "THE MAKING OF CITIZENS".*

By MRS. HARRIET EARHART MONROE.

MRS. HARRIET EARHART MONROE.
Ignorance and sin are a menace to any government, particularly to a republic. The object of education is to make good men and women. The studies are only a means to this end. The means have hitherto been made more prominent than the end, and this the Patriotic League hopes to change. There is for the individual, the state, the republic, a great benefit within reach, which can be best secured by the joint action of teachers and pupils, through the sympathetic organization of the great school forces of the world. We believe good influences prevail in this land, and if the schools take the morals of the community more in hand, great good will result to the state. The temperance and reform societies stand at the mouth of the great stream of sin bearing countless thousands into eternity. They save a small percentage, but if teachers and pupils join together at the head of this stream to prevent youth from getting into wrong channels, the percentage of sorrow will be much lessened. It is therefore proposed to connect the teachers and pupils of the schools of this country by a strong common tie, and to organize them for thorough joint work under the title of a Patriotic League.

The object of this society shall be: First. To secure a higher order of citizenship by more carefully looking after the moral and civil training of the young men in school.

Second. To provide in every town and country schools for the organization of the pupils over ten years of age; for the purpose of looking up all school children of school age out of school, and seeing that they are not prevented attending school by reason of poverty, and, as far as possible, securing by this means the education of every citizen.

Third. To strengthen the weak, to help raise the fallen, and to give aid and countenance to every local or general influence which may tend to elevate the morals or minds of citizens, each member looking first to his own morals, and then to those of every human being who comes near him.

Fourth. To provide through a competent organization for the systematic giving for great educational measures, or in cases of great public calamity. If, in cases like the Johnstown disaster, or the famine in Russia, every teacher gave five cents and every pupil one cent, they would be the almoners of the world, and the good of this [Page 312]  would not be so much for those to whom the benefaction was given, as for the enlargement of mind and soul which would result to the givers.

Fifth. To Americanize every young foreigner in this country by seeing that he learns to read and write in the English language, and that he understands common morality, and comprehends the sacred and far-reaching influences of the ballot.

Sixth. To see that all be encouraged to strive for higher education, and that each year at least one boy and one girl from each district or ward be encouraged to attempt a complete collegiate course, the general object being to tone up the average educational standard of every community.

Seventh. To introduce manual training into every school, and to give special attention and watchful help in this line to the children of the foreigner, of the poor, and of the vicious.

Eighth. To pledge each member to be noble in his own life, to use no intoxicating liquors, to be active in his efforts to stop others from using them, and to shun all forms of gambling, as gambling and the use of intoxicating liquors are among the sins which most debase citizenship.

With these common objects in view, it is hoped that the society will be made a bond of union between the fellow of the university and the most indigent pupil of the primary grades of the public schools. It is believed that the educators of all classes, coming together for the consideration of the best means of accomplishing these results, will do more for the improvement of the morals of the entire country than any method that has yet been tried. It is earnestly hoped that the constitution of this society will be found broad enough to satisfy the Jew, the Roman Catholic, and the Protestant, and unite them in a common purpose of fitting the youth committed to their care for nobler achievement and higher destiny.

Atlantic City, N. J., with about thirty thousand people, has two grand educators – County Supt. S. R. Morse, and Prof. W. A. Deremer, at the head of about fifty teachers in the public schools of the city. At the beginning of last school year a number of articles were written on the subject of patriotism, for the county papers, with particular reference to the schools of the county. The statement was repeated in many forms, that the state pays for the public schools with the expectation that they will make good citizens. The same statement was reiterated in the schoolroom, until each pupil was fully imbued with the dignity of the idea that he was to be a helper in fitting himself for intelligent citizenship, and also that he was to look after all other children who ought to be in school. To carry out this idea the following principles were kept steadily in view.

Principle I. Form the public opinion of the school.

Principle II. The state is not able to provide a school police, such as is found in Germany, but we have in our midst the best police in the world in our own children, if they are properly organized. Make them feel that they are their brother's keeper, an thus develop a public spirit.

Principle III. Have the parents co-operate through their children at school. Tell the parents through the pupils the conditions, and ask the children to bring money, or a pound of some household necessity.

Principle IV. Secure the co-operation of organized charities if they exist, then adopt personal visitations to families, and provide for careful distribution. Pupils were requested to report to the teacher any child who was kept out of school from poverty, or because he was obliged to work. They were earnestly requested not to mention to others what they were doing, lest they start up an army of beggars. Pupils were also requested to report any children of criminals, foreigners, or colored people who were out of school on account of their condition. In Atlantic City, two hundred children between the ages of seven and fifteen were found out of school, and seventy destitute families were discovered.

The teachers then said to their pupils, "Please tell your parents just what we are doing. Explain to them that we desire to Americanize every young foreigner and to [Page 313]  make a good citizen of every child in his town; then ask your mother to give us any clothes which you may have outgrown, or you can spare, to clothe the destitute. Tell her we will visit every case, and see that her bounty is judiciously used." The response to this was that more clothing was furnished than can be used in two years, if two hundred destitute children should be found each year.

The next duty devolved either on the principal or on his most trusted and worthy teachers. Every indigent family was visited, and about this dialogue occurred:

"Mrs. Smith, we greatly regret that your son John is out of school; would you be willing to have him attend, provided we clothe him?" "Indeed, Madam, I would be glad to have John in school; he needs schooling badly enough; but I need his wages, small as they are, to provide food for my fatherless children." "If we provide the equivalent for John's wages, will you let him attend school four months?"

The poor woman knows that if the state does not take care of John now, it may have to do so later, and she gladly consents.

The result of this organized effort was that seventeen wagon-loads of provisions were provided for the seventy destitute families, the two hundred children were clothed, and nearly every child not an invalid, between seven and fifteen years of age, was in school four months. There were some pathetic scenes for our land of plenty. More than one boy was found who had not been the happy owner of a complete suit at one time. When he had owned a coat, he had had no shirt or vest, and when in summer he had worn a calico shirt, he had had no coat. More than one shed happy tears at seeing himself or herself clothed neatly from head to foot. After all this care to have every child in school of proper age, you may be sure the teachers made good use of those four months to instruct in ethics and civics.

The League will insist on the principle that when the state incarcerates a criminal who might have been a good citizen, if taken young, a gross, rankling act of injustice has been committed.

 

PATRIOTIC LEAGUE, TEACHER'S DEPARTMENT – THE PLEDGE.

I hereby promise my God and my country to keep in mind that the object of my school is to make good men and women for society and the state. To that end I shall do what I can.

First: To lead a noble life myself and to secure the best moral development of those committed to my care.

Second: To inspire a deep love of country in my pupils, and to instruct them in the principles of good citizenship so as to make them incorruptible in the use of the ballot or in office.

Third: To make good citizens of the children of foreigners, of the poor and of the vicious.

Fourth: To organize my school as helpers in this work, and with the aid of my pupils, see that poverty keeps no child in my district or ward out of school.

Fifth: To carry out the lines of work of the Patriotic League, and to make my pupils feel that together we are responsible for the morals of our community.

I invoke the help of my Heavenly Father to carry out this work. Name . . . . .

 

PATRIOTIC LEAGUE, PUPIL'S DEPARTMENT – THE PLEDGE.

I hereby promise my God and my teacher to be one of the helpers for improving the citizenship of this country.

First: I will use no intoxicating liquors of any kind myself, and I will discourage others from using them whenever I can. I will do what I can by my influence (and my vote when I have one) to put down the traffic in liquors.

Second: I will not gamble and will do all I can to keep others from gambling.

Third: I will act as a Leaguer to assist any family in my ward or district that is in a suffering condition and to see that no child is out of school because of poverty. I will find out and report all cases to my teacher either of destitution, or of foreign families whose children are out of school, but I shall be careful not to speak of them to others.

Fourth: I will be faithful in trying to understand the principles of the government of the United States, so as to fit myself to be a good citizen, and I will look after young people who are not as fortunately placed as I am, to see that they have civil and moral training.

Fifth: I will endeavor to obey the laws of the school, accepting them as a discipline in fitting me to be a good citizen of the Republic.

Sixth: I shall take an active part in the literary work of this society.

Seventh: I will pay the dues and assessments which my League shall decide to be necessary to help the purposes of this society.

I invoke the help of my Heavenly Father to carry out this great work.

[Page 314] 

 

PATRIOTIC LEAGUE – PUPIL'S DEPARTMENT.

WHEREAS, The government of this state generously provides for the education of all youth within its boundaries;

Resolved, That we, the pupils and friends of education of

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do hereby organize ourselves as a Patriotic League, subject to the conditions of that order, for the purpose of seeing that the design of the state, namely, the education and training for noble citizenship of all youth within our midst, shall be faithfully carried out.

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PUPIL'S DEPARTMENT – CONSTITUTION.

Article I. Organization. – A Pupils' Patriotic League shall consist of any convenient number of pupils not less than ten.

Article II. Membership. – No pupil is eligible for membership who drinks intoxicating liquors or gambles. Any pupil, not ineligible, may become a member by signing the pupil's pledge and paying an initiation fee of not more than five cents.

Article III. Officers. – The officers shall consist of a chancellor, vice-chancellor, scribe, corresponding scribe and treasurer.

The chancellor may be a school director, trustee, teacher, or any friend of education, but all other officers shall be students.

The officers, as above, shall constitute an executive committee for the arrangement of business.

Article IV. Committees. – The department committee shall be on civics, attendance, promotion of temperance and suppression of gambling, providing for the poor, and other benevolences, and college education. (Discuss benefit of collegiate education, also ways and means of providing for indigent students who desire collegiate education, etc.) These committees shall consist of not less than three persons nor more than nine, and shall be nominated by the executive committee.

Article V. Duties of Committees. – It shall be the duty of each department committee to hold a private session before each regular session of the league, to confer upon the topic of its department, to hear reports of local and personal work, and to decide who shall represent the committee and report for it at the general session. In case of failure on the part of any committee to fulfill the above requirements, such committee shall be discharged and another committee appointed.

Article VI. Meetings. – Each Pupils' League shall convene once a month on a fixed day and hour during each month of the school year. For regular meetings members need receive no notification, but for a called meeting, the scribe shall see that each member is notified of the proposed meeting.

Article VII. Badge. – The badge of this society shall be a small shield of such color and material as may be agreed upon by each Local League.

Article VIII. Examinations. – Each Pupils' League shall, at its January meeting, hold a public examination on the Constitution of the United States. After which a champion shall be selected for the county contest as arranged for by the by-laws of this League.

Article IX. Representatives. – Each Pupils' League shall, as its last meeting before the close of the year, elect a member to represent it at the annual meeting of the Teachers' County League, and shall report to that body in writing all that has been accomplished by said League.

Article X. Amendments. – This constitution and the accompanying by-laws, may be amended at any regular meeting, provided notice of an intention to amend shall have been given at a previous meeting.

 

BY-LAWS.

I. Duties of Officers. – The chancellor, or, in his absence, the vice-chancellor, shall preside at every regular meeting.

II. Treasurer. – The treasurer shall have charge of all money belonging to the society, and shall keep a record of the name and address of each member of the organization. He shall make disbursements on an order from the secretary. He shall also preside at the meetings of the executive committee. [Page 315] 

III. Scribe. – The scribe shall preserve a full and true record of all proceedings of the society, notify members when absent of any action taken in reference to them, keep a correct list of the full names and residences of members, and also act as secretary of the executive committee.

IV. – All officers shall serve until their successors have been elected, and have entered upon the duties of their offices.

V. Assessments. – An assessment of a local organization will require the action of the full executive committee. Assessments can not be made above twice a year. They must never be made except in cases of great public need. No assessment shall exceed one penny for each pupil.

VI. Civics. – At the first meeting in December, the chancellor shall present to the League one hundred printed questions on the Constitution of the United States. The first meeting in January shall be a public one, open to all parents and friends, and a public examination shall be held, after the manner of the old-fashioned spelling schools, choosing sides, and the said one hundred questions shall be put by the chancellor, as a test of knowledge of the Constitution.

If more than one person is found who can answer satisfactorily every question, the League shall proceed to elect by ballot one person, to be known as "champion."

For the February meeting shall be substituted a convention of the various champions of the county, at the county seat (in the County Court room if it can be procured). Then the champions shall answer before a committee of three judges (not citizens of the county) the aforesaid one hundred questions. Each champion who shall answer every question satisfactorily shall receive a gold medal to be provided by his own League. No person can be champion two successive years.

VII. Order of Business. – The order of business, for the first meeting after the summer vacation, shall be as follows: 1, Secretary's Report; 2, Address – On some patriotic subject, not to exceed fifteen minutes in length; 3, Music; 4, Nomination and Election of Officers; 5, Treasurer's Report; 6, Enrollment of New Members; 7, Announcement of Department Committees, and full explanation of their duties by the Chancellor; 8, Patriotic Quotations; 9, Music; 10, Adjournment.

For the usual meetings, the order of business shall be as follows: 1, Secretary's Report; 2, Treasurer's Report; 3, Enrollment; 4, Reports of Different Committees in writing, in the following order: Civics, Discussion; Temperance and Gambling, Discussion; Benevolences, Discussion; College Education. Discussions are limited to ten minutes, unless time is extended by Chancellor. 5, If the time permits, any member may tell what book he has been reading and has found helpful and profitable, or the different members may volunteer patriotic quotations; 6, Music; 7, Adjournment.

     "What constitutes a state?
Not high raised battlements or labor'd mound.
     Thick wall, or moated gate;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crown'd;
     Not bays and broad, arm'd ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
     Nor starr'd and spangled courts,
Where low-brow'd baseness wafts perfume to pride.
     No; men, high minded men;
Men who their duties know,
     But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain."

– SIR WILLIAM JONES


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Mrs. Harriet Earhart Monroe is a native of Indiana, Indiana County, Pa. Her parents were Rev. David Earhart and Mrs. Mary W. Earhart. She is largely self-educated. Her early school days were spent at Eldersridge and Zelianople Academies, Pennsylvania, and she has traveled throughout Europe and the United States. She married in 1865; was left a widow in 1873. Her energies have been especially devoted to educational work, having been fifteen years the honored president of the "Atchison Institute." Among her literary productions of note are: "The Art of Conversation," "Past Thirty," and "Heroine of Mining Camp." She is now a professional lecturer. In religious faith a Lutheran. Her postoffice address is 1706 Vine Street, Philadelphia, Pa.


[Page 311] 

* The full address, of which what here appears is a synopsis, was entitled: "Best Methods of Making Citizens in the Public Schools."

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteer
Mary Mark Ockerbloom.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom