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The Weekly Sam: John Dewey’s Plan to Dumb-Down America As It Appeared in the FORUM, Vol. XXV, May 1898, Pages 315 to 328

John Dewey’s Plan to Dumb-Down America
As It Appeared in the FORUM,
Vol. XXV, May 1898, Pages 315 to 328

(Reformatted by Bob Montgomery Thomas, April 30, 2013)

The Primary-Education Fetich

It is some years since the educational world was more or less agitated by an attack upon
the place occupied by Greek in the educational scheme. If, however, Greek occupies the place of
a fetich, its worshippers are comparatively few in number, and its influence is relatively slight.
There is, however, a false educational god whose idolaters are legion, and whose cult influences
the entire educational system. This is language-study––the study not of foreign language, but of
English; not in higher, but in primary education. It is almost an unquestioned assumption, of
educational theory and practice both, that the first three years of a child’s school life shall be
mainly taken up with learning to read and write his own language. If we add to this the learning
or a certain amount of numerical combinations, we have the pivot about which primary
education swings. Other subjects may be taught; but they are introduced in strict subordination.

The very fact that this procedure, as part of the natural and established course of
education, is assumed as inevitable,––opposition being regarded as captious and revolutionary,––
indicates that, historically, there are good reasons for the position assigned to these studies. It
does not follow, however, that because this course was once wise it is so any longer. On the
contrary, the fact, that this mode of education was adapted to past conditions, is in itself a reason
why it should no longer hold supreme sway. The present has its claims. It is in education, if
anywhere, that the claims of the present should be controlling. To educate on the basis of past
surroundings is like adapting an organism to an environment which no longer exists. The
individual is stultified, if not disintegrated; and the course of progress is blocked. My
proposition is, that conditions––social, industrial, and intellectual––have undergone such a
radical change, that the time has come for a thoroughgoing examination of the emphasis put
upon linguistic work in elementary instruction.

The existing status was developed in a period when ability to read was practically the
sole avenue to knowledge, when it was the only tool which insured control over the accumulated
spiritual resources of civilization. Scientific methods of observation, experimentation, and
testing were either unknown or confined to a few specialists at the upper end of the educational
ladder. Because these methods were not free, were not capable of anything like general use, it
was not possible to permit the pupil to begin his school career in direct contact with the materials
of nature and of life. The only guarantee, the only criterion of values, was found in the ways in
which the great minds of the past had assimilated and interpreted such materials. To avoid
intellectual chaos and confusion, it was necessary reverently to retrace the steps of the fathers.
The régime of intellectual authority and tradition, in matters of politics, morals, and culture, was
a necessity, where methods of scientific investigation and verification had not been developed, or
were in the hands of the few. We often fail to see that the dominant position occupied by book learning in school education is simply a corollary and relic of this epoch of intellectual development.

Ordinary social conditions were congruent with this intellectual status. While it cannot
be said that, in the formative period of our educational system in America, authority and tradition
were the ultimate sources of knowledge and belief, it must be remembered that the immediate
surroundings of our ancestors were crude and undeveloped. Newspapers, magazines, libraries,
art-galleries, and all the daily play of intellectual intercourse and reaction which is effective today were non-existent. If any escape existed from the poverty of the intellectual environment, or
any road to richer and wider mental life, the exit was through the gateway of books. In
presenting the attainments of the past, these maintained the bonds of spiritual continuity, and
kept our forefathers from falling to the crude level of their material surroundings.

When ability to read and write marked the distinction between the educated and the
uneducated man, not simply in the scholastic sense, but in the sense of one who is enslaved by
his environment and one who is able to take advantage of and rise above it, corresponding
importance attached to acquiring these capacities. Reading and writing were obviously what they
are still so often called––the open doors to learning and to success in life. All the meaning that
belongs to these ends naturally transferred itself to the means through which alone they could be
realized. The intensity and ardor with which our forefathers set themselves to master reading
and writing, the difficulties overcome, the interest attached in the ordinary routine of school-life
to what now seems barren,––the curriculum of the three R’s,––all testify to the motive-power
these studies possessed. To learn to read and write was an interesting, even exciting, thing: it
made such a difference in life.

It is hardly necessary to say that the conditions, intellectual as well as social, have
changed. There are undoubtedly rural regions where the old state of things still persists. With
reference to these, what I am saying has no particular meaning. But, upon the whole, the advent
of quick and cheap mails, of easy and continuous travel and transportation, of the telegraph and
telephone, the establishment of libraries, art-galleries, literary clubs, the universal diffusion of
cheap reading-matter, newspapers and magazines of all kinds and grades,––all these have
worked a tremendous change in the immediate intellectual environment. The values of life and of
civilization, instead of being far away and correspondingly inaccessible, press upon the
individual––at least in cities––with only too much urgency and stimulating force. We are more
likely to be surfeited than starved: there is more congestion than lack of intellectual nutriment.
The capital handed down from past generations, and upon whose transmission the
integrity of civilization depends, is no longer amassed in those banks termed books, but is in
active and general circulation, at an extremely low rate of interest. It is futile to try to conceal
from ourselves the fact that this great change in the intellectual atmosphere––this great change in
the relation of the individual to accumulated knowledge––demands a corresponding educational
readjustment. The significance attaching to reading and writing, as primary and fundamental
instruments of culture, has shrunk proportionately as the immanent intellectual life of society has
quickened and multiplied. The result is that these studies lose their motive and motor force.
They have become mechanical and formal, and out of relation––when made dominant––to the
rest of life.

They are regarded as more or less arbitrary tasks which must be submitted to because one
is going to that mysterious thing called a school, or else are covered up and sugar-coated with all
manner of pretty devices and tricks in order that the child may absorb them unawares. The
complaint made by some, that the school curriculum of today does not have the disciplinary
value of the old-fashioned three R’s, has a certain validity. But this is not because the old ideal
has been abandoned. It is because it has been retained in spite of the change of conditions.
Instead of frankly facing the situation, and asking ourselves what studies can be organized which
shall do for to-day what language-study did for former generations, we have retained that as the
centre and core of our course of study, and dressed it out with a variety of pretty pictures,
objects, and games, and a smattering of science.

Along with this change in the relation of intellectual material and stimulus to the
individual there has been an equally great change in the method and make-up of knowledge
itself. Science and art have become free. The simplest processes and methods of knowing and
doing have been worked out to such a point that they are no longer the monopolistic possessions
of any class or guild. They are, in idea, and should be in deed, part of the social commonwealth.
It is possible to initiate the child from the first in a direct, not abstract or symbolical, way, into
the operations by which society maintains its existence, material and spiritual.

The processes of production, transportation, consumption, etc., by which society keeps up
its material continuity, are conducted on such a large and public scale that they are obvious and
objective. Their reproduction in embryonic form through a variety of modes of industrial
training is entirely within the bounds of possibility. Moreover, methods of the discovery and
communication of truth––upon which the spiritual unity of society depends––have become direct
and independent, instead of remote and tied to the intervention of teacher or book. It is not
simply that children can acquire a certain amount of scientific information about things organic
and inorganic: if that were all, the plea for the study of the history and literature of the past, as
more humanistic, would be unanswerable. No; the significant thing is that it is possible for the
child at an early day to become acquainted with, and to use, in a personal and yet relatively
controlled fashion, the methods by which truth is discovered and communicated, and to make his
own speech a channel for the expression and communication of truth; thus putting the linguistic
side where it belongs––subordinate to the appropriation and conveyance of what is genuinely
and personally experienced.

A similar modification, almost revolution, has taken place in the relation which the
intellectual activities bear to the ordinary practical occupations of life. While the child of bygone
days was getting an intellectual discipline whose significance he appreciated in the school, in his
home life he was securing acquaintance in a direct fashion with the chief lines of social and
industrial activity. Life was the main rural. The child came into contact with the scenes of
nature, and was familiarized with the care of domestic animals, the cultivation of the soil, and the
raising of crops. The factory system being undeveloped, the home was the centre of industry.
Spinning, weaving, the making of clothes, etc., were all carried on there. As there was little
accumulation of wealth, the child had to take part in these, as well as to participate in the usual
rounds of household occupations.

Only those who have passed through such training, and, later
on, have seen children reared in city environments, can adequately realize the amount of training,
mental and moral, involved in this extra-school life. That our successful men have come so
largely from the country, is an indication of the educational value bound up with such
participation in this practical life. It was not only an adequate substitute for what we now term
manual training, in the development of the hand and eye, in the acquisition skill and deftness; but
it was initiation into self-reliance, independence of judgment and action, and was the best
stimulus to habits of regular and continuous work.

In the urban and suburban life of a child to-day this is simply a memory. The invention
of machinery; the institution of the factory system; the division of labor; have changed the home
from a workshop into a simple dwelling-place. The crowding into cities and the increase in
servants have deprived the child of an opportunity to take part in those occupations which still
remain. Just at the time when a child is subjected to a great increase in stimulus and pressure
from his environment, he loses the practical and motor training necessary to balance his
intellectual development. Facility in acquiring information is gained: the power of using it is
lost. While need of the more formal intellectual training in the school has decreased, there arises
an urgent demand for the introduction of methods of manual and industrial discipline which shall
give the child what he formerly obtained in his home and social life.

 Here we have at least a prima facie case for reconsideration of the whole question of the
relative importance of learning to read and write in primary education. Hence the necessity of
meeting the question at closer quarters. What can be said against giving up the greater portion of
the first two years of school life to the mastery of linguistic form? In the first place,
physiologists are coming to believe that the sense organs and connected nerve and motor
apparatus of the child are not at this period best adapted to the confining and analytic work of
learning to read and write. There is an order in which sensory and motor centres develop,––an
order expressed, in a general way, by saying that the line of progress is from the larger, coarser
adjustments having to do with the bodily system as a whole (those nearest the trunk of the body)
to the finer and accurate adjustments having to do with the periphery and extremities of the

The oculist tells us that the vision of the child is essentially that of the savage; being
adapted to seeing large and somewhat remote objects in the mass––not near-by objects in detail.
To violate this law means undue nervous strain: it means putting the greatest tension upon the
centres least able to do the work. At the same time, the lines of activity which are hungering and
thirsting for action are left, unused, to atrophy. The act of writing–– especially in the barbarous
fashion, long current in the school, of compelling the child to write on ruled lines in a small hand
and with the utmost attainable degree of accuracy––involves a nicety and complexity of
adjustments of muscular activity which can only be appreciated by the specialist. As the
principal of a Chicago school has wittily remarked in this connection, “The pen is literally
mightier than the sword.”

Forcing children at a premature age to devote their entire attention to
theses refined and cramped adjustments has left behind a sad record of injured nervous systems
and of muscular disorders and distortions. While there are undoubted exceptions, present
physiological knowledge points to the age of about eight years as early enough for anything
more than an incidental attention to visual and written language-form.
We must not forget that these forms are symbols. I am far from depreciating the value of
symbols in our intellectual life. It is hardly too much to say that all progress in civilization upon
the intellectual side has depended upon increasing invention and control of symbols of one sort
or another. Nor do I join in the undiscriminating cry of those who condemn the study of language
as having to do with mere words, not with realities. Such a position is one-sided, and is as crude
as the view against which it is a reaction.

But there is an important question here: Is the child of
six or seven years ready for symbols to such an extent that the stress of educational life can be
thrown upon them? If we were to look at the question independently of the existing school
system, in the light of the child’s natural needs and interests at this period, I doubt if there could
be found anyone who would say that the urgent call of the child of six and seven is for this sort
of nutriment, instead of for more direct introduction into the wealth of natural and social forms
that surrounds him. No doubt the skilful teacher often succeeds in awakening an interest in these
matters; but the interest has to be excited in a more or less artificial way, and, when excited, is
somewhat factitious, and independent of other-interests of child-life. At this point the wedge is
introduced and driven in, which marks the growing divorce between school and outside interests
and occupations.

We cannot recur too often in educational matters to the conception of John Fiske, that
advance in civilization is an accompaniment of the prolongation of infancy. Anything which, at
this period, develops to a high degree any set of organs and centres at the expense of others
means premature specialization, and the arrest of an equable and all-around development. Many
educators are already convinced that premature facility and glibness in the matter of numerical
combinations tend toward an arrested development of certain higher spiritual capacities. The
same thing is true in the matter of verbal symbols. Only the trained psychologist is aware of the
amount of analysis and abstraction demanded by the visual recognition of a verbal form. Many
suppose that abstraction is found only where more or less complex reasoning exists. But as a
matter of fact the essence of abstraction is found in compelling attention to rest upon elements
which are more or less cut off from direct channels of interest and action. To require a child to
turn away from the rich material which is all about him, to which he spontaneously attends, and
which is his natural, unconscious food, is to compel the premature use of analytic and abstract

It is willfully to deprive the child of that synthetic life, that unconscious union with his
environment, which is his birthright and privilege. There is every reason to suppose that a
premature demand upon the abstract intellectual capacity stands in its own way. It cripples
rather than furthers later intellectual development. We are not yet in a position to know how
much of the inertia and seeming paralysis of mental powers in later periods is the direct outcome
of excessive and too early to appeal to isolated intellectual capacity. We must trust to the
development of physiology and psychology to make these matters so clear that school authorities
and the public opinion which controls them shall have no option. Only then can we hope to
escape that deadening of the childish activities which led Jowett to call education “the grave of
the mind.”

Were the matter not so serious it would be ludicrous, when we reflect all this time and
effort to reach the end to which they are specially consecrated. It is a common saying among
intelligent educators that they can go into a schoolroom and select the children who picked up
reading at home: they read so much more naturally and intelligently. The stilted, mechanical,
droning, and sing-song ways of reading which prevail in many of our schools are simply the
reflex of the lack of motive. Reading is made an isolated accomplishment. There are no aims in
the child’s mind which he feels he can serve by reading; there is no mental hunger to be satisfied;
there are no conscious problems with reference to which he uses books. The book is a reading lesson. He learns to read not for the sake of what he reads, but for the mere sake of reading.
When the bare process of reading is thus made an end in itself, it is a psychological impossibility
for reading to be other than lifeless.

It is quite true that all better teachers now claim that the formal act of reading should be
made subordinate to the sense of what is read, that the child has first to grasp the idea, and then
to express his mental realization. But, under present conditions, this profession cannot be carried
out. The following paragraph from the report of the Committee of Fifteen on elementary
education states clearly enough the reason why; though, as it seems to me, without any
consciousness of the real inference which should be drawn from the facts set forth:-
“The first three years’ work of the child is occupied mainly with the mastery of the
printed and written forms of the words of his colloquial vocabulary,––words that he is already
familiar enough with as sounds addressed to the ear. He has to become familiar with the new
forms addressed to the eye; and it would be an unwise method to require him to learn many new
words at the same time that he is learning to recognize his old words· in their new shape. But as
soon as he has acquired (before three years) some facility in reading what is printed in the
colloquial style, he may go on to selections from standard authors.”

The material of the reading-lesson is thus found wholly in the region of familiar words
and ideas. It is out of the question for the child to find anything in the ideas themselves to arouse
and hold attention. His mind is fixed upon the mere recognition and utterance of the forms. Thus
begins that fatal divorce between the substance and the form of expression, which, fatal to
reading as an art, reduces it to a mechanical action. The utter triviality of the contents of our
school “Primers” and” First Readers,” shows the inevitable outcome of forcing the mastery of
external language-forms upon the child at a premature period. Take up the first half-dozen or
dozen such books you meet with, and ask yourself how much there is in the ideas presented
worthy of respect from any intelligent child of six years.

Methods for learning to read come and go across the educational arena, like the march of
supernumeraries upon the stage. Each is heralded as the final solution of the problem of learning
to read; but each in turn gives way to some later discovery. The simple fact is––that they all lack
the essential of any well-grounded method, namely, relevancy to the child’s mental needs. No
scheme for learning to read can supply this want. Only a new motive–putting the child into a
vital relation to the materials to be read––can be of service here. It is evident that this condition
cannot be met, unless learning to read be postponed to a period when the child’s intellectual
appetite is more consciously active, and when he is mature enough to deal more rapidly and
effectively with the formal and mechanical difficulties.

The endless drill, with its continual repetitions, is another instance of the same evil. Even
when the attempt is made to select material with some literary or historic worth of its own, the
practical outcome is much like making Paradise Lost the basis of parsing-lessons, or Caesar’s
Gallic Wars an introduction to Latin syntax. So much attention has to be given to the formal
side that the spiritual value evanesces. No one can estimate the benumbing and hardening effect
of this continued drill upon mere form. Another even more serious evil is the consequent
emptiness of mind induced. The mental room is swept and garnished–and that is all. The moral
result is even more deplorable than the intellectual. At this plastic period, when images which
take hold of the mind exercise such suggestive motor force, nothing but husks are provided.
Under the circumstances, our schools are doing great things for the moral education of children;
but all efforts in this direction must necessarily be hampered and discounted until the schoolteacher shall be perfectly free to find the bulk of the material of instruction for the early schoolyears in something which has intrinsic value,––something whose introduction into consciousness is so vital as to be personal and reconstructive.

It should be obvious that what I have in mind is not a Philistine attack upon books and
reading. The question is not how to get rid of them, but how to get their value,––how to use
them to their capacity as servants of the intellectual and moral life. The plea for the
predominance of learning to read in early school-life because of the great importance attaching to
literature seems to me a perversion. Just because literature is so important, it is desirable to
postpone the child’s introduction to printed speech until he is capable of appreciating and dealing
with its genuine meaning. Now, the child learns to read as a mechanical tool, and gets very little
conception of what is worth reading. The result is, that, after he has mastered the art and wishes
to use it; he has no standard by which to direct it. He is about as likely to use it in one way as in
another. It would be ungrateful not to recognize the faithfulness and relative success with which
teachers, for the last ten or fifteen years, have devoted themselves to raising the general tone of
reading with their pupils. But, after all, they are working against great odds. Our ideal should be
that the child should have a personal interest in what is read, a personal hunger for it, and a
personal power of satisfying this appetite. The adequate realization of this ideal is impossible
until the child comes to the reading-material with a certain background of experience which
makes him appreciate the difference between the trivial, the merely amusing and exciting, and
that which has permanent and serious meaning. This is impossible so long as the child has not
been trained in the habit of dealing with material outside of books, and has formed, through
contact with the realities of experience, habits of recognizing and dealing with problems in the
direct personal way. The isolation of material found in books from the material which the child
experiences in life itself––the forcing of the former upon the child before he has well-organized
powers of dealing with the latter––is an unnatural divorce which cannot have any other result
than defective standards of appreciation, and a tendency to elevate the sensational and transiently
interesting above the valuable and the permanent.

Two results of our wrong methods are so apparent in higher education that they are worth
special mention. They are exhibited in the paradox of the combination of slavish dependence
upon books with real inability to use them effectively. The famous complaint of Agassiz––that
students could not see for themselves––is still repeated by every teacher of science in our high
schools and colleges. How many teachers of science will tell you, for example, that, when their
students are instructed to find out something about an object, their first demand is for a book in
which they can read about it; their first reaction, one of helplessness, when they are told that they
must go to the object itself and let it tell its own story? It is not exaggerating to say that the book
habit is so firmly fixed that very many pupils, otherwise intelligent, have a positive aversion to
directing their attention to things themselves,––it seems so much simpler to occupy the mind
with what someone else has said about these things. While it is mere stupidity not to make
judicious use of the discoveries and attainments of others, the substitution of the seeing of others
for the use of one’s own eyes is such a self-contradictory principle as to require criticism. We
only need recognize the extent to which it actually obtains.

On the other hand, we have the relative incapacity of students to use easily and
economically these very tools––books––to which most of their energies have been directed. It is
a common experience with, I will not say only the teachers of undergraduate students, but of
graduate students,––candidates for advanced degrees,––to find that in every special subject a
large amount of time and energy has to be spent in learning how to use the books. To take a
book and present an adequate condensed synopsis of its points of view and course of argument is
an exercise, not merely in reading; but in thinking. To know how to turn quickly to a number of
books bearing upon a given topic, to choose what is needed, and to find what is characteristic of
the author and important in the subject, are matters which the majority of even graduate students
have to learn over again for themselves. If such be the case,––and yet attention to books has
been the dominant note of all previous education,––we are surely within bounds in asking if
there is not something radically wrong in the way in which books have been used. It is a truism
to say that the value of books consists in their relation to life, in the keenness and range which
they impart to powers of penetration and interpretation. It is no truism to say that the premature
and unrelated use of books stands in the way. Our means defeat the very end to which they are

Just a word about the corresponding evils: We have to take into account not simply the
results produced by forcing language-work unduly, but also the defects in development due to
the crowding out of other objects. Every respectable authority insists that the period of
childhood, lying between the years of four and eight or nine, is the plastic period in sense and
emotional life. What are we doing to shape these capacities? What are we doing to feed this
hunger? If one compares the powers and needs of the child in these directions with what is
actually supplied in the regimen of the three R’s, the contrast is pitiful, tragic. This epoch is also
the budding-time for the formation of efficient and orderly habits on the motor side: it is pre-
eminently the time when the child wishes to do things, and when his interest in doing can be
turned to educative account. No one can clearly set before himself the vivacity and persistency
of the child’s motor instincts at this period, and then call to mind the continued grind of reading
and writing, without feeling that the justification of our present curriculum is psychologically
impossible. It is simply a superstition: it is a remnant of an outgrown period of history.

All this might be true, and yet there might be no subject-matter sufficiently organized for
introduction into the school curriculum, since this demands, above all things, a certain
definiteness of presentation and of development. But we are not in this unfortunate plight. There
are subjects which are as well fitted to meet the child’s dominant needs as they are to prepare him
for the civilization in which he has to play his part. There is art in a variety of modes—music,
drawing, painting, modeling, etc. These media not only afford a regulated outlet in which the
child may project his inner impulses and feelings in outward form, and come to consciousness of
himself, but are necessities in existing social life. The child must be protected against some of
the hard and over-utilitarian aspect of modem civilization: positively, they are needed, because
some degree of artistic and creative power is necessary to take the future worker out of the ranks
of unskilled labor, and to feed his consciousness in his hours of contact with purely mechanical

Those modes of simple scientific observation and experiment which go under the name
of “nature-study” are calculated to appeal to and keep active the keenness of the child’s interest in
the world about him, and to introduce him gradually to those methods of discovery and
verification which are the essential characteristics of modern intellectual life. On the social side,
they give the child an acquaintance with his environment,––an acquaintance more and more
necessary, under existing conditions, for the maintenance of personal and social health, for
understanding and conducting business pursuits, and for the administration of civic affairs. What
is crudely termed manual training––the variety of constructive activities, which, begun in the
Kindergarten, ought never to be given up––is equally adapted to the characteristic needs of the
child and to the present demands of associated life. These activities afford discipline in
continuous and orderly application of powers, strengthen habits of attention and industry, and
beget self-reliant and ingenious judgment. As preparation for future social life, they furnish
insight into the mechanical and industrial occupations upon which our civilization depends, and
keep alive that sense of the dignity of work essential to democracy. History and literature, once
more, provide food for the eager imagination of the child. While giving it worthy material, they
may check its morbid and chaotic exercise. They present to the child typical conditions of social
life, they exhibit the struggles which have brought it into being, and picture the spiritual which it
has culminated. Due place cannot be given to and history until the teacher is free to select them
for their intrinsic value, and not from the standpoint of the child’s ability to recognize written and
printed verbal symbols.

Here we have the controlling factors in the primary curriculum of the future,––manual
training, science nature-study, art, and history. These keep alive the child’s positive and creative
impulses, and direct them in such ways as to discipline them into the habits of thought and action
required for effective participation in community life.

Were the attempt suddenly made to throw out, or reduce to a minimum, language-work in
the early grades, the last state of our schools would undoubtedly be worse than the first. Not
immediate substitution is what is required, but consideration of the whole situation, and
organization of the materials and methods of science, history, and the arts to make them adequate
educational agencies. Many of our present evils are due to compromise and inconsistency. We
have neither one thing nor the other,––neither the systematic, all-pervasive discipline of the three
R’s, nor a coherent training in constructive work, history, and nature-study. We have a mixture
of the two. The former is supposed to furnish the element of discipline and to constitute the
standard of success; while the latter supplies the factor of interest. What is needed is a
thoroughgoing reconciliation of the ideals of thoroughness, definiteness, and order, summed up
in the notion of discipline, with those of appeal to individual capacities and demands, summed
up in the word “interest.”

This is the Educational Problem, as it relates to the elementary school.
Change must come gradually. To force it unduly would compromise its final success by
favoring a violent reaction. What is needed in the first place is that there should be a full and
frank statement of conviction with regard to the matter from physiologists and psychologists and
from those school administrators who are conscious of the evils of the present régime. Educators
should also frankly face the fact that the New Education, as it exists to-day, is a compromise and
a transition: it employs new methods; but its controlling ideals are virtually those of the Old
Education. Wherever movements looking to a solution of the problem are intelligently
undertaken, they should receive encouragement, moral and financial, from the intellectual
leaders of the community. There are already in existence a considerable number of educational
“experiment stations,” which represent the outposts of educational progress. If these schools can
be adequately supported for a number of years they will perform a great vicarious service. After
such schools have worked out carefully and definitely the subject matter of a new curriculum,––
finding the right place for language-studies and placing them in their right perspective,––the
problem of the more general educational reform will be immensely simplified and facilitated.
There will be clear standards, well-arranged material, and coherent methods upon which to
proceed. To build up and equip such schools is, therefore, the wisest and most economic policy,
in avoiding the friction and waste consequent upon casual and spasmodic attempts at educational

All this amounts to saying that school reform is dependent upon a collateral wider change
in the public opinion which controls school board, superintendent, and teachers. There are
certain minor changes; reforms in detail, which can be effected directly within the school system
itself. But the school is not an isolated institution: it is one of an organism of social forces. To
secure more scientific principles of work in the school, means, accordingly, clearer vision and
wiser standards of thought and action in the community at large. The Educational Problem is
ultimately, that society shall see clearly its own conditions and needs, and set resolutely about
meeting them. If the recognition be once secured, we need have no doubts about the consequent
action. Let the community once realize that it is educating upon the basis of a life which it has
left behind, and it will turn, with adequate intellectual and material resources, to meet the needs
of the present hour.


John Dewey was an atheist and a signer of the Humanist Manifesto.  

Bold added by the editor

Saint Patrick & the times he lived in — He “…found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian!” – American Minute with Bill Federer


  Saint Patrick & the times he lived in — How he “…found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian!”

In 220 AD, the Later Eastern Han Dynasty extended sections of the Great Wall of China along the Mongolian border.

This made it harder for the Huns to attack into China, so they turned westward, attacking and displacing tribes throughout Central Asia.

These tribes migrated further west, overrunning the western borders of the Roman Empire:
  • Visigoths,
  • Ostrogoths,
  • Franks,
  • Anglos,
  • Saxons,
  • Alemanni,
  • Thuringians,
  • Rugians,
  • Jutes,
  • Picts,
  • Burgundians,
  • Lombards,
  • Alans, and
  • Vandals.
Rome had to withdraw its Legions from other areas of the Empire, such as the frontiers of Britain, in order to place them along the Roman border.
This left Britain, which had been a Roman territory since the time of Julius Caesar, unprotected.
Marauding bands and lawless mobs raided Britain’s unprotected Roman settlements and carried away thousands to sell into slavery in Ireland.
Ireland was ruled by the bloodthirsty, superstitious pagan Druids.
Thomas Cahill wrote in How the Irish Saved Civilization (Random House, 1995):
“Romans, in their first encounters with these exposed, insane warriors, were shocked and frightened … They were howling and, it seemed, possessed by demons, so outrageous was their strength … featuring all the terrors of hell itself.”
The Druids, from whom Halloween originated, believed that the trees and hills were inhabited by good and evil spirits which constantly needed to be appeased.


Cahill continued:
“(Druids) sacrificed prisoners of war to the war gods and newborns to the harvest gods.
Believing that the human head was the seat of the soul, they displayed proudly the heads of their enemies in their temples and on their palisades; they even hung them from their belts as ornaments, used them as footballs in victory celebrations, and were fond of employing skull tops as ceremonial drinking bowls.
They also sculpted heads – both shrunken, decapitated heads.”
Patrick’s British name at birth was Sucat, but his Latin name was “Patricius,” meaning “Nobleman.”
Around 405 A.D., at the age of 16 years old, while working on his father’s farm near the sea, 50 currachs (longboats) filled with raiders weaved their way toward the shore.


Mary Cagney, author of the article “Patrick The Saint” (Christian History, Issue 60), wrote:
“With no Roman army to protect them (Roman legions had long since deserted Britain to protect Rome from barbarian invasions), Patricius and his town were unprepared for attack.
The Irish warriors, wearing helmets and armed with spears, descended on the pebble beach.
The braying war horns struck terror into Patricius’ heart, and he started to run toward town.
The warriors quickly demolished the village, and as Patricius darted among the burning houses and screaming women, he was caught.
The barbarians dragged him aboard a boat bound for the east coast of Ireland.”
For six years Patrick herded animals for a Druid chieftain.
He wrote in his life’s story, called The Confession of Saint Patrick:
“But after I came to Ireland — every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed — the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened.
And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain …
… There the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God who … comforted me as would a father his son.”
Then Patrick had a dream, as he wrote:
“One night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me:
`It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.’ And again … a voice saying to me: `See, your ship is ready.’
And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two hundred miles … Then I took to flight … I went in the strength of God who directed my way … until I came to that ship.”

Patrick eventually made his way back to Britain and was reunited with what was left of his family.
Then, when he was about 40 years old, he had another dream calling him back to Ireland as a missionary.


In his Confession, Patrick wrote:
“In the depth of the night, I saw a man named Victoricus coming as if from Ireland, with innumerable letters, and he gave me one and while I was reading I thought I heard the voice of those near the western sea call out:
‘Please, holy boy, come and walk among us again.’
Their cry pierced my very heart, and I could read no more, and so I awoke.”
Patrick returned to Ireland.
He confronted the Druids, converted chieftains, and used the three-leaf clover to teach the Trinity.

The Druids tried to ambush and kill Patrick nearly a dozen times:
“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of Heaven …
The merciful God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my life was at stake-not to mention numerous plots …
… God is my witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used to forewarn even me … of many things by a divine message …
… I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers …
I am prepared to give even my life without hesitation and most gladly for His name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die.”


Encyclopedia Britannica stated that Patrick challenged:
“royal authority by lighting the Paschal fire on the hill Slane on the night of Easter Eve.
It chanced to be the occasion of a pagan festival at Tara, during which no fire might be kindled until the royal fire had been lit.”
As Patrick’s fire on the Hill of Slane illuminated the countryside, King Loigaire (King Leary) is said to have exclaimed:
“If we do not extinguish this flame it will sweep over all Ireland.”


Mary Cagney, in “Patrick the Saint” (Christianity Today, Issue 60), wrote:
“Predictably, Patrick faced the most opposition from the Druids, who practiced magic … and advised Irish kings.
Biographies of the saint are replete with stories of Druids who ‘wished to kill holy Patrick’ …
One biographer from the late 600’s, Muirchu’, described Patrick challenging Druids to contests at Tara …
… The custom was that whoever lit a fire before the king on that night of the year (Easter’s eve) would be put to death.
Patrick lit the paschal fire before the king on the Hill of Slane.
The people saw Patrick’s fire throughout the plain, and the king ordered 27 chariots to go and seize Patrick …
Seeing that the impious heathen were about to attack him, Patrick rose and said clearly and loudly,
‘May God come up to scatter his enemies and may those who hate him flee from his face.’
By this disaster, caused by Patrick’s curse in the king’s presence because of the king’s order, seven times seven men fell …
And the king driven by fear, came and bent his knees before the holy man.'”


Many miraculous acts were attributed to Patrick.
The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick was compiled by a 12th century Cistercian Monk of Furnes named Jocelin.


A popular translation was done by Edmund L. Swift, Esq., Dublin, in 1809, with elucidations of David Rothe, Bishop of Ossory.
The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick contains chapters such as:
  • Chapter 68: Of his Journey, & of his manifold Miracles;
  • Chapter 69: The Sick Man cured;
  • Chapter 71 The Dead are raised up; the King & the People are converted;
  • Chapter 78: Nineteen Men are raised by Saint Patrick from the Dead;
  • Chapter 80: The King Echu is raised from Death;
  • Chapter 81: A Man of Gigantic Stature is revived from Death;
  • Chapter 82: Of Another Man who was Buried & Raised Again;
  • Chapter 83: Of the Boy who was torn in pieces by Swine & restored unto Life;
  • Chapter 145: Of a Woman who was raised from Death;
  • Chapter 146: The Testimony of One who was revived from Death;
  • Chapter 172: He banisheth the Demons forth of the Island;
  • Chapter 178: The Soul of a Certain Sinner is by Saint Patrick freed from Demons;
  • Chapter 186: Of the Sick whom he healed, & the Dead whom he raised; & of his Disciples who recorded his Acts.
In his thirty years of ministry, Saint Patrick is credited with baptizing 120,000 people and founding 300 churches.

Despite his great achievements, Patrick struggled with an inferiority complex.


In his Confession, Patrick wrote:
“I had long had it in mind to write, but up to now I have hesitated. I was afraid lest I should fall under the judgment of men’s tongues because I am not as well read as others …
As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive … Hence to-day I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise writing — in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.”
In his letter to Coroticus, he wrote:
“I, Patrick, a sinner, very badly educated.”
Coroticus was a tyrant king in Britain who carried off some of Patrick’s converts into slavery.
“You prefer to … sell them to a foreign nation that has no knowledge of God. You betray the members of Christ as it were into brothel …
Ravenous wolves have gulped down the Lord’s own flock which was flourishing in Ireland, and the whole church cries out and laments for its sons and daughters.”


Patrick was one of the first major religious leaders to speak out strongly against slavery, having himself been a victim.
He considered one of the first “abolitionists,” as condemned the deeds of Coroticus, calling them “wicked, so horrible, so unutterable,” and exhorted him to “repent and free the converts.”


When the Irish converted to Christianity, they abandoned their pagan Druid laws, which Patrick replaced with Bible-based Latin-Irish laws.
Leslie Hardinge wrote in The Celtic Church in Britain (Random House, 1995):
“Wherever Patrick went and established a church, he left an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses) along with the books of the Gospel.”
This became called the “Senchus Mor” or “Code of Patrick.”
On MARCH 17, around 461 AD, Saint Patrick died.
The Liber Hymnorum, a collection of hymns from ancient manuscripts in Dublin, gives the account:
“Saint Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by King Loegaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith.
And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that they (Saint Patrick and his monks) were wild deer with a fawn following them.”
The song is called the Lorica, which means Shield or Breastplate, also referred to as The Deer’s Cry.
The Breastplate of Saint Patrick (Translation by Cecil Frances Alexander):
“I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, the One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on the cross for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to harken to my need;
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poison’d shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!”

Following Saint Patrick’s example were many courageous Irish missionaries.


St. Brigid of Kildare (451-525) was brought to faith by Patrick. She boldly told King of Leinster that should give land for a convent. He at first refused, but then became a Christian and paid for the construction. Brigid founded numerous monasteries and churches across Ireland.


Irish missionary Columba (521-597) founded an abbey on the Island of Iona and then evangelized Scotland.


Columbanus (543-615), sailed to Europe, where they evangelized the heathen hordes which had overrun the Roman Empire. He founded churches and monasteries across Europe, most notably in southern France and northern Italy, such as Luxeuil Abbey and Bobbio Abbey.


Irish missionary, St. Brendan (484-577), sailed west and is thought to have discovered North America.


The Code of Patrick was taken by missionaries to Britain where it laid the foundation for English Common Law, later codified by Alfred the Great (847-899).
As American law is based on English Common Law, one is struck with the thought that Saint Patrick may have even influenced the legal system in the United States.
Patrick’s influence was profound that over 1500 years later, there is still a date on the calendar to remember him.


The World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Field Enterprises, Inc., 1957, p. 6142) stated of Saint Patrick:
“He found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.”


In 597, St. Augustine of Canterbury arrived in England and baptized King Ethelberht and thousands of his subjects.
Bishops of the Celtic Christian tradition did not submit till the Synod of Whitby Abbey in 664, where King Oswy of Northumbria agreed to come under the authority of the Catholic Church.

At this time, Patrick was bestowed the title of Saint.


When the Reformation came to England with Henry VIII, Ireland remained Catholic.


It was not until after the Battle of Kinsale, 1601, that the British began transplanting 200,000 Presbyterian Lowland Scots into Northern Ireland, creating a Scots-Irish population.
When England’s King Charles I tried to force these Presbyterians to comply with the Church of England in the 1630s, many fled to the colonies in America.


In 1641, an Irish Rebellion began the Irish Confederate War, after which thousands more fled to America.


Oliver Cromwell invaded in the 1650s, causing more Irish Catholics to flee, with some 300,000 being sold into slavery in the English colonies of Virginia and New England, and in the Caribbean plantations of Antigua, Montserrat, Jamaica, and Barbados.
Historian Will Durant wrote in The Story of Civilization:


“The Irish scene was one of the most shameful in history.”
A Scottish famine in the 1690s brought thousands more Scots to Ireland, followed by another wave of Scots-Irish sailing to America.
In 1703, Queen Anne’s Test Act required all office-holders to subscribe to Anglican doctrine, and stripped other faiths of the right to worship, preach, or preform marriages.
It is estimated that in the 1700s, a half million Irish and Scots-Irish came to America.


Another enormous wave of immigration occurred as a result of the Great Irish Potato Famine, 1845-1849.
Millions of Irish died in Ireland and millions immigrated, causing the Catholic population in America to increase to 20 percent.
33 million Americans have Irish ancestry, composing about 11 percent of the U.S. population, second only to those with German ancestry, 15 percent.
Twenty-two U.S. Presidents have some Irish ancestry.
Communities across America have Saint Patrick’s Day Parades, where all, both Protestants and Catholics, join together in celebrating St. Patrick and Irish heritage.


In his Confession, Saint Patrick wrote:
“Patrick the sinner, an unlearned man to be sure.
None should ever say that it was my ignorance that accomplished any small thing, it was the gift of God.”
Reposted with permission from American Minute.
American Minute is a registered trademark of William J. Federer.


Pro-Life Flag Flies Outside Waltham, MA’s City Hall

The Pro-Life flag flying on public property outside the Waltham, MA thanks to the Massachusetts based Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund (PLLDF) and our 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court win “Shurtleff v Boston.”

This is from Attorney Bob Joyce of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund:

From March 11th to March 12th, PLLDF’s newly created pro-life, pro-family flag flew fully and proudly on the Main Street flagpole outside the Waltham, MA City Hall. The combination of good weather and favorable wind velocity enabled the image and words (PRO-LIFE, PRO-MOTHER, PRO-FATHER, and PRO-CHILD) to stand out clearly in plain view.

See the two images which illustrate how this double-sided nylon flag flew so that it could be read from both sides. Also, see the attached computer image of the flag.
PLLDF is pleased to publicly proclaim this pro-life, pro-family message which includes women, men, and children.
Our flag is available for flagpoles throughout Massachusetts (for cities/towns, churches, schools, Knights of Columbus councils, or elsewhere).  (Ed note:  They can be used in towns and cities across the U.S. as well)
Contact PLLDF at or at (617) 970-0928 if your organization would like to borrow one of our flags or if you’d like information about how to purchase one.




The Weekly Sam: Hysteria on the Left

The following was a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe in the wake of a vicious article that smeared a group of Patriots that attended an event that took place in Burlington in November of 1994.  The smear piece was written by Chip Berlet, a far-leftist who worked for Political Research Associates.  I was on hand at this meeting and addressed the group.  After this article was published, a number of us wrote letters to the editor to the Boston Globe but none were published.  Berlet tried to make the case that our “rhetoric” was responsible for the actions of John Salvi-a man who shot up two abortion mills. The Left is still at it.

Chip Berlet’s op-ed piece, “Armed and dangerous,” which appeared in the Globe
on January 6, is not only incredibly inept journalism but reminiscent of the kind of
unfounded “guilt by association” charges attributed to the late Senator Joseph

Nothing that the deranged John Salvi has done, said or written indicates that he
was influenced by any of the well-known organizations mentioned by Berlet, such as
The John Birch Society, Concerned Women for America, or the National Right to Life
Committee. In fact, Salvi ‘s rambling letter, published in the Globe on January 6,
reveals a deplorable ignorance of the aims and precepts of these well established
organizations. I defy Mr Berlet to find one word in the publications of these
organizations that in any way encourages or condones the actions of those who would
kill the providers of abortion. Salvi has only added to the tragedy of abortion, not
alleviated it.

As for the meeting held at Burlington High School last November, I was invited to
speak on the subject of education, which I did. I was not told in advance that one of
the exhibitors would be Den’s Gun Shop. But considering the fact that the right to own
and bear arms, protected by the Second Amendment, has been under unrelenting
attack by the liberals, I could understand the rationale of having a gun shop exhibit at
the meeting. But to suggest by the craftiest of innuendos that people browsing at the
gun shop table while pro-life leader Dr. Mildred Jefferson was speaking in another
room indicates that she or the browsers or the exhibitor caused or condoned what
John Salvi did is just about the sleaziest and most reprehensible piece of writing I
have yet read by the promoters of hysteria on the left.

People on both the left and the right have had to deal with those deranged
individuals who feel compelled to perpetrate acts of terror and horror. One does not
blame liberal black leadership for the actions of the black man who shot up the
passengers in the Long Island commuter train. We all understand that there is no way
to control solo individuals bent on committing mayhem.

But the concern of those of us on the right is the government’s potential for
committing mayhem. Even Chip Berlet admitted to me that he deplored the way the
U.S. government handled the Waco atrocity. And it is that atrocity, not abortion, that
has galvanized gun owners into such defensive responses as the militia movement
But perhaps the worst of Berlet’s accusations is where he says that “There is a
growing right-wing social movement that uses theological arguments to encourage
direct confrontation of its targets and tolerates discussion of armed resistance.”
I have been involved in the so-called right-wing movement since 1965 and not once
have I heard of such theological arguments. In fact, I’ve heard just the opposite. Dr. R.
J. Rushdoony, leader of the Christian Reconstruction movement, has strongly
denounced demonstrations at abortion clinics let alone the murder of abortion
providers. He believes, as most Christians do, that only the moral regeneration of the
American people will put an end to legalized abortion.

For Berlet to needlessly alarm the readers of the Globe into believing that
conservative organizations have entered a new, sinister phase of armed confrontation
with the left is not only to grossly misinform this newspaper’s readers but to libel those
of us on the right who have spent the last 25 years writing, lecturing and educating
Americans about the vital issues our society faces.

I also question the judgment of the editor who decided to use such an obviously
provocative illustration and title for a smear article that strongly suggests that we on the
right are moving toward Salvi-type terrorism . I know that the Globe is a staunchly
liberal newspaper, but I never thought it would stoop to such unadulterated, Nazi-like
propaganda. Back in 1938, a young Jew assassinated the German ambassador in
Paris. The Nazi propaganda machine blamed the Jews of Germany for the act of one
deranged youth . The result was Kristallnacht during which Jewish synagogues and
stores were burned and destroyed throughout Germany. The irony is that Chip Berlet,
who thinks he’s defending liberalism, is unaware of how much like Goebbels he has
become. Tragically, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
Samuel L. Blumenfeld
January 6, 1995

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The Blumenfeld Archives

Camp Constitution is sponsoring a speaking tour for author and documentary producer Vince Ellison

Camp Constitution Speaker’s Bureau is pleased to announce that it will sponsor a speaking tour of Vince Elison in the Greater Boston and Lakes Region of New Hampshire.   On Friday May 3–7:00 PM, Vince will be speaking at One Cranberry Hill in Lexington, MA and on Saturday May4–7:00 PM at the Alton Senior Center 7 Pierson Rd. Alton, NH    We are still waiting for confirmations for a Thursday evening May 2 and Saturday morning May 3.  Admission is free.  Donations are accepted.  RSVPs are suggested since seating is limited.

Vince is the author of The Iron Triangle: Inside the Liberal Democrat Plan to Use Race to Divide Christians and America in Their Quest for Power and How We Can Defeat Them, 25 Lies, and Crime, INC. He has appeared numerous times on Hannity, The Laura Ingraham Show, Newsmax, Tucker Carlson, OAN, The Joe Pags Show, The Brian Kilmeade Show, and on many other radio and television programs.

Vince recently started a show which airs on YouTube.  Please view, share and subscribe to his channel.


Camp Constitution Loses a friend and Mentor with the passing of John McManus

I recently received the news that John McManus passed away at the age of 89.  Mr. McManus, known as Jack to many of us, was a long-time friend, former colleague, and mentor as well as an instructor at Camp Constitution.

I first met Jack at his John Birch Society office in Belmont, MA back in 1988.  I walked into his impressive book lined office with my oldest daughter Rachel in my arms.  He looked at Rachel and then gave me a stern look and said, “Some world we are leaving her.”  Jack and I spent many hours driving around the highways and byways of New England where he would give speeches on a number of topics-a number of them aired on C-SPAN.  In the late 1990s, I helped to host John at the Nashua, NH Library.  We had a full house.  During his presentation, he started to cough.  I got him some water and walked to the podium as discreetly as possible to leave of the water.  He looked at me and said “Is this water?”  “Yes,” I said  “I am Irish”, he replied.  “I know that is why I brought you water” was by comeback.  It got a good laugh from the attendees and many thought that we rehearsed the exchange.  As an “old school” speaker, he would always start a lecture or presentation with a few jokes, and the video linked below is no exception.

He gave a lecture at out 1st annual family camp in July of 2010 and would attend many more over the next twelve years.  His last camp was in 2021.  A link to his class at our 2021 camp:


He will be missed but his rich legacy of liberty will live on and influence millions of people.

His obituary:

John F. “Jack” McManus, age 89, of Reading, formerly a longtime resident of Wakefield, died Monday, March 4 after a period of failing health.

His Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Adelaide Parish, 708 Lowell St., Peabody on Monday, March 11 at 10:30 AM. Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Sunday March 10 from 1-4 PM. 
Born in Brooklyn, NY on January 24, 1935 he was the son of the late V. Paul and Dorothea Frances (Devenport) McManus.

Jack was raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Brooklyn Prep, where he played varsity basketball.  He went on to further his education at The College of the Holy Cross, receiving a bachelor’s degree in physics. He was a member of the Naval ROTC program while at Holy Cross, and upon graduating was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps.  He proudly served his country as a Marine for three years. Upon concluding his military time, he went to work as an electronics engineer before taking on a position at The John Birch Society, where he would spend the remainder of his working years. Jack wore many hats at the John Birch Society from 1966 to the present day. He considered himself a teacher, and was a prolific writer and speaker for the Birch Society, though his most recent titles were President from 1991-2015 and President Emeritus from 2015 on. He was an avid Boston sports fan and dabbled in golf. Throughout his life he loved to swim in the ocean and especially relished such opportunity in his later years.  He also enjoyed crossword puzzles, books, and history, as well as spending time with his children and grandchildren by the pool.

He was the beloved husband of the late Mary O’Reilly McManus, with whom he shared 65 wonderful years of marriage. John is survived by his devoted and loving son Paul McManus and his wife Margaret of Holden, Massachusetts, loving and devoted daughters Margaret (Peggy) Strauss and her husband Glenn of Wakefield, Massachusetts and Mary Anne Power and her husband Jeffrey from Wakefield, Massachusetts.  Also son John and his wife Linda of Wakefield, Massachusetts. He was the brother of Mary Jane Strackbein and her husband William of Vienna, Virginia and the late Thomas E. and Paul D. McManus; and the loving grandfather to seven grandchildren.

His Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Adelaide Parish, 708 Lowell St., Peabody on Monday, March 11 at 10:30 AM. Visitation for relatives and friends will be held at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Sunday March 10 from 1-4 PM.


The Weekly Sam: Argentina and Paper Money By Samuel L. Blumenfeld

What the people of Argentina are going through is possible in any country that uses paper “money” as the basis of its economic activity. Today’s paper money has no backing and therefore is only worth what the government or central bank says it is worth. We call that kind of paper money “Legal Tender.” In other words, the government invests its faith and credit in the value stated on the paper note. Money is supposed to be a medium of exchange and a storage of wealth and we accept paper money because the government backs its stated value. But such a system can only work if the people have trust and confidence in their government and their government behaves responsibly. If we go back to the early days of economic activity, we fmd that barter was the earliest form of exchange. A person could exchange a cow for sausages. In other words, one gave value for value.

The medium of exchange was awkward and cumbersome, and the two individuals involved had to make value judgments about what they were getting for their commodity. But then it was found that gold would be accepted by many sellers in lieu of a perishable commodity as a medium of exchange, because of its scarcity and convenience. Gold also became an excellent storage for wealth. You could hold gold without its spoiling for as long as you wanted, and people would gladly exchange commodities for it. But then, as civilization ‘progressed, keeping gold became inconvenient. It could also be easily stolen. So people began putting their gold for safekeeping in banks, and the banks issued gold certificates or banknotes.

The banknotes were worth their weight in gold. But then the banks used the gold deposits as security for high-interest loans, which they made by issuing banknotes. But when the loans were not repaid, and the owners of gold cashed in their banknotes, the bank became insolvent, and their notes were no longer honored. This was the case in early America, where the Farmer’s Almanack up to 1863 actually listed “Worthless and Uncurrent Bank Notes in New England.” Thirteen banks in Boston alone were listed as having worthless bank notes. None of today’s currencies have any backing at all except the faith and credit of the government behind it. In Argentina, the faith and credit of the government no longer exists. And so its citizens hold paper money that has already lost half its value by government devaluation.

The Argentine peso cannot be said to be a storage of wealth. Only those individuals who were smart enough to buy gold or U.S. dollars will come out ahead of the game, because they didn’t trust their government to maintain the value of Argentine currency. So, what is money today? The money that becomes figures in a computer must still be earned the old-fashioned way, by working for it, or earning it through prudent investment. That is, for most people. The expansion of government has made it possible to pay the needy in welfare checks and food stamps. It is still possible to use gold as a storage of wealth. As long as paper money is susceptible to inflation, the dollar will continue to decrease in value. Thus, we have experienced exactly what the Argentines have experienced but over a much longer period of time.

Those people in Argentina who owned gold came out ahead of everyone else, because the price of gold is set on the world market in London, and it is now worth as much as holders of the Argentine peso have to pay for it. Also, those who owned valuable real estate did well. Once you understand the vulnerabilities of paper money, you have to invest your money and store it in ways that will maintain and hopefully increase its value. Putting it in the bank at today’s low interest will not increase its value. The stock market is still the best way to grow wealth. But you must buy stock in companies that you know will grow and prosper. Real estate is one of the best ways to store wealth, particularly in areas of increasing value. It makes sense to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates to buy a house. Antiques and valuable works of art also make good investments. As for gold, it is a commodity. Its price is subject to periodic fluctuations caused by political and economic crises. There is no way of knowing for sure what the price of gold will be tomorrow. In other words, those who bought gold when it was $800 an ounce lost half its value as it declined to $350. It all depends at what price you buy it and at what price you sell it.

In short, our greatest security is not in paper money but in the ability to create an income for ourselves. In order to do that we must be able to create and provide value for others. America is blessed with a huge number of individual entrepreneurs and inventors who keep making things better and better. The genius of capitalism is that it can take a cartoon character of a mouse and create  a billion-dollar entertainment conglomerate. It can take a simple hamburger and tum it into a worldwide fast-food phenomenon. And it can take a simple carbonated drink and make it universally recognized as the symbol of a nation.

The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. But money now is not a shiny pile of gold, but figures in a computer. Our goal should be to use the gifts God has given us to create value through our efforts, our intelligence, our genius. That is the only way to make our economic pursuits pleasing in God’s eyes.  So it is the behavior of government that determines the value of our currency. In the U.S. money is issued by the Federal Reserve Bank, a private institution that determines interest rates for the nation’s banks.

Gold is still a better storage of wealth than paper dollars, which are subject to inflation. Ancient Rome suffered from inflation when the emperor added other metals to the gold coins, thus decreasing the value of the coin. In America, where we used to have silver coins, we now have metallic coins that we use like paper money. You can buy a silver dollar from a coin dealer for much more than our present dollar. As our modern capitalist economy grew, the need for investment cash grew with it. Thus, gold had become an impediment to economic development. By liberating paper from gold and calling it legal tender, man had invented the greatest fuel for economic development in history. But paper money, like nuclear power, has its risks and is totally dependent on responsible government for its value.

Legal tender was invented to stimulate commercial enterprise. But politicians have used it to redistribute the wealth, throwing billions at such projects as the War on Poverty. And the only reason why the United States has not gone the way of Argentina is because we have a citizenry willing to pay the taxes to support such wasteful spending. Wherever you have paper money without any gold or silver backing, you can get runaway inflation. Germany in the 1920s is an example of paper money becoming worthless overnight. In the United States we’ve had slow inflation that is almost unnoticeable. However, those of us old enough to remember when a hotdog cost 5 cents can see the effects of inflation in the same hotdog costing $1.95 at the mall food court. Of course, technological advance has cheapened lots of goods and services not because of any government monetary policy, but because technology has lowered the cost of production. For example, despite inflation, long distance calls today are much cheaper than they were in the 1930s. And the price of chickens, once considered a luxury, has significantly declined. Competition and technology account for this favorable development. What keeps the American economy viable as opposed to Argentina is that in America we have a huge number of individual entrepreneurs and inventors who keep making things better and better. Unfortunately, nothing comes out of Argentina except beef and Tangos.


Let the Pastors Speak by Maria Pia Perez

In celebration of Presidents Day, I’d like to share selected stories about our founding leaders and their pastors.

New England’s pulpits essentially paved the road to American freedom. Sermons from the colonial era helped to shape America’s understanding that resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.


Thus, the New England clergy helped lay the intellectual and theological foundation for liberty.

Liberty Thundered from the colonial pulpits, mainly in New England, ignited the war for independence (Kennedy, 1994 ).

One example is the work of reverend Jonas Clark. He was the minister of the church in Lexington. From 1762 to 1776, he was the most influential politician and a churchman in the Lexington Concord area. His home was a meeting place for many important patriots; on the night of Paul Revere’s ride, Clark entertained John Hancock and Samuel Adams. When asked if the men of Lexington would fight, he replied that he had trained them for that very hour (Kennedy, 1994).


History is replete with evidence of how pastors influenced our first founding leaders. I want to share how the pastors guided and influenced the founding of our nation, pastors like Jonathan Mayhew, who asserted that “rebellion against tyranny is obedience to God.” In the 1700s, Jonathan Mayhew was the most prominent dissenter against the Church of England in Massachusetts. His powerful sermons put forth radical ideas against the crown. Mayhew’s words are not just spiritual wanderings but outright treason.

Rev. Jonathan Mayhew

One of his more prominent speeches became known as the “morning gun of the revolution,” fueling rebellion against the King in England. John Adams was so inspired by Mayhew’s sermons that even in his old age, he would give copies of the speech to friends as a gift. Adams would praise people of faith, stating, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” He said, “The revolution was affected before the war commenced; it was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.”


Another preacher who was used mightily by God was the reverend George Whitefield. Whitefield arrived in Philadelphia as part of an extended evangelical journey through the colonies. Benjamin Franklin was curious to learn about Whitefield, so he investigated whether Whitefield might be a charlatan. Uninterested in hearing Whitefield speak to small local congregations, Benjamin Franklin decided to hear him when he spoke in a large open-air meeting, which captivated Franklin’s attention. He was intrigued that the preacher was doing good work, like opening a large orphanage outside Savannah, Georgia. Franklin is taken in by the sincere message of faith and is so moved by the preacher’s message that he secures an arrangement to print Whitefield’s sermons. The two developed a deep civil friendship in Franklin’s words, and Whitefield became a frequent visitor to the Franklin household. Whitefield traveled to America seven times; his message of self-determination in religion and civil affairs would resonate throughout the colonies, inspiring rebellion against England.

Rev. George Whitifield

An additional renowned pastor influential to our nation’s founders was the reverend Samuel Davies. Patrick Henry, one of the most influential fathers of our country, said of reverend Samuel Davies that “he was the greatest orator I have ever heard.” (O’Reilly & Dugard, 2023 )

The Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon had an unparalleled record as a leader and educator for over 25 years. He taught a large group of the founding fathers, and “his graduates included the president of the United States James Madison; Vice president, Aaron Burr; 10 cabinet members; Six members of the Continental Congress; 39 US Representatives: 21 US Senators; 12 Governor’s; 56 State Legislator’s; 30 judges; 3 US Supreme Court justices; 6 members of the Constitutional Convention; and 13 college presidents.” The Reverend John Witherspoon was a signer of the Declaration and a signer of the Articles of Confederation. Witherspoon was the quintessential founding father most people have never heard of. He was best described as the man who shaped the men who shaped America (Kennedy, 1994 ).

How about the Reverend William Rogers, who had a special time of daily prayer for the constitutional convention proceedings throughout the convention.


As Thomas Jefferson said at the time of the founding, “when governments fear the people, there is liberty. when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

Montesquieu believed that all law has its source in God. In his primary text, The Spirit of the Laws, he recognized the value of Christianity in fostering good laws and good government.

In the Old Testament, prophets such as Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, and Elisha were counselors to the kings. In America, the people are the king, and the pastors are the counselors to the king sitting in their pews. The church is the conscious of the state (Federer, 2017).

In 1820, Daniel Webster, in speaking against the African slave trader, gave a rebuke in which he stated and invoked “the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its denunciation of these crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to the authority of human laws. ” He stated, “If the pulpit be silent whenever or wherever there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its voice, the pulpit is false to its trust” (Federer, 2017).

Works Cited

Federer, W. J. (2017). Who is the King in America: And who are the counselors to the king? Fort Myers : Amerisearch Inc. .

Kennedy, D. J. (1994 ). What If Jeusus Had Never Been Born? Nashville : Thomas Nelson Inc. .

O’Reilly, B., & Dugard, M. (2023 ). Killing the Witches: The horror of salem, Massachusetts . New York : St. Martin’s Press .

Powell, S. S. (2022). Rediscovering America: How the national holidays tell an amazing story about who we are . New York: Post Hill Press .

The Weekly Sam: Portrait of a Young Hero-The Paul V Healey Story

Back in 1968, Sam interviewed Paul V Healey. a young soldier from Holbrook, MA who did one of the most heroic feats of courage in the Vietnam War.  It is too lengthy to publish as a blog, so we have a link to a PDF version from Sam’s archive:


The Blumenfeld Archives