American Minute with Bill Federer
McGuffey's Readers sold a Million Copies a Year for 120 Years! "The Ten Commandments are basic"; "Pray to God to keep you from sin & harm ... Trust in Him ... The kind care of God will be with you"
million copies a year
for over 120 years,
mainstay of public education
The only other books in that sales category were
Generations of school children read them,
making them some of
the most influential books of all time.
They were written by
who died May 4, 1873.
A professor at the University of Virginia and president of Ohio University,
"Schoolmaster of the Nation."
He began one of nation's
first teachers' associations.
In the foreword of
1836, he wrote:
"The Christian religion is the religion of our country.
From it are derived our prevalent notions of the
character of God, the great moral governor of the universe.
On its doctrines
are founded the peculiarities of
our free institutions
teachings of Jesus
are not only
(complete in every way)."
McGuffey's Eclectic Sixth Reader,
1907, included a quote from
Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Uncle Tom's Cabin:
"While most nations trace their origin to barbarians, the
foundations of our nation
were laid by
civilized men, by Christians
The memory of
should be the watchword of liberty throughout the land;
imperfect as they were, the world before had not seen their like,
nor will it soon, we fear, behold their like again.
models of moral excellence,
such apostles of
civil and religious liberty
To ridicule them is national suicide."
William Holmes McGuffey,
McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader
(revised edition, 1879, Lesson XXIII), had a chapter by
Mason L. Weems,
"King Charles II and William Penn":
"King Charles: How then will you get their lands?
William Penn: I mean to buy their lands of them.
King Charles: Buy their lands of them? Why, man, you have already bought them of me! ...
William Penn: ... How can I, who call myself a Christian, do what I should abhor even in the heathen? No ...
I will buy the right of the proper owners, even of the Indians themselves.
By doing this, I shall imitate
himself in his justice and mercy, and thereby insure
His blessing on my colony,
if I should ever live to plant one in North America."
William Holmes McGuffey's
Fifth Eclectic Reader
(revised edition, 1879, Lesson LXV, pp. 200-204) memorialized
John Peter Gabriel Muhlenburg
in a poem titled "The Rising" written by Thomas Buchanan Read:
warrior David's song;
The text, a few short words of might,-
"The Lord of Hosts shall arm the right!"
He spoke of wrongs too long endured,
Of sacred rights to be secured;
Then from his patriot tongue of flame
words for Freedom came.
The stirring sentences he spake
Compelled the heart to glow or quake,
And, rising on his theme's broad wing,
And grasping in his nervous hand
The imaginary battle-brand,
In face of death he dared to fling
Defiance to a tyrant king."
McGuffey's 5th Eclectic Reader,
1879, is a lesson titled "Religion--The Only Basis of Society," by
William Ellery Channing,
whose grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence:
"How powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God
Erase all thought and fear of God
from a community, and
selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.
Appetite, knowing no restraint
in scorn on the
restraints of human laws
Man would become
... what the theory of
declares him to be --
a companion for brutes."
William Holmes McGuffey's
Fifth Eclectic Reader,
1879, included Lesson CXIII, "A Picture of Human Life" by
renown British compiler of
A Dictionary of the English Language,
"Temptation succeeds temptation,
and one compliance prepares us for another; we, in time,
lose the happiness of innocence,
and solace our disquiet with
By degrees we let fall the remembrance of our original intention, and quit the only adequate object of rational desire.
We entangle ourselves in
immerse ourselves in
and rove through the labyrinths of inconstancy till
darkness of old age
begins to invade us, and disease and anxiety obstruct our way.
We then look back upon our lives with horror,
with sorrow, and with repentance; and wish, but
too often vainly wish, that we had not forsaken the paths of virtue
"Happy are they, my son, who shall learn, from thy example ...
is never hopeless ...
The wanderer may at length return after all his errors;
and ... he who
implores strength and courage from above,
shall find danger and difficulty give way before him.
Go now, my son ... commit thyself to
the care of Omnipotence;
and when the morning calls ...
begin anew thy journey and thy life."
McGuffey's Eclectic First Reader
included a lesson "Evening Prayer":
"At the close of the day,
before you go to sleep,
you should not fail to
pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm
thank Him for all His good gifts;
learn, while young,
put your trust in Him;
kind care of God will be with you."
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