Government: Servant or Master?

“A government system of education in Prussia is not inconsistent with the theory of Prussian society, for there all wisdom is supposed to be lodged in the government. But the thing is wholly inadmissible here [in the U.S.]; not because the government may be in the hands of Whigs or Democrats, but because, according to our theory, the people are supposed to be wiser than the government. Here the people do not look to the government for light, for instruction, but the government looks to the people. The people give the law to the government. To entrust, then, the government with the power of determining the education which our children shall receive is entrusting our servant with the power to be our master. … In a free government, there can be no teaching by authority, and all attempts to teach by authority are so many blows struck at its freedom. We may as well have a religion established by law, as a system of education, and the government educate and appoint the pastors of our churches, as well as the instructors of our children.”

Orestes Augustus Brownson, Boston Quarterly Review, Vol. 2, 1839, p. 408.

[H/T to Yard Sale of the Mind.]

2 thoughts on “Government: Servant or Master?

  1. Yeah, as much as I loved this paragraph — it states exactly what I have been thinking about public education and does a damn fine job of it — some other parts of the article were, let’s say, not quite so sensible!


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