© 2013

The Founding Fathers, Education, and “The Great Contest”

The American Philosophical Society Prize of 1797

  • Editors
  • Benjamin Justice

Part of the Historical Studies in Education book series (HSE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Introduction

    1. Benjamin Justice
      Pages 1-20
  3. Methods

  4. Meanings

  5. Materials: Essays from the American Philosophical Society Education Contest, 1795–1797

About this book


Leading historians provide new insights into the founding generation's views on the place of public education in America. This volume explores enduring themes, such as gender, race, religion, and central vs. local control, in seven essays of the 1790s on how to implement public education in the new USA. The original essays are included as well.


American History Education American Revolution History of Education Early Republic Philadelphia Founding Fathers Intellectual History American Philosophical Society University of Pennsylvania Penn eighteenth century 19th century colonial times colonial period revolutionary period education freedom gender Generation liberty methods Nation nationalism philosophy religion USA

About the authors

Carl Kaestle, Brown University, USA Lisa Green, University of California - Riverside, USA Eric Strome, Columbia University, USA Campbell Scribner, University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA Nancy Beadie, University of Washington, USA Hilary Moss, Amherst College, USA Kim Tolley, Notre Dame de Namur University, USA Margaret Nash, University of California - Riverside, USA Adam Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Bibliographic information


"Historians are detectives, and the sleuths in this remarkable book show us how to examine important documents from the late eighteenth century. Anyone interested in the effects of the American Revolution will love this book." - Robert L. Hampel, Professor, School of Education, University of Delaware, USA

"This marvelous collaborative study, edited by Benjamin Justice, explores the views of a group of essay writers about the relationship between public education and citizenship in the new republic. The 1797 essays, five of which have never before been published, are here reproduced and several of their anonymous authors discovered through scholarly detective work. Contributors to the volume explore the way the essay writers dealt with the relationship of religion to education, the silence on the education of African-Americans, the implications of the few comments about women's education, and how the essayists dealt with the costs and opportunity for education in a nation freeing itself from a restrictive European model of elite education." - Paul G. E. Clemens, Professor of History, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA