The Growth of Public Education in America

by arohmiller - May 15th, 2015

Written By: Carl B. Westmoreland, Historian, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Education is a vital resource to people of all races and all world countries. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines “Education, discipline that is concerned with methods of teaching and learning in schools or school-like environments as opposed to various nonformal and informal means of socialization (e.g., rural development projects and education through parent-child relationships).”

We are told that teaching and learning occur in most settings with which we come in contact during our formative years starting with the home, the temple, the mosque, the church as well as the lessons that we learn from our parents and our community. We are reminded that teaching and learning have occurred in all societies, and the educational process has been used to pass knowledge along from one generation to the other in every country, on every continent. In Timbuktu, Mali, West Africa Muslim scholars pursued many of the same intellectual tasks of those performed by Chinese and Greek scholars in mathematics, history, and philosophy, and in the process expanded man’s knowledge base and enabled the world’s population to improve its domain. The University of Bologna in Italy is credited as being Europe’s oldest, and like the University of Karueein in Morocco North Africa those institutions which have existed for over 1,000 years in places with which most Americans are unfamiliar, underwrote through study, research, and scholarship what we have come to call “civilization.”

At the time of the European entry into the America to which today’s generation was born, there was no formal educational infrastructure, and there was a wide disparity of access to educational resources on the part of the working White yeoman class, and none for enslaved people of African descent, and little for those who were free.

William Berkley, the first governor of Virginia, and a graduate of Oxford University in England, understood that education was power, and those who possessed it had begun the first meaningful step toward achieving a degree of freedom through intellectual development. Governor Berkley and other members of his social, educational, and political standing were opposed to the education of the masses, and in 1642 Governor Berkley left us with the following,

“I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing;
and I hope we shall not have these hundred years.
For learning has brought disobedience,
and heresy and sects into the world;
and printing has divulged them
and libels against the government.
God keep us from both!”

 

Access to public education developed at a faster pace in the Northeastern United States (New England) than in the rest of America. The first steps toward government supported education in America dates back to 1642 when “Puritan Massachusetts passed a law requiring that every child be taught to read. The law required every town of 50 or more families to establish an elementary school and in every town of 100 or more families to maintain a grammar school as well.”[1] New England would again lead the public education pursuit for ordinary people by adapting what we have come to know as the Kindergarten that is still not an educational opportunity available to many children in America. The earliest schools in New England were inspired by those who became familiar with the creation of the Kindergarten. The German educator, Friedrich Wilheim Froebel (1782-1852) is considered the “Father of the Kindergarten for Children.” Johann Friedrich Herdart was also a pioneer in developing an early learning system which enabled 4 and 5-year olds “to learn to read, write, and count.”[2] America would come into its own educationally in the minds of many with the movement toward state-supported free schools for all children. By 1837 Massachusetts established the country’s first State Board of Education. Other states would follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps, and “by the end of the 19th century the common school system was firmly established.”[3]

The pioneering work that allowed ordinary children—at first white males—to obtain basic education enabled working class students to make tangible contributions as adults to the development of “industrial” capitalism and by 1861, 73 subjects were being offered by Massachusetts Public Schools. The curriculum had advanced from one that focused initially on basic Reading and Writing to one “that was top heavy with scientific instruction.”[4]

In the American South the economic model that focused on agriculture and the philosophy of people like Gov. William Berkley, Thomas Jefferson and John C. Calhoun limited access to learning opportunities for children of the White working class and in to the 20th century all but eliminated schooling for the children and grandchildren of the enslaved.

In St. Helena, South Carolina in 1862 the first organized effort at educating people of African descent was started at Penn Center by the American Missionary Society led by Laura Towne. The educational and teaching efforts of Ms. Towne and her mostly White female staff were met by resistance and violence from the very beginning led by South Carolina planters and the Klu Klux Klan. 100 years later the efforts of Ms. Towne and those who had been formerly enslaved resulted in residents of Clarendon County, SC joining in the Brown v Board of Education suit that resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that would reverse the Plessey v Ferguson decision of 1896 which permitted segregated public facilities if they were of equal quality, but the children of Clarendon County and the children of too many places in Black America read from books with missing pages, sat in unheated classrooms, and few of them had the benefit of Kindergarten.

The teaching efforts of people like Laura Towne and the good will of some church leaders, both Black and White, North and South, provided an educational opportunity for a Black Edgefield, South Carolinian, the son of a sharecropper, who would become president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, who challenged us to remember “We today, stand on the shoulders of our predecessors who have gone before us. We, as their successors, must catch the torch of freedom and liberty passed on to us by our ancestors. We cannot lose the battle.”

Dr. Mays, the father of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Jesse Grant, of Georgetown, Ohio, Benjamin Franklin, Confucius and all of the parents of the world have come to understand and worked toward creating places of learning because they understood, in the words of Epictetus, “ONLY THE EDUCATED ARE FREE.”

 

[1] http://history-world.org/history_of_education.htm

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

From Battlefields to the Whitehouse: Ohio’s Civil War Presidents

by arohmiller - February 16th, 2015

Written by: Mark Holbrook

Ohio’s contributions to the Civil War are well documented. 325,000 soldiers and sailors, 229 Union generals, members of Lincoln’s cabinet, extraordinary efforts on the home front and countless stories of courage in uniform and at home. Ohioans’ status as leaders during the war no doubt impacted the nation’s decision making in the coming years when electing presidents. Seven times U.S. citizens chose a former soldier from the Buckeye state from 1868 to 1896. They represented everything from the most famous general of the war to established politicians to the grandson of a former president from Ohio. Five veterans of the war lead our country during a period not dominated by a single state since the early years of the republic.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

Flush from his victory over Robert E. Lee and the end of the Civil War, it was not long before Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant was being recruited as a candidate for the presidency in the 1868 election. Times were not good as Reconstruction had not gone well under former vice president Andrew Johnson. The country and Congress were looking for someone they could trust, and the immensely popular Grant was an obvious answer. Born in Point Pleasant, Grant had never entertained the thought of becoming a famous general, much less the president. He did not even want to attend West Point Academy, but deference to his father’s wishes kept him there. Through a tumultuous early life, Grant was down on his luck at the beginning of the war, but quickly rose to a prominence that would carry him to the White House. During his two terms in office, Grant worked to sooth the nation’s wounds by supporting amnesty for former Confederate leaders and the protection of African American rights. While in office, he signed legislation establishing Yellowstone National Park as our first national park.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes followed Grant as our 19th president. Born in Delaware and a resident of Fremont when elected, Hayes was elected to Congress in 1864, but did not take his seat in the Capitol until the war was over. He began his Army career as the major for the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, rising to the rank of major general by 1865. While beginning his third term in Congress, he was nominated as the Republican candidate for president. The results were close, so close that a special commission chosen to sort out disputed electoral votes declared Hayes the victor. Serving one term as president, Hayes signed the bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court. Hayes initiated civil service reform, doing away with the common practice of making appointments for political favors. Hayes often expressed concern for minorities, the poor, and immigrants and worked to bring about changes in policy to address those concerns.

James A. Garfield's memorial in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

James A. Garfield’s memorial in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

James A. Garfield was the last of what were called the ‘log cabin’ presidents. Born in Cuyahoga County in 1831, Garfield would go on to serve nine terms as a congressman from Ohio, the first starting in 1863 when his election caused him to resign from the Union Army with the rank of major general. As the 1880 elections neared, Garfield worked tirelessly to get his friend and fellow congressman John Sherman of Lancaster nominated at the convention. The effort failed and Garfield became the nominee on the 37th ballot and the dark horse candidate in a race against former Union general Winfield Scott Hancock. Garfield continued Hayes’ efforts to end patronage appointments in government, going to battle with powerful factions controlling the port of New York. On July 2, 1881 at a Washington railroad station Garfield was assassinated by Charles Julius Guiteau, an attorney who had been turned down by Garfield for a political appointment. Mortally wounded, Garfield would linger until September 19, leaving us to wonder what kind of presidency he would have had if he had survived. Garfield’s vice president Chester Arthur finished the term, and Grover Cleveland occupied the Whitehouse for the succeeding four years.

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison

Born in 1833 on a farm by the Ohio River below Cincinnati, Benjamin Harrison attended Miami University in Ohio and read law in Cincinnati. He later moved to Indianapolis where he lived when the war broke out. The presidency of the country was something Benjamin was familiar with, his grandfather William Henry Harrison had served as our ninth president. As colonel of the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Benjamin Harrison fought in the western theatre of the war, and he and his regiment accompanied General William T. Sherman on his march to Savannah, Georgia. In the presidential election of 1888, Harrison opposed the incumbent Grover Cleveland. While Harrison lost the popular vote by 100,000, he won the Electoral College vote 233-168. Harrison’s most notable act as president came on July 2, 1890 when he signed in to law the Sherman Antitrust Act. The act, named for Ohio Senator John Sherman was the first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts.

William McKinley

William McKinley

After a return to office by Grover Cleveland in 1893, the last of the five Civil War veterans from Ohio would take office. Nineteen year-old William McKinley of Niles enlisted in the 23rd Ohio at the beginning of the war. Rising to the rank of major by war’s end, McKinley returned home and began a law practice, eventually getting elected to Congress and then two terms as governor of Ohio. Winning the election in 1896, McKinley took office amid a time of prosperity in the country. But war would be most remembered as a part of his legacy. While preferring a neutral stance to Spain’s imperialism in the Caribbean, McKinley led the country into a 100 day war that destroyed the Spanish fleet outside Santiago harbor in Cuba, seized Manila in the Philippines, and occupied Puerto Rico. The result was the annexation of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and Hawaii. In 1900, McKinley faced the democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan for a second time and defeated him again to win the presidency. On September 14, 1901, while standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, McKinley was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. The 25th president died eight days later.

In a period spanning 1869 to 1901, five Ohio Civil War veterans were elected to the presidency seven times. Of varying backgrounds, they all held in common their service to their country and the preservation of the Union.

Faithful and Ready: Black Service in the Ohio Army NationalGuard(Part III)

by arohmiller - February 13th, 2015

Written by: SFC Joshua Mann, Historian, Ohio Army National Guard

From the formation of the Northwest Territory Militia in 1788, until the termination of racial segregation in the Ohio National Guard in 1954 and service since, black Soldiers from Ohio have distinguished themselves in service to their country even in the face of difficult race, social and political barriers.

Reorganization of the Ohio National Guard following the war saw 2 segregated units on the rolls of the state; the 372d Infantry Battalion and the 137th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion. Although President Truman had barred racial segregation of the armed forces on July 26, 1948, the order did not affect National Guard units not in federal service. Additionally, many leaders of the 2 units made a concerted effort to keep their battalion segregated, fearing that the two-edged sword of integration would block promotions and key assignments for black Soldiers.

Officers and noncommissioned officers of the 137th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 37th Infantry Division, look over a map while training at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1952. The all-black battalion was called into federal service in January 1952, serving two years on active duty before returning to Ohio. (Ohio Army National Guard Historical Collections)

Officers and non-commissioned officers of the 137th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 37th Infantry Division, look over a map while training at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1952. The all-black battalion was called into federal service in January 1952, serving two years on active duty before returning to Ohio. (Ohio Army National Guard Historical Collections)

Brig. Gen Kenneth Cooper (right), 37th Division Artillery commanding general, presents the guidon for Headquarters Battery, 137th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion to Captain Grady T. Smith at Camp Perry, Ohio on 23 July 1954. The ceremony marked the return of the colors and guidons of the 37th Infantry Division from active duty.

Brig. Gen Kenneth Cooper (right), 37th Division Artillery commanding general, presents the guidon for Headquarters Battery, 137th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion to Captain Grady T. Smith at Camp Perry, Ohio on 23 July 1954. The ceremony marked the return of the colors and guidons of the 37th Infantry Division from active duty.

The 137th got its first taste of integration when it was ordered into federal service in January 1952 for the Korean War. It returned to Ohio in January 1954, just months before Governor Frank Lausche issued Executive Order No. 39, which fully integrated the Ohio National Guard. Both units continued, fully integrated, until a 1959 state wide reorganization that ultimately disbanded the battalions. The lineage of both organizations continues at various company level units around the state. The battalion lineage of the 372d Infantry is perpetuated today by the 237th Support Battalion, who also wears the distinctive unit insignia of the former organization.

Maj. Gen Dana Stewart, Ohio adjutant general, swears Eyvonne Turner in as the first black female in the Ohio Army National Guard in January 1973.

Maj. Gen Dana Stewart, Ohio adjutant general, swears Eyvonne Turner in as the first black female in the Ohio Army National Guard in January 1973.

Major General Richard C. Alexander became the first black general officer and the first black adjutant general in Ohio National Guard history when he was selected by Governor Richard Celeste for the post in 1988.

Major General Richard C. Alexander became the first black general officer and the first black adjutant general in Ohio National Guard history when he was selected by Governor Richard Celeste for the post in 1988.

Since integration, black Soldiers have continued to serve with great distinction in the Ohio Army National Guard. Wilbur Jones became the first black command sergeant major in 1968. Evyonne Turner was sworn in as the first black female in January 1973. And Major General Richard Alexander became the first black general officer and the first black adjutant general in Ohio National Guard history when he was selected by Governor Richard Celeste for the post in 1988.

Faithful and Ready: Black Service in the Ohio Army National Guard(Part II)

by arohmiller - February 11th, 2015

Written by: SFC Joshua Mann, Historian, Ohio Army National Guard

From the formation of the Northwest Territory Militia in 1788, until the termination of racial segregation in the Ohio National Guard in 1954 and service since, black Soldiers from Ohio have distinguished themselves in service to their country even in the face of difficult race, social and political barriers.

Even after the service of the 5th and later the 27th USCT, also assembled from Ohio’s black Soldiers, in the Civil War, Ohio’s laws remained silent on black membership in the militia. New laws in 1878 looked to shape the guard into a more ready force and opened military service to all male citizens. In 1881 the 9th Battalion of Infantry was formed from two existing black companies, the Du Quesne Blues of Springfield and Poe Light Guards of Columbus; in 1884 the Martin Light Guard of Xenia joined the battalion.

Colonel Charles Young was the third black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in 1889. He was a member of the famous Buffalo Soldiers before being awarded the rank of Major in 1898 and placed in command of the all-black 9th battalion, Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Algers, Virginia, a post he held until the battalion returned to Ohio in 1899.

Colonel Charles Young was the third black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in 1889. He was a member of the famous Buffalo Soldiers before being awarded the rank of Major in 1898 and placed in command of the all-black 9th battalion, Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Algers, Virginia, a post he held until the battalion returned to Ohio in 1899.

When War with Spain was declared in 1898, the 9th Battalion added a fourth company in Cleveland and was mustered into Federal service in May. As the battalion prepared to leave Columbus, a political showdown forced the resignation of the battalion commander. His replacement was a regular army officer and the third black graduate of West Point, Charles Young. A native Buckeye, Major Young was known as a strict disciplinarian and introduced the guardsman to the rigors of professional military life. The war would end before most Ohio units could see combat and the 9th Ohio returned home in January 1899.

Ohio National Guard officers in France during WWI (L-R) 2d Lt. Tom Walker, 1st Lt. Ben Rudd, and 2d Lt. William Nichols

Ohio National Guard officers in France during WWI (L-R) 2d Lt. Tom Walker, 1st Lt. Ben Rudd, and 2d Lt. William Nichols

The battalion quickly reorganized and in the years prior to World War I answered many calls for aid to Ohio’s citizens. In 1917, the 9th was drafted into Federal service for World War I and was consolidated with all black units from five other states to form the 372d Infantry. In France, it was assigned to the French 157th Division and would receive the French Croix de Guerre for their actions in the Meusse-Argonne Campaign. Lieutenant Robert C. Allen, one of the few remaining black officers in the regiment, became the first African-American to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.

Colonel Howard C. Gilbert was the commander of teh 2d Battalion, 372d Infantry from its reorganization in 1924 until he was promoted to colonel and in command of the 372d Infantry Regiment in 1940. He first enlisted in the Ohio National Guard in 1893 and was a veteran of World War I.

Colonel Howard C. Gilbert was the commander of teh 2d Battalion, 372d Infantry from its reorganization in 1924 until he was promoted to colonel and in command of the 372d Infantry Regiment in 1940. He first enlisted in the Ohio National Guard in 1893 and was a veteran of World War I.

Reorganization following the war was slow for the black units. It was not until 1924 that the battalion was formed, again taking shape as the 2d Battalion, 372d Infantry. Life for the battalion during the inter-war years was comprised of routine weekly drills, summer camps and the occasional call to state active duty. On March 10, 1941, the battalion was ordered into federal service and left Ohio for Fort Dix, New Jersey. After a brief basic training it was assigned “home guard” duties in Philadelphia and later New York, guarding the harbor, subway and other key installations. Following stops in Kentucky and Arizona the 372d was finally sent to the pacific and was assigned to defensive positions on Hawaii. The war ended before the battalion could see combat and the 372d was inactivated on January 21, 1946.

Faithful and Ready: Black Service in the Ohio Army National Guard (Part I)

by arohmiller - February 9th, 2015

Written by: SFC Joshua Mann, Historian, Ohio Army National Guard

From the formation of the Northwest Territory Militia in 1788, until the termination of racial segregation in the Ohio National Guard in 1954 and service since, black Soldiers from Ohio have distinguished themselves in service to their country even in the face of difficult race, social and political barriers.

The National Colors of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati.

The National Colors of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati.

When the Northwest Territory Militia was born on July 25, 1788 it called for all physically-qualified males between the ages of sixteen and fifty to perform military service, providing no restriction on race or citizenship status. In defense of the frontier from Indian raids, many black Soldiers enrolled in the militia and participated in the defense of the settlements. However, in September 1799, the territorial legislature passed an updated militia law restricting military service to “able bodied, white male citizens.”

This restriction on military service, which many considered a rite of manhood in their community, continued officially for the next sixty years. Even as Ohio Soldiers answered the call for the War of 1812 and Mexican War, record of black Soldiers in either fight does not exist. However, with state and federal laws prohibiting non whites from serving in the organized militia, evidence exists of the formation of black independent militia companies in Ohio prior to the Civil War. In 1854 it was described that “A colored military company has been formed in Cincinnati, pronounced by competent judges to be well manned, well officered and well drilled. They have chosen the appropriate historic name of ‘Attacks Guards.” By 1860 another company, also named Attacks Guards, was formed in the Athens County village of Albany.

Even with the formation of these independent units, President Lincoln’s call for troops at the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861 continued to be answered by the all white militia. In 1862, Ohio Governor David Todd proposed that the Ohio militia could improve with the admission of black volunteer companies and declared “these men would serve as a model for the future advancement of the colored race in Ohio.” Ohio lawmakers commended the governor’s efforts, but refused to change the law.

Tod’s inspiration to change the law might have grown from the service of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati in September 1862. As Confederate troops moved north through Kentucky and towards Ohio, Tod called upon all loyal Ohioans to help defend the southern border at Cincinnati. On the night of September 2, 1862, 700 black males were violently forced from their homes by Cincinnati Police. When William Martin Dickson arrived the next day to take command of the brigade, he found his troops laboring on the south side of the Ohio River at Fort Mitchell angered by their treatment the previous night. Dickson sent the men home with instructions to return the next morning at 5:00 a.m.

The following morning nearly all 700 men returned and went to work digging trenches and riffle-pits, building forts and making roads. Although they never participated in combat, the Black Brigade was the first wave of black volunteers to defend the state.

1st Sgt. Robert Pinn was a member of Company I, 5th United States Colored Troops during the American civil war and was one of only four blacks from Ohio to receive the Medal of Honor during the war. In 1874, the new armory in Stow was named in honor of Pinn.

1st Sgt. Robert Pinn was a member of Company I, 5th United States Colored Troops during the American civil war and was one of only four blacks from Ohio to receive the Medal of Honor during the war. In 1874, the new armory in Stow was named in honor of Pinn.

Many in the Black Brigade inspired by their service would later travel to Boston to enlist in the famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Governor Tod, upset that these Buckeyes were lost in the credits of other states, detailed Capt. Lewis McCoy of the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to begin recruiting black Soldiers. A camp was established near Delaware and although progress at first was slow, the nuclease of the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was finally formed by the fall of 1863. Soon after, the War Department called for colored troops and the 127th became the 5th United States Colored Troops (USCT) and headed off to war. During one fight at Chafin’s Farm in Virginia on September 29, 1864 Sergeants Beatty, Holland, Pinn and Brunson were later awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the only black Ohioans to receive the award during the war.