In the monthly “Teacher’s Desk,” editors of The Student and Schoolmate commented on current events, which no doubt allowed young readers to understand what was happening in the world around them. This editorial, written as the American Civil War was ending, provides a fairly sophisticated look at the complexities involved in making peace and puts the blame for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on poor education—similar to the Youth’s Companion blaming the theater and sensational literature.
“Teacher’s Desk” (from Student and Schoolmate, May 1865; pp. 158-159)

Yes, a brighter day has dawned; Richmond is ours. The confederate forces have not only been scattered, but their chief army has surrendered. The leaders in secession have sought safety in ignominious flight. Under this state of things, can the rebellion long exist? We think not.

The time is near at hand, when a re-united country will once more place this nation in a position vastly in advance of what it could have been, but for the severe ordeal through which it has been passing.

Slavery is no more! They who sought to perpetuate it have failed in their unholy work, and the game they played to win has been lost to them.

Yet our danger is not wholly passed[.] As Gov. Andrew has well said in a recent speech in New York, “There are questions to be agitated that now will shake society to its foundation. There will be more peril at the close of the war than before it. One the possibility of bad statesmanship more damage is to be apprehended than in the mishaps of the battle-field. The fault of the American people is to trust men whom they know are untrustworthy.”

We have hope that these possibilities may vanish away, and that those who are now holding responsible positions in our National councils will prove as true, as loyal, as discreet and efficient as those who have led on our brave armies in their recent encounters.

Our young readers have an interest in this matter, and hence we claim to bring the subject to the Teacher’s Desk. A knowledge of our country’s history from its earliest days to the present time is of the greatest importance. Boys and girls of to-day are soon to control the destinies of this great nation. The legislation of to-day will, it is true, affect all future time. But, even if mistakes should be made, a knowledge of the principles on which our government is founded may enable those thus educated to overcome the evils that would otherwise ensue.

Let the youth of our land claim as a part of their education such information as will fit them either to be intelligent legislators themselves, or at least qualify them to make a judicious use of their privilege as voters by placing the most competent and trustworthy men in official positions.

Let the sad news which reaches us just as we are going to press, render the above more important in our eyes. Had the people of the South enjoyed the blessings of an education, such as we refer to, the rebellion would never have had existence. Had the principles of liberty inspired every heart, never would there have been those cowardly enough to strike a blow at the nation’s heart in the murder of President Lincoln and the contemplated murder of his Secretary of State.

But the assassins were not alone—others must have aided and abetted, but more cowardly than they that struck these blows, they conceal themselves from the public eye. But the eye of a just God is upon them, and, while we bow to

p. 159

this National bereavement, may we live to learn our duty to God, our country, and ourselves.

All eyes are now turned to Vice-President Johnson, who, under the Constitution, becomes President of the United States.

May he be equal to the demand of the place and the hour. When we reflect upon his early history, the struggles he made to secure an education, and his more recent experience in Tennessee, we are impressed with the belief that while we mourn the one, we may rejoice that we possess the other.

May God be with him to guide his counsels, direct his action and lead him and us into the enjoyments of that happy future that seemed to be opening when our beloved leader, his predecessor, was so rudely slain.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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