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Beyond Politics: Community Civics and the Redefinition of Citizenship in the Progressive Era

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2017

Julie A. Reuben*
Affiliation:
Harvard University

Extract

In his 1857 manual The American Citizen: His Rights and Duties According to the Spirit of the Constitution of the United States, John Henry Hopkins described the citizen as” ‘a partner in the republic,’ “who had the right “to express his honest convictions, in word or writing, concerning every candidate for office, and every political measure contemplated or adopted by those who are in possession of the legislative or executive function.” In this passage, Hopkins expressed the common nineteenth-century assumption that citizenship entailed political activism. Hopkins and his contemporaries might have disagreed about what kinds of political activity were appropriate or effective, but they did not question that citizenship was essentially a political status, involving active participation in the public sphere.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 1997 by the History of Education Society 

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References

1 Hopkins, John Henry, The American Citizen: His Rights and Duties According to the Spirit of the Constitution of the United States (New York, 1857), 115.

2 Special Committee of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, National Education Association, “The Teaching of Community Civics,” U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin 23 (1915): 9.

3 Most historical accounts of the community civics program emphasize concerns about new immigrants. See Sivertson, Sidney Cecil, “Community Civics: Education for Social Efficiency” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1972); Olneck, Michael R., “Americanization and the Education of Immigrants, 1900–1925: An Analysis of Symbolic Action,” American Journal of Education 97 (Aug. 1989): 398–423; and Lybarger, Michael, “The Political Context of the Social Studies: Creating a Constituency for Municipal Reform,” Theory and Research in Social Education 8 (Fall 1980): 1–27.

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4 See, for example, Dunn, Arthur W., Community Civics and Rural Life (Boston, 1920).

5 In addition to the sources cited above in note 3, see Saxe, David Warren, Social Studies in Schools: A History of the Early Years (Albany, N.Y., 1991); Nelson, Murry R., ed., The Social Studies in Secondary Education: A Reprint of the Seminal 1916 Report with Annotations and Commentaries (Bloomington, Ind., 1994); and Lybarger, Michael Bruce, “The Historiography of Social Studies: Retrospect, Circumspect, and Prospect,” in Handbook of Research on Social Studies Teaching and Learning: A Project of the National Council for the Social Studies , ed. Shaver, James P. (New York, 1991), 3–13.

6 The following account of Dunn's career relies heavily on Sivertson, , “Community Civics.” On Albion Small and the University of Chicago, see Christakes, George, Albion W. Small (Boston, 1978); Dibble, Vernon K., The Legacy of Albion Small (Chicago, 1975); and Diner, Steven J., A City and Its Universities: Public Policy in Chicago, 1892–1919 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980).

7 Dunn, Arthur William, The Community and the Citizen (Boston, 1907).

8 Sivertson, , “Community Civics,” ch. 4; Nelson, Murry R., “The Social Contexts of the Committee on Social Studies Report of 1916”; Correia, Stephen T., “Thomas Jesse Jones—Doing God's Work and the 1916 Report,” in The Social Studies in Secondary Education , ed. Nelson, , 85–87 and 104–5; and Lybarger, Michael, “Origns of the Modern Social Studies: 1900–1916,” History of Education Quarterly 23 (Winter 1983): 456.

9 American Political Science Association (APSA), Committee on Instruction, The Teaching of Government (New York, 1916); Committee of the American Economic Association on the Teaching of Economics, “A Proposed Program of Social Studies in the Secondary Schools,” American Economic Review 12 (Mar. 1922): 66–74; “Tentative Report of the Committee on Teaching of Sociology in the Grade and High Schools of America,” Papers and Proceedings of the American Sociological Society 14 (1919): 243–51; “Second Annual Report of the Committee on Teaching of Sociology in the Grade and High Schools of America,” Papers and Proceedings of the American Sociological Society 15 (1920): 224–30; the AEA and the ASS both supported most of the NEA recommendations but were concerned that their disciplines were inadequately represented.

10 Aurner, Clarence Ray, “Historical Survey of Civics Instruction and Training for Citizenship in Iowa,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 17 (Apr. 1919): 135222, and APSA, The Teaching of Government, 5.

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11 See, for example, “The Public School System of San Francisco, California: A Report to the San Francisco Board of Education of a Survey Made under the Direction of the United States Commissioner of Education,” U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin 46 (1917): 304–5.

12 Dunn, , The Community and the Citizen, vi. See also, Mills, Lewis S., “Purposes, Sources, and Methods in the Teaching of Citizenship,” Education 38 (June 1918): 755–66; and Woellner, Frederic P., Education for Citizenship in a Democracy (New York, 1923).

13 NEA, “The Teaching of Community Civics,” 12.

16 Ibid., 1213, 14.

15 U.S. Bureau of Education, Civic Education Circular, no. 1, quoted in NEA, “The Teaching of Community Civics,” 11.

16 Kettner, James H., The Development of American Citizenship, 1608–1870 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978), ch. 8. On views of citizenship in this period, see Sinopoli, Richard C., The Foundations of American Citizenship: Liberalism, the Constitution, and Civic Virtue (New York, 1992); and Brown, Richard D., The Strength of a People: The Idea of an Informed Citizenry in America, 1650–1870 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1996).

17 On classical views of citizenship and their history up to the American Revolution, see Riesenberg, Peter, Citizenship in the Western Tradition, Plato to Rousseau (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1992). The literature on the role of republicanism in the Revolutionary period is extensive. For a recent evaluation and guide to the literature on republicanism, see Rogers, Daniel T., “Republicanism: The Career of a Concept,” Journal of American History 79 (June 1992): 11–38.

18 Wood, Gordon S., The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), ch. 15.

19 Morgan, Edmund S., Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America (New York, 1988); Pole, J. R., The Pursuit of Equality in American History (Berkeley, Calif., 1978), ch. 2 and 5; Williamson, Chilton, American Suffrage: From Property to Democracy, 1760–1860 (Princeton, N.J., 1960); Chute, Marchette Gaylord, The First Liberty: A History of the Right to Vote in America, 1619–1850 (New York, 1969); Collier, Christopher, “The American People as Christian White Men of Property: Suffrage and Elections in Colonial and Early National America”; Wilentz, Sean, “Property and Power: Suffrage Reform in the United States, 1787–1860”; and Kleppner, Paul, “Defining Citizenship: Immigration and the Struggle for Voting Rights in Antebellum America,” in Voting and the Spirit of American Democracy: Essays on the History of Voting Rights in America , ed. Rogers, Donald W. (Urbana, Ill., 1992) 19–29, 31–41, 43–53; Meyer, D. H., The Instructed Conscience: The Shaping of the American National Ethic (Philadelphia, 1972); Bloch, Ruth H., “The Gendered Meanings of Virtue in Revolutionary America,” Signs 13 (Autumn 1987): 37–58; Zagarri, Rosemarie, “Morals, Manners, and the Republican Mother,” American Quarterly 44 (June 1992): 192–215.

20 Kettner, , The Development of American Citizenship, 217.

21 Gundersen, Joan R., “Independence, Citizenship, and the American Revolution” Signs 13 (autumn 1987): 5974; Kerber, Linda K., “The Paradox of Women's Citizenship in the Early Republic: The Case of Martin vs. Massachusetts, 1805,” American Historical Review 97 (Apr. 1992): 349–78; Breckinridge, Sophonisba P., Marriage and the Civic Rights of Women: Separate Domicil and Independent Citizenship (Chicago, 1931); Basch, Norma, “Invisible Women: The Legal Fiction of Marital Unity in Nineteenth-Century America,” Feminist Studies 5 (summer 1979): 346–66; Hoff-Wilson, Joan, “The Unfinished Revolution: Changing Legal Status of U.S. Women,” Signs 13 (autumn 1987): 7–36; idem, Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women (New York, 1991).

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22 Report of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Opinions of the Judges Thereof in the case of Dred Scott versus John F. A. Sanford, December Term 1856 (1857; New York, 1970); Fehrenbacher, Don E., The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (New York, 1978). Native Americans were also excluded from citizenship; their special case is discussed in Kettner, , The Development of American Citizenship, ch. 10.

23 Foner, Eric, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (New York, 1988), ch. 6; Karst, Kenneth L., Belonging to America: Equal Citizenship and the Constitution (New Haven, Conn., 1989), ch. 4.

24 DuBois, Ellen Carol, “Outgrowing the Compact of the Fathers: Equal Rights, Woman Suffrage, and the United States Constitution, 1820–1878,” Journal of American History 74 (Dec. 1987): 836–62, and idem, “Taking Law into Their Own Hands: Voting Women during Reconstruction,” in Voting and the Spirit of American Democracy , ed. Rogers, , 67–81.

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25 Seeyle, Julius H., Citizenship: A Book for Classes in Government and Law (Boston, 1894), 63. The disfranchisement of southern blacks and the continuing resistance to woman's suffrage did not shake the association of voting and citizenship because these groups had been comfortably excluded from the image of an American citizen for a long time.

26 APSA, The Teaching of Government, 2829.

27 Dunn, , Community Civics, 57; Hughes, R. O., Community Civics (Boston, 1917), 25; Jenks, Jeremiah W., Citizenship and the Schools (New York, 1909), 9–10. On efforts to restrict the franchise, see McGerr, Michael E., The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865–1928 (New York, 1986); Kousser, J. Morgan, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, 1880–1910 (New Haven, Conn., 1974); and McCormick, Richard L., From Realignment to Reform: Political Change in New York State, 1893–1910 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1981).

28 NEA, “The Teaching Community Civics,” 13; Hill, Edward L., “A Citizenship Rating Scale,” Education 47 (Feb. 1927): 362–63.

29 APSA, The Teaching of Government, 79; Ames, Edgar W., “The Valley of Dry Bones,” Journal of the New York State Teachers' Association 7 (15 Feb. 1920): 24. Sheldon, Winthrop D., “Our Body-Politic on the Dissecting Table: A Study in Civics,” Education 36 (Oct. 1915): 81; Jacks, Lawrence Pearsall, Responsibility and Culture (New Haven, Conn., 1924), 2; Bryce, James, The Hindrances to Good Citizenship (New Haven, Conn., 1910), 9–10; Westbrook, Robert B., John Dewey and American Democracy (Ithaca, N.Y., 1991), 182.

30 Leonard, Russell B., “Civics, as Taught in the New Bedford Industrial School,” Education 37 (Oct. 1916): 92.

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31 NEA, “The Teaching Community Civics,” 16; APSA, The Teaching of Government, 33. Ross, Dorothy, The Origins of American Social Science (New York, 1991); Furner, Mary O., Advocacy and Objectivity: A Crisis in the Professionalization of American Social Science, 1865–1905 (Lexington, Ky., 1975); Haskell, Thomas L., ed., The Authority of Experts: Studies in History and Theory (Bloomington, Ind., 1984).

32 Davis, Calvin O., “Citizenship and the High School,” Educational Review 61 (Mar. 1921): 220; Beechel, Edith Emma, A Citizenship Program for Elementary Schools (New York, 1929), 54.

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33 APSA, The Teaching of Government, 88; “The Public School System of San Francisco, Calif.,” 333. Nineteenth-century radical politics illustrate the power of American political principles for oppositional politics. See Dawley, Alan, Class and Community: The Industrial Revolution in Lynn (Cambridge, Mass., 1976); Wilentz, Sean, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York, 1984); Foner, Eric, “Rights and the Constitution in Black Life during the Civil War and Reconstruction,” Journal of American History 74 (Dec. 1987): 863–83; Nieman, Donald G., Promises to Keep: African-Americans and the Constitutional Order, 1776 to the Present (New York, 1991), ch. 1 and 2; DuBois, Ellen Carol, Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848–1869 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1978); Ginzberg, Lori D., “‘Moral Suasion is Moral Balderdash’: Women, Politics, and Social Activism in the 1850s,” Journal of American History 73 (Dec. 1986): 601–22; Ryan, Mary, Women in Public: Between Banners and Ballots, 1825–1880 (Baltimore, Md., 1990); Foner, Philip S., ed., We, the Other People: Alternative Declarations of Independence by Labor Groups, Farmers, Woman's Rights Advocates, Socialists, and Blacks, 1829–1975 (Urbana, Ill., 1976).

34 Merriam, Charles E., The Making of Citizens (Chicago, 1931), 332; Woellner, , Education for Citizenship, 202; NEA, “The Teaching Community Civics,” 10.

35 Mahan, Thomas Jefferson, An Analysis of the Characteristics of Citizenship (New York, 1928), 6.

36 Neitz, John A., “With What Is Good Citizenship Concerned?” Education 50 (Sept. 1929): 1113.

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37 “The Pennsylvania Program,” quoted in Dawson, Edgar, “The Social Studies in Civic Education,” U.S. Bureau of Education Bulletin 23 (1923): 3; Birdseye, Clarence F., “The Official Standard of the College: Shall It Be Constructive Citizenship or a Marking System Diploma?” American College 2 (May 1910): 104–5.

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38 Mills, , “Purposes, Sources, and Methods in the Teaching of Citizenship,” 757.

39 On Progressive Era state building, see Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (New York, 1982); Evans, Peter B., Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, and Skocpol, Theda, eds., Bringing the State Back in (New York, 1985); and Skocpol, Theda, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, Mass., 1992).

40 Jenks, Jeremiah W., “The Social Basis of Education” (1905) in Citizenship and the Schools, 43, 47. See also Jenks's, essay, “Training for Citizenship” (1897), in ibid., 3–37. On the centrality of social scientists' concern with complexity, see Haskell, Thomas L., The Emergence of Professional Social Science: The American Social Science Association and the Nineteenth-Century Crisis of Authority (Urbana, Ill., 1977).

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41 Dunn, , Community Civics and Rural Life, 26, 40.

42 Munro, William Bennett, “Physics and Politics—An Old Analogy Revised,” American Political Science Review 22 (Feb. 1928): 45. For discussion of communitarianism in early-twentieth-century social thought, see Wilson, R. Jackson, In Quest of Community: Social Philosophy in the United States, 1860–1920 (New York, 1968); Quandt, Jean B., From the Small Town to the Great Community: The Social Thought of Progressive Intellectuals (New Brunswick, N.J., 1970); Blake, Casey Nelson, Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1990); and Price, David E., “Community and Control: Critical Democratic Theory in the Progressive Period,” American Political Science Review 68 (Dec. 1974): 1663–78.

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43 Willoughby, Westel Woodbury, “The Individual and the State: Presidential Address before the Tenth Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association,” American Political Science Review 8 (1914): 7.

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44 Todd, Edwin S., “An Economic Basis for Civics Teaching,” Education 32 (Mar. 1912): 442. On social scientists' attitudes toward government activism, see Ross, , Origins of American Social Science, 106–8.

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45 Bristol, L. M., “Education and the National Ideal,” Papers and Proceedings of the American Sociological Society 13 (1918): 174–75; Hill, Mabel, The Teaching of Civics (Boston, 1914), 5–6; Hill, Howard Copeland, Community Life and Civic Problems (Boston, 1922), vii, 3; Dunn, , Community Civics and Rural Life, 12–15.

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46 NEA, “The Teaching of Community Civics,” 21.

47 Hughes, , Community Civics, 12.

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