Inequality, oppression, and pessimism
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After the successful conclusion to the American Revolution, the architects of the new nation faced a host of pressing issues to solve and disparate ideologies to reconcile. While working to safeguard their political present, these men also looked to ensure the security and longevity of the nation by instituting educational reforms. Historians of education have studied the unique integration of “republicanism” into these plans, but little attention has been given to how these proposals fundamentally contradict the ideals of the revolution and even, perhaps, republicanism itself. Thus, while the men we look to as the “Founding Fathers” of the United States make the ideals of equality, liberty, or progressivism central to their educational plans, many of their proposals hamper the cultivation of such ideas or draw into question the extent of their faith in these beliefs. This thesis examines various ideas on education of American thinkers in the post-revolutionary era, taking note of plans and beliefs that run counter to the larger spirit of the Revolution’s ideology. The contradictions reveal that the American Founders may have had a more conservative definition of equality, liberty, and other republican ideas than we perceive today. In addition, although the American Revolution is popularly celebrated for its successful creation of a progressive society through a fusion of diverse ideologies, the incongruity between aspects of education proposals and the new nation demonstrate that the struggle to adapt idealism to reality forced a series of pragmatic sacrifices on the part of the Founding Fathers.