Benjamin Rush

Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mahomed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles.

The business of education has lay[ed] the foundations for nurseries of wise and good men, to adapt our modes of teaching to the peculiar form of our government . . . . He must be taught to love his fellow creatures in every part of the world, but he must cherish with a more intense and peculiar affection the citizens of Pennsylvania and of the United States.

In Macbeth a lady is restrained from the murder of a king by his resemblance of her father as he slept. Should not all men be restrained from acts of violence and even of unkindness against their fellow men by observing in them something which resembles the Savior of the World? If nothing else certainly, a human figure?

In such a performance you may lay the foundation of national happiness only in religion, not by leaving it doubtful “whether morals can exist without it,” but by asserting that without religion morals are the effects of causes as purely physical as pleasant breezes and fruitful seasons.

Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property … He must be taught to amass wealth, but it must be only to increase his power of contributing to the wants and demands of the state… [Education] can be done effectually only by the interference and aid of the Legislature.

We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this divine book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues which constitute the soul of republicanism.