The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, 1855-1913

By Burton J. Hendrick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE STRUGGLE FOR SOUTHERN EDUCATION

I

ALL during these active years Page never abandoned the cause that had formed the main purpose of his life from earliest days -- the improvement of American citizenship through popular education. The great builder of the American democracy was not the statesman, the industrial leader, the pulpit exhorter; not even the scientist or the poet or the editor; the one figure on whom the national destiny depended was the school teacher. Never did Page let pass an opportunity to magnify the opportunities of this somewhat obscure and humble worker. As an editor -- of the Forum, the Atlantic, and the World's Work -- the subject of education always had the right of way. Page was constantly corresponding with educational leaders, searching out the new ideas, the places where these ideas had been most profitably developed, and more than once he organized elaborate and expensive "investigations" and thus presented the existing status of this great national enterprise to the American public. How importantly the school teacher loomed in his eyes appeared in a letter written, in 1896, to William R. Harper, the brilliant young President of the new University of Chicago.


To William Rainey Harper

October 24, 1896.

DEAR MR. HARPER,

The most interesting group of people, I have thought, I ever saw together -- interesting for their social signi-

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