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An American Affidavit

Monday, August 24, 2015

155. Unpopular Government: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Unpopular Government 

Maine built a stronger case in each successive book, Early History of Institutions (1875) 
and Early Law and Custom (1883). His magnificent tour de force, Popular Government 
(1885), smashed the very basis for popular democracy. After Maine, only a fool could 
believe wow-Anglo-Saxon groups should participate as equals in important decision- 
making. At the same time, Maine's forceful dismissal of the fundamental equality of 
ordinary or different peoples was confirmed by the academic science of evolution and by 
commercial and manufacturing interests eager to collapse smaller enterprises into large 
ones. Maine's regal pronouncements were supported by mainstream urban Protestant 
churches and by established middle classes. Democratic America had been given its 
death sentence. 

Sir Henry's work became a favorite text for sermons, lectures, Chautauqua magazine 
journalism and for the conversation of the best people. His effect is reflected 
symbolically in a resolution from the Scranton Board of Trade of all places, which 
characterized immigrants as: 

The most ignorant and vicious of European populations, including necessarily a vast 
number of the criminal class; people who come here not to become good citizens, but to 
prey upon our people and our industries; a class utterly without character and incapable 

of understanding or appreciating our institutions, and therefore a menace to our 

Popular Government was deliberately unpopular in tone. There was no connection 
between democracy and progress; the reverse was true. Maine's account of racial history 
was accepted widely by the prosperous. It admirably complemented the torrent of 
scientifically mathematicized racism pouring out of M.I. T., Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and 
virtually every bastion of high academia right through the WWI period and even beyond. 
Scientific racism determined the shape of government schooling in large measure, and 
still does. 

Kinship Is Mythical 

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