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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 1, 1877)
' 'A. &-&
EDUCATION AND TIIK El.lHTIVK VllAKCIIISK.
Whnt the uiilinnKlncd (,'lorien of the diiy?
Wlutt llio evil that hnll porlcli In Itc uny?
Aid tliu (litwnlii),'! tiingiio mill pun!
Aid it, hopes of litmiist men,
Aid It pnpor, iild It typo,
Aid It, for this hour U ripe;
Ami our earnest must not slacken into
Iun of thought and men of action,
clear the way!" M. H. F.
EDUCATION AND TUK KLKVT1 VK
"Vc often hear lliib question raised ; shall
wo make education a test in the exercise
of the right of suffrage!1 Most persons,
perhaps, will at once answer this question
in the affirmative. Sonic will answer it
thus, but thoughtlessly, since this view
of it seems to them a self evident truth.
They look at its desirability rather than at
its practicability. This proposal has been
favored by men in high position, as by ex
president Grant in his last annual message.
Such a scheme has doubtless arisen from
good motives; yet it looks inconsis'cnl
with the spirit of our institutions. It
would, no doubt, be very desirable, could
this be realized; yet what is desirable is
often quite impracticable. Were it other
wise, the Utopian theories that float
around tis would long since have made
this world of ours indeed a paradise.
This scheme we look upon as impracti
cable, unjust and impolitic, at least, ai the
present time. Let us therefore look at il,
and seek to find its nature and practical
bearings. ft is, in the first place, imprac.
ticable, as it is difficult to fix for the pur.
pose a standard of education. The terms
of the proposition itself admit of very un
like interpretations. Shall we take as a
standaid a prescribed amount of hook
knowledge, or shall we determine a man's
fitness by his intelligence In cither case
what shall be the degree of the standard,
and above all, bow is it with justice to be
determined? Even if a fixed standard of
qualification were adopted, this arbitrary
attempt to bring all voters to a common
intellectual level would prove both lutilo
and unjust. Filtile, because every person
cannot gain u useful education. Some
may go to school for years, and yet be able
to read and write only in the most indif
ferent manner. An advantageous edueu
lion is beyond their grasp. Through some
peculiarity in their intellectual make-up,
they cannot reach it. Now this may he
in part, and only in putt, owing to poor
instruction in the. schools. JJy increasing,
therefore, the clllcicnoy of the latter, this
class may be reduced in numbers, but yet
it cannot wholly be removed. The bus1
educated nations have ever contained large
numbers of those having either a limited
education or none at all. And in the nil.
ture of tilings, this will never cease to bo
The attempt would also be unjust, he
cause, in many instances, it would place a
needless barrier between a voter and the
use ol the elective franchise; needless he.
cause there is no fault on his own part to
call for such a barrier. "A knowledge of
books does not imply in every ease a
knowledge of the most practical use in
every day life;ueither does the converse
necessarily bold. The result, then, of this
attempt would be to takeaway all political
privileges from a class, whereas, in a point
of practical worth, many of these compare
favorably with some of the educated class.
We further claim that the proposal is
impolitic. The moment when education
is made a test the voter will Unci also
political power taken away from the peo
pie its a whole, and placed in the hands of
a privileged class. Our republic would
thus become an aristocracy, and the very
act would be a direct remove from the
mam principals of true democracy. It
would also show that our national life has
proved a hothouse culture, and the inllu.
ence thereof fatal to the democratic sim
plicity of our early history. The breach
between thoo two classes, the educated
and the illiterate, once made, would tend
to widen. The interests, thoughts and
feelings of the former would differ from
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