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PREPARATION FOR CITIZENSHIP
At Amherst College.
BY ANSON D. MORSE. A. M.
Winkley ProfesBor of History and Po!B»ca2 Economy ^ Amherst CoUege.
Beprinted from " Education^^^ December^ 1888,
/ ■' ^
^ MDUATC scHoa or miS^
MONROE C CUTMAM mM. ""
often, is embittered isolation. The influence upon the rich is not
less wholesome. They learn to judge themselves and others, not by
what a man has, but by what he is and does. They learn also to
regard themselves as belonging to the people rather than to a
privileged class. Another side of this trait is the marked pref-
erence for substance over form which characterizes both student
and graduate. That the Amherst spirit is sensitive and respon-
sive to universal interests is proved by the history of the college
in respect to science, philosophy and foreign missions.
The first formal step in " preparation for citizenship " at Amherst
is taken at an interview with the President at the beginning of
Freshman year. In this an exposition is given of the paragraph in
the college catalogue which treats of "Administration." The
most important clause reads : " A student whose recommendations
have been approved, and whose examinations have shown him
capable of admission to Amherst College, is received as a gentle-
man, and, as such, is trusted to conduct himself in truthfulness and
uprightness, in kindness and respect, in diligence and sobriety, in
obedience to law and maintenance of order, and regard for Chris-
tian institutions as becomes a member of a Christian College."
The words are explicit; still, it is found useful to impress them
upon the memory and to make clear as possible their application
to the actual conditions of college life. Emphasis is laid upon the
facts ; first, that the relation with the college into which the stu-
dent enters is on his part voluntary ; second, that this relation is
of the nature of a contract, which binds the college to admit the
student to its privileges, and the student to observe the conditions
on which these privileges are granted : and consequently, that non-
fulfillment of obligations by either party should terminate the
relation; third, that this relation is direct; the student deals with
the college and the college with the student, not as a' member of a
class, but as an individual. The next step is participation in the
government of the college. The nature and extent of this parti-
cipation are stated in the catalogue as follows : "The Faculty have
judged it wise to associate with them, in the immediate govern-
ment of the College, a body chosen by the students themselves, to
which questions of College order and decorum are referred, and
whose decisions, if approved by the President, are binding in the
College. This body is called the College Senate, and consists of four
Seniors, three Juniors, two Sophomores, and one Freshman, chosen
by their respective classes. At the meetings of the Senate, which
are held regularly once a month, the President of the College
The attitude of the Senate towards the College is indicated by
the following extract from its Constitution : —
"Before taking his seat, each member shall sign the Constitu-
tion, to which shall be prefaced the following pledge : ' I hereby
sign this Constitution, promising to act as a judge upon all
matters brought before me, and to endeavor in all my decisions to
seek always the good order and decorum of the College.' " ^
The powers of the Senate are as follows : —
"Whenever a member of the college shall appear to have broken
the contract upon which he was received as a member of Amherst
College, except in cases pertaining to attendance upon college exer-
cises, determined by the regular rules of the Faculty, the case shall
be brought before the Senate, who shall determine both as to whether
the contract has been broken, and whether, if broken, it shall
again be renewed.
"The jurisdiction of the Senate shall also extend over such pro-
cedures of any body of students, relating to order and decorum,
as affect the whole colj^ge, and over whatever other business the
President or Faculty may submit to it ; it being understood that in
such cases the action of the Senate shall have the full authority of
" Any member shall have the right to introduce business, also to
call for any vote by ballot whenever he shall desire it."^
The Faculty, subject to the approval of the Trustees, remains
the general law-making branch of the college government. In the
main the functions of the Senate are judicial. A large proportion
of cases which come before it permit the application of principles
and rules already in*Eorce. A question frequently adjudicated is
whether a particular act in violation of order, decorum or good
morals, should terminate the relation of the perpetrator to the col-
lege. But the Senate does more than merely interpret law: it
deals with many questions which relate to the welfare of the
college in a general way, and to the settlement of which, existing
rules are inapplicable. Questions which concern student publica-
1 College Catalogue, Par. on Organization.
> Constitution of the Senate, Art. II., Sec. 4.
«lbid. Art. IV.
tions, intercollegiate contests, the privileges of and restrictions
upon organizations which engage in these, the Senate decides
according to its own best judgment ; and in so doing, is gradually-
building up a system of college local common law. A third very-
important function of the Senate is to serve as a kind of perma-
nent conference committee in which the President represents the
Faculty- and the Senators, the students. By means of these confer-
ences each of the represented bodies becomes acquainted with the
views and feelings of the other, and under circumstances which
dispose each to considerateness. The result is the prevention of
those frequent and, at times, grave collisions which arise from
misunderstandings between faculty and students. The President
can veto the decisions of the Senate as he can those of the Fac-
ulty ; but he has very rarely found it necessary to do so. After
full discussion, the President, who from the nature of his office
embodies the conservatism of the college, and the Senators, who in
their official capacity represent its radicalism, have come to an
agreement respecting almost every question. The idea of a con-
tract as the basis of the relation between student and college, and
participation of the student in college government, are leading
features of what some have called the "Amherst System." The
influence of this system begins with the first day of college life
and increases to the end of the course. Its first aim is to develop
in the student the capacity for wise self direction ; its second, is to
awaken in him an interest in the college and a sense of responsi-
bility for its welfare. The system combats at the threshold the
tendency once prevalent and still powerful, to put class feeling
and college custom in the place of the judgment and conscience of
the individual student. It tries to make him feel, with respect to
the administration of college government, that he is not so much
the subject of the faculty as their colleague.*
Is the system successful? Yes, but like other systems it must
be used a while before it can work with perfect smoothness.
Under this system college public opinion has greater weight than
it used to have. It is probable that neither faculty nor students
realize as yet the full consequences of this fact. In order that
public opinion may become a safe guide in determining college
policy, two conditions are requisite; first, it must be based on
regard for not one, nor a few, but all important interests con-
cerned; second, the estimate of the relative importance of these
interests must be just. From a standpoint which takes into view
only a certain set of interests, required attendance at church and
chapel seems indefensible ; from a standpoint with a broader out-
look, the question assumes an aspect which would lead advocates
of the voluntary system who have the highest good of the college
at heart to wish for more light before assuming the responsibility
of a revolutionary change. The habit of looking at both sides, or
rather all sides of a question, cannot be formed in a day. The
encouraging feature of the situation at Amherst is the evidence of
progress in this direction. In general the difference between fac-
ulty-views and student-views is less radical than it used to be ; the
relation between faculty and students is more frequently that of
friendly and hearty cooperation. Under the influence of this
change certain hateful incidents of the old method of governing —
its conflicts, diplomacy, and espionage, are being forgotten. The
student is becoming a good citizen of the college community, and
in this way, is preparing to become a good citizen of the state.
At Amherst the fraternities, nine in number, are a marked fea-
ture of the college. The proportion of "Society men" is consider-
ably larger than twenty years ago and is steadily increasing. In
certain respects the fraternities are colleges within the college;
they are bodies of colleagues whose corporate aims are in sympathy
with those of the college and supplementary to them. Their
vitality and prosperity indicate that they satisfy a real want. In
fact what they offer the student is something he needs and cannot
with equal ease and fulness obtain by other means. To prepara-
tion for citizenship the fraternities contribute in several ways.
They establish a close and permanent relationship between alumni
and undergraduates, through which the juster views of life and of
college opportunities and duties, which prevail among the alumni,
reach and influence the undergraduates. By means of their
intercollegiate relations the fraternities develop a friendly and
magnanimous spirit towards other colleges. Through admitting
delegates from each of the four classes they do much to keep class
spirit from becoming arrogant and belligerent. As literary socie-
ties they encourage the serious study and discussion of political
topics. But of all their services to preparation for citizenship
one of the greatest is the aid they give in maintaining relations
with general society. The tendency of college life towards s eclu
sion is a survival in the field of education of the once domin an
influence of monasticism. This tendency explains in^ part why
the educated modern is less frequently a man of affairs than was,
in classic times, the educated Greek or Roman. To many a studi-
ous man, going to college has been to such an extent a going out
of the world, that only with difficulty could he find his place again.
To many who were not studious, partial isolation from ordinary
social influences during the four years of College life has proved
seriously demoralizing. The happiest result is when social and in-
tellectual development keep even step. The comradeship which the
fraternities have always fostered is now widening into practical citi-
zenship. Through his chapter house the relation of the student
to the town of Amherst is undergoing a radical change ; he has be-
come a householder, a neighbor, and a host ; as a taxpayer he has
an interest in the management of town affairs ; his stake in the
community is much more like that of other citizens than it used to
be ; in brief, through helping the student to maintain responsible
relations with general society, the fraternities make it difficult for
him to be a recluse, a Bohemian, or an Ishmaelite.
On the other hand it must be conceded that " Society men " are
sometimes clannish; and clannishness is narrow and narrowing^
the counterpart in college of sectionalism in the state. It is, how-
ever, a fair question whether the fault does not lie in the men
rather than in the fraternities — whether in fact the fraternities do
not in many cases really broaden the associations and sympathies
of men who are by nature clannish. Observers agree that the
evil was greater when the fraternities were fewer.
Turning now to the curriculum, we find that the studies and
exercises which deal most directly with political subjects, are
oratory, debates, history, political economy, international law,
moral science, and discussions with the President. To oratory
are assigned four exercises each week during the second and third
terms of sophomore year, and one each week during the first term
of junior year ; to debates, one exercise each week during the last
term of junior year and all of senior year. Of the relation of these
studies to preparation for citizenship the professor in charge says :
"As the oratorical aim is not to impress upon the student any
arbitrary system of delivery, but to develop and train his individ-
ual powers, a necessary condition is a theme of interest and recog-
nized importance to the speaker and his hearers. Experience has
shown that this condition is most happily found in questions
relating to our political, social, and economic life. The more
thoroughly the questions are studied and the more deeply inter-
ested the student becomes in their preparation, the more easily
does he, as a speaker, relieve himself from restraints and reveal the
powers and defects that demand the guidance and criticism of the
instructor. This is therefore sufficient ground, aside from other
important reasons, for making the course a stimulus and guide to
reading and thought upon subjects readily seen to affect the wel-
fare of our country. The subjects assigned are carefully arranged
so as to make the course progressive and systematic. The work
early interests the student in subjects bearing upon the duties of
citizenship and in many instances it undoubtedly directs his
private reading in the same channels. It is also probable that
much of the forensic work in the literary meetings of the societies
is largely influenced in its character by these exercises of the class-
"The questions assigned for debate and discussion relate mainly
to political history, our social problems and present administra-
tion. Typical questions as debated or discussed by the class of
'88 are : —
1. Has the influence of Compromise in our history been more
harmful than beneficial?
2. Is the cure of our social evils to be more largely moral and
religious than physical and economic?
3. Should the friends of temperance favor high license ?
4. Was Thomas Jefferson a better president than Andrew
5. Is the "Fisheries Bill" the best means of meeting our diffi-
culties with Canada?
6. What is the true regulative principle in the industrial
7. How are the interests of the laboring classes in this country
to be best advanced ?
8. What should be done in regard to the accumulating surplus
in the United States Treasury ?
9. Which of the great political parties in the history of the
United States has had the most influence upon its institutions?
10. What should be the course of the United States in regard
to immigration?" ^
1 Quoted from statement of Professor Frink, made at request of the writer.
In history there are two courses : one, a general course, which
has four exercises each week of junior year; the other, a course
in the political and constitutional history of the United States,
which has two hours each week of the first senior term and four
hours each week of the second. In the study of general history
the following divisions are made : (1) A review of Oriental, Greek,
and Roman history. (2) A course of twelve weeks on the period
from the Migrations to the Renaissance, in which the history of
England and the movements and institutions which affected west-
ern Europe as a whole, receive most attention. (3) A course of
twelve weeks on the period from the Reformation to the French
Revolution, in which the Reformation, the Catholic Counter-Refor-
mation, and the Revolutions in England and France, are the features
most studied. (4) A course of eleven weeks on American col-
onial history, the political history of the United States, and, in
outline, the history of Europe since the French Revolution.
Throughout these courses the standpoint is that of world his-
tory. Only those facts are studied which have a traceable relation
to general progress. The history of a nation is treated as a chap-
ter in universal history ; the importance of individuals, peoples,
movements, and institutions is measured by their contributions ta
civilization. The question which the course propounds is : through
what experiences and by what agencies has the world as it was at
the dawn of history become the very different world of to-day?
This course is a preparation for citizenship, because every man is.
a citizen of the world as well as of a particular country ; and the
best work of a citizen is that through which he aids his country to
recognize and discharge its obligation towards the world. More-
over, there is nothing which so clears the judgment respecting
national affairs as acquaintance with and interest in the affairs of
The course in political and constitutional history begins with
the inauguration of the new government in 1789, and comes down
to the close of Reconstruction. In the spring of 1888, a special
course of twenty lectures on "The Civil War and Reconstruc-
tion ," was given. In explaining methods, an account of the work
of the first term will serve. The period covered is 1789-1833.
The following general subjects are selected for investigation by
the students : foreign relations ; Indian policy ; banks ; internal im-
provements ; tariffs ; national sovereignty ; state sovereignty.
These subjects are sub-divided; that on foreign relations, for
example, furnishes topics for ten students ; that on tariffs, for
three. Examples of special tbpics are: (1) foreign relations
during the administration of Washington; (2) the foreign policy of
Washington compared with that of Jefferson ; (3) foreign policy of
the Federalists during the administrations of Jefferson and Madison ;
(4) history of the first bank of the United States ; (5) history of
tariffs down to 1816, including an analysis of Hamilton's Report on
Manufactures in 1791 ; (6) history of New England Sectionalism;
(7) the political work and influence of Hamilton ; (8) the political
work and influence of Gallatin. Each student, as far as possible,,
makes use of original sources; in studying Hamilton, for example,,
he reads Hamilton's own words. The essays, so far as the nature
of the topic permits, conform to the following scheme : (1) narra-^
tive of facts, (2) discussion of the constitutional questions involved,.
(3) influence upon political development. Each essay is read
before a section of the class and in the discussion which follows.
every member takes part. About one-fourth of the lectures of the
course are introductory to the period ; the others treat of party
Political economy has four hours each week of senior year, and
international law four hours during the last term of that year.
" The first term is devoted to the study of economic theory ; the
second, to the social problem and the problem of transportation.
In the study of the social problem, the individualistic, socialistic,
and social reformatory propositions are analyzed and criticised,
and the lines indicated along which the solution must take place.
In this course one important aim is to determine the principles and
limits of state action. The third term is devoted to fiscal science
and the tariff. In the former the main topics of investigation are :
the theory of public fiscal administration ; the principles which
should guide in making appropriations for public expenditure ; the
subject of revenue in its general aspects ; the methods of raising
revenue; the principles and the different forms and systems of
taxation; the general subject of public credit; the extent to which
the state may safely employ credit; and lastly, the principles which
should guide in the administration, contraction, liquidation, and
conversion of the public debt. In the course on the tariff, the
theories of free trade and protection and the history of the tariffs
of the United States, are studied. The aim is not to make stu-^
dents free traders or protectionists, but'' to secure acquaintance
with the subject and establish the habit of candid thinking.
"The method of instruction is as follows: the subject is first
outlined by means of lectures and then discussed in the class.
By means of references, acquaintance with authorities is ob-
tained. For those who can devote more time to the subject
a seminary is held for the free discussion of practical economic
questions. In international law the methods are the same as those
"employed in political economy." ^
Moral science has five hours each week during the second term
of senior year. "In the study of Ethics, which covers the whole
sphere of moral obligation, special attention is given to the study
of citizenship. It is felt that however perfect may be the form of
government, its administration and its laws, these alone can no
more make a good citizen than sunshine and rain and a rich soil
can transform a pebble into an oak ; there must be a spirit of life
from within before environment can call outgrowth; the spirit of
life, the vital force of citizenship, is virtue.
" The method of conducting the study is, first, to ground the
student in the convictions of an immutable morality as opposed to
j)rudence and expediency. Then, having found the source of
moral obligation, an exhaustive investigation of the nature of the
State and claims of positive authority is attempted, in order that
the conscience of the student may be aroused and government may
be seen to be one of right as well as might. Having thus laid the
foundations of civil authority, the questions respecting the forms
which are legitimate and the limitations of its action, are discussed,
&o far as these can be brought within a philosophical investiga-
Once each week during two terms the Seniors meet the Presi-
dent for the discussion of questions which they themselves propose.
A large percentage of these questions relate to social and political
problems. The discussions are more like conferences than formal
classroom exercises. Their value as a preparation for citizenship
will be understood by all who know the college.
Summarizing, we find that the political studies at Amherst equal
thirteen and a half full terms of four exercises each week. Of
these three terms and a quarter are in the department of public
^Quoted from statement of Dr. Tuttle.
* Statement of Professor Garman.
speaking, eight and a half in the department of history and political
economy, one and three quarters in the department of philosophy.
Most of these studies belong to junior and senior years; were
they equally distributed, there would be one and a fraction for
each term of the course.
To what extent do the students come under the influence of
these studies? Debates, moral science and discussions with the
President are required; the others are elective. The present
divisions in oratory include all the class except eight members.
All of '88, except three, and of '89, except two, elected at least one
section of the general course in history ; and of these, nearly all
elected the three terms. On the other hand, the division in
political and constitutional history is smaller than in any other of
the studies named; in the class of '89 which has ninety-eight
members, it numbers forty-one. About half the last class elected
political economy and international law ; in the present class, the
proportion is somewhat greater.
But long before the extended introduction of political studies,
a college course was justly considered a vMuable preparation for
citizenship. To explain this, account must be taken of factors,
such as the influence of teachers, of classical study, and of re-
ligious instruction, whose bearing on political education is too
often overlooked. Their importance in this respect is very great.
A strong teacher who is himself a good citizen, invariably devel-
ops good citizenship in his pupils. Many of the selections from
Plato, — the Apology and (7n^o, for example, — Thucydides, Demos-
thenes, Cicero, and Tacitus, concern the citizen even more than
the scholar. Moreover, the study of the classics, through acquaint-
ing the student intimately with the thoughts and acts of great
men and great peoples, tends to free him from the tyranny of
petty interests, and creates in him a liking and aptitude for public
affairs. The political service of religious instruction consists
in part in the theory of the state which it teaches. The difference
between the good and bad citizen begins with different conceptions
of the state ; to the latter it is an association for the furtherance
of private ends ; to the former, an organism in which the function
of the individual is to work for the welfare of the whole. Not
until a man has learned to feel as well as "think organically"
can he be a good citizen; but religion and rational religious
instruction promote, perhaps more than all other influences united,
this kind of feeling and thinking.