Toward a New Narrative of Gender and Religion in American Higher Education
This chapter shows that the most important question in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was: Who should participate in civic life and to what extent? From the early days of the republic, Federalists and Anti-federalists, Jacksonians and Whigs debated the relative merits of more representative versus more democratic government. College played an essential part in these debates over civic participation. Prior to the Civil War, most colleges embraced a uniform curriculum heavy on classical languages, mathematics, and philosophy—all intended to impart “mental discipline” and knowledge of those texts historically revered by cultural leaders. Heads of these institutions argued that this curriculum best prepared men for leadership in public affairs, either in government or the professions.
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