May's 2002 Book Review
May 1, 2002
This Months Book Review
My Country's Heritage
By Ames & Ames
Copyright 1945, 1951
by Webster Publishing Company
The Story of America is unintelligible unless set against the
background of Old World history. This fact has been
recognized for at least a generation. The number and the
worth of the texts setting forth the prinicpal features
of this Old World background in the language of childhood
attests the interest in the movement to correct past
But to fall under the conviction that the American child has
the right to examine the roots of America's past in the Old
World, and, indeed, must examine them to understand the
history of his own country, is one thing. Properly to
evaluate and winnow these background materials, and
adequately to present them to a ten- or eleven-year old
child is quite another. American reaction to world events,
during these latter years, the long-continued American
ignorance of this world stage on which we act, and
American indifference to the world drama seem to
suggest that what the American Schools have done in
this respect has either been too late or too little.
The authors of this text are convinced that the story of the
Old World, as presented to American children, should be
simple, direct, interestingly told. Ancient dynasties, the
rise and fall of empires, and all complexities to be found in
the "boiled down" world histories that have too often been
foisted on the young American find no place in this text. It
presents much to think abount and to feel; little that must
be clung to by a sheer exercise of memory.
In winnowing the mass of facts to be considered, the authors
have saved and have pushed into the fore-ground those
elements of the past that became the direct, tangible causes
of the spread of Europeans to the New World, that conditioned
their living and their ideas and ideals once they were here. It
is the merit of their sifting process which, the authors believe,
will give this book a deserved place in the schools. It is their
conviction that educators will welcome a text that perhaps
fails to enlarge on the exploits of Rameses II of Egypt, but
includes dramatic stories of the origins of our Bill of Rights.
Examiners of this text will be interested in noting the large
amount of space given to the nineteenth-century immigrant
to our shores. Why not? Did European influence on America
cease with the sailing of the "Mayflower"? Is there but one
"Pilgrim band" and one "Plymounth Rock" in the story of
America? The authors of this text believe that their
recognition of this continuing influence of the Old World on
the New constitutes a long-needed advance in this general
A Land Of Many Nationalities, Chapter Twenty
People from many lands joined the settlers in the English
colonies. In their new American homes they grew more and
more alike. At last they became one people.
Ideas Of The English Settlers
What the English settlers brought with them.
You have now read the story of the English people who came
to America to build their homes. Each group of settlers was
called a colony. Each colony had a government of its own,
but all looked to England for many rules and laws. There was
no goverment in America over all the colonies at this time.
The people who came from England did not come empty-
handed. They brought with them axes and saws and other
tools with which to build their new homes. Plows and other
farming tools were included in the ships' cargoes coming to
America. The women brought their spinning wheels and
their looms for weaving. Sacks of wheat and barley and oats
to be used as seed for the new farms were brought in by the
settlers. Off the decks of many of the ships were driven cows,
horses, sheep, and swine. Soon such English flowers as the
iris and crocus and tulip were blooming among the stumps
around log cabin homes in America.
Ideas of the settlers.
These early English settlers had a number of ideas which were
quite their own. Most of them could not read and write, and
some of them were fine scholars. They brought books with
them to America, and every Englishman was sure that he had
brought with him all his rights. He called these "the rights of
Englishmen. " One of these rights was that if he should be
charged with a crime, he must be tried by a jury just as if he
were in England. Another thing that he believed in was that
he should not be taxed except by people who represented him
in the goverment. He did not believe that even the King had a
right to put an Englishman in prison and keep him there
without a trial. These and many other ideas were held by the
English people who came to our country. As you wil understand,
most of these ideas are believed in by the American people of
From Many Lands They Came
It was not many years before people from other lands than
England began coming to the colonies in America to join the
English settlers. Poor people from many lands found homes
and a chance to live better in the American colonies.
During the yeares we have been reading about, nearly all
Christians in western Europe belonged to one church-the
Catholic Church. In time a number of Christians came to
believe that the Church was not following the teachings of
Christ. Some of these people formed new churches which
were called Protestant churches. Martin Luther, in Germany,
was a leader of the Protestants in that country. Many people
in Germany, Holland, and Sweden followed Martin Luther's
teachings. They called themselves Lutherans.
In France, also, there were people who were not satisfied with
the Catholic Church. These people were called Huguenots.
Many of these Huguenots had so much trouble in France that
they were glad to leave their homeland and come to America.
The colonies which they tried to set up were destroyed, but
many Huguenot families came to live in the English colonies
which you have read about.
The Dutch people in America.
You have read how the Dutch who settled along the Hudson River
came under the English rule. These settlements grew and soon
were well to do. The Dutch manner of building houses and many
of their games and ways of having a good time made these
colonies differ greatly from those settled by the people from
People from Holland have continued to find homes in America.
Today many people of Dutch blood can be found in all parts of
our country. One of the best known of the Dutch immigrants
of later times was Edward Bok, editor of one of our widely-read
magazines. Several of our presidents have been of Dutch blood,
among them Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, and
Franklin D. Roosevelt.
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