This book is the first part of a two book series written to provide a comprehensive history of the United States to middle school aged children. It begins with the explorations of Columbus, tells the story of the founding of each of the American colonies, and ends with the Revolutionary War, which severed the colonies from the British Empire. Its companion book, The Great Republic covers American history from the Revolutionary war to the early 20th century.
This book is intended as an historical reader, an elementary textbook in the history of our country, or as an introduction or supplement to any of the excellent textbooks on the history of the United States now in use.
The aim has been not only to interest children in the great men of their own country, but to stimulate them to the cultivation of the lofty virtues of which they read, and to instil within their hearts a deep love for their native land.
All the main facts in our early history have been given as simply and vividly as possible, and the lessons of patriotism, truthfulness, courage, patience, honesty, and industry taught by the lives of our principal heroes are carefully enforced. Great pains have also been taken to relate all the well-known anecdotes and quote the famous speeches which are so frequently alluded to in our current literature.
Although this book ends with the Revolutionary War, the story of our country is continued on the same lines in a companion volume entitled The Story of the Great Republic; yet each book is independent of the other and can be used separately.
So simply worded as to be easily intelligible to average children of ten or twelve years of age, the text is further arranged in short paragraphs, to facilitate its use as a reader in large classes.
The pronunciation of difficult proper names is indicated in the text, and, more fully, in the carefully prepared index. The system of diacritical marks used is explained on the first page of the index.
Hints for Teachers
The best results in reading can often be obtained by the teacher's reading a chapter first, while the pupils closely follow the text in their own books. When called upon to re-read the same passages, it will be noticed that they almost unconsciously imitate every inflection they have heard. Thus they soon learn to read with due regard to expression, and therefore take a livelier interest in the subject-matter.
Aside from its use as a reader, this text can also serve to supply themes for daily language work, certain parts of the lesson being chosen for verbal and others for written reproduction. My experience has been that after reading the chapters over once or twice most children remember both facts and names. If they cannot do it at first, they may easily be trained to do it by the judicious stimulus of a little praise, and the hope of winning their teacher's approval.
To fix important facts in the memory, and to serve as reviews of previous readings, I have found that a set of question cards is almost invaluable. These can be quickly distributed among the children, who are called upon to answer them verbally or in writing, as best serves the teacher's purpose at the time.
Pupils consider historical matches even more exciting than spelling matches. To vary recitations, matches can be conducted in various ways. For instance, all the question cards bearing upon the parts of the book already perused can be divided between the two "sides." The pupils furnish oral or written answers, the side answering most questions correctly reaping the honors. The match can also be carried on by the teacher's supplying names or dates, and requiring pupils on alternate sides to state clearly what they know in connection with them. At other times, ordinary quiz methods can be used, or the teacher can relate some fact or anecdote, calling upon different pupils to supply the purposely omitted names or dates.
Children are also often deeply interested in verbal pictures. For example, the teacher, without mentioning name, time, or place, can describe Franklin flying his kite, Ethan Allen surprising the garrison at Ticonderoga, Columbus at La Rabida, etc. The description ended, each pupil can write down the names of the characters described, and mention time, place, and any other fact the teacher calls for. Such historical riddles seem more like play than work to the average child, and before long all take great pride in making verbal pictures of their own, to be guessed by their schoolmates, or handed to the teacher instead of an ordinary composition. Such work not only appeals to childish imagination, but cultivates memory and attention while firmly fixing important facts in youthful minds.
To encourage a taste for poetry and rouse a love for the beautiful by fine descriptions of the noted characters or great events with which the pupils have just become familiar, it is often well to read aloud some of our most famous songs or poems.
It is universally conceded that history and geography should go hand in hand; so suitable maps have been supplied, upon which children should be encouraged to locate each spot as soon as it is mentioned. The teacher should also procure a blank map for each pupil (such as the Eclectic Map Blanks, American Book Company), so that, after finding any place named on the ordinary map, the pupil can locate it exactly on an outline map. Many children are greatly interested in marking the names themselves as soon as their attention is drawn to them, and take great pride in seeing their maps grow. This method is often more helpful than any other in making children see how civilization has spread and what changes have gradually taken place in our country.
To fix upon their minds the fact that colonies were planted by different European nations, it is often advisable to purchase at a stationer's tiny adhesive stars of various colors. Each color serves to represent a nation, and stars are pasted upon the spots where colonies once stood. In cases where colonies proved unsuccessful, a black star can be pasted over the colored one, but in such a way that enough of the original star remains to show to which nation the colony once belonged. Where colonies changed hands several times, stars of appropriate colors can be pasted overlapping one another. This work fascinates children, and as the stars are adhesive, it can be done in class with very little trouble. A little tact on the teacher's part will make each pupil strive to have the neatest and most accurate map.
History and geography, when studied in their turn, will seem far more attractive to children if these methods have been pursued; for many persons and places already familiar will then be joyfully greeted as old friends.