Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Never Went To Public School


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Most of our Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, like most average colonial Americans, spent few years, if any, in formal grammar schools of the day, yet they knew how to read and write well.

Most voluntary local grammar schools expected parents to teach their children to read and write before they started school. Most colonial parents apparently had no trouble teaching their children these skills.

At least ten of our presidents were home-schooled. James Madison’s mother taught him to read and write. John Quincy Adams was educated at home until he was twelve years old. At age fourteen, he entered Harvard. Abraham Lincoln, except for fifty weeks in a grammar school, learned at home from books he borrowed. He learned law by reading law books, and became an apprentice to a practicing lawyer in Illinois.

Other great Americans were similarly educated. John Rutledge, a chief justice of the Supreme Court, was taught at home by his father until he was eleven years old. Patrick Henry, one our great Founding Fathers and the governor of colonial Virginia, learned English grammar, the Bible, history, French, Latin, Greek, and the classics from his father.

Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, and Florence Nightingale were all taught at home by their mothers or fathers. John Jay was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, a chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and a governor of New York. His mother taught him reading, grammar, and Latin before he was eight years old. John Marshall, our first Supreme Court Chief Justice, was home-schooled by his father until age fourteen. Robert E. Lee, Thomas Stonewall Jackson, George Patton, and Douglas MacArthur were also educated at home. Booker T. Washington, helped by his mother, taught himself to read by using Noah Webster’s Blue Back Speller.

Thomas Edison’s public school expelled him at age seven because his teacher thought he was feeble-minded. Edison, one of our greatest inventors, had only three months of formal schooling. After leaving school, his mother taught him the basics at home over the next three years. Under his mother’s care and instruction, young Edison thrived.

If Thomas Edison was alive today as that child of seven, school authorities would probably stick him in special- education classes. Poor Thomas would waste his precious mind and be bored to death until they released him from school at age sixteen.

So it turns out that many of the famous Americans our children now read about in their dumbed-down public-school textbooks were either homeschooled, never set foot in a government-controlled public school, or thankfully only went to a public school for a very short period of time.

Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst, and author of “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children. " Contact Information: Website: , Email: , Phone: 718-447-7348. Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel. NOTE: You may post this Article on an Ezine, newsletter, or other website only if you include Joel Turtel’s complete contact information, and set up a hyperlink to Joel Turtel’s email address and website URL,


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