Raising Moral Kids in an Amoral Culture

Introducing the Raising Great Americans Project!


If you are a parent, step-parent or grandparent in 21st Century America, you likely know the frustration this essay, and the Raising Great Americans Project, seeks to address. You’re confident in your beliefs, you know right from wrong, you value honesty, hard work and “can-do!” self-sufficiency, and you understand from a lifetime’s experience that true happiness and success in life result always and only from aligning strong personal character with a solid core value system. You know who you are and what life is all about, and you long to share your hard-won wisdom with the children you love. But not only are they too busy watching “American Idol” and playing violent video games to pay any heed to your quaint “old-fashioned” morality, every institution in modern America, from the public schools, to the family courts, to corporations, to government agencies, political activists, once-traditional youth organizations like Scouting, the medical establishment and even (sadly) all too many churches agree they shouldn’t have to, embracing concepts like “situational ethics” (“Little Johnny, can you share with the class some situations in which lying or stealing might be the right thing to do?”) and the belief that children, from the very youngest ages, ought to be allowed to “discover their own values” rather than being “brainwashed” or “manipulated” by your coercive and unwelcome “parental interference…”

But things have not always been this way. In fact, until very recently in America (even well into the “flower power” 1960s), most people agreed on the importance of character and the specific “absolute” moral values that defined the term (remember the Scout Law? A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty Brave, Clean and Reverent). The definition of a “good person” and a “good citizen,” and the path of self-development and self-denial by which individuals were expected to bend their childish wills in conformity to those mature expectations, for their own good and for the good of the Nation, was actively taught in every school, proclaimed from every pulpit and unapologetically trained at every Scout meeting in the land.

If you long, as I do, to take part in actively turning our culture back toward the way things were, to they way America and Americans defined themselves and terms like “right” and “wrong” before the free-love flower-power hippie-Yippie Baby Boomers of the 1960s derailed our once-great national identity and inverted or outlawed every sane moral Tradition ensuring the mutual strength and cohesion of our People, then by all means subscribe now to this blog, or at the very least bookmark betterdaysbooks.wordpress.com and make plans to return here nightly between now and Independence Day, July 4th.



You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness is my favorite book in the whole world. It was originally published in 1900, as a “supplementary reader” for seventh grade level public school students. The “39 Steps” referred to in the title are 39 core values every child was expected to learn and embrace over the course of a lifetime, beginning in infancy, developing through youth and young adulthood, and culminating in a full maturity reflecting the quick-minded, independent thinking, self-reliant qualities of the Great American “ideal citizen.” The book is comprised of 39 lessons (one for each week in the traditional school year), each of which focuses on a specific value like courage, honesty, perseverance or self-control. Lessons begin with a set of inspirational quotations related to the value at hand, followed by several pages of clear exposition and an exciting true story from the life of some famous statesman, explorer, inventor or businessman exemplifying the benefits of applying the defined value in ones own life.

I love You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness so much, that I have republished it in quality hardcover, sturdy trade paperback and convenient e-book download editions through my publishing company, Better Days Books. I am so inspired by this book that I took on the added effort and expense of releasing the paperback version through global distribution channels, which means you can purchase it through Amazon.com and other on-line book retailers, order it from any brick and mortar bookstore, or request that your local public library purchase a copy for lending in your community (all of which I hope you will do, of course). But I just don’t feel that even these efforts are enough. You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness is, in my opinion, such an important resource for raising a new generation of Great American kids, and through them, saving our country and our culture, that I have decided to share the entire book with you for free right here in the pages of this blog!

Over the course of the next 40 days, beginning tomorrow night, Saturday, May 24th, and concluding on the 4th of July – Independence Day! — I will publish one full chapter each evening as a new entry in this blog, beginning with the inspiring introduction, then following with all 39 lessons for your free use in the character-building education of your children.

Businessman that I am, I of course hope that at some point along the way you will think to yourself, “Gosh, I wish I had a real paper copy of this great book to read at my leisure and share with my kids away from this darned computer screen!,” and you will choose to invest the meager sum of $16.95 to acquire a personal copy – but you are under no obligation to do so, now or ever. If you are inspired by these free blog posts and choose to share their message with your children, our Nation will be strengthened and our future improved. I care about America and I care about our kids, and that goal is far more important to me than the few dollars to be made through the sale of a book.

If you do choose to purchase a copy, for yourself, for a friend, or for a child you know who lacks moral guidance from the adults in his or her home environment, that would be great. I would be extra-grateful if you would consider asking your local library to purchase a copy, too (or if you would consider purchasing one to donate to the library where you live). Imagine how many families could be reached from the library shelf, and how long your gift could keep on giving that way!

So subscribe to this blog or bookmark betterdaysbooks.wordpress.com now, and mark your calendar to return every night until Independence Day for a new installment in The Raising Great Americans Project!

Thank you!

Samuel F. W. Alger

NOTE: You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness, as a creature of its times, is primarily aimed at boys, but its lessons are of equal value to the fine girls and future women of our Nation. If the children in your life are girls, please don’t allow a slight language bias toward “he” and “his” in the chapters ahead to prejudice you against offering the benefit of this terrific educational resource to the girls you love!


Industry, Ambition, Self Control, Self-Respect, Courtesy, Faithfulness, Courage, Duty, Honesty, Enthusiasm, Humility, Patriotism… In every era of our Nation’s history, the true alchemy by which ordinary boys have been transformed into Great American Men has always and only occurred where these indispensible moral principles have been successfully applied. In an age like our own, where such manly ideals are openly mocked and derided by our popular culture, it’s time to turn to the past to recapture a clear vision of what it takes to be a Great American, and the true moral and ethical ladder that leads reliably to its attainment.

You Can Be a Great American: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness was first published in 1900, under the title “The True Citizen, How to Become One,” and contains 39 essential lessons in manhood tailored to each age and transition in a boy’s life, from infancy to adulthood. It is the clearest roadmap to American Greatness ever compiled for the youth of our Nation, and remains as life-changing today as it was when first published, over 100 years ago.

Whether you are an adult raising boys in a Traditional family setting, the single parent of a son, or a boy abandoned to no or poor parenting, left to grab your own bootstraps and lift yourself up to a life of achievement, success and All-American Greatness (or an adult who knows a boy in such sad straits), You Can Be a Great American!: 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness is the only guidebook you’ll ever need.



Filed under 19th Century, 4th of july, advice, america, american culture, american history, american holidays, american rebirth, american revolution, american tradition, antiquarian, baby boom, baby boomers, books, boy scout, boy scouting, boys, character, character building, christian, christian homemaking, christian parenting, citizenship, conservatism, conservative, conservative idealogy, conservative movement, counterculture, cub scouting, cub scouts, cultural renewal, culture, education, family, fatherhood, fathers and sons, founding fathers, government, great american, heroes, hippies, history, home schooling, homemaking, homeschooling, homestead, homesteader, homesteading, independence day, independent scouting, kids, kids activities, leadership, learning, men, moral kids, morals, mothers and daughters, new american revolution, old books, old days, parenting, parenting advice, patriot, patriotism, politics, practical advice, raising boys, raising daughters, raising girls, renew america, renewing america, scout movement, scouting, single parenting, sixties, social movements, traditional conservatism, traditional parenting, traditional scouting, Uncategorized, values, victorian, vintage, virtue, vote, voting, wise words, you're a great american

36 responses to “Raising Moral Kids in an Amoral Culture

  1. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Iove spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

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