An Excerpt from You Can Be a Great American! 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness (a Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them), by W. F. Markwick and W. A. Smith
Entry #1 in the Raising Great Americans Project! (click here to learn more!)
To Keep America Great,
Become A Great American!
This book has been prepared with a view to meeting a real need of our times. The world suffers for want of men who are educated all over; whose nerves are brought to their acutest sensibility; whose brains are cultured, keen, and penetrating; whose hands are deft; whose eyes are alert and sensitive, and whose hearts are tender, broad, magnanimous and true. One of the most ominous signs of the times is that good men stand aloof from politics. They do this either because they do not fully appreciate the importance of their influence, or from the false conviction that their votes will do no good, or, in many other instances, because they consider their private business to be of more importance than the matters of the state. But, in point of fact, the uplifting of the moral tone of our country is a service of the most importance; and, even if we consider ourselves alone, it is still true that we cannot afford to pass it lightly by.
As citizens of the United States we stand possessed of a most wondrous heritage. As Professor Dole has pointed out, “We have seen magnificent cities rising on the borders of the streams, and pleasant villages dotting the hills; a flourishing commerce whitens the ripples of the lakes; the laugh of happy children comes up to us from the cornfields; and as the glow of the evening sun tinges the distant plains, a radiant and kindling vision floats upon its beams, of myriads of men escaped from the tyrannies of the Old World and gathered here in worshiping circles to pour out their grateful hearts to God for a redeemed and teeming earth.”
Surely all that is worth preserving. Surely we will not allow so rich a heritage to run waste. Surely we will support a nation whose past is bright with glorious achievements, and whose future glows with the light of a promise so radiantly beautiful. We need only remind you, therefore, that the truest and most useful citizens of our country are those who invigorate and elevate their nation by doing their duty truthfully and manfully; who live honest, sober, and upright lives, making the best of the opportunities for improvement that our land affords; who cherish the memory and example of the fathers of our country, and strive to make and keep it just what they intended it to be.
While there are a large number of text-books, and several readers, dealing with citizenship from the political point of view, the higher aspects of citizenship—the moral and ethical—have been seriously overlooked.
The authors of this work have searched in vain for something which would serve as an aid to the joint development of the natural faculties and the moral instincts, so as to produce a well-rounded manhood, upon which a higher type of citizenship might be built. The development of character appears, to us, to be of far greater importance, in the preparation of the youth for the discharge of the duties of public life, than is mere political instruction; for only by introducing loftier ethical standards can the grade and quality of our citizenship be raised.
It is universally conceded that ethics and civics should go hand in hand; and yet pupils pass through our schools by the thousand, without having their attention definitely called to this important subject; and only an honest desire to aid in improving this state of affairs, has led to the preparation of these pages.
The plan of the book is simple in the extreme. While it is written to be both accessible and educational for students, parents and aspiring “Great Americans” of all ages, it has been organized with the unique needs of public or homeschooled students in mind. It consists of thirty-nine chapters – one for each week of the school year –to each of which has been prefixed five memory gems; one for each school day.
Especial care has been taken to use only such language as will be perfectly intelligible to the pupils for whom it is intended. The largest possible use has been made of anecdote and incident, so as to quicken the interest and hold the attention to the end. These anecdotes have been selected from every available quarter, and no claim of originality is made concerning them or their use.
Into each of those chapters which have to do directly with the development of the natural faculties, or the moral powers, a “special illustration” taken from the true life story of a great man from History has been introduced; this being clearly marked off by the insertion of its title in bold-faced type. To these special illustrations a brief bibliography has been added, in order that a fuller study of the character presented may be readily pursued where deemed desirable. It is hoped that these special illustrations will not only serve to increase the general interest; but that, by thus bringing the pupil into direct contact with these greater minds, ambitions and aspirations may be aroused which shall prove helpful in the later life.
A careful presentation of each separate theme by the teacher, will not only increase the interest in the work of the schoolroom; but, by developing a higher type of citizenship, will be a real service to our nation.
This Article is an Excerpt from You Can Be a Great American! 39 Steps to True and Lasting Greatness (a Growing Up Great Guide for American Boys and for the Parents and Teachers Who Love Them), by W. F. Markwick and W. A. Smith, which is available from Better Days Books in quality hardbound, sturdy trade paperback and convenient .PDF e-book editions starting at just $4.95.
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.