The Home – Forge of Good Citizenship

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world…

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 #35 in the Raising Great Americans Project! Click Here to learn More!







The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.


The fireside is the seminary of the nation.


Early home associations have a potent influence upon the life of the State.


Nothing proves more ruinous to the State
than the defective education of the women


The sorest spot in our municipal and national
condition, is the decadence of the home idea.

–G. H. Parkhurst


The fact that children are so long in growing up, and pass so many years together under the care of their father and mother, is most important in the history of the race. During this long period of growth in the home they become fitted, as they could not in any other way, to take their places in the larger world of men and women. If children remained with their parents as short a time as the young of animals do, it is probable that men would never have risen above the state of barbarism. The home has been the great civilizer of the world.

The home is more than the family dwelling; it is the seat of the family life; and the family life stands to the life of the nation in the same relation as the index to the volume, or the expression of the countenance to the feeling of the heart. The homes of any people are the very beginnings of its progress, the very centers of its law and order, and of its social and political prosperity. They are the central points around which the crystallizing and solidifying processes of national life and growth can alone be carried forward. We do not give sufficient prominence to this fact, in our estimate of the forces which build up our national life. We recognize art and science, agriculture and industry, politics and morality; but do we realize, as we should, that, beneath all these, as the great foundation rock upon which they all must rest, lies the home. Or, to change the figure, the homes of our people are the springs out of which flow our national life and character. They are the schools in which our people are trained for citizenship; for when a young man leaves the paternal roof, his grade and quality as a citizen is, as a rule, fully determined.

The training of a good citizen must begin at the cradle, and be continued through the plastic period of boyhood and carried forward by his parents, until the youth crosses his native threshold to act his part and assume his responsibilities in the broader field of his own independent life.

The home life of New England has been the most potent force, in the building of this great nation. The homes of our Puritan ancestors were really the birthplaces of these United States. What then was the character of these homes? They were simple and even rude, as considered externally–and especially when contrasted with the homes of the New Englanders of today. But within, there was love and loyalty, reverence and faith. In the early homes of New England there were so many strong fibers running from heart to heart, and knitting all together,–and so many solid virtues woven into the daily life,–that their influence has done much to make our nation what it is.

A young man trained in such a home, will usually become an example of sobriety, industry, honesty, and fidelity to principle. He will be felt to be part of the solid framework which girds society and helps to keep it healthy,–a kind of human bank, on which the community may draw to sustain its best interests, and to promote its noblest forms of life.

The home is the birthplace of true patriotism; and a true patriotism is one of the first and most important characteristics in the upbuilding of any nation. It is not the wild plebeian instinct that goes for our country right or wrong, which forms the real element of our strength. Love of country, to be a real help and safeguard, must be a sentiment great enough to be moral in its range and quality. Neither the power of numbers, nor mere oaths of allegiance, will suffice. Patriotism always falls back upon the home life and the home interests for its inspiration and its power.

Whatever crosses the threshold to desolate the hearth, touches to the quick one of the strongest sentiments of our nature. The old Latin battle cry, “For our altars and our firesides,” is still the most potent word which can be given to our soldiers, as they advance upon the foe; and the man who will not go forward, even to the death, for these, is rightly counted as little better than a slave.

If you want a man upon whom you can rely in the hour of the nation’s peril, select the man who loves his home; for in proportion as he loves his home, will he love his country which has protected it.

We therefore repeat that the homes of the people are the secret of our country’s greatness. Acres do not make a nation great. Wealth cannot purchase grandeur and renown. Resources, however great and wonderful, cannot crown us with national honor and celebrity. The strength and prowess of any land lies in the character of its citizens; and their character depends largely upon the character of their homes.

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.

Also available through in quality trade paperback and Kindle e-book download editions.


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