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Benjamin Rush, "Thoughts upon Female Education, Accommodated to the Present State Of Society, Manners, and Government. . .,” delivered in 1787 at the Young Ladies’ Academy of Philadelphia, in Frederick Rudolph, ed., Essays on Education in the Early Republic (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 27‑40.


Benjamin Rush, a physician and early advocate of educational reform, wrote important documents proposing the content and purpose of education in the new nation. In this excerpt from a speech delivered at the Young Ladies’ Academy of Philadelphia, Rush highlights the distinctive responsibilities of women in a republic.

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“III. From the numerous avocations to which a professional life exposes gen­tlemen in America from their families, a principal share of the instruc­tion of children naturally devolves upon the women. It becomes us there­fore to prepare them, by a suitable education, for the discharge of this most important duty of mothers.
IV. The equal share that every citizen has in the liberty and the possible share he may have in the government of our country make it necessary that our ladies should be qualified to a certain degree, by a peculiar and suitable education, to concur in instructing their sons in the principles of liberty and government.”

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