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alleging that the Bible, and other books offensive to the Catholic conscience, were read in the public schools. The council appointed a committee to visit the schools, and ascertain what books were read in the schools, and whether there was really anything in them which could reasonably be objected to by any religious denomination. In the meantime, the public school society had done much to appease the Romanists. They had blotted and defaced many of the books in use. Some whole pages were obliterated by being stamped with printers' ink, on other pages only paragraphs were expunged, and other pages were pasted together, thereby obliterating two pages at once.
The committee from the council entering upon their mission, most mischievously took it into their heads to visit the Roman Catholic free schools, which were of course, under their exclusive management, and found there these same books without any obliterations whatever, whether by ink or paste, showing that the objection to them was a mere pretence, after all the professions made of conscientious scruples. But the committee found no Bibles there. The Bible had long since been placed in the index expurgatorus, and was, therefore, a forbidden book to all Romanists, unless by special permission of the bishop. We have now a large collection of the expurgated books, and find that most of the passages obliterated are historical and indisputable. So that, in fact, the demand upon the public school society was to falsify history for the accommodation of the Romanists. We are sorry the society complied; but it was done to appease, what they
supposed to be, a conscientious uneasiness on the part of a denomination whose children, most of all, required the benefit of common free school instruction.
Nothing was gained, however, by the sacrifice; and as the bishop could not prevail on the council to grant him the money, he carried his grievances to the State legislature. But neither could the general assembly be persuaded to let the bishop put his hand into the strong box; yet they did what was equivalent, going far towards destroying the best public schools in the world. A law was enacted by which the trustees were made elective, and the disinterested and able supervision of the public school society was superseded in some of the wards by men of very little education—some could not even read, and kept grog-shops at that. If any one should inquire why the governor should recommend, and the legislature enact such a measure, we reply, the Papists had votes at the command of the bishop, and the politicians were in the market.
After this the opposition to the Bible in the public schools was carried into every part of the United States ; and even where it succeeded it did not appease the Romanists. The sworn enemies of knowledge among the people, nothing short of the destruction of the whole system of the common school education could satisfy the Romish hierarchy. It was now that the “Know-Nothings” effected an organization, and aroused the people everywhere to a sense of their danger; and showed that this danger was imminent, notwithstanding the Romanists were in a minority; for the majority were divided into two great parties, each catering for the Catholic vote, which was ready everywhere, under the direction of the priesthood, to be cast in favor of whatever party would most favor the pretensions and claims of “Holy Mother Church."
We conclude, therefore, that if secret party associations are an evil, yet the organization of the “Know Nothings” is à necessary one necessary to the salvation of the country from the despotic rule of the Romish hierarchy—to the preservation of our civil and religious freedom, and hence should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.
That the public safety cannot be entirely trusted to either of the great political parties, is evident from reason and experience. Nor would any good arise from the destruction of these parties, and the substitution of new ones; for while the contest is only between political parties, held together by the hope of public office or emolument, they will bid high for the influence of the Catholic priesthood. Any counteraction of this sinister influence must necessarily come from those who, rising above party ties and compacts, make the counteraction of the secret society which threatens the public liberty an exclusive, all-governing principle, in the exercise of the right of suffrage.
The influence of the Romanists on our political men, even Protestants, is seen in the readiness some of them show to comply with the demand of the priesthood to exclude the Bible from our common schools. They affect to consider it as a question of conscience, and if their reasoning is sound, they ought to exclude all religious teachings whatever ; for no religious doctrine, or moral precept, can be taught which will meet no objections. We hold that the State has a right to make the Bible a school book, without leave of either Catholics or Protestants. The design of public schools is not to make theologians, or churchmen of any kind, but to make good citizens. This object cannot be obtained without inculcating the doctrine of future retribution ; and no book but the Bible does this by divine authority. No system of religion or ethics, not founded upon the Bible, can affect to teach of authority, or to enforce either doctrines or precepts with suitable sanctions. The Bible, then, is the only school-book which can be relied upon by the State to carry out the great purpose of common school education ; and hence the State has a right to require the reading of it in the schools it maintains, without consulting the wishes of any sect or denomination.
BY JOSEPH HOPKINSON.
Hail, Columbia ! happy land !
Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause,
Who fought and bled in Freedom's cause, And when the storm of war was gone, Enjoy'd the peace your valour won.
Let independence be our boast,
Firm—united-let us be,
Immortal patriots ! rise once more,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,