Benjamin Rush


Benjamin Rush (1744-1813) a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was considered by his peers to be one of the most prominent of the Founding Fathers, alongside Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Today, for the most part, he is unknown by most Americans. Read the incredible accomplishments of this very important founding father.

As a physician he had no equal and was called the "Father of American Medicine" because of his numerous medical discoveries.1 He was also called the "Father of American Psychiatry", a statement found on his grave to this day.2

Benjamin Rush was also called the "Father of Public Schools Under the Constituion"3 because he was the first to advance the idea of free public schools,4 and also a pioneer in the opportunity for women's education. He helped Abigal Adam's (John Adam's wife) dream become a reality by establishing the Young Ladies Academy of Philadelphia, one of America's first educational institutions for women.5

He wrote textbooks, formed curriculum plans, crafted educational policies, and helped establish five universities and colleges.6 As the founder of public education in America, listen to his definition of what education should contain:

"The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty- - -"7

On March 28, 1787 when Dr. Benjamin Rush proposed his plan for public education in America he wrote:

"Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write - - - (and a)bove all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education - -"8

In another educational proposal he wrote:

"It will be necessary to connect all these (academic) branches of education with regular instruction in the Christian religion."9

Benjamin Rush was a founder of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and served as its president.10

His activities in the Christian faith included being the founder and vice-president of the Philadelphia Bible Society,11 which was America's first Bible Society.12 He also helped found "The First Day Society" which was the beginning of Sunday Schools across America.13 Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star Spangled Banner later became the Vice-President for the American Sunday School Union.

In 1791 Dr. Rush wrote a lengthy pamplet entitled 'A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a Schoolbook'. Here is how that writing began:

"It is now several months since I promised to give you my reasons for preferring the Bible as a schoolbook to all other compositions. Before I state my arguments, I shall assume the five following propositions:

I . That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopts its principles and obeys its precepts they will be wise and happy.

2. That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way.

3. That the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.

4. That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruction most useful, when imparted in early life.

5. That the Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life.

My arguments in favor of the use of the Bible as a schoolbook are founded - - -"14

Benjamin Rush was another of the majority of the Founding Fathers who would be enraged at being called an atheist, agnostic, or deist! His stand as a Christian was undeniable.

1. David Barton, Original Intent, 2000, Wallbuilders, Aledo, TX. p. 419
2. David Barton, Benjamin Rush, 1999, Wallbuilders, Aledo, TX. p. 35
3. Ibid p. 44
4. Ibid p. 44
5. Ibid p. 43
6. Ibid p. 38
7. Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, Philadelphia: Thomas & William Bradford, 1806, Ch. 'Of the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic' pp. 57-73
8. Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L.H. Butterfield, editor, Princeton: The American Philosophical Society, 1951, Vol. I p. 414, "To the citizens of Philadelphia: A Plan for Free Schools", March 28, 1787
9. Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, Philadelphia: Thomas & William Bradford, 1806, Ch. 'Thoughts upon Female Education' p. 82
10. David Barton, Original Intent, 2000, Wallbuilders, Aledo, TX, p. 419
11. Ibid, p. 419
12. Address of the Bible Society of Philadelphia to the Friends of Revealed Truth, Philadelphia, Fry & Kammerer Printers, 1810
13. David Barton, Benjamin Rush, 1999, Wallbuilders, Aledo, TX p. 100
14. Benjam Rush, Essays, pp. 93-113, 'A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book'. See also, Rush Letters, Vol. I, p. 578, to Jeremy Belknap on March 2, 1791