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I suspect most Americans actually believe they’re smarter than their
parents and grandparents.

That shows just how dumb most Americans really are.

The fact is that the average Joe was much more well-educated 100
years ago — before government secured its virtual monopoly grip on
schooling in America.

I could take the time to present a body of empirical and historical
evidence to prove that statement. But let me make the case today with
just one anecdotal submission.

The following is an 1895 8th-grade final exam from Salina, Kansas.
It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley
Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, Kansas, and reprinted by the
Salina Journal.

    Grammar (Time, one hour)

    1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

    2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no
    modifications.

    3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

    4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of
    do, lie, lay and run.

    5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

    6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of
    Punctuation.

    7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that
    you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

    Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 ft. long, and 3 ft. wide. How many
    bushels of wheat will it hold?

    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts.
    per bu., deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?

    4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary
    levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104
    for incidentals?

    5. Find cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7
    percent.

    7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at
    $.20 per inch?

    8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance
    around which is 640 rods?

    10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

    U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

    1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

    2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

    3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

    4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

    5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

    6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

    7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln,
    Penn, and Howe?

    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800,
    1849, and 1865?

    Orthography (Time, one hour)

    1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography,
    etymology, syllabication?

    2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

    3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph,
    subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

    4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’

    5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two
    exceptions under each rule.

    6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

    7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word:
    Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.

    8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and
    name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd,
    cell, rise, blood, fare.

    9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane,
    fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

    10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate
    pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

    Geography (Time, one hour)

    1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

    2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

    3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

    4. Describe the mountains of N.A.

    5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver,
    Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and
    Orinoco.

    6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

    7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

    8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same
    latitude?

    9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to
    the sources of rivers.

    10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the
    earth.

Can you imagine today’s 8th-graders handling such a test? Can you
imagine high-school graduates or even college graduates passing such an
exam?

How far have we come as a nation of free, moral, educated,
self-governing individuals? So far that those adjectives have been
rendered meaningless by a government education system specifically
designed to create dependency rather than foster self-reliance.

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