Dane County, The Northwest Ordinance & School Year 2017

Posted on Aug 21, 2017 in Wisconsin Family Connection Transcript


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2017 | Week of August 21 | #1217

Few people in Wisconsin realize who Dane County, the county in which our state capital, Madison, is located, is named for.

Dane County is named for Nathan Dane. A plaque rather inconspicuously placed on the back of the Dane County Courthouse gives a bit of information about this early American. The plaque says Dane was “a compiler of the Ordinance of 1787, which established the Northwest Territory.” James Doty, the territorial Judge at the time, told state legislators: “Read the Ordinance of 1787 attentively—it is the fundamental law of the country.”

The courthouse plaque notes that Dane was born in 1752 and served in the Confederation Congress from 1785-87. That Congress unanimously passed the Northwest Ordinance, the final version of which Dane compiled and authored a major amendment: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory.” The Ordinance also contained a bill of rights, which preceded the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Nathan Dane was also one of the founders of the Massachusetts Temperance Society, the first Society of its kind. The Massachusetts Temperance Society was established with the hope to stop public drunkenness and drinking at the workplace. Biographers indicate this Society displayed the morals and ethics of Dane.

The records of the church Dane attended in Beverly, Massachusetts, indicate Dane was well known for his devout religious beliefs.  It was said he constantly read the Bible in its Hebrew form all day every Sunday except during the service.  Nathan Dane believed the Church was a vital ingredient in the good moral character of successful Americans. And that belief showed up in the Northwest Ordinance, which gave the ruling law for territories that would eventually become the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

In addition to prohibiting slavery, the Northwest Ordinance included a section on religion, morality and education: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Obviously, Dane and the rest of the Congress believed education has its roots in religion and morality. In the late 1700s, the religion and morality referenced in this ordinance means historic Christianity and its tenets. In addition, happiness in this context and era referred to an individual’s contribution to society—not self-gratification.

Good government and the happiness of mankind does indeed depend on the teachings of Christianity. Morality as set forth in the Ten Commandments that used to be prominently displayed in schools sets standards that provide respect for God, others and others’ property. In the 1960s, both prayer and Bible reading, along with Ten Commandments displays in public schools were prohibited, in spite of the Northwest Ordinance, which has never been rescinded.

So here we are in 2017 on the brink of another school year. Well over 80% of school-aged children in Wisconsin will be attending a public school in just a few weeks.

There’s a high probability students attending these schools will learn, among other things, a revisionist version of American history, including our founding; read unwholesome literature; be told gender has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with feeling and therefore of course it’s ok for boys to be in the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, while also being taught that sexual orientation is all about biology, and homosexuality is as natural, normal and healthy as heterosexuality; and truth is whatever you want it to be. I’m pretty sure none to very, very few will be taught what I’ve told you about Nathan Dane and the establishment of Wisconsin and Dane County.

In spite of Nathan Dane and the Northwest Ordinance, true religion and Christian morality will be absent in any overt form in these schools, which means they largely won’t be producing people who will contribute to good government or the general good of society.

Fortunately, parents still have educational options in Wisconsin—and I urge you to consider them carefully. if religion, morality, knowledge, schools and education are in anyway related to one another and are important to you.

For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

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