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Famous Homeschoolers

May 27–31, 2013   |   Vol. 116, Programs 1–5

Start naming the most well-known figures in America’s founding, and you’ll probably come up with a list of homeschoolers. Many of our early patriots and statesmen were taught by parents, grandparents, or tutors. This week, Michael Farris shows how one-of-a-kind educations prepared the Founders to play crucial roles in history.

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Did you know that many of the men involved in founding our country were the product of at least some home education by their parents? Join Homeschool Legal Defense Association Chairman and General Counsel Michael Farris to find out about Patrick Henry’s homeschooling roots, on today’s Homeschool Heartbeat .

Michael Farris: His most famous words are “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry, one of the great leaders of the American Revolution, was willing to die for his beliefs. He used his legendary speaking abilities to persuade others to fight for their God-given freedoms.

Patrick Henry was raised by godly parents who assumed the responsibility for his education. At first, Colonel John Henry sent his son to a common English school. But when Patrick was 10, Colonel Henry pulled him out of school and began to teach him at home. Colonel Henry taught his son enough Latin to read the great Roman classics with ease the rest of his life.

Patrick’s parents gave him religious training as well. On the way home from church, his mother would have Patrick recite the text and summarize the sermon. The Henrys attended the church of Samuel Davies, a fiery preacher who fought for religious liberty in early America. Davies' eloquence and theology helped shape the thinking and oratory of young Patrick Henry.

The academic and religious training he received from his parents helped him become a successful lawyer, a leader of the Revolution, the governor of Virginia, and a staunch defender of religious liberty. I’m Michael Farris.

Michael Farris: After our Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they had to submit it to the states for ratification. In order to persuade the states to ratify the federal constitution, three great men wrote The Federalist Papers , a stirring defense and explanation of America’s founding document. John Jay, the eighth child of Peter and Mary Jay, was one of the authors of the book that convinced the states to ratify the Constitution.

When John was a young child, his mother taught him the rudiments of English and Latin. At the age of 14, John Jay entered college, and upon graduation was apprenticed as a lawyer. His law training later allowed him to become the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

John Jay’s parents were staunch Christians and profoundly influenced their son’s character in addition to his academic training. John’s parents were careful to educate their children in the Word of God. John Jay later said, “In forming and settling my beliefs relative to the doctrine of Christianity, I adopted no articles from creeds, but such only as, on a careful examination, I found to be confirmed by the Bible.”

We can thank John Jay’s parents for raising a godly son who served his country with the kind of moral leadership we so desperately need today. I’m Michael Farris.

Michael Farris: Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, our second president. Abigail was the second of four children, born to the Reverend William and Elizabeth Quincy. Although Abigail never attended a formal school, she was educated at home by her grandmother. This education enabled her to teach her own children at home, including her son John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president.

Abigail Adams is credited with having a notable influence on the long and distinguished career of her husband, accompanying him on his diplomatic missions to Europe and advising him by letter while she remained in Massachusetts managing family affairs. She was also renowned for her strong opinions, especially her federalist political views.

Like many homeschooling mothers today, Abigail Adams sacrificed much of her time and energy to the upbringing and education of her children. While her husband John traveled as a circuit judge, Abigail was solely responsible for managing the farm and teaching her children.

When we think back on the founding of our country, we must not forget women like Abigail Adams, whose dedication to her family allowed her husband and her son to serve their country at the highest level. This is Michael Farris.

Michael Farris: John Quincy Adams was the oldest of John and Abigail Adams' five children.

John and Abigail decided early on to educate their children at home rather than to send them to school. The education his mother provided him at home equipped John Quincy Adams to accompany his father on diplomatic missions beginning at the ripe old age of 11. At that age, John Quincy acted as his father's secretary during a diplomatic mission to France.

When he was 14, John became the secretary and interpreter for a member of the first diplomatic mission to Russia. John Quincy Adams then traveled throughout Europe for several years under the close tutelage of his father. He learned six modern languages, as well as Latin and Greek, and participated in the diplomacy of the American Revolution.

After the spectacular opportunities and education which his parents provided him, John Quincy Adams entered Harvard College at 19. He grew up to serve his country as a diplomat to Holland, Prussia, and Russia, secretary of state under James Monroe, and president of the United States.

Without question, the home education which John and Abigail Adams provided their oldest son enabled him to become a great statesman in service to his country. I’m Michael Farris.

Michael Farris: Benjamin Franklin was the youngest of 17 children. Although his father intended to give him a formal education and send him to college, he was unable to afford that kind of education for his youngest child. As a result, Benjamin Franklin was largely self-taught, aided by an insatiable desire to read everything in sight.

At age 10, young Benjamin began working as an apprentice to his father, learning the candle-making trade. He didn’t like that trade, and eventually his father allowed him to work as an apprentice for his brother James, who was a printer.

While he worked for his brother, he taught himself arithmetic, navigation, geometry, philosophy, and logic. It's well known that Benjamin Franklin taught himself science so well that he placed himself on the cutting edge of many scientific discoveries.

Benjamin Franklin’s method of self-education and apprenticeship more than prepared him for his multiple careers as a statesman, printer, author, inventor, and U.S. minister to France.

For one or two courses a year, homeschoolers in high school are often self-taught, with their parents providing some guidance but primarily giving out assignments and letting children work on their own. With a few good books and a desire to learn, young people can receive an excellent form of education. This is Michael Farris.

Michael P. Farris

Michael Farris is the chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He was the founding president of each organization.

Farris is a constitutional appellate litigator who has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of 13 states.

He has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over 30 years and is widely known for his leadership on homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty.

At Patrick Henry College, Farris teaches constitutional law, public international law, and coaches PHC’s Moot Court team which has won six national championships.

A prolific author, Farris has been recognized with a number of awards including the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship by the Heritage Foundation and as one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education for the 20th Century” by Education Week magazine.

Mike and Vickie Farris have 10 children and 14 grandchildren.

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