...Let us be careful never to inculcate any doubtful principle of morality or religion; or to recommend, by precept or example, any wrong, or even equivocal sentiment or feeling.
We may, nay we must, have our own speculative opinions—hypotheses in morals, which we have not yet been able either to verify or disprove by inductive experience. But, in this state, fellow-teachers, let them never once be named in our schools: nor let them begin to influence our conduct as practical teachers. The intellectual and moral character of our pupils is too valuable, to be made the subject of rash and hazardous experiment.
The christian religion, is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. From its sanctions are derived the obligations to veracity imposed in the administration of justice. In its revelations are found the only certain grounds of hope in reference to that, else unknown future, which lies beyond the horizon of time. It alone places a guard over the conscience, which never slumbers, and whose eye cannot be evaded by any address of the delinquent. Its maxims, its precepts, its sentiments, and even its very spirit, have become so incorporated with the mind and soul of civilization, and all refinement, that it cannot be eradicated, or even opposed, without imminent hazard of all that is beautiful, lovely, and valuable in the arts, in science, and in society.
Let us then, fellow-teachers, avoid, on the one hand, the inculcation of all sectarian peculiarities in religion: and on the other, let us beware of incurring the charge, (which will not fail to be made, and justly made,) of being enemies to our country's quiet, by teaching to our pupils the crude notions, and revolutionary principles of modern infidelity. It is, at best, but an unsustained hypothesis.
[Excerpt from William H. McGuffey, "Duties of Teachers and Parents," in Transactions of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Western Literary Institute, Cincinatti, 1836, p. 138.]