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Citations for the Award of the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service Education, Happiness, and Safety

by William F. Russell - 1955

The theory upon which we work, so far as Technical Cooperation is concerned, is based on our faith that we, in the advanced countries, have learned how to attack certain problems; that certain other countries have not learned this; and that the way best to help them is to share our knowledge and our techniques with them. Thus the main task is to teach these other peoples; to help them develop the experts they need.

MAN is born free and everywhere he is in chains." This was the world as Rousseau saw it in 1762.1 To be free was an old ideal, but it hadn't worked out. Most men were still fettered two centuries ago. But that man himself might do something about it—actually break his chains—was beginning to be believed; and this as a result of the upsurge of self-confidence caused by that great movement in which Rousseau himself played such an important part.

For the Enlightenment as it was called —the work of the Philosophes—taught that man did not have to take the world as it was. He could improve it. Nor did he have to rest content with himself. He could be perfected. Neither governments nor other social institutions had to remain as they were. They could be changed. One didn't have to bow to tradition. One need not revere the old. Man was given the ability to reason. He was enabled to test and try. There was no limit to his power.


Tiny sparks were kindled from the time of Francis Bacon. Little gleams shone here and there. But with John Locke in England, and two generations later in France with Montesquieu and the Encyclopedists, a great beacon fire was lit—a fire whose beams began to illuminate and inspire the whole intellectual world. Books were written, pamphlets circulated, clubs and academies formed, and bookstores became eagerly frequented reading rooms. Man was getting ready to strike the fetters from his arms.

If there had been a Gallup Poll group working in France, Holland, and the American Colonies from 1750 onward, it would probably have predicted that an explosion was bound to come. Too many people were expressing their opinions, too many letters were being exchanged, too many plans advanced, for something overt not to happen. The lid of the kettle was going to blow off. It was only an accident that the first revolution occurred over here. Some local controversies over taxing tea and quartering troops, trade restrictions and public meetings, broke out into open revolt. Royal governors took to their ships, leaving behind a political vacuum. And in rushed the pent-up ideals and aspirations of the leading thinkers of all the ages. That the ensuing conflict was called the American Revolution was merely because man's age-old dreams happened first to be realized in America. When we speak of American ideals, we mean merely that Americans first wrote down in state papers and tried out in life what leaders of many peoples had been advocating for many years.

With America as a concrete manifestation of the hopes and dreams of many nations, it was easy for other countries to follow our example. But actually they may not have been copying us at all. The republican models of government, widely adopted in the sixty years following 1789, may well have been the fruition of their own longings, merely stimulated to realization by our example.

At any rate, from 1789 to 1849 many a scepter was ripped from the hands of the tyrant, many a new government was instituted, and many a new social order was projected. All were patterned more or less on the model of the American, which we ourselves termed (as can be seen on the reverse of the Great Seal) novus ordo seclorum, a new order for the ages.

What was this new order? What were its characteristics? Its essentials? After as much reading on the subject as I have found time to do; after covering the writings of most of the Fathers, I come back to the Virginia Bill of Rights not only as the first written statement but as the most comprehensive and succinct. And from that remarkable document I choose the following:

Section One. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Such is the New Social Order. We can neglect the rest of the Bill. It is to these words that we shall direct our attention.

You will note that the first ideal stressed is equality: that all men are by nature equally free and independent. And that furthermore all (not a few, not some one class, not a single group, but all) have rights that are inherent (that is, they exist in something as a permanent attribute, a settled function, an invariable adjunct involved in the settled character of something) and nobody can take these rights away. Jefferson used the word unalienable when he expressed the same ideas in the Declaration of Independence.

These inherent, unalienable rights which belong to everybody equally, then, are life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

I wish to call your attention to the fact that this is a "package deal." In a package deal if you buy a refrigerator at a certain price, you also have to take the washing machine, the dryer, and the automatic range. Nobody said you can take the equality part and leave the life and the liberty. Or that you can accept the liberty part and forget the equality. What most of us seem to forget, in all our talk about liberty and equality, is the stress that the Fathers put on the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Nor can I overemphasize the importance of this part of the package. You have only to read what Washington, Franklin, or Jefferson wrote to see the great attention that they paid to inventions, new processes, seeds, plants, techniques. You need merely study the parallel movement in France to note the emphasis on improved production. The Great Encyclopedia included eleven volumes of nothing but plans, diagrams, and descriptions of tools, machines, ways of working. Those Fathers of ours had experienced poverty, pestilence, hunger, and cold. They believed that if man would but put to use the powers that God had given him he could remedy these conditions. And I believe that they considered ease, comfort, and plenty as basic to liberty and equality. Only starving people, cold people, ill people would let the tyrant bind on the yoke. Thus they put together in the same sentence of their first basic document equality, liberty, and acquiring and possessing property as the means of obtaining happiness and safety. This was the "package" that the Americans bought.

The French had an additional idea that they included in their "package," fraternite. It was not one of the earliest concepts of the French Revolution. I have in my collection a number of documents with only the words liberte, egalite. But later fraternite or fraternity was added, and today on public buildings in France we find the motto, liberte, egalite, fraternite. Strange that the French revolutionaries should emphasize the brotherhood of man when they denied the fatherhood of God. But they did; and this from the conviction that war was the great scourge; that only by brotherhood was peace possible. And they used the word fraternite to indicate their desire for good international relations.

You can imagine the philosophers mulling over these questions: Why wars? Why greed and jealousy? Because some have and some have not; some are favored and some are not. You can read in Condorcet's Esquisse his idea that the future progress of mankind depends upon the elimination of inequalities among the nations. He stated plainly in 1794 that when Africa and the Middle East and the Far East had learned from France and possibly America the techniques of self-government and agricultural and industrial production, then war would cease and the era of progress would begin.

America was isolated in those days. The Atlantic Ocean was still wide. We thought we were remote from the quarrels of Europe. Fraternite didn't mean much to us then. But it was and still is a part of the dream of a world where men would be free and equal and could obtain happiness and safety.


The way the Fathers proposed to translate these ideals into reality was to take a number of steps.

1. Organize a government that represented the will of the people. Make sure that it was steady enough so that it would stand against sudden whims. Take precautions to check it and balance it so that it could not assume too much power. So far as possible put its powers down in writing, so that it would be a government of law.

2. Spell out in detail the right of the individual citizen. Protect him from tyranny, guard against special privilege, and provide opportunity.

3. Safeguard against government control the rights of citizens or groups of citizens to acquire and possess property; and work positively to strengthen private ownership and initiative through the patent system and copyright.

4. Enlighten the citizen through a universal system of common schools, leading to higher and technical, professional and adult education. (This reliance on education was much more carefully thought out and planned in France than in America.)

And of course, we in the United States did take those steps. I have sometimes wondered what Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson would think of us were they to return to Washington today. I think they would be well pleased with our maintenance of liberty, despite some of the gloomy estimates found in academic circles. Our pursuit of the ideal of equality has gone so far that I am confident that they would be surprised. But I am sure that their greatest satisfaction would come from the bathtubs and radios, TV's and laundromats, automobiles and airplanes, mass production, hybrid corn, and even atomic energy. That is the kind of America they wanted. They planned it that way. Camille Desmoulins called the aim of the French Revolution "a chicken in the pot for everyone."

But if Camille Desmoulins, or Condorcet, or Rousseau, or Diderot were to come back to Paris today, I am confident that they would be greatly disappointed. Not because conditions in France are particularly bad (for they are now much better than in 1789) but because of the state of the rest of the world.

Some countries today have about the same government and social life as they did when Rousseau wrote. Many others have tried governments of law, by and for the people, only to fail and return to some form of despotism. Others, after similarly abortive attempts, have maintained the outward forms of liberty to cloak an oligarchy within. Only a very few republics and constitutional monarchies, truly of the people, by the people, and for the people remain. That is why the Philosophes would be disappointed.

We are disappointed too. Here at Teachers College, ever since I have been here and during my father's time as well, we have been worried about how successfully we Americans are supporting our government and our form of life. We have been fearful that our system might perish from the earth (as we have seen liberty lost in other lands). We have been studying what we as educators ought to do about it. Look at my annual reports and note the number of times I, myself, tried to wrestle with this problem.

Could it be that we as Americans did not value liberty as we should? Did we fail to understand its blessings? So elusive is the concept that people do not notice it when they have it; truly appreciate it only when it is lost; and then it is too late. So we have advanced programs in education to guard and respect liberty and have tried to help introduce them in our schools and colleges. The most notable program of this type is the Citizenship Education Project.

Could it be that we Americans did not value equality? Were we blind to the evils of special privilege, to five percenters, to persons in-the-know, to power blocs and pressure groups? Did we just talk equality and not live it? And here again we have studied the role of education and have come up with plans for strengthening its programs to support equality. Again the Citizenship Education Project is the most notable and successful that I know.

Since I have left Teachers College and have joined the forces of the Foreign Operations Administration I am beginning to have another idea. I know that there is nothing new about it. I assume that almost everybody else has sensed it for a long time. It is only new to me. But what has only recently dawned on me is the implication of the "package-deal" view of American ideals. What seems suddenly to have come up in my consciousness is the fact that you not only can't work for liberty without considering equality, or for equality without considering liberty, but you can't work properly for either one without considering the "means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."

Let's take an example. Just about eight weeks ago I left Shiraz (farther south than the head of the Persian Gulf and east of that great mountain chain, snow-covered, higher than the Alps). I left Shiraz to inspect the work of some farm demonstration agents. As we crossed a mountain pass and came out into a great valley, at the other end of which was Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Medes and Persians, I saw the nomadic tribesmen on the move. To right and left as far as my eye could reach I saw the black tents; out from them the grazing herds of camels, sheep, cattle, and donkeys, and threading through them other caravans on the march. No following of roads. Starting and stopping. All on their leisurely way toward their winter pastures. Then there were the villages of the settled peasants. All walled, each with a tower on the corner. Each guarded by a rifleman. And fields were tilled and wells dug just as far from the village as a rifle bullet would carry with accuracy. Otherwise the nomads would eat up the crops.

I stopped at one village and walked in. There was a queer object sitting astride a donkey. It looked like a boy's body, but the head seemed like a swarm of bees. It was a child, with running nose and eyes, covered, blanketed, almost smothered by flies! Manure up and down the street. Mud-walled huts. Farming done with wooden plows, merely scratching the surface. The earth coming up in huge clods. Wheat sowed in what seemed to be a rock beach.

The villagers, standing in a line, greeted me. The head men came forward and asked me to appeal to President Eisenhower and Governor Stassen to send them help for health and agriculture.


Now let us go back to those words liberty and equality—with the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety, and then think of that Iranian village. Should somebody go into that village and discuss freedom of speech, or the right of assembly, or equality, or opportunity? At least four men couldn't attend; they would have to be up in the tower, rifle in hand to keep off the tribesmen. The child on the donkey couldn't pay very good attention even if he could see. Too many flies! Many others would have to be absent from the adult education classes because they would be down with malaria and dysentery. And anyway the mere struggle to get enough yield from the fields to keep the wolf from the door would exhaust their energy. In other words, it is idle to talk about the ideals of liberty and equality to people who are neither happy nor safe. If you want an educational program to develop liberty, make sure first that people have enough to eat, that they are free from preventable disease and pestilences, and that their property and persons are reasonably safe.

So you start with a program directed to solving health problems and to stimulating agriculture and village industry. You go in with doctors, nurses, and public health experts including sanitation engineers. You attack such major pestilences as malaria or yaws. You send agricultural extension experts and village industry demonstrators. You increase production. You reduce disease.

You might think that the school or adult education worker was not needed. But it is interesting to note in the program of the Foreign Operations Administration in the former Point 4 in the Middle East, in the IIAA program in Latin America, and in the ECA program in the Far East and Europe, that you can go just so far in an agricultural program or a health program by itself. Quite soon you need a program of elementary education to back it up. You can demonstrate the value of a health practice. The people won't follow it, generally, until they are taught how. Example is all very well, but it won't go over into practice until the people generally are taught to translate the principle into action. That takes a school or an adult education program.

In very large sections of the world the great masses of the people are living under conditions in which the means of acquiring and possessing property are so inadequate that they obtain neither happiness nor safety. This is true of most of Latin America, most of Africa and the Near East, most of the Far East, and certainly even of parts of Europe. Thus if we accept the old French ideal of fraternite, there is a wide and far-flung field in which to work.

We, the free people of the world, are accepting this ideal. In the United States, once before we adopted this ideal when we exerted our efforts in the reconstruction of the South. We came to the belief that this country could not exist half-rich, half-poor, half-healthy, half-ill any more than it could exist half-slave and half-free. More than fifty years ago, right here at Teachers College, our Trustees and our Faculty took part in that massive campaign that helped the South to lift itself; that eliminated malaria, hookworm, and trachoma; that stopped the boll weevil; that increased production; that improved diet and housing. It was graduates of Teachers College, in large part, who devised and developed a system of education which helped this process. Whether Messrs. Ogden and Chambers, Page and Frissell, Buttrick and Rockefeller worked mainly to open commercial markets, or to help their fellow men, or to strengthen our nation, or to foster the ideals of free government and society, they devoted their lives and their resources to building up the South, increasing the people's means of acquiring and possessing property so that they could pursue and obtain happiness and safety. And as they secured these means, so did all the rest of us.

Just as the North was to the South sixty years ago, so today are the United States and the rest of the advanced nations to the underdeveloped and underprivileged parts of the globe. There are still markets to develop which interest businessmen. There are human beings in misery who appeal to the humanitarian. But we are being attacked in a cold war, which means that we, a free people, have lost our sense of safety; and since we have learned that modern war is total war, we can be safe only if entire peoples—men, women, children—are ready, willing, and able to perform their parts. The United States cannot stand alone against this formidable enemy. Neither can the British Commonwealth. Hence the Foreign Operations Administration and the Colombo Plans, devoted to strengthening the free world.

It is interesting to watch FOA in action, just as it is a thrill to have some part in it. It is a far-flung operation in some fifty-nine separate countries. It is mainly a program of direct military aid, more than 90 per cent of the funds used for the direct strengthening of the military potential of other countries of the Free World and less than 10 per cent being devoted to economic development and technical cooperation.

It is precisely at this point that the free world and the Soviet world divide. The Communists believe that the people are too poor, too ill, too subservient to be able themselves to change their life so as to make it bearable. Some small group of advanced thinkers must change that world for them. These thinkers must produce a plan; and then the people must be forced into implementation of that plan. Lenin stated that in a generation the compulsory feature would work itself out, and thenceforth the people might rule themselves. We see no justification for this point of view. The chains remain on the wrists of the slaves in the Soviet and satellite states. It is said that there is nothing so temporary as a permanent wave. Apparently there is nothing so permanent as a temporary dictatorship. We of the free peoples approach the problem by interchange of technical knowledge backed up by widespread popular education.


The theory upon which we work, so far as Technical Cooperation is concerned, is based on our faith that we, in the advanced countries, have learned how to attack certain problems; that certain other countries have not learned this; and that the way best to help them is to share our knowledge and our techniques with them. Thus the main task is to teach these other peoples; to help them develop the experts they need. This is done mainly by training their own nationals to perform these tasks; by bringing them to the United States for training; by sending American experts to train them in their own lands, either in specially supported institutions or in special demonstrations; or by sending experts to work side by side with them and train them on the job. Our task is not to provide the means for acquiring and possessing property, but to illustrate how it can be done and to help train the local experts to accomplish the task.

There is not time to show you in detail how this vast program operates, but I shall give you a picture of general trends (which always contains many exceptions). I think the best way to show you is to try to establish first a sort of a measuring stick, or barometer, of Technical Assistance.

Let us imagine that measuring stick. On the left we set the date 1750, in the middle 1850, and at the right 1950. Now let us place along this stick the United States as it progresses through the Industrial Revolution. In 1750 colonial America was in an agricultural economy, not very different from that of Egypt four thousand years earlier. We move up to 1800. New inventions have been made, machines introduced, factories created; country people have come to town. We move forward another fifty years and find great advances in industry and agriculture, new problems of management and labor, new problems of health and housing. We move on to 1900. There we find great concentrations of industry, trusts, land-grant colleges, improved agriculture, and problems of a government suited to an agricultural economy struggling with regulation and control of transportation, industry, agriculture, and business.

Now let us change this measuring stick from time into space. Let us bend it so that it will go around the world. Let us place upon it the countries of the world in order as they are passing through the Industrial Revolution. Where we had 1750 we now find Haiti and French Equatorial Africa. Where we had 1800 we find parts of Pakistan, India, and Bolivia. Where we had 1900 we touch northern Italy and Sao Paulo.

All over the world we can see FOA programs, and to some extent the Technical Cooperation programs of the Colombo Plan, and the agencies of the United Nations (ILO, FAO, UNESCO, and UNICEF) and UNKRA working somewhat according to the yardstick which I have just described.

Earliest stage, simple programs in health and agriculture. Next stage, work in community development, housing, and village productivity. Third stage development of cooperatives, rural credit, increasing production, guidance of organized labor; and, since government procedures and practices usually lag behind economic development, work in public administration. Frequently, technical cooperation leads to economic development. For instance, public health workers may do their best to cure diseases and to prevent them, but unless there is a proper water supply their efforts are unavailing. Often a proper water supply requires a major investment in economic development.

Similarly, practical workers in the field and the technical training of native leaders can go just a limited distance. After that, direct efforts are unavailing unless backstopped by systems of education of children, youth, and adults. Thus we find that in each of these countries we have to have an educational program, training local educators to modify a going school system or to plan and develop a new one which will function behind the technicians and teach the people to profit from the work of these technicians and to apply their principles in daily living.

Thus in the countries still in an agricultural economy, primary education must be directed to teaching the people to support an improving agriculture, to adopt healthful practices and to foster village and home industry. As a country moves forward into the industrial revolution, to the simpler aims education adds other programs: housing, community development, cooperative participation, and the beginnings of the ideals of liberty and equality. In more advanced countries we come to the educational implications of productivity and public administration.

About a quarter of a century ago, here at Teachers College, we had a great controversy about whether or not the schools could and should change the social order. There were many different opinions; and now that I look back on those difficult days, I feel that we never really brought the problem into sharp focus. It is plain to me that all over the world the FOA is actually using schools and other means of education to change and strengthen the social order. But these schools, where they are working well, are not stepping out first and initiating the desired changes. The doctors, the public health workers, the agricultural extension workers, the community developers, the housing experts, the labor people, the productivity specialists, the public administrators are making the first demonstrations and are training the experts. The schools are "mopping up"; stepping in behind; fixing in the minds of the people the principles that the experts demonstrate; forming the habits of young and old so as to extend these occasional demonstrations to all the land; making possible the widespread acceptance of the ideas of the expert and their popular permanent support.

The wooden, wordy, theoretical, memoriter elementary school so common over all the world gives little help. The foreign language, mathematics, examinations; secondary schools, the lyceo, the gymnasium, the classical grammar school— all amount to little in this grand build-up. In the many nations going through the agony of the change from an agricultural to an industrial economy, new schools must be developed which will fix and extend and strengthen popular support for technical competence.

That is what we have to do if the free world is to develop sufficient strength to keep itself safe. And safety depends in part upon happiness. Happiness, in turn, depends upon the means of acquiring and possessing property. And these are all parts of the "package" which was handed down to us by our forefathers. We realize the difficulties of making liberty live in our hearts; of knowing how to develop devotion to it in our minds and how to carry that devotion over into our lives. We must devote education to these goals.

We realize, too, the importance of eliminating privilege, of extending the idea of equal voice in government, equal justice, and equality of opportunity. Our schools must instill these principles and we must learn to revere them and apply them. But education for the American Dream—or the world dream of the Enlightenment—will not be adequate if we center only on liberty or equality. Indeed, no people can even think of liberty and equality—let alone defend these ideals—unless they can acquire and possess enough property to be able to pursue and obtain happiness and safety. Education for American ideals—or the ideals of the free world—must hold these practical goals in view.

We were given a "package" of ideals. Our education must attack the whole lot. We must go from the known to the unknown; from the simple to the complex; from the practical to the theoretical. It is fortunate that by using such plain common horse sense we can find the way to the safety of our country and the happiness of all mankind.

By that means we in education can help to rip the scepter from the hands of the tyrant and break the fetters which bind all mankind.

1 An address given at the International Alumni Conference, Teachers College, Columbia, November 22, 1954.

After twenty-seven years as chief executive officer of Teachers College, Dr. Russell retired in July, 1954. In his current work with the Foreign Operations Administration, he is in charge of the wide variety of technical assistance projects in the Point Four Program.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 56 Number 5, 1955, p. 240-248
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 4724, Date Accessed: 12/8/2021 5:27:37 AM

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