The Pocket Patriot
An Introduction to the Principles of Freedom
By George Grant
Cumberland House Publishing
256 pgs. $9.95 (U.S.) $14.95 (Canada)

A small book with big principles

By Isabel Lyman
web posted October 9, 2000

The Pocket PatriotIn time for the big November 7th election, comes this small book written by a professor at Bannockburn College (TN). Borrowing from a nineteenth century tradition when teachers presented students with handbooks that served as "a brief guide to the essential elements of the American Creed," Dr. George Grant has compiled such a compact anthology. This citizen primer includes twenty-six golden oldies, including The Mayflower Compact, the U.S. Constitution, Paul Revere's Ride, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the Sullivan Ballou Letter, and Patrick Henry's Liberty or Death speech, as well as mini-biographies of the founding fathers and the presidents.

I will confess, though, that my first thought glancing through the book was not a patriotic one but a financial one. This sounds cheap, but why pay ten bucks for documents that are freely obtained from any library, many web sites, or any number of civic-minded organizations? For example, an activist friend gave me a 55-page booklet published by WallBuilders that contained the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Washington's Farewell Address. Recently, the Cato Institute mailed me, gratis, a similar booklet printed on lovely ivory-colored paper.

Booker T. Washington
Washington

Maybe it's all part of a clever, vast conspiracy to force-feed over entertained Americans a Gideon's Bible-sized history of their Republic, in the hope they'll actually read the thing and - presto- see the light. Of course, such enlightened souls will weep at how unconstitutional and shallow politics has become in the age of Oprah. But I digress. What sets Grant's book apart from the pack is that he offers food for thought not usually served up in such compendiums. For instance, an 1895 speech, delivered by Booker T. Washington, the black educator who was born a slave, titled "Atlanta Exposition Address" is a welcome addition. As is Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man With The Muck-Rake." Reading Teddy's speech, delivered before the House of Representatives in 1906, makes one realize that he, not George W. Bush, is the original compassionate conservative.

Another gem is the "The Forgotten Presidents." It profiles the thirteen men who preceded George Washington in the fifteen-year period the country operated mostly as a confederated nation. The first of these presidents was Peyton Randolph of Virginia who began his term in 1774, and the last was Arthur St. Clair, a Scot, who was elected ‘president' in 1787.

Grant's sketches of the official presidents are quite balanced, but I am going to nitpick at least one point. Professor Grant, the phrase "The business of America is business" was not uttered by Calvin Coolidge. Rather, Coolidge said, "After all, the chief business of the American people is business." And then he added, "Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence." (I live near Coolidge's old stomping grounds in western Massachusetts, and we residents are in the business of fiercely defending ol' Cal's legacy whenever the opportunity presents itself.)

The Pocket Patriot makes a nifty gift for a home schooling student, aspiring presidential candidate, armchair political quarterback, or new U.S. citizen.

To order call 1-888-439-2665 or order this book today from Amazon.com for $8.95 (10% off) .

Izzy Lyman's book reviews have been regularly featured in Daily Oklahoman newspaper.

Other articles by Isabel Lyman: (open in a new window)

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