| Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans|
|by Edward Eggleston|
|Very simply told stories of warriors, statesmen, explorers, scientists, inventors, men and women of letters, and others. Featured are Marquette in Iowa, Penn and the Indians, Thomas Smith and the beginning of rice culture in South Carolina, Franklin and the ants, Putnam and the wolf, and dozens of other stories. Ages 7-9 |
A GREAT GOOD MAN
SOME men are great soldiers. Some are great law-makers. Some men write
great books. Some men make great
inventions. Some men are
Now you are going to read about a man that was great in none of these
things. He was not a
 soldier. He was not a great speaker. He was
never rich. He was a poor schoolteacher. He never held any office.
And yet he was a great man. He was great for his goodness.
He was born in France. But most of his life was passed in
Philadelphia before the
He was twenty-five years old when he became a
thought that he could do more good in teaching than in any other way.
Schoolmasters in his time were not like our teachers. Children were
treated like little animals. In old times the
schoolmaster was a
little king. He walked and talked as if he knew
everything. He wanted
all the children to be afraid of him.
But Benezet was not that kind of man. He was very gentle. He treated
the children more kindly than their fathers and mothers did. Nobody in
this country had ever seen a teacher like him.
He built a play-room for the children of his school. He used to take
them to this room during school time for a little
managed each child as he found best. Some he could persuade to be
good. Some he shamed into being good. But this was very
different from the cruel
 beatings that other teachers of that time gave
Of course the children came to love him very much. After they grew to
be men and women, they kept their love for the good little
schoolmaster. As long as they lived they listened to his advice.
There were no good school-books in his time. He wrote some little
books to make learning easier to his pupils. He taught them many
things not in their books. He taught them to be kind to brutes, and
gentle with one another. He taught them to be noble. He made them
despise every kind of meanness.
He was a great teacher. That is better than being a great soldier.
Benezet was a good man in many ways. He was the friend of all poor
people. Once he found a poor man
suffering with cold for want of a
coat. He took off his own coat in the street and put it on the poor
man, and then went home in his shirt sleeves.
In those days negroes were stolen from
Africa to be sold into
America. Benezet wrote little books against this wrong. He sent
these books over all the world almost. He also tried to persuade the
white men of his own country to be honest and kind with the Indians.
 Great men in other countries were pleased with his books. They wrote
him letters. When any of them came to this country, they went to see
him. They wanted to see a man that was good to everybody. His house
was a plain one. But great men liked to sit at the table of the good
There was war between the English and French at that time.
Canada belonged to the French. Our country belonged to the English. There was
a country called
Acadia. It was a part of what is now
Nova Scotia. The people of Acadia were French.
Departure of the Acadians
The English took the
Acadians away from their homes. They sent them
to various places. Many families were divided. The poor
Acadians lost their homes and all that they had.
Many hundreds of these people were sent to
became their friend. As he was born in France, he could speak their
lan-  guage. He got a large house built for some of them to stay in. He
got food and clothing for them. He helped them to get work, and did
them good in many other ways.
One day Benezet's wife came to him with a troubled face. She said,
"There have been thieves in the house. Two of my blankets have
"Never mind, my dear," said Benezet, "I gave them to some of the poor
One old Acadian was afraid of Benezet. He did not see why Benezet
should take so much trouble for other people. He thought that Benezet
was only trying to get a chance to sell the Acadians for slaves. When
Benezet heard this, he had a good laugh.
Many years after this the Revolution broke out. It brought trouble
to many people. Benezet helped as many as he could.
After a while the British army took
Philadelphia. They sent their
soldiers to stay in the houses of the people. The people had to take
care of the soldiers. This was very hard for the poor people.
One day Benezet saw a poor woman. Her face showed that she was in
"Friend, what is the matter?" Benezet said to her.
 She told him that
six soldiers of the British army had been sent to stay in her house.
She was a washer-woman. But while the soldiers filled up the house she
could not do any washing. She and her children were in want.
Benezet went right away to see the
general that was in command of
the soldiers. The good man was in such a hurry that he forgot to get a
pass. The soldiers at the
general's door would not let him go in.
At last some one told the
general that a queer-looking fellow wanted
to see him.
"Let him come up," said the general.
The odd little man came in. He told the general all about the troubles
of the poor washer-woman. The general sent word that the soldiers must
not stay any longer in her house.
The general liked the kind little man. He told him to come to see him
again. He told the soldiers at his door to let Benezet come in
whenever he wished to.
Soon after the Revolution was over, Benezet was taken ill. When the
people of Philadelphia heard that he was ill, they gathered in
crowds about his house. Everybody loved him. Everybody wanted to
know whether he was better or not. At last the doctors said he could
not get well.
 Then the people wished to see the good man once more.
The doors were opened. The rooms and halls of his house were filled
with people coming to say good-bye to Benezet, and going away again.
When he was buried, it seemed as if all
Philadelphia had come to
his fu-ner-al. The rich and the poor, the black and the white, crowded
the streets. The city had never seen so great a
In the company was an American general. He said, "I would rather be
Anthony Benezet in that coffin than General
Washington in all
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