William Holmes McGuffey

“William Holmes McGuffey: (1800-1873) American educator and textbook compiler, College teacher and president, McGuffey was known to thousands of Americans as the author of their first schoolbook. The series began in 1836, with the First and Second Readers. The Primer, Third, and Fourth Readers appeared in 1837, the Speller, and the Rhetorical Guide in 1841, the Fifth and Sixth Readers in 1844 and 1857. He collaborated with his younger brother, Alexander Hamilton McGuffey, on the “Eclectic Series.” The books sold 122 million copies, with new editions issued as late as 1920. McGuffey was a political conservative who supported the Hamiltonians rather than the Jeffersonians; his Readers reflect his point of view.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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