Early American- “Lucy’s Studies”

In chapter 11 of “Lucy’s Studies”, titled “A Conversation”, we follow Lucy speaking to Mary Jay about what she should focus on while studying. After Mary Jay suggests that Lucy speak to her mother, Lucy’s cousin, Royal, ends up bringing Mary Jay to Lucy’s home to speak to her parents herself. Lucy’s father explains that he prefers that Lucy, as a young child, should focus on arithmetic and reading/writing because they’re simple subjects, as opposed to something such as history or geography, which he says would be hard for a child to comprehend.


When reading this text, I instantly thought of the PBS cartoon “Liberty’s Kids”, which I watched avidly as a child. It follows three children who live through the Revolutionary War and interact with the founding fathers. Whereas Lucy’s father argues that a child cannot grasp history because “she cannot have any adequate idea of the truth, because the elements of it are beyond her capacity.” (Abbott 138), the protagonists of “Liberty’s Kids” deal with everything from the treason of Benedict Arnold to the injustice of slavery. He does not believe that a child could understand things like war and rebellion while the latter creates fictional characters to relate to children and going to lengths to make history easily understandable to young children like Lucy. At the end of the chapter, when Lucy tells her father that a duck’s feet wouldn’t make good rudders because they would crash on the ground, she demonstrates her capacity for critical thinking. Lucy proves that a child really could grasp difficult concepts, but in their own simple way.


Abbott, Jacob. “A Conversation.” Cousin Lucy at Study. Boston: B.B. Mussey, 1842. Print.