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An examination of late 19th century writings about character development by popular educator and revered Methodist bishop John Heyl Vincent (1832–1920) sheds additional insight on early character education theory. Vincent is best known as the cofounder of the Chautauqua movement in 1874. However, his theoretical constructs for character development merit not only acknowledgment in the discipline’s official history but also further investigation and discussion by today’s scholars. The constructs identified from early writings suggest that effective character education occurs in both the home and the school and requires parents and teachers who model good moral character. This article posits the importance of a teacher’s moral character as the central idea of Vincent’s theory of character education, and it provides one example of how theories of character education at home transitioned to theories of character education at school during this important time period.

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This document was originally published by Berkeley Electronic Press in Journal of College and Character. Copyright restrictions may apply.