Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 February 11

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February 11[edit]

Who's the head of government[edit]

Question moved from Talk:United Kingdom:

Lately, I talked to people from the UK, who are quite knowledgeable in general. I was explained that the monarch (i.e., the Queen) is the de jure head of the government. I was very surprised to hear this and could not believe it. Of course, I was not provide proper references as you would expect on Wikipedia ;-)

Now, I see that this article clearly supports my initial understanding: "The position of Prime Minister, the UK's head of government, [...]". However, I have problems to believe that it was all utter nonsense what I was told.

To the people editing this article, I guess (and hope) this question is a piece of cake. Tomeasy T C 08:54, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The queen is head of state. Parliament is her parliament, ministers are her ministers, etc. - ie they work on her behalf. The Prime Minister's role is what it says on the tin: the first/primary of the queen's ministers. He/she works more or less autonomously of course but does have to ask explicit permission from the queen to perform particular tasks, such as call a general election. Hope this helps! waggers (talk) 09:05, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The head of government is the Prime Minister - government meaning the practical job of governing the country. The monarch is the constitutional head of state. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
We, the ordinary people of the UK, quite like this ambiguity because we don't like anyone to have too much power. The monarch can dissolve parliament, and parliament can abolish the monarchy! :) Dbfirs 09:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I can see how Parliament could make the monarch's position untenable, or seize power unconstitutionally, but how could it alone abolish the monarchy, when all law requires the monarch's consent? Warofdreams talk 10:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
They couldn't do it legally without the monarch's consent. If there was a referendum that clearly showed the people wanted to get rid of the monarchy and the monarchy refused to comply, there would be a very short, bloodless coup and the monarchy would cease to be. (Although, even discussing such a referendum in parliament would require Queen's Consent (that article redirects to Royal Assent, but it is a different thing and is mentioned half way down the article), and holding the referendum would need Royal Assent, so there would probably be some questionable loopholes found to get as far as holding a referendum.) Of course, in reality it is very unlikely for the monarchy to stand in the way of abolishing the monarchy - they know the people would never stand for it. --Tango (talk) 12:00, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for all the answers, but you did not turn to my question (except for Ghmyrtle). Rather you assumed I need to be told another fact that I did not ask for. The term head of state, which I was repeatedly explained here, was clear to me before. This is actually why I came up asking if the queen was also head of government. There was no lack of understanding from my side that she is head of state.

Now, after explaining my basis, may I ask you again for your opinions. Who is the head of government in the UK? Ghmyrtle's answer is clear: It is the Prime Minister. And the UK article says so as well, and it is also what I always thought. Does this mean that these quite educated English people talked rubbish when naming the Queen de jure head of government? Tomeasy T C 09:40, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The government is Her Majesty's Government, carries out its actions in the monarch's name, formally acting to advise her on the best course of action. The Queen selects the Prime Minister and carries various other actual or reserve powers. I can see how she could be described as the de jure head of government, but it wouldn't mean much, wouldn't meet the definition used in our head of government article, and clearly wouldn't reflect the de facto situation. Having no single constitution means the answers to a lot of questions like this are subject to debate. Warofdreams talk 10:24, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
(EC) The earlier responses were IMHO fair. A lot of people, particularly those from countries were the head of government and head of state are the same such as the US don't understand the difference and it's an issue that often causes confusion here and elsewhere and could easily have been the cause of confusion in your case. In any case, it is important in any discussion that involves either that the difference is understood and you didn't mention that you understood the difference between the head of government and head of state before now (or even mention head of state at all). In terms of the more general question, it's difficult to say what the confusion was here without talking to these people. It's still possible that the difference between the head of government and head of state was the cause of confusion, undoutedly some people in the UK don't understand the difference. Similarly some may consider the queen the head of government since it's her government as are all the agencies of the government like Her Majesty's Civil Service but that doesn't tally with the normal accepted definitions or agreements surrounding the head of government. For example even the government itself says the PM is the head of government [1] and the Queen as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth of Nations attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings where the UK will usually be represented by their head of government the PM. A more interesting and slightly related question is who is the head of state of a Commonwealth Realm other then the UK? The general accepted answer is the monarch however the alternative answer that it is the Governor General sometimes receives some serious consideration by scholars e.g. Monarchy of Canada#Head of state Nil Einne (talk) 10:34, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That very question came under national scrutiny during Australia's 1999 Referendum on whether or not to replace our monarchy with a republic, and the non-resident Queen with a home-grown President. Many of the advocates for the NO case argued that there was no need to change the arrangements because the Head of State was the Governor-General, who, since 1965, has always been an Australian. This was argued perhaps most strongly by Sir David Smith, a former Official Secretary to the Governor-General of Australia. He even wrote a book on the subject, called Head of State, which cited various documents that demonstrated conclusively, in his opinion, that our G-G is our head of state. It's not provable definitively one way or the other, as the term "Head of State" appears nowhere in our Constitution. However, most commentators disagree with Smith and his ilk, and say that the monarch is the Head of State; otherwise, it would make no sense to have a head of state (the Governor-General) appointed by a non-Australian (the Queen) to represent that non-Australian to Australians, which would make a mockery of the very notion of "head of state". -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:19, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Is there even such a thing as a de jure head of government? I thought head of government was a purely practical distinction for the purpose of analysing constitutional monarchies, and I don't think any constitution makes explicit reference to such a role. If this is the case, the question posed in this section is meaningless. User:Krator (t c) 13:14, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks all of you to the interesting discussion so far. It has really shaped my understanding. The role I wanted to see defined might really not have a clear definition, especially in a country without constitution. If someone knows even more, i am looking forward t hearing it.
Perhaps the link provided by Nil would be a good reference in the UK article to back up the statement that the Prime Minister can be called Head of Government. Otherwise, people reading it may think that Wikipedia made up this definition by itself, just for the sake of simplicity or lack of thinking. What do you think? Tomeasy T C 14:39, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I thought I had learned somewhere that the term "government" in parliamentary countries refers to what the US would call the Executive Branch. So, the Parliament (the equivalent of Congress) is not part of the government. It instead passes laws telling the government what to do. The ministers of this and that, equivalent of the US Cabinet, are generally members of Parliament elected to their posts by the other MP's, including the chief of the ministers, also known the Prime Minister. The UK Queen similarly is not part of the government and is therefore not its head, even though the government in sense reports to her (the government and Parliament are theoretically subservient to the Crown). Again the comparable US situation is that Margaret Hamburg, not President Obama, is the head of the Food and Drug Administration, even though the FDA chief reports to the President. But then again again, I'm an ignorant USA-ian so maybe I have this all completely wrong. (talk) 22:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I invite you to read the article government of the United Kingdom and the much more interesting articles cabinet of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Essentially, you're not going to be able to get a straight mapping between how the US government works and how the UK government works.
To give a brief sense of how different it is: the Prime Minister asks the Queen to dissolve parliament by Royal Proclamation, and a general election is held. MPs are elected to the House of Commons. The Queen invites the person she thinks will be able to command a majority in parliament to form a government: this is the prime minister, and he puts together a cabinet from members of either house (eg, they can be peers from the House of Lords. This goverment is Her Majesty's Government and the second largest group forms Her Majesty's loyal opposition with a shadow cabinet. (talk) 02:31, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Finding what an LA Times article says[edit]

At the South Park, Houston article, I put:

But I cannot use Google News to find the rest of the sentence. I tried to get it to show the rest of the sentence, but I could not. Who is an LA Times subscriber or can access the LA Times from a library database? Would someone mind finding out what the rest of the sentence says? Thanks WhisperToMe (talk) 12:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

If this fails, of course, you're supposed to go to a physical library and use their microfiched back catalog of the entire LA Times corpus. No, I never have time to do this, either. Comet Tuttle (talk) 17:49, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The rest of the article is online, but I believe only an LA Times subscriber can see it for free. Other people have to pay for it. WhisperToMe (talk) 19:21, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
There's a wonderful but little-known page here called WikiProject_Resource_Exchange/Resource_Request - it exists exactly to fulfill this kind of need. I'm sure they will be able to help you. Best, WikiJedits (talk) 00:52, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Thank you very much! Lemme go put my request there right now. WhisperToMe (talk) 21:31, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

British royalty mostly descended from the fifth-century Saxon King Cerdic?[edit]

The Kings & Queens Of Britain, by GSP Freeman-Grenville, published in 1997, says that since 495AD, "In all that time there has been an almost unbroken family succession. Only five rulers - Sweyn, Canute I, Harold I, Harold II, and William I the Conqueror - have not descended from Cerdic, who led the West Saxons into England in 495. "

Is this true? Is Queen Elizabeth II descended from King Cerdic? According to the book, there have been a few changes since then - House Of Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stewart, Hanover, Windsor - but the Hanover-Windsor change was simply a convenient name-change, do not know about the rest. (talk) 18:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

See Genealogy of the British Royal Family. Remember, the aristocracy interbreed so much that even when the crown didn't pass to the heir of the last monarch it still passed to a reasonably close relative. --Tango (talk) 18:35, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, this page would be more useful. --Tango (talk) 18:37, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
You may also find Issue of Edward III of England interesting. It gives a specific example of my claim that the crown always moved to close relatives - Henry VII took the crown by force from Richard III, both were descended from Edward III (Henry was through an illegitimate line). --Tango (talk) 18:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I can beat that - they were both descended from Edward III's son, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. --Tango (talk) 18:54, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

In the Cerdic of Wessex article, there is a suggestion that he may have been an administrator for the Romans who siezed the opportunity and took power when they left. Well I never. (talk) 18:45, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

...although since there was at least an 85 year gap between the Romans leaving and him becoming king, it seems impossible. (talk) 16:08, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
List of monarchs of Wessex covers the Cerdic angle pretty well. Unfortunately, whenever I hear of King Egbert, I get a mental picture like this:[2]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:02, 11 February 2010 (UTC)Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:46, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
(ec)The statement by The Kings and Queens of Britain is not reliable, if only because it fails to mention Harthacnut, the son of Cnut the Great (or Canute I). Harthacnut's ancestry was the same as Cnut's except obviously for the ancestry of his mother, Emma of Normandy, whose descent from Cerdic cannot be proved. Beyond this, if you look at the family tree of the house of Wessex, you can see that all of the rulers of Wessex could claim descent from Cerdic. William the Conqueror could not claim such descent, but all of the descendants of William the Conqueror could claim descent from Cerdic, because William married Matilda of Flanders. Matilda was a descendant of Arnulf I of Flanders, whose mother was Ælfthryth, daughter of Alfred the Great of the House of Wessex, and therefore a descendant of Cerdic. Every king and queen of England after William the Conqueror could claim descent from him, and therefore, through his wife Matilda, from Cerdic. Marco polo (talk) 18:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

So the Cerdic/Windsor family have owned/exploited us for over one and a half thousand years? Thats very impressive. (talk) 20:51, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

How did the Cerdic descendants fasmily get back into power despite William the Conqueror taking over in 1066? (talk) 20:53, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

First, I don't think it's fair to say that the Windsors are "the Cerdic family". Cerdic lived 1500 years ago, or about 60 generations ago. In theory, that means that each person alive today had more than a quintillion ancestors living at that time. Of course, there were nowhere near that many people living on Earth in 500 CE, so there has been some degree of inbreeding. Still, the ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II in 500 CE probably included much of the population of northwestern Europe at that time, including many peasants whose descendants rose through the social hierarchy to join the nobility in medieval or early modern times. For that matter, probably most people living in Britain today are descendants of Cerdic. So the house of Windsor is no more the family of Cerdic, King of Wessex, than it is of a long-forgotten drunken serf named Sebbi (for example). Also, the Windsors do not descend in a direct male line from Cerdic, so they are not part of his family in the usual patrilineal sense. As for how Cerdic's descendants occupied the throne of England after the rule of William the Conqueror, as I've said, it is because William married Matilda of Flanders, who happened to be an indirect descendant of Cerdic. Marco polo (talk) 21:50, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That is no defence. If my great great great.....great great grandfather passed his power wealth and privelidge down through the generations to me, we would only have an infinitesimal proportion of our genes in common. But that does not mean such nepotism would be fair or ethical. (talk) 00:41, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
It's called a pedigree collapse. :) --Kvasir (talk) 22:05, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
What is an "indirect descendant"? --Tango (talk) 22:06, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Anyone who's not within a direct patrilineal line of descendants. --Kvasir (talk) 22:16, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't have to only exclude patrilineal. A direct descendant of any of my siblings would be an indirect descendant of me. -- (talk) 23:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
So an indirect descendant is a relative that isn't a descendant? That can't be right... --Tango (talk) 18:51, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Some observations.
Firstly, Cerdic of Wessex may not have existed as such, and the line of descent given for subsequent monarchs is a theory, not an incontestable fact. The study of genealogies in the so-called 'Dark Ages' is an uncertain and tentative matter at best, even when dealing with the most privileged members of society.
Secondly, it was common for those taking power to marry into established dynasties. To take an example from Sweden, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was the son of a laywer from Pau in southern France, but his descendants married into existing royal lines, so that the present Swedish royal family are related to the House of Vasa, and to their predecessors back to the viking age (again, assuming the records are tolerably accurate).
Thirdly, the UK has not been effectively ruled by its monarchs since about 1707. This is a parliamentary democracy.
Fourthly, the descent of the present British Royal family from Cerdic is an arbitrary choice; you can just as readily show their descent from Gorm the Old, Pepin the Short, or Walter the Steward.
Fifthly, and incidentally, the term 'indirect descent' does not mean anything useful. Either a person A descends from an ancestor B, or they do not. AlexTiefling (talk) 14:25, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Wasn't Harold II a descendant of one of king Alfred's brothers? (talk) 18:50, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Possibly, but there's probably no definite proof. Peter jackson (talk) 11:23, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

origin of term "the good war"[edit]

What is the origin of the term "the good war" with regard to WWII? I'm familiar with the Studs Terkel book of that title that was published in 1984 (though I have not read it). Was he the first to use the term? If so, was he using the term ironically? If he was not the first to use it, who was and was the original use ironic? I'm having a hard time seeing how anyone could describe any war as "good"!--Eriastrum (talk) 18:54, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The alternative was to let Hitler take over Europe and Hirohito to take over much of the Pacific Rim. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:01, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't necessarily make it good though. I think it's mostly nostalgia by people who were alive during it or who have relatives who were alive then. In the next generation or two when all those people are dead maybe we can have a more sober understanding of it. Adam Bishop (talk) 19:03, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Charles Lindbergh was of the opinion that it was better to let Hitler take over Europe than to give the Soviet Union a foothold. Needless to say, that isolationist view did not hold much water after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and sucked us into the war. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:08, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
There's a perception that we were fighting "forces of evil". Given the Holocaust, it's hard to argue with that. If it weren't for the American Civil War, we might still have slavery in the South. If it weren't for various wars, we would still be ruled by Rome. It goes on forever. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Is it possible that Terkel was influenced by the idea of a just war? Adam Bishop (talk) 19:51, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
WW II was a transitional point in US politics. prior to WW II, the US was isolationist outside of the Americas: we'd interfere a bit in south and central american issues but largely ignored Europe. WW II, however, forced us into the role of a world power and made an ideologically clean case - the Germans and Japanese were clearly identifiable as evil (for German Imperialism and the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor initially, and for the human rights abuses later). WW II was the 'good war' because (unlike any military action that followed) it had an undeniable moral value that defined the American self-image as noble, powerful and self-sacrificing for an entire generation. --Ludwigs2 19:55, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Wait a minute, no one has tried to answer my main questions: what is the origin of the term "the good war"? Studs Terkel or someone before him? And, was it first used ironically, or was it actually thought that any war could actually be "good"?--Eriastrum (talk) 20:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Are you sure it is a common term? I can't say I've heard it before, unlike "Fight the good fight", which is apparently from the bible. I doubt he was trying to be ironic - as pointed out above there was (and is) a general feeling that it was a "just war", a necessary war and overall a noble effort, as opposed to, for example, the Vietnam war where all those things were brought into question by large numbers of people. TastyCakes (talk) 20:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I've heard it many times. (Often used ironically to mock people nostalgic for WWII or other warhawks.) I'd always assumed that it was supposed to be a contrast to Vietnam and Korea which were 'messier' in various ways. But I've got absolutely nothing to back that up, it's just always been my personal understanding of the phrase. APL (talk) 23:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Terkel attributed the title to Herbert Mitgang and stated: " is a phrase that has been frequently voiced by men of his and my generation, to distinguish the war from other wars, declared and undeclared. Quotation marks have been added, not as a matter of caprice or editorial comment, but simply because the adjective 'good' mated to the noun 'war' is so incongruous." [3].—eric 01:42, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
It was not uncommon for people in Britain after WWII to say that they personally had "had a good war", meaning that the changes to their personal circumstances due to the War had been of benefit to them. (For example, many young men were recruited out of a likely destiny of humdrum or arduous manual work into the Services and experienced mind- and opportunity-broadening training, travel, experiences and education; many young women were, by recruitment for war work into traditionally masculine roles or simply by taking on previously male family responsibilities, able to embark on careers previously closed to them and enjoy greater autonomy. Both sexes were often taken out of traditional and regressive social circumstances into more liberal and sexually liberated situations.) The term is used in various memoirs of the period (and was doubtless orally current), usually accompanied by the implicit or explicit understanding that the user had been lucky compared to many others who had suffered personal tragedies or unpleasant experiences. (talk) 13:13, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
As an American, when I hear the Second World War being described as the "good war", I assume that the speaker believes somewhat of the following statements [forgive me for using "we"; it's simpler than saying "the USA" every time] — it was good because we got into it without meaning to (while our involvement in the Atlantic wasn't exactly neutral, we didn't do anything warlike to provoke Japan [especially a surprise attack; they weren't even fair enough to warn us!], and Germany declared war against the USA because Japan had, not because of our involvement in the Atlantic), and we generally saw the war as a clearly moral issue. Contrast that with most other wars of the century: in Korea and Viet Nam, we joined because we meant to (whether or not it was right to go there, it wasn't forced on us with a surprise attack on our navy), while World War I was more of a political war — we fought with countries that were somewhat like us against countries that were closer to some of our allies than we were (consider that we fought with monarchies such as Italy and Romania), and both the Germans and the British had been violating the rights of our merchant sailors as neutrals. Nyttend (talk) 16:54, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Overall, I'd say that the reasons are this: (1) Americans saw their reason for joining the war as entirely justified, (2) Americans saw the enemies as clearly evil, and (3) the war was concluded quite successfully for the USA. Nyttend (talk) 16:56, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
No, you didn't do anything warlike to provoke Japan, but you did impose trade sanctions. There's a theory that Roosevelt intended this to provoke a war.
On the surprise attack. The Japanese plan was to deliver the declaration of war 1/2 an hour before the attack began. However, they left it to the last minute for security reasons, and the Japanese embassy typist was off sick so the ambassador had to type it himself. He wasn't much of a typist, so it took quite a long time & was delivered only after news of the attack was starting to come in. Peter jackson (talk) 12:10, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, Eric (five postings above), you gave me the answer I was looking for.--Eriastrum (talk) 19:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Average length of service for current US house of reps[edit]

I am interested in know the average service length that the current members of the US house of reps has served in that role. I also am interested in knowing the average number of times that they have been re-elected. Googlemeister (talk) 21:32, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

List of members of the United States Congress by longevity of service has a complete list; you could add the numbers and divide. And you could derive the number of times they have been re-elected by dividing that by 2 — won't be exact because some have presumably lost and come back; but it will be close. Comet Tuttle (talk) 21:56, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Not seeing a complete list for the 111th US congress there, only the top 50 or 100 in all US history. Googlemeister (talk) 22:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Oops: try List of current members of the United States House of Representatives by seniority. Really, "Googlemeister", could you lift a finger to search for things instead of just automatically posting here? This took me all of 5 seconds to find. Comet Tuttle (talk) 22:36, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The meister part of the name is ironic. I suck at google. Besides, I was hoping that there was something out there that would give me the answer without me needing to add up all 435 members time served and then divide to find the average. That would take far more then 5 sec. Googlemeister (talk) 14:13, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

German Empire education[edit]

Dominic Lieven, whom I trust to get his facts right, states that "Germany had the best schools, universities and research institutes on the European continent" (referring to the pre-First World War period), or words to that effect. Could you refdeskers find any additional supporting material to back up this claim, preferably (but not necessarily) containing comparison to Britain or other similar nations. I'm thinking statistics of some kind, but by all means throw anything at me. Thanks. (talk) 21:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Our article History of European research universities quotes Walter Rüegg (a historian of education) stating that the German university system was responsible for the development of the modern research university. I have heard this elsewhere and think that it is a commonly accepted view. Tallying Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 1914 for physics, chemistry, and physiology/medicine (under the assumption that achievements in peace and literature are not as closely correlated with research or educational excellence), I find that the Germans won 12 prizes, the French won 11, the Dutch won 5, the British won 4, and no other people won more than 3. However, if I count each of the joint Nobel prizewinners as the equivalent of half of a sole Nobel prize winner, then I find that the Germans won 11 prizes (10 sole prizes and 2 shared prizes); the French won 8.5 (6 sole and 5 shared), the Dutch won 4 (3 sole, 2 shared), the British won 4 (all sole), and no other people won more than 3. By this count, the Germans were clearly the most accomplished scientists in the world, evidence of the excellence of their university system. Marco polo (talk) 03:09, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
During most of the 18th and 19th centuries, the university system in England was not really in all that great a shape. The only two officially recognized universities, Oxford and Cambridge, were open only to members of the Church of England, and mostly taught Classical languages (Greek and Latin). Their main purpose was generally considered to be to train Church of England clergymen, rather than to conduct research, and the sciences were rather weak (though there was a certain tradition of mathematics at Cambridge). Some of the academic positions required being an ordained Church of England clergyman, and many of the colleges were dominated by narrow involuted cliques of people who were tended to be more interested in receiving a salary and convivially drinking port and sherry than in either teaching or research. Oxford was a hotbed of Jacobitism. This situation was why in the nineteenth century higher education in the United States was influenced more by the Scottish and German systems than by the English system... AnonMoos (talk) 09:31, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
A good point that the only two universities in England were not particularly intellectually stimulating in those centuries, and perhaps had not recovered by circa 1900. (It may not be evident to those outside the United Kingdom, but the Scottish education system has always been quite distinct.) On the other hand, England from the late C17 to early C19 had a whole slew of Dissenting academies, and many alumni went on to get either earned or awarded degrees from Scottish universities. If you are particularly looking for comparions between Germany and Britain, you may find some leads in History of education in England and History of education in Scotland. BrainyBabe (talk) 16:50, 12 February 2010 (UTC)