During World War I, an anonymous American businessman who felt that “moral education of children is the fundamental need of the nation” offered $5,000 for “a children’s morality code that can be accepted as official — something prepared by the best brains of the educational profession.”
The contest ran for a year, from 1916 to 1917, and the winner was announced in American Magazine: William J. Hutchins had formulated 10 “laws of right living”:
- The welfare of our country depends upon those who try to be physically fit for their daily work.
- Those who best control themselves can best serve their country.
- Self-conceit is silly, but self-reliance is necessary to boys and girls who would be strong and useful.
- Our country grows great and good as her citizens are able more fully to trust each other.
- Clean play increases and trains one’s strength, and helps one to be more useful to one’s country.
- The shirker or the willing idler lives upon the labor of others, burdens others with the work which he ought to do himself. He harms his fellow citizens, and so harms his country.
- The welfare of our country depends upon those who have learned to do in the right way the things that ought to be done.
- One man alone could not build a city or a great railroad. One man alone would find it hard to build a house or a bridge. That I may have bread, men have sowed and reaped, men have made plows and threshers, men have built mills and mined coal, men have made stoves and kept stores. As we learn better how to work together, the welfare of our country is advanced.
- In America those who are of different races, colors and conditions must live together. We are of many different sorts, but we are one great people. Every unkindness hurts the common life, every kindness helps the common life.
- If our America is to become ever greater and better, her citizens must be loyal, devotedly faithful, in every relation of life.
I don’t know how widely this was actually used. The anonymous “Donor” followed up by offering a $20,000 prize for the best method of character instruction in American public schools, but I can’t tell whether that was ever awarded.