Distance education in XIX century United States was an opportunity for those students who, by social and economic background, could not have obtained a certification. Several universities and private institutions created specific courses. They created an education industry which, through an ag¬gressive advertising campaign, recruited millions of people. Their market strategy was based on a very precise rhetoric that relied on elements deeply linked to the roots of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, building motivation by hinting to a social and economic realization that in the Protestant tradition is rich in ethical, if not religious, values. Likewise, the use of handbooks structured on the needs of students, extremely practical, linear and logical in organization of contents determined their success over time. Two of these manuals have been analyzed to detect their main characteristics.
Keywords: Distance education, rhetoric, education by mail, handbook for dis¬tance education, correspondence courses.