Horace Mann

Background Information

Horace Mann was born May 4, 1796. He was the son of a minuteman Patriot farmer. He grew up as a poor farmer in Franklin, Massachusetts with his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters. His father organized the town’s farmers to take up arms against the British. His father was also a deacon at his church and was elected treasurer of the town library. Horace Mann was the third son, and educated himself in the Franklin Library. He read all of the books, and memorized words of Great Roman and Greek orators. Then his father died when he was thirteen years old. He took care of the farm, and learned how to braid straw, which led to him making hats for sale to take care of his family. At nineteen, Horace met an itinerant teacher that was in town and the teacher taught Horace how to read, write, and speak Latin and Greek fluently. This was a requirement for getting into any university. Although, his lack of money stopped him from going to college until he was twenty.
In 1816, he headed out to Providence, Rhode Island to go to Brown University. At the interview and entrance exam he did so well he was capable of skipping his freshman year and entered college as a sophomore. He earned president of a prestigious debating society and had the highest grades in his class. After graduating valedictorian of his class, he taught at Brown University for two years. In 1822, he left to go enroll into America’s first law school, Litchfield Law School. After finishing school in a year he went back to Massachusetts. He practiced law in Dedham, which was close to Franklin.

How did this person influence American history?

Horace Mann influenced American history in several different ways. He was a social reformer. He convinced the legislature to sever the link between the church and the political and educational life. Not to mention in May 1837, at the age of forty-two he became the founder of the first American public school system. He went from town to town explaining that the country was founded by educated people, and if people did not educate the future care takers of the country than the country would fall apart.

Horace Mann had an extremely large amount of different accomplishments throughout his life. One of the firsts accomplishments of his life was when Dedham named him orator for the Independence Day celebrations in 1823-1826. He was also sent to the state legislature, or to Congress by Dedham. He ran for the town’s seat in Massachusetts for the House of Representatives. He condemned the states’ routine annual donations to local churches. He felt it was considered a violation of the U.S. Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. He demanded an end to the use of public funds to support churches. After two days of debating the situation, Mann won. The next thing he fought was the unfair punishments. For example, after a petty theft the punishment would be death. He won the passage of “a law to have capital punishment, inflicted in as private a manner as…the law will permit.” Another battle was to overturn a law that sent people that were in debt to prison indefinitely. It permitted the seizure of all their property. In 1833, he fought to end imprisonment of insane people. He obtained funds from the state legislature to build a State Lunatic Hospital in Massachusetts.
In 1835, he won the election to the state Senate as a Republican. Although, two years later he was re-elected as a Whig and the Senate named his president or chairman. He battled against the exploitation of young children. He made laws that stated that children would have to go to a certain amount of schooling before working. Elizabeth and Mary Peabody founded a school that admitted girls and boys. They both joined Mann for universal public education. In 1836, Edward Everett, one of Mann’s close friends, was elected Massachusetts’ governor. The first law that was passed regulated the education of children and child labor laws were passed. The law banned employment of children under fifteen years old with less than three months of schooling.
Then Mann became the first secretary of director of Everett’s first state board of education. More than two million dollars were spent to build schools, approximately fifty high schools. The school year turned into a six month minimum, and school salaries increased to $300 a year. Mann received ten thousand dollars to build a teacher’s college in Lexington, Massachusetts, which was opened in April 19, 1839. Horace founded the “Common Schools Journal,” which was sent to teachers across America that helped with teaching, drawing, spelling and other subjects. He also established the grading policies and stated that children under the age of eight should received a recess.
In 1848, Horace was elected to be in the House of Representatives, where he severed until he died, in the middle of his fifth year. While he was there he was against slavery and against the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850.
Under Horace Mann’s control, Antioch college became the model college because it was offered to all students. It didn’t matter what color your skin was, how much money you had, or what sex you were. In 1857, Antioch graduated sixteen seniors, four were women. Antioch was the first college to hire a women professor, which was actually Mann’s niece named Rebecca. Horace then established an honor system stating that the student would not cheat during his studies. Six years after establishing Antioch, Mann died, August 2, 1859.

Supporters and Friends.
He had more supporters than he did enemies. Some of his specific friends were the following…

Asa Messer: the president of Brown University
Charlotter Messer: was Asa’s daughter. Horace actually ended up marrying her in 1831, but two years later she died of tuberculosis.
Emma Willard
Henery Bernard
Catherine Beecher
Mary Lyon
Mary Peabody: he married Mary after launching a campaign six years earlier, May 1, 1843, in Boston, Massachusetts. They had three sons. Two became scientists, and one became a high school principle.
Elizabeth Peabody
John Quincy Adams

Enemies and Critics
Horace Mann had more supporters than he did enemies. His enemies were people that profited from the oppression of others. The churchman were against him also. They thought that he was the enemy because they called secular education the “Devil’s Gospel.” They thought that the church should educate the children, not the state.

Fun Facts

Delivered a eulogy about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in Dedham.

Could have ran for president and won but instead spent his life trying to increase the educational rights for people.
He became known as the “Priest of Education."