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Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 – August 2, 1859) was an American politician and educational reformer. A Whig devoted to promoting speedy modernization, he served in the Massachusetts State Legislature (1827–37). In 1848, after serving as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education since its creation, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Historian Ellwood P. Cubberley asserts:
No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.
Arguing that universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens, Mann won widespread approval from modernizers, especially in his Whig Party, for building public schools. Most states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for “normal schools” to train professional teachers. Mann has been credited by educational historians as the “Father of the Common School Movement”