Horace Mann

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Horace Mann
BirthplaceFranklin, Massachusetts
College president, educator, politician
EducationLitchfield Law School

Mann, Horace

(măn), 1796–1859, American educator, b. Franklin, Mass. He received a sparse preliminary schooling, but succeeded in entering Brown in the sophomore class and graduated with honors in 1819. He studied law, was admitted (1823) to the Massachusetts bar, and practiced in Dedham, Mass., and in Boston. He entered the state legislature in 1827, became speaker of the senate (1835), and was made secretary of the newly created (1837) state board of education at a time when the public school system was in very bad condition. Within his 12-year period of service, public interest was aroused, a movement for better teaching and better-paid teachers was instigated, school problems and statistics were brought to light and discussed, training schools for teachers were established, and schoolhouses and equipment were immeasurably improved. In 1843, Mann studied educational conditions abroad, and in 1848 he was elected to Congress as an antislavery Whig. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts in 1852. In 1853 he became the first president of Antioch College, where he also taught philosophy and theology. He died there, having achieved considerable success in demonstrating the practicality of coeducation and in raising the academic standards of the college. His second wife was Mary T. Peabody, sister of Elizabeth PeabodyPeabody, Elizabeth Palmer
, 1804–94, American educator, lecturer, and reformer, b. Billerica, Mass. The Peabody family moved (c.1809) to Salem, where the father began practicing dentistry.
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See M. T. P. Mann et al., ed., The Life and Works of Horace Mann (5 vol., 1891); biographies by J. Messerli (1972) and R. B. Downs (1974); B. A. Hinsdale, Horace Mann and the Common School Revival in the United States (1937); Selective and Critical Bibliography of Horace Mann (comp. by the Federal Writers' Project of Massachusetts, 1937).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mann, Horace


Born May 4, 1796, in Franklin, Mass.; died Aug. 2, 1859, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. American educator and public figure.

Mann engaged in the practice of law from 1823 to 1837. From 1837 to 1878 he headed the Massachusetts State Board of Education, which had been created on his initiative. From 1848 to 1853 he was a congressman from Massachusetts. He defended man’s right to liberty and the all-around development of his talents regardless of race, nationality, religious affiliation, or property qualifications. In 1838 he organized the Common-School Journal, which was published in Boston until 1852. Mann’s 12 annual reports on the state of public education in Massachusetts are very well known. Each was devoted to a group of specific educational problems. The seventh contains descriptions of European schools. Mann did much for the improvement of teacher training in what were called the normal schools.


Piskunov, A. I. “Deiatel’nost’ i pedagogicheskie vzgliady Gorasa Manna.” Sovetskaia pedagogika, 1955, no. 8.
Morgan, J. E. Horace Mann, His Ideas and Ideals. Washington, D. C, 1936.
McCluskey, N. G. Public Schools and Moral Education: The Influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris and John Dewey. New York, 1958.
The Republic and the School: Horace Mann on the Education of Free Men, 5th printing. Edited by Lawrence A. Cremin. New York, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mann, Horace

(1796–1859) educator, public official; born in Franklin, Mass. He overcame limited educational opportunities, attended Brown University, and practiced law in Dedham and Boston, Mass. (1821–37). As Massachusetts state representative, senator, and senate president (1827–37), he worked to establish the first state hospital for the mentally ill and a state board of education. As head of the new board, his 12 annual reports (1837–48) comprehensively established the basis for universal, nonsectarian public education. Using his legal skills, he established public high schools, built teacher-training schools, curbed child labor, gained acceptance for women teachers, and fended off opposition from religious and business interests. After serving in the U.S. Congress (Whig, Mass.; 1848–53), he became president of Antioch College (1853–89), which was nonsectarian and open without regard to sex or race. The public school system he established in Massachusetts served as the nation's model, hence his appellation, "the father of American public education."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.