The first great American advocate of public education, who believed that, in a democratic society, education should be free and universal, nonsectarian, democratic in method, and reliant on well-trained, professional teachers. Horace Mann is widely known as the ‘Father of Education.’ Horace Mann was born in Franklin on May 4th, 1796 on the land, then known as, the ‘Mann Plains’. The middle child of 5 and the third son of Thomas and Rebecca Mann, Horace worked hard, along with his family, to support the farm. With little time for education, getting no more than 8-10 weeks in any given year up to the age of 15, Horace took advantage of the lending library provided to the town by the great Statesman, Benjamin Franklin on the occasion of the town being named in his honor.
Horace was encouraged to attend college by a professor, Samuel Barrett, who saw great promise in him. A strict 6 month course of study ensued and Horace entered Brown University as a sophomore at the age of 20. He went on to study law, was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and was later named the first secretary of the newly formed Massachusetts Board of Education. While in this position, Horace Mann shaped the course of our country in the field of education, creating the Common School. He advocated for equal education for all, which in turn he knew, would benefit society as a whole and our young country as we took our first steps to becoming a great power.