Horace Mann

1796 - 1859

Portrait of Horace MannHorace Mann is best known as an educator and political reformer. When serving as the first US Secretary of Education, he promoted the common school movement. Mann also founded a school for the deaf in 1869 in Alston, Massachusetts. His school for the deaf promoted oralism, as opposed to manual signing.

Horace Mann was born in May 1796 in Franklin, Massachusetts, a farming community. He went to Brown University and then to Law School. In 1823 he was admitted to the bar, and opened a law office in Massachusetts. He was elected to the state senate in 1934, and served for two years. Around 1835, Mann became acquainted with George Combe, a phrenologist, and subscribed to the notion that behavior was related to the anatomical and physiological aspects of the brain and its faculties.

1837. Mann became secretary of the newly formed State Board of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

1853. Mann accepted the post of president of Antioch College, a nondenominational school in Ohio.

Writings about Horace Mann

Cremin, Lawrence A. (Ed) (1957) The republic and the school: Horace Mann on the education of free men. NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Culver, Raymond B., (1929/1969) Horace Mann and religion in the Massachusetts Public Schools. NY: Arno.

Downs, Robert Bingham (1974) Horace Mann: Champion of public schools

Edwards, R. A. R. (2001). “Speech has extraordinary humanizing power”: Horace Mann and the problem of nineteenth century American deaf education. In Paul Longmore & Lauri Umansky (Eds.) The new disability history: American perspectives (pp. 58-82). NY: New York University Press.

Hinsdale, B. A. (1937). Horace Mann and the common school revival in the United States. NY: Scribner’s.

Lasch, Christopher (1995). The revolt of the elites and the betrayal of democracy. (see essay on “The common schools: Horace Mann and the assault on imagination. NY: W. W. Norton & Co.

Mann, Mary Peabody & Mann, George Combe (Eds.) (1865/1891). Life and works of Horace Mann (5 vols). Boston: Lee and Shepard.

Mc Cluskey Neil Gerald (1958) Public Schools and Moral Education: The Influence of Horace Mann, William Torrey Harris, and John Dewey. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Publishers.

Messerli, Johnathan (1972). Horace Mann: A Biography. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Straker, Robert Lincoln (1955). The unseen harvest: Horace Mann and Antioch College

Tharp Louise Hall, (1954). Until Victory: Horace Mann and Mary Peabody

Williams, E. I. F. (1937) Horace Mann: Educational statesman

The Collected Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA.