Horace Mann (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: As legislator and educator, Mann initiated the first state mental hospital and the first comprehensive system of public education in the United States.
From the time William Man immigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1635, none of the family achieved eminence before Horace Mann, the fourth of five children of Thomas Mann, a farmer in Franklin, Massachusetts, and the former Rebecca Stanley of nearby Attleboro. Horace, born on May 4, 1796, could not remember a time when he and the family did not work together planting, cultivating, and harvesting; increasingly, as Franklin became a center of bonnet-making, he braided straw for women’s bonnets. Later, Mann would believe strongly in work and would work indefatigably all of his life, but he would also believe that he had been made to work too hard in childhood.
At twelve years of age, Mann rejected the Calvinism of the town’s ministers and began to construct for himself a more benevolent interpretation of Christianity by which to live. He was also critical of the teachers in Franklin’s one-room schools, although up to the age of fifteen, he never attended school for more than eight or ten weeks out of the year. As the town library held few books, none suitable for children, opportunities for self-education were also severely limited.
Aspiring to a college education, Mann received tutoring from a minister who happened to...
(The entire section is 2383 words.)
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