Mann, Horace LL.D., one of the most prominent educators in our country, a philanthropist whose name deserves to be honored by every American — "a soul whose life was a galvanic thrill along the muscles of our age" — was born, of very humble parentage, at Franklin, Mass., May 4, 1796. Though not privileged with the advantages of a careful training in his early boyhood, he yet managed to acquire a pretty good knowledge of the so- called "common branches." At the age of twenty he resolved to secure for himself the advantages of a collegiate training. His instructors hitherto, he tells us himself, he had found to be "very good people, but very poor teachers." He had lost his father when only thirteen years old, and since that time "all the family," he tells us, "labored together for the common support, and toil was considered honorable, although it was sometimes of necessity excessive." Notwithstanding all these disadvantages, Horace was bent upon a course of study in college. Within the short space of six months he had acquired a sufficient preparation to enter the sophomore year at Brown University, and at this institution he graduated, with the highest honors, in 1819. The subject of his graduating speech was "The Progressive Character of the Human Race." This was always a favorite theme with him, and his first oration may be said to have foreshadowed his subsequent career as a philanthropist and statesman. After serving his alma mater for two years as instructor, he entered upon the study of jurisprudence at the law-school in Lichfield, and in 1823 was admitted to practice at Dedham. In 1827 he was elected to the legislature of Massachusetts, and during his connection with that body was distinguished for the zeal with which he devoted himself to the interests of education and temperance. His first speech was in favor of religious liberty. He was active in founding the State Lunatic Asylum. In 1831 he removed to Boston, and was elected in 1836 to the state senate, of which he became president.
At the organization of the Massachusetts Board of Education, June 29, 1837, Horace Mann was elected its secretary, and, as such, he served for eleven years. He now gave up all other business, withdrew from politics, and devoted his whole time to the cause of education, introducing normal schools and paid committees. During these eleven years he worked fifteen hours a day, held teachers' conventions, gave lectures, and conducted a large correspondence. In 1843 he made a visit to educational establishments in Europe. His Report was reprinted both in England and America. In 1848 he was elected to Congress, as the successor of ex- president John Quincy Adams, whose example he followed in energetic opposition to the extension of slavery. Mr. Mann's years in Congress were those stormy cloud-gathering years whose records are labeled "Fillmore," "Fugitive-Slave Law," "New Mexico and California." Staunch and steady he stood, a man of iron, in those days of compromise and political corruption. Hating slavery through every fibre of his soul, he had his weapon drawn whenever and wherever its crest arose. His great abilities as a statesman are evinced in his letters written at this time, foreshadowing the troubles of 186165. His first speech in Congress was in advocacy of the right and duty of the national government to exclude slavery from the territories. In a letter dated Dec., 1848, he says on this subject, "I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion at the South. Still, it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the United States is a rope of sand or a band of steel." In another letter, dated January, 1850, he says, "Dark clouds overhang the future, and that is not all; they are full of lightning." Again, "I really think that if we insist upon passing the Wilmot Proviso for the territories, that the South — a part of them — will rebel. But I would pass it, rebellion or no rebellion. I consider no evil so great as the extension of slavery." After having spent two terms in Congress, we find Mr. Mann in 1853 embarking into a new and somewhat formidable enterprise — the establishment of a college at the West to be open to both sexes, and to be founded and conducted on the educational principles which he had espoused in Massachusetts, and which we shall presently pass in review. The experiment made here for the co-education of the sexes proved a success, and in our own day the admission of young ladies to our best and highest schools is likely to be commendatory of Mr. Mann's enterprise in 1853. The labors and anxieties of this position at Antioch College, however, proved at length too much for his health, never strong, and now undermined by a life of the most intense and unremitting activity. The fiery soul consumed the body at last, Aug. 2,1859.
Mann on the Relation of Religion to Education. — Mr. Mann had been reared under the influence of the Calvinistic faith. While yet a youth he had cherished an aversion to this orthodox belief, because, as he tells us, it had taught him to look upon God as "Infinite Malignity personified." When, at the mature age of forty, just as he entered on his work as an educator, he fell in with Combe's Constitution of Mann, he at once became a warm admirer of the theological, psychological, or anthropological school of which Mr. George Combe was the distinguished teacher. Education has certainly no less to do with the conscience and heart than with the understanding, as "most of our relations to our fellowmen, for which education is to prepare us. grow out of our relations to God;" it therefore should derive its knowledge from the holy Scriptures, and make these, indeed, the corner-stone. Mann, however, held that it should depend for its guidance on the lights of natural religion. He came forward now to assert that "natural religion stands as pre-eminent over revealed religion as the deepest experience over the lightest hearsay," and proposed to substitute, for the Christian influence which pervaded our whole educational institution, a system of "philosophical and moral doctrines," the prevalence of which would, in his view, "produce a new earth at least, if not a new heaven." Believing what is called the "evangelical faith," at that time ruling New England, to be in its influence derogatory to the character of God, and dwarfing and enslaving to the mind of man, he conceived it to be his task to vindicate the former and to emancipate the latter. Especially he conceived it his mission to overcome the "foul spirit of orthodoxy," so far as it entered the domain of the public schools, and this he believed to be "the greatest discovery ever made by man." "Other social organizations," he says, "are curative and remedial; this is a preventive and antidote. They come to heal diseases and wounds; this is to make the physical and moral frame invulnerable to them. Let the common school be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete — the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged — men would walk more safely by day — every pillow would be more inviting by night — property, life, and character held by a stronger tenureall rational hopes respecting the future brightened. It is obvious that these glowing anticipations were born of something more, if not better, than reading, writing, and arithmetic." Education was, in Mann's view, a word of much higher import than that popularly given to it. "Its function is to call out from within all that was divinely placed there, in the proportion requisite to make a noble being." It was one of his maxims, however, that "every human being should determine his religious belief for himself." "It seems to me," he says, "that a generation so trained would have an infinitely better chance of getting at the truth than the present generation has had." Herein lay the greatest defect of the system he sought to establish in our schools. Stamping with the name of bigotry all religious views that did not coincide with his own, regarding orthodoxy as the great thraldom by which man was enslaved, he would introduce a system of Christian ethics and doctrine respecting virtue and vice, rewards and penalties, time and eternity, constituting the basis of his theories and schemes of popular education, which meant nothing else than the substitution of natural religion for revealed. How far Mr. Mann succeeded in this attempt we may judge by the prevalence of the doctrines of the so-called "liberal theology" in the Eastern States, particularly in Massachusetts. In the West he must certainly have been disappointed. Though more than a thousand students sat at his feet in Antioch, he was only in a very moderate degree successful in spreading "a religionism from whose features the young would not turn away." But if Mr. Mann failed in meeting that success which a person of his indomitable will, uncommon energy, and rare acquirements must have looked for and desired, we would not in the least detract from the value of his labors in behalf of education among the masses, and the greatness of his services to common-school education in America.
Besides his annual reports, a volume of lectures on education, and voluminous controversial writings, his principal work is Slavery: Letters and Speeches (Boston. 1851). Since his decease all his writings have been collected and published by his wife, under the title The Works of Horace Mann (Cambridge, 1867 sq., 2 vols. 8vo). See Life of Horace Mann, by his wife (Boston, 1865, 12mo); Thomas, Dict. Biog. and Mythol.; Princeton Review, 1866 (January); reprinted in the Brit. and For. Evan. Review, 1866 (August). (J. H. W.)