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Horace Mann

Birthdate: 4. May 1796
Date of death: 2. August 1859

Horace Mann was an American educational reformer and Whig politician known for his commitment to promoting public education. A central theme of his life was that "it is the law of our nature to desire happiness. This law is not local, but universal; not temporary, but eternal. It is not a law to be proved by exceptions, for it knows no exception." He served in the Massachusetts State legislature . In 1848, after public service as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, Mann was elected to the United States House of Representatives . From September 1852 to his death, he served as President of Antioch College.

About Mann's intellectual progressivism, the historian Ellwood P. Cubberley said:

No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.

Arguing that universal public education was the best way to turn unruly American children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens, Mann won widespread approval from modernizers, especially in the Whig Party, for building public schools. Most states adopted a version of the system Mann established in Massachusetts, especially the program for normal schools to train professional teachers. Educational historians credit Horace Mann, along with Henry Barnard and Catherine Beecher as one of the major advocates of the Common School Movement. Wikipedia

„It is well to think well. It is divine to act well.“

—  Horace Mann

Source: Thoughts Selected from the Writings of Horace Mann (1872), p. 199
Context: Just in proportion as a man becomes good, divine, Christ-like, he passes out of the region of theorizing, of system-building, and hireling service, into the region of beneficent activities. It is well to think well. It is divine to act well.

„Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals.“

—  Horace Mann

The Common School Journal Vol. IX, No. 12 (15 June 1847), p. 181
Context: Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals. As childhood advances to manhood, the transition from bad manners to bad morals is almost imperceptible. Vulgar and obscene forms of speech keep vulgar and obscene objects before the mind, engender impure images in the imagination, and make unlawful desires prurient. From the prevalent state of the mind, actions proceed, as water rises from a fountain.

„The heart can put on charms which no beauty of known things, nor imagination of the unknown, can aspire to emulate. Virtue shines in native colors, purer and brighter than pearl, or diamond, or prism, can reflect.“

—  Horace Mann

A Few Thoughts for a Young Man (1850)
Context: The laws of nature are sublime, but there is a moral sublimity before which the highest intelligences must kneel and adore. The laws by which the winds blow, and the tides of the ocean, like a vast clepsydra, measure, with inimitable exactness, the hours of ever-flowing time; the laws by which the planets roll, and the sun vivifies and paints; the laws which preside over the subtle combinations of chemistry, and the amazing velocities of electricity; the laws of germination and production in the vegetable and animal worlds, — all these, radiant with eternal beauty as they are, and exalted above all the objects of sense, still wane and pale before the Moral Glories that apparel the universe in their celestial light. The heart can put on charms which no beauty of known things, nor imagination of the unknown, can aspire to emulate. Virtue shines in native colors, purer and brighter than pearl, or diamond, or prism, can reflect. Arabian gardens in their bloom can exhale no such sweetness as charity diffuses. Beneficence is godlike, and he who does most good to his fellow-man is the Master of Masters, and has learned the Art of Arts. Enrich and embellish the universe as you will, it is only a fit temple for the heart that loves truth with a supreme love. Inanimate vastness excites wonder; knowledge kindles admiration, but love enraptures the soul. Scientific truth is marvellous, but moral truth is divine; and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light, has found the lost paradise. For him, a new heaven and a new earth have already been created. His home is the sanctuary of God, the Holy of Holies. <!-- p. 35

„Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows.“

—  Horace Mann

The Duty of Owning Books (1859)
Context: Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them! Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it.

„The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it.“

—  Horace Mann

The Duty of Owning Books (1859)
Context: Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them! Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it.

„From the prevalent state of the mind, actions proceed, as water rises from a fountain.“

—  Horace Mann

The Common School Journal Vol. IX, No. 12 (15 June 1847), p. 181
Context: Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals. As childhood advances to manhood, the transition from bad manners to bad morals is almost imperceptible. Vulgar and obscene forms of speech keep vulgar and obscene objects before the mind, engender impure images in the imagination, and make unlawful desires prurient. From the prevalent state of the mind, actions proceed, as water rises from a fountain.

„I affirm, in words as true and literal as any that belong to geometry, that the man who withholds knowledge from a child not only works diabolical miracles for the destruction of good, but for the creation of evil also.“

—  Horace Mann

Congressional speech (1849)
Context: I affirm, in words as true and literal as any that belong to geometry, that the man who withholds knowledge from a child not only works diabolical miracles for the destruction of good, but for the creation of evil also. He who shuts out truth, by the same act opens the door to all the error that supplies its place. Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up all the vacuities of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge. He who dethrones the idea of law, bids chaos welcome in its stead. Superstition is the mathematical complement of religious truth; and just so much less as the life of a human being is reclaimed to good, just so much more is it delivered over to evil. The man or the institution, therefore, that withholds knowledge from a child, or from a race of children, exercises the awful power of changing the world in which they are to live, just as much as though he should annihilate all that is most lovely and grand in this planet of ours, or transport the victim of his cruelty to some dark and frigid zone of the universe, where the sweets of knowledge are unknown, and the terrors of ignorance hold their undisputed and remorseless reign.

„Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up all the vacuities of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge.“

—  Horace Mann

Congressional speech (1849)
Context: I affirm, in words as true and literal as any that belong to geometry, that the man who withholds knowledge from a child not only works diabolical miracles for the destruction of good, but for the creation of evil also. He who shuts out truth, by the same act opens the door to all the error that supplies its place. Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up all the vacuities of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge. He who dethrones the idea of law, bids chaos welcome in its stead. Superstition is the mathematical complement of religious truth; and just so much less as the life of a human being is reclaimed to good, just so much more is it delivered over to evil. The man or the institution, therefore, that withholds knowledge from a child, or from a race of children, exercises the awful power of changing the world in which they are to live, just as much as though he should annihilate all that is most lovely and grand in this planet of ours, or transport the victim of his cruelty to some dark and frigid zone of the universe, where the sweets of knowledge are unknown, and the terrors of ignorance hold their undisputed and remorseless reign.

„Every school boy and school girl who has arrived at the age of reflection ought to know something about the history of the art of printing“

—  Horace Mann

"Printing and Paper Making" in The Common School Journal Vol. V, No. 3 (1 February 1843)
Context: Every school boy and school girl who has arrived at the age of reflection ought to know something about the history of the art of printing, papermaking, and so forth. … All children will work better if pleased with their tools; and there are no tools more ingeniously wrought, or more potent than those which belong to the art of the printer. Dynasties and governments used to be attacked and defended by arms; now the attack and the defence are mainly carried on by types. To sustain any scheme of state policy, to uphold one administration or to demolish another, types, not soldiers, are brought into line. Hostile parties, and sometimes hostile nations, instead of fitting out martial or naval expeditions, establish printing presses, and discharge pamphlets or octavoes at each other, instead of cannon balls. The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil. Knowledge can be acquired, diffused, perpetuated. An invisible, inaudible, intangible thought in the silent chambers of the mind, breaks away from its confinement, becomes imbodied in a sign, is multiplied by myriads, traverses the earth, and goes resounding down to the latest posterity.

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„The intellectual and moral nature of man is the one thing precious in the sight of God“

—  Horace Mann

Source: Thoughts Selected from the Writings of Horace Mann (1872), p. 183
Context: The intellectual and moral nature of man is the one thing precious in the sight of God; and therefore, until this nature is cultivated, and enlightened, and purified, neither opulence, nor power, nor learning, nor genius, nor domestic sanctity, nor the holiness of God's altars, can ever be safe. Until the immortal and god-like capacities of every being that comes iuto the world are deemed more worthy, are watched more tenderly than any other thing, no dynasty of men, or form of government, can stand, or shall stand, upon the face of the earth; and the force or the fraud which would seek to uphold them, shall be but "as fetters of flax to bind the flame."

„Men are not accustomed to buy books unless they want them.“

—  Horace Mann

The Duty of Owning Books (1859)
Context: Men are not accustomed to buy books unless they want them. If, on visiting the dwelling of a man of slender means, I find the reason why he has cheap carpets and very plain furniture to be that he may purchase books, he rises at once in my esteem. Books are not made for furniture but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.

„Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, — the balance-wheel of the social machinery.“

—  Horace Mann

12th Annual Report to the Massachusetts State Board of Education http://www.tncrimlaw.com/civil_bible/horace_mann.htm (1848); published in Life and Works of Horace Mann Vol. III, (1868) edited by Mary Mann, p. 669
Context: Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, — the balance-wheel of the social machinery. I do not here mean that it so elevates the moral nature as to make men disdain and abhor the oppression of their fellow-men. This idea pertains to another of its attributes. But I mean that it gives each man the independence and the means by which he can resist the selfishness of other men. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility towards the rich: it prevents being poor.

„The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil.“

—  Horace Mann

"Printing and Paper Making" in The Common School Journal Vol. V, No. 3 (1 February 1843)
Context: Every school boy and school girl who has arrived at the age of reflection ought to know something about the history of the art of printing, papermaking, and so forth. … All children will work better if pleased with their tools; and there are no tools more ingeniously wrought, or more potent than those which belong to the art of the printer. Dynasties and governments used to be attacked and defended by arms; now the attack and the defence are mainly carried on by types. To sustain any scheme of state policy, to uphold one administration or to demolish another, types, not soldiers, are brought into line. Hostile parties, and sometimes hostile nations, instead of fitting out martial or naval expeditions, establish printing presses, and discharge pamphlets or octavoes at each other, instead of cannon balls. The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil. Knowledge can be acquired, diffused, perpetuated. An invisible, inaudible, intangible thought in the silent chambers of the mind, breaks away from its confinement, becomes imbodied in a sign, is multiplied by myriads, traverses the earth, and goes resounding down to the latest posterity.

„No matter how seemingly unconnected with human affairs or remote from human interests a newly-discovered truth may appear to be, time and genius will some day make it minister to human welfare.“

—  Horace Mann

Source: Thoughts Selected from the Writings of Horace Mann (1872), p. 185
Context: No matter how seemingly unconnected with human affairs or remote from human interests a newly-discovered truth may appear to be, time and genius will some day make it minister to human welfare. When Dr. Franklin was once sceptically asked what was the use of some recondite and far-off truth which had just been brought to light, "What," said he, "is the use of babies?"

„We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.“

—  Horace Mann

Quoted in Thoughts (1901) by Jessie K. Freeman and Sarah S. B. Yule, p. 83, and in Collect Writings of Russell H. Conwell (1925), Vol. 1, p. 396
Context: Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves. We must purposely be kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart which goes out of itself gets large and full. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.

„God is more to me than a grand and solitary Being, though refulgent with infinite perfections. Contemplated as enthroned in the midst of his works, his spiritual offspring in all the grand circuit of the worlds he has formed become a multiplying glass, reflecting back the Original in the profusion and countlessness of infinity.“

—  Horace Mann

Congressional speech (1849)
Context: God is more to me than a grand and solitary Being, though refulgent with infinite perfections. Contemplated as enthroned in the midst of his works, his spiritual offspring in all the grand circuit of the worlds he has formed become a multiplying glass, reflecting back the Original in the profusion and countlessness of infinity. But when the wickedness of man cuts off entire generations and whole races from the capacity of reflecting back this radiant image of the Creator, then all that part of the universe where they dwell becomes black and revolting, and all that portion of the Mirror of Souls which was designed to reproduce and rekindle the glories of the Eternal absorbs and quenches the rays which it should have caught and flamed with anew, and multiplied and returned.

„He who cannot resist temptation is not a man. He is wanting in the highest attributes of humanity.“

—  Horace Mann

A Few Thoughts for a Young Man (1850), p. 65
Context: He who cannot resist temptation is not a man. He is wanting in the highest attributes of humanity.

„Beneficence is godlike, and he who does most good to his fellow-man is the Master of Masters, and has learned the Art of Arts. Enrich and embellish the universe as you will, it is only a fit temple for the heart that loves truth with a supreme love. Inanimate vastness excites wonder; knowledge kindles admiration, but love enraptures the soul. Scientific truth is marvellous, but moral truth is divine; and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light, has found the lost paradise. For him, a new heaven and a new earth have already been created. His home is the sanctuary of God, the Holy of Holies.“

—  Horace Mann

A Few Thoughts for a Young Man (1850)
Context: The laws of nature are sublime, but there is a moral sublimity before which the highest intelligences must kneel and adore. The laws by which the winds blow, and the tides of the ocean, like a vast clepsydra, measure, with inimitable exactness, the hours of ever-flowing time; the laws by which the planets roll, and the sun vivifies and paints; the laws which preside over the subtle combinations of chemistry, and the amazing velocities of electricity; the laws of germination and production in the vegetable and animal worlds, — all these, radiant with eternal beauty as they are, and exalted above all the objects of sense, still wane and pale before the Moral Glories that apparel the universe in their celestial light. The heart can put on charms which no beauty of known things, nor imagination of the unknown, can aspire to emulate. Virtue shines in native colors, purer and brighter than pearl, or diamond, or prism, can reflect. Arabian gardens in their bloom can exhale no such sweetness as charity diffuses. Beneficence is godlike, and he who does most good to his fellow-man is the Master of Masters, and has learned the Art of Arts. Enrich and embellish the universe as you will, it is only a fit temple for the heart that loves truth with a supreme love. Inanimate vastness excites wonder; knowledge kindles admiration, but love enraptures the soul. Scientific truth is marvellous, but moral truth is divine; and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light, has found the lost paradise. For him, a new heaven and a new earth have already been created. His home is the sanctuary of God, the Holy of Holies. <!-- p. 35

„Whether a young man shall reap pleasure or pain from winning the objects of his choice, depends, not only upon his wisdom or folly in selecting those objects, but upon the right or wrong methods by which he pursues them.“

—  Horace Mann

A Few Thoughts for a Young Man (1850)
Context: Whether a young man shall reap pleasure or pain from winning the objects of his choice, depends, not only upon his wisdom or folly in selecting those objects, but upon the right or wrong methods by which he pursues them. Hence, a knowledge what to select and how to pursue, is as necessary to the highest happiness as virtue herself. Virtue is an angel, but she is a blind one, and must ask of Knowledge to show her the pathway that leads to her goal. <!-- p. 9

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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