11 Chapter 11: Early National Era

This chapter introduces students to the context within which the common school movement emerged during the early- to mid-nineteenth century. As the nation began to expand westward, and as urbanization and immigration intensified, acceptance of common schooling increased, but it required a concerted campaign among reformers to convince powerful critics of public schooling why and how such an investment served their interests. In addition, the leader of the common school movement, Horace Mann, set out to also convince average citizens why taking their children from the farms and workplace and placing them in formal systems of schooling would benefit their interests. While reformers (mostly made up of Whigs and former Federalists) were uncertain about how the common school movement would turn out, they advocated a new mass institution that would mostly reflect the objectives of former Federalists like Noah Webster and Benjamin Rush.

Democrats too often advocated public schooling, but as a group that feared centralized government, they fought to keep schooling a local responsibility, and they opposed Mann’s attempts to make education a state function. In their view, centralization of any institution, whether government, religion, economic, or common schooling was potentially dangerous.

Another important element of the common school movement’s context includes the clash between urban Protestants and Catholics in places like New York City and Philadelphia over the distribution of public school funds. Since Irish and Catholic immigrants tended to locate in larger urban areas, and due to their growing presence compared to other ethnic groups at the time, conflict –often violent –ensued over a common school curriculum that was heavily Protestant and the desire among Catholic leaders to use public funds to support their parochial schools. This conflict generated a greater theoretical acceptance of the separation of church and state doctrine in publically funded common schools. Yet, in practice, common schooling continued to infuse Protestant biases for over a century.


Learning Objectives

Upon completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Articulate the purposes and objectives of the common school reformers.
  • Describe the ideological differences between Whigs and Democrats and how these differences were reflected in their ideas for common schooling.
  • Compare the Whig and Democratic parties’ ideas to the former Federalists and Anti-Federalists educational ideas.
  • Analyze Horace Mann’s arguments for common schooling as it related to both affluent and working class audiences.
  • Articulate the controversy between Protestants and Catholics over common school funds.
  • Describe how the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics informed future generations to separate religion from common or public school curricula.
  • Articulate the factors that help explain why common schooling did not emerge in the South during this time.
  • Describe how the feminization of the teaching profession and the development of normal schools both opened opportunities for women while limiting their equality.


Part 2, Chapter 11 Preface to Readings


America was undergoing rapid social change during the early- to mid-nineteenth century, particularly with regard to increased urbanization and the waves of immigrants flocking to cities. In addition (and ironically), it was during Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency that America’s territory doubled with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory and westward expansion. Industrialization also resulted in rapid economic changes that redefined opportunities and ruptured traditional family structures and community cohesiveness. Adding to the anxieties that these changes provoked, the franchise was expanded, which allowed men without property to vote in state and federal elections. In fact, the Jacksonian Era became synonymous with democratic reform, and despite the fact that Andrew Jackson won more popular and electoral votes in 1824, neither he nor John Quincy Adams garnered a required electoral majority, which threw the election into the House of Representatives as required by the Twelfth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Adams was chosen as president. However, despite his having won more popular and electoral votes than President Adams in 1824, Jackson returned with a vengeance in 1828 to reclaim his popular mandate. He succeeded and was the first president elected outside the original 13 states. The Democratic-Republican Party soon thereafter became the Democratic Party and the election of Andrew Jackson symbolized a new era of opportunity for the common-man. Jackson’s election was a result, in large part, of the rapid expansion of the franchise to property-less men. The 1816 presidential election resulted in a total national popular vote of just over 112,500 and the 1828 election with well over 1 million (Dubin, 2002, p. 22, 42).

Whig Party Redemption and the Systematization of Schooling

Horace Mann

Horace Mann

The Whigs (mostly former Federalists), who considered themselves to be the saviors of traditional morality and virtuous republican government, were appalled by the election of Jackson to the presidency. From their perspective, Jackson’s elevation to the White House illustrated the dangers of expanding the franchise and its movement toward mobocracy. Not unlike the Federalists before them, they continued to view democracy and democratic reforms pejoratively. From the Whig perspective, “The republic was evolving into an unrecognizable and uncontrollable nation as the economy, immigration, and urbanization were seen as destabilizing local and collective social authority” (Dotts, 2012, 211). Typical of reactionaries, they deemed Andrew Jackson’s electoral victory as a clear sign of decadence. The “moral redeemers” of society, as Daniel Howe refers to the Whig Party (Howe, 2007), sought to create a variety of new institutions intended to return order and harmony to a deteriorating republic, and common schooling served as one of their remedies.

Village schools had long existed in Puritan New England, of course, but they were uncommon throughout the rest of the country. As illustrated in the previous module, the new republican experiment created a greater urgency for schooling; a public institution that could generate allegiance, stability, virtue, and an informed citizenry. According to Lawrence Cremin, “What was fresh in the republican style (though scarcely fresh in the history of Western thought) was the emphasis on system (emphasis added), on a functional organization of individual schools and colleges that put them into regular relationship with one another and with the polity” (1980, 148).

The common school movement, heralded by Massachusetts’ first Secretary of Education and Whig politician Horace Mann, began expanding outside the New England states into New York and Pennsylvania followed by developments in westward states. The institutionalization of schooling under Mann’s leadership, according to Eric Foner, “combined conservatism and radicalism, liberation and social control” (2012, 438). The idea of tax-supported free schooling was certainly radical, which explained its rejection in Jefferson’s Virginia fifty years earlier. Common schooling was conservative because its curriculum focused on buttressing traditional and dominant values, as well as political allegiance. Schooling was to serve a liberating function by increasing opportunities for families’ children. Finally, schooling was justified by reformers like Mann as an insurance policy. In other words, schooling would teach basic values including, but not limited to, honesty, punctuality, inner behavioral restraints, obedience to authority, hard work, cleanliness, and respect for law, private property, and representative government. In short, Mann advocated schooling with a vision to increase opportunities for working class families and to safeguard against class antagonisms. His new institution could fortify nineteenth-century republican virtue among the masses. As Urban and Wagoner point out, “The common school did not produce large increases in enrollment.” That was already underway in New England. “What the common school crusade was designed to accomplish, however, was a more efficient form of school governance and management, one that would permit the schools to assimilate the great number of [existing] students” as well as future immigrant children. This is why Urban and Wagoner conclude that, “Common school reform was more political and organizational than pedagogical or curricular” (2009, 113).

Jacksonian Democrats and Local Control

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

During the Jacksonian Era, Democrats were not opposed to public schooling. Rather, they were opposed to the centralization of local schools. In other words, in Jeffersonian tradition, Democrats preferred that the tradition of local control, illustrating their continued fear of centralized power. Whigs, on the other hand, sought to establish state systems of schooling in order to create standardization and uniformity in curricula, classroom equipment, school organization, and professional credentialing of teachers across state schools. Not only would centralization and decentralization of public schools become a common theme in America’s federal system of politics, it was inevitable that common schools would serve as sites of political conflict for the very reason that they were public. Public schools continue to experience the benefits and the burdens of political conflict as private individuals and interest groups often work to impose their ideological preferences on schools. The battle between Whigs and Democrats during the nineteenth century over stand and local control represents one of the initial conflicts related to public schooling.

One of the fundamental differences between Whigs and Jacksonian Democrats rested on the role of government. This tension initially germinated in the battle over the Constitution between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the mid-1780s and continuing with Federalists and Jeffersonians. During the Jacksonian era, Democrats continued to distrust government, especially the federal government, and the centralization of political power. “For Democrats,” according to Foner, “liberty was a private entitlement best secured by local governments and endangered by powerful national authority” (2012, 379). In Jeffersonian tradition, Democrats favored local forms of governance, considering them to be more democratic and reflective of parochial desires. On the other hand, holding a favorable view toward the national government, Whigs sought to increase national power in order to make the country a robust nation state and to make federal investments in economic development, i.e., canals, roads, banks, turnpikes, and railroads. Moreover, the reader will recall that the American Founders feared democracy, referring to it pejoratively as “mobocracy,” and most Whigs continued to exhibit this phobia. Seeing Jackson as a product of the democratization of the franchise, they expressed contempt for him and his ideas. As the Whigs (former Federalists) appeared to be losing prominence in national and state political battles, they turned to additional remedies outside conventional electoral politics to ameliorate the havoc that democratic ideas were wrecking on the country. Their view of republican history was repeating itself as republican decadence was morphing into democracy. They had to seek ways to navigate the ship and put it back on course in order to save the republican ship of state (Dotts, 2012).

With the benefit of hindsight, it is not surprising that Whigs continued to lose political support as the franchise was expanded. According to Foner, “Like the Federalists before them, wealthy Whigs tended to view society as a hierarchy of social classes, in contrast to the disorderly world of unrestrained individual competition embraced by many Democrats” (2012, 378). The Whigs were out of touch with the common man, as we might say today, and now that the latter could vote, electoral politics continued to make the Democratic Party viable for years to come. Nevertheless, the Whigs were highly successful in developing the systematization of common schools throughout New England, and Mann’s initial crusade expanded into the Midwest. McClellan characterized the period in somewhat schizophrenic terms, asserting that, the “dual quest for liberty and self-restraint was strongest in the years between 1820 and 1865, an era when it was symbolized by Jacksonian democracy on the one hand and by an array of crusades for moral reform on the other” (1999, 16).

Conflict between Protestants and Catholics

Harper's Weekly

Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, v. 14, (1870 February 26). Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The moral and policy battles did not remain confined within the ideological parameters of Whig and Democrat politics. Once common school reformers who were nearly all Protestant developed public education in places like New York City and Philadelphia, tensions mounted over the content of the curriculum and whether non-Protestant sects were to receive common school funds, if at all. Schooling had always been a moral endeavor where it existed, and common schooling was no different. Protestants didn’t think twice about continuing to use the Bible as a common text in classrooms. Predicting the potential conflict this could generate in diverse communities, Horace Mann advocated using only generalized Scripture in order to prevent offending different sects. However, what appeared to Protestants as a generalization of Christian text was actually very insulting to Catholic immigrants who were becoming the second largest group of city dwellers at the time. Since common schooling was the only source of education for poor Catholic immigrants, they were torn between attending schools that discriminated against them or go without. From Catholic leaders’ perspective, since the common schools were essentially Protestant institutions, they believed that Catholics should also receive a portion of the common school fund. They paid taxes too, and they advocated that a portion of tax revenues fund Catholic schools. Clearly, this argument could have been taken to its logical limit by arguing that every religious sect should receive a portion of common school funds in order to proselytize their respective students. Likewise, Catholic leaders wanted a curriculum that was saturated with their sectarian views, as opposed to the ecclesiastic generalities in the “Protestant” schools. While it may have been a reasonable expectation among Catholics based on the context in which common schools emerged, Protestant reformers recognized the potential political and constitutional fallout this could have, and they responded by deleting classroom materials offensive to Catholics. In the aftermath, Protestants realized that it was best (at least in theory) to reduce the religious content in the common school curriculum. Unhappy with the results, however, Catholic leaders created their own private parochial schools, which were to develop extensively in the decades to come. Thomas Nast portrayed this conflict in this Harpers Weekly cartoon. Titled Sectarian Bitterness, the (racist) cartoon depicts the common school funds being distributed to multiple religious sects and children of those sects embroiled in conflict. Common schooling, on the other hand, where diverse children learn under the same roof is depicted in the top frame as a unifying expectation of common schooling, representing of course, one of Horace Mann’s goals. While Protestants opposed distributing the common school fund to all religious sects, they eventually tried to accommodate Catholics. “To exclude them” from this common endeavor, according to McClellan, “was not simply to aggravate sectarian hostilities but also to alienate the working class and immigrants.” Were this to occur, it would “weaken the school’s power to serve as a cohesive force in…society and to increase the prospect that the children of the ‘dangerous classes’ would grow up undisciplined, illiterate, and a threat to the stability of society” (1999, 35).

The (A)typical South

Southern states on the other hand, including Jefferson’s Virginia, resisted common or public schools until after the Civil War. “All effort to go beyond a patchwork quilt of public, quasi-public, religious, and pauper schools on the elementary and secondary levels failed until Reconstruction,” according to Cremin, “and even then the venture was viewed by many as a Yankee imposition” (1980, 149). As shown in the next module, common schooling was resisted throughout the South as planters had no interest in disturbing the status quo by educating poor whites or slaves. The cultural milieu driven by the aristocracy in the South continued to view education as a private family responsibility and class privilege. In fact, many southern states prohibited educating slaves and passed state statutes that attached criminal penalties for doing so.

Excerpt from a 1740 South Carolina Act:

Whereas, the having slaves taught to write, or suffering them to be employed in writing, may be attended with great inconveniences; Be it enacted, that all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave or slaves to be taught to write, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe, in any manner of writing whatsoever, hereafter taught to write, every such person or persons shall, for every such offense, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money.

Portrait of Slaves Dancing to Music

Slave life on the Plantation. Author unknown.

Excerpt from Virginia Revised Code of 1819:

That all meetings or assemblages of slaves, or free negroes or mulattoes mixing and associating with such slaves at any meeting-house or houses, &c., in the night; or at any SCHOOL OR SCHOOLS for teaching them READING OR WRITING, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY; and any justice of a county, &c., wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c., may issue his warrant, directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c., may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes.

Slaves have often been depicted in American history textbooks as passive toward their owners. This is a misrepresentation of history. In other words, as explained by the Public Broadcasting Service’s Slavery and the Making of America,

African Americans did not remain silent during the years of slavery. They did not relinquish their identities as unique individuals or as Africans. And they did not give up their hopes for freedom. Rather, they spoke their minds, passions, and emotions through songs, stories, and the written word. In music and dance, they expressed their personal creativity and their cultural heritage. By creating baskets, jewelry, pots, and quilts, black men and women brought beauty and hope into a world that oppressed and enslaved them.

African Americans also escaped, committed espionage on plantations, negotiated statuses, and occasionally educated themselves behind closed doors. For slaves, education and knowledge represented freedom and power, and once they were emancipated, they continued their relentless quest for learning by constructing their own schools throughout the South with what little resources most of them had. Unlike many free whites, African Americans placed an exceptional value on literacy due to generations of bondage. However, while slavery continued throughout the South, segregation continued to prevail in the North. One of the first challenges to segregation occurred in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sarah Roberts v. City of Boston

While slavery was abolished in in Massachusetts in 1783, segregation based on race continued in the state including in Boston schools. Benjamin Roberts attempted to enroll his five-year-old daughter, Sarah, in a segregated white school in her neighborhood. Sarah was refused admission due to her race. In fact, Sarah attempted to enroll in a few other schools closer to her home, but she was denied admission to them for the same reason. Mr. Roberts filed a lawsuit in 1849 claiming that because his daughter had to travel much farther to attend a segregated and substandard black school Sarah was psychologically damaged. The state courts ruled in favor of the defendant, the City of Boston, in 1850 because state law permitted segregated schooling. Charles Sumner, who was considered one of Congress’s “Radical Republicans” at the end of the Civil War, and Robert Morris, one of the first African American attorneys in the country, represented Sarah in Court. This case would be cited in Plessy v. Ferguson 46 years later and in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Similar to Brown, many African Americans were critical of the Roberts case because they questioned the kind of education their children would receive in white schools.

The Development of Normal Schools

Soon after Horace Mann plunged into the common school reform movement, the arguments that supported the feminization of the profession also created a new question. How would female teachers be educated? The answer for Mann was to create teacher training institutions originally referred to as normal schools. A French institution dating back to the sixteenth century, école normale was the term used to identify a model or ideal teaching institute. Once adopted in the United States, the institution was simply called a normal school. The first normal school in America was established in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1839 (now Framingham State University). They were primarily used to train primary school teachers as middle and high schools had not yet developed. The curriculum included academic subjects, classroom management and school governance, and the practice of teaching. Normal schools served as another centralized feature of the common school systems emerging at the time. Teacher credentialing began and was regulated by state governments. Moreover, this contributed to the professionalization of teaching and normal schools eventually became colleges or schools of education. Many normal schools eventually became full-fledged liberal arts and research institutes.

Catherine Beecher was the first well-known teachers of the time and one of the normal schools’ first teachers. Because the teaching profession was being feminized, administrators and policymakers viewed this as an opportunity, not only to fill the vacuum left by men exiting the profession, but because women were typically paid much less. This fact increased the number of teachers who could be hired in order to educate the growing ranks of students as common schools spread westward. Furthermore, once the profession was feminized, teaching became perceived as a missionary calling rather than an academic pursuit. While women were touted by male policymakers as being better nurturers and more suited to inculcating morality and correct behavior in children, framing the discourse of teaching around a calling helped rationalize lower pay for women and fewer advancement possibilities.

Higher Education in the Colonies and Antebellum America

Higher education was a different story. Colleges throughout the eastern seaboard states and former colonies served as symbols of elite education. These institutions developed throughout the North, Mid-Atlantic, and southern states, often subsidized by state legislatures.

The 25 Oldest Colleges in the U.S.

College  Founders and Year Established 
New College (Harvard University) Massachusetts Colonial Legislature (Puritan or Congregational), 1636
College of William & Mary King William III and Queen Mary II (Church of England), 1693
King William’s School (St. John’s College) Maryland Colony, Church of England, 1696
Collegiate School (Yale University) Puritan or Congregational, 1701
Kent County Free School (Washington College) Non-Sectarian, Maryland, 1723
College of Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania) Benjamin Franklin, 1740
Bethlehem Female Seminary (Moravian College) Moravian Church in Pennsylvania, 1742
Free School (University of Delaware) Francis Alison, Non-Sectarian, 1743
College of New Jersey (Princeton) New Light Presbyterians, 1746
Augusta Academy (Washington & Lee College) Presbyterian, 1749
King’s College (Columbia University) Church of England, 1754
College of Rhode Island (Brown University) Baptist Church, 1764
Queen’s College (Rutgers University) Dutch Reformed Church, 1766
Dartmouth College Eleazar Wheelock (Puritan or Congregational), 1769
College of Charleston Church of England, 1770
Little Girls’ School (Salem College) Moravian Church, 1772
Dickinson College Presbyterian, 1773
Hampden-Sydney College Presbyterian, 1775
Transylvania Seminary (Transylvania University) Virginia Assembly, 1780
Washington & Jefferson College Princeton Graduates (clergy), 1781
Georgia College (University of Georgia) Georgia General Assembly, 1785
Pittsburg Academy (University of Pittsburg) Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Non-Sectarian,1787
Franklin & Marshall College Ministers in Pennsylvania, 1787
Georgetown College (Georgetown University) Jesuits, 1789
University of North Carolina North Carolina General Assembly, 1789

In fact, during the early- to mid-nineteenth century, religious sects competed to establish colleges in multiple states in hopes of garnering more adherents to their respective sects. Many state institutions that exist today were originally established as private religious institutions. For example, Indiana University was initially founded by Presbyterians in 1820 as a seminary, and the institution did not become a college until 1828. Ten years later, the term college was replaced with university. Baptists, Catholics, Quakers, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians were among the groups responsible for this competition. In addition to this competition, the conflict between public and private authority over higher education emerged early in the nineteenth century.

Dartmouth College v. Woodward

Dartmouth College was established in New Hampshire by the British Crown in 1769 when the latter granted a charter approving a number of trustees to manage the private institution. The charter survived the Revolution and in 1816, the state of New Hampshire attempted to modify the terms of the charter granting the state the power to appoint its trustees. The state of New Hampshire argued that since Dartmouth was an educational institution it was a quasi-public institution subject to state control. The old trustees filed suit, naming the recently stated-appointed Secretary of the new Trustees, William Woodward, as the plaintiff. In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that New Hampshire violated Article 1, section 10 of the U.S. Constitution (contract clause), which declares that “No state shall…pass any…Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…” Dartmouth College remained a private institution.

Relevant Court Cases

Dartmouth College v. Woodward
Contracts related to public and private control of colleges

Sarah Roberts v. City of Boston



Case information courtesy of LexisNexis Academia, and Oyez.org

Questions to Consider

  • Why did Horace Mann advocate for common schooling during the early- to mid-nineteenth century? What motivated him to devote so much time and so many resources to this movement?
  • Why were many more affluent members of society opposed to common schooling? How did Mann respond to their concerns?
  • Why were some working-class parents opposed to common schooling? How did Mann respond to their concerns?
  • What were the advantages and disadvantages of the Whig and Democratic proposals for common schooling?
  • Does contemporary public schooling –organization, curriculum, expectations, and governance –resemble schooling during the mid-nineteenth century? Explain.
  • Can you think of examples or ideas of how common schooling during the mid-nineteenth century could have been improved?
  • What are your thoughts on the conflict between Protestants and Catholics over common school funds?
  • Are there advantages or disadvantages in separating religion from public schooling? Explain.
  • How does American pluralism and group diversity inform your answers to questions related to the separation of church and state?
  • In England, private religious schools have received public funds for decades. Would this work well in the United States? Explain.
  • Despite the growth in public schools throughout northern and Midwestern states during this time period, the South continued to resist the development of common school systems. Explain why was this the case?


Cremin, Lawrence A. (1980). American Education: The National Experience, 1783-1876. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Dotts, Brian W. (2012). ). ‘Making Rome Appear More Roman’: Common Schooling and the Whig Response to Jacksonianism. Journal of Philosophy & History of Education 62(1), 207-226.

Dubin, Michael J. (2002). United States Presidential Elections, 1788-1860. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

Foner, Eric. (2012). Give Me Liberty! An American History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Howe, Daniel Walker. (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford University Press.

McClellan, Edward B. (1999). Moral Education in America: Schools and the Shaping of Character from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Teachers College Press.

Urban, Wayne J. and Wagoner, Jennings L, Jr. (2009). American Education: A History. Fourth Edition. New York, NY: Routledge.


If students are required to read the article cited at the beginning of this module about the Roberts v. City of Boston case, have them reenact the trial. They can use the reading as a starting point and then they can conduct additional research to prepare their presentations. In subsequent modules, students will be able to make connections with Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education.

Prior to feminization, teaching was dominated by males, referred to as masters. Unlike the women who replaced them, they tended to be better educated and they were most often trained with a classical curriculum. Divide students into groups and have them consider what public education would look like today had men continued to dominate the profession. This exercise should help students better understand gender inequality by making historical and contemporary connections.

Herbert Aptheker’s 1943 book, American Negro Slave Revolts, argued that the brutality of slavery provoked more than 200 rebellions and conspiracies in British North America and the United States. The book is well researched and may be used itself or it can be used by students to locate primary and other secondary sources to complete this assignment. Have students research a particular rebellion or conspiracy and report their results to the class.

Have students give inferences as to why literacy was so important among slaves when the research expands on the issue. Also have students report on the reactions taken by slave owners, state legislatures, courts, or other institutional bodies once a rebellion or conspiracy was quelled.

Marie Jenkins Schwarts’s 2009 book, Born in Bondage, is a telling book about slaves and their children growing up on southern plantations. Have students research slave life on the plantation and in a presentation describe the ways in which slaves and slave children learned to negotiate their status, rewards, punishments, relationships with owners and their families, as well as their own families.

Entertain a class discussion about slavery as an institution. Include discussions about how the U.S. Constitution, elections, schooling, politics, segregation, violence, and state and local laws contributed to institutionalizing slavery. Building this foundation will help students understand how the effects of institutionalized slavery continued to reverberate in multiple ways throughout the South and the United States long after emancipation. Special focus can be placed on schooling.

After reading about the Dartmouth College v. Woodward case, have students discuss the public-private relationship of state universities today. In other words, many state (public) institutions now receive a majority (if not most) of their funding from private sources as public funds have been slashed by state legislatures. Ask students if these institutions should still be referred to as public. How do they see the privatization of higher education effecting learning and research and the future of higher education? Ask them to think of examples of privatization that they have experienced. Have them reflect on the Dartmouth case and explore potential issues related to changes in higher education today.

External Readings & Resources

Kaestle, Carl F. (1983). The Ideology of Antebellum Common-School Reform. In Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860. New York, NY: Hill and Wang.

The Boston Schoolmasters’ Controversy. Chapter 10 In.

The Common School, 1770-1890

The first in a four-part disc series produced by Stone Lantern Films for PBS, this film provides a nice brief overview of colonial education and a bit more detail on the educational ideas of the American Founders. The second half of this film reviews the nineteenth century common school crusade, led by Horace Mann, and the battle over public school funds between Protestants and Catholics in New York City. The lack of and illegal aspects of education for slaves is covered, and the expansion of common schooling westward is also briefly covered. Length: 1 hour.

Supplemental Materials

Carl F. Kaestle. (2008). “Victory of the Common School Movement: A turning point in American educational history” in Historians on America (22-29). (U.S. Department of State)

Mary Swift Lamson. Ed. (1903). Records of the first class of the first state normal school in America: established at Lexington, Massachusetts, 1839. Boston, MA.

Michael Sturges. Catherine Beecher, Champion of Women’s Education. (Connecticut History.org).

Only a Teacher (Public Broadcasting System).

School: The Story of American Public Education (Teaching History.org).

Graham Warder. Horace Mann and the Creation of the Common School (The Social Welfare History Project).

Barbara Winslow. Education Reform in Antebellum America. (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History).

Baines, Lawrence and Foster, Hal. (2006). A School for the Common Good. Educational Horizons, Summer, 221-228.

Bender, Thomas. (1982). Toward an Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Boylan, Anne M. (1990). Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790-1880. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Cremin, Lawrence A. (1980). American Education: The National Experience, 1783-1876. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Dotts, Brian W. (2012). ). ‘Making Rome Appear More Roman’: Common Schooling and the Whig Response to Jacksonianism. Journal of Philosophy & History of Education 62(1), 207-226.

Fraser, James W. (2014). The School in the United States: A Documentary History. Third Edition. New York: Routledge.

Kaestle, Carl F. (1983). Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860. New York: Hill and Wang.

Katz, Michael B. (2001). The Irony of Early School Reform: Educational Innovation in Mid-Nineteenth Century Massachusetts. New York: Teachers College Press.

Katz, Michael B. (1987). Reconstructing American Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Labaree, David. (2011). Consuming the Public School. Educational Theory, 61(4), 381-394.

McClellan, B. Edward. (1999). Moral Education in America: Schools and the Shaping of Character from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Teachers College Press.

Mintz, Steven. (2006). Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Osgood, Robert L. (1997). Undermining the Common School Ideal: Intermediate Schools and Ungraded Classes in Boston, 1838-1900. History of Education Quarterly, 37(4), 375-398.

Reese, William J. (2005). America’s Public Schools: From the Common School to “No Child Left Behind”. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rury, John L. (2012). Education and Social Change: Contours in the History of American Schooling. Fourth Edition. New York: Routledge.

Schwarts, Marie Jenkins. (2009). Born into Bondage: Growing Up Enslaved in the Antebellum South. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tocqueville, Alexis de. (2003). Democracy in America. New York: Penguin Books.

Urban, Wayne J. and Wagoner, Jennings L, Jr. (2009). American Education: A History. Fourth Edition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Vinovskis, Maris A. (1992). Schooling and Poor Children in 19th-Century America. American Behavioral Scientist, 35(3), 313-331.


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