Horace Mann dedication remarks

IT IS A TREMENDOUS HONOR TO BE WITH YOU ALL HERE TODAY TO COMMEMORATE AND MEMORIALIZE HORACE MANN IN THE PLACE WHERE HE WAS BORN AND SPENT NEARLY ONE THIRD OF HIS LIFE.

MANN WAS BORN DURING THE FOUNDING OF AMERICA, LESS THAN 20 YEARS AFTER THE DRAFTING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND WHILE GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS STILL PRESIDENT.

DURING THOSE EARLY YEARS, AMERICANS ECHOED GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THOMAS JEFFERSON ON THE DUTY OF THE STATE TO SUPPLY EDUCATION TO ALL CHILDREN. BUT IT WAS HORACE MANN WHO MOVED THE IDEA FROM CONVERSATION AND PUT IT INTO ACTUAL PRACTICE.

MANN HAD THE VISION, COURAGE, AND PRACTICAL LEGISLATIVE EXPERIENCE TO TRANSLATE THESE PRINCIPLES INTO ACTUAL SCHOOLROOMS AND FUNCTIONING PROGRAMS.

MANN KNEW THAT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT OBJECTS OF GOVERNMENT IS “TO GIVE TO EVERY CHILD IN THE COMMONWEALTH A FREE, STRAIGHT, SOLID PATHWAY, BY WHICH HE COULD WALK DIRECTLY UP FROM THE IGNORANCE OF AN INFANT TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRIMARY DUTIES OF A MAN.”

BELIEVING THAT DEMOCRATIC FREEDOM COULD BE ENJOYED ONLY BY AN EDUCATED CITIZENRY, MANN SET ABOUT TO CHANGE THE ATTITUDE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TOWARD THE COMMON SCHOOLS FROM APATHY AND INDIFFERENCE TO ACTIVE ENTHUSIASM AND SUPPORT.

I THINK HE WOULD BE PROUD TO SEE THAT TODAY, MASSACHUSETTS IN NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION AND TOPS IN THE WORLD FOR EDUCATION, ALL BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION HE ESTABLISHED.

HORACE MANN WAS BORN IN A FARM HOUSE ABOUT A MILE SOUTH OF HERE, AND HE WAS CHEIFLY SELF-TAUGHT. UP TO THE AGE OF 15, HIS ONLY FORMAL EDUCATION WAS DURING THE THREE MONTHS THAT SCHOOL WAS OPEN, ALLOWING NO MORE THAN EIGHT OR TEN WEEKS FOR SCHOOLING IN ANY GIVEN YEAR. TO MAKE UP FOR THAT, HORACE, WITH A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE, USED EVERY SPARE HOUR FOR STUDY BY MAKING USE OF THE BOOKS MADE AVAILABLE TO THE TOWN BY BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

A 116-VOLUME COLLECTION WAS DONATED AS A GIFT TO THE TOWN BY THE GREAT STATESMAN FRANKLIN ON THE OCCASION OF THE TOWN BEING NAMED IN HIS HONOR. FRANKLIN WAS ORIGINALLY ASKED TO DONATE A BELL FOR THE TOWN’S CHURCH STEEPLE, BUT NOTING THAT SENSE WAS PREFERABLE TO SOUND, HE RESPONDED WITH AN OFFER OF BOOKS, NOW FAMOUS AS THE COLLECTION THAT FORMED THE FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY IN AMERICA.

THE INTERSECTION OF THAT LIBRARY AND MANN’S LIFE CANNOT BE UNDERSTATED. AND THE STORY OF THE CHANGES TO EDUCATION THAT OCCURRED IN THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED IS QUINTESSENTIAL TO THE STORY OF AMERICA.

MANN STAYED IN FRANKLIN UNTIL HE LEFT FOR BROWN UNIVERSITY AT AGE 20. WE CELEBRATE THOSE FORMATIVE YEARS AND YOUTHFUL EXHUBERANCE WITH THIS STATUE OF A YOUNG HORACE MANN.

THERE ARE MANY TRIBUTES TO HORACE MANN THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING THREE AT THE STATE HOUSE IN BOSTON. INDEED, HIS IS ONE OF TWO STATUES ON THE FRONT LAWN AT THE STATE HOUSE. HIS IMAGE MEETS THE EYE OF EVERY LEGISLATOR AS HE ENTERS OUR HALLS OF COUNCIL.

HIS NAME ALSO APPEARS ON THE FRIEZE AROUND THE CEILING IN THE HOUSE CHAMBER AS ONE OF 53 GREAT CONTRUBUTERS TO MASSACHUSETTS. AND HIS PORTRAIT HANGS IN THE SENATE READING ROOM, COMMEMORATING HIS YEARS AS SENATE PRESIDENT.

IT IS FITTING THAT HE RECEIVES THIS SIGNIFICANT HONOR TODAY IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS COMMUNITY AND DESCENDENTS.

THIS STATUE STANDS AS A MONUMENT TO A FIGHT THAT HAS BEEN HANDED DOWN TO US— THAT WE MUST STRIVE UNCEASINGLY FOR BETTER SCHOOLS. WE CARRY ON WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT WELL-EDUCATED, CLEAR-THINKING, CREATIVE CITIZENS ARE ESSENTIAL TO DEMOCRACY AND OUR DEMOCRATIC WAY OF LIFE.

AND I URGE YOU TO READ MORE ABOUT MANN, HIS HISTORY AND THE MEMORIALS TO HIM AROUND THE COUNTRY. WE GATHERED MUCH FOR YOUR ABSORBTION IN THE BOOKS HANDED OUT TODAY.

FINALLY, I WANT TO THANK THE MEMBERS OF THE STATUE COMMITTEE FOR THE GREAT WORK AND PARTNERSHIP. I WAS HONORED TO BE A PART OF THE TEAM.
AND THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT TO BE A PART OF THIS SPECIAL DAY FOR HORACE MANN, OUR COMMUNITY, AND THE CAUSE OF EDUCATION FOR ALL.

THANK YOU AND PLEASE ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR DAY.

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