Thursday, May 4, 2017

Horace Mann: birthday, May 4; statue unveiling celebration May 7, 2017

On Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 11 AM, Franklin will be honoring Horace Mann, the father of public education in America, with the unveiling of a statue bearing his likeness at Horace Mann Square. Mann was born in Franklin on May 4, 1796 and was self-educated in the town using books supplied by Benjamin Franklin which formed the nucleus of the nation’s first public library.

Horace Mann birthplace monument in Franklin
Horace Mann birthplace monument in Franklin 
“The unveiling of the statue in his birthplace is a tribute to his work and to those whose great efforts mark the progress of education in the United States and the advancement of Mann’s ideals,” noted Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), a member of the statue committee. 

 “Horace Mann’s contributions to public education are quintessential to the American story, providing opportunities for advancement and the achievement of the American Dream. Sunday’s ceremony will honor these contributions and highlight the intersection of our library and Mann’s own education.”

Tom Mercer, Town Councilor and Statue Committee member offered this quote from Horace Mann which to him highlighted the significance of Sunday’s event: "If ever there was a cause, if ever there can be a cause, worthy to be upheld by all of toil to sacrifice that the human heart can endure, it is the cause of Education."
Horace Mann gravesite, North Burial  Ground in Providence, RI
Horace Mann gravesite, North Burial
Ground in Providence, RI

The memorial was made possible by funding from the Massachusetts General Court and the Austin B. Fletcher Memorial Fund approved by the Town Council of Franklin, Massachusetts. Both bodies unanimously approved the project of honoring the memory of so illustrious a son of Franklin, and took the necessary steps to make it happen. The Square which houses the statue and memorial was generously donated and constructed by Roger Calarese, the developer of Horace Mann.

“The statue also stands as a monument to a fight that has been handed down to us— that we must strive unceasingly for better schools,” said Town Councilor Robert Dellorco, another member of the statue committee. “Well-educated, clear-thinking, creative citizens are essential to democracy and our democratic way of life, and it’s wonderful that we will be celebrating the life of the man that made it possible.”

Lisa Piana, Statue Committee member and Director of the Franklin Downtown Partnership stated: "I could not think of a better location for the Horace Mann statue than the Gateway to downtown Franklin. The Partnership is excited that the community came together to make this happen and we look forward to having a beautiful place to gather and appreciate Franklin's rich history."

Town Councilor and Committee Co-Chair Deb Pellegri noted that she was honored to serve as co-chair with Charlie Oteri and the whole committee. “Having co-chaired the Ben Franklin Statue Committee, I had the pleasure of working with our sculptor, Robert Shure,” she added. “I just knew that the Horace Mann Statue was going to be as fantastic as Ben's statue. The community will be very pleased.”
the new statue is in place and ready to be unveiled on Sunday
the new statue is in place and ready to be unveiled on Sunday

“With knowledge comes power, then there are no limits to what humans can achieve,” said Oteri, Co-Chair of the Committee.

In 1837, Mann left the practice of law and withdrew from the presidency of the Massachusetts State Senate to become the first Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education. He traveled among the people urging them to make their schools better—to improve school buildings, to provide better books and equipment, to enrich the course of study, and above all to provide better teachers. 

Year after year, Horace Mann carried on his mission, and today, his name is held in grateful remembrance everywhere the common school opens doors of opportunity. He declared, “Without undervaluing any other human agency, it may be safely affirmed that the Common School...may become the most effective and benignant of all forces of civilization.”

The Statue Committee members include Pellegri and Charles Oteri as Co-Chairs, along with Roy, Dellorco, Piana, and Mercer. 

A detailed program and history of Horace Mann will be distributed on Sunday (see below for the embedded document). 

Limited edition mugs depicting the statue will be available for sale at the event. 

A Facebook event page with information on Horace Mann and his work is posted at

Here are some links to materials on Mann’s life and legacy:

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