Horace Mann has been credited by educational historians as the "Father of the Common School Movement". Most states adopted one version or another of the system he established in Massachusetts, especially the program for "normal schools" to train professional teachers.
Mann served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate before his appointment as the Massachusetts secretary of education. He worked with a remarkable intensity, holding teachers' conventions, delivering numerous lectures and addresses, carrying on an extensive correspondence, and introducing numerous reforms.
Mann's six main educational principles were: (1) the public should no longer remain ignorant; (2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public; (3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds; (4) that this education must be non-sectarian; (5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society; and (6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.
In September 1852, he was nominated for governor of Massachusetts by the Free Soil Party, and the same day was chosen president of the newly established Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio. Failing in the election for governor, he accepted the presidency of the college, in which he continued until his death. There he taught economics, philosophy, and theology.