Social Reforms, Schools
perfect society, public schools, Southerners, civility, arithmetic
The most pervasive and enduring result of these movements was a system of tax–supported public schools. The great school reformers were Northern Whigs such as Horace Mann of Massachusetts and Calvin Stowe of Ohio (husband of novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe). They proposed public school systems that were centralized at the state level and that made attendance mandatory. These schools were geared to teaching patriotism, manners, and civility, along with reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Among Whig reformers, the goal of public schools was to build character in individual students. Ultimately, reformers wished to make a perfect society by filling it with perfect individuals. Democrats supported the schools, but saw them as a means of providing equal opportunity to all whites. Democrats, and Southerners from both parties, also tended to support local control over schools, to favor shorter school years, and to make efforts to keep taxes low.
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