Horace Mann (May 4, 1796-August 2, 1859), was an educator and a statesman who greatly advanced the cause of universal, free, non-sectarian public schools. Mann also advocated temperance, abolition, hospitals for the mentally ill, and women's rights. His preferred cause was education, about which he remarked that while "other reforms are remedial; education is preventative."
Mann was raised in the congregational church in Franklin, Massachusetts under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Emmons, a well known exponent of the "New Light" Calvinism. In Mann's own words, Emmons "expounded all the doctrines of total depravity, election, and reprobation, and not only the eternity but the extremity of hell torments, unflinchingly and in their most terrible significance, while he rarely if ever descanted on the joys of heaven, and never, in my recollection upon the essential and necessary happiness of a virtuous life." Mann was by his own account a gullible student of such teachings until the age of fourteen, when his older brother by four years, Stephen, drowned. Emmons used the occasion of Stephen's funeral to preach of the hell that awaited those dying in an unconverted state. Hearing his mother's groan of pain at this pronouncement, Mann suspended his Calvinist beliefs in a Creator who could be so cruel, and commenced his life-long belief in the kindness and ethical integrity of God.