“Religion, morality, and knowledge being essentially necessary to good
government… schools…shall forever be encouraged...”
When Thomas Hagedorn stumbled across those fifteen words in Ohio’s first Constitution, he had no idea that it would lead him on a 20-year quest to answer one simple question:
How could Ohio’s first public schools have promoted morality and religion, when today they are either indifferent or hostile to those values?
After studying hundreds of old letters, diaries, reports, and biographies he discovered that the teaching of religion and morality was commonplace, not only in Ohio’s first government schools, but all across 19th century America. Surprisingly, he found that most historians have ignored the Christian philosophy, motives, and leaders that laid the foundation of that vital institution. For the first time, Founding Zealots tells the entertaining and dramatic story of this five-decade-long struggle, the men who fought it, and the reasons why other historians have instead left us with a very different, much more secular account.
Based upon exhaustive research, Founding Zealots shows that:
• Horace Mann’s role as the founder of our public schools is a myth.
• Evangelicals--many of them devout ministers and missionaries--started the schools primarily to promote Christian evangelism and discipleship.
• Marxist theories underlay several of the accounts of mainstream historians.
Thomas W. Hagedorn has been researching the origins of America’s public schools for twenty years. A member of six professional organizations in history and education, he has presented papers at three academic conferences. He earned a BS (cum laude) and an MBA, both from the University of Cincinnati, and the CPA certificate. While researching air pollution in college he co-authored two articles in scholarly journals. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Mary, and they have two adult daughters, Heather and Allison.