In 1837, a remarkable politician, Horace Mann, became Massachusetts’ Secretary of Education. He argued successfully that universal, public, nonsectarian education in culturally diverse common schools was imperative for our new nation. Mann’s idea spread like wildfire. The free common school concept was adopted in every state in the union.
After the Civil War, the free tuition principle was expanded to include higher education. It worked brilliantly for a century for millions of Americans, including me.