"If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relationship between them may be called: the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former."
"But, if education be equally diffused, it will draw property after it by the strongest of all attractions; for such a thing never did happen, as that an intelligent and practical body of men should be permanently poor."
He truly believed no child should be left behind. Education should be provided equally for all. He championed and campaigned for it. He established teacher training schools and district libraries. He won financial backing for public education. His influence extended way beyond Massachusetts.
He called free public education a morally mandated right. He said America "owes a vast economical debt to (ordinary people) whose labor (have) been mainly instrumental in rearing the great material structures of which we so often boast."
He argued that "every wise, humane measure adopted for their welfare, directly promotes our own security. For (their children) will soon possess the rights of men, whether they possess the characters of men or not."
In 1848, he resigned his post to serve in Congress. He replaced John Quincy Adams who died in office. Besides his passion for universal public education, he became an important anti-slavery spokesman.
In 1853, he became Antioch College president three years after its founding. In that capacity, he implemented his educational ideas in higher education.
Two months before his August 1859 death, he said: