On the night of June 9, 1834, a group of prominent men “chiefly engaged in commerce” gathered privately in a Boston drawing room to discuss a scheme of universal schooling. Secretary of this meeting was William Ellery Channing, Horace Mann’s own minister as well as an international figure and the leading Unitarian of his day. The location of the meeting house is not entered in the minutes nor are the names of the assembly’s participants apart from Channing. Even though the literacy rate in Massachusetts was 98 percent, and in neighboring Connecticut, 99.8 percent, the assembled businessmen agreed the present system of schooling allowed too much to depend upon chance. It encouraged more entrepreneurial exuberance than the social system could bear.
~ The minutes of this meeting are Appleton Papers collection, Massachusetts Historical Society
Source: Chapter 9 of The Underground History of American Public Education