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  • Although slaves were barred from any sort of education, the education of free Americans received support from political, religious, and economic interests from the earliest times of U.S. history. Many founding fathers of the United States of America, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, believed that democracy would survive only if the country was equipped with an educated citizenry capable of making informed political decisions. Other Americans advocated education for religious reasons. Protestants, for example, believed that every believer should be capable of reading the Bible. In general, business leaders also supported education, because literacy facilitated commerce. Consequently, when Americans began to expand westward, they took their educational ideas with them. Though educational reform was focused on the East, those ideas came with the settlers ...

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