Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1811, Henry Barnard was educated at Yale University. Barnard supported legislation to provide for better schools in Connecticut and, in doing so, he followed the reforms initiated in Massachusetts by Horace Mann. Barnard later instituted educational reforms in Rhode Island where he started several school libraries. After various academic appointments, including one as president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, Barnard became the first U.S. commissioner of education (1867-70). In this position, he was influential in shaping the future direction of the U.S. Office of Education. He initiated numerous reforms and promoted the importance of education in general through federally sponsored experimentation, research, and scholarship and the collection and dissemination of educational statistics and information. Barnard's emphasis on a need to create common school districts throughout the United States was based on his strong belief in public education and the notion that schools should foster moral education and temper social unrest. In addition to his books, which cover a wide range of educational issues and concerns, Barnard was the founder and editor of a widely read journal, The American Journal of Education (1855-82).