Classical political economy in Great Britain was broadly supportive of education, but limited government’s role to modest assistance for charitable schools. The early classical economists in the United States, men like Thomas Cooper and Francis Wayland, in addition to supporting free trade, took this classical position with respect to education. But a more aggressive democratic claim was being advanced by the American common school movement and its supporters among Whig protectionists. The early economic tracts of William Jennison, Willard Phillips, Calvin Colton, and Henry Carey envisioned a larger role for government and advocated support for publicly financed common schools. Most notably, the leader of the common school movement, Horace Mann, built a defense for public financing based on a radical theory of property, derived from distinctly Puritan economic doctrine. If his radical positions received little support from post-Civil War mainstream economists, Mann’s practical advocacy of public taxation for public schools very much carried the day.