Whig politician who was an ardent opponent of slavery in the US Congress from 1848 to 1853. He is known as the Father of the Common School Movement, due to his advocacy of education and public schools.
At age 20 he enrolled at Brown University, and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1819.
He also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833, and the Massachusetts Senate from 1834 to 1847.
He married Charlotte Messer in 1830 but she died shortly after.
His brother-in-law was The Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne.