April 23rd: The First Public School in The United States, Boston Latin School, Is Founded in Boston

April 21, 2023

The Boston Latin School, founded on April 23, 1635, holds the prestigious title of being the first public school in the United States. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the school was established by the town’s leaders, led by Reverend John Cotton. The founders aimed to provide a free education to the young boys of the growing colony, emphasizing classical studies and preparing them for higher education and leadership.

Initially, the school’s curriculum focused on Latin and Greek languages, rhetoric, logic, and theology, which were considered essential for the development of well-rounded individuals. Philemon Pormort, a graduate of Cambridge University, was appointed as the first headmaster. The school’s motto, “Sumus Primi,” which translates to “We are the first,” is a testament to its status as the first public school in America.

Notable early alumni of Boston Latin School include five signatories of the Declaration of Independence – Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Samuel Adams, and William Hooper. The school has continued its tradition of excellence, with numerous alumni achieving success in various fields, including politics, academia, and the arts.

Throughout its nearly 400-year history, the Boston Latin School has remained committed to providing a rigorous, classical education to a diverse student body. As the first public school in the United States, it has played a significant role in shaping American education and serves as a reminder of the importance of equal access to quality education for all.




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