The present volume, in reviewing the history of successive presidential policies toward education, demonstrates how this field attained its contemporary position as an essential commitment of the government and people of the United States. From earliest colonial times, the people of English America valued education as an important factor contributing to the success of their pioneering communities. With the triumph of the Revolution, the American states continued to place considerable emphasis on education as an important governmental institution helping to ensure the success of their experiment in nationhood. As the nation grew, many states expanded their systems of formal schooling from the elementary grades to college. Even as states stressed the importance of local autonomy, the central government found itself obliged to provide more and more aid, which, during the Civil War and thereafter, was provided by acts of Congress. In the latter half of the 20th century, the contribution of all three branches of the federal government became, as the 2st century dawned, one of the most significant domestic questions confronting the government; impressive appropriations were made, and education was given a separate federal Department with a seat in the President's cabinet.