Prior to Michigan's statehood and as early as 1816, private schools—church-operated or otherwise—existed in Detroit and were developed along similar lines as those in New England. However, when Michigan entered the union in 1835, it immediately created a system of state-controlled schools. One of the men primarily responsible for this establishment was former Connecticut lawyer Isaac E. Crary of Marshall, Michigan, who was appointed head of the committee to prepare the first state constitution's article on education.

Isaac Crary's philosophical approach to education was similar to Horace Mann's approach. Like Mann, Crary believed that the centralized and state-controlled Prussian school system described by Victor Cousin was a desirable and efficient model, and he set about bringing this model to Michigan. Crary submitted to the constitutional convention his committee's draft education provision on June 2, 1835, and with minimal modifications, the convention adopted what would become Article X of the first state constitution. As a result, Michigan "became the first state in the Union to accept the principle of state control over educational affairs."35

Section 1 of Article X of the new state's constitution granted power to the governor to appoint a superintendent of public instruction for two years with the advice and consent of the legislature. Section 2 established provisions for the funding of state schools through the sale of land granted by the federal government. Section 3 mandated the operation of schools for at least three months out of the year, while Section 4 provided for the establishment of public libraries by townships as soon as circumstances permitted. The final section, Section 5, laid the groundwork for a publicly financed state university.

Hence, under the guidance of Isaac Crary, Article X of Michigan's constitution established the framework of a centralized, government-controlled system of education in 1835. Crary's success as a convention delegate propelled him into Michigan's first and lone seat in the U. S. House of Representatives.36