Johann Bernhard Basedow, a German reformer of education, born in Hamburg in September, 1723, died in Magdeburg, July 25, 1790. He was the son of a wig maker, and a pupil in the Hamburg gymnasium, where he was encouraged in his studies by Reimarus. Subsequently he spent several years at the university of Leipsic and became a professor. Rousseau's flniilc having produced a strong impression upon his mind, he came forward in 1768 in favor of a thorough reform in education, and received assistance for the publication of his Elementarwerk (3 vols., 1774; translated into French and Latin), with 100 of Chodo-wiecki's plates, illustrating natural sciences and industry. This became the model of many school books of the kind, imparting varied information in a cosmopolitan and liberal spirit. Under the auspices of Prince Francis Frederick of Anhalt-Dessau, he opened at Dessau in 1774 the Philanthropin, a school free from sectarian bias and from corporal punishment, and designed to deliver public instruction from mediteval bonds, to prepare pupils for higher academical studies without pedantry or bigotry, to introduce gymnastic exercises, and to impart a knowledge of modern as well as of ancient languages.
This school led to the establishment of many similar ones, though Basedow himself withdrew from it in 1778. He was charged with not duly appreciating the advantages of a thorough classical and of an orthodox religious training; but he was nevertheless regarded as a most effective and philanthropic reformer.