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Tue, 03.10.1835

Noyes Academy begins classes

Noyes Academy (replica)

*On this date in 1835, we celebrate the Noyes Academy in New Hampshire. In March of that year, twenty-eight Whites and fourteen Blacks commenced classes at newly established Noyes Academy.

The school, which had several abolitionists on its board of trustees, admitted all qualified applicants, regardless of race or color. The new school attracted blacks from other states, including several who later became important leaders including Henry H. Garnet, Thomas S. Sidney, and Alexander Crummell. Many traveled by Jim Crow steamboats and stagecoaches to attend the academy. Thomas Paul, son of a prominent black minister, arrived from Boston and wrote two weeks later that the townsmen of Canaan `will occupy a conspicuous station among those who have been foremost in pleading for the slave.' The New Hampshire village was destined for a far different fame, however.

The mixing of black and white youths set off a series of rumors through the town. Blacks would overrun Canaan; fugitive slaves would line the streets with their huts and burden the town with paupers and vagabonds; the school would become a public nuisance. `Fourteen black boys with books in their hands,' Crummell wrote, `set the entire Granite State crazy!'" Within several months of its founding, opponents of the school started a hysteria involving integrated education and the school was dragged into the swamp by oxen. Eventually the building was set ablaze, permanently destroying the school. Townspeople threatened to fire a cannon at the black students, but a student fired back at the crowd, allowing them enough time to escape.

Over the next 100 years similar arson incidents occurred at black and interracial schools all over rural New England including the Parsonsfield Seminary (Bates College) in Maine in 1854 and Watchman Institute in Rhode Island in the 1920s and 1930s.

Reference:
Leon F. Litwack,
North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. pp. 117-119.

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