Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Crandall, Prudence

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Appletons' Crandall Prudence signature.jpg

CRANDALL, Prudence, educator, b. in Hopkinton, R. I., 3 Sept., 1803; d. in Elk Falls, Kansas, 27 Jan., 1890. She was educated in Providence, and in 1831, under the patronage of residents of the town, established the Canterbury, Conn., boarding-school. In 1833 her school had become one of the best of its kind in the state. At this time Miss Crandall admitted a young negro girl as a pupil, and thereby incurred the displeasure of nearly all her former patrons, who threatened to withdraw their daughters from her care. Opposition strengthened her decision to educate the oppressed race, and, after consultation with several of the anti-slavery leaders, she issued a circular announcing that on the first Monday of April, 1833, she would open a school “for the reception of young ladies and little misses of color.” “Terms, $25 per quarter, one half paid in advance.” In the list of references are the names of Arthur Tappan, Samuel J. May, William Lloyd Garrison, and Arnold Buffum. The circular was first published in the “Liberator” of 2 March, 1833. In Canterbury there was great indignation, and several public meetings were held. Messrs. May and Buffum appeared on behalf of Miss Crandall, but were denied a hearing on the ground that they were interlopers. The town pledged itself to oppose the school, and a petition was sent to the legislature, praying for an act prohibiting private schools for non-resident colored persons. Such an act was passed in May; but in the mean time, in spite of all opposition, Miss Crandall had opened her school, and began her work with a respectable number of pupils. She was arrested and imprisoned under the new law, and in August and October was twice brought to trial. She was convicted, and the case was then carried up to the supreme court of errors, where judgment was reversed on a technicality in July, 1834. Pending this decision, Miss Crandall was the object of persecutions of the most annoying description. The term “boycott,” not then known, best describes the measures that were taken to compel the suspension of her school. Finally her house was set on fire and the building so damaged by a mob that it was deemed best to abandon the undertaking. Such was the beginning of the higher education for colored people in New England. After the breaking up of her school, she married the Rev. Calvin Philleo, a Baptist clergyman, who died in 1876. They lived at various places in New York and Illinois, and in Elk Falls, Kansas. Miss Crandall's portrait was painted by Francis Alexander in 1838, for the American anti-slavery society, and became the property of Samuel J. May, who gave it to Cornell university, in the library of which it is still preserved. The illustration presented above is from that portrait. Her life has been written by the Rev. John C. Kimball (a pamphlet, printed privately, 1886).