Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Prudence Crandall

Crandall, Prudence (1803-90), American teacher and reformer, born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, of Quaker parentage. In 1831 she established a private school for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut. She admitted a black girl into the school, thus arousing the violent opposition of her neighbors. She lost her white patrons, and in 1833 she decided to open a school exclusively for "young ladies and little misses of color." She received 15 or 20 black pupils. Her neighbors, by boycott, insult, abuse, and enforcement of an obsolete vagrancy law, tried to close the school. Public meetings were called, petitions were circulated, and a few months later the "Black Law" of Connecticut was passed, forbidding anyone to set up or establish any school for education of nonresident blacks or to instruct or teach in any such school without the consent of local authorities. For resisting this law she was arrested, imprisoned, and, in October 1833, convicted; in July 1834 the court of errors reversed the decision on a technicality. Soon afterward her house was attacked and partially destroyed, and she abandoned her project. The affair intensified the conflict between the abolitionist and antiabolitionist elements. After marrying, Crandall spent the remainder of her life in Illinois and Kansas.

"Crandall, Prudence"Microsoft(R) Encarta.
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