Abolitionists of Noyes Academy
Presenter: Dan Billin
American slavery divided not just the North from the South, but also northerners from each other. In the mid-1830s, the emergence of an aggressive abolitionist movement provoked fierce blowback—including widespread mob violence in the North. Canaan, N.H., became one of many New England flashpoints after abolitionists there opened a school for all students, regardless of race or gender. Young Black men and women flocked to Noyes Academy but were soon driven away by a voter-sanctioned mob that dragged their school building a half-mile down the main street and threatened them with death. Students who passed through that fire—Julia Williams, Henry Highland Garnet and Alexander Crummell—went on to extraordinary careers in the fight against slavery and for Black civil rights. Historian Dan Billin presents an illustrated lecture that plumbs the depths of anti-abolitionist sentiment in antebellum New Hampshire and the courage of Black students who were destined for greatness.
In 1835, abolitionists opened one of the nation's first integrated schools in Canaan, NH, attracting eager African-American students from as far away as Boston, Providence, and New York City. Outraged community leaders responded by raising a mob that dragged the academy building off its foundation and ran the African-American students out of town. New Hampshire's first experiment in educational equality was brief, but it helped launch the public careers of a trio of extraordinary African-American leaders: Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, and Thomas Sipkins Sidney. Dan Billin plumbs the depths of anti-abolitionist sentiment in early nineteenth-century New England, and the courage of three young friends destined for greatness.