"NO ONE PRETENDS THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN ANY OPPOSITION TO MISS CRANDALL'S SCHOOL, IF HER PUPILS WERE TO BE WHITE": FIRST EDITION OF SAMUEL J. MAY'S THE RIGHT OF COLORED PEOPLE TO EDUCATION, VINDICATED, 1833
MAY, Samuel J. The Right of Colored People to Education, Vindicated. Letters to Andrew T. Judson, Esq. and Others in Canterbury, Remonstrating With Them on Their Unjust and Unjustifiable Procedure Relative to Miss Crandall and Her School for Colored Females. Brooklyn: Advertiser Press, 1833. Small, slim octavo, stitched as issued, modern blue paper spine; pp. 24.
First edition of this pamphlet comprising two letters by abolitionist Samuel J. May in support of a young teacher who attempted to open a school for African-American girls in Connecticut.
In 1831, at just 28 years old, New England native Prudence Crandall decided to open a boarding school in Canterbury, Connecticut. Working together with her sister and a maid, Crandall initially began by teaching 40 upper-class young ladies, all white. Crandall and her school were welcomed into the community. However, the next year, Crandall welcomed a 20-year-old Black women to her school, thereby creating one of America's first integrated classrooms. (Some scholarly sources refer to it at the first, but this is impossible to verify given the lack of formal supervision over education during the period.) Though raised as an abolitionist Quaker, Crandall knew few Black people. Nevertheless, she felt that the Bible commanded her to help the oppressed. The parents of the white students promptly began removing them from the school. Refusing to be frustrated in her purpose, Crandall—relying on the advice of abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and the author, Samuel May—decided that she would teach young Black women instead. Crandall was subsequently arrested and thrown in jail overnight. Her neighbors began to take vigilante actions, including filling her well with garbage, refusing to allow her church, attempting to burn down her house, and threatening her with violence. At the same time, the town used all available legal and administrative remedies to try to prevent Crandall from continuing with the school. At a town meeting, Crandall was even forbidden from speaking in her own defense. Eventually, the legislature passed an act making it illegal to set up a school for Black people in Connecticut without the permission of selectmen. By then, the Rev. Samuel May had stepped in as Crandall's champion. A longtime friend of William Lloyd Garrison, he was a fervent abolitionist and acted as general agent and secretary of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society as well as assisting the Underground Railroad. Unsurprisingly, he viewed Crandall's fight as an essential step in Black liberation. If Crandall was to present the test case on integration in education, then May was determined to make her efforts worthwhile. May retained experienced counsel on Crandall's behalf and founded a newspaper, The Unionist, to offer her backing in the press. Crandall lost in the courts, but the unfavorable verdict was ultimately reversed by the Supreme Court of Connecticut. Unfortunately, the court cited insufficient evidence rather than dealing with the discrimination angle. The issue of integration in education was not conclusively laid to rest for over a century, until Brown v. Board. While the violence against and ostracization of Crandall led her to flee Connecticut, abandoning her school, she retained a strong activist streak, committing herself to both abolition and women's suffrage. In later years, Crandall associated with many members of the abolition movement and counted Mark Twain as one of her greatest benefactors. Work, 417.
Mild embrowning, pamphlet trimmed roughly just touching a couple of words. Extremely good condition.