Aug. 10, 1835: Destruction of Noyes Academy

Painting of Noyes Academy Removal by Mikel Wells | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Painting by by Mikel Wells.

On August 10, 1835, nearly 500 white men and 100 oxen destroyed the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire, by pulling the schoolhouse off its foundation and dragging it a mile down the road. Noyes Academy was a new integrated school (the second in the country) founded by abolitionists with 28 white and 14 Black students.

The African American students, who came from all over the Northeast, traveled long distances in the face of adversity to get to the school. Students included future leaders of note such as Henry Highland Garnet and Alexander Crummell.

Henry Highland Garnet and Alexander Crummell | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Henry Highland Garnet and Alexander Crummell were two students at Noyes Academy.

After destroying the school, the mob fired cannons into the homes where the African American students were boarding and threatened the students. Shots were exchanged which created a distraction for the Black students to escape out of town.

Despite attempts to repair and reopen the school, the structure was burnt to the ground three years later.

This story highlights the central role that the fight for “freedom for literacy and literacy for freedom” has played in U.S. history, as Theresa Perry describes in Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students.

Read more about the history of Noyes Academy in “The Brief, but Courageous Life of Noyes Academy” by Craig Wilder and “Noyes Academy (PDF)” by Andi Diehn.


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