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About Prudence Crandall
Prudence Crandall was the leader of the first racially-integrated school for girls in America and is the Connecticut State Heroine.
In 1831, Crandall opened an academy on the Canterbury Green to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful -- until the following fall, when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old black woman. Harris had hoped to become a teacher with the help of the education the academy could provide. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, Harris's admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters.
Crandall made contacts throughout New England's free black communities to attract young black women students. They came from as far away as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. The Connecticut State Legislature responded by passing the "Black Law," which made it illegal for Crandall to operate her school. Crandall was arrested, spent a night in jail, and faced three court trials, including in front of the Supreme Court of Errors (the original state supreme court) at Hartford. The case was dismissed in July of 1834; it would later be repealed, in 1838. Two months later, a mob attacked the school, forcing Crandall to close it.
The courage shown by Crandall, Connecticut's official heroine, features prominently in civil rights history.
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