September 3, 1803|
Hopkinton, Rhode Island
January 28, 1890 (aged 86)|
Providence, Rhode Island
Prudence Crandall (September 3, 1803 – January 28, 1890) was an American teacher. She was born on September 3, 1803 to Quakers. She went to the New England Friends’ Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island. In October 1831, she opened a private girls’ school in Canterbury, Connecticut. In 1833, an African American girl was admitted to the school. The parents of the white girls in the school wanted the black girl expelled. Crandall refused. She opened a school for African American girls in April 1833.
The Connecticut legislature passed the "Black Law". This law made it illegal to open a school that taught African American pupils from a state other than Connecticut. Crandall was arrested, tried, and convicted of violating this law. She was put in jail. A higher court reversed the decision. Crandall was freed, but neighbors harassed her. They smashed the windows in the school. Crandall feared for the students’ safety. She closed the school in 1834.
Crandall married Baptist minister and abolitionist Calvin Philleo. In 1835, the couple and his three children left Connecticut for Philleo’s farm in New York State. They later moved to Illinois. Here Crandall ran a school from her home. She also took part in women’s rights activities. When Philleo died in 1874, Prudence moved to Kansas to live with her brother. In 1886, the Connecticut legislature gave her a pension. Crandall died on January 28, 1890. She was buried in Kansas. Her old school house in Canterbury is now the Prudence Crandall Museum. In 1995, Crandall was named Connecticut's state heroine.