A History of the Columbia Institution For The Deaf and Dumb
By Edward M. Gallaudet
(Read before the Columbia Historical Society, January 17, 1911.)
Early in the year 1856 a man came to Washington from New York with the purpose of establishing a school for the deaf and the blind children of the District of Columbia.
He brought with him four boys and a girl, all deaf-mutes, who were legally indentured to him.
He hired a house on G Street, beyond the War Department, secured the attendance of a few deaf and blind children belonging to the District, and began soliciting aid from benevolent people in the city, one of whom was the Hon. Amos Kendall.
Mr. Kendall became much interested in the enterprise, and offered, early in the year 1857, to give a house and two acres of ground, near his residence at Kendall Green, for the occupancy of the school.
He secured the passage of an Act of Congress, approved February 16, 1857, incorporating the Columbia institution for the instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, and granting an allowance of one hundred and fifty dollars a year for the maintenance and tuition of each child received in the institution from the District.
This act named as corporators Byron Sunderland, James C. McGuire, David A. Hall, George W. Riggs, William H. Edes, Judson Mitchell, Amos Kendall and William Stickney, all well known citizens of the District.
Mr. Kendall was preparing to install the new school in the house he had given it, when facts were laid before him, showing that the man in charge of the school was utterly unworthy of his confidence.
Mr. Kendall promptly withdrew his support from the school, and brought suit before the Orphans’ Court to secure possession of the five indentured children.
The court appointed him the guardian of these children, and he at once took charge of them.
Mr. Kendall then sought the assistance of the heads of several schools for the Deaf in the East, to secure the services of a competent Superintendent for the District school.
He was soon in correspondence with the writer of this paper, who was then a teacher in the school for the Deaf in Hartford, Conn.
On Mr. Kendall’s invitation I came to Washington in April, 1857, to confer with him as to taking charge of the new school.
I was then only twenty years of age, and had some misgivings as to my ability to undertake the organization of the school.
But Mr. Kendall, after quite a full conference, was disposed to favor my appointment.
I had at that time in my mind the purpose to bring about, somewhere, the establishment of a college for the Deaf; and I unfolded my plans to Mr. Kendall and asked if he and his Board would look with favor on an effort to expand the District School to a College, and would allow me to solicit the aid of Congress in the undertaking.
He was quite ready to ask his Directors to approve my plans, and it was soon determined that I should assume charge of the Institution in May.
My mother, who was a deaf-mute, was appointed matron of the Institution.
The house donated by Mr. Kendall was found to be too small for the school, and an adjoining house and lot, belonging to Mr. William Stickney, were rented.
In these two buildings, the school was opened, towards the end of May, 1857.
Mrs. Maria M. Eddy was appointed instructor of the Blind, and Mr. James Denis on, instructor of the Deaf.
Mr. Denison was of the same age as myself, but our immaturity was well balanced by the maturity of the ladies, each of whom was sixty years of age.
The number of pupils in attendance during the first year was eighteen, twelve deaf-mutes and six blind.
The amount allowed by Congress for the maintenance and tuition of its beneficiaries was found to be quite inadequate for the support of the institution, and a successful appeal was made for an additional allowance of $3,000 for salaries and incidental expenses.
The first purchase I made of any consequence was a horse; a handsome creature, quite speedy, represented to be ten years old. I considered I had done well to secure as fine an animal for $160.
My dismay can be imagined when a few weeks later, as I was driving on Pennsylvania Avenue a gentleman stopped me to say a kind word for the horse, and said he had owned him some years before, that he had been on the race track in Louisiana and that he was twenty years old.
I expected, of course, that my new purchase would soon be of no value; but I was happily disappointed, for he lived to serve acceptably thirteen years, and then, when turned out to grass at thirty-three, died gracefully and was buried in the forest of Kendall Green. During the second year of the school’s existence the number of pupils increased and the buildings became crowded.
Mr. Kendall, unwilling to see the school lack anything which he could supply, generously offered to erect such a structure as was needed, to be built on the lot he had given.
I prepared plans for a suitable house, and without calling in any architect these plans were submitted to an old friend of Mr. Kendall’s, an experienced builder of Washington, Mr. Chas. F. Wood, who said he could build the house for a sum he named, between seven and eight thousand dollars.
“Go ahead and put up the building,” said Mr. Kendall, no contract being signed, nor specifications submitted.
This was in the spring, and in the autumn, when school was opened, the new building was finished and occupied, and it forms today a part of the permanent structures of the institution.
In the year 1860 the Legislature of Maryland made provision for the education of some of its deaf-mute children in the Columbia Institution, and several were admitted.
This arrangement continued for several years, until a State school was established at Frederick.
During the year 1860 it was discovered that an organization was in existence, under the name of “Washington’s Manual Labor School, and Male Orphan Asylum Society of the District of Columbia,” which had as its object the industrial training of boys; but which had never gone into operation owing to a lack of funds.
This institution was incorporated in 1842, and raised some money by the publication of a facsimile of General Washington’s accounts of his expenses during the Revolutionary War. My grandfather Peter W. Gallaudet, for many years a resident of Washington, had much to do with this effort.
A fund of about $4,000 was in the hands of the Trustees of this society in 1860, and the Directors of the Columbia institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind proposed to take over this fund, and to use its income to aid in giving industrial training to its pupils.
This proposal was acceptable to the Trustees of the Washington Manual Labor School, Congress passed an Act authorizing the transfer of funds, and the dissolution of the institution. The fund so transferred has been held unimpaired by the Columbia Institution and its income used as provided for by law.
In March, 1862, Congress appropriated $9,000 for additions to the buildings of the institution, which were completed before the end of that year.
During the year 1864 several events of great importance in the history of the institution occurred.
First, Congress was asked to authorize the institution to confer collegiate degrees, in view of the fact that its managers were ready to organize a department in which to give collegiate training.
Senator Grimes of Iowa introduced a bill giving the powers asked for, and secured its consideration in the Senate.
Some opposition was made, based on a doubt as to the capability of deaf-mutes to master collegiate studies, but the measure found an intelligent and earnest champion in Senator Clark of New Hampshire, after whose speech the bill passed without a dissenting vote, and it went through the House without objection.
At the same session of Congress an appropriation of $26,000 was made for the purchase of thirteen acres of land, adjoining the premises of the institution. On this land were several houses, one of which was suitable for the accommodation of the proposed Collegiate Department.
It is a fact worthy of note that the action of Congress in providing for a national College for the Deaf was taken at a time when the burdens of war were pressing heavily upon the Government. And it is an incident of more than usual interest that on the day when the $26,000 appropriated for the enlargement of the institution was drawn from the Treasury, all communication, either by rail or telegraph, between the Capital and the country was cut off by the operations of the civil war.
On the 28th of June, 1864, the College for the Deaf was publicly inaugurated at a meeting held in the First Presbyterian Church.
On this occasion the writer of this paper was installed as President of the Corporation. His elevation to this office was at the instance of Hon. Amos Kendall, who had been President since the incorporation of the institution.
Mr. Kendall delivered an address, the House of Representatives was represented by Hon. James W. Patterson of New Hampshire, then a professor in Dartmouth College, who spoke in warm approval of the college; an address was made by Laurent Cleve, a deaf-mute, then the oldest teacher of the deaf in our country; and the orator of the day was John Carlin, a deaf-mute artist of New York, who had written warmly in favor of the establishment of a College for the deaf.
At the close of the inauguration exercises, Mr. Kendall addressed Mr. Carlin as follows:
“John Carlin: For the first time in the world’s history has an institution for the instruction of the deaf and dumb been authorized to confer collegiate degrees. By representations to the Board of Directors, they were satisfied that by your varied attainments, notwithstanding the deprivation of hearing, you are a proper subject for the first exercise of this power conferred upon them by Congress. Their decision has been justified by the ability and earnestness with which you have this day presented the claims of the deaf-mutes of our country to a higher grade of education.
“While we bestow on you this deserved honor, we hope thereby to induce other deaf-mutes to emulate your example, and not rest satisfied with the attainments now available in existing institutions. And whatever it is practicable for us to do, you may be assured, sir, we will not fail to do, to realize for your brothers and sisters in misfortune all the blessings invoked for them in your address this day.
“I am happy, sir, in being the instrument of the Board of Directors in conferring upon you this honor, and handing you an appropriate diploma.”
The degree conferred was that of Master of Arts.
In September following the inauguration of the College its doors were opened to students.
The report of the institution for that year says:
“Four pupils from our own elementary department have entered upon an advanced course of preparatory study, also two graduates of the Pennsylvania Institution, while a graduate of the high class in the New York Institution, and a graduate of the high class at Hartford, having completed at those institutions a satisfactory course of preparatory study, have been regularly admitted to the Collegiate department.
“The two latter students have been engaged as teachers of elementary classes, one in New York, and one in our own institution. Applications for admission have been received from deaf-mutes in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Maryland.”
The second year of the college there were thirteen students in attendance, and Congress appropriated $39,000 for additions to the buildings.
In the year 1866 the services of Frederick Law Olmstead, the eminent landscape gardener and architect, were called in to advise as to the permanent arrangment of the buildings and grounds of the institution and plans were prepared by his firm, Olmstead, Vaux and Co., of New York, which have been closely followed in the upbuilding of the institution.
In February, 1865, Congress passed an Act relieving the Columbia Institution of the duty of providing for the education of blind children, and authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to place such children, belonging to the District of Columbia, in the Maryland Institution for the Blind at Baltimore.
Seven children were transferred to that school, and the words, “and the Blind” were stricken from the corporate name of the Columbia Institution.
In the early years of the College a number of benevolent gentlemen provided free scholarships, which were given such students as were unable to pay for their board and tuition.
In 1867, Hon. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, who as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations had secured liberal action from Congress for the college, applied for the free admission of a young constituent of his, who had recently become totally deaf.
On being told that all the free scholarships were assigned, and that there was no law for the free admission of the young man in whom he was interested, Mr. Stevens declared, with more emphasis than elegance, “that there should be such a law.”
Accordingly, when the appropriation for the support of the institution was under consideration, a proviso was added authorizing the free admission of ten deaf-mutes from any of the States and Territories of the United States. Mr. Stevens’ constituent was admitted on one of these scholarships, and made a very creditable record, as a student.
During the year 1867 the Directors of the institution took important action in regard to methods of instructing the deaf. Learning of the establishment in Massachusetts and New York of schools in which the teaching of speech was to be made a prominent feature, the Board authorized and directed the President of the institution to visit Europe and make a careful examination of the leading schools for the deaf in that part of the world, giving special attention to such as employed the oral method.
The President was absent for six months and visited more than forty schools. He made an extended report of his investigations, and recommended.
“That instruction in speech and Tip-reading be entered upon at as early a day as possible; that all pupils in our primary department be afforded opportunities for engaging in this, until it plainly appears that success is unlikely to crown their efforts; that with those who evince facility in oral exercises, instruction shall be continued during their entire residence in the institution.”
These recommendations were approved and carried into effect.
In the following year the Directors authorized the President to invite the heads of the schools for the deaf in our country to meet in Washington, to confer on subjects of interest, relating to the education of the deaf. The hospita]ities of the institution were extended to them, and on the 12th of May seventeen principals assembled at Kendall Green, and continued in session five days.
Many important matters were discussed, and unanimous action was taken in regard to methods by the adoption of the following resolutions, quite in accord with the recommendations of the writer of this paper in his European report.
“Resolved, That in the opinion of this conference, it is the duty of all institutions for the education of the deaf and dumb, to provide adequate means for imparting instruction in articulation and lip-reading to such of their pupils as may be able to engage with profit in exercises of this nature.
“Resolved, That while in our judgment it is desirable to give semi-mutes, and semi-deaf children every facility for retaining and improving any power of articulate speech they may possess, it is not profitable, except in promising cases, discovered after fair experiment, to carry congenital mutes through a course of instruction in articulation.”
The Conference of Principals, first called together by the Columbia Institution, has met from time to time and now exists as an active organization, having as its official organ a valuable journal published five times a year, under the editorship of Professor Edward A. Fay, a member of the faculty of the college.
On the 27th of July, 1868, Congress passed a special Act relating to the Columbia Institution, containing several important provisions.
First, adding three members to the Board of Directors, one a Senator to be appointed by the President of the Senate, and two members of the House to be appointed by the Speaker.
Second, repealing the provision in the organic act of the institution which authorized the payment of one hundred and fifty dollars a year for the care of each pupil.
Third, increasing the number of free scholarships in the college from ten to twenty-five.
Fourth, appropriating $48,000 for continuing the work on the buildings of the institution.
This very favorable action of Congress was secured in spite of very strenous opposition on the part of the, then, acting chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Elihu B. Washburn of Illinois.
Mr. Washburn aimed to cut off all support of the college on the ground that the bigher education of the deaf was a useless extravagance, and of little use to them. Mr. Washburn’s opposition was overcome, chiefly by the friendly aid of Thaddeus Stevens, then too feeble to take much active part in legislation, but who was brought in on a chair on one occasion to aid the college for the deaf, and Rufus P. Spaulding of Ohio, who ranked next to Mr. Washburn on the Appropriation Committee.
Mr. Washburn lived to know that a nephew had entered the college he tried to destroy, and that he was making a brilliant record as a student.
Mr. Washburn, on retiring from Congress, when he became minister to France, wrote a letter to his successor as Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, in which he expressed the hope that Mr. Dawes would spare no efforts to cut off the support of Congress from the College for the Deaf. But Mr. Dawes did not sympathize with Mr. Washburn in this matter. He secured a handsome appropriation for the completion of the main central building of the institution, was appointed a member of the Board, and was a staunch supporter of the college in and out of Congress up to the time of his death.
Mr. Kendall died in 1869, and soon after his death his executors offered for sale his estate known as Kendall Green, comprising eighty-one acres of land, and adjoining the premises of the Columbia Institution on two sides. After careful consideration, and with the approval of Hon. Jacob D. Cox, then Secretary of the Interior, the Directors decided to buy Kendall Green, at the price of $85,000, though they had only $5,000 in hand, towards paying for the property.
During the following year the President of the Institution, having the assistance. of a friendly letter from President Grant, secured subscriptions from gentlemen in Philadelphia, Hartford and Boston amounting to $10,000 and in 1872, Congress was appealed to successfully, for an appropriation of $70, 000 to clear of’ this indebtedness.
In 1871, the main central building of the Institution, containing the chapel and refectories, was completed and dedicated, with public exercises, over which President Grant presided, and at which he made a characteristically short speech. Addresses were made by Senator Edmunds of Vermont, General Garfield of Ohio and Governor Jewell of Connecticut, who was then a member of President Grant’s cabinet.
General Garfield, after referring to the courage of the Government during the dark days of the Civil War, in building the Pacific Railway, in continuing the work on the capitol, and in providing for agricultural colleges all over the country, said:
“And then, turning to this spot where these silent children were making what many regarded as a foolish experiment, the same Congress took half a million of dollars from the public Treasury and devoted it to this work-I hailed it as a nobler expression of the faith and virtue of the American people, and of the statesmanship of their representatives, than I had ever before witnessed.”
In 1871 Congress increased the number of free scholarships in the College from twenty-five to forty; and at this time twenty-three states, and the District of Columbia were represented in the College.
During the years immediately following Congress made several appropriations for the enlargment of the College dormitory, which was completed in 1877.
On the 16th of February, 1878, the twenty-first anniversary of the incorporation of the institution, a house-warming meeting of the board of Directors was held in the new building at which the President of the United States, ex-officio patron of the institution, and Mrs. Hayes, were present.
Vice-President Wheeler, who had been a member of the Board, was also a guest, with a number of others representing the official life of Washington. Mrs. Hayes inaugurated the building by lighting a fire in one of the professors’ rooms.
During the summer of 1880, the institution was represented at a Congress of instructors of the deaf held in Milan, by its President and Mr. James Denison, the principal of the Primary Department.
This Congress took decided action in favor of the pure oral method, with which the representatives of the Columbia Institution were not in sympathy.
On the occasion of the public anniversary of the College in May, 1881, President Garfield was present and made a short address from which an interesting quotation may be made.
“During these many years of public service I have loved to look upon this as a neutral ground, where from all our political bickerings and differences, we come under the white flag of truce that should be raised over every school house and college in the land. I am glad to say that in spite of all the differences of party opinion we have worked together in trying to make this institution worthy of our capital and our people. I am glad to believe that this progress will be un- impeded by any changes that may happen at the capital, and unchanged by any vicissitudes that may happen to the country.”
After the exercises in the chapel on Presentation Day, President Garfield attended a social gathering of the officers and friends of the College, and it is understood that this was the only social function, outside of the White House, at which he was present while filling the office of chief magistrate of the country.
General Garfield’s support of the College in Congress had been so constant and so effective that its alumni and friends determined to place a fitting memorial of him in the College chapel.
Sufficient funds were raised to secure a marble bust of the martyred President from the hand of the eminent sculptor Daniel Chester French, and the memorial was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies on Presentation Day, 1883.
In 1881 a fine gymnasium building was completed out of appropriations from Congress in which systematic physical training could be given to all the students of the College.
In 1885 Congress made an appropriation for the erection of a school building for the primary department of the institution, and this was completed and occupied before the end of that year.
In consideration of the generous benefactions of Hon. Amos Kendall, given for the establishment of a school for the deaf of the District of Columbia at a time when the provision made by Congress for this object was entirely insufficient, it was thought by the Directors that no more appropriate name could be given to the new building than “The Kendall School.”
This name was molded in terra cotta and inserted in a panel over the entrance to the building and the primary department of the institution has since been known as “The Kendall School for the Deaf.”
In 1886 Congress made an appropriation for a laboratory in which courses in chemistry could be given. This training has enabled many of the graduates of the college to become practical chemists, opening to them an important field of remunerative labor.
In 1887 an important change was made in the conduct of the College. Up to this time the doors of the college had been open only to young men. Applications for the admission of young women had been made, and it was urged that no law of Congress, nor any regulation of the Directors forbade the admission of women.
It was further argued that as no school existed in the country in which deaf young women could secure a college training, the National College at Washington ought to be open to them.
After mature consideration the Directors decided to try the experiment of receiving women.
The President of the institution gave up the greater part of his residence for the accommodation of the new department; a matron was installed and in the autumn of 1887 six young women, representing the states of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Nebraska and Indiana were admitted to the introductory class of the college.
The young women of the college continued to occupy the President’s house for two years, after which accommodations were arranged for them in the east building of the institution.
The experiment of receiving female students in the college has proved successful, and their number has increased to forty the past year.
In the summer of 1889 an interesting event occurred at Kendall Green.
For several years the deaf-mutes of the whole country had been raising money for a memorial of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the founder of deaf-mute education in America, to be placed on the grounds of the College at Washington.
A commission had been given to the sculptor, Daniel C. French, to make a statue of Dr. Gallaudet, and the statue, placed in front of the college, was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies on the 26th of June, 1889.
A meeting of the National Association of the Deaf was held in Washington at that time, and several hundred deaf-mutes were present at the unveiling of the statue.
As a work of art the statue is considered to have great merit-in fact it is regarded as one of Mr. French’s finest productions. It represents Dr. Gallaudet as teaching a little deaf girl, this being the incident in his life which led him to devote himself to the work of educating the deaf.
During the year 1889 Congress increased the number of free scholarships in the College from forty to sixty and at the same time enacted that those taking advantage of these scholarships should only receive free tuition, while heretofore they had been given their board, when they were unable to pay for it.
Congress was appealed to at the next session to restore this privilege, and did so, without objection.
In the summer of 1890 a son of Hon. W. D. Washburn, then senator from Minnesota, graduated from the college with high honor. His graduation essay, on the mind of the spider, attracted much attention and was printed in a school reader because of its literary and scientific merit. Young Washburn gave ample proof of the injustice of his uncle’s opposition to the College twenty years earlier, allusion to which has been made in this paper. He has attained marked distinction as an artist in New York.
In the Annual Report for 1890, an extended statement was published of the various occupations engaged in by those who had been students of the college.
Some points from this account may not be out of place in this paper.
A large number of teachers, several principals and founders of schools; foremen of daily newspapers; assistant postmaster of a city; clerk to a recorder of deeds; official botanist of a State; deputy recorder of deeds; a merchant in iron and steel, and authority in microscopy; assistant professors in the college; United States examiner of patents and attorney in patent law; clerks in Federal departments, custom houses and post offices; editors and publishers of county newspapers; bank clerks, farmers, ranchmen and fruit growers; missionaries among the deaf, regularly ordained clergymen; draught smen and architects; practical chemists.
In the autumn of 1891 a new department of the college was organized to provide for the training of a limited number of young people, having all their faculties, to be teachers of the deaf, and to furnish increased facilities for the development and improvement of the speech of the students of the college.
Six young men, representing Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Mississippi, and one young woman from Massachusetts formed the first normal class.
These young people had a year’s careful training in the methods of teaching the deaf, and rendered valuable service in speech instruction with the students of the college. One of the young men took a position in the college faculty, all the others became instructors in State schools for the deaf, and one was, later, made principal of the school for the deaf in Belfast, Ireland.
The normal department has been continued with marked success, and has furnished a large number of valuable instructors to the schools of the country. Several are now principals of schools.
In 1894 a petition from the alumni of the College was presented to the directors asking that the name of the College be changed.
It was suggested that no more appropriate name could be given to the College than that of the founder of deaf-mute education in America, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
After careful consideration the Directors decided, unanimously, to accede to the wishes of the alumni, and give the name of Gallaudet to the college.
An announcement of this change was made at the anniversary exercises in May, 1894, by Dr. Welling, then President of Columbian University, and a member of the Board.
In 1895 Congress made an appropriation for the erection of a dormitory for the boys of the Kendall School.
Plans for this building were made by Mr. Olof Hanson of Minnesota, a graduate of the college, who had become a successful architect in his native state, and it is greatly to his credit that the building was completed for three hundred dollars less than the estimate cost.
During 1895 a young man entered the normal class whose presence excited much interest.
He was a high caste Brahmin from India, and his purpose was, after acquiring a knowledge of the methods of educating the deaf, to establish a school for this class of persons in his own country. At the anniversary exercises of 1896, the young Hindoo [sic] made an address which so interested the British Ambassador, Lord Pauncefote, who was present that he did what he said in advance he would not do, made a speech, which stands on the record as the only public address that Lord Pauncefote made while he was Ambassador. The young Hindoo has been several years the successful principal of a school for the deaf in Calcutta.
In the summer of 1896 the hospitalities of the institution were extended to the alumni of the college, and a large number were in attendance.
On this occasion a valuable testimonial was given to the President of the college consisting of books, and a handsome set of furnishings for a library table.
In the year 1897, the fortieth of the existence of the institution, a message of greeting to the schools for the deaf in Europe, was prepared by order of the Directors and signed by all the officers of the corporation, including President McKinley, ex officio the patron of the institution.
The President of the Board was authorized to proceed to Europe and present the message to the schools in that part of the world, through the departments of education in the several countries of Europe.
The President took advantage of this trip to meet, in a number of prominent cities, with educated deaf-mutes, with a view of ascertaining at first hand their opinions as to the value of the various methods of educating the deaf.
In these interviews it was made clear that the adult deaf of Europe with surprising unanimity were in favor of a system which combined the different methods, such a system as has been made use of in the Columbia institution since 1867, and which is now employed in a majority of the state institutions in the United States.
In the year 1900 the institution was represented by its President, and the Vice-President of the College, Professor Edward A. Fay, at a congress held at Paris in the interest of deaf-mute education.
These representatives presented papers which were read in French and translated into other languages.
On the 6th of June, 1900, Congress passed an Act increasing the number of free scholarships from sixty to one hundred.
During that year 189 pupils and students were connected with the institution, of which 134 were in the college, representing 31 States, the District of Columbia, Canada and Ireland, and 55 in the Kendall School.
In 1903 Congress made an appropriation providing for additional accommodations for officers and students, and for a new laundry.
In the following year an appropriation was made for a central heating plant from which the seven buildings of the institution might be heated.
This improvement may be said to have completed the housing of the institution in a satisfactory manner, with the single exception of the building which serves as a dormitory for the young ladies of the college.
This structure was built piece-meal, is far from being fire-proof, and is crowded with the forty young ladies who occupy it. It is hoped that Congress will, in the near future, provide the means for a new dormitory.
In February of the past year fire broke out in the men’s dormitory, consuming a part of the roof and the upper story of the building. Very fortunately this accident happened when the occupants were at dinner in another building, and no loss of life occurred.
With the prompt and efficient aid of the fire department, the fire was confined to the story in which it began, and with a speedily constructed temporary roof, the building was in condition to be occupied, so that there was little interference with the operation of the college.
Congress made a liberal appropriation for the reconstruction of the building, and this was completed during the summer vacation.
In saying the final word in the history of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, the highest praise must be given to the Congress of the United States for its continued liberality during the half-century of the institution.
By a special act Congress has declared that the institution is not to be regarded as a charity. And this action is in accord with the sentiment prevailing in our country that the education of the deaf is a duty, quite as much as that of general public school education.
In making liberal provision for the higher education of the deaf of the country, Congress has recognized the fact that owing to their physical disability the deaf cannot share in the privileges afforded generally in colleges and universities, and so it is no more than an act of simple justice to give them such opportunities as are afforded in the collegiate department of the Columbia Institution.
If the action of Congress during fifty and more years can be taken as a guarantee for the future, as it very properly may be, there is reason to believe that so long as deaf-mute youth, capable of profiting by collegiate instruction are to be found in our country, Congress will be willing to maintain a college for their benefit.
While it is true that Congress has been the chief benefactor of the institution the liberality of individuals in the early days must not be forgotten. And among these, the name of Amos Kendall must be held ill most grateful remembrance.
His portrait hangs in the place of greatest prominence in the Chapel, his name has been given to one of the schools, and is inseparably connected with the beautiful domain of one hundred acres which has been and will be the happy home of thousands of grateful alumni.
It was the privilege of the writer of this paper to enjoy an intimate and most friendly intercourse with Amos Kendall during the first twelve years of the existence of the Columbia Institution. To his youth and inexperience, the wise counsels which a man of Mr. Kendall’s age and ability could give were of the greatest value, and it is a pleasure to the writer, in closing this history, to name Amos Kendall as the patron saint of the Columbia Institution.