By: Ciera Bailey (01/16/17)
My favorite person is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He was born on December 10th, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At age seventeen, he graduated at Yale University in 1805, earning a bachelor’s degree and graduated with the highest honors. Few years later, in 1808 Gallaudet earned his master’s degree at Yale University. Gallaudet wanted to become a minister, but that was put aside when he first met a nine year old girl Alice Cogswells who was deaf. His neighbor Mason Fitch Cogswells asked Gallaudet for help to teach his daughter due to the fact she was deaf. After watching her, Gallaudet wanted to help her to be able to communicate with others because he sees that she was very smart despite that she couldn’t hear or speak.
Thomas had no experience of communicating to deaf people, so he decides to take a trip to Europe to where first deaf education was established. In Europe, Gallaudet ran into Abbé Sicard, Jean Massieu, and Laurent Clerc. Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc used to be Abbé Sicard’s students and they were both well accomplished deaf educators at the time. Gallaudet studied the teaching methods from Clerc and Massieu. When it was time for Gallaudet to return back to America, Gallaudet asked Clerc to come with him and help start new deaf schools in America. Clerc agreed and came along with Gallaudet’s journey to America.
Gallaudet and Clerc’s school, which is known as the first American School for the deaf, it was established in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. It was the first public deaf school in America. Young Alice was one of the first students at the deaf school. The school began to grow quickly with many deaf children coming across the states to learn American Sign Language that were taught by Gallaudet and Clerc. By 1863, there were over 21 deaf schools scattered across the United States. I admire Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for what he has done to help make America a better place for all the deaf children. Thomas Gallaudet truly made history for the deaf people. Without Thomas Gallaudet’s passion for helping the deaf children, there would not have been any deaf schools for the children in America. That is why Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is my favorite person in the Deaf History.