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Laurent Clerc Accused? Shocking!


I am not sure how to respond to Nathaniel. If Laurent had not fraternized with students after classroom instruction this new evolving ASL would not have happened as quickly and I would not have eventually existed. Makes one not root for Nathaniel and perhaps get just a little bit pissed. 

However, as a father, I might have some compassion for Nathaniel. He was just protecting his daughter and he had to at least ask the question. You ask who Nathaniel is? Why, it is Nathaniel Terry, early board member of the Hartford Asylum. 

I was recently reading the article “Laurent Clerc: A Complex and Conflicted Deaf Man in America" by Kurz and Hlibok. and they tackled the issue of Laurent’s “fraternization”. I am glad to see that Thomas Gallaudet came to the defense of Laurent (see the passage in the article). . 

But, I suppose that Nathaniel needed to worry as Laurent did end up marrying one of his students, Eliza Boardman, only a month after she graduated. Those seemed to be heady times and lots was happening in early Deaf education at the Hartford Asylum. Seems that they were still sorting out the milieu in which they were going to teach and how to handle this new Deaf “social” environment. 

But Nathaniel, you could have smiled for your portrait? And from your silhouette it seemed like you were in pain. So we will give you a pass. 


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