On this date, August 10, in 1835, hundreds of men from Canaan, New Hampshire, and surrounding towns, including Hanover, launched an assault on Noyes Academy, an experimental interracial school, after 14 African American students were enrolled. Arriving with 90 - 95 yokes of oxen, ropes, and chains and working in shifts, they physically dragged the schoolhouse off of its foundation and into a swamp outside of town.
By Andi Diehn
The rowdy crowd of men didn’t need to wait for the cover of darkness. About 500 New Hampshire residents gathered on the morning of August 10, 1835 in front of the Noyes Academy on Canaan Street in Canaan, New Hampshire. Protected from the law by a vote passed at an official town meeting a few days before, the men hooked 95 yokes of cattle to the building, slid skids underneath and ripped the school from the ground, dragging it about a mile down Canaan Street and leaving a shattered shell on the lawn of the town meeting house.
“It’s a sad ending to something that could have been great for the town,” says Donna Zani-Dunkerton, Canaan town historian.
What prompted such passionate destruction of a school? Fourteen of the attending students were black. The Noyes Academy was the second school in the country to admit black students, the first being an all girls’ school in Connecticut. The school, which grew out of abolitionist dreams of several leading members of society, only lasted 11 months before the fear and racism symptomatic of the times brought it to its knees. [Continue reading.]
And it continues: In 1999, New Hampshire finally relented and became the very last state to officially celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.