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Thomas Gallaudet To Abbe Sicard, May 21, 1816

Creator: Thomas Gallaudet (author)
Date: May 21, 1816
Source: Yale University Library

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Director of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, member of the National Institute of France, etc., etc.


REVEREND AND ESTEEMED SIR:-On Sunday last I unexpectedly met an American friend, the commander of a vessel which is soon to sail for the United States, who very strongly solicits me to return with him to my native land. His request is seconded by another of my friends, who has been engaged in this city for twelve years past, in commercial transactions, and who expects to return to America in the same ship. The conveyance would be peculiarly convenient and agreeable to me. I suggested this circumstance to Mr. Clerc, at the same time expressing my fears that it would be quite out of my power to enjoy it, as I doubted whether I could be sufficiently qualified for my intended employment, the instruction of the deaf and dumb. I also observed, that could I procure some deaf-mute as an assistant, I should not hesitate to do it. Mr. Clerc, of his own accord, offered to go with me in this capacity. I told him I could not think of proposing any arrangement of this kind without first securing your approbation, and it is for this reason I now take the liberty of addressing you.


I am fully sensible, Reverend Sir, that in asking you to part with so faithful and valuable a pupil, I solicit, on your part, a great sacrifice; and I should have but little hope of succeeding in my request, were I not satisfied that the interests of humanity in the western world will plead strongly with you in my behalf. To these interests, in Europe, your life and genius have been devoted, and I can assure you the pleasure which I should feel in transmitting, from your hands, so great a blessing to my countrymen would only be equaled by their gratitude in receiving it. They are by no means ignorant of your justly acquired reputation, and could I thus commence the establishment in New England for the instruction of the deaf and dumb, under your auspices, the name of Sicard would be as dear to America as it now is to France.


My country is already under great obligations to you, Reverend Sir, for the very great kindness with which you have given me free access to the advantages of your important establishment, but how would those obligations be increased, could you consent to send Mr. Clerc with me, as an illustration of the wonders you have performed in redeeming the human mind from the darkness of ignorance, and in illuminating it with the rays of knowledge and virtue. In such a gift the world would see an illustrious proof that philosophy and humanity equally prevail in the breast of the Father of the Deaf and Dumb in France, and that his benevolence can surrender for the good of mankind what his genius has adorned with the most useful and endearing accomplishments.


Very unexpectedly, and in a manner quite unsolicited on my part, Mr. Clerc expressed his willingness to go with me should it meet with your approbation. Should you consent, Reverend Sir, to grant this approbation, I have no doubt that Mr. Clerc and myself could enter into arrangements which would be deemed advantageous for him, both by himself and friends. For the establishment which I hope to commence, having already excited considerable interest in New England, being under public and respectable patronage, and having a town for its intended situation which is less than two days journey from the large cities of Boston, New York, and Albany, will, I trust, if properly conducted, soon be in a flourishing condition.


I have taken the liberty, Reverend Sir, of expressing my thoughts in writing, for I thought I could do this with the most clearness and precision, and could you furnish me with your reply in the course of a day or two, I shall esteem it a great favor. I am, Reverend Sir, with sentiments of unfeigned respect,


Your very obedient servant,




PARIS, May 21, 1816.