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Thomas Gallaudet


Reverend Thomas Gallaudet himself sought a meeting with Abdul Rahman, rather than the other way around. Gallaudet first contacted Abdul Rahman after reading some of the prince's remarks about Christianity in the newspaper. After meeting him, Gallaudet became one of Abdul Rahman's most loyal supporters. Not only was he moved by Abdul Rahman's quest to free his children, but he also saw in the prince a surefire method of spreading Christianity to Africa. Abdul Rahman had no intention of converting to Christianity but pretended to be open to the idea to insure Gallaudet's help. The pastor joined Abdul Rahman on parts of the northern tour, appealing eloquently to congregations to raise money.

Gallaudet was an energetic preacher who from an early age wanted to devote his life to helping others. In early October, he had significant success doing just that: His heartfelt homilies netted Abdul Rahman over $150 from churchgoers. At various times, Gallaudet wanted to be a lawyer, a missionary, and an author of children's books. He found his true calling when he met Alice Cogswell, the deaf daughter of his neighbor, and devoted his life to the education of the deaf in America. In 1817, he founded the Hartford School for the Deaf, the first institution of its kind in America.

Though Gallaudet also spent his energies on other causes, such as the American Colonization Society and the exporting of Christianity overseas, it is his pioneering work in the education of the deaf for which he is remembered. This cause remains alive today because of the interest he instilled in his son, Edward, who founded the first college of the deaf, Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., in 1857.

Click below to listen to Reverend Thomas Gallaudet's introduction of Abdul Rahman at a meeting held in the Masonic Hall, on Broadway in New York City, 15 October 1828:

Thomas Gallaudet

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